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9/11 memories: Amira Hass

We asked a journalist working for Haaretz: where were you on 9/11?

It was 4pm in Palestine and Israel when the Hollywood-style scene of the falling towers for ever invaded our imagery and vocabulary. I was at home, in Ramallah, and I have no recollection what I was writing for Haaretz when human disaster gained such immediate global visibility.

It was almost a year since the outbreak of the second Palestinian uprising. My routine reporting laboured to remind the Israeli readers about our repressive military domination, and make visible the spiralling number of Palestinian civilian casualties, killed by the Israeli army. A doomed attempt. The Israeli vocabulary had space for Israeli pain and bereavement only. It made no causal link between supremacy and revolt, repression and revenge.

Did I betray my profession when I never wrote what one young Palestinian journalist had told me? She did not rejoice over the dead but was proud to see the symbols of empire attacked. Whether she represented the general mood among Palestinians, I cannot tell. But I could not quote her candid words while the cloud of smoke and dust still hovered above Manhattan. The trenchant comment would have been misinterpreted as an endorsement.

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This article first appeared in the 05 September 2011 issue of the New Statesman, 9/11