In the Labyrinth of Solitude

Time, Violence and the Eternal Frontier

by Peter Lagerquist
published in MER248

Our territory is inhabited by a number of races speaking different languages and living on different historical levels…. A variety of epochs live side by side in the same areas or a very few miles apart, ignoring or devouring one another…. Past epochs never vanish completely, and blood still drips from all their wounds, even the most ancient.

—Octavio Paz, Labyrinth of Solitude

From the Editor

published in MER248

It’s easy to forget, but the United States has a pressing year-end deadline to meet in Israel-Palestine as well as in Iraq. At Annapolis in November 2007, President George W. Bush, Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas pledged to “make every effort” to hammer out a comprehensive peace accord “before the end of 2008.” For Bush, the joint statement underlined a previous vow, uttered soon after the 2004 election, “to use the next four years to spend the capital of the United States” on creating a Palestinian state.

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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Locked In, Locked Out of Work

by Jennifer Olmsted
published in MER253

Article VI, Item 2 of the 1993 Oslo accords concluded between Israel and the Palestinians states, “After the entry into force of this Declaration of Principles and the withdrawal from the Gaza Strip and Jericho area, with the view to promoting economic development in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, authority will be transferred to the Palestinians in the following spheres: education and culture, health, social welfare, direct taxation and tourism.”

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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