This has been one of the most difficult books that I have ever read. It removed me from my academic detachment with which I read the majority of books and took me into emotions ranging from frustration, sadness, melancholy through to anger and belligerence. A compelling read, yet at the same time I had to put it down every so many pages in order to contemplate, digest, or simply escape what in sum could be called the constant inhuman brutality of one human against another. It is a brutality that is as much psychological as physical, as much emotional as bodily. While the media presents a relatively constant stream of news violence from Israel-Palestine, with the Israelis purportedly “responding” to Palestinian “terrorists”, the truth of life for the average Palestinian is not just this asymmetrical violence, but the daily violence perpetrated by the occupation, a collective punishment on the Palestinian population that “because the destruction is routine, it generally takes place out of the view of the global media.” It is death, destruction, eviction, genocide by a million cuts, applied over and over and over with full control of the geographical and cultural landscapes under the rule of the Israeli Defense Force (IDF).
The underlying theme of the book is of demographics, the Israeli project to empty the
Saree Makdisi’s conclusion to her first section of the book is that the whole extended Peace Process “has been a fiction that has served primarily to provide cover for its systematic confiscation of Palestinian land,” with the result that “the Israeli occupation has slowly and methodically accomplished precisely what it set out to do forty-one years ago.” As the oft quoted Dov Weisglass stated, “this whole package [of
Those are not the statements that raise my emotions – rather they rile my intellect at the culpability and ignorance of the political elites in all parties involved, Palestinian included as Makdisi treats the PA and Fateh harshly. What does raise the emotions is the writing that relates the daily trials and tribulations that the Palestinians suffer under the occupation of the IDF, the ever-changing rules and regulations, the whim of any Israeli who can do whatever to a Palestinian and suffer no consequences for that action. The daily frustrations of life under occupation are immense as presented in the anecdotal accounts and the summary statistics of each section of this book.
Attending school, growing food, tending one’s gardens and fields, getting married, visiting a neighbour, a market, a business, going to university, a hospital, travelling to another country, are all under the combination of strict and confusing regulations combined with the whim of the IDF soldiers and commanding officers in the field (always a Palestinian field at that). Nightly raids, curfews, harassment by settlers, home invasions, tear gas attacks, rubber coated metal bullets, sonic boom attacks at night to disrupt sleep, legalized torture, arrests, human shields, beatings, bulldozers smashing homes with or without occupants, uprooting and burning of agricultural production, machine guns, tanks, armoured vehicles and tanks invading streets, helicopters and jets patrolling overhead – there does not appear to be a moment that the Palestinian people are not subject to some form of humiliation, deprivation, and cruelty from the Israeli occupiers. “The double process of Jewish settlement and Palestinian unsettlement, is played out on an intimately small scale, and on a daily basis throughout the
International war crimes
As a secondary but very strong theme the above all come under international war crimes. While Makdisi does not state it, it could be said the whole of the
It does not help that they are aided and abetted in this by other countries in the
More ethnic cleansing
Makdisi covers many other sub-topics and themes throughout the work. The wall, the nature and processes of the settlements, the concept of “equality” in relation to the concept of Jewishness and a Jewish state, the use of the military as ‘global’ torture on the whole population are all covered throughout the work, both in anecdotal form and in essay-documentary form.
The idea of “voluntary transfer” occurs throughout the book, supported mainly from quotes from Israeli sources, with the concept described such that the Palestinians “will not be able to continue living under these sorts of conditions. They will abandon their homes and go to the big cities at which point it will be possible to expand the borders of the State of Israel without paying the demographic price.” It is not terribly “voluntary” when such extreme asymmetrical pressure is applied by one group on another.
This latter idea leads into the nakba and its current historical revisions with more modern historians accessing information from the IDF archives and using Israeli sources that clearly outline the intent to clear much of
Context and solutions
Hamas and Hezbollah enter the discussion most forcefully in the “Coda” the books final section discussing possible solutions. With a great assist from the Washington consensus media, both groups are identified out of context as terrorist groups that hate us for what we are and thus use fanatical suicide bomb terrorists to destroy innocent civilians, without considering in context the “aerial and artillery bombings, fuel-air explosives, flechette rounds, cluster bombs, depleted uranium, phosphorous and napalm” as well as new experimental weapons including the “dense inert metal explosive” by Israel that are equally as indiscriminate but hugely more powerful and destructive. The Israeli weapons are used over a much broader section of the Palestinian population without any real concern for civilian deaths. Within context, suicide bombers can be viewed as “an almost inevitable product of forty years of military occupation.”
As for the solution itself, Makdisi views the one state solution as the most realistic. In a de facto manner, there already is one state,
As pessimistic as that view is (and it is mine, not the authors), books such as Saree Makdisi’s Palestine Inside Out will add to the growing list of works that nibble away at the American-Israeli decontextualized and international criminal actions that sustain the repression of the Palestinian people. It should not be an easy read – it is more than history and current events, but should reach the soul of the reader, awakening or revitalizing a basic revulsion of man’s incomprehensibly stupid emotional, physical and spiritual brutality against other humans.
Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The