A young woman named Layla Kaiksow periodically sends out long, detailed emails to those of us who have asked her to stay in touch while she volunteers and does research in Palestine. It is fitting – in a bitter, ironic way – that her email received yesterday on the one year anniversary of Rachel Corrie’s death reflects my thoughts from a year ago on how frighteningly easy it could be to become emotionally detached from all the heartbreak and horror on the other side of the world.
Layla’s email brought back the same disquieting sense of helplessness that characterizes any description and discussion of the Israel-Palestine conflict. Later, while scrolling through my weblog archives, I came across a post mentioning Rachel Corrie a year ago, and then again one month later in my post about Jenin. Sitting here, rereading my words from last year (and rereading Rachel’s series of emails to her family), I think about how easy it is for me to forget, to carry on with my life, to leave the courage and hard work to others. It’s been a year, and nothing has changed, but neither have I personally demonstrated nor contributed any noticeable impulses towards actively seeking change. It’s been a year, and I still lack Rachel’s courage, conviction, and selflessness.
“I realized I hadn’t written in a while because you become numb to the life here and things that are really disgusting seem not normal but normalized. When you see people harassed everyday, you start to not want to write again and again about the same thing. The other day I was passing through the Bethlehem checkpoint and there were maybe 20 men lined up against the wall with their faces to the wall. They were all awaiting their IDs to be returned to them and of course were forbidden from leaving until given “permission” from the soldiers. It’s not that anything that happens here seems fair or even normal, but I have been here almost 6 months now and you start to think, yeah, this happens all the time. That is the biggest danger of the Occupation; things get so bad, and have been going on for more than 50 years that terrible violations of Human Rights become a daily occurrence.”