Pre-Occupation

October 20

I have not yet discussed my linguistic work with any of the other linguists, which is unusual. I’ve been to many linguistics conferences, but none where I was so otherwise preoccupied. This is not surprising, given that our trip is not exclusively to attend an academic conference. I realise another side of the occupation and siege, a side that one may not be aware of if one is not here: everybody here works on a double shift. People do whatever they do in life, and they work around the difficulties of living in a place that is artificially and cruelly cut off from the rest of the world, and deprived to its bare minimum by an inhumane blockade. Nobody can be just a linguist, a mason, a doctor, a writer, an artist. Foremost people are occupied with surviving the occupation. It taints everything. Nobody, not even children here are apolitical. How clever Israel is, indeed.

In an argument about the responsibility of writers (and intellectuals in general) of taking a stand on issues such as injustice towards Palestinians, a writer friend of mine once stated how important it was for writers to protect their ‘space’. No artist who lives here has the luxury of such a ‘space’. Perhaps this is the best argument that artists and intellectuals indeed bear a responsibility to openly take a stand and use their voice in support of an oppressed people, especially if they live in a society that directly or indirectly contributes to the suffering, by silent acquiescence, moral, political, and financial support for the oppressors, and that benefits in indirect ways from the status quo of the political situation.

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