The Only Place Where There's Hope

An Interview with Muhammad Khatib, Jonathan Pollak and Elad Orian

by Robert Blecher
published in MER240

Beginning in December 2004, and then every Friday since February 2005, Palestinians, Israelis and internationals have converged on the West Bank village of Bil‘in to demonstrate against the barrier that Israel is building there, as part of the chain of walls and fences (the Wall) that the Israeli government hopes will be Israel’s unilaterally declared eastern border. The protests in Bil‘in have been among the most effective and sustained of any in the Occupied Territories.

Social Security

How Palestinians Survive a Humanitarian Crisis

by Lori Allen
published in MER240

In the Jenin refugee camp, on the outskirts of the West Bank town of the same name, remnants of the rougher days of the second intifada persist. Akram Abu al-Siba‘ is here to tell a French delegation, one of the few making the trek to Jenin these days, about the latest in the camp’s long list of dramatic and tragic experiences. In early July, he relates, disguised Israeli operatives drove into Jenin camp, burst out of the car and sprayed gunfire at a group of men gathered to offer condolences to the family of a man killed the day before. The apparent target of this operation, Zakariyya Zubayda, leader of the al-Aqsa Brigades in Jenin and a man much wanted by Israel, escaped unharmed. Thirty-four others were not so lucky.

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Stein, Itineraries of Conflict

by Gil Hochberg
published in MER253

Rebecca L. Stein, Itineraries in Conflict: Israelis, Palestinians and the Political Lives of Tourism (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008).

“To read Israel as itinerant is to imagine its alternative future.” With these optimistic words, Rebecca L. Stein closes the introduction to her beautifully written ethnography of Israeli tourism in the years between the 1993 Oslo agreement and the second intifada that began in the fall of 2000. What shines through in this book, indeed, is Stein’s optimism, which, far from being romantic or dreamy, emerges out of a sober and well-crafted socio-political analysis. Joining a growing body of works dedicated to the mechanisms of Zionist domination, Itineraries in Conflict stands out in its commitment not only to documenting the present predicaments of Israel-Palestine, but also to thinking through these predicaments and the often paradoxical possibilities they open for setting the political reality on a different trajectory.

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Planning Apartheid in the Naqab

by Monica Tarazi
published in MER253

The authority to plan and order physical space is among the most significant powers a government possesses. Spatial planning can be a force for reform and emancipation or a mechanism of control and subordination. In Israel, national planning goals are rooted in Zionism’s agenda of nation building and “Judaization” of territory. In the southern desert, known in Arabic as the Naqab and in Hebrew as the Negev, those priorities have led to the expropriation of more than 90 percent of the historical lands of the Palestinian Bedouin for the establishment of Jewish towns. The result is one of the clearest examples of apartheid in Israel.

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Beyond Compare

by Julie Peteet
published in MER253

“Rolling into Gaza I had a feeling of homecoming,” writes the novelist Alice Walker. “There is a flavor to the ghetto. To the bantustan. To the ‘rez.’ To the ‘colored section.’” In a poetic vein, Walker captures the confinement and marginality one senses in the Gaza Strip, and its familiarity to those who have lived in segregated spaces in the United States and South Africa. It is the latter parallel that has captured the collective imagination in the early 2000s.

"Creeping Apartheid" in Israel-Palestine

by Oren Yiftachel
published in MER253

On July 5, 2009, Benjamin Netanyahu, Israel’s prime minister, said something that had many rubbing their eyes in disbelief. Reviewing his government’s first 100 days, he pronounced, “We have managed to create a national agreement about the concept of ‘two states for two peoples.’” Can it be that the hardline leader of the Likud, known for opposing almost every withdrawal from occupied territory Israel has ever undertaken, now believes in a peaceful two-state solution?

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