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Life in a theater troupe, in occupied Palestine

The Hourglass < Killing the Buddha


As we made our way among the winding, shoddy roads that Palestinians are allowed to drive on, the settlements were everywhere—on hilltops, around every turn, connected by their own sumptuous superhighways. I convened a contest among the other riders on our Freedom Bus about what science fiction terminology best described the settlements we kept seeing. “Death Star” or “Coruscant” from Star Wars seemed appropriate to their looming effect, but not their actual appearance. So I settled on, simply, “moon base.”

A moon base is, essentially, the perfect suburb. In contrast to its hostile surroundings, it is supposed to be clean, orderly, functional, and white. Every inch is planned. Its inhabitants work together for a higher purpose. I imagine that life in the matching apartment buildings and townhouses and houses of the settlements is like that too. I imagine that there are a lot of recycling bins.

Space eventually leads one to time. They are closer than we think, and one doesn’t make sense without the other; light-years measure distance, and timezones dictate the hour. On the map of the West Bank, too, I began noticing traces of my own country’s history.

Consider, on that map, those settlements planted on conquered land. Consider the wall, winding around the settlements and native towns, effectively annexing land with so little faithfulness to the Green Line. Consider the Jewish-only roads connecting the settlements. See them, out the window of a bus that cannot access them, lined by massive concrete barriers, leading into tunnels under Palestinian towns and across bridges over Palestinian valleys. Consider the archipelago of Zone A, the paltry islands not under Israeli military control, where a so-called Palestinian Authority is built to fail.
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