From the Editor
THIS ISSUE OF JPS comes out as the PLO and Israel engage in yet another round of negotiations, under the sponsorship and oversight of the United States. At the same time, the Israeli government is ramping up its policies of land conﬁscation and home demolitions against Palestinians, including both those living under occupation in the West Bank and its own citizens. Articles and essays in this issue of the Journal explore these policies as well as their historical roots and their implications for the future, while others focus on the role of the U.S., and how it effectively underwrites these and other actions harmful to the Palestinians.
If implemented, the Prawer-Begin Bill that was passed this summer by the Israeli Knesset is slated to displace tens of thousands of Bedouin-Arab citizens of Israel through the destruction of their ‘‘unrecognized’’ villages. In his timely piece ‘‘The Negev Land Question,’’ Ahmad Amara gives the historical background to Israel’s dispossession of the Negev Bedouins. As resistance to the bill escalates, this article provides much-needed insight into how the Bedouins’ rights to their ancestral lands, often recognized by the Ottoman and British Mandate authorities, were nulliﬁed by the legal maneuvers of the State of Israel. Exploring the imperial and colonial roots of Israel’s laws to settle the Negev question, Amara makes the case that Israel’s policies towards its own Arab citizens are, in fact, colonial in nature.
Colonialism is the subject of another article in this issue. The historical article ‘‘Dividing Jerusalem’’ by Nicholas Roberts surveys how urban planning measures by the British Mandate authorities over several decades served to stunt the development interests of the city’s Arabs, while promoting the Zionist project and the designs of its British colonial patrons. Roberts thereby explores yet another sphere where the profound structural bias of the Mandate, combined with entrenched British colonial attitudes and approaches, signiﬁcantly favored Zionism and worked against the rights and interests of the Palestinian Arab majority. In this, Britain then operated quite similarly to the way the United States has in recent decades.
Addressing the high degree of overlap, amounting to complicity, in the approach of the United States and Israel to the Palestinian issue, Richard Falk, offers a very personal reﬂection in ‘‘Rethinking the Palestinian Future.’’ In his capacity as a professor of international law and the UN special rapporteur on human rights in the occupied Palestinian territories, Falk has been on the frontlines of the battle over the legality of some of these Israeli practices. He has also been the target of intense and often scurrilous viliﬁcation for simply doing the job to which he was appointed by the UN Human Rights Council. Falk provides his views of how these and other practices have created a framework within which the Palestinians must operate, and delicately contributes his own suggestions as to how the Palestinians might respond.
Also exploring the U.S.-Israeli relationship is an essay which is drawn from my recent book, Brokers of Deceit. Demonstrating how exceedingly close the American and Israeli positions have become on all matters pertaining to the Palestine issue, the essay examines three episodes over several decades—what I call ‘‘clarifying moments.’’ These moments reveal the complicity, bordering on connivance, between the two countries in their approach to the Palestinians. Grounded in a then-secret 1975 commitment by the United States providing for prior vetting by Israel of all American proposals in this regard, this increasingly complete congruence of positions should have rendered the United States unﬁt to serve as a mediator in this conﬂict. However, as is evidenced by decades of futile American initiatives, leading up to the latest one by Secretary of State John Kerry, it clearly has not.
Leading Palestinian sociologist Salim Tamari contributes an essay also largely relating to the present condition of the conﬂict and its possible impact on the future. In ‘‘Normalcy and Violence,’’ Tamari examines the efforts of both Palestinians and Israelis to achieve ‘‘normalcy’’ in an abnormal situation by providing routine to their daily lives. Tamari shows how efforts to create ‘‘normal’’ conditions for Israelis in a situation of acute conﬂict actually produce unstable and highly oppressive conditions for the Palestinians.
Finally, this issue also includes the annual Congressional Monitor, which chronicles the efforts of the United States Congress, if anything, to outdo the executive branch in its continuing fealty to whatever the Israel lobby indicates are Israel’s wishes. As always, this feature repays careful reading by anyone interested in the lengths to which large majorities of members on both sides of the aisle and in both houses of Congress will go to show their abasement before the powerful domestic representatives of a foreign power.
—Rashid I. Khalidi