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The Struggle for Time and the Power of Temporariness:
Jews and Palestinians in the Labyrinth of History
Amal Jamal
Tel Aviv University



In his novel "Men in the Sun," {footnote}Ghassan Kanafani, "Men in the Sun," in Men in the Sun & Other Palestinian Stories, trans. Hilary Kilpatrick (London: Lynne Rienner, 1999).    {/footnote} Ghassan Kanafani describes an historical phase in the cruel reality facing Palestinian after the 1948 Nakba (catastrophe). In doing so he stresses their tragic helplessness in the presence of the impasse. Numerous interpretations have been attached to the story in the scholarly literature, especially to its tragic end – the deaths of three Palestinians, each representing a different generation and each hoping to achieve, by some route, their journey's objective: reaching one of the Arab oil sheikdoms in order to finding the work that will save them from the wretchedness that had come to characterize the Palestinian people.  "Men in the Sun" was and remains a cornerstone in the construction of Palestinian identity following the 1948 Nakba and the 1967 defeat.
    Despite the extensive study of the story's meanings, insufficient attention has been given to its contribution to the characterization of Palestinian time or the Palestinians' dream of launching a cosmological transformation of their social reality and relationship with history.  Kanafani's story reflects an intense temporal awareness that refuses to reconcile itself to reality; instead, it attempts to manipulate time and break through the blocked temporal framework imposed in the wake of the Nakba. For instance, Abu Khizran, the book's hero, is likened to the Palestinian people: He – like it – loses his potency, the main symbol of his manhood and humanity after the Nakba.  The manner in which he brings about the deaths of the other two characters represents his inability to act as a "normal" historical subject in the current reality.  His historical impotence leads him and his comrades to a dead end, to a future infused with death.  We therefore see in Kanafani's story the initial signs of Palestinian awareness of the price exacted by their exclusion from open modern time and from their dispatch to an alternative temporal order, lacking any sense of the future, one that banishes them from their homes, country and control of their own time.
    "Men in the Sun" not only symbolizes the expulsion of Palestinians from evolving, open time or their abandonment to death's mercy; it also represents a resounding plea for the return of their control over time and for the transformation of that control into a stimulus for renewing the self-construction of Palestinian identity. Both are seen as preliminary conditions for return to the homes from which the Palestinians were cast out. And so, the story equates their characters' distancing from Palestine and their departure to the oil sheikdoms with rejection of their true struggle: opposition to their exclusion from history and fulfillment of their aspirations to return to both history and their homeland.
    Kanafani was among the harbingers of the "bare life" theory, reflected in descriptions of the vulnerability and fragility of Palestinian life.  His story therefore presents a symbolic portrait of a Palestinian reality marked by clinical and cultural death.  According to Kanafani, these conditions will continue so long as Palestinians submit to their individual post 1948 existential plights.  At the same time, his story suggests the state of impotence in which the Palestinians are destined to remain until they sunder the bounds of time and open the gates to their future, a feat realizable only after a stubborn campaign directed at altering their reality.
    Kanafani launched a struggle against the present while attempting to re-connect the Palestinian past to its future.  He objected to the routinization of time in post Nakba Palestinian thinking and hoped to construct a temporal awareness that would bridge the gap between the past and the future by reinforcing Palestinian denial of contemporaneity. His efforts set down the conceptual foundations so crucial to his Palestinian intellectual followers. These thinkers incorporated his ideas regarding the crossing of hegemonic historical time to open new temporal yet liquid horizons that would offer strength as well as release from dependence on the basic concepts of practical Zionism.
    It appears, then, that Kanafani's story presents an excellent starting point for a discussion of the development of the Palestinian awareness of time as an antithesis to Zionist time, which expels them from their own time and ejects them from history or suspends their temporal development for the sake of advancing its own.
    In order to clarify this point, we first delve into the importance of temporal awareness for the establishment of national consciousness.  We then compare diverse time frames as conceptual infrastructures that rationalize one or another political reality.  This implies that temporal awareness is crucial for the conduct of national struggles.  The conflict between Zionism and Palestinian nationalism can thus be considered a temporal struggle, expressed in efforts to enforce one as opposed to another time frame onto territorial and human space within the boundaries of what both parties see as their historical homeland.
    We open with an inquiry into the centrality of time in human experience. We describe two different perspectives of time, together with how they are to be exploited to promote one or another type of awareness as a rationalization for one or another reality.  The first perspective views control of time as the main expression of human action; the effort to exist in time – contrary to the adoption of a sense of inertia or emptiness – is thus a major dimension of human existence. {footnote}Martin Heidegger, Sein und Zeit (Tübingen 1963).    {/footnote}  Martin Heidegger maintains that in the experience of time as temporary, on-going attempts at self-presencing become manifestations of human existence.  Many sociologists have interpreted this process as an attempt to construct and then transform time into a social institution.
    The second perspective is derived from the conflictual approach to human existence; it focuses on the struggles waged by social groups {footnote}As to well-known importance of attempting to return to the reality of daily life as a sign of humans being meaningful subjects and the aspirations of social group to carve for themselves a place in time space, that is, in the temporal topography of their environment, see: Peter Berger and Thomas Luckmann, The Social Construction of Reality (New York 1967).    {/footnote} to acquire control over hegemonic time.  According to this perspective, perceptions of history, units of time, the locus of time and control over time are products of long-term – primarily national – conflicts between social groups.  Heidegger's conceptions of time's emptiness and suspension will be used to explain why struggles over time are relevant for specific lines of historical development and designated geographic sites.
    We then turn to the Zionist-Israeli awareness of time and its efforts at self-construction in time – or, in the jargon of Zionist thinkers, it's "return to history" – while simultaneously emptying, suspending and controlling Palestinian time.  Zionism, which saw itself as a modern national movement possessing a modernist culture's temporal awareness, nullified Palestinian time by declaring it to be empty of meaning. Doing so led them to believe that it was possible to suspend Palestinian time and replace it by Jewish time. {footnote}For an extended discussion of this and other issues raised here, see: Amal Jamal, "The Hardships of Racialized Time," Yehouda Shenhav and Yossi Yonah (Eds.), Racism in Israel (Jerusalem 2008): 348-380. Hebrew.    {/footnote}
    In the third section we deal with the temporariness of Palestinian time in the post Nakba period and how the Palestinian awareness of time has changed over the years.  We therefore review the three main time perspectives that have developed in Palestinian consciousness and characterized the Palestinian conflict together with the Palestinians' return to history: temporal temporariness, protracted temporariness and normal temporariness. These three perspectives accept the Nakba as the main constitutive event and point of departure for construction of Palestinian identity.  The Nakba, as a temporal event, permitted the creation of trans–local Palestinian time, a phenomenon that would surpass localism in the Palestinian experience.  The dispersion of Palestinian society brought about the construction of a time frame based on the trauma of the Nakba and enabled the bridging of geographic distances together with the expansion of perceptual links for the purpose of connecting the diverse Palestinian communities.  
    This process developed in stages: from internalization of the main event and coping with the subsequent cognitive dissonance, to an awareness of the blocked time that gave birth to despair, continuing exile and the attempt to develop a perception of national time. This progression included efforts to re-enter history by means of the struggle over historical awareness as well as opposition to the legitimacy and broad support enjoyed by Jewish perception of history in Israel and abroad. Before concluding, we demonstrate that the suspension of Palestinian temporariness has led to the development of a view of time as temporary, an awareness that serves as a source of strength, enabling the boundaries of modern time to be crossed on the journey toward an open time that offers a new type of peace and reconciliation. In closing, we discuss the relationship between Kanafani's story and the evolution of normal temporariness, a perspective supporting the possibility of reconciliatory temporality, an approach capable of helping Jews and Palestinians break down the barriers of mutual negation.

The Epistemological Framework
The importance of time for society derives primarily from the awareness of human mortality. This awareness has transformed the organization and manipulation of time into a crucial feature of human behavior.  People aspire to fill time with substance as part of their desire to control, fully exploit, extend and thereby avoid time's termination.  Such attempts have worn diverse guises throughout history.  The modern era, with its perception of human beings as enlightened and free, stimulated creation of mechanisms for the individual as well as collective organization of time in the hope of harvesting the maximum from human transience. Concurrently, it also improved mechanisms of retribution to deny a person's control over time. {footnote} Michel Foucault, Discipline and Punish: The Birth of the Prison (New York 1977).    {/footnote}
    Eviatar Zerubavel notes that in order for time to be shared in inter-subjective social reality, it must undergo standardization.  He argues that one of society's major achievements is reflected in its capacity to organize time in a manner enabling personal inter-subjectivity.  Zerubavel further states that the organization of time is essential for the presentation of a unique group identity, a process he demonstrates by referring to a set of calendars, each having special emphases – such as festivities – to guide divergent social/national groups.{footnote} Eviatar Zerubavel, ”Easter and Passover: On Calendars and Group Identity,” ASR 47 (1982): 285 [284-289].    {/footnote}  It therefore follows that time is not given to self-segmentation; its allocation, as implemented by humans, is derived from a normative perspective that organizes natural and social reality according to hierarchical, normative and political criteria.  
    Because the capacity to control and segment time is an important resource having far-reaching existential implications, human thought tends to focus on the relationship between movement, speed, transience and time. Human beings tend to segment time in different ways and to assign it different meanings.  Time's segmentation reflects human self-perception in addition to the relationships holding between segmenting subjects and their natural environment.  Patterns of time's distribution and segmentation – but especially its humanization – are wrought through time's conversion into history or awareness, which play important roles in the relational networks woven between individuals and groups. And so, while natural scientists stress natural and cosmic time, social scientists and students of the humanities dwell on the salience of time's organization as part of human awareness and the human soul.
    The categorization of cultural time in corporeal measures, symbols and values is a common practice among scholars in the social and human sciences. Time's divisions – into ritual time, ordinary time, historical time and mythic time as well as drawn-out linear time and circular static time – as various anthropologists suggest, express the importance of time's construction for human awareness, especially when parties external to the researched society or culture are those which impose those divisions as if they were inherent to human nature. Robert Young calls such categorizations "white mythologies," a phrase stressing the practice's racial connotations. {footnote} Robert Young, White Mythologies: Writing History and the West (London 1990).    {/footnote}
    Time plays an especially important role in modernist ideologies. Culturally and historically, time is a crucial resource in the conduct of human power relations in the modern era.  Modern philosophy has situated itself among the upper ranks of the historical hierarchy due, among other things, to its stress on human control of time. The modern subject, whether capitalist or socialist, is perceived as more enlightened and self-aware than her pre-modern cousins.  Mechanisms for the production of the modern subject and the construction of her historical awareness by means of a wide range of tools – education, socialization, supervision and discipline, among others – are perceived as more enlightened than those used in the past, primarily because they tend to deny the transcendental dimensions inherent in the subject's pre-modern experience.  The enhancement and institutionalization of time-measuring instruments – expressed in punctuality, coordination, control and pre-arranged timetables – as integral parts of the modern cultural experience clearly testify to the obsessive, deeply ingrained relationship to time characterizing modern self-aware subjects.
    That obsession has become one important vehicle for the disciplining of the modern subject within the framework of social power relations with respect to cultural differentiation and the construction of intercultural relations. The spirit of modern time has permeated those subjects capable of "rising above" nature, localism and culture, those who are able to observe human experiential evolution as if it were a 3-D movie.  Modernist philosophers therefore characterize Western culture as embracing a linear, dynamic and progressive perception of time. These philosophers perceive time as infinite and people in time as beings moving forward, from a primitive epoch to a more enlightened age, by intensifying human control over positivistic reality. In this respect, speed and progress have become society's main values and stress the importance of technology. Western society – as "technopoly" {footnote} Neil Postman, Technopoly, The Surrender of Culture to Technology (Vintage, 1993).    {/footnote} – has become an ideal to be emulated by other cultures, with the "white man's burden" now encouraging that process. One of the major indicators of this process is the bureaucratization of Third World states, considered as a sign of modernization and efficiency.
    The construction of time according to modernity and efficiency criteria sustains the control of those same states in which the measurement of time has become its ruling standard.  Other cultures and nations come to be assessed according to their distance from the modern West's perception of time; hence, non-Western cultures are positioned at the bottom of the normative scale.  Based on this categorization, we have seen the emergence of regimes rationalizing the colonization of "primitive" cultures, that is, the re-engineering of those cultures according to "correct" standards through the universalization of Western time.
    Heidegger assigned special significance to the concepts of time and control, viewed as expressions of the political power observed in the organization of social reality.  His attitude to the present, expressed by its negation, defines human existence as temporal while creating an imminent connection between the fact of the self-aware person's meaningful existence and her awareness of time. Existence in time, he argued, is not only part of the human experience, it is the essence of that experience.  Heidegger thus shattered the metaphysical conventions emanating from the idealist perception of time characterizing German romanticism by turning his gaze to the meaning of man's existence in time.  Control of time, he continued, is a powerful resource for the individual because it affects his being as a unique subject.  
    The inability to control time thus prevents its organization and undermines the individual's and society's sense of being. Persons or groups deprived of control over their time lose a very important aspect of their emerging self-awareness as unique beings.  The control of time therefore reflects a sense of being in the world; its loss or negation reveals its centrality for the development of meaning and self-awareness.  
    In order to elucidate this point, Heidegger compares two contradictory structures of time – empty time and suspended time. These structures represent the negation of control over time; through them, individuals are able to comprehend the meaning and centrality of being in time.  People become aware of the centrality of time to their experience when confronted with an event that stops the flow of time. This subversion of being in time undermines the meaning of time as being, as human existence. Hence, the control of time is, among other things, a process that allows people to become aware of themselves as separate beings, differentiated from others on the personal and collective level. Exclusion from time therefore unsettles being and, it follows, one of the fundamental conditions of human existence.  This process is especially problematic when the loss of control is imposed rather than chosen. Hence, the emptying, or suspension, of time under duress is an inhumane act that stresses the meaning of existence just as attempts to return to time or to history represent prominent features of the individual's or group's sense of being.
    The importance of control over time and the struggle over that control is especially salient in colonial relationships. When explicating this phenomenon, Giorgio Agamben {footnote}Giorgio Agamben, The State of Exception (Chicago 2005); idem., The Open: Man and Animal (Stanford 2004).    {/footnote} carries Heidegger's concepts of time into the political world and then connects them to Carl Schmitt's {footnote} Carl Schmitt, Political Theology, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press 2005).    {/footnote} conceptions of sovereignty and exception. Agamben focuses on the meaning of the emptying and suspension in time in their relationship to Schmitt's "states of exception", a condition characterizing colonialism.  He discusses the political, legal and existential implications of the suspension of the rule of law during states of exception. In the resulting anomie, he writes, the sovereign power, after suspending the constitution, nonetheless continues to be protected by the legal order; he acts in the name of the law but without abiding by it. The various spheres in which the sovereign power applies legal power are expressed in the differing time frames observed by the ruler with the ruled. Time is, then, a resource as well as an expression of political power, in this case, that of the ruler.
    Agamben also applies Heidegger's distinction between people and animals, based on their openness to the world and their primal capacity to position themselves in relation to the world, again with respect to time. {footnote}Giogrio Agamben, The Open: Man and Animal (Stanford 2004).    {/footnote} The suspension or emptying of time deprives the ruled of a major human attribute and undermines the meaning of their lives in the eyes of their rulers and, at times, themselves. That is, when the difference between humans as temporal and animals as a-temporal beings disappears, it becomes possible to treat people like animals.
    This pattern can be extended to the colonial context. In the struggle against the colonizers, the conquered demand their return to history through the construction of an alternative awareness of time. This alternative time challenges the colonizer's temporal sovereignty and aims at displacing it with another temporal sovereign.  Like the attempt to return to history, such a claim can become a cornerstone for the struggle against colonialism and subjugation. Mimicking the colonizer while inversing his historical and temporal consciousness has become an important component of the identity construction of the colonized. It follows that the struggle against the emptying or suspension of time represents an important strategy in the struggle to eliminate the basic rules maintaining the state of exception. Shaking the foundations of the state of exception and replacing its very definition of time likewise become core instruments not only of active resistance but also of the reflexive construction of the conquered party's self as an autonomous being, independent of the state of exception. The colonized people's objective thus becomes that of being in an existential space where the temporal sovereign has neither reach nor control.  
    Construction of trans-territorial awareness through subversive means against the colonial conqueror becomes one of the principal tools facilitating the return to history.  Cultural production can also be considered a tool of subversion when it is aimed at abolishing the other's control of time. Moreover, exploitation of suspended time becomes subversive when it nullifies the conqueror's capacity to control and empty the colonized people's time.
    The negative dialectic relationship between the conqueror's time and the conquered people's time creates a complex human symbiosis traversing the boundaries of the dichotomy that the two parties attempt to establish as parts of the rationalization for their separate states of being.  The struggle over history and time thus becomes the main sphere of their tragic existence. This sphere demonstrates the fragility of being and the banality of its subordination to power mechanisms aimed at subjugating and emptying it of meaning.  Under these circumstances, the conqueror's surplus physical power, used as its main instrument in the construction of temporariness as the conquered people's unstable time, nonetheless contains a strong subversive potential to be exploited by those conquered.
    In the Palestinian–Israeli context, the act of detaining Palestinians at roadblocks empties their time, transforms their lives into "valueless" entities and victimizes them whenever they do not comply with the sovereign's orders.  The roadblock policy, viewed as obstructions of time as well as space, perfectly exemplifies Agamben's state of anomie or "no man's land."{footnote}Agamben, op. cit., pp. 1, 13.    {/footnote}  Israel's policy in the conquered Palestinian territories is characteristic of colonial relationships, where the lives of the colonized are considered worthless and whose blood can be allowed to flow.  Yet, while the emptying and suspension of their time creates deep existential anxiety among Palestinians, it also propels them toward oppositional action, beginning with temporal subversion, including cancellation of temporal boundaries and attempts to overcome time's standardization.  That is, implicit in the enforced waiting that represents the Palestinians' daily routine rests the potential for revolution.

The Zionist Temporal Model
We can characterize Zionism as a collective effort to return to modern history and to establish new temporal standards applicable to Jewish existence. This effort has existential implications not only for Jews, viewed as carriers of modern national time, but also for Palestinians, who pay the price for Jewish time by being expelled from history, their time emptied and suspended. Location in time and aspirations for change are important elements in Jewish national thought. Zionist thinkers created an explicit link between national awareness and existence in historical time. {footnote} S. N. Eisenstadt and Moshe Lissak (eds.), Zionism and the Return to History: A Reappraisal (Jerusalem 1999). Hebrew.    {/footnote} They developed a modernist conception of time and thus a modern history that diverged from the theological worldview of the Bible and Jewish tradition. {footnote}Eyal Chowers, “Time in Zionism: The Life and Afterlife of Temporal Revolution,” Political Theory 26:5 (1998): 652-686.     {/footnote}
    Zionist theorists attempted to institute a temporal revolution that, contrary to Jewish theological determinism, expressed a social reality open to the intervention of human will and amenable to management by a human model. Zionist time was thus reconstructed as open time, immune to control by a sacred entity intent on redeeming the "people of Israel." The national Zionist discourse therefore dealt with the neutralization of history, its release from celestial forces and deterministic finiteness, based on the assumption that the control of time was in human hands. Time was to be returned to the Jewish people, who had lost it in response to historical events beyond their control. The return to history was to become a core myth in Zionist political thought, rooted in several vital epistemological distinctions and practices.

1.    Historical and A-Historical Time
Like other historical discourses, Zionist time is tautological; hence, Zionism can be viewed as the Jewish national reawakening within the framework of modern, progressive time. Zionism employs Biblical history to rationalize the Jewish people's attachment to what they referred to as the "Land of Israel." It thus transforms history into the primary component in its effort to construct a Jewish historical subject and return him to history by re-connecting him to statehood within the framework of the State of Israel. Zionism bridges over almost 2000 years of total Jewish absence from its "homeland"; it links the Jewish people and the "Land of Israel" by means of a uniform trans-historical temporal framework.
    The construction of Zionist time according to Biblical history implies the suspension or emptying of Palestinian time, implemented by stripping the Palestinian self of its national characteristics. The "non-modern" Palestinian is therefore banished from the Jewish Enlightenment's shrine of universal history.  Palestinian time is consequently viewed as worthless because it is neither national nor "human"; it is a-historical because it exists outside the modern time frame.  This stance rationalizes the Palestinians' status as an inferior group when compared to the Chosen People, whose superiority, as God's Chosen People, is eternal.  Many of the texts written and statements made by Zionist thinkers are markedly contemptuous of Palestinians, denying of their humanity on the basis of their "absence" from the modern/historical time and their a-historical and non-modern "sub-human" existence.
    This attitude frames the perception of the Palestinians' very physical presence as stumbling blocks to the realization of the Jews' return to history, which rationalizes the Palestinians' removal from the history of the "Land of Israel."  Because Palestinian time is content-less and incapable of measurement with modern instruments, Palestinians are present only in nature.  According to Zionists, the Palestinians have neither translated their presence into culture nor contributed to the country's development; they have not opened themselves to the world nor altered the natural surroundings as would a truly cultured society.  Hence, they are unworthy of treatment as equals.  Inasmuch as Palestine was, in Zionist eyes, "neglected and dirty," far from being "the land of milk and honey," the people living there were considered "visitors".  This construction of Palestinian identity therefore "sanctions" their exile, murder and imprisonment.
    Simultaneously with the racialization of the Palestinian people, Palestine underwent a deep transformation for the purpose of positioning it along the axis of Zionist time, not as it is but as it was according to Zionist fantasies of the Second Temple period. This "memory" provides the source for the Jewish people's right over the land and the transformation of the Land of Israel into a Jewish "homeland".  A-historical Palestinian time, being meaningless and residual, is not viewed as the origin of their right to the land.  The Palestinians are not only pushed outside history, they are also presented as lacking in history. All the rights they have accumulated while living their daily lives in the authentic reality of Israel are annulled when confronted by the Jewish realization of time.

2. Dynamic and Static Time
In the Zionist narrative, Jewish time is dynamic, as expressed in the image of the Pioneer, the national hero, resurrected from the wellsprings of history to lead the Jews on their historically modern journey.  Jewish sovereignty expresses the Jewish people's efforts to become an exemplary community, responsible for their fate. In contrast, the Zionist narrative constructs Palestinian time in terms of stasis, reflecting their sustained primitiveness, interpreted as a meaningful cultural characteristic.  Palestinians are thus presented as caught in the past.  The best illustration of this attitude is the Biblical image of the "Land of Israel" found in the statements of Zionist thinkers since the early 20th century. {footnote}Eliezer Schweid, The Land of Israel: National Home or Land of Destiny (Tel Aviv 1979). In Hebrew    {/footnote} The main argument expressed in these texts is that the sole remedy for the land, which has been neglected by its Palestinian residents, is the imminent rebirth of the Jewish nation on its soil.
    Within the framework of its modernist discourse, Zionism is perceived as human maturation.  In contrast, Palestinians are perceived as caught in perpetual childhood, a state justifying their education and discipline according to the discretion of more mature nations. Obviously, this discourse embraces dynamic Zionist time as preferable to static Palestinian time.  These two presumably discrete time frames legitimate construction of a graduated set of values for positioning the two peoples within a distinct hierarchy, one that excludes Palestinians from time while decreeing that Palestinians are duty-bound to permit Zionism, as an act of self-emancipation, to realize itself in their homeland.  
    The argument does not, however, end there. Zionism and Jewish immigration to Palestine continue to be perceived as furthering not only the Jews but also to the Palestinians, who are told they will enjoy the fruits of imported Jewish progressiveness. And so, Israel is perceived to this very day as an island of progress and light in the Middle East.  The price exacted from the Palestinians for the promised progress is expulsion from their homes and their own history.  Yet, this weighty price is portrayed as trivial when compared to the benefits delivered by the Zionist project.  This argument, so deeply rooted in the Zionist awareness since the days of Theodore Herzl, {footnote}Theodor Herzl, Altneuland (Princeton: Markus Weiner 2000).    {/footnote} one of the creators of the progressive discourse directed at those who were left behind. It is therefore understandable why any Palestinian objections to this stance are considered cardinal sins within the Zionist lexicon: Opposition is viewed as directed not only against the principles of universal justice or the Jews' need to protect themselves in their own sovereign state, but also against the realization of the Jews' unique moral destiny.
    Numerous Jewish leaders, before as well as after 1948, have brandished the banner of Jewish normalization while erasing the Palestinians' existence. They relegate Palestinians to the past and simultaneously present the Jews as belonging to the present and future by referring to the trans-historical relationship between the Jews and their promised land. In numerous Zionist works, the Jews are portrayed as a people forcibly removed from history and thus entitled to present themselves in history, reflected in the renewal of their spiritual and physical relationship to their historic homeland. {footnote}See: Azmi Bishara, "Between Memory and History," Al-Karmel 60 (Winter 1997), Arabic; Amnon Raz-Karkotzkin, "Exile within Sovereignty: Toward a Critique of the 'Negation of Exile' in Israeli Culture," Theory and Criticism 4 (1993): 23-54, Hebrew.    {/footnote}
    Herzl, like later Zionist thinkers and leaders, was unable to image the Palestinians as objecting to Jewish migration to Palestine.{footnote}Joseph Gorny, The Arab Question and the Jewish Problem (Tel Aviv 1985). Hebrew.    {/footnote}  Blindness to this possibility as well as the establishment of Jewish sovereignty indicate, perhaps more than anything else, the Zionist obliteration of the Palestinians' historical will. An act of this sort also conveys denial of the possibility that rational, political Palestinian agents, aware of their autonomous national interests, may exist.  Palestinians continued to be constructed and perceived as a people frozen in time, waiting for an external redeemer to save them from themselves.  Palestinian "stasis" was thus gradually transformed into biological time, part of the land's natural order, together with the Palestinians, who supposedly lack any historical sense of their own. Whatever historicity they possessed could be articulated only by a Jewish agent, equipped with "magical" means to free them from their historical chains and infuse them with the spirit of the times.  
    The Jewish response to Palestinian protestations against the Zionist project thus entailed accusations that the Palestinians were inviting their own destruction. Their primitiveness was presented as the main factor preventing them from identifying what Zionist thinkers describe as the personal and collective benefits offered by the Zionist project. This pattern has been repeated with respect to every expression of Palestinian defiance against Israel's occupation since 1967, especially with respect to one of the occupation's major mechanisms of control: its purported temporariness. Within this context, the morality of Zionist policies is never questioned.  It is not perceived as a factor engendering opposition, but just the opposite.  Palestinian "feral" actions are depicted as demanding an appropriate Zionist response – violent repression, relocation, expulsion and execution.
    In such circumstances, the preliminary conditions for recognition of the Palestinians' humanity are their emancipation from subordination to Zionist "progress," coupled with acceptance of Palestinian time.

3.    Protracted and Suspended Time
During the 1948 conflict, the State of Israel began to categorize Palestinians according to their location in time and space; the relationship between these two variables emerged as manifest signs of the racial-national differences dividing Jews from Palestinians. Laws were later passed stipulating additional criteria for the award of Israeli citizenship: date of birth, residence, eligibility according to the Law of Return and citizenship. According to the law, all Jews were entitled to Israeli citizenship irrespective of their place or time of residence (i.e., if they had ever lived in Israel). In contrast, Palestinians were required to meet residence criteria. For instance, residence in areas after a date arbitrarily determined by the Israeli authorities would automatically deny them eligibility for citizenship. The Zionist motivation for establishing a legal time frame was minimization of the number of Palestinians eligible for Israeli citizenship. In compliance with this goal, the 1950 Absentees' Property Law influenced the status of Arabs in the Citizenship Law passed two years later. According to the 1950 law, an absentee is someone who was absent from an area under Israeli control between 29 November 1947 and 19 May 1948, the day on which the Provisional State Council proclaimed the end of the state of emergency.
    The precise wording of these temporal criteria in terms of the Israeli political timetable openly expresses clear racial differentiation between Jews and Palestinians.  The law transforms time into a thread separating two types of people, each moving along different chronological time lines.  One group, the Jews, is unlimited by time and place; they can freely move along their historical axis without damaging their inherent connection to the homeland.  In contrast, the second group, the Palestinians, is defined according to a disrupted time line, externally forced upon it by the Zionist Movement and the State of Israel.  Moreover, the law created Palestinian sub-sectors, differentiated by a time-related key.  In the first group are Palestinians who became citizens of the State, the "Arab Israelis," having a history beginning in 1948; the second group includes people who were physically present but legally absent – that is, subject to the sovereignty of the State of Israel in everything touching upon their legal obligations but absent from it in everything regarding their property rights – that is, the "present absentees" whose time frame is uncertain, discontinuous, and incomplete.  These Palestinians are frozen on the Israeli–Zionist temporal continuum but continue to flow along the natural-biological time line in a state of cognitive dissonance having psychological, social and political implications.  In other words, the "present absentees" have been racialized through cultural affiliation – expressed in law – with their time suspended, a state in which the Custodian of Absentees' Properties continues to confine them.  Third are the refugees, who are considered to live beyond and even outside the framework of Israeli time and even outside historical time, suspended from the history of their homeland and transferred to a time frame that is not derived from their own history but from the Zionist fantasy that seeks to situate them outside the borders of their homeland.
    Opposite this Palestinian temporal "reality", Jewish time has been structured as uniform and continuous, with normalized national Jewish time expressed in a new historical chronology.  Continuous chronological time connects the Jews – as a nation having defined ethnic characteristics – to the land by means of eternal links and thus to their civil rights in this Jewish state. The phrases "the glory of Israel" (netzach Yisrael) or "in perpetuity" (netzach netzachim) demonstrate this long-term and uniform perspective, embedded in the Zionist paradigm.
    Supposedly blocked Palestinian time is the main factor preventing the granting of citizenship to numerous Palestinians who once lived within Israel's borders.  The mechanism of "absenteeing" ("eliminating") Palestinians yet simultaneously "presenting" them with respect to some event is a political tool meant to serve the Zionist time frame.  Accordingly, the anomalous category "present absentees" (nokhahim nifkadim) refers to neither an exclusively legal nor spatial designation; it is primarily a temporal category symbolizing sheer racism on the basis of national affiliation.
    Indications of the policy's persistence are found in the amendment to the Citizenship Law recently confirmed by Israel's High Court of Justice. {footnote}HCJ 7052/03, Adalah etc. vs. The Minister of Internal Affairs, etc. 14 May 2006.    {/footnote} The amendment introduces precise temporal criteria to segment the Palestinian population on the basis of civil status.  If Palestinians from the occupied territories could formerly acquire Israeli citizenship after completing a complex, drawn-out process, the High Court terminated that option when it ruled in favor of state policy suspending Palestinian family reunification for an unlimited period.  This suspension of the legal and judicial rights of those Palestinians from the West Bank and the Gaza Strip who have married Israeli citizens is an undeniable extension of temporal racialization, a policy preventing its subjects from living a normal life.  In Agamben's terms, this policy demonstrates the true meaning of political sovereignty, realized in the capacity to declare a "state of exception" and suspend normal legal process, introduce biased laws and normalize that bias by extending its force.

4.    Slow and Fast Time
One of the major practices of power, rooted in time and contributing to the political construction of fast and slow time, is the creation of roadblocks and transfer points separating the rulers from the ruled.  Since the beginning of the Jewish colonialization of Palestine, the national segregation between Jews and Palestinians has been effectuated by delineating time by means of physical and cultural barriers. These barriers represent racial boundaries that divide Jews from Arabs by increasing the flow of the former's time while decreasing the flow of the latter's time.  Efforts at Jewish normalization, as put forth in Zionist theory and practical Zionism, are thus translated into temporal distinctions ensuring the speed of Jewish time and the slowness of Palestinian time.  This process requires initial geographic segregation between Jews and Arabs so as to preserve "racial purity" (yehud ha'aretz or Judaization of the land) on the one hand, and the allocation of different time frames on the other.  The engine of Israeli planning has, accordingly, copied national physical space from the Arabic–Palestinian onto the Jewish time frame and thus produced a physical and temporal hierarchy to separate the two peoples.
    The first expression of these practices was the closing off of Arab villages with roadblocks for the purpose of isolating those villages within artificial geographic enclaves as well as preventing free movement between villages.  Between 1948 and 1966, the roadblock policy produced serious consequences, felt in Arab areas within the State of Israel not only on the physical but also on the temporal level; after 1967, it also affected the occupied Palestinian territories.
    During the period between the declaration of Palestine's partition in November 1947 and the signing of the final cease-fire agreements in July 1949, the geographic boundaries demarcating the areas under Israeli control and those under Arab control became temporal boundaries having decisive legal and political implications.  These physical control and oversight mechanisms were meant, among other things, to halt the flow of Palestinian time and to empty it of content in order to allow Jewish time to flow undisturbed.  Contributing to the construction of these time gaps was the selective distribution of work permits enabling a limited number of Palestinians to integrate into Israel's labor market; curfews as well prevented entire populations from freely moving about in time and space. These practices fixed the differences between Jewish space as open to time and Arab space as frozen in time. In tandem, a sophisticated planning and construction policy ensured Jewish spatial hegemony together with continuous living spaces, only occasionally dotted by Arab enclaves that Jews could skirt.  The division between Arab and Jewish planning jurisdictions, followed by the construction of highways along the country's borders, were now and in the future to be based on fragmentation of Arab regions and the guarantee of Jewish territorial continuity.
    This hierarchical perception of time was transplanted to the occupied Palestinian territories in 1967. Immediately after the war's end, the military government instituted by Israel began erecting physical barriers between territorial segments and instituting a nightly curfew that reduced the effective Palestinian "day" to a minimum.  This policy was eventually mitigated in response to demands for the normalization of the lives of the region's Israeli settlers – not the Palestinians – but the regime was renewed in full force in the early 1990s.  The roadblocks successfully served two fundamental purposes: first, prevention of free movement of the Arab population in the occupied territories; second, clear temporal and physical separation between the State of Israel and the Palestinian territories for the sake of reducing Palestinian participation in Israel's labor market.
    The roadblock policy reflects, among other things, Israel's non-recognition of autonomous Palestinian time.  Because Israel does not measure Palestinian time in terms of quality of life, the erection of roadblocks and imposition of curfews continues as part of its taken-for-granted normative order.  This regime is most blatant in the curfews and border closings that Israel regularly institutes during Jewish holidays and festivities.  The policy ensures the continuous flow of normal Jewish time in space at all cost, in exchange for the stopping of abnormal Palestinian time in space. That is, the contradiction between the two time dimensions is constructed as the hegemonic formula within the system of relationships maintained by the two peoples. For the Israeli, such a formula transforms the imposition of one group's perspective onto the other into an existential necessity and therefore morally justified.
    The fundamental difference between the herrenvolk and those ruled is also expressed in the organization of temporal space.  At the roadblocks, where the crowding and the extensive waiting transform passage into an unbearable experience, further differentiation between Palestinians and Jews is implemented.  These universal roadblocks are not impartial barriers but obstructions meant to classify populations on the basis of their national–racial affiliation. This objective is carried out within the differential time frame imposed by the ruler in place according to a model based on external features, complexion and accent. This process reaches its peak during emergencies: When a woman is about to give birth, or someone ill or injured has to pass through the roadblock at maximum speed, time is determined according to those same explicitly superficial criteria.  Whereas the time of those who rule continues to flow serenely, the attitude toward the ruled, the detained and rudely intimidated dehumanizes as it redefines the latter's time.  Moreover, the time of the sovereign power's agents – the soldiers – at the roadblocks is considered valuable, a judgment implying that the time invested in attending to passersby demonstrates their "compassion."
    However, the roadblocks in the occupied territories create an ironic situation: The ruler attaches significant moral worth to the time it allocates to resolving the difficulties of the ruled; yet, those difficulties verily emerge from the obstacles to time's flow imposed by that same ruler. The policy of delay implemented at the roadblocks therefore reflects a dual relationship to Palestinian time.  On the one hand, the soldiers undervalue Palestinian time due to their assumption that Palestinians are "naturally" slow, an attitude faithful to the Orientalist worldview associating non-Western peoples with culturally induced lethargy. Suspension of Palestinian time is therefore not considered a waste of crucial existential resources.  On the other hand, the soldiers do value Palestinian time but only as a devise for attenuating their socio-economic development or wielding politically motivated collective punishment.  These two attitudes exist in parallel.  If we were to translate the Palestinian time wasted at the roadblocks placed by Israel's military or civilian police into working hours, we would discover that those same hours could have been used to support thousands if not tens of thousands of families currently living under brutal, degrading conditions.  But, as stated, the violated time of those ruled has no value in comparison to the highly valued time expended by the colonialists.  Any effort exerted by the ruled to defer the flow of colonial time thus becomes a pretext to further violate and suspend Palestinian time.
    The occupied territories on the West Bank are thus divided into two living spheres, distinguished by the residents' nationality.  The Jewish sphere, belonging to the settlements, is connected to Israel's major cities by highways on which only Jews are permitted to travel.  Time flows there; people can plan their life sphere and inter-personal communication can be maintained.  In contrast, the Palestinian villages remain isolated in their enclaves, with a separate road network pierced by roadblocks and other obstructions preventing the free movement of traffic and thus of time.  The two spheres, though physically proximate, enjoy parallel existence in terms of culture and planning because they exist in a colonial world that attributes "meaning" only to itself and "meaninglessness" to others.  The first sphere exhibits self-awareness and a developed self-importance, traits that can be translated into an organized and dynamic, foreseeable social order, whereas the other sphere continues to be viewed as lacking in self-awareness, a condition inherently chaotic and uncertain.  

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