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Begin with contemplating the significance of this initial brief quote from the memoir:
“In fact, our hatred of the Occupation is essentially because it arrests the growth of our cities, of our societies, of our lives. It hinders their natural development (116).” – Mourid Barghouti

In this assignment/forum we will focus on a textual analysis of the memoir.  Write your essay/post in the interpretation and analysis as to how Barghouti is speaking to the Occupation in the following three quotes.  Analyze at least 2-3 important dynamics, issues, and/or thematics.

“The Occupation kept the Palestinian village static and turned our cities back into villages. We do not weep for the mill of the village but for the bookshop and the library. We do not want to regain the past but to regain the future and to push tomorrow into the day after. Palestine’s progress in the natural paths of its future was deliberately impeded, as though Israel wished to make of the whole Palestinian community a countryside for the city of Israel. More than that, it plans to turn every Arab city into a a rural hinterland for the Hebrew State.  Is it possible that I should go to the vegetable market in  Ramallah , after an absence of thirty years to find it in the same decrepit state it was in thirty years ago, as though the stallholders had not changed their stalls, their clothes, or their price tags? Is it possible that I should find the ground here exactly as it used to be, like the surface of a marsh: sticky, dark, covered in skins and husks and colored mold? Is it possible that I should look at the facades of the buildings on the main street and find that they resemble the ground of the vegetable market? (146-7)”

“All that the world knows of Jerusalem is the power of the symbol. The Dome of the Rock is what the eye sees, and so it sees Jerusalem and is satisfied. The Jerusalem of religions, the Jerusalem of politics, the Jerusalem of conflict is the Jerusalem of the world. But the world does not care for our Jerusalem, the Jerusalem of the people. The Jerusalem of houses and cobbled streets and spice markets, the Jerusalem of the Arab College, the Rashidiya School, and the Omariya School. The Jerusalem of the porters and the tourist guides who know just enough of every language to guarantee them three reasonable meals a day. The oil market and the sellers of antiques and mother-of-pearl and sesame cakes. The library, the doctor, the lawyer, the engineer, and the dressers of brides with high dowries. The terminals of the buses that trundle in every morning from all the villages with peasants come to buy and to sell. The Jerusalem of white cheese, of oil and olives and thyme, of baskets of figs and necklaces and leather and Salah al-Din Street. Our neighbor the nun, and her neighbor, the muezzin who was always in a hurry. The palm fronds in all the streets on Palm Sunday, the Jerusalem of houseplants, cobbled alleys, and narrow covered lanes. The Jerusalem of clothes-lines. This is the city of our senses, our bodies and our childhood. The Jerusalem that we walk in without much noticing its sacredness, because we are in it, because it is us. We loiter or hurry in our sandals or our brown or black shoes, bargaining with the shopkeepers and buying new clothes for the Id. We shop for Ramadan and pretend to fast and feel that secret pleasure when our adolescent bodies touch the bodies of the European girls on Easter Saturday. We share with them the darkness of the Church of the Holy Sepulcher and raise with them the white candles that they light. This is the ordinary Jerusalem. The city of our little moments that we forget quickly because we will not need to remember, and because they are ordinary like water is water and lightning is lightning. And as it slips from our hands it is elevated to a symbol, up there in the sky.  All conflicts prefer symbols. Jerusalem now is the Jerusalem of theology. The world is concerned with the status of Jerusalem, the idea and the myth of Jerusalem, but our lives in Jerusalem and the Jerusalem of our lives do not concern it. The Jerusalem of the sky will live forever, but our life in it is threatened with extinction. They limit the number of Palestinians in the city, the number of Palestinian houses, the windows, balconies, schools, and nurseries, the number of people praying on Friday and Sunday. They tell the tourists where to buy their gifts, which lanes to walk in, which bazaars to enter. Now we cannot enter the city as tourists or students or old people. We cannot live there or leave there, we cannot get bored with Jerusalem and leave it for Nablus or Damascus or Baghdad or Cairo or America (142-3).”

“But I cannot accept any talk of two equal rights to the land, for I do not accept a divinity in the heights running political life on this earth.  Despite all this, I was never particularly interested in the theoretical discussions around who has the right to Palestine, because we did not lose Palestine in a debate, we lost it to force. When we were Palestine, we were not afraid of the Jews. We did not hate them, we did not make an enemy of them. Europe of the Middle Ages hated them, but not us. Ferdinand and Isabella hated them, but not us. Hitler hated them, but not us. But when they took our entire space and exiled us from it they put both us and themselves outside the law of equality. They became an enemy, they became strong; we became displaced and weak. They took the space with the power of the sacred and with the sacredness of power, with the imagination, and with geography. Can I hold on to Tamim’s right to this space? Let him enter this summer, let him enter after two or three summers, let him enter after twenty summersthe important thing is that he should have the right to live here one day. Even if he should choose to live elsewhere after that. The stranger who can return to his first place is different from the stranger whose displacement plays with him without his having a say (156-7).”

In conclusion, briefly consider how Barghouti is discussing religion in the following quote:

“One of the beautiful things about Ramallah is that its society is hospitable and transparent. Its texture is Christian-Islamic, the rituals of both religions mixing in it in a spontaneous fashion. The streets, shops, and institutions of the city are all decorated for Christmas and the New Year, Ramadan and Id al-Fitr, Palm Sunday and Td al-Adha (117).”

This assignment is focus on the second part of the book, chapter 6 to the end of the book.


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