ONCE AGAIN, the moldering corpse of a U.S.-sponsored peace process is being propelled back onto the world stage. Once again, it will start entirely from Israeli premises, focusing on the security of the occupier rather than the occupied, on alleged Palestinian incitement, on the need to accommodate the political sensibilities of the six hundred thousand illegal settlers in the occupied Palestinian territories, on Tel Aviv’s insistence that Palestinians recognize Israel as a Jewish state, and other one-sided demands. Every previous round of this process has brought nothing but more misery to ordinary Palestinians, enabling the further entrenchment of the colonization and occupation of Palestinian land, and the creation of a bloated Palestinian Authority paramilitary apparatus to safeguard Israeli settlers and occupiers under the guise of security coordination. Any attempt to resist the Moloch that is devouring Palestine is regarded as terrorism, or as incitement, or as an instance of anti-Semitism that is punished either by Israel or by its PA surrogate.
As U.S. envoys Jared Kushner (the president’s son-in-law) and newly appointed ambassador to Israel Jason Greenblatt go about reviving the peace-process zombie, one doubts that they will hear from any of their interlocutors in Israel, Palestine, or Arab countries in the region about the systematic, entrenched racism of Israel toward its own two million Palestinian citizens; the ongoing theft of Palestinian land both in Israel and in the occupied territories; the routine use of torture on Palestinian prisoners in Israeli prisons; or the execution of Palestinians without trial or conviction, described in Orwellian language as “targeted killings.” These are all topics featured in this issue of the Journal.
It includes two articles on aspects of the struggle of Palestinian citizens of Israel against the policies of a state whose laws and structures were expressly designed to privilege its Jewish citizens at their expense. The first, by Jeffrey D. Reger, details how Palestinians who remained in the Galilee after 1948 confronted systematic policies to seize their land, focusing on the resistance of Palestinian olive growers to the efforts of the new Israeli state in the early 1950s to confiscate their lands and control the production and marketing of their crops. The second, by Michal Rotem and Neve Gordon, examines another population under enormous pressure from the land-grabbing of the Israeli state as it privileges Jews over Arabs: the Bedouin of the Negev/Naqab region in the south of the country. Here, the authors focus on the Bedouin use of Israel’s comprehensive education policy to retaliate against the state’s attempts to alienate them from their ancestral lands.
The Journal is proud to present a feature by Sahar Francis on Palestinian women prisoners in Israeli jails. Her report is based on extensive interviews with former prisoners, and on her work at the head of an organization dedicated to the defense of prisoners’ rights. In tandem, managing editor Nehad Khader writes on former prisoner and outspoken human-rights activist Rasmea Odeh. Odeh’s conviction in Israel decades ago on terrorism charges was secured by a confession obtained after she was tortured and raped, and her recently ordered deportation from the United States (where she resides) was decreed by a federal court that did not allow these facts to be considered.
The issue also includes the first part of a special two-part investigation by Paul Gaston Aaron into the long-standing Israeli policy of executing Palestinians without trial. Aaron examines the deep roots of this practice in the Israeli security apparatus’s historical reliance on assassination, and what this ruthless policy is intended to achieve. Finally, the Journal carries a close analysis by Khaled Hroub of Hamas’s new program, highlighting its departure from previous positions and its significance as a step toward building a consensus in Palestinian political ranks.
Rashid I. Khalidi