What’s the right action? Pragmatic engagements for justice in East Jerusalem

By Sylvaine Bulle

Can we bypass the simplified theory (critical theory) of domination and oppression often used to characterize the current situation of enclosure of Palestinians in East Jerusalem? Our survey and research concern the pragmatic actions of the citizens of East Jerusalem to overcome enclosure and separatism. Despite the relations of force imposed by closure (the control of movement and of the mobility of people, the military presence, and the physical imprint of the fence), citizens create their own modes for regulating these injustices. These modes correspond to illegal or informal movements in order to cross the border between East Jerusalem and the Palestinian Territories, to benefit from economic activities or to obtain an administrative status. Pragmatic actions overcome the traditional break between the political and the moral, and challenge the collective norms (stemming from religion, resistance and patriotism). These practical actions also reveal forms of trust in the enemy (Israel), that contradict to some extent the norms and collective judgments within the community (where the sense of patriotism and honor dominates), appearing as tests for civility and human decency. They mark the emergence of individualism and subjectivity which could be linked to the notion of self-realization and freedom which are both values of liberalism, and consist in recognizing the capacities and capabilities which are also the sources of pluralism. Such an approach opens the perspective for the notion of the recognition at a non-institutional level.


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