Last year I gave the Israeli artist Amir Nave an old Hebrew copy of Immanuel Kant's Perpetual Peace, which I teach every so often in my Introduction to Political Theory class. He took the book, flipped through it, ripped out the title page, turned it upside down, signed it and returned it to me. Nave, an Arab Jew of Iraqi descent, didn't say anything, but the gesture was eloquent enough: we are living in an era of perpetual war, and peace emerges, if at all, in the interregnum.
Nave's children go to the same school
as mine. It's called Hagar, after the biblical figure who wandered
between different peoples and cultures in the desert not far from where I
live. Hagar was founded by a group of Jewish and Palestinian parents
who wanted to create a shared space for their children. It's the only
non-segregated school in the Negev region, which is home to about
700,000 Israelis, more than a quarter of whom are Palestinian Bedouin.
A few years ago, after we had been running two Jewish-Palestinian nursery schools, the Beer-Sheva municipality allowed Hagar to make use of an old run-down school in a crumbling neighborhood, one of the city's poorest. The bathrooms stank: the decrepit pipes hadn't been replaced for years. Outside, in the half hectare of yellow soil that the city bureaucrats called a playground, there was no water fountain for the children to drink from, not even any shade for them to play in. It was a site of callous negle