Posted by: glue | July 18, 2008

Collective Conatus (Samed)

Hegemonic struggles are performed in the discourse of emblems. Case: Israel Palestine, Raja Shehadeh, Samed: Journal of a West Bank Palestinian.

“Samid means ‘the steadfast.’ ‘the persevering.’ It is the name coined during the 1978 Baghdad Conference for the one and a half million Palestinians living under Israeli occupation. . . . We, who had been living under occupation for ten years, were now called on to be samidin and urged to adopt the stance of sumud: to stay put, to cling to our homes and land by all means available.”



“Sometimes, when I am walking in the hills, say Batn el-Hawa –- unselfconsciously enjoying the touch of the hard land under my feet, the smell of thyme and the hills and trees around me –- I find myself looking at an olive tree, and as I am looking at it, it transforms itself before my eyes into a symbol of the samidin, of our struggle, of our loss. And at that very moment, I am robbed of the tree; instead, there is a hollow space into which anger and pain flow.
“I have often been baffled by this –- the way the tree-turned-symbol is contrasted in my mind with the sight of red, newly turned soil, barbed wire, bulldozers tearing at the soft pastel hills –- all the signs that a new Jewish settlement is in the making. This must be the beginning of pornography; the pains of a people have become my own personal, private ones. And the beauty of the hills and the olives have become symbols of my people. It is not any symbolism, but national symbolism that makes you into a land pornographer. It is the identification of the land with your people and through that with yourself. That is what the Gush Emunim people do –- and it is their united aggression that has awoken in me or, rather, rammed into me the same kind of national possessiveness. And with it, the flip side of their gloating –- the fury and the grief, and the image of an uprooted olive as a symbol of our oppression” (Shehadeh, 87-88).



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