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Thursday, August 2, 2012

Beyond victim victimizing victim: replace violence with coexistence

Reflection: Edward Said’s comments on a seemingly endless conflict
Excerpt, editing by Carolyn Bennett

Victims of victims

“… The pattern so far has been the Zionist pattern which is to say that, ‘it’s promised to us, we are the chosen people, everybody else is sort of second rate, throw them out or treat them as second class citizens.’

“In contrast to that, some of us, not everybody, but many Palestinians have said, ‘Well, we realize that we are being asked to pay the price for what happened to the Jews in Europe, under the Holocaust; it was an entirely Christian and European catastrophe in which the Arabs played no part; and we are being dispossessed, displaced by the victims.
“‘We’ve become the victims of the victims.’

“ … Not all of us say they should be thrown out because we have been thrown out. We have another vision, which is a vision of coexistence, in which Jew and Arab, Muslim, Christian and Jew can live together in some polity, which I think requires a kind of creativity and invention – vision that would replace the authoritarian, hierarchical model.
“This idea that somehow we should protect ourselves against the infiltrations, the infections of the ‘Other,’ is, I think, the most dangerous idea …. Unless we find ways to do it, and there are no short cuts to it [to conceiving and implementing a new vision], there is going to be wholesale violence of a sort represented by the Gulf War, by the killings in Bosnia, the Rwandan massacres and others.
“These instances of massive violence illustrate the pattern of emerging conflict that is extremely dangerous and needs to be counteracted. I think therefore it is correct to say that the challenge now is … [nothing] other than coexistence.”

How does one coexist with people whose religions are different, whose traditions and languages are different but who form part of the same community or polity in the national sense?
How do we accept difference without violence and hostility?
View the world as “a great composition by which difference is respected and understood without coercion ─ this is the attitude I think we need.”
Edward Said was speaking nearly a decade ago.

Sources and notes
Emphasis (italic) added
Media Education Foundation MEF) Transcript, Challenging media, EDWARD SAID: ON ‘ORIENTALISM’; Executive Producer & Director: Sut Jhally, Producer & Editor: Sanjay Talreja, Assistant Editor: Jeremy Smith, Featuring an interview with Edward Said Professor, Columbia University and author of Orientalism; Introduced by Sut Jhally University of Massachusetts-Amhersthttp://www.mediaed.org/assets/products/403/transcript_403.pdf

Edward Wadie Saïd (November 1, 1935-September 25, 2003), an advocate for the human and political rights of the Palestinian people, was an influential cultural critic and author, known best for his book Orientalism (1978).

Edward Said was University Professor of English and Comparative Literature at Columbia University, and a founding intellectual figure in the field of post-colonialism.

Image” Imagine Coexistence”
Imagine Coexistence program “grew from the joint initiative and conference sponsored by the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees, Harvard University, and the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University. Imagine Coexistence seeks to enhance prospects for coexistence and break the destructive cycles of intergroup violence. The book Imagine Coexistence “offers a unique perspective grounded in research and outlines invaluable lessons learned from numerous war-torn societies.” Author: Antonia Chayes (Editor), Martha L. Minow (Editor); Language: English; Publisher: Jossey-Bass

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