Book review by Josh Ruebner, who is Senior Principal at Progress Up Consulting and is the author of Israel: Democracy or Apartheid State? and Shattered Hopes: Obama’s Failure to Broker Israeli-Palestinian Peace.
Date of publication: 23 September, 2020
This exquisite timing was apropos. The US plan seeks to permanently subordinate the Palestinian people to Israeli domination by enabling Israel’s unilateral annexation of 30 percent of the occupied Palestinian West Bank.
It also maintains Israel’s control over Jerusalem, denies Palestinian refugees their right of return, denationalises Palestinian citizens of Israel, and perhaps, one day, will establish a nominally independent Palestinian Bantustan in parts of the West Bank and Gaza Strip devoid of sovereignty.
Trump’s son-in-law and senior advisor wunderkind Jared Kushner bragged about reading 25 books on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict prior to writing the ‘deal of the century,’ which reads more like a business plan PowerPoint than a serious attempt at resolving one of the most intractable issues in international relations.
It is doubtful that any of Khalidi’s previous books on Palestine made it onto Kushner’s slim reading list. Nevertheless, the Trump administration’s plan serves as a pertinent codicil to the thesis of Khalidi’s latest book, which is that the Zionist movement and the State of Israel since 1948 have worked hand-in-glove with the superpowers of the day to impose brutal settler-colonial rule over the indigenous Palestinian people.
|Khalidi’s book traces how the Zionist movement and the State of Israel have worked hand-in-glove with the superpowers of the day to impose settler-colonial rule over the indigenous Palestinian people|
In a taut, compelling, and erudite 255 pages, Khalidi paints a masterpiece overview not only of the apartheid system of rule the Zionist movement and Israel has established over the Palestinian people, but of their stubborn and resilient resistance to this system as well.
At times, Khalidi deems this resistance to be strategic and effective. The decentralised revolt against the British Mandate from 1936 to 1939, the PLO’s reassertion of Palestine on the geopolitical agenda in the 1960s after it was almost consigned to oblivion in the aftermath of the Nakba, and the creative and nonviolent First Intifada of the late 1980s are marshalled as examples of the dynamism of the Palestinian people in refusing to acquiesce in plans for their dispossession.
However, Khalidi is also scathing in his assessment of some Palestinian decision-making which further diminished the already great odds of successfully resisting a highly motivated, organised, and strategic settler-colonial movement supported by imperial powers.
The quiescent and fratricidal politics of Palestinian notables during much of the British Mandate, the PLO’s entry into the Oslo “peace process”, and the nihilistic attacks by all Palestinian factions against Israeli civilians during the Second Intifada of the 2000s are scrutinised and abjured by Khalidi.