Cashing In On The Conflict

Jacob Newberry spent a year in Israel and was disturbed by "an unshakable feeling of complicity: with the Occupation, with the whitewashing of conflict, with the culture of triumphant militarism." But his visits to Ramallah were equally conflicted:

You will buy a decently constructed pair of shoes from a very nice shop run by a friendly man who remembers you and your tall, handsome friend. The shoes will say Handmade in Palestine, in English, on the hard black soles. This is not the only reason you have purchased these shoes (think: upward mobility, redistribution of wealth, joblessness), but it is a selling point. The owner of the shop knows this. His shoes are more expensive than those at most stores in the city, and each time you have come to visit, only foreigners have been browsing. Smile when you recognize the shop owner’s cleverness. Feel it warmly as a reverse exploitation, one that benefits everyone. Think of the phrases monetizing the conflict and exploiting Western liberal guilt and be proud of your erudition and sophistication.