[Toward a Dialogue with Edward Said]: Response

Critical Inquiry 15 (3):634-646 (1989)

Since neither of these two inordinately long responses deals seriously with what I said in “An Ideology of Difference” , both the Boyarins and Griffin are made even more absurd by actual events occurring as they wrote. The Israeli army has by now been in direct and brutal military occupation of the West Bank and Gaza for twenty-one years; the intifadah, surely the most impressive and disciplined anticolonial insurrection in this century, is now in its eleventh month. The daily killings of unarmed Palestinians by armed Israelis, soldiers and settlers, numbers several hundred; yesterday two more Palestinians were killed, the day before four were killed. The beatings, expulsions, wholesale collective punishments, the closure of schools and universities, as well as the imprisonment of dozens of thousands in places like Ansar III, a concentration camp, continue. A V sign flashed by a young Palestinian carries with six months in jail; a Palestinian flag can get you up to ten years; you risk burial alive by zealous Israel Defense Forces soldiers; if you are a member of a popular committee you are liable to arrest, and all professional, syndical, or community associations are now illegal. Any Palestinian can be put in jail without charge or trial for up to six months, renewable, for any offense, which needn’t be revealed to him or her. For non-Jews, approximately 1.5 million people on the West Bank and Gaza, there are thus no rights whatever. On the other hand, Jews are protected by Israeli law on the Occupied Territories. In such a state of apartheid—so named by most honest Israelis—the intifadah continues, as does the ideology of difference vainly attempting to repress and willfully misinterpret its significance. Edward W. Said is Parr Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University. His most recent contribution to Critical Inquiry is “Representing the Colonized: Anthropology’s Interlocutors”
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DOI 10.1086/448506
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