Raja Shehadeh is a Palestinian lawyer who lives in Ramallah and has been working all his carrier on issues of Palestinian land expropriated by the Israeli colonizing power. I met him in July 2010 in Ramallah for an interview about the practice of law as a resistance against the Israeli occupation of the West Bank and East Jerusalem. Back then, his book Palestinian Walks had just been translated and published in France by my friends of Galaade and his book A Rift In Time: Travels With My Ottoman Uncle was being released at Profile Books. He now publishes (only in French, as much as I know) a new short beautiful book, 2037 Le Grand Bouleversement under the form of a fictitious manifesto. Galaade, indeed, regularly releases short manifesto books that I have been calling instant publishing in another article and Raja’s one also follows this typology.
2037 is divided in two parts. The first one is another version of history than the one we usually receive in the Western world. Of course, it does not deny at all the suffering time that the Jewish people had to go through, reaching the ultimate horror with the Holocaust. However, it tells the story of the Palestinians from the beginning of the 20th century who lost little by little the power of their country to eventually have their land occupied by a foreign army.
The second part of the book is the essence of it and gave its name to it. 2037 is in fact the year in which occur the scene described by Raja in his book. Le Grand Bouleversement (The Great Upheaval) stands actually for an fictitious earthquake that would have triggered a nuclear accident, reestablishing a solidarity between Arab Countries, Palestinians and Israelis. The scene occurs in 2037 when radiations have decreased enough to allow the Middle East to work in a similar way than the European Union is currently working. R. Shehadeh evokes trains between Istanbul, Damas, Jerusalem and Jericho that function every 30 minutes, some Israelis and Palestinians gathering as friends and cultural and sports events occurring in a new land liberated from barbel wires and other border apparatuses.
Nevertheless, Raja is not establishing here a naive dream of a world uniting in a new form of the “end of history” and he makes sure to draw the reader attention to new issues that could occur in such a new world, i.e. a paradoxical religious antagonism against anything that has to do with religion, to a point that fanaticism does not seem so far and appear as redundant and inevitable in human history. But by tackling those new issues, he succeeds to makes us forget that the future world he describes is actually very far from the current situation.
As he points out in the first part, the economical and political class of the Israeli State depends so much on the apartheid establishment against Palestinians, it seems more likely to imagine a Deus Ex Machina provoking an earthquake rather than a sudden just pulse from the International Community and even less from Israel itself.
What’s left to hope nowadays when the Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu receive two dozens of standing ovations in the American Congress who knows as much about Palestine than about the conditions of life of a population of its own country. that cannot grant access to a decent health insurance? Hope is a lure in the passivity it implies. Only resistance in its various forms and in its activity can save us from falling.