July 22, 2012

The Palestinian Situation

I've been hearing of conflicts between Israel and its neighbors my whole life, but the news media never explained enough for it to make sense, and I'm afraid I never took the time to fully inform myself.

I was of course horrified by the Holocaust; the images from the death camps were burned into my brain at an early age, and they and the history that goes with them should never be forgotten. And I read Exodus, which portrayed the founding of the modern Israel in thrilling terms; and I could certainly understand why Jewish people would feel the need for their own state, where they could never again be a persecuted minority.

But from the start, I had trouble understanding why it was fair to force the people already living in those lands to give them up in order to create the new state. If Westerners were so keen to support the project, whey didn't they donate their own lands, instead of taking from others?

The history of this situation is long, with many twists and turns, and I remain embarrassingly ignorant about most of it; but during the last few years, I've come across a couple of items that seemed helpful enough to share.

The first was a video by artist Ursula Biemann, X-Mission (2008) (viewable at the foregoing link), which explores among other things the effects of the division of the Palestinian people among geographically dispersed locations and their partial re-connection via new communications technologies.

The second is the image at left, from Michal Vexler at +972 (click on it for a more legible version), which shows how Palestinians have been divided into five categories of citizenship with different rights and subject to different restrictions.

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