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UC Press is pleased to partner with the Institute for Palestine Studies to offer the best Palestinian scholarship and stories at a limited-time discounted rate. Through the end of 2017, you can get 20% off individual subscriptions to the Journal of Palestine Studies. You (or a lucky gift recipient you choose!) can subscribe at the following reduced rates:

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Start your New Year with the top articles, essays, interviews, reports, and long-form journalism on Palestine you won’t find anywhere else. (Offer expires 12/31/2017.)


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.


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


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This holiday season, UC Press is pleased to partner with the Institute for Palestine Studies to offer the best Palestinian scholarship and stories. For the month of December only, you (or a lucky friend you choose!) can get 45% off on:

That’s $110 worth of Palestinian knowledge and wisdom for only $50.

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Narratives of the Great War and the Creation of the New Middle East

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

This guest post is part of a series published in conjunction with the meeting of the Middle East Studies Association in Boston. UC Press authors share insight into their research and stories that reflect this year’s conference themes. We hope these personal glimpses into their scholarship will inspire a broad community of readers. Come back for new posts every day between now and November 13th.

Salim Tamari book cover

The Great War on the Eastern Front, viewed in hindsight one century later, led to major transformations in the way in which the people of the region—from the Ottoman capital of Istanbul to the Arab provinces of the Empire—looked at themselves and at the world. In my recent research I examine how the war and the fighting were reflected in the biographical trajectories of soldiers who fought in it, and civilians who endured it, and how the war led to the transformation of their lives, their societies, and reshaped their identity and affinities during and after the war.

The war was so devastating that, according to contemporary accounts, it took a toll of one-sixth of the total population of greater Syria—one of the highest among all war’s faught during that period. The victims, both civilians and combatants, perished from war, hunger, famine and diseases. Tens of thousands of civilians died as a result of the British naval blockade of food supplies coming into ports like Jaffa and Beirut, as well as as a result of sequestration of crops for the Fourth and Fifth Army Corps in Syria, commanded by Jamal Pasha. The urban landscape was devastated in a way that recalls, under different circumstances a century later, the destruction that we witness today in Syria and Iraq. At the time, Greater Syria—that is, the Ottoman provinces of Bilad ash-Sham, which included Palestine and Mount Lebanon—suffered the largest proportion of deaths of any region in the world, even when compared with Belgium, Britain, Germany and France.

I have examined this great transformation through the lives of several civilians and soldiers whose life trajectories marked the transition from Ottomanism to the new nationalist identities in the Middle East: Arab, Turkish, Kurdish, and others. Those narratives were published in the form of diaries and memoirs, as well as in semi-fictional accounts. A leading figure among civilian writers was the pedagogue Khalil Sakakini, who kept a daily diary during the war in Jerusalem. His account is riveting in that it captured a vivid portrait for the desolation of the city in 1915 and 1916, the famine years, and the urban collapse that followed. Another figure was Muhammad Kurd Ali, whose Damascene memoirs include his period as a publicist, some critics would say apologist, for the excesses of Jamal and Anwar (Enver) Pashas in Syria and Palestine. He was the chief organizer of two expeditions of Arab public figures and intellectuals to the Gallipoli and the Medina (in the Arabian Peninsula) to defend the war effort and bring the experience of the fighters to the general Arab public.

The most important fictional work to come out of the Great War in Arabic is The Life of Mifleh al Ghassani (1921), by the Palestinian writer and journalist, Najib Nassar. Subtitled “A Page from the Events of the Great War,” the novella is a thinly disguised autobiographical war memoir of the author, who spent 1916–1917 hiding from the Turkish gendarmes in the Bedouin encampments of the Jordan Valley, escaping possible execution on changes of being pro-British.

Another set of diaries and memoirs involves writings by fighters and military recruits. Soldiers’ narratives of the war were rarer, in large part because literacy was limited, but also because soldiers’ diaries did not survive the toll of exile, trench warfare, and fear of discovery. I have examined the narratives of three soldiers’ diaries that reached us against the odds, showing the impact of the war the lives of Ottoman (Arab and Turkish) soldiers. Their narratives are doubly significant because, contrary to popular assumptions, the manner in which their consciousness was transformed did not always correspond to their ethnic background.

The biographic trajectories of the three soldiers suggest several responses by soldiers to their experience of war: rethinking and reinvention of identity (Muhammad Fasih); separatist nationalism (Aref Shehadeh); and pacifism (Ihsan al- Turjman). Two conclusions can be drawn from these observations. First, the reconstruction of identity experienced in the Great War was ephemeral. Self-conceptions transform themselves through ruptures at a very fast rate during times of war, because the war disrupts the tempo of the daily routine. It compels us to rethink where we were and where we are heading in the immediate future. The second conclusion is that, when people are faced with devastation, they tend to revert to the comfort and security of local identity—because it is protective and familiar and allows people to insulate themselves from the seeming impending collapse of the world around them. This reverberates with the experience of Iraqis and Syrians in the current battles with Da’esh one hundred years later.

Salim Tamari is Professor of Sociology at Birzeit University, Palestine; Research Associate at the Institute of Palestine Studies; and the author of Mountain Against the Sea and Year of the Locust. UC Press will publish The Great War and the Remaking of Palestine in 2017.

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