Happy Easter Monday! Today, Easter Monday is exactly 100 years since the Easter Monday rebellion in Dublin in 1916, when a small group of Irish nationalists took over the General Post Office building and several other sites in Dublin and proclaimed an Irish republic. The rebellion only lasted six days before it was brutally suppressed by the British, with heavy loss of life. But the rebellion was the spark of a bloody war that after much bloodshed, in 1922, led to Irish independence. And about a year and a half later, on November 2, 1917, the British government issued the Balfour Declaration, promising to “look with favor” on the establishment of a “Jewish homeland” in Palestine. Both the Easter Monday rebellion and the Balfour Declaration, are, of course, a product of the upheavals of World War I. Ireland was England’s first overseas territorial conquest; Palestine, when General Allenby swept out the Ottoman Empire, would be just about be Britain’s last. There has been speculation that part of the impetus for the Balfour Declaration was to sway American public opinion, and win back some of the support the British had lost in the United States due to its brutal war in Ireland.
Every year when I return to Hebron I have come to expect that I will find the Israeli Military Occupation more entrenched, the people more battered, more resigned. I expect that the Christian Peacemaker Team I have worked with since 1995 will have new challenges to meet. When I rejoined the team in early March, however, the extent of the restrictions on team’s monitoring work at checkpoints during school hours frankly shocked me. Border Police no longer permit us to exit the Old City near our apartment and make the five-minute walk to the Qitoun checkpoint to document how the soldiers treat schoolchildren and teachers passing through. Instead, we must take a fifteen-minute taxi ride over the hills and around to reach a location we can see from the roof of our house.
Despite Donald Trump’s unpopularity with New York State voters—71% hold unfavorable views of him, more than any other candidate—it helps to remember that he is the product of New York City and its political culture. His career tells us a lot about changes in a supposedly liberal city and state—especially when it comes to media manipulation, the politics of resentment, and the blurring of public and private interests.
Trump became prominent in New York City during the 1970s, a decade marked by a fiscal crisis, population losses, and shrinking working class and middle class incomes. He rose to power as the liberal city of New Deal New York stumbled. Then he exploited the inequalities, meanness, and celebrity journalism that have risen since its fall.
You know that bourne, the undiscovered country from which no traveler returns, that Hamlet spoke about? Well, Hamlet was wrong. Someone just came back. I spoke to him yesterday. We hadn’t chatted since late 2007. He’s a New Yorker, so of course his first questions were about politics.
¬–Who’s mayor of New York City?
—Okay, never-mind. Who’s president of the United States?
—Heard of him. I guess he defeated Hillary and was re-elected in 2012?
Elizabeth Kübler-Ross is best known for her five stages of grief on dealing with a fatal illness. The first reaction, the first stage of grief, is denial. You can’t believe this is happening. It is only temporary. It is not as bad as it seems. Then comes anger. It is not going away. It is getting stronger; you are getting weaker. It’s spreading. The next stage is bargaining. There is a way to stop this. It can be controlled. It’s just a matter of finding the right way to interact with it, to limit its ambitions. And then there is despair. It’s not going to work. You’re going to lose, and you’re going to lose everything. Finally, there is acceptance. As long as it’s going to happen, you might as well get behind it, if you can, if it lets you. You know it’s going to feel much better than the alternative, which is trying to struggle against it, and be painfully destroyed. Or admit defeat, and remove yourself, as far away as possible, to a place of safety.