43 Chapters
Medium 9780253010803

8. Other Worlds to Live in: Palestinian Retrievals of Religion and Tradition under Conditions of Chronic National Collapse

NoContributor Indiana University Press ePub

 

Palestinian Retrievals of Religion and Tradition under Conditions of Chronic National Collapse

LOREN D. LYBARGER

Today, perhaps more than ever, the question of Palestinian identity has become obvious and urgent. The always-fragile national consensus has ceded to open schism. In the wake of devastating interfactional bloodletting, the Islamic political movement, Hamas, now dominates the Gaza Strip while the weakened secular-nationalist Fatah movement putatively controls the West Bank. The choice for Palestinians, as it comes across in media analyses and think-tank position papers, seems stark: either an embattled secular-nationalist Fatah movement reasserts itself, or Palestine becomes “Hamastan.”1 But, even the very possibility of Palestine, or, for that matter, “Hamastan,” seems ever more unrealizable. Israel, backed by the United States and the European Union, relentlessly presses its advantage. It has expanded its settlements and road networks while extending a system of walls, fences, and checkpoints that have isolated Palestinians within their towns, villages, and camps, and in the case of Gaza, within a besieged coastal strip subject to punishing bombardments from air, sea, and land. Negotiation and armed resistance have seemed to yield little more than cynicism, despair, and death. The parties backing these diverging approaches—Fatah and Hamas, primarily—have failed to galvanize consistent broad majority support. Neither secular nationalism nor Islamism in their current forms appear to offer any clear basis for political unity and collective action.2 But if not these, then what?

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2. Colonial Occupation and Development in the West Bank and Gaza: Understanding the Palestinian Economy through the Work of Yusif Sayigh

NoContributor Indiana University Press ePub

 

Understanding the Palestinian Economy through the Work of Yusif Sayigh

LEILA FARSAKH

The Oslo peace process initiated in 1993 brought hopes for the emergence of a vibrant economy in the West Bank and Gaza Strip (WBGS), one that would provide a solid foundation for the establishment of a viable Palestinian state. Yet Palestinian economic growth since 1993 has been marked by major fluctuations and unsustainability. Palestinian real GDP per capita income in the West Bank and Gaza in 2007 was 30 percent lower than in 1999. Poverty touched 49 percent of Gaza and 25 percent of the West Bank in 2007.1 The 2008–2009 Israeli war on Gaza destroyed whatever remained of Palestinian economic activity there, demolishing major social and economic infrastructure at a total estimated cost of $1.4 billion. The siege imposed on it since 2006 further severed its links to the West Bank, putting in jeopardy the unity of the Palestinian economy. Although real GDP grew by over 5 percent in the West Bank and by more than 9 percent in the Gaza Strip from 2009 to 2012, it was mainly fueled by international assistance, which amounted to over 20 percent of GDP.2 Poverty rates still stood at 33.7 percent in the Gaza Strip in 2010, where over 71 percent of the population receives some form of aid.3 The Israeli war on Gaza in November 2012 further proved the unsustainability of growth in the Occupied Territories.

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7. The Debate on Islamism and Secularism: The Case of Palestinian Women’s Movements

NoContributor Indiana University Press ePub

 

The Case of Palestinian Women’s Movements

ISLAH JAD

Conflict over the construction of gender and the ideal woman is not a neutral or primarily religious concern. Nationalists and Islamists alike seek to establish an ideal society that depends on a particular conception of womanhood.1 The difference between the two conceptions is that religious or Islamist groups seek to restore a mythical age in which women were guardians of tradition,2 whereas the nationalists tout the fertile, modest peasant as their epitome of the feminine. In both cases, the ideal woman embodies a past when “traditional family and moral values [built] ‘our nation.’”3

Despite the similarities between them, the Islamist ideal woman is opposed to the “modern” ideal woman constructed by the secular nationalist discourse.4 While nationalists consider the society Islamists strive to build as reactionary and antimodern,5 Islamists view secularism as an unwanted colonial imposition, a worldview that gives precedence to the material over the spiritual, to a modern culture of alienation and unrestrained hedonism. The nationalists counter that secularism is central to universal humanism, a rational principle that calls for the suppression or restraint of religious passion so that intolerance and delusion can be controlled, and political unity, peace, and progress secured.6

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9. Palestine in the American Political Arena: Is a Reset Possible?

NoContributor Indiana University Press ePub

 

Is a “Reset” Possible?

MICHAEL C. HUDSON

There are two competing narratives about America and Palestine. One derives from the Protestant missionaries who early in the nineteenth century went to the “Holy Land” to convert the “natives” (an impossible task) and who ended up as educators. The descendants of these hardy and talented people not only established impressive schools and colleges, many of which thrive today, but also went on to become diplomats—the fabled and maligned “State Department Arabists”—as well as business-people and development professionals. They were genuinely attached to the Arabs of Palestine. After World War II, when the United States elected to support the Jewish nationalist, or Zionist, project in Palestine, which led in 1948 to the forced displacement of some 750,000 Palestinians from their homes, they supported the Palestinian cause. But these people constituted a small minority.

The other narrative, which has come to frame America’s collective understanding of the Middle East, is the story of Zionism, which from its European origins succeeded in establishing Israel in historic Palestine. This is a story, celebrated in novels and films, of European Jews fleeing discriminatory European pogroms and ultimately the Holocaust, braving callous British officialdom, and creating a safe haven for a people uniquely persecuted in the West. To most Americans the Israelis were pioneers (like American whites) settling undeveloped territory, making the desert bloom, and fighting off or educating the “backward” natives. Israel became an extension of the “Judeo-Christian civilization” of which Americans were a part. It is this narrative to which most American elected politicians have subscribed up to this day.

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10 - Myth vs. Reality: Muslim American Philanthropy since 9/11

NoContributor Indiana University Press ePub

Muslim American Philanthropy since 9/11

Shariq A. Siddiqui

THERE ARE DEFINING moments in our lives. I remember my parents describing the moment they first heard that John F. Kennedy was assassinated and when my professors talked about the moment Martin Luther King, Jr., or Robert Kennedy was killed. I was amazed by their memory and used to be thankful that such an event had not occurred in my generation's lifetime. That changed on September 11, 2001.

As I watched the horrific images on television, praying that the perpetrators were not Muslims, I knew that this moment was significant, but I did not realize that it would be a defining moment for Muslim Americans. The lives of Muslim Americans were changed in profound ways on that day. Many have argued that the events that followed due to the tragedy of 9/11 have had a negative effect on Muslim Americans and especially their philanthropic activity. In order to understand the impact on Muslim American philanthropy after September11, 2001, it is important first to understand Islamic philanthropy, learn about Muslim American history, and explore who Muslim Americans are before looking into their philanthropic activities.

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