Architectures of delusion | WHAT REALLY HAPPENED X-Frame-Options: DENY X-Frame-Options: SAMEORIGIN

Architectures of delusion

The symbolism is irresistible: six men—political prisoners according to world opinion, terrorists according to their captors—tunneled out of Israel’s Gilboa, a heavily guarded colonial stockade, and then disappeared into the early morning darkness in an escape so daring and unlikely that it surely would become a big-budget production if Hollywood didn’t hate Palestinians.

The hole from which they emerged beyond the prison wall couldn’t have been much more than a foot in diameter. How did six grown men squeeze through such a small cavity? How did they manage this feat of primitive engineering? How did they bamboozle the Zionist security apparatus? We don’t know. They just did. This unknowability informs the magic of their escape.

They emerged from the earth like precious resources, like natal organisms, like seeds determined to initiate life. Arabs rejoiced across two continents while Israelis and their imperialist sponsors vowed to reassert control: more law, more order, more spying, more imprisonment. As always when Palestinians prove capable of human behavior, the occupiers have been bellyaching about savagery and lawlessness, but underlying the outrage is the usual anguish that the natives again rejected their jurisdiction. The occupiers have been humiliated, demystified, outwitted by people whose supposed inferiority is a critical component of their self-esteem. No longer can Israelis be comforted by the scornful belief that Palestinians are simple beasts crawling around on their bellies. The six escapees breached something much more serious than a maximum-security prison; they burrowed into the granular underground of Zionism’s fragile psyche. First, that tiny hole. Next, the entire country.