Drawn to darkness and obscurity, but with a tenacious grip onto the light. Pure forms existing, withstanding, even though they convey impressions of isolation and alienation. There is a heroism of the outlaw, a kind of aesthetic, a beauty of crashing and burning, the constant, intentional flaming out and upheaval of established order. A power of non-religious spiritual life, pure religiosity; an extreme romanticism falling and rising under the weightlessness of death and a continuation of a feeling, an emotional catharsis that extends beyond the life of the person who felt it, lived it, died for it, and the tension of the creative relationship caught between the image and its reality….
The Israelis have Shalit back, and the Palestinians return to their homes in exile. It all unfolds, an enactment that bears resemblance to Bell Hooks and her Outlaw Culture; the Palestinians in a similar role as the Black subculture in America; existing to serve as a rite of passage for white youth, acting out fantasy’s forbidden in mainstream white culture, before passing into the conservatism and conventionality that this code requires as the dominant and occupying class.
One has to question whether empathy and support by Western youth for the Palestinians is a new way of an old path of cultural imperialism and colonialism. The hegemonic hipster. Celebrity dissenters, distinction and status conscious like Naomi Klein, Banksy, Adbusters, Culture Jamming Incorporated, bring their trademarked brand to new markets. Culture jamming Al Jazeera edition. But, the Palestinians are also complicit in their own colonization at some level, given their own obsessions with conquest: sexual, political and militarily. Ironically and absurdly, the Separation Wall is an imposing but not implacable border: it signals a kind of similarity, a togetherness, however perverse it is. Even Jean Genet’s “boundary crossing” is emblematic as a luxury for those with privilege, who like Klein et al. is another basically “transgressive” figure providing role models which fit seamlessly into the capitalist logic of commodification and appropriation.
But, getting back to the central theme of relationship of appearance to reality, an image front and center both to art and to life. Ultimately, support for the Palestinian cause does not seem to translate into thinking through racial and national identities and desires in new and challenging ways. Typically, like African Americans, their sexuality is otherized as exotic, generally always available, and fetishized. The status-quo is reaffirmed. Palestinians are where the white folk meet to work through their identity issues and longings for transcendence which also implies that cultural imperialism is perpetuated. Even the structure of patriarchy is affirmed, insidiously as a re-package into normative gender equality: universalized rights that avoid structural class barriers, race etc. Everything is transfigured to the private sphere of individual self-worth. Democracy is a product.
You have to question whether the sexist, misogynist and patriarchal ways of the Western controlled Middle East are simply a reflection of the prevailing values in our own society; values sustained by white supremacist thinking in which what we morally sanction towards the Palestinians and the larger context of the pan-Arabian peninsula is not the embodiment of the norm where rape and murder is the access to patriarchal power given the limited other options in most cases.
…Genet saw, could in the prolonged absence of victory prove a weakness. In a passage just after the middle of the book he examines the French expression “entre chien et loup” — literally “dusk”: a time when one creature might metamorphose into another. For a moment Genet pulls back from his image: “In order to record the next phase of the story,” he suggests, “perhaps I ought to draw back at first and take a run at it.” What he is taking a run at is his fear of the fedayeen metamorphosing into Islamic militants; the “logical conclusion” of his feeling that “the expression entre chien et loup, instead of connoting twilight, describes any, perhaps all, of the moments of a fedayee’s life”. The proposition brings “howls of protest … from the PLO officials”. But Genet’s premonition is so strong that — uncharacteristically — he records the exact date of its occurrence: “But as one of their leaders told me today, September 8 1984, that such a thing was impossible, let’s pretend this digression was never either
written or read.”…
…This remarkable passage is very much Genet at work. Like a miraculous street artist he beckons us over to watch as he paints prophetic lines and shadows on the pavement. The image complete, he walks away with a shrug. But what he has to say is of tremendous importance and he knows it. There is no doubting that once again he has nailed his colours to the mast of the oppressed, to the “metaphysical revolution of the native”. In this instance the Palestinian, as before it had been that of the Black Panthers and before that the Algerian revolution. Said reports that in Beirut in the autumn of 1972, speaking of Sartre’s strong pro-Israeli stance, Genet had said: R
e’s a bit of a coward for fear that his
friends in Paris might accuse him of anti- semitism if he ever said anything in support of Palestinian rights.” Genet would probably not have been surprised to see otherwise admiring critics, like Edmund White, fearful that such an accusation might be levelled against him, seeking to separate the genius of the book, somehow, from its politics….
…Similarly Clifford Geertz (New York Review of Books, 19 November 1992) has written that “Genet is, for all his sympathy for the Palestinians’ predicament not so much a partisan … as a connoisseur of pure rebellion.” Genet himself would have rejected such expedient distinctions. “It’s
not the justice of their [the Palestinians'] cause that moves me,” he writes, “it’s the rightness.”… Read More:http://www.ahdafsoueif.com/Articles/Genet_In_Palestine.pdf
Through such an analysis, Genet avoided an essentialist understanding of race and national identity. It was just such a stance that allowed him to say, “The Day the Palestinians become institutionalized, I will no longer be by their side.” Today, the apparatus of the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) no longer reaches out in an attempt to question society from the bottom up, rather, it seeks to be that “institutionalized” apparatus that Genet had so feared.
Beyond the immense corruption within the PLO, it has also ceased to be that organization that once fought for autonomy and a better global society alongside thousands of other marginalized peoples throughout the world. It seems evident that the current structures of power, including the Israeli imposition of daily desperation upon Palestinian life, have birthed a PLO that lacks the revolutionary fervor that once attempted to question the whole of society and produce a necessarily Palestinian identity that stood for something greater than another nation-state ready to take its place beside 200 other pawns at the United Nations, while today’s political game is being played across town at the IMF, World Bank and WTO.
The cause of the Palestinian people is today more just than ever. But today we must understand that what the Palestinian people have come to symbolize is the desperation of an entire generation of humanity, who through policies of neoliberal globalization has been exiled from their homes and from their ability to make and remake themselves.
We must understand, as Genet did in the past, that today when we say, “Palestine must exist!” we are really saying, “Another world must exist!” Read More:http://dukechronicle.com/article/commentary-jean-genet-black-panthers-and-plo