The Perpetual Motion of the Occupation

07/03/2012 03:55 pm ET | Updated Sep 02, 2012
  • Hagai El-Ad Executive director of the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI)

Perhaps the occupation is in fact an alternative reality unfettered by the rules of physics. Many have marveled at our ability to bend the rule of law on that other side of the Green Line, as epitomized by the tortured heuristics of the government's increasingly absurd arguments before the Supreme Court. Now, however, it seems even the most fundamental of laws -- the laws of the universe -- are suffering the same fate, fluttering in the wind over the hills of Samaria. Miraculously, right here in the Occupied Territories, we have succeeded in building what so many thought to be impossible: a perpetual motion machine. All that stands between us and the Nobel (for Physics, of course) are those pesky Palestinians who don't know progress when they see it.

Stubbornly clinging to their belief in the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the Palestinians seem unwilling to recognize the most basic of principles in perpetual motion: that the wheels of the occupation require no external energy to keep them spinning. Take Mr. Bassem Tamimi, who managed (perhaps magically) to convince the military courts to release him on bail for a period of two days in order to visit his ailing mother. The military prosecutor appealed the bail order, arguing that "[Tamimi] will continue to take advantage of the heightened media status he obtained following his arrest." In other words, the reason we have to continue to keep Mr. Tamimi under arrest is because we arrested him. An argument so perfectly circular is all but unassailable: how can we release someone from arrest when the reason for his continued incarceration is the heightened status he received as result of being arrested?

Never a body to sit idly by as the wheels of progress turn, the State Attorney's Office was kind enough to provide us with another gem of metaphysics, a formula for the entropy of the occupation: "Any decisions regarding construction raised by this petition are liable to have consequences for already existing construction" (Ha'aretz, April 27, 2012). The backdrop to this assertion, recently argued before the Supreme Court, is the brouhaha surrounding our attempts to take away from the Palestinians what little they have left. Despite having been reduced to subjects of the occupying power, Palestinians seem determined in their attempts to retain the right to private property. These subjects refuse to accept the principles of Statistical Mechanics, relying instead on aphorisms from the Bible, like the parable from the Book of Samuel about the rich man who stole the poor man's lamb. As if that was going to convince anyone.

While it is true that legalizing theft is an inconvenient task for all parties involved (and especially for their lawyers), there are those who make the petty argument that the Principle of Inconvenience is more strongly felt by those being robbed. In any case, the verbiage offered in the State Attorney's submission to the Supreme Court, extending from the hills of "the larger picture regarding evacuating settlements" to the horizons of "new thinking regarding priorities in implementing the Law in the Territories" is liable to create such a cognitive fog that visibility may be highly reduced. But woe upon us if our consciousness becomes so clouded that we overlook the greatest philosophical-scientific achievement of our times: the principle that it is forbidden to return that which we have stolen, because then we might be forced to stop stealing. Or that it is forbidden to tear down what was forbidden to build, because if we do so we might be forced to tear down so much more. We must therefore keep doing what we should never have done in the first place, in order that we may continue doing it into perpetuity.

Once set in motion, such a machine can continue forever without end. The only energy it requires is that which is expended in starting it up, the cost of which is clearly far behind us. The only thing that can stop it? A drastic paradigm shift that challenges not only the ostensible laws of nature, but also the dubious alchemy brewing in these parts.

This is the English version of a Hebrew op-ed originally published earlier in Israel on nrg.