Donald Trump’s Generous Offer on Jerusalem

By Salim Tamari, author of The Great War and the Remaking of Palestine

As Israel celebrates, and the rest of the world condemns, Donald Trump’s declaration of U.S. recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, it is pertinent to recall on this issue Arthur Koestler’s famous quip, made a century ago in reference to the Balfour Declaration, that “one nation solemnly promised to a second nation the country of a third.”

Two unintended consequences emerge from the new U.S. position: first, it brings the status of Jerusalem back to the limelight, after it was pushed to the back burner by the Syrian and Yemeni wars; and second, it has clearly placed the United States outside of the international consensus with regard to any future peace process over the status of the city, or indeed within the Arab-Israeli conflict. This has opened the door to other global and regional actors, particularly Europe, Russia, and Turkey, as future mediators. In fact, some of the earliest responses to Trump’s declaration came from these quarters. Turkish prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan voiced the possibility of severing diplomatic relations with Israel, and French president Emmanuel Macron announced his total rejection of the “unilateral” U.S. move, which he described as “regrettable” and “against international law and all the resolutions of the UN Security Council.” German foreign minister Sigmar Gabriel described Trump’s decision as “counterproductive” to the peace process.

The debate over Jerusalem status happened when Palestinians were commemorating the thirtieth anniversary of the first intifada – which some observers will recall exploded over control over Jerusalem’s public space:

The battle for control over the streets of Jerusalem was the most protracted and perhaps due to the centrality of the city in the Israeli strategy of control over the territories, the most crucial. It was sparked by General Sharon’s transfer of his residence to the Old City of Jerusalem on December 14th, 1987, with the onset of the major demonstrations in Gaza. A commercial strike commenced in Jerusalem and continued unabated for forty-one days, igniting a series of solidarity strikes in other West Bank townships, most notably in Nablus and Ramallah.

Jerusalem was then, as it is today, the beginning and end of the intifada. The pacification of Jerusalem as an arena of rebellion during the 1990s did not last, despite Israel’s continuing efforts – including rezoning the city’s Arab periphery, residency regulations, and demographic policies of exclusion – to suppress its Palestinian Arab population and sever it from its Palestinian Arab milieu, for whom it lies at the heart of the question of independence.

Logistically, the U.S. decision brings back the thorny issue of the location for the prospective Jerusalem embassy. One of the likeliest places, it appears, remains the contested territory of the so-called Allenby Barracks, which was sequestered from Jerusalemite Arab Khalidi, ‘Alami, and Ansari families over the last half-century. However, this is a minor detail in a larger issue that concerns the future of the occupied territories and the status of Jerusalem as the capital of two sovereign states. Underlying the objections of the majority of countries, including the United States until recently (that is, until Trump’s election), to Israel control of Jerusalem has been UN General Assembly resolution 181, which affirmed the partition plan for Palestine and the creation of an international zone in Jerusalem known as the corpus separatum. That notion established in the city a special international regime in which both Palestinians and Israelis would have a dual national identity in the city. Given the slow death of the peace process and the de facto withdrawal of the United States from a mediating role, is it time – seventy years later – to revive this plan for Jerusalem?


A leading expert on Jerusalem, Salim Tamari is Professor of Sociology at Birzeit University, Palestine, Director of the Institute of Jerusalem Studies, editor of the Jerusalem Quarterly, and author most recently of The Great War and the Remaking of Palestine.

Employing nuanced ethnography, rare autobiographies, and unpublished maps and photos, The Great War and the Remaking of Palestine discerns a self-consciously modern and secular Palestinian public sphere. New urban sensibilities, schools, monuments, public parks, railways, and roads catalyzed by the Great War and described in detail by Salim Tamari show a world that challenges the politically driven denial of the existence of Palestine as a geographic, cultural, political, and economic space.


The Culinary Sphere as a Political Arena

by Nir Avieli, author of Food and Power: A Culinary Ethnography of Israel

This guest post is published in conjunction with the American Anthropological Association conference in Washington D.C.. Check back regularly for new posts through the end of the conference on December 3rd.

In a recent talk on my book Food and Power: A Culinary Ethnography of Israel during a visit to the US, I was asked whether my findings were not in contradiction with Jewish morality, and whether my text would not make for ammunition in the hands of anti-Semitic critics of Israel. For example, wasn’t my definition of the Israeli cuisine characterized by large, cheap portions of low quality resonating with the classic anti-Semitic perceptions of “the Jew” as stingy and greedy? And wasn’t my argument that the accusations by Israelis of Thai migrant workers for systematically hunting and eating Israeli pet dogs implying that Israelis were racists?

Food and Power is indeed a political project. It deals with the misuse and abuse of power in modern-day Israel, and exposes antidemocratic, xenophobic, and racist tendencies that taint the political and public arenas. In this sense, it is a stern critique of contemporary Israeli society. It is not, however, a post-Zionist or anti-Israeli project. Rather, it is a critical analysis of an extremely important cultural realm: The Israeli culinary sphere, which has not been approached thus far as a political sphere, enmeshed in power relations.

Do my findings contradict Jewish morality? While I could have argued that academics were not an authority when it comes to moral standards, I responded that there is no monolithic or agreed upon Jewish morality but, rather, multiple interpretations of what Jewish morality was, some of which can only be described as contradictory. And oddly enough, this is exactly what my findings indicate; that different people in different contexts understand and enact Jewish morality in very different ways: Eating as much as you can no matter the quality may be understood as a manifestation of greed, but also as an expression of vulnerability and fear. Accusing the Thais of eating Israeli dogs may be pure racism, but my findings suggest that this myth has emerged as a partial solution for the shame many Israelis feel regarding the employment of foreign workers in a country that cherished “Jewish labor”.

So while Food and Power approaches some of the negative features of Israeli society, including gluttony, greed, ethnocentrism, racism, patriarchal machismo, and other forms of power abuse, I have dedicated this book to my children,  hoping that the prevailing ethno-messianic and neo-liberal ideologies which have been increasingly dominant since the mid 1990’s will eventually collapse due to their essential immorality, internal contradictions, and lack of practical solutions for the problems and difficulties Israel faces.


Nir Avieli is a Associate Professor in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Ben Gurion University, Israel.


Banned Books Week 2017: Islamic Peace, Tolerance, and Understanding

As part of Banned Books Week we’ll be sharing recommended reading lists that promote the freedom to seek and express ideas. We take pride in publishing scholarship that focuses on the lives of diverse religious and ethnic communities and places value in their voices. Through our mission to advance knowledge and drive progressive change, we seek to promote free expression, understanding of different beliefs, and most importantly, tolerance of difference. #BannedBooksWeek #RightToRead

During Banned Books Week (ending September 30), get a 30% discount on these selected titles below.

Understanding Jihad
By David Cook 

“One of the most helpful of the spate of new books to appear since the tragic events of September 11, 2001, on the debate about jihad in Islam. Cook’s approach is based on historical and textual analyses, and is enhanced by valuable theoretical discussion. This book will help readers find their way through the vast literature by Muslims and non-Muslim scholars on what we can’t seem to get away from calling ‘holy war.'”
—Richard C. Martin, Professor of Islamic Studies, Emory University

“This book is important to current political and religious discourse on the role of Islam in today’s world and increases our understanding of the seemingly odd behaviors we observe through the media. A tremendous contribution.”
—Reuven Firestone, author of Jihad: The Origin of Holy War in Islam

 

A Half Century of Occupation: Israel, Palestine, and the World’s Most Intractable Conflict
By Gershon Shafir 

“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

“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

 

American Islamophobia: Understanding the Roots and Rise of Fear
By Khaled A. Beydoun
Forthcoming April 2018

The term “Islamophobia” may be fairly new but irrational fear and hatred of Islam and Muslims is anything but. Though many speak of Islamophobia’s roots in racism, have we considered how anti-Muslim rhetoric is rooted in our legal system?

Using his unique lens as a critical race theorist and law professor, Khaled A. Beydoun captures the many ways in which law, policy, and official state rhetoric have fueled the frightening resurgence of Islamophobia in the United States. Through the stories of Muslim Americans who have experienced Islamophobia across various racial, ethnic, and socioeconomic lines, Beydoun shares how U.S. laws shatter lives, whether directly or inadvertently. And with an eye toward benefiting society as a whole, he recommends ways for Muslim Americans and their allies to build coalitions with other groups. Like no book before it, American Islamophobia offers a robust and genuine portrait of Muslim America then and now.

 

Seeking Good Debate: Religion, Science, and Conflict in American Public Life
By Michael S. Evans 

“The religion and science debate has long been central in the public imagination, but, incredibly, until now scholars have not examined the debate itself. In this wonderfully well-written book, Michael Evans takes the scholarship to the next stage. This is the most sophisticated treatment of religion and science in the public sphere available. A great accomplishment!”
—John H. Evans, Professor of Sociology, University of California, San Diego

“Original, theoretically rich, and potentially groundbreaking, this book brings serious empirical scrutiny directly to questions of religion, science, and deliberative democracy. Carefully investigating how people want deliberation to work, then how it actually works, Michael S. Evans successfully moves the debate forward a quantum leap.”
—Andrew J. Perrin, Professor of Sociology, University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill

 

Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom
By Norman Finkelstein 
Forthcoming January 2018

“This is the voice I listen for, when I want to learn the deepest reality about Jews, Zionists, Israelis, and Palestinians. Norman Finkelstein is surely one of the forty honest humans the Scripture alludes to who can save ‘Sodom’ (our Earth) by pointing out, again and again, the sometimes soul-shriveling but unavoidable Truth. There is no one like him today, but in my bones I know this incredible warrior for Humanity and Justice is an archetype that has always been. And will always be. Small comfort in these dark times, perhaps, but a comfort I am deeply grateful for.”
—Alice Walker, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award for The Color Purple

“Norman Finkelstein, probably the most serious scholar on the conflict in the Middle East, has written an excellent book on Israel’s invasions of Gaza. Its comprehensive examination of both the facts and the law of these assaults provides the most authoritative account of this brutal history.”
—John Dugard, Emeritus Professor of Public International Law, Leiden University, and former Special Rapporteur to the UN Human Rights Council on Human Rights in the Occupied Palestinian Territory, 2001-2008

 

Living with Difference: How to Build Community in a Divided World
By Adam B. Seligman, Rahel R. Wasserfall, David W. Montgomery

“Both a work of scholarship of value to the academy and a practical guide for improving intergroup relations. The material is fresh and the work innovative, with new and illuminating insights. I cannot think of a comparable work.”
—David Smock, Vice President of the U.S. Institute of Peace

“This book challenges readers to engage intellectual and human experiential resources to acquire empathy and celebrate differences as part of the knowledge of the self. An interdependent and interconnected reality can be realized when we interact with others in fully authentic ways.”
—Abdulaziz Sachedina, Professor of Islamic Studies at George Mason University

 

Islamic Civilization in Thirty Lives: The First 1,000 Years
By Chase F. Robinson 

” …an elegant digest of the many colourful, creative and technologically innovative manifestations that the Prophet Muhammad inspired from his seventh-century oases in the Arabian peninsula.”
—The Economist

“Robinson delivers a fascinating snapshot of Islamic history through 30 brief biographies. By including a mixture of the usual suspects (Muhammad, Ali, Saladin) and the unexpected (Ibn Hazm, Ibn Muqla, Abu al-Qasim), the author offers readers a rich variety of lives in pre-Islamic history.” —CHOICE


On Jerusalem: A Special Virtual Issue from the Journal of Palestine Studies

Few places in the world are enmeshed in as much tension and debate as Jerusalem: as a historical site, a symbol of national identity, and a modern city. It has been destroyed, besieged, attacked, built, and re-built many times over its long history. With the city’s complex status remaining central to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, the Journal of Palestine Studies presents its Special Virtual Issue: On Jerusalem, a collection of curated articles and essays on the city’s historical transformation and the contemporary context in which East Jerusalemites are living.

READ THE SPECIAL VIRTUAL ISSUE

IncluSpecial Virtual Issue Cover - Jerusalem copy-1ding some introductory material by Rashid Khalidi (Editor, Journal of Palestine Studies) and Khelil Bouarrouj (Online Content Editor, Institute for Palestine Studies), this Virtual Issue features a dossier on Jerusalem, a triptych of essays penned by prominent Palestinian and Israeli Jerusalemites who analyze the impact of the latest wave of violence and heightened repression on the city’s Palestinian residents. The Virtual Issue also showcases seven pieces from the Journal’s archive that serve both as context and complement to the dossier and provide a comprehensive look at Jerusalem’s recent history. Lastly, we round out this Virtual Issue with documents from our primary Documents and Source Material archive specifically related to the status of Jerusalem.

The Virtual Issue is available free in its entirety for one month. Don’t miss the latest from the Journal of Palestine Studies: visit jps.ucpress.edu to become a subscriber or to sign up for the Institute for Palestine Studies’ free newsletter.


AAUP President on Academic Freedom

An article by Cary Nelson, the national president of the American Association of University Publishers (AAUP), appeared today in Inside Higher Ed.

Nelson offers his view on the controversy surrounding Neve Gordon’s Los Angeles Times op-ed, in which Gordon, author of Israel’s Occupation, endorsed a boycott of Israel. Gordon’s article, and the responding LA Times op-ed by Rivka Carmi, the president of Ben-Gurion University, where Gordon teaches, have sparked international debate about what constitutes academic freedom. To read Cary Nelson’s article, visit Inside Higher Ed.