Ramallah Syndrome

– Munir:
I wrote an article about Ramallah and Gaza. I said: Gaza is being destroyed form outside and the main tool is the Israeli army, Ramallah is being destroyed from the inside, and the main tool is the World Bank – which is the consumption. The consumption pattern is really getting inside of us, our thinking and our perceptions; and our relationships etc. are decided totally by this pattern.

All the talk about Gaza is about how can we ruin it from the inside. The idea of ‘help’ and paying money and reconstruction and so on, is actually to finish Gaza from the inside. As long as the destruction is only from the outside, Gaza is safe. Ramallah is not safe. Because on the outside it looks like everything is fine and everything is flourishing, so I feel… development projects change the city in ways that are much worse than sometimes destroying a few buildings here and there.

I want to say something about the word resistance. When an army invades you resist the army. When consumption invades you resist consumption. Ramallah is not resisting consumption.

– Manal:
What do you mean by consumption?

– Munir:
The number of workshops in Ramallah is consumption beyond belief, for example. Another one is the rise of the banks – Ramallah it is becoming the hub…

– Manal:
This is happening everywhere…!

– Munir:
We have to resist the pattern of living is being imposed on us but very sweetly … but this is how the world has been conquered.

– Manal:
I see consumption everywhere, not only in Ramallah. It’s the mentality of societies everywhere. In Damascus – an unoccupied place – consumption is everywhere. It is a world plan. I want you not to just collect the issues and see them in Ramallah…don’t just condense everything in Ramallah.

– Nasser:
But what’s interesting in Ramallah, what’s specific about it, is that the creation of a regime of consumption is precisely linked to the occupation by army Munir was talking about. Actually there is not such a split between occupation through consumption and occupation through army, they are two intertwined and interlinked things. It is about the creation of new subjectivities, people think differently, you are reconstituting subjects, reconfiguring people…the radicality of the situation here positions this in a much wider process of fragmentation and bantustanization; it means that here consumption cannot be separated from the colonial regime.

[Extracts from conversation No. 5]

I saw the first sign at Snobar and the second one today at Prontos. “Who is Celebrating Ramallah?” today’s sign asks. The signs are only in English and seem to be geared towards the audience of expats or those blessed to know today’s global lingua franca. I met with a friend in Jerusalem yesterday who is going north to watch checkpoints with EAPPI for a while. She just couldn’t believe what I was telling her about Ramallah. Wait’ll you see, I told her. Wait’ll you see. I tried to find out more about “Ramallah Syndrome”, and though the signs are new, their website hasn’t been updated in nearly a year. It’s delightfully surreal because I feel like I’ve been talking to a brick wall the whole time I’ve been in this city. These signs sit on walls like angels on my shoulders. If anyone knows where I can find them, please let me know.

3 responses to “Ramallah Syndrome

  1. Very interesting. Thank you for sharing Ramallah Syndrome.

  2. Thanks for stopping by, Alex!

  3. I am intrigued by the conversation here. But the syndrome does not specifically apply only to Ramallah. The politics of consumption extend throughout the world. Everything Nasser says about the creation of new subjectivities (sic) and people thinking differently has been happening in the U.S. at warp speed for at least the past two decades. The people of the U.S. are becoming (have already become?) consumed by the delights presented though the advertising machine. The ads tell us to buy more–consume more–and in the end, we become only interested in ourselves and what we can buy. It’s anesthetizing–brain washing, if you will. The result is a populace that doesn’t want to speak out–to vote intelligently–to examine ideas that do not support our concept of reality. Read Noam Chomsky’s Manufacturing Reality and you’ll see what I mean. From what I have seen of Ramallah, the same thing is happening here. Bottom line: the only ideology at work here is not political–it’s economic. As the CEO of UDS (Paddy Chaefsky’s classic movie Network) told Howard Beale as he began to preach the depressing truth (I’m paraphrasing here) There are no nations, no borders, no governments. There are only ITT, ATT and the rest of the monomaniacal corporations banding together to get our money by sucking out our souls.

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