"So-called high literature will disappear. I don't trust such partial hopes that there will always be islands where literature will be important and survive. ... Could it be that people will once again begin to think for themselves? By thinking, I mean original thinking, without someone holding their hand. If I read the works of thinking people, they inspire me to think, but at the same time they give me categories and don't set me free. Between them and Heraclitus's riplling stream, they interpose a book. Maybe at some point in the future, there will be nothing between them and the rippling stream. And they'll get nice and soaked."
—László Krasznahorkai, interviewed by Ági Dömötör
I met Fadi Quran in Ramallah last year. At the time, he was one of the leaders of a group of young people who had set up an encampment in the city's main square to demand an end to the division between Fatah and Hamas, which govern the West Bank and Gaza respectively. The protesters' longterm goal was to create a unified resistance to end the Israeli occupation: they saw fighting the division, and the ongoing complicity of the Palestinian leadership with the occupation, as early steps in a much longer struggle. They were an impressive lot. On the first day of their protests, I saw seven young men and women carted off in ambulances, beaten by undercover police and Fatah thugs. They were out there again the next day, and every day until I left Palestine. Quran's prominence notwithstanding, the majority of the group's organizers, I should add, were young women.
I didn't end up writing about Quran—I was there to write about water, which Quran discusses in the second of these interview clips with Robert Wright—but I couldn't help but be taken with him, and I know I was not alone in that reaction. Quran was terrifically sharp, profoundly committed, fully aware of the enormity of the obstacles in front of him and not in the least discouraged by them. (The last time we met he led me on a labyrinthine walk around central Ramallah, ducking in and out of doorways and shops—not so much to shake whoever was tailing him, he explained, but so that he would be able to spot them if he saw them again.) In the months since, Quran and his fellow activists have turned the focus of their struggle directly on the occupying forces. Yesterday, to mark the 18th anniversary of Baruch Goldstein's massacre of 29 Palestinians, Quran was among thousands who rallied in Hebron to demand that the city's main thoroughfare, Shuhada Street, be open again to Palestinians. The IDF reacted with its usual élan, meeting the crowd with tear gas, stun grenades, and foul-smelling chemical agents. Six people were arrested. Among them was Fadi Quran, whose arrest and beating by Israeli soldiers can be seen in the video above. He has been charged with pushing a soldier and has been denied bail. Despite the obvious falsity of the charge, it is unlikely that he will be released soon.