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  • Author: Juan Cole
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Macalester International
  • Institution: Macalester College
  • Abstract: Iraq and Israel/Palestine may on the surface appear to be very different societies with little in common. Iraq has its Kurds, Sunni Arabs, and Shiites, and its modern history has been a struggle over monarchy, republicanism, and the one-party state. Israel and Palestine are Jewish, Sunni Arab, and Christian Arab, and their central struggle has been over the shape of the Zionist state and the question of Palestinian statelessness. Iraq is a hydrocarbon state, while Israel and Palestine have diverse economies. The two can fruitfully be viewed through the same prism in two ways, however. On a comparative level, they share much in common, being multi-ethnic states with a background in Ottoman and British colonial administrative practices. Their fragility and ethnic instability have driven both internal civil wars and wars with neighbors. They have also had an important impact upon one another. The rise of Zionism in the Middle East and the Arab rejection of it robbed Iraq of its vibrant and influential Jewish community, with fateful results. It also displaced thousands of Palestinians to Iraq and hundreds of thousands to neighboring Kuwait. Iraqi troops fought Israel, with Iraq supporting its Palestinian foes. The Palestinians of Kuwait were further displaced by the Gulf War, and those of Iraq had to flee to Jordan and Palestine after 2003. The Israel lobby in the United States was one important mover in fomenting the 2003 U.S. overthrow of the Iraqi government, which propelled Iraq into chaos.
  • Political Geography: United States, Iraq, Middle East, Israel, Kuwait, Palestine, Jordan
  • Author: Thomas M. Ricks
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Macalester International
  • Institution: Macalester College
  • Abstract: The 8 August 2008 death of Mahmoud Darwish, Palestine's greatest modern poet, did not go unnoticed by the global community of scholars of Palestine as obituaries of Mahmoud Darwish continue to appear in the media around the world. The poet from Birweh, one of the 400 destroyed villages within present-day Israel, was honored in Ramallah with three days of official mourning in the Occupied Palestinian Territories as well as a state funeral (usually reserved for the highest political officials). The past forty years (1967–2007) are an appropriate time period for reflection on the process of colonization in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip. While many Israelis may consider the past forty years a time of rejoicing and jubilation, Palestinians worldwide see it as a time of quiet mourning and reflection. The events following the June 1967 Six-Day War began the Israeli process of colonial occupation of the West Bank through the use of former British Mandate emergency laws, the establishment of illegal colonies (called settlements), and an array of rules and restrictions on movement within the territories. Limitations were imposed on imports and exports of manufactured goods and produce. Restrictions were placed on access to religious sites, aquifers and wells, and home and factory building permits. There was the establishment of arbitrary invasions and the closure of schools and universities. It is the latter colonial restrictions and prohibitions that are the subject of this essay, which serves as a litmus test of the extent of the colonial social and cultural transformation of the Occupied Palestinian Territories over the past four decades. It is in the schools, colleges, and universities of a society where much of the growth and future hope of a nation may be observed and which manifest the deeper social and cultural values and aspirations of the nation. Yet these institutions are vulnerable to military and police actions.
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine
  • Author: Olga González
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Macalester International
  • Institution: Macalester College
  • Abstract: What makes Palestinian art “Palestinian”? This became a central question in my attempt to understand the emphasis on national identity that Palestinian visual artists put on their artwork, particularly given that what I saw at art exhibits and the studios and homes of artists during my short visit in Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Bethlehem could be basically classified under the broad category of contemporary visual art. Whether realistic, figurative, abstract, or conceptual in their styles, the five artists I interviewed presented me with a varied assortment of images meant to highlight the “Palestinian-ness” in the contemporary art of the Occupied Palestinian Territories.
  • Political Geography: Palestine, Jerusalem, Bethlehem
  • Author: Khaldoun Samman
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Macalester International
  • Institution: Macalester College
  • Abstract: Over the years, I have given many public talks on the Palestinian- Israeli conflict. After discussing the formation of apartheid in Israel and its unethical nature, I have at times received responses implying that I hate the “Jewish people.” I have all too often witnessed occasions in which some pro-Israeli supporters quickly label you as an anti-Semite at the slightest hint of language that speaks critically of Israel, as if such language is a condemnation of all Jews. Similarly, this equating of Zionism with the “Jewish people” has lately seeped into Palestinian and Arab discourse, which is surprising given the fact that traditionally activists have consciously attempted to disentangle the two concepts. Some Palestinians may even think that you are a traitor if you show up in Arab East Jerusalem with a Jewish friend wearing a yarmulka, as I noticed on one occasion during my last visit to the region. Indeed, this defensive “knee-jerk” reaction of identifying criticism of state policy as an attack on your own identity has become the rule rather than the exception when it comes to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. When I protest this form of what we could call a “culturalized” or an identitarian politics, the response is usually a blank stare, as though my criticism is impractical and naïve. “Isn't it self-evident,” many ask me, “that the issue is between two peoples?” My response is an unequivocal, “No, it is not so!”
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, Arabia, Jerusalem
  • Author: Wendy Weber
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Macalester International
  • Institution: Macalester College
  • Abstract: This essay reflects upon the dilemmas of humanitarian action in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT). Its reflections center around the experience of Machsom Watch, an Israeli organization established in 2001 in response to the current closure regime that restricts the mobility of Palestinians living in East Jerusalem and the West Bank. Machsom Watch is not a traditional humanitarian organization in the sense of providing relief and/or protection in accordance with the principles of impartiality, neutrality, and independence. Rather, it is an organization that works to protect human rights and to end Israel's occupation of the Palestinian Territories that has integrated humanitarian activities into its political work. As such, its experiences assisting Palestinians reveal both the dilemmas facing all humanitarian organizations working in the OPT as well as the serious difficulties that confront organizations that combine humanitarian and political work.
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, Jerusalem
  • Author: Chuen-Fung Wong
  • Publication Date: 05-2009
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: Macalester International
  • Institution: Macalester College
  • Abstract: This article began as a reflective essay for the Faculty Development International Seminar of Macalester College, Minnesota, entitled, The Israeli-Palestinian Impasse: Dialogic Transformations, in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories. The seminar involved a semester-long preparation of lectures, colloquia, and readings in St. Paul, Minnesota, leading to a three-week on-site seminar and research in the West Bank cities of Jerusalem, Ramallah, and Bethlehem, in May and June 2008.
  • Political Geography: Israel, Palestine, Jerusalem, Bethlehem