As I type with one hand feeling steam-rolled after six hours of hand-writing, I wonder whether our generation is evolving to the point that we shall only ever be able to tap, and not scrawl.
Nevertheless, it was a fruitfully painful six hours, not in the least because I stumbled across an old interview with Edward Said, conducted 23 June 1988, for the BBC2 documentary The Exiles.
Said was one of the greatest academic proponents of the Palestinian cause: subtle, yet fierce; concise, yet highly enlightened.
The following paragraph struck as the 1,000th example of Said’s ability to be profoundly succinct, evoking as it does the truth and so much more, in the space of a mere paragraph:
The great problem that we feel as a people is that we are being told by the Israelis that in a certain sense we don’t really exist, that the continuity of our existence in Palestine, that our history, our identity, is manageable by Israeli historians, by propagandists, by politicians, is manageable by something else. Begin used to call us two-legged beasts, terrorists, everything, but not Palestinians. We were there! You can’t do more than that. But it’s so indecent and humiliating an exercise to have to say that we do exist. There were Palestinian villages, there were Palestinian cities, there was a Palestinian society. There were Palestinian people before 1948 who formed a society – underdeveloped, whatever you want to call it, but it was there – which abruptly and dramatically in the middle part of 1948 was shattered, destroyed by the Zionists.
Twenty-one years after that interview, the circumstances remain static, if not worse.
Politically and ideologically, in the context of Palestine-Israel at least, we are residing in the very antithesis of a progressive society.
And that is painful in a whole other manner.
[Taken from: The Third Text Reader on Art, Culture and Theory, edited by Rasheed Araeen, Sean Cubbitt, and Ziauddin Sardar. Continuum. 2002.]