Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Israel/Palestine and the Queer International

Excerpts from the introduction to Israel/Palestine and the Queer International by Sarah Schulman:

It was about two weeks after the July 2006 Israeli bombing of Lebanon. I was having dinner with a Lebanese friend, the gay novelist Rabih Alameddine. "I don't get it," he said. "In the thirteen years that I have lived in this country, many of my friends, maybe most of my friends have been Jews. We usually agree on everything. Sometimes they are more left wing than I am. We agree about the war in Iraq. But, then, Israel invades Lebanon, and suddenly they don't get it. They get it about Iraq, but all of a sudden they are telling me that Israel has a right to defend itself, et cetera. And I'm shocked. What is going on? Why don't they get it?"
(Kindle Locations 15-19)

"When I was in Argentina, the fascist police made me get down on my knees and bark like a dog, because I was a Jewish dog," he told Mike Wallace, a Jewish man who had changed his name to have a career in broadcast journalism. "When I came to Israel, I heard that some Israeli soldiers had made some Palestinian youth get down on their knees and bark like dogs, because theywere Arab dogs. And I asked myself, are these two incidents the same? And I had to answer yes."
(Kindle Locations 124-128)

What I have come to understand, finally, is that for Europeans, what they call laique or secular culture is actually a kind of liberal Christian culture. And so, to them, difference -switching between Jews and Muslims, depending on the historical moment-violates what they believe to be "secular objectivity" but is really basic Christian aesthetics.
(Kindle Locations 170-172)

And how did the Europeans, who caused the pain in the first place, get off scot-free, while the Palestinians, who had nothing to do with it, ended up paying the price?
(Kindle Locations 184-185)

The United States and the Allies needed a strong military base in the Middle East, and there was widespread guilt about the lack of global aid during the genocide. So creating the state of Israel as a place to dump the refugees and build a military footing in the region for the West served every-body's needs.
(Kindle Locations 208-210)

Does America support Israel because it loves Jews and wants to protect them, or because it just needs a military base in Israel from which to conduct wars and control resources? It's a naive question. All military alliances are strategic in nature. But the blurring gives both the illusion of independence and the illusion that the United States is a "friend" of Israel. The result is a lot of instability, false fronts, fear, and pretending. Israel exists simultaneously as a colonial settler state in relationship to Palestinians, and as a semicolonized project of the Christian West, the very people who caused the Jews' suffering to begin with.
(Kindle Locations 218-221)

So we lie to ourselves, because the truth is so much more frightening. The truth is that Israel's policies do not make the world a safer place for Jews or anyone else. To be a responsible government is to act as though other human beings are real and have lives that matter. In this regard, both the U.S. and Israeli governments have deteriorated into rogue states causing pain and inflicting suffering from a delusional place.
(Kindle Locations 260-262)

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