Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Why Do Zionists Like Ajami?

'Now, consider some thoughts in a BBC review by Palestinian attorney Raja Shehadeh. Shehadeh is an Orwell Prize winner and founder of Al-Haq, a Palestinian human rights organization, he says:

[The world of Ajami is] a city of drive-by shootings, drugs, and racketeering, where men, young and old, are shot or stabbed to death on the slightest provocation and shady sheikhs in Arab dress sort out the blood money in what is supposed to pass as tribal justice. ... the unrelieved blood-letting punctuated only by moments of love and loyalty to family and friends leaves us in no doubt that the Jewish citizens of Israel exist in a jungle infested by bloodthirsty, uncivilized Arabs who live inside and outside its borders exactly as Israeli propagandists claim. If Israel is to make it, the story goes, this tiny bastion of civilization has no choice but to remain militarized and on full alert. What the film fails to open our eyes to is why life in Jaffa has come to this. After one of the senseless murders by Arab assailants, the Israeli television commentator explains that poverty and unemployment often lead to crime. But are these the only reasons that explain why things have become so bad in Ajami? The film makes no reference to what Jaffa has been and what it has gone through or the present threat of eviction facing many in its Ajami quarter. Before most of its inhabitants were forced out by Israel in the 1948 Nakba--the catastrophe--it was a prosperous city of over one hundred thousand citizens that was described as the "Bride of the Sea." After the establishment of Israel the city was left to rot. Nor does the film give any hint of the host of economic and travel restrictions imposed on the territories Israel occupied in 1967, restrictions which force another of its characters, Malik, a one-time resident of Nablus, to seek illegal employment in Jaffa and there, enduring daily hardships, he becomes involved in drug dealing and dies as a result. ... surely a film that wants us to open our eyes to reality should not serve ideology by compromising truth. In July 1936, Ben-Gurion, one of the founders of Israel, wrote, in his diary: "I would welcome the destruction of Jaffa, port and city. Let it come. It would be for the better. If Jaffa went to hell, I would not count myself among the mourners." ...

In short, Zionists like Ajami for the reasons pointed to by Raja Shehadeh. The film reinforces negative stereotypes about Arabs-Palestinians and decontextualizes life in Ajami from the socio-political reality of Jewish apartheid and the historical realities of the Nakba and the ongoing occupation of

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