Rachel Kushner at n+1:
As we traveled from Nabi Saleh to Ramallah by bus, we engaged in a vigorous discussion about the military occupation of the West Bank and whether it resembled apartheid. Yehuda Shaul of BtS told us he had escorted Barbara Hogan, an ANC member and former South African political prisoner, around the occupied territories. Hogan had declared after her tour that apartheid was in fact not an appropriate comparison, because what Hogan saw of Israel’s military occupation of the West Bank was so much more extreme than what she knew of apartheid South Africa. Whatever the correct descriptor might be, the military occupation of the West Bank is hard to understand until you see it. You might be surprised at your own intolerance of the idea of a democracy maintaining an open-air prison for 2.7 million people. Before going there myself, I had heard this phrase, open-air prison, and figured it was not literally a prison. (As someone who spends a fair amount of time in prisons, I’m sensitive to its use as a metaphor.) But everywhere I went I saw guard towers and concrete barriers and razor wire—truly an open-air prison—except where there were settlements, which featured posh, Beverly Hills–style landscaping: little blooming flowers, fragile and bright, the guard towers in the far distance.