From the Editor
THIS ISSUE COVERS a broad range of topics, including an assessment of Palestinian prospects after the passing of Yasir Arafat, two contributions touching on aspects of the post-9/11 Middle East, an article about a little known incident in late Ottoman Jerusalem that sheds light on Palestinian identity formation, and a review essay about economic development in Palestine that takes an unusual perspective.
It also includes a tribute to JPS’s first editor, Hisham Sharabi, who died in Beirut in January 2005. Dr. Sharabi presided over the journal for three decades and was at the same time one of the most important intellectual figures in the Palestinian diaspora. His former student and longtime friend, Lawrence Davidson, offers his personal perspective on this remarkable individual.
Graham Usher, an acute observer of Palestinian politics, analyzes the situation in the occupied territories in the wake of Arafat’s death last November. Remarkably, and despite the outpouring of popular emotion at his passing, the disappearance of this man who dominated Palestinian politics so totally and for so long appears to have had little impact on the current situation. Usher explores aspects of this conundrum and the harsh future facing Palestinians.
Aspects of the post-9/11 world order are addressed by Anders Strindberg and Mats W¨arn, who explore the American (and Israeli) “terrorist discourse” that paints Lebanese and Palestinian resistance groups with the same brush as al-Qa‘ida, and demonstrate how this all-encompassing rubric elides significant differences between them. The use of a similar rhetoric, which flattens out distinctions and reduces complex realities to caricature for political ends, is one element of the new “American Orientalism” that Richard Falk highlights in his review essay of several new books on America’s new role in the Middle East and the world.
Louis Fishman’s focus on a now largely forgotten political crisis triggered by British excavations under the Haram al-Sharif in 1911 reveals interesting insights with contemporary relevance, including the mobilizing power a century ago of the Jerusalem holy site, its symbolic power as a component of national identity, and the population’s sense of threatened religious/national integrity triggered by foreign interference there.
Finally, a review essay by Raja Khalidi of a volume on Palestinian economic development and state building, edited by one of the preeminent living development economists, challenges the accepted orthodoxy, suggesting that some forms of what may be seen as corruption can play important development functions, and that some of the external pressures on Palestinian development priorities may have ominous unintended consequences.
—Rashid I. Khalidi