'Dark Hope: Working for Peace in Israel and Palestine' by David Shulman (Bookreview NYRB)

"I am an Israeli. I live in Jerusalem. I have a story, not yet finished, to tell." This is the opening line of David Shulman’s powerful and memorable book, Dark Hope, a diary of four years of political activity in Israel and the Palestinian territories. It is a record of the author’s intense involvement with a volunteer organization composed of Israeli Palestinians and Israeli Jews, called Ta’ayush, an Arabic term for "living together" or "life in common." The group was founded in October 2000, soon after the start of the second Palestinian intifada.

"This book aims," Shulman writes, at showing something of the Israeli peace movement in action, on the basis of one individual’s very limited experience…. I want to give you some sense of what it feels like to be part of this struggle and of why we do it.
Struggle with whom? Shulman explains:

Israel, like any society, has violent, sociopathic elements. What is unusual about the last four decades in Israel is that many destructive individuals have found a haven, complete with ideological legitimation, within the settlement enterprise. Here, in places like Chavat Maon, Itamar, Tapuach, and Hebron, they have, in effect, unfettered freedom to terrorize the local Palestinian population; to attack, shoot, injure, sometimes kill—all in the name of the alleged sanctity of the land and of the Jews’ exclusive right to it.

His diary proceeds to show how this happens….

Shulman shows that the settlers are supported by what he calls the "intricate machine," a term he uses to describe various Israeli government agencies, including the army, the police, and the civil authorities that administer the West Bank. But the relations among the various agencies can be so intricate that it is no longer clear who is in charge of a particular policy or action. Hagai Allon, an Israeli official appointed by the former defense minister to be in charge of "the social fabric" in the territories, states that the army does not comply with the defense minister’s orders. Referring specifically to the Hebron Hills area, Allon said the army acts "in the service" of the settlers. It carries out, he said, "an apartheid policy," establishing facts on the ground that are meant to make evacuation of settlers of the West Bank impossible…

‘Dark Hope: Working for Peace in Israel and Palestine’ by David Shulman (Bookreview ‘A Moral Witness to the ‘Intricate Machine’, bishai Margalit in New York Review of Books)


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