Adonis Diaries

Archive for March 2013

Aluminum: Voracious energy consumption and highly toxic and detonating…

The raw material of aluminum is the Bauxite, and it is the fourth mineral found in abundance on earth.

The world production of aluminum consumes more than 1% of all the energy produced in the world. A single aluminum plant can light up a medium city of half a million for an entire year.

Processing aluminum consumes 5 times more energy than processing iron.

There are at least 3 phases in the transformation from raw material into aluminum, and each phase adds value 5 times over the previous phase.

The manufacture of aluminum is highly toxic, and the initial phases are done in third world countries, particularly close to mighty rivers. Monster hydroelectric dams are constructed on rivers just to produce enough power for the transformation of the Bauxite, and the people barely benefit from these massive power investment. Three gigantic dams were built on the Congo River for that purpose only, and the people get nothing from all the electricity produced…

I am reminded of the extraction and processing of copper in Chili. The main river has been privatized so that the plants exclusively use up the water and the power generated. Million of peasants have vacated their lands for lack of water.

Actually, many developing countries incur massive dept for building these dams that mainly benefit the multinational companies.

The investigative team on the quick crumbling of Twin Tower failed to mention the real reason for that catastrophe that killed over 2 thousand people within less than an hour: An airplane is made of 30% aluminum.

At temperature of 700 C, the aluminum melt and the liquid seeped through the floors and ignited the building quickly. Worse, at this temperature, aluminum is a detonating element, the content of aluminum in the airplane was equivalent to 700 kilos of TNT.

Aluminum salts are used for cleaning water, and it turned out that aluminum particles are very toxic and are not easily removed from the body system: The cells attach the particles and disseminate them through the body. The brain cells are the most affected and degenerate into Alzheimer disease, and ruin the nerves.

Iron salts are being substituted for cleaning water, but the process is more complicated.

Note: This is a small extract from a documentary I watched on the channel ARTE.

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Paradigm shift in Architecture or expanded job definition? Steve Jobs, Rem Koolhaas…

An émigré architectural historian who teaches across disciplines in California, at a public university near Apple’s lair in the Bay Area (close to San Francisco), is posting an essay. Since architectural stories are surprising rare on the edge of the continent, he needed a shtick; no matter what’s his connoisseur-ish personal tastes and leftist political dispositions.

Simon  Sadler published an essay on March 13/2013 in The Design Observer Group: “Steve Jobs: Architect”

Top: Apple store, Fifth Avenue, New York. [Photo by Eric Wüstenhagen]

Bottom: Steve Jobs and Rem Koolhaas. [Photos by James Mitchell, left, and Rodrigo Fernández, right]

1. An Apple for the teacher
Yet another treatise on Steve Jobs? As an “architect”?
And with Apple seemingly waning,  aren’t we behind the curve on this?  Suffice it to say that my interest is not solely in Steven Paul Jobs himself, but rather in the challenge that the late computer impresario and legendary technologist poses to the methods and purpose of an architectural historian.
My job and my location place me close enough to Silicon Valley that students might fairly assume that I have something cogent to say about all this.  Apple is working with Norman Foster to build a donut-spaceship as its headquarters in Cupertino.
So what are my options?
1. Compare and contrast, that trusty standby of art history, in which I drill my students. I can compare Jobs with … with whom, exactly? Bill Gates, or maybe Thomas Edison? That route would take us away from design, away from architectural history, away from aesthetics.
I like to pay close attention to both Science and Technology Studies and Cultural Studies, which are the disciplines perhaps most comfortable with technology and the American experience.
But neither the Apple HQ, or the iPhone for that matter, readily lend themselves to STS and Cultural Studies’ emphases on flattened and distributed innovation and on user-generated meanings.
So any methods I might borrow from those anthropologically-inclined fields will need to be augmented by the emphases on authorship and aesthetics that architectural history traditionally draws from art history. Peel away his ruthless command of global consumer markets and Jobs can seem to the art historian more akin to Gropius than Gates.
2. Criticality.  Since Jobs’s ruthless command of markets is a fact that cannot be peeled away, we are obliged to deploy the criticality that has been central to architectural historical method that was started by Tomás Maldonado and Manfredo Tafuri.
I am duty-bound to tell students that design is not necessarily benign, especially when it seems to be.
Yet they can see me teaching from the MacBook I am writing on even now. Some of the students I have trained will graduate into Silicon Valley. I wonder what that suggests about my own complicity with the very things which I am attempting to critique?
How does my salary, my adopted state, my consumption, tie me to all this?
So I discreetly edge the conversation back to my own disciplinary competence by comparing the design for the new Apple headquarters with other corporate buildings. We take another iconic and somehow ominous HQ — OMA’s recently completed CCTV tower in Beijing — and we then compare Jobs with OMA’s head, Rem Koolhaas. As if they were both architects.
And then we treat Jobs as though he were an offshoot of a Bay Area design history that was substantially driven by architecture. My concern is to have something to say about design in the far western region where I teach; even though major monumental buildings are scarce on the ground here, and even though the politics of good design are adulterated by my state’s politics of good business.
This effort becomes a test of the limits of my discipline, devoted as it has long been to the maintenance of European critical traditions, and to monumentality and the public sphere, and to the continued preeminence of the academic institutions of Northern Europe and the U.S. Eastern Seaboard.
Such is the fate of many an émigré architectural historian in California, at once living and working within a global engine of economy, design, ideology and media, yet rather far from the concatenations of Greater New England architectural historical scholarship.
We wonder whether there is any more that can be said about the Mission Style, the Case Study Houses, the freeways; or whether anything whatsoever can be said about California’s inland agricultural empire of the Central Valley, which is where I live.
Norman Foster’s design for the Apple headquarters, center, surrounded by the California architectural historian’s canon.
Talk about Jobs as though he were an architect — already a dubious proposition — is to talk as well about advanced capitalism, about global systems, the counterculture, Zen Buddhism, and all manner of phenomena apparently inimical to the critical tradition, to monumentality and the public sphere.
This approach might threatens to liquefy my discipline through a Golden State looking-glass.
Maybe I should emulate the resolve of the philosophers Adorno and Horkheimer who were stranded in sunny Los Angeles during the war, refused to succumb to California languor.
To be frank I think that architectural-historical methodology can benefit from this modest test, and prevail.  This is one of those experiments in method encouraged — forced — by the study of California: here subject and method evolve symbiotically, as befits scholarship in a region enamored with holistic thought, even as my disciplinary training prevents me from ever going fully native.
2. Why it’s simpler to treat Jobs as a California Modern Architect To the subject at hand?
To me, treating Jobs as an architect has merit, if for no other reason than to bring sort of conclusion to the popular psychologizing of what made Job tick.
It is no secret that Jobs was a “complicated” man. Nothing more typifies the persona of the “great architect,” driven to get his ideas executed with minimum compromise, somehow distrustful of people yet seemingly concerned about their welfare, preferring to channel politics through design rather than to actually participate in political activity.
Eric Alterman writes in The Nation’s: Despite the myriad ways his companies improved our lives, Jobs was a hero only in the Ayn Randian sense…” de facto connecting Jobs, via Rand, to that archetype of the “complicated” architect, Howard Roark, a.k.a. Frank Lloyd Wright.  A sense of what you might call “psychopathic humanism” attends such personalities: they are determined to improve the human lot no matter how many individual humans they offend along the way.
Bucking our current postmodern era, Jobs and Koolhaas both seem to have been driven by the possibility that they can act inside, or around, a postmodern world resistant to purpose. Jobs and Koolhaas share, I suspect, an attraction toward design as a type of hermeneutics — a will to learn about the world through the attempt to change it. Koolhaas assigned his Harvard students and OMA assistants to track aesthetic multiplier effects through the study of shopping and of African urbanism; he is passionate, in a manner worthy of a surrealist or second-order cybernetician, about paradox and overdetermination.
Meanwhile both the personnel and the customers of the Apple Corporation functioned as an extension of Jobs, and not simply through the authoritarian exertion of will. In this sense Jobs hasn’t died in the same way that Mies van der Rohe hasn’t died: something of his very thinking, his gestalt, has been learned by other designers and consumers, and in this way Jobs’s legacy — like influential pedagogy — is “architectural.”
That Jobs’s work, his products, has constituted a daily part of people’s lives over several generations was testified to by the peculiar and public demonstrations of grief at his passing.
Steve Jobs memorial, Apple store, San Francisco. [Photo by raumish]
Koolhaas, for sure, is a redoubtable figure for historians and theorists of architecture in a way that Jobs never will be. Judged by his impact on architectural pedagogy and his reception by critics, he probably remains our most important living architect, popular with scholars to the degree that he is apparently unpopular with, even obscure to, the public at large.
Koolhaas invites interpretation. In contrast, scholars are left practically redundant by the sheer popularity of Jobs’s work: there is, apparently, no work of interpretation left for us to do.
We can try to deepen our analyses of Jobs by citing the pivotal influential of industrial designers like Dieter Rams; but accounting for Koolhaas’s interests in the surrealist paranoiac-critical method, Soviet Constructivism and Italian Autonomist Marxism would require graduate-seminar-level exegesis.
Put another way: if Koolhaas’s aesthetic is difficult, Jobs’s is dumb. The categorical difference is that one really is an architect, steeped in the arts, and the other is an ambitious industrial designer, steeped in the applied arts; which is why Koolhaas presents an explanatory challenge, Jobs a functional literalness.
I am not so sure about this distinction, though; whatever the philosophical and formal challenges which Koolhaas’s buildings pose, they function well. And Jobs’s intellectual formation was easily as esoteric as that of Koolhaas.
It’s no surprise that architect Norman Foster has referred to Jobs as though he were a professional peer, “in every way so much more than a client,” as Foster put it in his tribute. “We are better as individuals and certainly wiser as architects through the experience of … working for him. …  Job participation was so intense and creative that our memory will be that of working with one of the truly great designers and mentors.
(This is the sort of language we might expect Foster to have reserved for his earlier mentor Richard Buckminster Fuller — another figure whose functionalism, anathema to the richly formal work of Koolhaas, is adored in Bay Area.)
When Jobs’s name is used as a search term in the scholarly Avery Index to architectural history, it retrieves a 2005 article from Britain’s ID magazine that lists, in this order, the most influential design thinkers in the world: the Museum of Modern Art’s Design Department, Steve Jobs, Rem Koolhaas.
For ID, at least, we are in some way comparing like with like. And the listing of Jobs with MoMA and Koolhaas has the intriguing effect of drawing a westward axis of transnational design, as it transposes from The Netherlands, then to the United States via New York and Northern California, then onward to China, where Jobs and Koolhaas confirm their incendiary reputations in the factories of Shenzhen and the political machine of Beijing.
The modernist tradition becomes — to use Koolhaas’s celebrated term — increasingly delirious, as it gravitates from the Heroic Age Netherlands, to Jazz Age New York, to Aquarian Age California.
If Koolhaas has capitalized upon a distinctively Dutch taste and Northern European aesthetic, Jobs has championed a distinctively Californian energy.
In the early 1980s, the German industrial designer Hartmut Esslinger proposed that there should be a “born-in-America gene for Apple’s DNA,” one that would produce what Esslinger called a “California global” look. Esslinger, then newly arrived in the United States, initially suggested that Apple’s aesthetic be inspired by “Hollywood and music, a bit of rebellion, and natural sex appeal.”
But Hollywood, rock music, sex appeal and rebellion did not prevail in the iconic forms that embody the Apple brand identity created so obsessively by Jobs. In its stores, in its devices, even in the book cover he designed for Walter Isaacson’s biography (which he himself commissioned Isaacson to write), Jobs recovered a vision of the modern as clarified, normative, truthful, perhaps somewhat German though even more Zen.
Is there a relationship between California and these qualities of clarification, normative, truthfulness and Zen? I believe that Apple really does represent a genus of Californian design — that the slogan “Designed by Apple in California” conveys something like an ethos.


Top and Middle: Norman Foster, drawings for Apple headquarters, Cupertino, California, projected 2015. Bottom: Bernard Maybeck, Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, 1915. [Photo by Wally Gobetz]
Apple’s image evolved markedly from the early 1980s to now, but it remained consistent with Bay Area taste, from the counter-cultural feel of the offerings to be found in (say) its early-’80s gift collections —with their totes, kites, belt buckles, wall hangings and rug kits — to the New Age aura of transcendent consciousness and spirituality of more recent Mac products, their concealed LEDs practicing controlled yogic breathing when left on standby.
Apple was a Bay Area company led by a lifelong Bay Area homeboy steeped in such Bay Area enthusiasms as the Whole Earth Catalog and The Grateful Dead.
In the dominant culture of the Bay Area — if I can indulge in a sweeping summary — you find a deep distaste for representing established culture: culture is to be invented, here and now, and to be lived rather than observed and learned. It is a culture that imagines itself as exploring truth and possibility.
This is a trait stretching back through several generations of Northern California designers — Bernard Maybeck is my personal favorite, with his eccentric combinations of materials, technique and historical association. Jobs, too, pursued an aesthetics of truth and possibility.
Compare the design of two corporate animation facilities, one for The Walt Disney Company, in Southern California, the other for Jobs’s Pixar, in Northern California. In his 1991 design for the Team Disney building, in Burbank, Michael Graves employs the Seven Dwarves as Atlantes not only to symbolize a passing world of animated arts but also to make an inside joke about the conclusion of classical civilization.
In contrast, in their Pixar Studios, in Emeryville, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson deploy the patterning of bricks of different hues to make decoration immanent to the materials themselves, in this way suggesting that the building itself is pixelated — a pattern waiting to be orchestrated. Facts before pictures.
The tectonic and material truths of this factory of the virtual feel hyper-real. Its hand-laid brick courses suggest an unnerving sincerity far removed from the postmodern irony of Graves or the postmodern tragedy of Koolhaas.
The Bohlin Cywinski Jackson practice, founded in 1965 in Wilkes Barre, Pennsylvania, under the sway of Louis Kahn (that vital transitional figure between modernism and postmodernism who recovered architectural verity from dogmatic functionalism and returned it to custom, ritual and place) has proven adept at delivering to commercial and technological clients buildings of a local phenomenological intensity. In 1997 the firm completed the residential compound of another computer maven, one Bill Gates of Bellevue, WA, in an earnest regional “Pacific Lodge” style. A couple of years later, Bohlin Cywinski Jackson opened its San Francisco office to handle the Pixar campus for Jobs. What they delivered doesn’t look much like a fun factory.
The main pavilion is an elegant warehouse, its flat arches an acknowledgement of the local light-industry context, with plate glass recalling the notoriously generic corporate architecture of Silicon Valley.
The Pixar campus is a place for serious research, not decorative puns; a place where the arts of animation from the classic era of Disney are preserved within three-dimensional computer modeling originally developed for medical imaging; a place to discover the sorts of truths about the self and the world that were earlier discovered in the Marin County summer camps, Palo Alto garages, East Bay cafés, Silicon Valley laboratories and Silicon Alley warehouses recalled by the campus ensemble.


Top: Michael Graves, Team Disney Building, Burbank, California. [Photo by Loren Javier] Middle and Bottom: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Steve Jobs Building, Pixar Campus, Emeryville, California. [Photos by John Lambert Pearson, middle, and Michael Heilemann, bottom] The comic foil provided by the monumental Luxo lamp is an addition.
The lamp — an homage to Pixar’s celebrated 1986 demo reel, “Luxo Jr.” — was a gift from Australia, as though Pixar were a new nation — a corporate nation that reaffirms the Bay Area as a center of the creative world (with a nod, in the naming of its new building “Brooklyn,” to an East Coast counterpart). Jobs was the undisputed ruler of this nation; Pixar employees knew him to be the hidden hand in the building’s design,  [11] and Jobs was always adamant that all core creative production for his companies would happen in the Bay Area in real diurnal time, defying the industry trend for the globalized dissipation of the design process across facilities, specializations and time zones.
At a Cupertino City Council meeting in June 2011, a clearly ailing Jobs made what I assume was his last public appearance to present the plans for the new Apple HQ; he promoted the Foster + Partners design as a great entity in a traditionalist Bay Area landscape to be designed by Stanford University’s arborist.  The building thus becomes the capsule, the beehive, the phalanstery for 15,000 engineers circling the wagons against the outsourcing of Californian design.
Apple had thus become the new Californian “machine,” reproducing local tastes and predispositions even through its immigrant employees, like the British designer Jonathan Ive, or the German Esslinger and his practice frog design, all of whom were required to relocate to the region as part of their association with Jobs.
Even the design presence of Baron Foster, whose ideas were profoundly affected by his admiration of the Case Study houses, does nothing to deflect the broad, synthetic Californianism of Apple’s trajectory. Yet ultimately Jobs’s phenomenology can be founded on certainties of place and language no more than the modern-day Bay Area can be founded on certainties of place and language. It is a light phenomenology, slickly tuning consciousness through sensory experience.
This calibration of affect, surely at Job’s behest, explains how Bohlin Cywinski Jackson effortlessly switched from the vernacular brick and iron opacity at Pixar to the Zen-like transparency of the 2006 Manhattan Apple Store.
Opacity, transparency, Jungian forms, materials, place, tectonics: Jobs and his collaborators were trying to access phenomenological truths at the office and at the store.

Top: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Apple store, Fifth Avenue, New York, 2006. [Photo by Jorge Láscar] Bottom: Early graphical user interface, Xerox Star, 1981. [Via DigiBarn Computer Museum]
Along the way Jobs conscripted the very typology of the window from the Graphical User Interface — which he explored soon after it was invented at Xerox PARC in Palo Alto — to the service of his light phenomenology that sought to reveal the world. Floor-to-ceiling windows, beloved by Bay Region architects, became the central motif of Jobs’s inventions — from the computers to the phones to the stores, the windowed grids of the Apple Store on Fifth Avenue relaying attention to the windowed tablets relaying attention to windowed operating systems, propelling us steadily out of history.
Though routinely described as iconic, Apple products seem actually to be moving away from idiosyncratic forms like the trend-setting colored-jellybean style of the late ’90s iMac series. The aluminum, glass and radius edges of the recent products strain for ascetic neutrality.
Without much difficulty the Apple consumer could imagine information one day floating in the environment, dematerialized into the “cybernetic meadow” forecast in the celebrated (if ridiculed) 1967 poetry collection by San Franciscan Richard Brautigan when he was poet-in-residence at Caltech. [15] So at the end of his life, Jobs settled on a Zen-like approach as the appropriate phenomenological architecture for information technology, just as a Zen-like transcendence had attracted generations of Bay Region aesthetes.
Bay Region Style itself bore the clear imprint of Japanese Zen architecture. In a famous 1947 essay on “Bay Region Style,” Lewis Mumford described the style as “a product of the meeting of the Occidental and Oriental architectural traditions,” and 6 decades later Steve Jobs concurred: “I have always found … Japanese Zen Buddhism … to be aesthetically sublime.
Zen is to California as Greece is to Germany“: so an uncommonly insightful student quipped to me recently, bridging the Bay Region’s dogged pursuit of higher consciousness and the German phenomenological tradition. Jobs’s seemingly existential understanding of design does indeed remind one of the fascination exerted over architects by Martin Heidegger, for whom design functioned best in the background, the better to “bring forth” Being.
Bay Area and German existentialism are even linked by a proud sense of their higher provincialism, the disdain for metropolitan affectation. William Wurster, referring to the Bay Region Style, wrote in 1956  that “Architecture is not a goal. Architecture is for life and pleasure and work and for people. The picture frame, not the picture.”
Jobs enthused about the Bay Area’s mid-century stick-built houses developed by Joseph Eichler: Eichler’s “houses were smart and cheap and good,” Jobs told Walter Isaacson. “I love it when you can bring really great design and simple capability to something that doesn’t cost too much. … It was the original vision for Apple.
And so we have that paradox that the normative or the provincial comes to embody rarefied taste and so occupy a central place in design culture. (Something similar happened with critical regionalism.) [22] By the early 21st century, Apple products were the summary forms of international modern design, recalling the abstemiousness of Viennese architect and journalist Adolf Loos at the turn of the 20th century, of the German industrial design of the Dessau Bauhaus of the 1920s, and of the Braun products of Dieter Rams in the 1960s, admiration for the latter of which Jobs developed when attending the Aspen Institute’s conferences in the early 1980s.
Top: Eichler home, original advertisement. [Via Architizer]
Bottom: Dieter Rams, Braun radio and record player. [Photos by Nite Owl, left, and Toby Evans, right]
3. Thinking inside the box What did it mean for Jobs to attempt to recuperate “normative,” “classically” modernist values for a postmodern, late capitalist world order — for a world order whose anguish seems better captured by the old-world Koolhaas, and in which modernism’s promise of emancipation is trammeled in the off-shore factories of Apple’s manufacturers? Is this nothing but a travesty of modernism? For of course we know that aesthetic culture is at best a poor substitute indeed for truly political society, and a sickening lie in its absence.
The clamshell form of the late ’90s MacBook was redolent of the sort of cigarette case that Loos identified in 1908 as the touchstone of modern culture: stripped, portable, repetitive. Ornament became Crime, in Jobs’s mind as it had in Loos’s. The Mac and the cigarette case were trade objects emblematic of their respective epochs, their meanings indefinite, not predetermined: as a content-producing machine, the Mac strenuously obliges society with cultural “running-room.”
Yet the aluminum sheathed MacBook is not quite the quintessential Loosian object. It is almost too refined for its purposes, courting the status of a commodity fetish, mystifying and objectifying human relations through its market exchange. The MacBook confuses the urn with the chamber pot, to borrow Loos’s terms; it struggles to distinguish the ceremonial from the functional. It ennobles the rituals of everyday life, like writing email, but it is too slick to disrupt our lived continuum, which for Loos was the critical function of art, architecture and language — a way in which to make sense of our world. So it is to Rem Koolhaas and his firm, OMA, that we must turn for manifestation of the disjunctions of tradition and modernity, of place and space.
The contrast in taste, in aesthetics, between Jobs and Koolhaas is illustrated most obviously by comparing the two headquarters buildings. With its twisting and grotesque form, the China Central Television tower underscores the tragic deterioration of the public sphere, as the production of information is impressed into the service of the capitalist dictatorship of the People’s Republic.
It is practically a Salon work of art, simultaneously repulsive and fascinating, politically and aesthetically, in a way that reminds me of that classic of the Salon genre, Théodore Géricault’s The Raft of the Medusa (1818–1819).
Whereas the Apple HQ suggests a very different version of the Romantic legacy, of the recovery of a primordial reason beyond intellectualization — it strains to be “insanely great,” in Jobs’s famous phrase. The circle of steel and glass suggests no history, no past; its gesture is spontaneous, or Jungian, or Zen,  childlike in its simplicity and secrecy. It needs no interpretation because, as designer Sean Daly blogged in The Architects’ Newspaper:

The ensō, or “circle,” is perhaps the most enduring motif in the Zen tradition, one that first appears in Japanese monasteries in the mid-1600s. The Zen circle is not a linguistic character, but rather a symbol that conveys a host of things — the universe, the cyclical nature of existence, enlightenment, strength, and poised contemplation. It suggests the Heart Sutra, which explains that “form is void and void is form” … [27]

Like Pixar in Emeryville, Apple in Cupertino exemplifies a light phenomenology. It’s Zen kitsch. Jobs’s Zen postmodernism, of which Foster’s building is an embodiment, acts upon the world through process, intervening in a cybernetic cycle for which the record of historical struggle is but a dysfunctional footnote.

In sharp contrast, the tragic postmodernism of Koolhaas and the CCTV feels jagged, a beauty of terribilità.


Top: Norman Foster, Apple headquarters, Cupertino, California, projected 2015.

Middle and Bottom: Rem Koolhaas/OMA, China Central TV headquarters, Beijing, 2012. [Photos by Jim Gourley]

Koolhaas’s abstraction of modernity appeals more to critical tastes than Jobs’s interaction with modernity. It is almost as though Koolhaas courts his appeal to art-historical criticality, even contributing to its veritable organ, October. Koolhaas, who clearly rejected “interactive” and “gadgety” design — as a young architect at the Architectural Association in London in the ’70s he had little use for the Archigram influence — seems to think like an art historian, and his relative lack of name recognition in the broader culture perhaps confirms the discernment of the specialists.

Whereas the outpouring of grief over Jobs’s death was often in questionable taste. “It sounds crazy,” a student in my modern architecture class said the day after Jobs died, “but for people of my age, it’s like we lost our Bobby Kennedy.” Could my students be so lacking in discrimination? Perhaps … but perhaps not.

I would be fuming if that student had responded in the same way to, say, the untimely passing of Mark Zuckerberg. No disrespect, but Zuckerberg is, we might agree, no Kennedy. So maybe we might agree as well that my student was simply one of many seeking inspiration as an Obama administration elected upon the promise of hope struggled to the end of its third tumultuous year.

And apparently she found it: I noticed her in the crowd when Occupy arrived at my university campus not long after Jobs’s death. One of the few commentators to understand the strange politics of the mourning of Jobs was Frank Rich. Writing for New York Magazine, Rich compared Jobs to Edison as an inventor-entrepreneur whose American technological “architecture” (so to speak) was constructive to the same extent that the upstart American financial-services “architecture” — of the type built by the GE Capital division that had eclipsed the GE industrial division founded by Edison in the 1890s — was destructive.

“Some on the right were baffled that the ostensible Marxists demonstrating in lower Manhattan would observe a moment of silence and assemble makeshift shrines for a top 1% like Jobs, whose expensive products were engineered for near-instant obsolescence and produced by Chinese laborers in factories with substandard health-and-safety records,” said Rich. But, he continued:

If you love your Mac and iPod, you can still despise CDOs and credit-default swaps. Jobs’s genius — in the words of Regis McKenna, a Silicon Valley marketing executive who worked with him early on— was his ability “to strip away the excess layers of business, design, and innovation until only the simple, elegant reality remained.” The supposed genius of modern Wall Street is the exact reverse, piling on excess layers of business and innovation on ever thinner and more exotic creations until simple reality is distorted and obscured.

The paradox was also understood, more viscerally, by that bellwether of campus humor, The Onion:

Steve Jobs, the visionary co-founder of Apple Computers and the only American in the country who had any clue what the fuck he was doing, died Wednesday at the age of 56. “We haven’t just lost a great innovator, leader, and businessman, we’ve literally lost the only person in this country who actually had his shit together and knew what the hell was going on,” a statement from President Barack Obama read in part, adding that Jobs will be remembered both for the life-changing products he created and for the fact that he was able to sit down, think clearly, and execute his ideas — attributes he shared with no other U.S. citizen.

Sit down, think clearly, and execute ideas: this is what draws students to design in a postmodern age, yes? “Obama added” (according to The Onion) “that if anyone could fill the void left by Jobs it would probably be himself, but said that at this point he honestly doesn’t have the slightest notion what he’s doing anymore.”

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Apple store, North Michigan Ave, Chicago, 2003. [Photo by Almond Dhukka]

We might decry the chirping of an Occupier’s iPhone as a mere simulacrum of political society.  We might better see the fate of political society in the metaphor of Koolhaas’s atolls of beauty and social space cast adrift in a neoliberal world. But by a remarkable historical turn, the Pollyanna-ish aesthetic of the Apple Mac has forced us back (somewhat) to actual political society, to actual consumer-political activity. What R. John Williams has called Californian Techne-Zen was articulated so forcefully by Apple that it has seemingly necessitated its own exposure as a false consciousness.

Millions of consumers seem to have understood instinctively an incongruity between Apple’s aesthetic triumph and its refusal to advance social justice: it failed our expectation that advanced bourgeois art will articulate or resolve contradiction. Instead the iPhone starkly verified the dichotomy of its slogan “Designed by Apple in California.

Assembled in China”: capitalist differentials in land and labor value exclude millions from the Bay-Area nation. In so nearly sublimating the contradiction, Jobs’s art drew attention to the contradiction. Jobs’s electronics were so beguiling that their users were forced into a classic, bourgeois, visceral encounter with guilt, contradiction, tragedy: it was this that finally confirmed Jobs as an architect-provocateur on a par with Koolhaas.

Both are indeed Salon designers, ageless enfant terribles and lightning rods, prompting and giving shape to otherwise formless feelings and debates. Still, nobody seems to be holding Koolhaas responsible for the work conditions of his building contractors or steel millers, though the unnatural and monumental gesture of CCTV did indeed draw attention to the furtive modes of production — the state censorship — of Chinese information.

When it was occupying its old building (whatever it was), I had never heard of CCTV, nor paused to consider its role in censorship. And when I was using a Dell laptop, the working conditions enforced in China by Taiwanese electronics manufacturer Foxconn were remote from my awareness, even though Foxconn supplied Dell and practically every other electronics manufacturer of which I am a customer. Was it preordained, one wonders in retrospect, that Jobs’s iPad — which he loved to point at the front page of The New York Times during his famous new product presentations — would deliver New York Times reports about the wage and health and safety scandals in the Shenzhen factories in which the apparatus was made?

I used my MacBook Air to sign a petition demanding that Apple redress Foxconn worker grievances. Every keystroke on the superlative machine reminded me of my desire for a better world, for a more complete and transparent political architecture, and of my complicity with forces I prefer to imagine as beyond my control. To borrow the terms popularized by anthropologist Bruno Latour, the works of both Jobs and Koolhaas function as “things” in and around which are assembled public “concerns” that might otherwise slip through the net of parliamentary discourses arrayed around both left and right.

Even the Wall Street Journal felt compelled to question the “secular prophecy” of technological salvation wrought by Jobs. Apple and OMA objects succeed as works of art, and also as catalysts of public attention, not just by being so astonishingly outré, but also by picturing the world unexpectedly — in extreme resolution, in extreme disjunction — and then by suggesting a means to interpret our existence in the world.

Top: Taiwanese protestors outside Foxconn (Hon Hai Precision Industry Co.) headquarters in New Taipei, 2010. [Photo by Lennon Ying-Dah Wong]

Bottom: Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, Apple store, Fifth Avenue, New York, 2006. [Photo by Mecki Mac]

4. The varieties of bourgeois experience I don’t want to muddy the waters of judgment as a caprice. My purpose is to draw attention to the way that art-historical judgment thinks in several registers, about design that works in several registers, in a world that operates in countless registers. To an art historian, the minimalism of the 2006 Manhattan Apple Store is evocative of European Rationalism and neo-Platonism, when to many other cultural critics it is simply an extravagant warehouse, a shop composed of nothing but shop windows.

But now watch how Jobs and Koolhaas complicate the relation between value and values (between exchange value and human value) in similar ways, by thinking like art historians. “Great products,” Jobs told The New York Times, are triumphs of “taste” derived from “study, observation and being steeped in the culture of the past and present.” OMA designs one of its best buildings for Prada, and Apple amasses $70 billion in cash. Both insist that we pay attention to the art of shopping but then shun the pursuit of business for its own sake.

Koolhaas’s studio at Harvard studied shopping, with delicious paradox, and Jobs saw himself as the nemesis of Michael Dell’s fixation with the bottom line. No part of Apple’s organization would ever be “junkspace.”
Their work invites a moral response, and Jobs and Koolhaas pass onto us, their consumers and interpreters, the responsibility to square their contradictions.

Jobs and Koolhaas alike chose the role of eyewitness to the student uprisings in Berkeley and Paris in 1968, and for each the activism of the Sixties would be formative; years later each would be content to observe the political responses to their work in the ’90s and ’00s with similar remove. These two modes of architectural ambition, interactive and abstract, Californian and European, are not categorically different modes — the one in a naïve or affirmative association with capitalism, say, the other in a critical relationship — but are two sides of the same coin.

Jobs and Koolhaas each project variants of postmodern modernism: one optimistic but quietly doomed, the other doomed but quietly optimistic.
The reason of course is that design (like art) is pretty much inevitably a dialectic between God and Wall Street. The Occupier’s iPhone. The Eichler House. The double bind, built simultaneously, of OMA’s two West Coast projects: the Seattle Public Library and the Prada Epicenter in Los Angeles (both 2004). Enlightenment and shopping.

Oscillating between Soviet constructivism, Manhattanite cosmopolitanism, and commercial midcentury modernism, Koolhaas reminds us that at the very moment that modern design triumphed, its utopian political project was doomed. Meaning that questions about Steve and Rem are ultimately questions about us. What more literal object lessons could we ask for, as art historians standing in front of our students, than OMA’s CCTV and Apple’s Campus 2?

One abstracts the agony of the European public sphere, its workers eking out a living in a Chinese capitalist dictatorship, while the other promises an interactive Californianism after the near-eclipse of the New Deal. The university design studios of the Great Recession, rather than transcending the dialectic, are rather merging abstraction and interactivity, producing student projects that routinely integrate buildings with transgressive spaces, sites, economies, nutrition, mapping.

Given the questionable origins of our own paychecks, it’s a devil’s bargain that few art historians can evade for long. Something of the Shenzhen “disgrace” of Jobs might reciprocally be carried over to art history, which is adept at using the abstractions of critical theory to describe the complicity of buildings and architects with economic regimes, but most often shies away from any explicit description of the deep connections that bind architecture to labor and poverty.

Left: Rem Koolhaas/OMA, Seattle Central Library, 2004. [Photo by Sean Munson]

Right: Rem Koolhaas/OMA, Prada Epicenter, Los Angeles, 2004. [Photo by Corbin Keech]

Architecture is a lifeworld within which none of us can parse absolute judgments, yet it still offers ethical and actionable bearings. This I hope I am illustrating precisely by comparing two of its most notorious architects: the fascination of design is exactly its hermeneutic potential for thinking and working from the inside, across several registers. We can study the varieties of advanced bourgeois thinking that constitute and shape architecture as it re-combines — and reconciles [?] — base economic determination with the factors of geography, language, desire, technology, materials. Much as we return to other moments in the history of capital accumulation — Florence in the 15th century, Holland in the 17th century, Manhattan in the 19th century — and detect something mortal about their arcades, portraiture and still lives, so we can imagine art historians of the future scrutinizing the ambitions of OMA and Apple.

One day the Bay Region will make for a particularly intriguing study in New Deal, systems-driven and neoliberal art history, the Golden Gate Bridge an analog of Brunelleschi’s Dome, a place awash with new money, fusing science, technology, engineering and learning, humans and gods, an outpost of godly and economic universalism at the center of a trade network. We can already see the next chapters getting written; Elon Musk is the latest guru.

It is pointless to try and demote Musk’s wild gamble on the Tesla electric car, his fantastic ambition to save the world one drive-train at a time, his thinking across scales (the roadside rest and recharge stations, his concomitant interest in internet commerce and space exploration), the “insanely great” quality of his early products, his commitment to the Bay Area (to the point of locating his factories there) as an instance of business as usual. His products imply a cultural program beyond the marketplace. Musk compels public discussion. He’s a sort of architect.

Looking at California in this way points back to older, iconological approaches, art historical analyses applied across objects and institutions, ecologies and economies of dissimilar scale, type, intention, moving beyond connoisseurship and critical readings to capture something of the intellectual ecology behind things — the epistemology, or ontology; more than just the study of ideology, the study of ideas and intellectual frameworks particular to design, to its active attempts to mold the immediate future, and to its presuppositions about the world and the way it works.

That things don’t just happen, that political economy and subjectivity aren’t givens; that the meeting of matter and consciousness can be altered is not a general understanding but one particular to a class educated in design.
At which point I might be able to take my students out of the lecture hall (where we study OMA’s staggering and faraway monuments) and attempt an architectural exegesis of the systems of the Central Valley, scouring it for meaning, agency, interruption, rather than celebrating it as a vernacular, or damning it as pure instrumentalism. Perhaps we can stand above Cupertino and regard it like the heroine in Thomas Pynchon’s The Crying of Lot 49 (1965), who observes a new town a little further south in California:

Like many named places in California it was less an identifiable city than a grouping of concepts — census tracts, special purpose bond-issue distracts, shopping nuclei, all overlaid with access roads to its own freeway … a plinth course of capital on which everything afterward had been built, however rickety or grotesque, toward the sky. … she thought of the first time she’d opened a transistor radio to replace a battery and seen her first printed circuit. The ordered swirl of houses and streets … sprang at her now with the same unexpected, astonishing clarity as the circuit card had. … there were to both outward patterns a hieroglyphic sense of concealed meaning, of an intent to communicate. … [A] revelation … trembled just beyond the threshold of her understanding … she and the Chevy seemed parked at the center of an odd, religious instant.

Easter or Ishtar: Same pagan and beautiful celebration of fertility

Most of the Christian religious ceremonies and customs were inherited from the pagan Empires, particularly Byzantium, after Christianity was recognized as an official religion. More than a century elapsed (year of 425) before Christianity became majority or over 50% of the population and spread in many sects.

The Oriental sects carried on the customs and traditions of the Land of the Levant (Near-East region), while the Christian in Rome emulated traditions relevant to the pagan Rome Empire.

For example, this year, the Christian Orthodox Church will celebrate Easter a full month after the Catholics or on May 3.

The stories would like us to believe that Jesus was tried, crucified and resurrected within the span of a week. This is not possible:

1. The Roman judicial procedures were exhaustive and well-oiled.

2. Jesus was not considered a Jew by the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem

3. Jesus was born and lived in the administrative Tyr district, which included Upper Galilee, and thus, the trial process needed far more time to prosecute….

Photo
Whether Easter is taken from Ishtar or a German Goddess Eoster, most Christian ceremonies and customs have roots in previous pagan traditions. Culture and civilization are a continuation process and build upon previous mankind habits and routines.

Do Not curse a God you don’t worship.

Written in the Aramaic language of Tadmor (Syria) over 2,500 years ago on a pagan Temple.

كُتب على أحد المعابد في تدمر باللغة الآرامية التدمرية عبارة:" لا تشتم إلهاً لا تعبده"..<br /><br /><br /><br />
هذه العبارة التي كتبت قبل ألفين وخمس مائة عام تقريباً، لم يكتبها عبثاً أجدادنا الذين تباهوا بتعدد آلهتهم، بل إنهم عندما حفروها على الصخر، هم أرادوها رسالة لتقرأها كل الاجيال<br /><br /><br /><br />
التي كانت ستولد على أرض سورية الجميلة الملونة..<br /><br /><br /><br />
 لماذا "إلها لا تعبده" ؟؟<br /><br /><br /><br />
 لأنك عندما تشتم إله الآخر (دينه ، طائفته ، عشيرته ..إلخ)، فإنك بذلك الفعل تخلق منه عدواً. إنك بذلك تحشره في زاوية ضيقة وتبعث لديه كل الاحساس البدئي بالدفاع عن النفس ..شتم دين الآخر او طائفته او اتجرأ على القول (قناعاته)، يوقظ المشاعر الماقبل مدنية، ويخرب المجتمعات ويفكك الأوطان ..<br /><br /><br /><br />
منقول

Peace words‎’s photo.

كُتب على أحد المعابد في تدمر باللغة الآرامية التدمرية عبارة:” لا تشتم إلهاً لا تعبد

هذه العبارة التي كتبت قبل ألفين وخمس مائة عام تقريباً، لم يكتبها عبثاً أجدادنا الذين تباهوا بتعدد آلهتهم، بل إنهم عندما حفروها على الصخر، هم أرادوها رسالة لتقرأها كل الاجيال
التي كانت ستولد على أرض سورية الجميلة الملونة..
لماذا “إلها لا تعبده” ؟؟
لأنك عندما تشتم إله الآخر (دينه ، طائفته ، عشيرته ..إلخ)، فإنك بذلك الفعل تخلق منه عدواً. إنك بذلك تحشره في زاوية ضيقة وتبعث لديه كل الاحساس البدئي بالدفاع عن النفس ..شتم دين الآخر او طائفته او اتجرأ على القول (قناعاته)، يوقظ المشاعر الماقبل مدنية، ويخرب المجتمعات ويفكك الأوطان ..
منقول

Social Impact?

When  was planning a new website, the team realized that other people may not understand the term “social impact”. Sure, it’s a recognized and much-used phrase among the social impact community, but what does it mean out there in the real world?

Can you share your experience and the alternative terms that you used to clarify the meaning of social impact?

Connect with  for examples of Public Social design projects, like this Was a pleasure working with #MAD4D @KingstonUni through #designthinking #workshops to create #Volunteering models http://t.co/wciLcdqqvG.

In Comfort ZonePoint of View, the team of  posted on March 26, 2013:

As trusted friends and contacts of Uscreates, we are hoping you can help us with a problem.

Over the years we’ve built up a reputation for being thought leaders in social impact. We’ve wowed clients with our results, and we have won awards.

Oddly, this leaves us with a problem.

We have spent the last 10 years working with public sector clients, and we’re used to talking in a certain way about the work we do.

We talk in this way when we speak to our colleagues, business contacts and others who are passionate about social impact.

It was only when we were planning our new website that we realised that other people may not understand the term “social impact”. Sure, it’s a recognized and much-used phrase among the social impact community, but what does it mean out there in the real world?

Why does this matter?

Well, we are hoping to use our skills and experience to help clients from different sectors with their social impact work.  But if they don’t understand what we mean, how can we communicate that we can help them achieve some of their business goals in our unique, positive and creative way?

So, that’s where you come in.  What is your answer to “What is social impact?”

Is it a meaningless jargon or a pithy way to communicate what we do?

Do you use it?  What could we use instead?

To join the conversation, tweet us @uscreates hashtag #whatissocialimpact or chat with us on our LinkedIn page.

Note 1: I would substitute Social Impact with Community Share.  

1. Social connote a magnitude at the national scale in impact, an idea that is not welcomed since people are wary of State imposing on them large scale plans and programs without effective large scale communication input and feedback. I’m inclined to feel that social impact sends the message of a large scale change.

2. No change takes place without starting on a smaller community-based dialogue and sharing with the project. A community can share and appreciate what they agreed upon and disseminate the change to the neighboring communities.

Note 2: Joanna Choukeir Hojeily shared Uscreates‘s photo.
Our brilliant design and communication director Joanna Choukeir Hojeily, will take part in a panel discussion on Service Design next Wednesday:</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>The Art, Science (and Magic) of Service Design<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
April 3rd, 6.30pm to 9.15pm @ the Hub Westminster </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>READ MORE AND SIGN UP HERE: http://wv-servicedesign.eventbrite.com/#
Our brilliant design and communication director Joanna Choukeir Hojeily, will take part in a panel discussion on Service Design next Wednesday: The Art, Science (and Magic) of Service Design
April 3rd, 6.30pm to 9.15pm @ the Hub Westminster
READ MORE AND SIGN UP HERE: http://wv-servicedesign.eventbrite.com/#

Last year I developed InnovaChart, a tool to measure our Innovation at Uscreates and ensure we are contributing new and good practice to the social impact landscape. For us to reach a ‘healthy’ level of innovation our work should aim to reach the following goals: 

  • 25% REVOLUTIONARY work: working with entirely new audiences, on entirely new issues, while creating entirely new offerings within Uscreates
  • 25% EVOLUTIONARY work: two novel territories, and one existing territory (for example the issue could be something we have worked on before, but we’re now approaching a new audience and creating a new offering)
  • 25% INCREMENTAL work: two existing territories, and one novel territory (for example the audience and type of offering is familiar to us, but we’re tackling a new issue)
  • 25% MINIMAL work: working with existing audiences, on existing issues, while creating similar offerings.

We used InnovaChart to look at the yearly innovation of our internal and external projects in 2011 and 2012 and this is what we found out

  • Although we worked on more projects in 2012, we were less REVOLUTIONARY in our projects than in 2011
  • Although we were more REVOLUTIONARY in 2011, our MINIMAL innovation rate was too low which means we were taking too much risk treading too many new territories
  • Our EVOLUTIONARY, INCREMENTAL and MINIMAL innovation is in a healthier range in 2012 than it was in 2011
  • We need to REVOLUTIONISE about 5% of each of our MINIMAL, INCREMENTAL and EVOLUTIONARY work to meet our 25% targets in 2013

InnovaChart analysis

Overall, our 2012 results seem closer to the ‘healthy’ targets, but are still not there yet. So this is what we plan to do in 2013 to foresee results early on and intervene at the right time:

We will use InnovaChart before the work commences as well as after it has been completed. This way, InnovaChart would also act as a forecasting tool during key innovation decision points in the business:

1. “Should we go for this project?”

2. “We’ve done a similar piece of work before, how can we make it better?”

3. “do we design a more novel methodology?”

4. “are we being too risky on this one?”

Get in touch if you would like to use InnovaChart to measure the innovation of your business.

Can you Guess from which town the Third Palestinian Intifada (mass civil disobedience) Will Start?

South of the village of Nabi Saleh, you can see the red roofs of Halamish, an Israeli settlement on the hilltop across the valley. This settlement was founded in 1977 by members of the messianic nationalist group Gush Emunim, and growing steadily since on land that once belonged to residents of Nabi Saleh and another Palestinian village.

Next to Halamish is an Israeli military base, and in the valley between Nabi Saleh and the settlement, across the highway and up a dirt path, a small freshwater spring, which Palestinians had long called Ein al-Kos, bubbles out of a low stone cliff.

In the summer of 2008,the youth of Halamish began building the first of a series of low pools that collect its waters. Later they added a bench and an arbor for shade.

The land surrounding the spring has for generations belonged to the family of Bashir Tamimi, now 57 of age,

(Years after, the settlers retroactively applied for a building permit, which Israeli authorities refused to issue, ruling that “the applicants did not prove their rights to the relevant land.” Recently, several of the structures have been removed.)

When Palestinians came to tend to their crops in the fields beside it, the settlers, villagers said, threatened and threw stones at them.

It took the people of Nabi Saleh more than a year to get themselves organized.

In December 2009 they held their first march, protesting not just the loss of the spring but also the entire complex system of control — of permits, checkpoints, walls, prisons — through which Israel maintains its hold on the region.

Nabi Saleh quickly became the most spirited of the dozen or so West Bank villages that hold weekly demonstrations against the Israeli occupation. Since the demonstrations began, more than 100 people in the village have been jailed.

Ben Ehrenreich wrote:

“On the evening of Feb. 10, the living room of Bassem Tamimi’s house in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh was filled with friends and relatives smoking and sipping coffee, waiting for Bassem to return from prison. His oldest son, Waed, 16, was curled on the couch with his 6-year-old brother, Salam, playing video games on the iPhone that the prime minister of Turkey had given their sister, Ahed.

Ahed had been flown to Istanbul to receive an award after photos of her shaking her fist at an armed Israeli soldier won her, at age 11, a brief but startling international celebrity. Their brother Abu Yazan, who is 9, was on a tear in the yard, wrestling with an Israeli activist friend of Bassem’s.

Nariman, the children’s mother, crouched in a side room, making the final preparations for her husband’s homecoming meal, laughing at the two photographers competing for shots from the narrow doorway as she spread onions onto oiled flat-breads.

On the living-room wall was a “Free Bassem Tamimi” poster, left over from his last imprisonment for helping to organize the village’s weekly protests against the Israeli occupation, which he has done since 2009.

Bassem was gone for 13 monthsto prison that time, released for 5 months before he was arrested again in October. A lot happened during this latest stint: another brief war in Gaza, a vote in the United Nations granting observer statehood to Palestine, the announcement of plans to build 3,400 homes for settlers, an election in Israel. Protests were spreading around the West Bank.

That night, the call came at about 7:30. Twenty people squeezed into three small cars and headed to the village square. More neighbors and cousins arrived on foot. (All of Nabi Saleh’s 550 residents are related by blood or marriage, and nearly all share the surname Tamimi.) Then a dark Ford pulled slowly into the square, and everyone fell silent. Is This Where the Third Intifada Will Start?

Peter van Agtmael/Magnum, for The New York Times. Protesters fleeing from tear gas launched by the Israel Defense Forces. In the background, the Israeli settlement of Halamish. More Photos »

Bassem, who is 45, stepped out of the car, straight-spined, his blue eyes glowing in the lamplight. He seemed a little thinner and grayer than the last time I saw him, in July. He hugged and kissed his eldest son. Ahed was next, then one by one, in silence, Bassem embraced family and friends, Palestinian activists from Ramallah and Jerusalem, Israeli leftists from Tel Aviv.

When Bassem had greeted everyone, he walked to the cemetery and stopped in front of the still-unmarked grave of his brother-in-law Rushdie, who was shot by Israeli soldiers in November while Bassem was in prison. He closed his eyes and said a quick prayer before moving on to the tomb of Mustafa Tamimi, who died after being hit in the face by a tear-gas canister in December 2011.

Back at home, Bassem looked dazed. Nariman broke down in his arms and rushed outside to hide her tears. The village was still mourning Rushdie’s death, but the young men couldn’t keep up the solemnity for long. They started with little Hamoudi, the son of Bassem’s cousin, tossing him higher and higher in the air above the yard. They set him down and took turns tossing one another up into the night sky, laughing and shouting as if they never had anything to grieve.

Nariman told me that by her count, as of February, clashes with the army have caused 432 injuries, more than half to minors. The momentum has been hard to maintain — the weeks go by, and nothing changes for the better — but still, despite the arrests, the injuries and the deaths, every Friday after the midday prayer, the villagers, joined at times by equal numbers of journalists and Israeli and foreign activists, try to march from the center of town to the spring, a distance of perhaps half a mile.

And every Friday, Israeli soldiers stop them with some combination of tear gas, rubber-coated bullets, water-cannon blasts of a noxious liquid known as “skunk” and occasionally live fire.

Last summer, I spent three weeks in Nabi Saleh, staying in Bassem and Nariman’s home.

When I arrived in June, Bassem had just been released from prison. In March 2011, Israeli soldiers raided the house to arrest him. Among lesser charges, he had been accused in a military court of “incitement,” organizing “unauthorized processions” and soliciting the village youth to throw stones.

(In 2010, 99.74 % of the Palestinians tried in military courts were convicted.)

The terms of Bassem’s release forbade him to take part in demonstrations, which are all effectively illegal under Israeli military law, so on the first Friday after I arrived, just after the midday call to prayer, he walked with me only as far as the square, where about 50 villagers had gathered in the shade of an old mulberry tree. They were joined by a handful of Palestinian activists from Ramallah and East Jerusalem, mainly young women; perhaps a dozen college-age European and American activists; a half-dozen Israelis, also mainly women — young anarchists in black boots and jeans, variously pierced.

Together they headed down the road, clapping and chanting in Arabic and English. Bassem’s son Abu Yazan, licking a Popsicle, marched at the back of the crowd.

There were the journalists, scurrying up hillsides in search of better vantage points. In the early days of the protests, the village teemed with reporters from across the globe, there to document the tiny village’s struggle against the occupation. “Sometimes they come and sometimes they don’t,” Mohammad Tamimi, who is 24 and coordinates the village’s social-media campaign, would tell me later. Events in the Middle East — the revolution in Egypt and civil war in Syria — and the unchanging routine of the weekly marches have made it that much harder to hold the world’s attention.

That Friday there was just one Palestinian television crew and a few Israeli and European photographers, the regulars among them in steel helmets.

In the protests’ first year, to make sure that the demonstrations — and the fate of Palestinians living under Israeli occupation — didn’t remain hidden behind the walls and fences that surround the West Bank, Mohammad began posting news to a blog and later a Facebook page (now approaching 4,000 followers) under the name Tamimi Press.

Soon Tamimi Press morphed into a homegrown media team: Bilal Tamimi shooting video and uploading protest highlights to his YouTube channel; Helme taking photographs; and Mohammad e-mailing news releases to 500-odd reporters and activists. Manal, who is married to Bilal, supplements the effort with a steady outpouring of tweets (@screamingtamimi).

News of the protests moves swiftly around the globe, bouncing among blogs on the left and right. Left-leaning papers like Britain’s Guardian and Israel’s Haaretz still cover major events in the village — deaths and funerals, Bassem’s arrests and releases — but a right-wing Israeli news site has for the last year begun to recycle the same headline week after week: “Arabs, Leftists Riot in Nabi Saleh.” Meanwhile, a pilgrimage to Nabi Saleh has achieved a measure of cachet among young European activists, the way a stint with the Zapatistas did in Mexico in the 1990s.

For a time, Nariman regularly prepared a vegan feast for the exhausted outsiders who lingered after the protests. (Among the first things she asked me when I arrived was whether I was a vegan. Her face brightened when I said no.)

Whatever success they have had in the press, the people of Nabi Saleh are intensely conscious of everything they have not achieved. The occupation, of course, persists. When I arrived in June, the demonstrators had not once made it to the spring. Usually they didn’t get much past the main road, where they would turn and find the soldiers waiting around the bend.

That week though, they decided to cut straight down the hillside toward the spring. Bashir led the procession, waving a flag. As usual, Israeli Army jeeps were waiting below the spring. The four soldiers standing outside them looked confused — it seemed they hadn’t expected the protesters to make it so far. The villagers marched past them to the spring, where they surprised three settlers eating lunch in the shade, still wet from a dip in one of the pools. One wore only soggy briefs and a rifle slung over his chest.

The kids raced past. The grown-ups filed in, chatting and smoking. More soldiers arrived in body armor, carrying rifles and grenade launchers. Waed and Abu Yazan kicked a soccer ball until a boy spotted a bright orange carp in one of the pools and Abu Yazan and others tried to catch it with their bare hands, splashing until the water went cloudy and the carp disappeared.

Four settlers appeared on the ledge above the spring, young men in sunglasses and jeans, one of them carrying an automatic rifle. Beside me, a sturdy, bald officer from the Israel Defense Forces argued with an Israeli protester. “I let you come,” the officer insisted. “Now you have to go.”

The children piled onto the swing the settlers had built and swung furiously, singing. A young settler argued with the I.D.F. officer, insisting that he clear the protesters away.

“What difference does 10 minutes make?” the officer said.

“Every 10 seconds makes a difference,” the settler answered.

But before their 10 minutes were up, one hour after they arrived, the villagers gathered the children and left as they had come, clapping and chanting, their defiance buoyed by joy. For the first time in two and a half years, they had made it to the spring.

They headed back along the highway, which meant they would have to pass the road leading to Halamish. Ahed, her blond hair in a long braid, clutched a cousin at the front of the procession. As they approached the road, a border-police officer tossed a stun grenade — a device that makes a loud bang and a flash but theoretically, at least, causes no bodily harm — at Ahed’s feet, and then another, and another. Within a few seconds, the marchers were racing up the hill back toward their village, tear-gas grenades streaking through the sky above their heads.

On warm summer evenings, life in Nabi Saleh could feel almost idyllic. Everyone knows everyone. Children run in laughing swarms from house to house. One night, Bassem and Nariman sat outside sharing a water pipe as Nariman read a translated Dan Brown novel and little Salam pranced gleefully about, announcing, “I am Salam, and life is beautiful!”

Bassem is employed by the Palestinian Authority’s Interior Ministry in a department charged with approving entrance visas for Palestinians living abroad. In practice, he said, P.A. officials “have no authority” — the real decisions are made in Israel and passed to the P.A. for rubber-stamping.

Among other things, this meant that Bassem rarely had to report to his office in Ramallah, leaving his days free to care for his ailing mother — she died several weeks after I left the village last summer — and strategizing on the phone, meeting international visitors and talking to me over many cups of strong, unsweetened coffee. We would talk in the living room, over the hum of an Al Jazeera newscast.

A framed image of Jerusalem’s Al Aqsa Mosque hung above the television (more out of nationalist pride than piety: Bassem’s outlook was thoroughly secular).

Though many people in Nabi Saleh have been jailed, only Bassem was declared a “prisoner of conscience” by Amnesty International. Foreign diplomats attended his court hearings in 2011. Bassem’s charisma surely has something to do with the attention. A strange, radiant calm seemed to hover around him. He rarely smiled, and tended to drop weighty pronouncements (“Our destiny is to resist”) in ordinary speech, but I saw his reserve crumble whenever one of his children climbed into his lap.

When Israeli forces occupied the West Bank in 1967, Bassem was 10 weeks old. His mother hid with him in a cave until the fighting ended. He remembers playing in the abandoned British police outpost that is now the center of the I.D.F. base next to Halamish, and accompanying the older kids who took their sheep to pasture on the hilltop where the settlement now stands. His mother went to the spring for water every day. The settlers arrived when Bassem was 9.

Halamish is now fully established and cozier than most gated communities in the United States. Behind the razor wire and chain-link perimeter fence, past the gate and the armed guard, there are playgrounds, a covered pool, a community center and amphitheater, a clinic, a library, a school and several synagogues. The roads are well paved and lined with flowers, the yards lush with lemon trees. Halamish now functions as a commuter suburb; many of the residents work in white-collar jobs in Tel Aviv or Modi’in. The settlement’s population has grown to more than double that of Nabi Saleh.

I first met Shifra Blass, the spokeswoman for Halamish, in 2010. She talked about how empty the West Bank — she used the biblical name, Judea and Samaria — was when she and her husband emigrated from the U.S. in the early 1970s, intent on establishing a Jewish presence in a land they believed had been promised to them. Relations with the surrounding villages, she told me, had remained cordial, friendly even, until the first intifada. (When I asked people in Nabi Saleh about this, no one remembered it that way.) During the second intifada, three residents of the settlement, Blass said, were killed by gunfire on nearby roads. They weren’t near the village, but attitudes hardened.

When I visited Shifra again last month, she was not eager to talk to me about the conflict over the spring and the lands surrounding it. “We want to live our lives and not spend time on it,” Blass said. She dismissed the weekly demonstrations as the creation of “outside agitators who come here and stir the pot — internationalists, anarchists, whatever.” It was all a show, she said, theater for a gullible news media. “I’ll tell you something: it’s unpleasant.”

On Fridays, Shifra said, the wind sometimes carries the tear gas across the valley into the settlement. “We have some grown children who say they cannot come home from university for Shabbat because of the tear gas. They call and say, ‘Tell me how bad it is, because if it’s really bad, I’m not coming.’ ”

When the first intifada broke out in late 1987, Nabi Saleh was, as it is now, a flash point. The road that passes between the village and the settlement connects the central West Bank to Tel Aviv: a simple barricade could halt the flow of Palestinian laborers into Israel.

Bassem was one of the main Fatah youth activists for the region, organizing the strikes, boycotts and demonstrations that characterized that uprising. (Nabi Saleh is solidly loyal to Fatah, the secular nationalist party that rules the West Bank; Hamas, the militant Islamist movement that governs Gaza, has its supporters elsewhere in the West Bank but has never had a foothold in the village.)

Bassem would be jailed 7 times during the intifada and, he says, was never charged with a crime. Before his most recent arrest, I asked him how much time he had spent in prison. He added up the months: “Around four years.”

After one arrest in 1993, Bassem told me, an Israeli interrogator shook him with such force that he fell into a coma for eight days. He has a nickel-size scar on his temple from emergency brain surgery during that time. His sister died while he was in prison. She was struck by a soldier and fell down a flight of courthouse stairs, according to her son Mahmoud, who was with her to attend the trial of his brother. (The I.D.F. did not comment on this allegation.)

Bassem nonetheless speaks of those years, as many Palestinians his age do, with something like nostalgia. The first intifada broke out spontaneously — it started in Gaza with a car accident, when an Israeli tank transporter killed four Palestinian laborers. The uprising was, initially, an experience of solidarity on a national scale. Its primary weapons were the sort that transform weakness into strength: the stone, the barricade, the boycott, the strike.

The Israeli response to the revolt — in 1988, Defense Minister Yitzhak Rabin reportedly authorized soldiers to break the limbs of unarmed demonstrators — began tilting international public opinion toward the Palestinian cause for the first time in decades. By the uprising’s third year, however, power had shifted to the P.L.O. hierarchy. The first Bush Sr. administration pushed Israel to negotiate, leading eventually to the 1993 Oslo Accord, which created the Palestinian Authority as an interim body pending a “final status” agreement.

But little was resolved in Oslo.

A second intifada erupted in 2000, at first mostly following the model set by the earlier uprising. Palestinians blocked roads and threw stones. The I.D.F. took over a house in Nabi Saleh. Children tossed snakes, scorpions and what Bassem euphemistically called “wastewater” through the windows. The soldiers withdrew. Then came the heavy wave of suicide bombings, which Bassem termed “the big mistake.”

An overwhelming majority of Israeli casualties during the uprising occurred in about 100 suicide attacks, most against civilians. A bombing at one Tel Aviv disco in 2001 killed 21 teenagers. “Politically, we went backward,” Bassem said.

Much of the international good will gained over the previous decade was squandered. Taking up arms wasn’t, for Bassem, a moral error so much as a strategic one. He and everyone else I spoke with in the village insisted they had the right to armed resistance; they just don’t think it works. Bassem could reel off a list of Nabi Saleh’s accomplishments. Of some — Nabi Saleh had more advanced degrees than any village — he was simply proud. Others — one of the first military actions after Oslo, the first woman to participate in a suicide attack — involved more complicated emotions.

In 1993, Bassem told me, his cousin Said Tamimi killed a settler near Ramallah. Eight years later, another villager, Ahlam Tamimi escorted a bomber to a Sbarro pizzeria in Jerusalem. Fifteen people were killed, eight of them minors. Ahlam, who now lives in exile in Jordan, and Said, who is in prison in Israel, remain much-loved in Nabi Saleh.

Though everyone I spoke with in the village appeared keenly aware of the corrosive effects of violence — “This will kill the children,” Manal said, “to think about hatred and revenge” — they resented being asked to forswear bloodshed when it was so routinely visited upon them.  Manal told me, “lost his father, uncle, aunt, sister — they were all killed. How can you blame Said?

The losses of the second intifada were enormous. Nearly 5,000 Palestinians and more than 1,000 Israelis died. Israeli assassination campaigns and the I.D.F.’s siege of West Bank cities left the Palestinian leadership decimated and discouraged.

By the end of 2005, Yasir Arafat was dead (assassinated by Israeli poison), Israel had pulled its troops and settlers out of Gaza and the Palestinian Authority president, Mahmoud Abbas, had reached a truce with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. The uprising sputtered out. The economy was ruined, Gaza and the West Bank were more isolated from each other than ever, and Palestinians were divided, defeated and exhausted.

But in 2003, while the intifada was still raging, Bassem and others from Nabi Saleh began attending demonstrations in Budrus, 20 minutes away. Budrus was in danger of being cut off from the rest of the West Bank by Israel’s planned separation barrier, the concrete and chain-link divide that snakes along the border and in many places juts deeply into Palestinian territory. Residents began demonstrating. Foreign and Israeli activists joined the protests. Fatah and Hamas loyalists marched side by side.

The Israeli Army responded aggressively: at times with tear gas, beatings and arrests; at times with live ammunition. Palestinians elsewhere were fighting with Kalashnikovs, but the people of Budrus decided, said Ayed Morrar, an old friend of Bassem’s who organized the movement there, that unarmed resistance “would stress the occupation more.”

The strategy appeared to work.

After 55 demonstrations, the Israeli government agreed to shift the route of the barrier to the so-called 1967 green line. The tactic spread to other villages: Biddu, Ni’lin, Al Ma’asara and in 2009, Nabi Saleh. Together they formed what is known as the “popular resistance,” a loosely coordinated effort that has maintained what has arguably been the only form of active and organized resistance to the Israeli presence in the West Bank since the end of the second intifada in 2005. Nabi Saleh, Bassem hoped, could model a form of resistance for the rest of the West Bank.

The goal was to demonstrate that it was still possible to struggle and to do so without taking up arms, so that when the spark came, if it came, resistance might spread as it had during the first intifada. Bassem said: “If there is a third intifada,we want to be the ones who started it.

Bassem saw three options:

1.  “To be silent is to accept the situation, and we don’t accept the situation.”

2. Fighting with guns and bombs could only bring catastrophe. Israel was vastly more powerful,

3.  “But by popular resistance, we can push Israel power aside.”

As small as the demonstrations were, they appeared to create considerable anxiety in Israel. Paul Hirschson, a spokesman for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, told me that while the West Bank demonstrations do not pose an “existential threat” to Israel, they “certainly could be more problematic in the short term” than a conventional armed revolt.

Eytan Buchman, a spokesman for the I.D.F., took issue with the idea that the weekly protests were a form of nonviolent resistance.

In an e-mail Eytan described the protests as “violent and illegal rioting that take place around Judea and Samaria, and where large rocks, Molotov cocktails, improvised grenades and burning tires are used against security forces. Dubbing these simply demonstrations is an understatement — more than 200 security-force personnel have been injured in recent years at these riots.” (Molotov cocktails are sometimes thrown at protests at the checkpoints of Beitunia and Kalandia but never, Bassem said, in Nabi Saleh.)

Buchman said that the I.D.F. “employs an array of tactics as part of an overall strategy intended to curb these riots and the ensuing acts of violence. Every attempt is made to minimize physical friction and risk of casualties” among both the I.D.F. and the “rioters.”

One senior military commander, who would agree to be interviewed only on the condition that his name not be used, told me: “When the second intifada broke out, it was very difficult, but it was very easy to understand what we had to do. You have the enemy, he shoots at you, you have to kill him.” Facing down demonstrators armed with slings and stones or with nothing at all is less clear-cut. “As an Israeli citizen,I prefer stones. As a professional military officer, I prefer to meet tanks and troops.”

But armies, by their nature, have one default response to opposition: force. One soldier who served in Nabi Saleh testified to the Israeli veterans’ group Breaking the Silence about preparing for Friday protests. “It’s like some kind of game. Everyone wants to arm themselves with as much ammo as possible. . . . You have lots of stun grenades . . . so they’re thrown for the sake of throwing, at people who are not suspected of anything. And in the end, you tell your friend at the Friday-night dinner table: ‘Wow! I fired this much.’ ”

According to a leaked 2010 U.S. State Department memo, Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi of Israel “expressed frustration” with the West Bank protests to American diplomats, and “warned that the I.D.F. will start to be more assertive in how it deals with these demonstrations, even demonstrations that appear peaceful.” The memo concluded that “less-violent demonstrations are likely to stymie the I.D.F.,” citing the Israeli Defense Ministry policy chief Amos Gilad’s admission to U.S. officials, “We don’t do Gandhi very well.”

Sagi Tal, a former I.D.F. soldier, who was stationed near the villages of Bil’in and Ni’lin, which also held weekly demonstrations, explained to me that his unit sometimes conducted night raids to gather intelligence or make arrests and sometimes simply so “that they should feel that we are here and we are watching them.”

After dinner one Sunday, Nariman put on a DVD shot both by her and Bilal, the village videographer. (“From the beginning,” Bilal told me at the march on the previous Friday, filming calmly as tear-gas grenades landed all around us, “we decided that the media is the most important thing in the popular resistance.”)

We watched a clip shot in the house in which we sat: soldiers banged on the door late at night and rifled through the boys’ room as Salam and Abu Yazan cowered beneath the covers and Nariman yelled in Arabic: “What manliness this is! What a proud army you’re part of!” The soldiers confiscated a gas mask, two computers, Waed’s camera and two of his schoolbooks — geography and Palestinian history. (In an e-mail, an I.D.F. spokesman described such night raids as “pre-emptive measures, taken in order to assure the security and stability in the area.”)

We watched footage of Nariman being arrested with Bilal’s wife, Manal, early in 2010. Soldiers had fired tear gas into Manal’s house, Nariman explained. Manal ran in to fetch her children, and when she came out, a soldier ordered her back in. She refused, so they arrested her. Nariman tried to intervene, and they arrested her too. They spent 10 days in prisons where they were beaten repeatedly, strip-searched and held for two days without food before each was dumped at the side of a road. (The I.D.F.’s Buchman said, “No exceptional incidents were recorded during these arrests.” He added that no complaints were filed with military authorities.)

We watched a clip of crying children being passed from a gas-filled room out a second-story window, down a human ladder to the street. Early on, the villagers took all the children to one house during demonstrations, but when the soldiers began firing gas grenades into homes, the villagers decided it was safer to let them join the protests. We watched footage of a soldier dragging a 9-year-old boy in the street, of another soldier striking Manal’s 70-year-old mother. Finally, Nariman shook her head and turned off the disc player. “Glee” was on.

One Friday, shortly after the marchers had barricaded the road with boulders and burning tires in order to keep the army out of the village center, a white truck sped around the bend, a jet of liquid arcing from the water cannon mounted on its cab. Someone yelled, “Skunk!” and everyone bolted. Skunk water smells like many things, but mainly it smells like feces. Nariman wasn’t fast enough. A blast of skunk knocked her off her feet. Moments later, she was standing defiantly, letting the cannon soak her and waving a Palestinian flag at the truck’s grated windshield. An hour or so later, smelling of skunk and shampoo, she was serving tea to a dozen protesters.

Every Friday was a little different. Some demonstrations were short and others almost endless. Some were comic, others not at all. Some days the I.D.F. entered the village, and others they stuck to the hills. Sometimes they made arrests. The basic structure, though, varied little week to week: a few minutes of marching, tear gas fired, then hours of the village youth — the shebab — throwing stones while dodging tear-gas canisters and rubber-coated bullets until the sun set and everyone went home. Or failed to make it home.

It was strange, asymmetric combat: a few dozen masked shebab ranging in age from 8 to 38, armed with slings and stones, against 20 or more soldiers in armored vehicles and on foot, dressed in helmets and body armor, toting radios and automatic weapons. The shebab put a great deal of thought into tactics, trying to flank and surprise the soldiers. But even when their plans were perfectly executed, they could not do much more than irritate their enemies. The soldiers, though, would inevitably respond with more sophisticated weaponry, which would motivate the shebab to gather more stones Friday after Friday despite — and because of — the fact that nothing ever seemed to change, for the better at least.

I asked one of the boys why he threw stones, knowing how futile it was. “I want to help my country and my village, and I can’t. I can just throw stones.”

We see our stones as our message,” Bassem explained. The message they carried, he said, was “We don’t accept you.”

While Bassem spoke admiringly of Mahatma Gandhi, he didn’t worry over whether stone-throwing counted as violence. The question annoyed him: Israel uses far greater and more lethal force on a regular basis, he pointed out, without being asked to clarify its attitude toward violence. If the loincloth functioned as the sign of Gandhi’s resistance, of India’s nakedness in front of British colonial might, Bassem said, “Our sign is the stone.”

The weekly clashes with the I.D.F. were hence in part symbolic. The stones were not just flinty yellow rocks, but symbols of defiance, of a refusal to submit to occupation, regardless of the odds. The army’s weapons bore messages of their own: of economic and technological power, of international support. More than one resident of Nabi Saleh reminded me that the tear gas used there is made by a company based in Pennsylvania.

One afternoon, I visited the family of Mustafa Tamimi, who was 28 when he died in December 2011 after being shot at close range with a tear-gas canister from the back of an Israeli Army jeep. (An I.D.F. investigation concluded, according to Buchman, that when the soldier fired the canister “his field of vision was obscured.”) The walls were covered with framed photos: an action shot of Mustafa in profile, his face behind a red Spider-Man mask as he slung a stone at soldiers outside the frame.

In the weeks before her son’s death, Ekhlas Tamimi, his mother, told me that soldiers had twice come to the house looking for him. When she got a call that Friday asking her to bring Mustafa’s ID to the watchtower, she thought he’d been arrested, “like all the other times.” Beside me, Bahaa, a tall young man who was Mustafa’s best friend, scrolled through photos on a laptop, switching back and forth between a shot of Mustafa falling to the ground a few feet behind an I.D.F. jeep, and another, taken moments later, of his crushed and bloody face.

Ekhlas told me about a dream she’d had. Mustafa was standing on the roof, wearing his red mask. There were soldiers in the distance. She called to him: “Mustafa, come down! Everyone thinks you are dead — it’s better that they don’t see you.”

He turned to her, she said, and told her: “No. I’m standing here so that the Israeli soldiers will see me.”

“This is the worst time for us,” Bassem confided to me last summer. He meant not just that the villagers have less to show for their sacrifices each week, but that things felt grim outside the village too. Everyone I spoke with who was old enough to remember agreed that conditions for Palestinians are far worse now than they were before the first intifada.

The checkpoints, the raids, the permit system, add up to more daily humiliation than Palestinians have ever faced. The number of Israeli settlers living in the West Bank has more than tripled since the Oslo Accords. Assaults on Palestinians by settlers are so common that they rarely made the news. The resistance, though, remained limited to a few scattered villages like Nabi Saleh and a small urban youth movement.

I sat down one afternoon in Ramallah with Samir Shehadeh, a former literature professor from Nabi Saleh who was one of the intellectual architects of the first intifada and whom I met several times at Bassem’s house. I reminded him of the car accident that ignited the first uprising and asked what kind of spark it would take to mobilize Palestinians to fight again. “The situation this time is 1,000 times worse. There are thousands of possible sparks,” and still nothing has happened.

In the 1980s, youth organizers like Bassem focused on volunteer work: helping farmers in the fields, educating their children. They built trust and established the social networks that would later allow the resistance to coordinate its actions without waiting for orders from above. Those networks no longer exist. Instead there’s the Palestinian Authority. Immediately after the first Oslo Accord in 1993, the scholar Edward Said predicted that “the P.L.O. will . . . become Israel’s enforcer.”

Oslo gave birth to a phantom state, an extensive but largely impotent administrative apparatus, with Israel remaining in effective control of the Palestine Authority’s finances, its borders, its water resources — of every major and many minor aspects of Palestinian life. More gallingly to many, Oslo, in Said’s words, gave “official Palestinian consent to continued occupation,” creating a local elite whose privilege depends on the perpetuation of the status quo.

That Palestinian  elite lives comfortably within the so-called “Ramallah bubble”: the bright and relatively carefree world of cafes, NGO salaries and imported goods that characterize life in the West Bank’s provisional capital. During the day, the clothing shops and fast-food franchises are filled. New high-rises are going up everywhere. “I didn’t lose my sister and my cousin and part of my life,” Bassem said, “for the sons of the ministers” to drive expensive cars.

Worse than any corruption, though, was the apparent normalcy. Settlements are visible on the neighboring hilltops, but there are no checkpoints inside Ramallah. The I.D.F. only occasionally enters the city, and usually only at night. Few Palestinians still work inside Israel, and not many can scrape a living from the fields.

For the thousands of waiters, clerks, engineers, warehouse workers, mechanics and bureaucrats eeking a living in Ramallah who spend their days in the city and return to their villages every evening, Ramallah — which has a full-time population of less than 100,000 — holds out the possibility of forgetting the occupation and pursuing a career, saving up for a car, sending the children to college.

But the checkpoints, the settlements and the soldiers are waiting just outside Ramallah, and the illusion of normalcy made Nabi Saleh’s task more difficult.

If Palestinians believed they could live better by playing along, who would bother to fight? When Bassem was jailed in decades past, he said, prisoners were impatient to get out and resume their struggles. This time, he ran into old friends who couldn’t understand why he was still fighting instead of making money off the spoils of the occupation. “They said to me: ‘You’re smart — why are you doing this? Don’t you learn? Don’t you want to make money..’ ”

At times the Palestinian Authority acts as a more immediate obstacle to resistance. Shortly after the protests began in Nabi Saleh, Bassem was contacted by P.A. security officials. The demonstrations were O.K., he said they told him, as long as they didn’t cross into areas in which the P.A. has jurisdiction — as long, that is, as they did not force the P.A. to take a side, to either directly challenge the Israelis or repress their own people. (A spokesman for the Palestinian security forces, Gen. Adnan Damiri, denied this and said that the Palestinian Authority fully supports all peaceful demonstrations.)

In Hebron, P.A. forces have stopped protesters from marching into the Israeli-controlled sector of the city. “This isn’t collaboration,” an I.D.F. spokesman, who would only talk to me on the condition that he not be named, assured me.“Israel has a set of interests, the P.A. has a set of interests and those interests happen to overlap.”

Bassem saw no easy way to break the torpor and ignite a more widespread popular resistance. “The P.A  have the power, more than the Israelis, to stop us.” The Palestinian Authority employs 160,000 Palestinians, which means it controls the livelihoods of about a quarter of West Bank households. One night I asked Bassem and Bilal, who works for the Ministry of Public Health, how many people in Nabi Saleh depend on P.A. salaries. It took them a few minutes to add up the names. “Let’s say two-thirds of the village,” Bilal concluded.

Last summer, my final Friday in Nabi Saleh was supposed to be a short day. One of the shebab was getting engaged to a girl from a neighboring village, and everyone planned to attend the betrothal ceremony. The demonstration would end at 3.

Four armored cars waited at the bend in the road, the skunk truck idling behind them. Manal pointed to the civilian policemen accompanying the soldiers. “There is a new policy that they can arrest internationals,” she explained. Earlier that month, as part of the effort to combat what Israelis call the “internationalization” of the conflict, the defense forces issued an order authorizing Israeli immigration police to arrest foreigners in the West Bank.

About half the marchers headed down the hillside. Soldiers waiting below arrested four Israelis and detained Bashir, the owner of the land around the spring. Everyone cheered as Mohammad raced uphill, outrunning the soldiers. (Three months later they would catch up to him in a night raid on his father’s house. He was imprisoned until late December.)

I saw Nariman standing in the road with a Scottish woman. I walked over. Two soldiers grabbed the Scottish protester. Two more took me by the arms, pulled me to a jeep and shoved me in. I showed my press card to the driver. His expression didn’t change. Two frightened young women, both British, were already locked inside.

After almost an hour, the soldiers brought a Swede and an Italian who had been hiding in the convenience-store bathroom. More soldiers piled in. I showed one my press card and asked if he understood that I was a journalist. He nodded. Finally, the driver pulled onto the road. As we passed the gas station, the shebab ran after us.

“They were so beautiful a few minutes ago, right?” the soldier beside me said as the shebab’s stones clanged against the jeep. “They were so cute.”

They drove us to the old British police station in the I.D.F. base in Halamish. While I was sitting on a bench, an I.D.F. spokesman called my cellphone to inform me that no journalists with press cards had been detained in Nabi Saleh. I disagreed. (The next day, according to Agence France-Presse, the I.D.F. denied I had been arrested.) A half-hour later, an officer escorted me to the gate.

As I walked back to Nabi Saleh, the road was empty, but the air was still peppery with tear gas. I made it back in time for the engagement party and flew home the next day. The five activists detained with me were deported. Two nights after I left, soldiers raided Bassem’s house. The following week, they raided the village five days in a row.

This past October, the popular resistance movement began to shift tactics, trying to break the routine of weekly demonstrations. They blocked a settler road west of Ramallah, and the following week staged a protest inside an Israeli-owned supermarket in the settlement industrial zone of Shaar Binyamin. Bassem was arrested outside the market — soldiers grabbed at Nariman and dragged Bassem off when he stepped forward to put his arms around her.

Less than two weeks later, Waed was arrested at a Friday demonstration. Soldiers beat Waed “with their fists and their rifles.” When he appeared in court, Waed was still bruised. The judge threw out the charges. But while he was detained, he was in the same prison as his father and saw him briefly there. “When I said goodbye to him,” Waed told me with obvious pride, “he had tears in his eyes. I was stronger than him.”

On the day of Waed’s arrest, a camera caught Ahed shaking her fist, demanding that soldiers tell her where they were taking her brother. The Internet took over: video of the tiny, bare-armed blond girl facing down a soldier went viral. She and Nariman were invited to Istanbul, where, to their surprise, Nariman said, they were greeted at the airport by dozens of children wearing T-shirts printed with Ahed’s photo. They drove past billboards displaying Ahed’s image. Reporters followed them everywhere. Crowds gathered when they walked in the streets. They were taken to Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan in the southeastern city of Urfa, Nariman said, and flew back with him to Istanbul on his plane.

Not everyone reacted so enthusiastically. One right-wing blogger dubbed Ahed “Shirley Temper.” The Israeli news site Ynet took the images as evidence that “Palestinian protesters use children to needle I.D.F. soldiers in the hope of provoking a violent response.”

In mid-November, Israeli rockets began falling on Gaza. Protests spread throughout the West Bank. “We thought it was the start of the third intifada,” Manal told me. The demonstrations in Nabi Saleh stretched beyond their usual Friday-evening terminus. One Saturday in November, Nariman’s brother Rushdie — who worked as a policeman near Ramallah and was rarely home on Fridays — joined the shebab on the hill. He was standing beside Waed when he was hit by a rubber-coated bullet.

Then the soldiers began shooting live ammunition, but Rushdie was hurt and couldn’t run. As he lay on the ground, a soldier shot him in the back from a few meters away. Nariman ran to the hillside with her video camera and found her brother lying wounded. “I wanted to attack the soldier and die with Rushdie right there, but I knew I had to be stronger than that,” Nariman said. “Why is it required of me to be more humane than they are?” Rushdie, who was 31, died two days later. An I.D.F. investigation found that soldiers fired 80 shots of live ammunition and neglected to “control the fire.” The unit’s commander was reportedly relieved of his command.

When the fighting stopped in Gaza, the protests in the West Bank ceased. I went back to Nabi Saleh in January, three weeks before Bassem was expected home. The village seemed listless and depressed, as if everyone were convinced of the futility of continuing. On my first Friday back, the demonstration ended early: the shebab had a soccer match in another village. It rained the next week, and everyone went home after an hour. “We are still living the shock of Rushdie’s killing,” Mohammad told me.

Elsewhere in the West Bank, though, momentum was building. In late November, Netanyahu announced plans to build 3,400 settlement units in an area known as E1, effectively cutting off Jerusalem from the West Bank. Just before I arrived in January, popular-resistance activists tried something new, erecting a tent “village” called Bab al-Shams in E1, symbolically appropriating the methods of land confiscation employed by settlers. “The time has come now to change the rules of the game,” the organizers wrote in a news release, “for us to establish facts on the ground — our own land.”

The numbers were relatively small — about 250 people took part, including Nariman and a few others from Nabi Saleh — and, on direct orders from Netanyahu, soldiers evicted everyone two days later, but the movement was once again making headlines around the globe. Copycat encampments went up all over the West Bank — some in areas where the popular resistance had not previously been active.

The day after his release, Bassem told me that even sitting in prison he had felt “a sense of joy” when he learned about Bab al-Shams. The popular resistance was finally spreading beyond the village demonstrations. “We have to create a sense of renewal,” he said, “not only in Nabi Saleh but on a larger scale.” The village’s losses — and his own — he acknowledged, were daunting. “The price is now higher,but if we don’t continue, it would mean that the occupation has succeeded.” It would take constant creativity, he said, to hold onto the momentum. He didn’t know what it would look like yet, but just talking about it seemed to add inches to his height.

Within days, thousands of Palestinians would protest around the West Bank, first in solidarity with prisoners on hunger strikes to demand an end to the indefinite detention of Palestinians without trial, later in outrage at the death of a 30-year-old prisoner named Arafat Jaradat. Once again, the words “third intifada” were buzzing through the press. Avi Dichter, the head of Israeli domestic security during the second intifada and the current minister of Home Front Defense, cautioned in a radio interview that an “incorrect response by the security forces” might push the protests into full-out revolt.

When I saw Bassem in February, I asked him whether he was worried that the uprising might finally arrive at Nabi Saleh’s moment of greatest self-doubt, that it might catch the village drowsing. “It doesn’t matter who is resisting,” he said. “What’s important is that they are resisting.”

On the last Friday I was there, the wind was against the demonstrators. Nearly every grenade the soldiers fired, regardless of how far away it landed, blew a cloud of gas up the road right at them. A dozen or so villagers watched the clashes from the relative safety of the hillside. Bassem’s cousin Naji was sitting on a couch cushion. Mahmoud, Bassem’s nephew, poured coffee into clear plastic cups. Bright red poppies dotted the hill between the rocks. The way was clear, but no one tried to walk down to the spring.

When the demonstration seemed over, I trekked back to the village with a young Israeli in a black “Anarchy Is for Lovers” T-shirt. He told me about his childhood on a kibbutz bordering the Gaza Strip. His parents were “right-wing Zionists,” he said, “hard-core.” They didn’t talk to him anymore. A group of soldiers appeared behind us, and we ducked into Nariman’s yard as they tossed a few stun grenades over the wall.

Later that evening, at Naji’s house, I watched Bilal’s video of the same soldiers as they strolled down the drive, lobbing tear-gas grenades until they reached their jeeps. They piled in and closed the armored doors. One door opened a crack. A hand emerged. It tossed one last grenade toward the camera. Gas streamed out, the door closed and the jeep sped off down the road.

Ben Ehrenreich won a 2011 National Magazine Award in feature writing. His most recent novel is “Ether,” published by City Lights Books. Editor: Ilena Silverman

Rumors are pretty strong, and supported by Frequency: CIA behind rogue leaders’s cancer and heart attacks ailments
It is well documented and thoroughly researched that the activities of the CIA demonstrated that the US covert operations are MASTERS of assassination. They can give people cancer and heart attacks.
An article by Lieutenant Colonel John B. Alexander, entitled “The New Mental Battlefield — Beam Me Up, Spock“,  provides further insight into the technical capabilities now at the disposal of the controllers. He writes: “Several examples will demonstrate areas in which progress has been made: The
transference of energy from one organism to another. The ability to heal or cause disease can be transmitted over a distance, thus inducing illness or death for no apparent cause…”
Late Venezuelan president Hugo Chavez speculated that the US might have developed a way to weaponise cancer, after several Latin American leaders were diagnosed with the disease.
The list includes:
Former Argentine president Nestor Kirchner (colon cancer), Brazil’s president Dilma Rousseff (lymphoma cancer), her predecessor Luiz Inacio Lula da Silva (throat cancer),  former Cuban president Fidel Castro (stomach cancer,) Bolivian president Evo Morales (nasal cancer) and Paraguayan president Fernando Lugo (lymphoma cancer).
What do they have in common besides cancer? All of them joined forces in Latin America to acquire real economic and financial independence from the US  financial multinationals.
In his December 28, 2011 end-of-year address to the Venezuelan military, Chavez hinted:
“Would it be so strange that they’ve invented the technology to spread cancer and we won’t know about it for 50 years?” Chavez asked. “It is very hard to explain, even with the law of probabilities, what has been happening to some leaders in Latin America. It’s at the very least strange,” he said. Chavez said he received warning from Cuba’s former leader Fidel Castro, who has survived hundreds of unsuccessful assassination attempts. “Fidel always told me, ‘Chavez take care. These people have developed technology. You are very careless. Take care what you eat, what they give you to eat … a little needle and they inject you with I don’t know what…”
The diagram shows 6 Latin American leaders who disagreed with America’s policies: and they all got cancer simultaneously. Random coincidence?
They have wanted to kill Chavez for many, many years since he was one of the very last Presidents that was not under Illuminti control.
This was a political power struggle designed to look like an unfortunate coincidence…(The CIA very is good at that. They’ve had lots of practice over the years.)
There are ways to simulate a real heart attack and to give a healthy person cancer. Both have been used as a means of assassination.
Only a very skilled pathologist could distinguish an assassination induced heart attack or cancer from the real thing.
Charles Kong Soo published on February 27, 2012:
US Senators Frank Church and John Tower examine a Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) poison dart gun that causes cancer and heart attacks, during the US Senate Select Committee’s investigation into the assassination plots on foreign leaders in 1975.
Unsolved mysteries
“WikiLeaks reported that in 2008 the American Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) asked its embassy in Paraguay to collect all biometric data, including the DNA of all four presidential candidates.
Right here in the Caribbean conspiracy theorists believe that the CIA also had a hand in the deaths of T&T’s own civil rights activist and Pan-Africanist Kwame Ture, Jamaica’s legendary reggae icon Bob Marley and Dominican Prime Minister Rosie Douglas. During the United States Senate Select Committee’s investigation into CIA’s assassination plots on foreign leaders in 1975 it was revealed that the agency had developed a poison dart gun that caused heart attacks and cancer.
The gun fired a frozen liquid poison-tipped dart, the width of a human hair and a quarter of an inch long, that could penetrate clothing, was almost undetectable and left no trace in a victim’s body.
Kwame Ture or Stokely Carmichael, the radical former Black Panther leader who inaugurated the Black Power Movement of the 1960s went to his death claiming that the CIA had poisoned him with cancer. Ture died of prostate cancer at the age of 57 in 1998. His friend, multi-media artist and activist Wayne “Rafiki” Morris, said Ture said “without equivocation” that the CIA gave him cancer. “I knew Kwame from 1976 and for all the time I knew him he never drank or smoked cigarettes,” Morris said. “He was a very good swimmer and exercised regularly, he didn’t have any medical condition and was very conscious of his health.”
If the shoe fit…
Bob Marley died of melanoma cancer in 1981. He was 36-years-old. The official report is he contracted cancer after injuring his toe which never healed while playing football in 1977. The conspiracy theorists allege that Marley was given a pair of boots with a piece of copper wire inside that was coated with a carcinogenic substance that pricked his big toe by Carl Colby, son of the late CIA director William Colby. There is an eerie similarity between Marley and Castro involving poisoned shoes.
Cuban ambassador to T&T, Humberto Rivero said the CIA and Cuban exiles tried more than 600 attempts to kill Castro from exploding cigars, injecting him with cancer, to a wet suit lined with poison. In the case of Marley the CIA allegedly used cancer in his shoes, for Castro they placed the highly toxic poison thallium salts in his shoes. After only eight months being elected as Prime Minister of Dominica, radical politician Rosie Douglas was found dead on the floor of his residence in 2000.
The cause of death was listed as a result of a massive heart attack. His heart was twice its normal size. Just like Ture and Marley, he exercised regularly. Douglas’ eldest son, Cabral insisted that his father had been murdered and also hinted at the involvement of the CIA. Moshood Abiola, the man widely believed to have won the 1993 elections in Nigeria, was reported to have died of a heart attack after he was given a cocktail which expanded his heart to twice its size in 1998. Jack Ruby, the assassin who killed US president John Kennedy’s alleged assassin Lee Harvey Oswald, died from lung cancer in 1967. What was strange was the cancer cells were not the type that originate in the respiratory system. He told his family that he was injected with cancer cells in prison when he was treated with shots for a cold. He died just before he was to testify before Congress.
Lockerbie bomber, Abdelbaset al-Megrahi, developed terminal cancer. The leader of Canada’s left-leaning Opposition party, the New Democratic Party (NDP), Jack Layton died of an undisclosed form of cancer in 2011. It will appear that having leftist tendencies are hazardous to a person’s health. From 1953 the Russians were using microwaves to attack the US embassy staff in Moscow, Russia. One third of the staff eventually died of cancer from this microwave irradiation. Imagine how advanced and sophisticated assassination technology has become today.
So many dieby natural cause such as by heart attack, burst aneurysm, of cerebral hemorrhage… and a few die in influenced techniques of heart rate, blood pressure, or vascular dilatation.
For example, Neurological research has found that the brain has specific frequencies for each voluntary movement called preparatory sets. By firing at
your chest with a microwave beam containing the ELF signals given off by the heart, this organ can be put into a chaotic state, the so-called heart attack.
In this one way many high profile leaders of political parties who are prone to heart attacks have be killed off before they cause troubles or after they went too far in their decisions?
Among the witnesses, important people and conspirators who might have been eliminated by induced heart attack and cancer are: Jack Rudy (died of a stroke due to an undiagnosed form of aggressive cancer, just weeks after he agreed to testify before Congress about the JFK assassination), Clay Shaw, J. Edgar Hoover,
Earlene Roberts (Oswald’s land-lady), Marlyn Monroe, Slobodan Milosevic, Kenneth Lay (former CEO of ENRON – the largest political campaign contributor of Gorge W Bush and Dick Cheney), Matt Simmons, Mark Pittman (a reporter who predicted the financial crisis and exposed Federal Reserve misdoings. Pittman fought to open the Federal Reserve to more scrutiny), Elizabeth Edwards (suddenly diagnosed with cancer while her husband was campaigning against Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton for the presidency of the United States.
During a campaign speech to the Council on Foreign Relations in May 2007, Edwards called the War on Terrorism a slogan that was created for political reasons and that it wasn’t a plan to make the United States safe. He went further to compare it to a bumper sticker and that it had damaged the US’s alliances and standing in the world.), … enter here the names of every politically outspoken person, whistle blower or witness who died unexpectedly of a heart attack or who quickly died of an incurable cancer.
Yasser Arafat was assassinated by a radioactive element added to his water. Arafat was a frugal person and was vegetarian and never drank coffee, tea, or alcohol…
<img alt=”Photo: Here is a diagram showing 6 Latin American leaders who disagreed with America’s policies, and who all got cancer simultaneously. Random coincidence? I think not. Anyone who has thoroughly researched the activities of the CIA is already well aware that they can give people cancer and heart attacks. They are MASTERS of assassination. They have wanted to kill Chavez for many, many years since he was one of the very last Presidents that was not under Illuminti control. I have zero doubt in my mind that the people they put in these positions next WILL ABSOLUTELY be under Illuminati control. This was a political power struggle designed to look like an unfortunate coincidence.. (The CIA very is good at that. They’ve had lots of practice over the years.)</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Cancer, the secret weapon?<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
http://guardian.co.tt/lifestyle/2012-02-27/cancer-secret-weapon</p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
<p>Assassination by Disease (Cancer and Heart attacks)<br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
http://www.whale.to/b/assassination_disease.html&#8221; src=”http://sphotos-e.ak.fbcdn.net/hphotos-ak-snc7/c5.0.403.403/p403x403/599082_173171446165037_1921111903_n.jpg&#8221; width=”403″ height=”403″ />
Note 2:.B Trower wrote in his report to the Police of England and Wales “So sophisticated is this research, and I refer to Operation Pandora Joint CIA/MI6 Operation since the 1960s, Operation Woodpecker USSR 1976, Operation HAARP still running in USA; they are able to define specific pulse frequencies to cause specific brain malfunctions or illnesses.
For instance: 4.5: Illness Caused, 6.6: Depression/Suicide, 11: Manic behaviour/Anger, 25:Blindness if aimed at the head/Heart attack if aimed at the chest.  Other
consequences of frequencies used but not listed here are hysteria, trauma, lust, murder and cancer, and may all be induced. Confidential Report on TETRA for the Police of England and Wales by B Trower

Is Israel’s Bombing of Syria just a matter of Domestic Politics? Is all wars fundamentally within internal politics struggles? 

On January 30, 2013, Israel stroke twice inside Syria, and reportedly hit a convoy of anti-aircraft weapons heading to Lebanon according to Israeli and western news agencies. According to Syrian state media, the Israeli strike targeted a military research facility.

After the news broke, many questions were raised:

What was the target of the Israeli attack?

Was the strike in Syrian or Lebanese territory?

Did a strike even happen? Was this the start of a regional war?

As is usually the case with attention-grabbing events in Syria, multiple interests groups inside the country quickly proclaimed the strike as a vindication of their respective positions.

But as days turned to weeks, it seemed the Israeli strike had less to do with events inside Syria and more to do with domestic Israeli politics

Yazan al-Saadi posted on Mar 18, 2013 in Muftah:

A sign showing the distances to Damascus and a cut out of a soldier are seen at an army post from the 1967 war at Mt. Bental in the Golan Heights, overlooking Syria. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

A sign showing the distances to Damascus and a cut out of a soldier are seen at an army post from the 1967 war at Mt. Bental in the Golan Heights, overlooking Syria. (Photo credit: AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)

The Strike Vindicates All

There were several narratives that emerged from inside Syria about the strike.

For those who found themselves, willingly or unwillingly, aligned with the Syrian regime, the strike was perceived as another indicator of a sophisticated conspiracy to declaw the Syrian state and thereby weaken resistance toward Israel.

That the strike was met with only muted outrage from many in the Syrian opposition, as well as countries inside and outside the region, seemed to substantiate this logic (declaw the Syrian state).

For those who opposed the Syrian government, the regime’s failure to respond to the attacks – beyond the usual wearisome claims about waiting for an appropriate “time and place” to act against Israel – demonstrated its inherent weakness and unwillingness to match flowery rhetoric with action.

Prominent commentator and academic As’ad AbuKhalil perfectly encapsulated this view in a blog post for Al-Akhbar English:

And the Syrian regime, despite its pathetic lack of a response to past acts of Israeli aggression against Syria, is now in a more difficult position. If it does not act in response to Israeli aggression, it will be quite embarrassing for the regime to justify the use of fighter jets and helicopter gunships in its internal conflict (for purposes of regime preservation), but not for defending Syrian territory against Israeli attacks. The Syrian army, which has by and large remained loyal to the regime, could face major defections in protest against this regime reluctance. But if the regime responds to Israeli attacks, Israel can inflict severe damage to the military power of the regime, which is needed to protect the regime. Either way, the regime could suffer, although it would change the contours of the conflict if it were to respond against Israel in a major way.

Interestingly enough, this position was echoed by Elliot Abrams, an American diplomat and extreme ally of Israel, who recently wrote about the attack and compared it to a previous Israeli strike on Syrian territory in 2007.

Abrams noted:

The Israeli assessment of Syria’s likely reaction was correct. The Israelis believed that if (they and we) spoke about the strike, Assad might be forced to react to this humiliation by trying to attack Israel. If, however, we all shut up, he might do nothing—nothing at all. He might try to hide the fact that anything had happened. And with every day that passed, the possibility that he would acknowledge the event and fight back diminished. That had been the Israeli theory, and the Israelis knew their man.

Indeed, the Syrian regime did not respond militarily to the recent strike, just as it failed to respond in 2007. This lack of an armed response is quite incredible when one remembers how quickly the Syrian military was able to shoot down Turkish planes in June 2012.

This begs the question:

Is the powerful security and military apparatus in Syria truly for the benefit of confronting imperialism and Zionism, or, as AbuKhalil suggests, simply a tool for regime preservation? The answer, of course, depends on where you stand on the conflict inside Syria.

For those opposed to the Assad regime, the lack of a Syrian response to the usual Israeli belligerence continues the pattern of non-confrontation, and provides further evidence that the regime’s rhetoric of resisting Zionism and western imperialism is illusory. Consequently, for the Syrian opposition, the attack was counter-productive and in fact shored up more nationalist support for the Syrian regime.

For those who support the Assad regime view that the Israeli attack was as confirmation of a conspiracy to weaken the ‘resistance axis’, and justify the lack of a Syrian response to the strike as a matter of political pragmatism.

An Israeli Affair

At first blush, events inside Syria may seem to explain the Israeli strike. After all, with the on-going instability inside the country, the time appears ripe for Israel to attack a government that has historically claimed to oppose the Israeli state.

While this explanation is convenient, other issues are clearly at play. Since its inception in 1970, the Assad regime’s relationship with Israel has gone from full-blown war to détente. The Israelis feel comfortable with the regime, and understand how it functions.

Alteration of the Syrian government, by contrast, offers new challenges and uncertainties. While a new Syrian government may not embrace resistance as before, it may also challenge the Israelis more aggressively. It is a risk the Israeli government is not willing to take, especially given the region’s recent volatility.

Even if Israel was interested in weakening the Syrian regime, bombing a government arms convoy seems unlikely to dent the regime’s capabilities, nor does it otherwise justify the risks associated with military action. There must be more to the story. The timing of the strike may offer a clue as to the real motivations behind the attack.

Israeli Elections

Eight days prior to the strike, the Israeli legislative elections concluded with the ultra-right wing Likud-Yisrael Beiteinu coalition, headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, eking out a bitter victory.

Despite winning the majority of parliamentary seats, Netanyahu’s party suffered losses, particularly due to the surprising growth of Yair Lapid and his Yesh Atid party, which came in second with 19 seats.

Among the Western press, Lapid is presented as a foil to the ultra-right wing Netanyahu. For many Western media outlets, the aggressiveness and racism from Netanyahu and other right wing Israeli politicians has become increasingly troubling.

Dubbed the ‘Israeli center,’ the very photogenic Lapid leads a party that is supposedly representative of Israel’s secular center. Lapid and his party are, however, nothing short of a chimera or as the Israeli historian, Tom Segev, called him, “a kind of anti-Orthodox Likud lite.”

Shortly after parliamentary elections concluded, tensions surfaced between Netanyahu and Lapid over controlling positions in the new coalition government. The prime minister position was a particular source of dispute, causing tensions and delays.

The Israeli strike on Syria, and sensational prophesies about a chemical weapons response from the Syrian regime, seemed to work in favor of Netanyahu and his right-wing allies.

For Netanyahu and his peers, the strike offered another opportunity to demonstrate their ‘toughness’ to the Israeli public. As any observer of Israeli politics knows, war and adventurous military strikes are common tools used by Israeli leaders to streamline and shore up popular support. Indeed the bet appears to have paid off, as the new Israeli cabinet remains dominated by the right-wing.

The strike on Syria is no different.

It did not harm the Syrian regime’s military capabilities. It did not help the armed opposition groups fighting against the regime. It was not comprehensive, or followed by more strikes. It was, however, driven by domestic Israeli politics.

Conclusion: The Need for Patient Analysis

Admittedly, like most things relating to Syria these days, it is hard to have much confidence about analysis on the Israeli strike. While thoughtful critique should continue, it is important to recognize this fact and to take time to reflect critically on events before passing judgment.

Historical truth is, however, always a good place to start.

It is an indisputable fact that the Syrian regime has been part and parcel of the region’s system of control, with other dictatorships and monarchies desperately trying to hold back the wave of people power demanding self-determination and liberty from domestic and foreign oppression.

While Syria relationship with Israel may seem antagonistic, Syria has been a reliable partner for decades, unwilling to enter into any military dispute with Israel. It is a relationship the Israelis covet and are fearful of losing. The strike must be assessed against this backdrop. It is the only way to come as close to the truth as possible.

*Yazan al-Saadi is a staff writer at Muftah.


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