David Shulman is the Renee Lang Professor of Humanistic Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and an activist in Ta’ayush, Arab-Jewish Partnership. He was awarded the Israel Prize for Religious Studies in February. (April 2016)
Popular Protest in Palestine: The Uncertain Future of Unarmed Resistance
by Marwan Darweish and Andrew Rigby
Return: A Palestinian Memoir
by Ghada Karmi
Israeli human rights activists and what is left of the Israeli peace groups, including joint Israeli-Palestinian peace organizations, are under attack. In a sense, this is nothing very new. But open attacks on the Israeli left have now assumed a far more sinister and ruthless character; some of them are being played out in the interrogation rooms of Israeli prisons. Clearly, there is an ongoing coordinated campaign involving the government, members of the Knesset, the police, various semiautonomous right-wing groups, and the public media. Politically driven harassment, including violent and illegal arrest, interrogation, denial of legal support, virulent incitement, smear campaigns, even death threats issued by proxy—all this has become part of the repertoire of the far right, which dominates the present government and sets the tone for its policies.
On the face of it, things are not all that different today than before the election. But the now seemingly impregnable rule of the right in Israel has at least four likely consequences for the country’s near and mid-term future.
by Roberto Calasso, translated from the Italian by Richard Dixon
Every year, on a certain Tuesday in October, worshipers of the Golden Goddess, Paidi Talli, gather in a grove of trees somewhere outside the small town of Vizianagaram in southern India. Which grove is chosen depends on the goddess, who will have appeared to her main priest in a dream …
by Jean-Pierre Filiu, translated from the French by John King
Palestine Speaks: Narratives of Life Under Occupation
compiled and edited by Cate Malek and Mateo Hoke
Clearly, this was the summer of Israeli discontent. For weeks the most common word on the TV and radio news and talk shows, with their familiar line-up of dusted-off former generals, was “deterrence.” More specifically, the question was how to restore or reinvent this somewhat nebulous, almost metaphysical objective.
Guge was once home to a major inner-Asian dynasty whose artists and craftsmen produced a plethora of masterpieces over some five centuries—including some large-scale murals and exquisitely carved and painted sculptures depicting Buddhist visions of the cosmos and its deities. Little known in the West largely because of Guge’s inaccessible location, the works have now been richly and systematically documented in the photographer and art historian Peter van Ham’s astonishing new book, Guge: Ages of Gold.
Today, most of the Jordan Valley, undoubtedly one of the most ravishing landscapes on the planet, is situated in what is known as Area C of occupied Palestinian territory. This means that, with the exception of the ancient city of Jericho and its surroundings (which are in Area A, under Palestinian rule), the valley is under direct and exclusive Israeli military, legal, and political control, and also that large parts of it are taken up by Israeli settlements or by lands that have been reserved for future Israeli settlement. It also means that a Palestinian population of some 15,000 Bedouins who are settled in the valley is tacitly targeted for expulsion.
Fear, also hate, makes for a light finger on the trigger, especially in an atmosphere of rabid nationalism that is deliberately fanned by government spokesmen and the prime minister himself. Army intelligence predicts the current violence will get worse; already, Hamas is said to have directed its forces on the West Bank to carry out suicide bombings. And why should things not get worse?
In early May, Breaking the Silence, the organization of Israeli ex-soldiers, published a report on the Israeli army’s campaign in Gaza last summer. It revealed that the large number of civilian casualties on the Palestinian side was a consequence, among other things, of military tactics and orders explicitly adopted by the IDF.