A review of Greg Burris, The Palestinian Idea: Film, Media, and the Radical Imagination, Philadelphia, Temple University Press, 2019) (2021)
While passing through the Allenby border crossing on one of my trips to Palestine, the soldier who was checking our papers looked at my sister who was five years old at the time, and said, in Hebrew, “you are very pretty.” I did not know how to read the soldier’s words and their implications on the hierarchical differences present in that moment. However, a reading that sees this interaction as an instance of the agent’s rejection of her state’s unjust reality is a reading stuck in the Imaginary realm in the Lacanian sense. In other words, in that instance, the agent was still enforcing the occupation, and we were still being occupied, the only change that might have occurred is that the agent humanized herself.1 I was reminded of this interaction after reading Greg Burris’s The Palestinian Idea. In the preface to his book, Burris recounts an anecdote describing Jaffa/ Yafa beach, where he spotted in a short period of time “an apparently secular couple taking a dog for a walk, some Muslim children flying kites, and an Orthodox Jewish family enjoying a picnic. I heard both Hebrew and Arabic, as well as the sound of bells ringing from a nearby church” (Burris 2019, xi).