The Israel-Palestine conflict is one of the world’s most polarizing confrontations. Its current phase, Israel’s “temporary” occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, turned a half century old in June 2017. In these timely and provocative essays, Gershon Shafir asks three questions—What is the occupation, why has it lasted so long, and how has it transformed the Israeli-Palestinian conflict? His cogent answers illuminate how we got here, what here is, and where we are likely to go. Shafir expertly demonstrates that at its fiftieth year, the occupation is riven with paradoxes, legal inconsistencies, and conflicting interests that weaken the occupiers’ hold and leave the occupation itself vulnerable to challenge.
Gershon Shafir is Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of California, San Diego, and the founding director of its Human Rights Program. He has served as President of the Association for Israel Studies and is the author or editor of ten books, among them Land, Labor, and the Origins of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, 1882–1914. He is also the coauthor, with Yoav Peled, of Being Israeli: The Dynamics of Multiple Citizenship, which won the Middle Eastern Studies Association’s Albert Hourani Award in 2002, and the coeditor, with Mark Levine, of Struggle and Survival in Palestine/Israel.
“An indispensable guide for anyone who wants to understand the occupation that has blighted Israeli and Palestinian lives for fifty years.”—Peter Beinart, author of The Crisis of Zionism
“Fifty years after the Six-Day War, Israeli direct control over the West Bank and indirect control over Gaza continue with no end in sight. While younger generations of Palestinians have grown up knowing nothing but occupation, all global citizens need to learn or be reminded of how it came about, its nature, and the reasons for its longevity. Gershon Shafir tells this story masterfully, with clarity and passion. A much-needed guidebook for understanding one of the great moral questions of our time.”—James Gelvin, author of The Israel-Palestine Conflict: One Hundred Years of War
“A Half Century of Occupation approaches the most fraught of subjects with compelling analysis, meticulous research, and plain old common sense. Shafir’s insights are valuable both for those with experience in the politics and history of the Middle East and for those new to the subject.”—Ayelet Waldman, novelist, author of Love and Treasure, and coeditor of Kingdom of Olives and Ash
“In this thoughtful, sober, and astute study of fifty years of Israeli rule in the West Bank and Gaza Strip, Shafir poses the right questions, treats them with the depth of knowledge and analysis they require and deserve, and reaches conclusions that are insightful and nuanced in equal measure. Additionally, and crucially, he helps us to prepare for the future as we better understand the past. This essential book is certain to withstand the tests of time.”—Mouin Rabbani, Senior Fellow, Institute for Palestine Studies