18 January, 2010

The Eyes of an Artist

I was thinking about books I wanted to read, or re-read, once I finish up Phillip Roth, and I thought about continuing my streak of Great Male Authors of the 20th Century with Saul Bellow and either Herzog or Sieze the Day. Then I suddenly thought of another Saul, one whom just the other night I happened to scroll past a picture taken with him and some friends on Facebook. Ah, Saul Williams, hip hop slam poet of the soul.

On visiting his website, I found a rather long and involved post he wrote about his recent trip to Israel and Palestine to read his poetry to a group of 1,000 or so, mostly Israeli youth. He is extremely cognizant of all the tension and troubles the American media can be expected to imbue in your average citizen, but he takes a more compassionate and creative eye to cities themselves. He describes his brief visit beautifully here on his website. Hopefully that link takes you to his "Thoughts" page, where it may still be the first post you see.

It is heartening to me, to read about the peaceful protests of the Palestinian people near Tel Aviv, and their strong desire for a single nation of Muslim and Jew living side by side. The reality of their situation is equally as depressing, though; angering and daunting in equal measure.


Elliot said...

"Who among us can give translation of autumn hues to morning news?"

This was the first Saul Williams poem I ever read. Classic.

I have to say that I began reading this post with a fair bit of skepticism since Saul and my political views have diverged since I was in high school. But one thing I noticed and very much appreciated was his rejection of this idea of a cultural "boycott". It is almost always more beneficial to allow cultures to seep into one another and influence one another, than to cut them off from one another. That is why totalitarians in Burma and North Korea are so paranoid about the effects of western culture - they know how powerful it is.

But back to skepticism - this idea of a single nation is extremely problematic, especially to Israel. Israel manages to be both a Jewish state and a liberal one - a feat it can only pull off by having a strong majority of Jewish citizens along with a minority of Arabs whose rights are respected. But if you include the Palestinian territories, Israel ceases to be a Jewish-majority state, and thus in that circumstance for it to continue to be a "Jewish state" it would have to infringe rather severely on its majority-Arab inhabitants.

This is why many liberal pro-Israel folks are very adamant that Israel compromise to reach a two-state solution, which I think is the right solution.

Cassady said...

I didn't mean to suggest that I only support a one-state solution. Far from it; I agree that two distinct nations have a better chance of resolving ethnically/religiously charged disputes because each group would have a sanctuary of sorts in which they exist as the majority. As for the minority groups that will undoubtedly wish to remain right where they are, I don't know enough even to speculate.

My only point, upon re-reading, was that it's always heartening to see or hear about people with a passionate and peaceful desire for the two cultures to live side by side, whether in one state or two. Also, just thought Saul would bring an interesting perspective to the whole situation.