Rashid Khalidi, Edward Said Professor of Arab Studies at Columbia University and Journal of Palestine Studies editor, spoke with Noura Erakat, human rights attorney and legal scholar, about her newly released book, Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine (Stanford University Press, 2019).
Erakat emphasizes her argument about the relationship between law and politics and how it helps to explain a history of the Palestinian present. She highlights how the law is both a site of oppression and resistance and cautions that assuming that the law would yield a beneficial outcome for Palestinians absent Israeli and U.S. intervention reflects a misunderstanding of the law and attributes to it excessive faith. Together, Khalidi and Erakat discuss two formative junctures in the Palestinian struggle for freedom shaped by the relationship between law and politics: the establishment of the League of Nations Mandate for Palestine in 1922 and UN Security Council Resolution 242 in 1967.
Justice for Some offers a new approach to understanding the Palestinian struggle for freedom, told through the power and control of international law. Focusing on key junctures–from the Balfour Declaration in 1917 to present-day wars in Gaza–Erakat shows how the strategic deployment of law has shaped current conditions. Over the past century, the law has done more to advance Israel’s interests than the Palestinians’. But, Erakat argues, this outcome was never inevitable.
This interview is a joint collaboration between the Institute for Palestine Studies’ Palestine Square and Jadaliyya.