...The documentary, called 'A World Apart Within 15 Minutes' and directed by Enas Muthaffar, captures the psychological alienation that has intensified in recent years and left Israelis and Palestinians worlds apart, so alienated from each other that a major Palestinian city has vanished from Israelis' mental maps.
Never mind the latest flare-up in Gaza. What matters in the world's most intractable conflict is the way the personal narratives of Israelis and Palestinians, coaxed toward intersection by the Oslo Accords of the 1990s, have diverged to a point of mutual nonrecognition.
Ramallah is about 10 kilometers north of Jerusalem. For most Israelis, it might as well be on the moon. It is not just the fence, called the 'separation barrier' by Israelis and the 'racist separating wall' by Palestinians, that gets in the way. It is the death of the idea of peace and its replacement by the notion of security in detachment....
But detachment is an illusion. Life goes on behind the physical and mental barriers Israelis have erected. Or rather, it festers. As Itamar Rabinovich, the president of Tel Aviv University, remarked to me: "Palestine is a failed pre-state."
For that failure, Palestinians must take responsibility. But this aborted birth is also Israel's work....
The West Bank, after 40 years under Israeli control, is a shameful place. If this is the price of Israeli security, it is unacceptable. Power corrupts; absolute power can corrupt absolutely. There are no meaningful checks and balances in this territory, none of the mechanisms of Israel's admirable democracy. The result is what the World Bank this month called a "shattered economic space." ...
Israel has an obligation to open its eyes and do some wall-jumping. The country has just been shaken by the Winograd Report, a devastating look at last summer's war against the Lebanese militia, Hezbollah. It is now time for a report of similar scope on Israel's West Bank occupation.
I can see no better way to arrest the cycle of alienation. Time is not on the side of a two-state solution.
Monday, May 28, 2007
From The New York Times: