Each day I tell myself that I will take a rest and leave you alone. Then I open the mail and read sources that I find useful. One thing or another provokes or inflames, and there go my fingers.
Today it is a note sent to me by a nutty American, who occasionally sends me notes from a nuttier man living less than 10 miles from me, on the other side of the cultural divide.
He is a Palestinian professor who is angry about the present and past, but confident about the future.
It begins with "Life is returning back to the 'normal' beat of occupation/colonization after the Pope's visit. The reporters filed stories and the ones allowed to print went through while others were self-censored. Thus few stories appeared about the strangulation of Bethlehem . . .the Internet and personal communications have accelerated a process of change that will inevitably lead to freedom and reversal of colonialism (the main risk now is the Palestinian leadership divisions and pettiness)."
His conception of pettiness is reflective of how wish can overcome reality. There is killing in the politics of Fatah and Hamas.
" . . . few stories about the strangulation of Bethlehem" does not square with the pictures of the Pope speaking from a platform set for effect right up against the wall that Palestinians view as an affront. Israelis see the same wall as one of their protections from barbaric attacks against civilians.
He continues to lament what Israel does by noting "the arrest of Amira Hass (an Israeli reporter was arrested by the Israeli regime for going to Gaza and reporting on real life) and of Israeli peace activists."
The truth is that Ms Hass was detained for questioning about her improper entry into enemy territory, and released after she agreed not to do it again for 30 days. Her articles about life in Gaza often start on the front page and spread over entire inner pages of Ha'aretz. They annoy those Israelis who want their own rosy conceptions to monopolize the media, but there they are in the country's most distinguished newspaper, the one most likely to be read by political, intellectual, and economic elites. When the writer indicates that other peace activists are also harrassed by officials, he cannot be including tenured professors who are my friends in the Hebrew University political science department. One of them received from the government a prestigious Israel Prize for his work, despite frequent diatribes--also in Ha'aretz--about Israel's policy toward the Palestinians.
The Palestinian's commemoration of "Nakba" (the disaster of Israel's creation) is "61 years ago . . . the state of Israel unilaterally declared its independence after its ground forces have already been engaged in nearly 6 months of ethnic cleansing of the native population."
He makes no mention about the Arab rejection of the United Nations effort at compromise, and armies from Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Lebanon, along with Palestinians, that killed some 6,000 Israelis, many of them civilians.
One can hope that his teaching is more professional than his writing.
I can anticipate, but not assure a few days of peace for you and me, when we will be traveling outside the range of e-mail and the internet.
I welcome comments sent to my e-mail address, below.
Ira Sharkansky (Emeritus)
Department of Political Science