Will Boycotting Israel Work? The Challenges of Religion and Ethnic-Nationalism in the Search for a Just Peace — Loren Lybarger

May 22, 2014

EDITOR'S NOTE: Because today's Sightings focuses on a particularly sensitive issue—the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—I am making an exception to the guidelines on maximum length and use of footnotes so that the author, Loren Lybarger, may develop his claims more fully and document them thoroughly.

In 2005, a coalition of Palestinian civil and political organizations issued a global call to boycott, divest from, and sanction Israel politically, economically, and culturally until it ended “its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands,” allowed all Palestinian refugees to return to the areas from which they were expelled or fled during the 1948 and 1967 wars, and granted full equality to its Palestinian citizens [1].

The campaign quickly notched several high-profile victories [2]. Most recently, in December 2013, the American Studies Association (ASA) passed a resolution calling on its members to cease collaborating with Israeli academic institutions [3].

Predictably, the ASA’s vote, and the boycott campaign known as Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) that it supports, have generated sharp reactions. Eighty university presidents, for example, have condemned ASA’s resolution as selective and contrary to academic freedom. Supporters have responded by emphasizing that Israel’s “Apartheid-like treatment” of Palestinians deprives them of their academic freedom [4].

At issue in the BDS debate is the right of a state to implement policies aimed at maintaining the demographic and political dominance of a particular ethnic-national group. Lurking behind the polemics, however, is a question about religion and its role in Israeli and Palestinian nationalism. Supporters and detractors ignore this question almost entirely. In doing so they avoid grappling with a problem that continues to undermine any attempt to achieve an arrangement in which both national groups can flourish together in the same highly circumscribed geographic territory.

Grasping the underlying complexities of this question for Palestinians begins with an appreciation of the religious-secular divide generated during the first Intifada or “uprising.” Lasting roughly from 1987 to 1993, the uprising brought to the fore a generation of activists who formed a new trans-factional front, the United National Leadership (UNL). The coalition, aligned with the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO), issued weekly bulletins directing Palestinians to engage in a range of largely non-violent activities [5]. The actions united Palestinians across region, class, and religion.

Within weeks, however, this unity gave way to bitter division when Muslim Brotherhood leaders announced a new Islamist movement calling itself Hamas, an acronym for The Islamic Resistance Movement that means “Zeal.” Issuing its own schedule of actions and developing an armed-wing, Hamas successfully contested UNL leadership and, in doing so, generated an enduring secularist-Islamist split. This split has evolved in multiple directions, most disastrously into the civil war between Hamas and Fatah—the dominant secular-nationalist group—which ended with the latter’s expulsion at gunpoint from the Gaza Strip in 2007 [6].

The BDS campaign emerges from this past and implicitly seeks to transcend it. It attempts to secure a new status quo in two ways: first, by returning the Palestinian cause to an international human and civil rights context whose goal is overcoming Israeli dominance of Palestinian life—not the perpetuation of a peace process that has accelerated and institutionalized Palestinian losses—and, second, by seeking to revive the broad solidarity that briefly unified Palestinians during the first uprising. To achieve the latter, BDS appeals to the interests of three constituencies which, together, represent the entirety of Palestinian society:

1) Refugees of the 1948 and 1967 wars; interested in the question of return
2) Palestinian citizens of Israel; interested in the question of equality
3) Palestinians living in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, and Gaza Strip; interested in the question of the occupation

By refusing to advance a particular political program, other than to appeal to human rights and international law, or to advance a specific goal, such as one state versus two, the BDS campaign attempts to rise above the issues—pro-Oslo versus anti-Oslo; Islamist versus secularist—that have divided Palestinians, often bitterly, since the late 1980s.

Whether the BDS campaign can actually transcend the past and help find common ground remains to be seen. Hamas and Fatah seemed to have agreed to form a unity government for the first time since the Gaza civil war seven years ago [7]. However, recently the Palestinian Al-Quds Arabic-language daily, and the English languageGulfnews.com reported that the Hamas-dominated rump legislature in the Gaza Strip has introduced draft legislation instituting a new penal code that accords with shari`apunishments—including public lashings and amputation for theft of property.

The legislation represents Hamas’ latest move in a series of initiatives intended to Islamize Gaza in accord with the movement’s social conservatism. Previous measures have included laws that impose gender segregation in schools, prevent men from working as hairdressers for a female clientele, ban alcohol and shisha water pipes, rule out fashionable haircuts and clothing for men, and bar girls and women from participating in public sporting events like the UN-sponsored marathon in Gaza in 2013 [8].

In part, these measures and the proposed shari’a legislation are a response to pressure from Salafists, who seek to implement an Islamic order based on Qur’anic dictates and on the practices of the first generations of Muslims in the 7th and 8th Centuries. Salafists have criticized Hamas for not adhering assiduously enough to its own stated Islamic aims. Hamas’ measures are also a response to the general perception that the movement has not governed effectively since taking power in 2006 [9].

By attempting to reinforce its Islamist legitimacy, however, Hamas also appears to have widened the chasm with nationalists—secularist, Muslim, and Christian. Representatives of Fatah, members of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and supporters of Hamas who seek to restore national cohesion have spoken out against the proposed penalties [10]. The draft legislation enacts, they say, a narrow ideological agenda that ignores the pluralism of Palestinian society.

It is not entirely clear, in this regard, what the place of Christians, Jews, secularist Muslims, and atheists would be in a state that accorded with the type of shari`a-based polity that Hamas is seemingly trying to create in Gaza. In any case, critics point out, the current legislature in Gaza, whose term has expired—election dates have not yet been announced—lacks the legitimacy to replace the penal codes currently in force.

Hamas’ actions underscore the absence of a clear consensus among Palestinians about the kind of state and society they wish to create. BDS, which appeals to international law and universal human rights covenants, does little to address the underlying differences in values and ideology that have produced these divisions. Hamas has voiced support for BDS tactics, for example, but its actions in Gaza appear to be at odds with the universal principles of human and civil rights to which BDS appeals [11].

For many Israeli leaders and Israel supporters these actions merely confirm the view of Hamas as a radical Islamist movement committed to destroying Israel and erecting an Islamic order that would subjugate non-Muslims as second-class citizens [12]. Hamas’s refusal to acknowledge the Jewish state—the group suggests the possibility of a long-term truce along the 1967 borders but not a final settlement of the conflict—reinforces this perception [13].

Still, what Israel’s leaders and many of Israel’s supporters, including peace groups, avoid acknowledging is how the positions of Hamas mirror the presumption of Jewish ethno-religious exclusivity that lies at the core of Zionism in its various permutations. Critics of Hamas and BDS, for example, focus on how both movements negate the legitimacy of Israel as a specifically Jewish state. They ignore how the insistence on exclusive Jewish territorial dominance denies, yet, also reinforces Palestinian narratives of dispossession from and demand for restoration to the entire land.

Atalia Omer, a peace studies scholar at the University of Notre Dame, has pointed to this problem, arguing for a re-envisioning of “who we are” as Jews and Israelis in relation to Palestinians globally and especially within Israel itself. Such a process requires engagement with the religious-ethnic and political-theological presuppositions of Zionism as a whole [14]. This is not a matter simply of demanding that Israel adhere to principles of democracy and human rights but rather of a “theological” rethinking of Zionist history and identity from the inside out.

Although her focus is on the Israeli peace camp, Omer’s insights apply also to the Palestinian context, where Islamists and secularists remain at odds about the nature of Palestinian identity and whether and how to live with Jews in one or two states [15].

Alain Epp Weaver, an alum of the Divinity School and a Mennonite theologian, has recently explored these questions with respect to Palestinian Christian theologies of the land. Weaver asks whether Palestinian return must mirror Zionist notions of restitution to a space emptied of non-Jews, or whether it might instead entail a restoration to a “perforated and topologically deformed” place [16].

Such a place would “subvert” the exclusions of the ethnic-national state, which grants privileges to one group and not others; it would similarly undermine the homogenizing tendencies of the liberal democratic nation-state, which subordinates ethnic-national and religious communal differences to the rights of the individual citizen. In contrast, Weaver advocates a federation of ethnic-national and religious communities where differences are retained but are not allowed to develop into a politics of territorial exclusion and homogenization [17].

Can Palestinians and Israelis create a place of mutual refuge by transforming their political-theological narratives of belonging in ways that acknowledge and include the claims of the other [18]? If the current trajectories persist, the answer is no. In the name of equality, BDS opposes the exclusions of ethnic nationalism; and yet Salafists and Hamas supporters speak of the prior claims of Muslims to the Holy Land just as religious Jewish settlers in the West Bank invoke God’s covenant with Israel.

Meanwhile, the Israeli government, committed to preserving a Jewish state by securing Jewish demographics and territorial dominance, continues to seize land, build settlements, and isolate Palestinians in enclaves. The cost of these policies is great, primarily for Palestinians but also for Israel, which, in the words of U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, seems destined to become “an apartheid state” [19]. 

BDS may not succeed in altering the course of these developments, and the future it envisions may be incapable of resolving powerful and persistent ethnic and religious differences, but by raising the question of equality, it at least forces the question of how Palestinians and Israelis might forge a shared and just future together.

Endnotes:

[1] “Introducing the BDS Movement.” BDS Movement Freedom Justice Equality. Accessed May 17, 2014.   
 
[2] Artists like Roger Waters (Pink Floyd), Alice Walker, Adrienne Rich, classical guitarist John Williams, and many others have refused to perform in or visit Israel. Major pension funds, such as the Dutch PGGM™, have divested from businesses that profit from ties to Israel. Human rights and development aid groups like Oxfam—which asked actress Scarlett Johansson to resign from her role as global ambassador for the SodaStream™ company because its factory is located in an Israeli settlement—have severed ties with individuals and organizations supporting Israel.
 
[3] “Council Resolution on Boycott of Israeli Academic Institutions.” American Studies Association, December 3, 2013, About: Resolutions and Actions.
 
[4] Bard College, Brandeis University, Indiana University, Kenyon College, and Pennsylvania State University at Harrisburg terminated their ASA memberships. State legislators in New York, Pennsylvania, Florida, Maryland, and Illinois moved to deny funding to faculty for membership in or travel to conferences sponsored by organizations involved in supporting any boycott of another OECD country. Legislators in the US Congress drafted legislation to slash the budget of any institution of higher education deemed to be participating in a boycott of Israel.
 
For more: Peter Schmidt, “Backlash against Israel Boycott Throws Academic Association on the Defensive,” The New York Times, January 5, 2014; Elizabeth Redden, “Backing the Israel Boycott,” Inside Higher Ed, December 17, 2013.
 
The anti-boycott legislation has met with stiff opposition that, in many cases, has either defeated the attempts to pass these bills or has resulted in significant alterations to them:http://www.timesunion.com/local/article/Silver-amends-Israel-boycott-bill-5215738.php;
http://mondoweiss.net/2014/02/influential-israel-boycott.html;
http://www.washingtonpost.com/news/volokh-conspiracy/wp/2014/02/07/bill-to-block-federal-funding-to-universities-that-boycott-israel/.
 
Alongside the legislative skirmishing, the ASA vote has generated a lively polemical exchange. See, for example, Michael S. Roth, “Boycott of Israeli universities: A repugnant attack on academic freedom,” Los Angeles Times, December 20, 2014 and the compilation of statements and op-eds at http://www.camera.org/index.asp?x_context=2&x_outlet=118&x_article=2610
 
For supporters of the ASA: Carolyn Karcher, “Why I voted for an academic boycott of Israel,” Los Angeles Times, December 27, 2013.
 
For criticism of the BDS movement, generally, see Peter Beinart, “The Real Problem with the American Studies Association’s Boycott of Israel.” The Daily Beast, December 17, 2013, and also “Memo to Jewish groups: You can’t effectively fight BDS if you don’t fight settlements too,” Haaretz, February 5, 2014.
 
For responses to Beinart, see David Lloyd, “The nightmare hidden within liberal Zionism,” The Electronic Intifada, December 21, 2013, and also the collections of responses at http://mondoweiss.net/tag/peter-beinart.
 
[5] These actions included commercial strikes, tax revolts, identity card burnings, marches, sit-ins, boycotts of Israeli goods, imposition of a distinct Palestinian schedule for changing seasonal clock time, and the creation of house-based schools after the Israeli military closed educational institutions.
 
[6] On this history, see my book, Identity and Religion in Palestine: The Struggle between Islamism and Secularism in the Occupied Territories (Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 2007).
 
The Gaza civil war, and the critical role that the United States played in it, is recounted in David Rose, “The Gaza Bombshell,” Vanity Fair, April 2008 at http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/04/gaza200804 and http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2008/04/gaza_documents200804.
 
[7] Analysts appear split on whether this move represents a significant new departure for the competing political formations. Past agreements have foundered due to a lack of interest on both sides on sharing power in any meaningful way and on fundamental differences about how to engage Israel, which Fatah has recognized but Hamas has not.
 
Other analysts say this moment is different form others. Since Egypt shut down its smuggling tunnels, Hamas has lacked the ability to address the basic needs of Gazans—a fact that has made it vulnerable to public criticism from the secular left and from the Salafi religious right. Its recent recourse to Islamic ideology in its draft legislation on shari`apenalties—on this move, see further below in the body of the essay—may partially reflect the need to shore up legitimacy in the face of mounting criticism; but the move has exacerbated tensions with nationalists. An agreement with Fatah would allow Hamas to share the burden of ruling in Gaza and to blunt persisting charges it no longer represents the popular will of all Palestinians. It would also allow the movement to continue its pivot away from Syria and Iran toward the Gulf States and Egypt.
 
Fatah, for its part, has seen a sharp drop in public support as negotiations with Israel have proved an empty exercise. An agreement with Hamas and new elections would blunt accusations that its course of action is divisive and contrary to popular will. It would also help undercut the position of younger Fatah leaders like Muhammad Dahlan who have developed their own powerbases within Fatah and have sought to unseat the older leaders, foremost among them President Mahmoud Abbas. Dahlan, reportedly, has been in talks with Hamas about possibly reestablishing his institutional base in Gaza.
 
Finally, Abbas, in moving toward Hamas, is signaling that he no longer has faith in negotiations with Israel. Anticipating the talks’ failure, he is seeking to shore up his own position, internally, and determine in doing so who will succeed him as Fatah’s leader.
 
As if to confirm Abbas’s presumptions, Israel has since suspended the negotiations entirely, saying it will wait to see what the new Fatah-Hamas unity government looks like and that in any event it will not negotiate with a government that includes Hamas.
 
On the Hamas-Fatah agreement, see Fares Akram and Isabel Kershner, “Palestinian Factions Announce Deal on Unity Government,” The New York Times, April 23, 2014.
 
For further analysis, “Six Questions for Mouin Rabbani,” MERIP, April 4, 2014. 
 
On Dahlan’s challenge to Abbas, Mahmoud Jaraba and Lehi Ben Shitrit, see “Fatah in the Shadow of the Abbas-Dahlan Conflict,” Sada (Carnegie Endowment for International Peace), April 22, 2014.
 
On Israel’s suspension of the talks, see “Israel suspends peace talks with Palestinians,”AlJazeera, April 24, 2014.
 
[8] See Ibrahim Barzak and Diaa Hadid, “Gaza Marathon Canceled After Hamas Bans Women From Participating,” The Huffington Post, March 5, 2013; Walid `Awad, “Fard qanun `aqubat islami fi ghaza khalfan lil-qanun al-madani yuthir mawja min al-intiqadat[Imposition of Islamic law penalties in Gaza replacing the civil code provokes a wave of criticism],” Al-Quds Al-`Arabi, March 27, 2014; Nasouh Nazzal, “Hamas’ new Islamist law causes fury in Palestine,” Gulfnews.com, March 27, 2014; Fares Akram, “Hamas adds restrictions on schools and Israelis,” The New York Times, April 1, 2013; Phoebe Greenwood, “Fear and Fundamentalism as the ‘modesty police’ patrol Gaza,” The Telegraph, April 29, 2013.           
 
[9] Significantly, the unity deal Hamas announced with Fatah appeared to undermine its efforts to shore up Islamic credibility with Salafists. Almost immediately after the announcement, the consultative “shura” assembly of the Salafi jihad movement issued a statement condemning the deal. The statement accused Hamas of reneging on promises it had made to institute an Islamic order in Gaza. The agreement with Fatah, it said, not only would lead Hamas toward recognition of Israel but also toward acceptance of the heresy of democracy. See Muhammad Muqalid, “Shura al-Mujahidin: Masalaha ‘Hamas’ wa ‘Fatah’ tatadaman jumla min al-mukhalafat [The Mujahidin Council: ‘Hamas’–‘Fatah’ rapprochement contains a number of violations (i.e. of Islamic legitimacy)],” April 30, 2014.
 
[10] “Abu Shamala: Qanun al-`aqubat al-ladhi taqtarahu ‘Hamas’ ‘intihak li-l-qawanin,’ [Abu Shamala: Penal Code that ‘Hamas’ has proposed is a ‘violation of the laws’],” March 30, 2014 at http://fpnp.net/site/news/15695; `Awad, “Fard qanun `aqubat islami fi ghaza…;” Nazzal, “Hamas’ new Islamist law causes fury in Palestine.”
 
[11] On Hamas’s endorsement of boycott tactics against Israel, see http://www.hamasinfo.net/ar/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO%2bi1s7gH4vM00PiPF83fadNMRnt%2bttQPuegsFP8BWzPmFg8OnIqKIOYrR%2b4k83ZkWFllAxRWxUlMsLFSCX9mGqylLyKUsvGPXRWUdbVuyxAciOJvw%3d and also http://www.hamasinfo.net/ar/default.aspx?xyz=U6Qq7k%2bcOd87MDI46m9rUxJEpMO%2bi1s7SVDLs3rwPh7RI516bhuz86kDwm1QA20v9wSFljbG49BH1Kkovgqlde%2bCWSNSY6PkMW5Irw%2fkQ8kNhZx1eyci3rETgAfvnmM83mokZLd%2bios%3d. Fatah leader Mahmoud Abbas has opposed boycotting Israel indiscriminately, arguing that the Palestinian Authority is bound by “mutual recognition” with the Jewish state. He has, however, endorsed boycotting Israeli settlements in the West Bank, since “these are in our territory.”
 
Reaction to Abbas’ statement was swift with critics accusing him of being out of step with the emerging Palestinian consensus as embodied in the more than 170 civil society institutions backing BDS sanctions against Israel in its entirety. Other criticism portrayed Abbas as similar to South African Bantustan leaders, who benefited from cooperating with South Africa’s apartheid regime.
 
What the recently announced agreement between Hamas and Fatah portends for Fatah and the Palestinian Authority’s position on BDS remains to be seen. See Harriet Sherwood, “Mahmoud Abbas accused of being traitor over rejection of Israel boycott,”The Guardian, December 21, 2013, and Ali Abunimah, “In South Africa, Abbas opposes boycott of Israel,” The Electronic Intifada, December 12, 2013.
 
[12] Ironically, Israel helped to nurture the conditions for Hamas’s emergence in an effort to undermine popular backing of the PLO in the Occupied Territories. Now, however, Hamas has become the main Palestinian force that remains committed to the armed struggle against Israel. On these issues, see Identity and Religion in Palestine, 81-84, and the references cited therein.
 
[13] Some Israeli scholars have argued that Israel should take Hamas at its word concerning the idea of a long-term truce. A long-term truce is effectively an implicit recognition of Israel, they say, and a way to gain Islamist backing for a two-state deal. On this perspective, see Shaul Mishal and Avraham Sela, The Palestinian Hamas: Vision, Violence, and Coexistence (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006).
 
[14] Omer points out that even in its most liberal forms—for example in Martin Buber’s bi-national formulations—Zionism has presumed the legitimacy of the creation of a separate Jewish-majority homeland. Zionists establish this legitimacy through appeal to the bible. In this respect, Zionism is a type of disenchanted “political theology” that appropriates biblical religious claims but in doing so substitutes human agency for divine action. Not God but humans accomplish the return to Zion.

Omer deconstructs this theological core of Zionism in an effort to generate new possibilities of thinking about collective Jewish existence in relation to a multi-religious, bi-national situation. She conceives of this process in terms of “the hermeneutics of citizenship”—a methodological stance that draws critically from subaltern narratives of Mizrahi Jews and Palestinian citizens of Israel. Atalia Omer, When Peace Is Not Enough: How the Israeli Peace Camp Thinks about Religion, Nationalism, and Justice (Chicago, IL: University of Chicago Press, 2013).
 
[15] As I have discussed elsewhere (Lybarger, 2007), the distinction between Islamists and secularists is often complex. Secularists, generally, support the formation of a non-sectarian state that guarantees equality of rights of all its religiously and political diverse citizens. Islamists, by contrast, seek a shari`a-based state and society that, while it would accommodate religious minorities by granting a degree of religio-communal autonomy, would nevertheless privilege the rights of Muslims above others. Individuals, however, stake out a range of overlapping interpretive positions between these two poles.
 
[16] Alain Epp Weaver, Mapping Exile and Return: Palestinian Dispossession and a Political Theology for a Shared Future (Minneapolis, MN: 2014), 152.
 
[17] Weaver, Mapping Exile and Return, 80-81. Palestinian Muslims have offered similarly provocative reflections on the question of bi-national, inter-ethnic, and inter-religious coexistence. Recently Mohammed Dajani, a professor of American Studies at Al-Quds University in Jerusalem, led a group of students to visit the Auschwitz concentration camp in an effort to engage the Holocaust and to rethink notions of national coexistence in its light. Funded by German academic institutions, the initiative drew instant criticism from many Palestinians, who condemned it as a traitorous move to “normalize” Palestinian-Israeli relations in the context of Israeli intransigence in the peace process.
 
Commenters posting in reaction to the report in the Arabic-language daily Al-Qudsclaimed Dajani was “brainwashing” his students and that he should have been teaching them about the Palestinian Nakba, the mass expulsion of approximately 750,000 Palestinians during and after the 1948 war that brought Israel into existence, rather than having them learn about the Holocaust. Others accused him of the kind of opportunism and treason that French intellectual supporters of the Vichy government in France committed.
 
Those defending Dajani in the comments section argued in response that academic freedom had to be preserved and that, in light of Hamas’s proposed legislation institutingshari`a penalties in Gaza, such freedom was necessary to prevent the rise of tyranny among Palestinians themselves.
 
Dajani, for his part, defended his project by arguing that understanding the Jewish experience of genocide was necessary to developing the empathy required to engage “my occupiers.” Such efforts, he said, did not contradict the Palestinian demand for statehood. In several of his writings, Dajani has sought to reflect on the Qur’anic and Hadith foundations for interreligious rapprochement and coexistence. He claims to lead a new moderate Islamic movement among Palestinians—which he terms al-Wasatiyya, after the Qur’anic passage in Surat al-Baqara: 143, declaring that God has created Muslims as a “justly balanced” people (ummatan wasatan). He connects this Qur’anic concept with similar notions in Talmudic and New Testament teachings. A supporter of a two-state solution, Dajani views the American separation of state from religion as the best possible arrangement to ensure neutral governance and maximum religious freedom in the civil sphere among Palestinians.
 
It is difficult to assess the degree to which Dajani’s initiative enjoys significant backing. Regardless, it reflects the kind of theological rethinking that Omer calls for among Israelis.
 
Writing in the MERIP blog, Shria Robinson applauds Dajani’s desire to foster empathy but observes cogently that the negative reaction Dajani confronted reflected Palestinian sensitivity to the fundamental power imbalance that structures Israel’s relationship to the Palestinians. Israel has used the Holocaust as a bludgeon to suppress Palestinian narratives of dispossession and claim to the land.
 
Moreover, argues Robinson, Dajani’s trip seemed in spirit to flout the Palestinian ban on contact with Israeli institutions—a separate excursion of Israeli students to the Dheishe refuge camp just south of Bethlehem occurred at the same time as Dajani’s trip. (Dajani points out that his trip was funded by the German government and had no Israeli institutional connection.)
 
The rationale for the ban, Robinson points out, lies in the fact that Palestinian-Israeli exchanges can never be equitable as long as the situation of occupation continues. It is this inequality of power that Robinson highlights as the core issue, not mutual understanding. The politicians of both sides understand well each other’s position, she says, but it is power that enables Israel with impunity to devalue and deny the Palestinian narrative and ignore Palestinian claims.
 
See “Muhadar filistini yanzim ziyarat li-talaba min jami`ati Birzeit wa Al-Quds li-mu`askarat al-ibadat al-yahudiyya [Palestinian lecturer organizes visits for students from Birzeit and Al-Quds universities to the camps of the Jewish genocide],” Al-Quds, March 28, 2014; Matthew Kalman, “Palestinian students visit Auschwitz in first organized visit,” Haaretz, March 28, 2014; Mohammed Dajani and Robert Satloff, “Why Palestinians Should Learn about the Holocaust,” The New York Times, March 29, 2011; William Booth, “Palestinian university students’ trip to Auschwitz causes uproar,” The Washington Post, April 12, 2014. On Dajani’s “Wasatiyya” initiative, seehttp://www.wasatia.info/index.php/home. For Robinson’s comments, see Shira Robinson, “Using and Abusing Memory,” MERIP Blog, April 30, 2014.
 
[18] The revision of narratives in the manner suggested in my question will necessarily require a transformation of the power inequalities that define Israel’s relationship to Palestinians in Israel, in the Occupied Territories, and in the diaspora. It will also, as Omer points out, entail a reconfiguration of intra-Jewish power dynamics within Israel, especially the one obtaining between Ashkenazi and Mizrahi and Falasha communities.
 
[19] Josh Rogin, “Exclusive: Kerry Warns Israel Could Become ‘an Apartheid State,”The Daily Beast (April 27, 2014); Kerry subsequently backed away from his assertion. See Edward-Isaac Dovere, “Kerry backpedals on Israel ‘Apartheid state’ comment,”Politico.com (April 28, 2014). 

Image Credit: Benjamin Haas / Shutterstock.com
 

0eeba8a6-6e62-4514-bc24-d5a3a8e7a2cc.jpeAuthor, Loren Lybarger, (UChicago Ph.D. 2002) is Associate Professor in Classics and World Religions at Ohio University. A 2013-14 Senior Fellow in the Marty Center and recipient of a 2013-14 Fellowship from the National Endowment for the Humanities, Lybarger is the author of Identity and Religion in Palestine: The Struggle between Islamism and Secularism in the Occupied Territories (Princeton University Press, 2007).

 

 


ac_110325_151102_1489c9b397c70eff40990f.Editor, Myriam Renaud, is a Ph.D. Candidate in Theology at the University of Chicago Divinity School. She was a 2012-13 Junior Fellow in the Marty Center.

 

 

 

Publication author: 
Loren Lybarger