[Marxism] Steven Salaita - Palestine and the Anxiety of Existence
dmozart1756 at gmail.com
Fri Feb 26 07:59:53 MST 2016
It is critical to remember amid the hand-wringing about Arabs destroying
Israel and displacing its inhabitants that Israel has already destroyed
Palestine and displaced the Arabs. Israel’s existential fears project its
While Zionists fret about Israel’s right to exist, Palestinians endure the
violence of nonexistence.
All of this can be understood through quick analysis of stones. Yes,
stones—chunks of demolished hillside, construction detritus, pieces of
granite smoothed over by millennia of wind and water. That analysis can be
metaphorical, but even their geological qualities tell us all we need to
know about the colonizer’s psychology.
In September 2015, at the behest of Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel increased
the severity of penalties for Palestinian stone-throwers. (Israeli
settlers, on the other hand, can throw firebombs into children’s bedrooms
without much hassle.) As is common in Israeli jurisprudence, stone-throwing
is a crime that inspires collective punishment. This zealousness leads to
all kinds of human rights violations, many committed against children—and
many affecting people who weren’t tossing stones in the first place.
Israel’s supporters say that stone-throwing can lead to death and is
therefore worthy of serious punishment. But are stones dangerous? In the
most technical and unimaginative sense, probably. However, if we’re going
to reduce a project of ethnic cleansing, illegal settlement, and military
occupation to the minuscule chance that a soldier or a settler will be
harmed by an act of resistance by the native, then we forfeit all right to
be taken seriously.
I don’t want to bog down in the stupidity of comparing the actions of the
colonizer and the colonized. That a category of colonizer even exists
should end that discussion the moment it begins. Israel’s mere presence is
a continuous act of violence.
It’s better to look at the symbolic conditions informing the Zionist’s
anxiety about stones. Do Palestinians throw stones as a weapon of warfare?
Maybe. Sometimes. They’re more often a weapon of imagination, emblems of a
dogged refusal to submit or disappear. No matter the intent when a
Palestinian throws a stone, the Israeli perceives it as an act of
rejection. It is an accurate perception. This act of rejection, not any
perceived danger, provokes the Zionist’s disdain.
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