I used to live in Jerusalem, for my sins, and when we finally got out of there, my friends and I set to work finding the general cases for the lessons we’d learned about surviving as politically questionable expats in an occupied city. If you’re a middle-class young person from a G8 country, living at the mercy of what is often referred to merely as the Situation or somewhat more theologically as the Inshallah Factor has a bit of a learning curve to it. While we were on the spot, the Moscow Rules had been bandied about a lot, so we tried to get our list down to ten, for symmetry. Our rules were these:
- Everything is political, including this rule.
- The true partisan can rationalize anything.
- Assume nothing.
- Keep a low profile.
- It never goes smooth.
- Never go against your gut.
- Have an exit strategy.
- Technology is your enemy.
- Don’t try to disrupt known surveillance.
- Whatever you did, you’ll hear about it at the border.
When we wrote them, we meant these for the unaffiliated foreign bystander in places like the West Bank or Ukraine, but someone had proposed a general theory that once 1 and 2 held good in a society, it was only a matter of time before the rest would start to apply as well. It’s starting to look like we’re going to find out.