Albert Memmi’s About-Face

Editor’s Note: Albert Memmi died recently, this is an insightful article from 2007.

Lisa Lieberman in the Michigan Quarterly Review:

In The Colonizer and the Colonized (1957) Albert Memmi remarked that “the benevolent colonizer can never attain the good, for his only choice is not between good and evil, but between evil and uneasiness.” Evil and uneasiness are a fair description of the choices faced by Leah Shakdiel, an Israeli peace activist featured in the documentary Can You Hear Me?: Israeli and Palestinian Women Fight for Peace. Born in a house that once belonged to Arabs, she rejected the crusading Zionism of her parents, choosing instead to live in a small town in the Negev desert and to work for social justice. But in order to visit her daughter, who lives in a West Bank settlement, she must travel on what she calls an “apartheid road”—a highway open only to Israelis; her daughter’s decision, Shakdiel confesses to the filmmaker, makes her feel like a failure as a mother. All the same, she loves her daughter. What can she do?

More here.