This article explores what Gaza reveals about the extent, depth, and limits of contemporary metropolitan solidarity with Palestine. Focusing on Israel's recent wars on Gaza, I assess how these most explicit and spectacular manifestations of Israel's long-term policies there have been addressed in solidarity discourses and practices. Despite their apparent galvanizing powers, do such discourses and practices also act as sites of marginalization or occlusion? Where do we locate a Palestinian voice within them? My overarching objective in this inquiry is to reconsider solidarity from the standpoint of its beneficiaries, and to question the political, ethical, and cultural ramifications of such in context of the deep time of the Israel-Palestine conflict. In so doing, I freshly illuminate the limitations of solidarity in attending to Zionism as a schema of enforced ethno-nationalist differentiation that has undergirded and legitimated not just the Gaza wars but also the history of the conflict itself.

Introduction

In the last decade, Gaza has emerged as arguably the foremost object of metropolitan solidarity with Palestine, an imperative that has spurred, informed, or inflected solidarity discourses and practices across the board. The reasons for Gaza's sudden rise to prominence within the solidarity community are manifold. Since 2007, the civilian population of Gaza—approximately 1.85 million Palestinians—has existed in a state of de facto imprisonment within this small, 141-square-mile stretch of land on the Eastern Mediterranean due to the comprehensive land, sea, and air blockade imposed by the State of Israel (along with Egypt).1 In this period, Gaza's residents have been debarred from the outside world, with their movement across borders as well as their import and export of basic necessities (including wheat, produce, livestock, clothing, medical supplies, building materials, humanitarian aid, fuel, and so forth) strictly controlled and in most cases prohibited by the Israeli government. While the “Report of the United Nations Fact-Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict” (2009) headed by Richard Goldstone—not to mention UN envoy Desmond Tutu, the UN Human Rights Council, the International Committee of the Red Cross, and experts in international law from around the world—concluded that the blockade constitutes a regime of collective punishment and is therefore “unlawful” under international law, recourse to this legal framework has thus far proved ineffective in the Gazan case (United Nations General Assembly 2009: 334, 408).

Furthermore, the conditions of life for Gaza's residents have been so thoroughly degraded in this period that the Strip is now considered nigh “unliveable” (United Nations Conference on Trade and Development 2015: 12, 15; see also United Nations Relief and Works Agency 2012). Though such processes have a deeper history that can be traced back to 1967 and even further, this period has seen what might be considered an accelerated and intensified assault on the infrastructure, economy, and environment on which Gaza's residents depend for their physical and psychological well-being, for their lives, and such are now in a state of wholesale crisis. In itself, the blockade and its associated restrictions on the import of necessities is directly responsible for the collapse of Gaza's water, sewage, energy, agricultural, and manufacturing systems, and has led to unemployment (38 percent in 2015) and poverty (39 percent in 2015) rates that are among the highest in the world as well as one of the most polluted, even toxic urban environments in the world (see World Bank 2016; United Nations Relief and Works Agency 2012). Finally and most immediately, the series of wars Israel has launched on Gaza since 2007—Operations Cast Lead (2008–2009), Pillar of Defense (2012), and Protective Edge (2014)—have brought about the devastation of Gaza's domiciles, roads, schools, hospitals, and markets, and have caused mass civilian casualties as well as mass displacement, various forms of permanent bodily injury and disfigurement, post-traumatic stress disorder, anxiety disorder, and so forth.

With such circumstances in mind, it might be said that Israel's policies in Gaza since 2007 comprise a rationalized system of political, economic, and military violence inflicted upon the civilian population there as well as, by extension, in Palestine per se, one that amounts to a “slow” genocide.2 Indeed, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine, for one, has made a powerful case that these policies are by their very nature “calculated to bring about the incremental destruction of the Palestinians as a group in Gaza” (Russell Tribunal on Palestine 2014a: 10).3 It is thus understandable that Gaza in particular should have become such a pronounced cause in what I am calling the “metropolitan” solidarity movement in this period.

By metropolitan, I mean merely the locus where Palestine—its claims, rights, and narratives—is represented beyond its own borders, or where the nation intersects with the world.4 Although I substantially expand on and complicate this below, such a weak generic description of the “metropolitan” is of use at this stage of my argument in that it allows for the identification of multiple distinct but overlapping sites of contemporary solidarity with Palestine that are external to Palestine itself. Such sites include intergovernmental organizations (United Nations, European Union, etc.); national parliaments and governments (UK, Sweden, France, Ireland, Spain, Portugal, etc.); international nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) (Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International, Russell Tribunal, etc.); activist organizations (International Solidarity Movement; Students for Justice in Palestine; Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions; etc.); academic organizations (Modern Language Association, American Studies Association, Middle East Studies Association, etc.); scholarship (Sara Roy, Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappé, Jean-Pierre Filiu, Norman Finkelstein, Steven Salaita, etc.); journalism (Ali Abunimah, Uri Avnery, Max Blumenthal, Robert Fisk, Amy Goodman, Gideon Levy, John Pilger, Jeffrey St. Clair, Philip Weiss, etc.); and literature and culture (Joe Sacco, Selma Dabbagh, Fida Qishta, Atef abu Saif, Refaat Alareer, etc.). In each of these sites, Gaza—its blockade, its wars, its living conditions—has been investigated, analyzed, covered, rhetorically mobilized, imagined, or, at the very least, invoked as backdrop for policy and decision-making.

In this article, I explore what Gaza reveals about the extent, depth, and limits of contemporary metropolitan solidarity with Palestine. I focus on Israel's recent wars on Gaza—Operations Cast Lead, Pillar of Defense, and Protective Edge—and assess how these most explicit and spectacular manifestations of Israel's long-term policies there have been addressed in solidarity discourses and practices, how they have impacted them more broadly. Despite their apparent galvanizing powers, do such discourses and practices, I ask, also act as sites of marginalization or occlusion? Where do we locate a Palestinian voice, if such a thing is in fact audible, within them? In pursuing this line of inquiry, my overarching objective is therefore to reconsider solidarity from the standpoint of its beneficiaries, and to question the political, ethical, and cultural ramifications of such in context of the deep time of the Israel-Palestine conflict. In so doing, I hope to freshly illuminate the ideological substructure of solidarity for its limitations in attending to Zionism as a schema of enforced ethno-nationalist differentiation that has undergirded and legitimated not just the Gaza wars but also the history of the conflict itself.

My argument unfolds across three main sections, each of which takes as its object of inquiry one of the sites of metropolitan solidarity listed above. Section 1, “Operation ‘Iron Fist’: Gaza in the Scholarly Discourse,” fulfills a double function. In it, I assess the scholarly discourse of solidarity with Gaza. I argue that major recent texts on the Gaza wars by Norman Finkelstein on the one hand and Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappé on the other have been pivotal in interrupting what I call the multilayered language of power through which Gaza and its wars have been framed in official Israeli and US discourse. Yet, I continue, these scholarly interventions, due to their very polemical intent, have tended to vacillate between overly presentist and overly historicist methodologies that fall short of an empirically verifiable narrative of the Gaza wars in relation to Israel's long-term policies in Gaza. The first function of this section is thus to demonstrate the limits of the scholarly discourse of Gaza and its wars. Naturally, such a demonstration suggests the need for a more coherent historiography. I continue by sketching the outlines of such with reference to Sara Roy's work on Gaza's enforced “de-development.” This work helps chart a route out of the methodological difficulties previously encountered and allows for a reinterpretation of the more recent wars as direct extensions of a larger and more deep-seated war on Gaza originating in 1967. Bringing my analysis to its crux, I designate this larger war Operation “Iron Fist.” The second function of this section is thus to lay the historiographical groundwork for my ensuing analyses of the political and the literary and cultural discourses of solidarity with Gaza.

Section 2, “ ‘Actually Existing Universalism’: Gaza in the Political Discourse,” deploys this historiography as a basis for its interrogation of the political discourse of solidarity with Gaza. Here, I consider how the Russell Tribunal on Palestine; the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions movement; and, in the wake of the Steven Salaita affair, academic organizations such as the American Association of University Professors and the Modern Language Association have responded to the Gaza wars. The positions of solidarity with Gaza and with Palestine more generally that have been adopted by these organizations represent what I take to be the strongest possible currently available to political thought and action. I show that in each case, these positions are premised on and secure their legitimacy from the universalizing language of international law and/or the US Constitution. They therefore both presuppose and reproduce such as the dominant discursive framework for metropolitan solidarity with Palestine. Critically revisiting the work of Edward Said and Bruce Robbins, I call this framework “actually existing universalism.” This, I conclude, places a significant bar on Palestinian self-representation.

Section 3, “Dialectics of Palestinian Representation: Gaza in the Literary and Cultural Discourse,” traces how such “actually existing universalism” has come to mediate the literary and cultural discourse of solidarity with Gaza. I start by surveying what I call an emergent “Gazan trend” in metropolitan culture. I suggest that this trend makes for a specific contemporary variant of what Said articulates as the dialectic of Palestinian representation, and that it thereby extends such to and for the present. I then turn in more detail to Fida Qishta's documentary on Cast Lead, Where Should the Birds Fly? (2013), as a representative example. With reference to Emily Apter's account of the “Untranslatable,” I argue that this film intentionally mistranslates the war testimony of one of its subjects, a ten-year-old Gazan girl named Mona el-Samouni, in order to render her potentially objectionable usage of the term al-yahoud, “the Jews,” amenable to the metropolitan solidarity objective. Yet, I conclude, it is precisely in the material lost to this film's production, circulation, and reception in translation—lost, by extension, to metropolitan solidarity—that we might glean the outlines of a deeper and more lasting solidarity, an ethics rather than a politics of affiliation between “Israeli” and “Palestinian,” “Jew” and “Arab,” based on the recognition of shared traumatic history.

I close the essay by making a case for an “ethics of affiliation.” I derive this concept from Said's late thinking in this direction as well as from the work of other scholars. Following such work, I argue that it is only through an ethics of affiliation that the ethno-nationalist differentiations between “Jew” and “Arab” imposed by Zionism and at the very heart of the contemporary Gazan crisis—at, indeed, the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict per se—might be overcome.

Operation “Iron Fist”: Gaza in the Scholarly Discourse

Solidarity with Palestine is made necessary by virtue not only of the history of violence and dispossession to which Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem, Gaza, Israel, and the diaspora continue to be subjected but also of the historiographical and discursive violence by which their rights, claims, and narratives are just as systematically erased or obscured in global public consciousness. It might even be said that thus far, the most significant achievement of the solidarity movement in its various manifestations is to have brought a sharpened new awareness of Palestinian history and the bleak realities of contemporary Palestinian life to national and international politics, metropolitan public spaces, university campuses, academic organizations, mainstream media sources, popular culture, and so forth. As prelude to my investigation of the scholarly, political, and literary and cultural discourses of solidarity with Gaza, it is therefore important to identify and demystify the multilayered language of power through which Gaza and its wars have been framed and against which such discourses have been pitched.

To their detractors, it appears that Israel's state policies are always presented by its officials in terms that are both ahistorical and antihistorical. Many would claim that this tendency is reflected in the Israeli Defense Forces’ (IDF) very designations for its 2012 and 2014 wars on Gaza, specifically in what would seem to be their hasbara-informed or propagandistic use of the terms defense and protective there. Moreover, many would see this tendency at work in the familiar refrains of Hamas, terrorism, and rocket fire as deployed across the 2008–2014 period by the Israeli political leadership in response to events in Gaza. Ehud Olmert, prime minister during Operation Cast Lead, explained at the launch of the campaign that it was directed against “the Hamas terrorist organization that has taken it upon itself to act against the residents of Israel,” and was “designed, first and foremost, to bring about an improvement in the security reality for the residents of the south of the country” (Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2008). Benjamin Netanyahu, prime minister during Operations Pillar of Defense and Protective Edge, explained both these wars as responses to “Hamas and the terror organizations,” whose “increased . . . rocket fire” has threatened “the security of our citizens” (Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs 2012, 2014). Similar statements have been issued from across the leadership, and from across party lines, by Shimon Peres, Tzipi Livni, Ehud Barak, Avigdor Lieberman, and so forth.5

Just as problematic to critics of such policies is the “Israel's legitimate right to defend itself” claim as voiced by Israel's corporate sponsors—the US executive branch and its allies—in response to each of these wars. George W. Bush, president during Cast Lead, responded to the campaign by affirming Israel's right “to take actions to defend itself” and by vetoing a United Nations Security Council Resolution calling for immediate ceasefire (Johndroe 2008). Barack Obama, president during Pillar of Defense and Protective Edge, affirmed in response to the latter that “no country can accept rocket fire aimed at civilians and we support Israel's right to defend itself against these vicious attacks” (Earnest 2014). Again suggesting the uniformity of official discourse across the executive and across party lines, Condoleezza Rice, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and so forth have all advocated Israel's actions in Gaza in the same terms.6

It is perhaps primarily what has been considered the ahistorical and antihistorical nature of such official discourse that the scholarly discourse of solidarity with Gaza has sought to target.7 Norman Finkelstein has played a central role in these efforts. In his media and other public appearances, articles, and scholarly works, he has most fully and meticulously reconstructed the chronology of each war.8 His writings on Gaza are collected in a volume entitled Method and Madness: The Hidden Story of Israel's Assaults on Gaza (2014), where he argues that Israel, in each case, “manufactured pretexts to achieve larger political objectives” (Finkelstein 2014: i). In his account, Israel has sought to preclude peace via a strategy of provoking Hamas into military responses to prior acts of aggression (targeted airstrikes, infrastructural destabilization, blockade, etc.) then expunged from the official “self-defense” narrative. With Cast Lead, Israel triggered Hamas rocket attacks by assassinating six Hamas militants in June 2008 and thereby breaking the cease-fire negotiated earlier in the month. It then spun such as casus belli for the invasion of the territory beginning on December 27 (see Finkelstein 2014: 1–30). With Pillar of Defense, it did the same by assassinating Hamas leader Ahmed al-Jabari in November 2012. Having learned at most a public relations lesson from the “Goldstone Report” on Cast Lead (released in September 2009), it then initiated a less lethal and destructive assault on the 14th of the month (see Finkelstein 2014: 121–34; see also United Nations General Assembly 2009). And with Protective Edge, the same ends were pursued through slightly differing means. This time, Israel exploited the opportunity of the kidnapping and murder of three of its teenage citizens in the West Bank in June 2014 (an act that was not perpetrated by Hamas) to launch Operation Brother's Keeper there later in the same month. Involving the killing of a handful of Palestinians, the demolition of homes and businesses, and the arrest of approximately seven hundred Palestinians, mostly Hamas members, Brother's Keeper also prompted the by now expected rocket fire from Hamas, and thence the third of a series of wars on Gaza beginning on July 8 (see Finkelstein 2014: 135–54).

While one might dispute Finkelstein's evidence, argumentation, and conclusions, what is more difficult to deny is the extent of civilian casualties and infrastructural damage in which these wars have resulted. Cast Lead saw between 1,166 (according to the IDF) and 1,417 (Palestinian Center for Human Rights [PCHR]) casualties, 3,520 (United Nations [UN]) domiciles completely destroyed, and between $1.6 billion (Mideast Mirror) and $1.9 billion (Palestinian Central Bureau of Statistics) worth of infrastructural damage. Pillar of Defense saw between 57 (IDF) and 105 (PCHR) civilian casualties. And Protective Edge saw between 2,131 (UN) and 2,191 (PCHR) casualties, including 1,473 (UN) to 1,660 (PCHR) civilians (between 501 and 527 of whom were children); 18,000 domiciles completely or partially destroyed (UN); an estimated 485,000 people displaced (UN); and $7.8 billion worth of infrastructural damage (Palestinian Authority) (see BBC News 2014 for an overview of the death tolls in Gaza as provided by different sources). By any reasonable measure, these figures are grossly disproportionate to the number of casualties on the Israeli side, during each of these wars, respectively: 13, including 10 soldiers (IDF); 2, both of whom were soldiers (IDF); and 72, including 66 soldiers (IDF) (see BBC News 2014). Almost by the letter, they recall what has been termed the “Dahiya Doctrine,” a military strategy put forward by General Gadi Eizenkot during the Lebanon War of 2006 that advocates the targeting of civilian infrastructure and the use of disproportionate force in urban warfare (see Reuters 2008). They therefore give the lie to the “self-defense” narrative and beg an alternate explanation such as Finkelstein has proffered. How does the killing of civilians; the demolition of homes; and the destruction of roads, factories, power and sewage plants, and so forth serve Israel's security needs? Once the factual outcomes of the Gaza wars are taken into consideration, such processes indeed appear intentional and systematic.

What I do find problematic in Finkelstein's analysis is its overly presentist methodology. In Method and Madness, he attempts little if any historicization or contextualization beyond the 2005–7 period. This is the period in which Israel disengaged from Gaza, the Palestinian parliamentary elections took place, and Hamas took de facto control of the Strip. Given the official discourse of the Gaza wars and its recitation in the American media, Finkelstein's method of causal exposé without doubt provides for a timely and pressing corrective. But, by necessity of its immediate horizon of engagement, this method risks decontextualizing the current cycle of violence, and thus failing to excavate its deeper historical roots.

Noam Chomsky and Ilan Pappé have been just as influential as Finkelstein in their individual scholarly expressions of solidarity with Gaza. Their most substantial contribution in this direction, however, is a coauthored volume entitled Gaza in Crisis: Reflections on Israel's War against the Palestinians (2010). Written in its aftermath, this book gravitates around Cast Lead as its primary case study for the ongoing humanitarian crisis in the territory.9 In contrast to Method and Madness, it also aims to provide “the necessary historical background that is key to understanding Palestine today” (Chomsky and Pappé 2010: 3). This task is reserved for two of the chapters authored by Pappé. In “Clusters of History,” he takes issue with what he sees as the causal reductionism in John Mearsheimer's and Stephen Walt's attribution of US political, economic, and military support to Israel solely to the power of the Israel lobby (see Mearsheimer and Walt 2006). Complicating the narrative of unconditional US support, he goes on to examine a host of other determining factors, including the legacies of Orientalism, anti-Arabism, and Islamophobia in the United States; that of millennialist theology in the country; post–World War II and Cold War geopolitics; oil; and shifting public sentiments about the Middle East at large (see Chomsky and Pappé 2010: 19–56). In “State of Denial,” he summarizes and builds on his findings in the now classic The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine (see Pappé 2006). Here, his earlier research into the Palestinian Nakba of 1948 as an intentional act of ethnic cleansing by the State of Israel and its paramilitary predecessors, the Irgun and the Haganah, is directed toward a speculative reading of Nakba-denial in contemporary Israeli political culture (see Chomsky and Pappé 2010: 57–78).

While aiming for the deeper historical contextualization lacking in Finkelstein's book, Gaza in Crisis falls victim to the converse problem to that encountered in Method and Madness. This is the problem of going too deep, as it were; of an overly historicist methodology. Certainly, few serious scholars and critics of the Israel-Palestine conflict would deny the Nakba and its prehistory as ground zero of the present impasse. Further, it is essential to introduce audiences unfamiliar with this history to the Nakba as a precursor of the current Gazan crisis—doing so is clearly part of Chomsky and Pappé’s intention in this book. What remains lacking in their account, however, is an empirically—as distinct from conceptually or ethically—verifiable causal chain linking the ethnic cleansing of 1948 with that occurring in Gaza, in Palestine, today.

In my foregoing analysis of the scholarly discourse of solidarity with Gaza, I have shown that major recent texts on the Gaza wars by Finkelstein on the one hand and Chomsky and Pappé on the other effectively demystify the ahistorical and antihistorical nature of official Israeli and US discourses of such. I have also shown, however, that in so doing, and due to the urgency of their interventions, these texts respectively adopt overly presentist and overly historicist methodologies that fail to provide for a convincing empirical account of the Gaza wars in relation to Israel's long-term policies in Gaza. What we find at the limit of the scholarly discourse, then, is the need for a more coherent historiography of Gaza and its wars.

I have found the work of Harvard political scientist Sara Roy helpful for charting a route out of these methodological difficulties and for delineating just such a more compelling historiography. Through her various writings on Gaza, it becomes possible to develop exactly the sort of empirically verifiable causal chain between past and present that is wanting in the current scholarship, one which in effect combines Finkelstein's presentism with Chomsky and Pappé’s historicism. Apropos Gaza, 1967 is ground zero for Roy, as this is the year in which Israel's occupation and settlement of the Strip began. In her groundbreaking book The Gaza Strip: The Political Economy of De-Development (1995), she argues that the Occupation to Oslo period (1967–1993) saw in Gaza what she elsewhere sums up as the “deliberate, systematic and increasing dismemberment by a dominant economy of an indigenous economy, whose economic and therefore social potential are not merely damaged but actually negated” (Roy 2006: 33; see also Roy 1995). Such de-development was achieved by means of expropriating land and resources; creating labor and infrastructural dependency on Israel; and prohibiting local infrastructure, industry, and institutions (see Roy 1995: 161–208, 209–62, and 263–90). In later writings, she demonstrates that rather than reversing such processes, the post-Oslo period (1993–2005) witnessed “an accelerated de-development” through continued prohibitions imposed on the Gazan economy in conjunction with a severance of economic ties to Israel (Roy 1999: 64, my emphasis). And jumping ahead to the post-Occupation period (2005–present), she classifies Israel's apparently permanent blockade of Gaza as a form of “economic warfare” whose objective is in and of itself “damaging the enemy's economy” (Roy 2012).10 She thereby further entrenches the idea of de-development as Israel's long-term policy in Gaza.

This—de-development—is the empirically and historically verifiable context within which Israel's destruction of Gaza's infrastructure, public services, agricultural and manufacturing facilities, domiciles, and civilian population during its recent wars must be understood. By traversing the scholarly discourse of solidarity with Gaza, then, and coming out on the other side, we can come to only one conclusion—Israel's wars on Gaza from 2008–14 have not been separate and isolated instances of self-defense. Rather, they have been only the latest expressions by other, more spectacular means of a single continuous war of attrition waged on Gaza and its people since at least 1967. I designate this single continuous war Operation “Iron Fist.” It is on the basis of this historiographical groundwork that I now proceed to analyze the political and the literary and cultural discourses of solidarity with Gaza.

“Actually Existing Universalism”: Gaza in the Political Discourse

Unpacking the scholarly discourse of solidarity with Gaza has proven a valuable exercise in itself, insofar as it has demonstrated the limits of such and has correspondingly prompted the development of a more coherent historiography. The material covered in section 1 thus provides a basis for the critical interrogation of the political discourse of solidarity with Gaza to which I now turn. In this section, I consider how the Russell Tribunal on Palestine; the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions movement; and academic organizations such as the American Association of University Professors and the Modern Language Association have responded to the Gaza wars. I take the positions of solidarity with Gaza adopted by these organizations as representative of the strongest and most prominent that are currently available to political thought and action. The Russell Tribunal on Palestine is an international nongovernmental organization dedicated to human rights. As such, it, unlike the United Nations and comparable international or intergovernmental bodies, is not beholden in its remit or in the outcomes of its investigations to the interests of dominant member states. The Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions movement is effectively an umbrella term for a broad coalition of political, civil society, and activist organizations operating both in Palestine and around the world. In its very coalitional structure, it is capable of housing a variety of distinct positions on Gaza and on the Israel-Palestine conflict that may be in lesser or greater conformity to the current political status quo. And academic organizations are typically formed in order to serve the interests of their voting constituencies of professors, graduate students, and other researchers and teachers, rather than those of external sources of political or financial pressure. As this section unfolds, I show that despite their independence and apparent fortitude, the positions of solidarity with Gaza adopted by these organizations are in fact premised on and secure their legitimacy from the universalizing language of international law and/or the US Constitution. Defining this language in terms of “actually existing universalism,” I conclude the section by considering the implications of such, and of metropolitan solidarity more generally, for Palestinian self-representation.

First, the Russell Tribunal on Palestine (RToP). The RToP was founded in 2009, and, during sessions held in Barcelona, London, Cape Town, New York, and Brussels from 2010–12, it sought to investigate the European Union's involvement in Israel-Palestine, Israel's human rights record and apartheid policies, and Israel's breaches of international law. Discussing these initial sessions, the late Barbara Harlow lauded them as “powerful venues for convening witnesses to injustice and advocates for justice, forums for the display of forensic evidence, platforms for pleading for redress of historic wrongs, and demands for the restoration of universal rights” (Harlow 2013: 420). In September 2014, the RToP held an additional “Extraordinary Session” in Brussels on “Israel's Crimes in Gaza during Operation Protective Edge” (see Russell Tribunal on Palestine 2014b). Including John Dugard and Richard Falk, as well as eminent public figures such as Ken Loach, Ahdaf Soueif, and Roger Waters, its jury found evidence of war crimes, crimes against humanity, crimes of murder, extermination and persecution, and incitement to genocide. The jury concluded that “the cumulative effect of the long-standing regime of collective punishment in Gaza appears to inflict conditions of life calculated to bring about the incremental destruction of the Palestinians as a group in Gaza” (Russell Tribunal on Palestine 2014a). Intended as a call to action for all states, such findings are premised, as the RToP's mission statement has it, on “the supremacy of international law as the basis for a solution to the Israeli Palestinian conflict” (Russell Tribunal on Palestine n.d.).

Second, the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. Like its South African precursor, BDS is decentered and amounts to a set of guidelines or principles that affiliated groups might adopt within their respective spheres of activity. It was launched by a coalition of Palestinian political parties, NGOs, trade associations, unions, and other groups in July 2005. Omar Barghouti, its most eloquent international spokesperson, explains that BDS is based on “a rights-based approach that is anchored in universal human rights” (Barghouti 2011: 49). The Palestinian BDS National Committee lists its three primary demands with respect to Israel:

  1. Ending its occupation and colonization of all Arab lands occupied in June 1967 and dismantling the Wall;

  2. Recognizing the fundamental rights of the Arab-Palestinian citizens of Israel to full equality; and

  3. Respecting, protecting and promoting the rights of Palestinian refugees to return to their homes and properties as stipulated in UN Resolution 194. (BDS n.d.)

In response to Protective Edge, BDS activists blocked a ZIM Line vessel from unloading its cargo at the Port of Oakland, shut down an Elbit Systems drone manufacturing facility in Kent, and undertook “blood bucket” challenges at the University of Ohio and at Yad Vashem.11 The war also prompted a total of now 608 Middle East studies scholars and librarians from around the world to endorse the Palestinian call to boycott Israeli academic institutions in an open letter to Jadaliyya dated August 6, 2014. There, they cited “the complicity” of these institutions in the “ongoing massacres in Gaza” (Jadaliyya Reports 2014). In accordance with the core BDS demand as stated by the BDS National Committee, all these actions were intended to pressure Israel into meeting “its obligations under international law” (BDS n.d.).

And third, the academic-institutional position adopted in the wake of the Steven Salaita affair. In August 2014, the Chancellor and Board of Trustees of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) “de-hired” Salaita from a tenured position offered him by their institution's American Indian Studies Program. Chancellor Phyllis Wise, working under what legal discovery of her correspondence has shown to be donor influence, cited what has been termed the “uncivil” tone of his Twitter comments during Protective Edge as pretext. In a posting on her “Chancellor's Blog” entitled “The Principles on Which We Stand,” Wise justified the rescinding of Professor Salaita's offer with the following language: “What we cannot and will not tolerate at the University of Illinois are personal and disrespectful words or actions that demean and abuse either viewpoints themselves or those who express them” (Wise 2014). The most provocative of the tweets to which she is referring include:

  • If you're defending #Israel [hyperlink removed] right now you're an awful human being.

  • Zionists: transforming “antisemitism” from something horrible into something honorable since 1948.

  • At this point, if Netanyahu appeared on TV with a necklace made from the teeth of Palestinian children, would anybody be surprised? (Salaita 2014)12

With a legal team comprised of Chicago civil rights firm Loevy & Loevy and the Center for Constitutional Rights, Salaita filed a lawsuit seeking reinstatement from UIUC in January 2015. The suit was settled in November of that year, and Professor Salaita was awarded $875,000 ($275,000 of which was to cover his legal expenses) without reinstatement. Wise has since been forced to resign from her position as chancellor, and Salait—after a stint as Visiting Edward Said Chair of American Studies at the American University of Beirut—has now left academia altogether.

The Salaita affair recalls a number of high-profile academic controversies featuring Palestinian scholars or scholars who have expressed “pro-Palestinian” sentiments in recent years, including those of Joseph Massad at Columbia (2004), Juan Cole at Yale (2006), and Finkelstein at DePaul (2007). In the first book focused on such cases, Out of Bounds: Academic Freedom and the Question of Palestine, Matthew Abraham argues that intellectual repression will remain the norm for such scholars due to a confluence of interests between the Israel lobby and the corporate American university (Abraham 2014). In the face of vilification and ostracization, scholars must, Abraham continues, “support each other,” “recognize [their] own complicity in the knowledge-producing function of the university,” and “persuad[e] [their] colleagues to become more knowledgeable about the issues” (203). The support shown for Professor Salaita in the fallout of his de-hiring has been unprecedented. Around the country and around the world, individual scholars, programs and departments, and professional organizations like the American Association of University Professors and the Modern Language Association have spoken and acted passionately on his behalf (see American Association of University Professors 2014; Modern Language Association 2014). As the vast majority of such supporters have attested, this outpouring is based on what his legal team calls UIUC's “violation” of “Professor Salaita's constitutional right to free speech” and of the “principles of academic freedom” (Center for Constitutional Rights 2015).

Considering these three examples of the political discourse of solidarity with Gaza in tandem, a clear pattern emerges. Despite their divergent strategies, audiences, and objectives, all these discourses, indeed, the metropolitan solidarity discourse per se, appeal to a universalizing language—that of international law (UN Resolutions 194 and 242, the Geneva Conventions) or of the US Constitution (the First Amendment)—in order to authorize themselves and elicit the widest possible consensus (see United Nations General Assembly 1948; United Nations Security Council 1967). In other words, they are premised on the language of international treaties and agreements, of universal human rights, and of the freedom of speech/academic freedom, and not, pointedly, on that of Palestinian claims, rights, and narratives. From this vantage, a stronger, more critical sense of the “metropolitan” might be proposed. For Edward Said, this term describes the imperial or postimperial center that exerts political, economic, military, and/or cultural power over an (internal or external) “other” whose presence, though repressed, nevertheless consolidates the center's self-identity (see Said 1994: xi–xxviii, 3–14). It is understandable that Said should stress in Culture and Imperialism (1994)—his most extended and influential account of such—that metropolitan culture is defined by its dialectical repression of otherness. After all, the mid-1990s context in which he composed this text saw only a continuation, especially in US politics, media, and academia, of what he elsewhere sums up as “an almost unanimous consensus that he [the Palestinian] does not exist” (Said 1979: 27). However, as should be clear from the foregoing overview of the political discourse of solidarity with Gaza, the metropole has since then brought its “other,” the Palestinian, to its surface, and has thus rendered her and him newly visible. It should be equally clear, though—and this is crucial—that it has done so only within the parameters of what I call its “actually existing universalism.” Following from this analysis of the metropolitan solidarity discourse, then, the “metropolitan” might be redefined as the locus of the universalization of otherness.

I intend the concept of “actually existing universalism” to signify a middle ground between “old,” Kantian universalism (universal ethico-political ideals as derived from the transcendental subject) and, in Bruce Robbins's formulation, “new,” “actually existing” cosmopolitanism (cosmopolitan ethico-political ideals as derived from “the actual historical and geographic contexts” from which they emerge) (Robbins 1998: 2). It refers to a Law whose historically determined and thus contingent nature is self-evident, yet which in thought and practice manifests as an absolute. In the discourse of metropolitan solidarity, Palestine and the Palestinian are inscribed as—and only as—subjects of this Law, and therefore also as—and only as—subjects of actually existing universalism. In this discourse, to paraphrase Jacques Derrida, il n'y a pas de hors-Loi.

As Robbins argues in his book Perpetual War: Cosmopolitanism from the Viewpoint of Violence (2012), our current juncture of ascendant neoliberalism, cynical and self-interested geopolitics, cyclical global conflict, and mass disinformation demands something more than the complacent and contentless celebration of plurality that has come to be associated with the “new” cosmopolitanism (see Robbins 2012: 1–29). Akin to Robbins's “newer” coinage “Hegelian cosmopolitanism” (which he describes as “an imperative that emerges in, is limited by, and takes support from the unrepeatable trajectory of history”), actually existing universalism, in its reference to the Law, has provided just such a “more” for metropolitan solidarity (Robbins 2012: 19). Further, as evinced by the successful campaigns mounted by the BDS movement over the last decade, it has done so in ways that are strategically viable, that have the potential to appeal to a broad public, and that are starting to make an actual impact in Israel-Palestine as well as in US politics, business, and academia.13 We must continue on this path. Yet we should not along the way be blinded to its limitations. For the concrete universal places a significant bar on Palestinian self-representation, on political, social, and cultural expression that is not necessarily in accord with the dictates of the Law. In the metropole, such expression, and the structures of feeling it enacts, remains not just illegitimate but also invisible.

Said was, of course, acutely conscious of the limits of discourse. In After the Last Sky: Palestinian Lives (1986), one of his most intimate works on Palestine, he explores such limits via what he calls an “unconventional, hybrid, and fragmentary [form] of expression” (Said 1986: 6). Situated against the dehumanizing aspects of the dominant Zionist narrative, yet refusing the temptations of simple counternarrative, this form, he argues, is the most appropriate for the dialectic of presence and absence, visibility and invisibility, and inside and outside that governs Palestinian life and culture alike (see Said 1986: 3–7, 20, 30, 38, 51–53, 120, 150). I now turn to contemporary metropolitan literary and cultural representations of Gaza in order to extend Said's account and to consider how this dialectic, now mediated by the solidarity discourse and its actually existing universalism, plays out both in and as culture.

Dialectics of Palestinian Representation: Gaza in the Literary and Cultural Discourse

An implication of Chomsky and Pappé’s Gaza in Crisis is that reading Gaza and its representations independently of Palestine more generally reproduces in criticism the fragmentation that has been achieved through colonial history. Yet what might be considered a “Gazan trend” in metropolitan literature and culture has started to coalesce in recent years, and this needs to be assessed. Key works include Joe Sacco's graphic novel Footnotes in Gaza (2009), Selma Dabbagh's novel Out of It (2012), Fida Qishta's documentary film Where Should the Birds Fly? (2013), Atef abu Saif's short fiction collection The Book of Gaza (2014), and Refaat Alareer's short story collection Gaza Writes Back (2014). Produced respectively by an American graphic journalist, a British-Palestinian novelist, and a range of young Gazan writers and filmmakers, these works all seek to inscribe the texture of life in this besieged and war-torn terrain from the perspective of individuals and communities imprisoned within it. For instance, Footnotes in Gaza sees Sacco narrate through his favored medium of graphic journalism his travels to the Gazan cities of Rafah and Khan Younis. Through his experiences, investigations, and interviews, he exposes the violence that permeates Palestinian life there today, and, in so doing, he gradually uncovers the layers upon layers of such in a deeper history that stretches back to 1956. Focusing more exclusively on the present, Out of It tells the story of the siblings Rashid and Iman as they struggle to wrest meaning and identity out of their lives in Gaza City. As with other young Palestinian men and women of their generation, they, the novel deftly illustrates, face almost insurmountable pressures as they attempt to navigate the landscape of warfare, political factionalism, religious fanaticism, and familial demands into which they were born and to which they are bound. And The Book of Gaza and Gaza Writes Back both look to introduce Gaza and its literatures to an English-speaking audience via their use of the anthology format. While the former provides a selection of translated short stories from among the most prominent Gazan writers of the last century, the latter offers a more current perspective, featuring, as it does, only stories written in response to Cast Lead by the editor's creative writing students at the Islamic University of Gaza. Each of these texts appears to be continuous with the Palestinian national narrative even while foregrounding the specificities of diurnal Gazan existence. Taken together, they thus represent a unique and powerful new trend in the canon of Palestinian literature and culture.

Each of these works, however, was also published, distributed, and marketed in Britain or the United States, in the centers of metropolitan literary and cultural production. Each is the product of a negotiation of the dominant narrative and the Palestinian counternarrative among writers, filmmakers, agents, editors, publishers, distribution companies, investors, advertisers, and so forth, and as such is forged in the crucible of a pregiven discursive context. The Gazan trend might thus be thought to embody a compromise or dialectic between undistilled representation of Gaza, renewed public interest in the region and its people, and culture industry concerns with markets and audiences. In the context of the present inquiry, the most important mediating influence on this trend is that of the metropolitan solidarity discourse. To trace the logic and consequences of such mediation in and for contemporary metropolitan literary and cultural representations of Gaza, I now turn to Qishta's documentary of 2013 as a case study.

Where Should the Birds Fly? is the Gazan filmmaker's immaculately captured firsthand account of life on the Strip before, during, and after Cast Lead. It opens in the summer of 2008, when Qishta had set about documenting Gaza's agricultural economy (its farmers, fishermen, and so forth), and the systematic brutality by which the IDF restricts this—de-development in action, as it were. This usual state of affairs is suddenly and violently interrupted by what appears as an IDF terror campaign launched on December 27 against a civilian population by means of F-16 jets and white phosphorus bombs. Mirroring the experience of its subjects, of the filmmaker herself, the footage at this point becomes radically disconnected, fragmented, broken, and the film descends into a Dantesque hellscape. Explosions shatter the night sky, and daylight brings only scenes of a Rafah City ravaged, strewn with mutilated bodies, inhabited by ghosts of parents madly wailing for their lost children. Having recast Cast Lead as the Lacanian Real of de-development coming to the surface, as it were, the film then shifts to its traumatic aftereffects in a series of interviews conducted by the director with ten-year-old Gazan Mona el-Samouni. Mona had lost twenty-one members of her family, including her mother and father, in the war, and, caught in a vortex of post-traumatic stress, mourning, and sublimation, her testimony bears witness to the human at its existential limit.

That the film was produced with a metropolitan audience in mind is confirmed by the director's English-language voice-over, as well as by the hardcoding of English subtitles in the official DVD. It has been screened at universities, film festivals, and other public venues across North America and Europe, including at the UN, and has been submitted to numerous international award bodies.14 Its mediation by the discursive demands of the metropole is evidenced throughout, as in the director's introductory note on the history and geography of Israel-Palestine (see Qishta 2013: 5:31–7:03). Nowhere is this more jarringly the case, however, than in the intentional mistranslation of Mona's testimony. During an interview where she is showing the director drawings of her parents and the scene of their death, the subtitles transcribe Mona's references to those responsible for the slaughter of family as “Israeli soldiers.” Yet she, in her colloquial Arabic, actually names them al-yahoud, “the Jews.” The full transcript of the English subtitles at this point in the film reads as follows, including my transliterations of the spoken Arabic in square brackets:

Here is a picture I drew of my parents to show I keep them in my heart. I labeled it “the most precious ones.” This was the plane that was firing missiles. These houses were blown up. The Israeli soldiers [original Arabic: al-yahoud] were shooting at the people as if they were not human, as if they were chickens or mice. For the Israeli army [original Arabic: al-yahoud], this is something without meaning. But the victims were very precious to us, even though they didn't consider them human. Houses were destroyed, people killed. This picture is after the war. Houses are wrecked. Even the chickens died. The soldiers [original Arabic: al-yahoud] tore down Wael's house on top of the dead. I drew my dad, me and mom. I drew this picture when I lived with them. Life was beautiful. (Qishta 2013: 46:10–48:12)

The logic of this production decision is best explained through Emily Apter's account of “the Untranslatable” (see Apter 2013). Both concept and context, the Untranslatable is a quasi transcendental that defines the nature of global linguistic and cultural exchange, and a materiality that structures such according to shifting geopolitical patterns. It refers to the loss of locally inflected sense and meaning inherent to the act of translation and to the prohibitions imposed upon the circulation of such in a global political landscape (Apter 2013: 1–44). Given what I discussed above as the official discourse of the Israel-Palestine conflict as voiced by Israel and its allies, it is understandable that Palestine should emerge for Apter as an exemplary “threshold of untranslatability and political blockade” in this landscape (114). In her analysis, then, we see an extension to the metropole of what Yasir Suleiman concludes in his wider-ranging analysis of the relationship between language and conflict in the Middle East is the “hegemony” of Hebrew in “the linguistic conflict between Hebrew and Arabic” (Suleiman 2004: 213, 141). For Suleiman, this linguistic conflict is premised on, encodes, and further entrenches the wider political conflict between Israel and Palestine (137–217). It is precisely the “untranslatability” of Palestine in the metropole that the metropolitan solidarity discourse, including its literary and cultural embodiments, has sought to contest. But what the case study of Where Should the Birds Fly? suggests is that in so doing, this discourse—via what might now be identified as the translational mechanism of its actually existing universalism—in effect mistranslates Palestine and thus reproduces local linguistic hegemonies within the expanded terrain of the global.

To elaborate further, all Palestinian discourse and representation is threatened with the ready-made accusation of anti-Semitism in the dominant discursive framework through which the Israel-Palestine conflict is perceived and understood.15 As is most clearly demonstrated in this inquiry by my reading of the Steven Salaita affair, even the vaguest inkling of this sentiment among Palestinians and their advocates is equivalent to the negation of their claims—and often more—in the metropole. The metropolitan solidarity discourse must therefore take pains to circumvent the possibility of this accusation, and it has found appeal to what I'm calling the language of the concrete universal a particularly effective and powerful means to do so. Again, this point has been most clearly demonstrated in this inquiry by my analysis of the quite self-conscious appeal to the language of international law by the Russell Tribunal on Palestine and the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions movement. Now, as we see in the intentional mistranslation of Mona's usage of al-yahoud in Where Should the Birds Fly?, this discourse has come to mediate metropolitan literary and cultural representations of Palestine. To extrapolate from this example, it might be said that in the metropole, al-yahoud is untranslatable because its connotations shift in the act of linguistic transfer from Arabic to English, from colony to metropole, and the new content imposed upon it in such transfer renders its usage incommensurable with the solidarity objective. Or more broadly that “Jew,” under solidarity, has become a forbidden category of speech and even thought. What is lost to the discourse of metropolitan solidarity with Palestine is, then, Palestine itself, or at least what is reflected of Palestine in a language such as Mona's.16 What is lost to this discourse is the social, cultural, and historical content that accumulates around the Palestinian usage of al-yahoud, and therefore what such content might tell us about the deep history and the ethno-nationalist underpinnings of the Israel-Palestine conflict.

At first glance, and with the solidarity objective in mind, the decision to mistranslate is both comprehensible and justifiable. But a deeper inquiry reveals deeply troubling consequences. First, the mistranslation suggests that the metropole structures its representations of Palestine around a built-in limit. The possibility of being accused of anti-Semitism determines what of Palestine can be represented and how. Evoking exactly what practices such as mistranslation are employed in order to sidestep, works like Where Should the Birds Fly? thereby negatively reproduce anti-Semitism in and as their form. Second, it preemptively forecloses the question of how a ten-year-old girl could come to blame al-yahoud for the destruction of her family. This question is of interest from at least a social anthropological perspective. And third, related to the previous point, it forecloses recognition of Gaza as as much a tragedy for global Jewry—insofar as Israel claims to represent this community—as it is for Palestinians.

While other metropolitan literary and cultural representations of Gaza may be more or less attentive to Palestinian projections of al-yahoud, I have intended my reading of Where Should the Birds Fly? to be illustrative of the underlying logic by which the discourse of metropolitan solidarity in its various manifestations in itself forestalls the ethical in favor of the political. As I have shown, this film, in its mistranslation of Mona's testimony, misses an opportunity to address how Israel, and Zionism more generally, arrogates Judaism for its national project, and so positions al-yahoud as complicit in its violence. In and of itself anti-Semitic, this act of arrogation and the resultant forcing-into-complicity not only recalls traumatic Jewish history but also actually perpetuates it. Foregrounding its enormity in the discourse of metropolitan solidarity with Palestine is thus crucial, for doing so lays the groundwork for an ethics of affiliation between Jews and Palestinians based on shared traumatic history, the only solidarity that is of lasting value.

Conclusion: From the Politics of Solidarity to an Ethics of Affiliation

In its clamorous insistence on a Palestinian counternarrative based on the concrete universal, the discourse of metropolitan solidarity obscures as much as it reveals. In particular, and as indicated by the Mona mistranslation, it obscures the urgency of a genuine interrogation of anti-Semitism not just as a tool of the Israeli national project but also as a traumatic kernel that Zionism has succeeded in repressing, inverting as anti-Palestinian ideology, and itself reestablishing through its universalizing claims and anti-Palestinian actions. Perhaps it is only the victim of Zionism—Mona herself—who can direct us toward its own inherent anti-Semitism.17 Whatever the case, it seems to me that a solidarity movement worth its salt should be premised on solidarity with the Jew as a victim of Zionism as well as with the Palestinian, or on the ethical imperative of Palestinian alongside Jewish Zochrot.18 I believe that this imperative undergirds the position at which Said himself arrived in his late thinking on the Israel-Palestine conflict. As he proposes in a series of interviews conducted during the last few years of his life, “the only long-term solution” to the conflict is one where “the two peoples can live together in one nation as equals” (Said and Barsamian 2003: 63; Viswanathan 2001: 434). Taking my cue from Said, and further guided by the work of Ammiel Alcalay, Gil Anidjar, Ariella Azoulay, Gil Hochberg, Joseph Massad, Aamir Mufti, Jeffrey Sacks, and Ella Shohat, among other scholars, I call this imperative an “ethics of affiliation.” It seems to me that it is only through an ethics of affiliation that the ethno-nationalist differentiations between “Jew” and “Arab” imposed by Zionism and at the very heart of the contemporary Gazan crisis—at, indeed, the heart of the Israel-Palestine conflict throughout its long, convoluted, and deeply traumatic history—might be overcome.

I would like to thank Salah Hassan for inviting me to participate in his “Cosmopolitan Palestine” seminar at the 2015 American Comparative Literature Annual Meeting in Seattle. This event prompted my thinking on the topic of this article, and the ensuing discussion with Professor Hassan and my fellow participants was pivotal for the revising and refining of my argument. I would also like to thank Aamir Mufti for suggesting boundary 2 as a possible venue for this article as well as for his continued guidance and support, and the boundary 2 Editorial Collective for their insightful recommendations for revision and expansion.

Notes

1.

Apart from by perhaps more expected sources such as Noam Chomsky, Norman Finkelstein, Mondoweiss, the Electronic Intifada, and CounterPunch, Gaza has been described as an “open-air prison” by former United Nations under-secretary-general for humanitarian affairs and emergency relief coordinator Sir John Holmes (http://www.un.org/apps/news/story.asp?NewsID = 29690#.WIOnB_k8PtU), former British prime minister David Cameron (http://www.bbc.com/news/world-middle-east-10778110), former French president Nicolas Sarkozy (http://www.kuna.net.kw/ArticlePrintPage.aspx?id=1975063&language = en), and mainstream news and media outlets from around the world.

2.

I borrow this phrasing from Rob Nixon, whose Slow Violence and the Environmentalism of the Poor (2013) considers the gradual and thus often neglected and/or repressed nature of climate change and environmental degradation.

3.

I discuss the Russell Tribunal on Palestine at greater length below.

4.

In this sense, I follow Anna Bernard in her understanding of the “metropolitan” in terms of “the cultural representation, transmission, and circulation of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict” (Bernard 2013: 1).

7.

Although my focus here is on Gaza, it is important to note that what Patrick Williams calls Palestine's more general “historiographical dispossession” has been a central object of inquiry and contention for scholars across the fields of literary studies, postcolonial studies, Middle East studies, history, political sciences, and so forth (Williams 2009: 85). Scholars such as Edward Said, Walid Khalidi, Rashid Khalidi, Joseph Massad, Norman Finkelstein, Ilan Pappé, Basem Ra'ad, Ahmad Sa'di and Lila Abu-Lughod, Nur Masalha, Ihab Saloul, Eyal Weizman, Derek Gregory, Joe Cleary, and many others have all seriously and substantially addressed this question from a variety of disciplinary angles.

8.

Finkelstein has discussed the Gaza wars on the BBC, Democracy Now, and Russia Today, at campuses around the United States and further afield, and in articles for CounterPunch and various other online journals.

9.

A revised and updated edition that discusses the repercussions of Cast Lead as well as more recent incursions was published in 2013 (see Chomsky and Pappé 2013).

10.

In this period, over 90 percent of Gaza's water has been rendered “unfit for drinking”; its sewage plants have been overloaded, leading to their contamination of their surroundings; its energy system has been disrupted to such a degree that it is now in “chronic crisis,” with up to twenty hours of outages per day; its arable lands and coastline have been made nigh inaccessible to its farmers and fishermen by the Israeli Defense Forces; its factories—if left standing—have been deprived of their productive capacities due to the blockade; its people, and furthermore their livelihoods and basic needs, have been impoverished due to the concomitant rise of unemployment to a rate of “38%” and of poverty to “39%”; and its environment has been so degraded that it is now considered “unlivable,” a “catastrophe” (B'Tselem 2014; United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs 2015; World Bank 2016; United Nations Relief and Works Agency 2012; Gostoli 2016). With such outcomes in mind, it seems difficult to dispute Roy's account of the blockade as an extension of Israel's logic of de-development.

12.

Salaita has also written a full-length monograph on Israel-Palestine (see Salaita 2011).

13.

In the United States, the BDS movement has met with success among student councils (divestment resolutions at colleges and universities), corporations (divestment from settlement-produced goods and products), and academics and artists (boycott pledges from individuals as well as from scholarly organizations) (see BDS n.d.).

14.

Among its accolades is its “Official Selection” at the Al Jazeera Documentary, Manhattan, Harlem International, Third World Indie, Nyack, YoFi, and DC Palestine Film Festivals, all in 2013.

15.

The point is substantiated by even a cursory examination of the activities of organizations such as the Anti-Defamation League (http://www.adl.org/), Campus Watch (http://www.campus-watch.org/), and Canary Mission (https://canarymission.org/). These and other organizations work to castigate any and all criticism of Israel in especially US politics, media, academia, popular culture, and so forth as “anti-Semitic,” and thus to discredit legitimate political critique for its purported racial motivations. For extended discussions of the anti-Semitism accusation, see Finkelstein 2003; Mearscheimer and Walt 2006.

16.

The film, it should be noted, does offer the hint of an explanation of Mona's language. Elsewhere foregrounding Mona's older brother's similar usage, Where Should the Birds Fly? might be read as suggestive of a form of transgenerational knowledge transmission within the Gazan and perhaps even the Palestinian social structure more generally. A relevant passage from the director's interview with Mona's brother reads, in its English subtitles, as follows: “I find her sitting alone, always drawing that scene of death. How her mother died, how that missile came” (Qishta 2013: 53:54–54:12). Translated literally, the original Arabic reads: “how al-yahoud when they came, how they launched the missiles, al-yahoud.”

17.

Joseph Massad and others have well foregrounded the historical ties of the Zionist movement with European anti-Semitism (see Massad 2006: 1–54).

18.

Zochrot (Hebrew for “remembering”) is an Israeli NGO aimed at promoting “acknowledgement and accountability for the ongoing injustices of the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948 and the reconceptualization of the Return as the imperative redress of the Nakba and a chance for a better life for all the country's [Israel's] inhabitants, so that it renounces the colonial conception of its existence in the region and the colonial practices it entails” (Zochrot 2014).

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