Thursday, March 04, 2004

Muttering Small Talk At the Wall 

Continuing our obsession with Great Divisive Walls, we find that horribly misguided Security Fence Fashion Shoot happened despite our best attempts to defuse the situation with precision-guided smarm.
And boy, oh boy -- that's a big ol' wall they got there:

According to the article, no one on the Palestinian side understood the fashionistas' noble, liberal intentions. They had this weird idea about their being exploited or the image of the wall being cynically manipulated to sell clothes or some such nonesense. Why, no well-meaning liberal artist would ever take advantage of the suffering of another group in the name of shock value. No, sir.

Also, we learn the models are morons:
"My political culture is very limited," said Nouni Cisse, 23, speaking English with a strong French accent. "I had few information when I left France. I knew there was a political problem between Israelis and Palestinians, but why and what, I didn't learn yet."

She said she had just learned about the Israeli barrier on Tuesday. "They showed me a newspaper, but I can't read it because it is in Israelian," she said.

Asked what she thought of the barrier, she said, "It looks like a jail." Asked what she thought of the clothes, she said, "I think there are some good ideas."
Another model, Meital Weinberg, 24, said she lived "in my bubble in Tel Aviv" and had not given the barrier much thought. "Seeing it for the first time, it's a little silly," she said.
... "I don't know much about politics and negotiations," she said. "But the human part of it, that I do understand, is really sad."

Yes. The human part is really, really sad. I'm with Meital all the way there.
The meat of the article is that the Israelis didn't understand the Palestinians, and vice versa. This is why the article must have been a fuckin' wet dream for the International section editor, because it's a gift-wrapped metaphor for geo-politics, with no real analysis necessary. Just a gift from one group of people completely ignorant of the meaning of their actions or the actions of their government to another.
Their lacquered faces composed in haughty neutrality, three models struck poses at the foot of the 25-foot-high concrete wall, beneath white graffiti in swirling Arabic. They seemed unaware that the words meant "I Am a Big Donkey."
The two women tried and failed to find a common language, then communicated through a journalist who spoke Arabic and English.
"Is it good?" demanded Umm Muhammad, waving at the wall.
"I think it's very bad," replied Ms. Goldfiner. "That's why I came to do this."
Umm Muhammad did not grasp any link between high fashion and the high barrier, which the Israeli government and most Israelis say is needed to stop suicide bombers. Her voice rising in anger, she spoke about being cut off from three married daughters on the other side. She spoke about not much liking the models' clothes. She spoke about wanting not a fashion shoot but to help to tear the wall down.

"In the early 1870s, the intelligentsia's idealization of the peasantry and frustration with its own situation and the prospects for political reform led to the spontaneous mass movement which best explemplifies Populist aspirations--the 'going to the people' of 1873-4. Thousands of students and members of the intelligentsia left the cities to go to the villages, sometimes envisaging themselves as enlighteners of the peasantry, sometimes more humbly seeking to acquire the simple wisdom of the people, and sometimes with the hope of conducting revolutionary organization and propaganda. The movement had no central direction and no clearly defined political intent as far as most of the participants were concerned: its spirit was less that of a political campaign than a religious pilgrimage. But the distinction was hard for either the peasantry or the Tsarist police to grasp. The authorities were greatly alarmed, and made mass arrests. The peasants were suspicious, regarding their uninvited guests as offspring of the nobility and probably class enemies, and often handing them over to the police. This debacle produced deep disappointment among the Populists. They did not waver in their determination to serve the people, but some concluded that it was their tragic fate to serve them as outcasts, revolutionary desperadoes whose heroic actions would be appreciated only after their deaths."
-Sheila Fitzpatrick, The Rusian Revolution

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