ISRAEL’S MARCH 2015 ELECTION took place as this issue of the Journal of Palestine Studies was going to press. The election campaign featured expressions of overt racism toward the 20 percent of Israeli citizens who are Arab, as well as a blunt rejection of a Palestinian state by the victor, Benjamin Netanyahu. It is too much to expect that Netanyahu’s frankness might finally prove to be the stake through the heart of the two-state solution that causes people to try to resolve the real issues, namely, the occupation, continued colonization, and institutionalized racism. Instead, most will probably go on being deluded by the chimera of a “peace process.” As structured by the United States and Israel, this process was ostensibly keyed to a two-state solution. However, the only concrete results of the nearly two and a half decades of wrangling over this so-called solution have been more land theft, more Israeli settlements, and the further confinement and pauperization of the Palestinian people.
Other issues that are both pressing and real include the current and dramatic disunity of the Palestinians, a topic which is one of the central concerns expressed by Islamic Jihad leader Ramadan Shallah in the second part of a long interview. (Part 1 of the interview appeared in the previous issue of the Journal, JPS 174.) Besides laying out a formula for the rebuilding of a unified Palestinian national movement, Shallah stresses the irrelevance of the debate over one or two states in light of the intransigence of the Zionist movement, once again underlined by Netanyahu’s electoral statements, and of the urgent problems facing the Palestinians.
Central to these problems is the cruel punishment of the people of Gaza who are besieged by Israel, with the increasing cooperation of Egypt. In an essay entitled “Encystation,” Glenn Bowman argues that the “radical closure of Gaza serves as an extreme example of a process of isolation and immiseration of national enemies that is deeply rooted in Israeli ideology and practices of state formation.” Bowman examines the concept of border in Israeli discourse and goes on to show how it plays out in the real-life practices of walling as applied not only to Gaza, but also to the West Bank, as well as inside the Green Line, and in Israeli settlements.
This issue also includes an article by Gabriel Piterberg entitled “Israeli Sociology’s YoungHegelian: Gershon Shafir and the Settler-Colonial Framework,” which charts the pioneering work of Shafir within the Israeli academy as a proponent of the settler-colonial model to explain the implantation of Zionism in Palestine. Piterberg points out that while this paradigm was already well established among many non-Israeli scholars, Shafir was the first to use it within Israeli sociology, thereby challenging models that “normalized” the Zionist/Israeli project as part of other analytical frameworks.
Finally, this issue of the Journal offers a joint appreciation of the life of eminent Palestinian scholar Naseer H. Aruri by two of his longtime colleagues and friends, FouadMoughrabi and Elaine Hagopian. Aruri, who passed away in February 2015, was a pioneer in giving voice to a Palestinian perspective in the American academy. His scholarship, his activism, his integrity, and his leadership in the Arab-American community all marked him as exceptional, and his loss has been deeply felt by all those who knew him. Naseer Aruri’s contributions, and those of others of his generation, such as Edward Said, Ibrahim Abu-Lughod, Hisham Sharabi, and Samih Farsoun, paved the way for the current generation of scholars working in fields related to Palestine in the American academy.