Discourses of Palestinian Disappearance

Speaking to a group of Israeli high school students in 2022, Deputy Religious Services Minister Matan Kahana commented: “If there was a sort of button you could push that would make all the Arabs disappear, send them on an express train to Switzerland, I would press that button.” It has long been obvious, and has become more obvious since Israel’s campaign of annihilation in Gaza began last October, that most Israelis and many in the West wish, with Minister Kehana, that Palestinians—or what some refer to as the “Palestinian problem”—would simply disappear. While there may be disagreement concerning the appropriate means by which to bring this about—whether through murder and starvation, as in Gaza today, or though expulsion and forced resettlement, or via techniques of confinement and enclosure that render Palestinians invisible, or some combination of all of these, as has long been Israeli policy—the fantasy of Palestinian non-existence has hovered in the imagination of Israelis and their Western supporters from well before the country’s official foundation in 1948. Across each political conjuncture, each peace talk, security measure, bombing campaign, the dream of a Palestinian-free world has hung like a signpost, an unfulfilled promise, a deferred but ultimately desirable future for Israel.

This dream of Palestinian disappearance, of course, was integral to the Zionist imaginary from early in its history, evident in one of its core slogans, “a land without a people for a people without a land.” Early Zionist plans for the mass transfer of the Palestinians out of the region often wavered between the political and military pragmatics of ethnic cleansing and fantasies of an effortless, miracle-like, ejection, as in Herzl’s 1895 reflection on “spirit[ing] the penniless population across the border by procuring employment for it in the transit countries, while denying it any employment in our own country.” Golda Meir’s 1969 statement, made during an interview with the deputy editor of The Sunday Times, that “there was no such thing as Palestinians,” is yet one more manifestation—and step toward the enactment—of the wish for Palestinian erasure.

Let me return to Minister Kahana’s statement about a button that would make all the Palestinians disappear. There is something striking about this formulation and the political imagination that informs it. Kahana’s comment is frequently echoed today in interviews with ordinary Israeli citizens who, when asked about what possible futures for Israelis and Palestinians may follow at the conclusion of Israel’s current military assault on Gaza, often wistfully confess their “wish that they would all just go away.” The lightness, the what-if-ness, of such a comment deserves attention. The wish gives expression, not to a policy proposal or a military strategy, but to something in the genre of fantasy, a kind of “poof, its gone!” story, exemplified also in Kahana’s button that whisks the Palestinians off to the magical land of Switzerland. How is it, in the context of a horrific war, and following many decades of entrenched struggle, with immense consequences for Israel’s now highly militarized and securitized society, that ordinary citizens, when asked about imaginable futures for the millions of Palestinians whose lives are deeply entwined with their own, can answer this serious question with such lightness, a fantasy of disappearance, not an actual policy proposal, but a magical button.

Certainly, Israel’s military superiority gives its citizens the luxury of such flights of fancy, such detachments from reality. More than this, such comments, I want to suggest, point to the way Palestinians have been deprived of considerable reality in Israel and the West, and that in this state of diminished perceptibility, have become a people whose existence can be imagined by ministers and ordinary people as entirely eliminable—just “kick them all out,” as one recent Israeli interviewee suggests, “send them anywhere,” another opines.

This fantasy, and the deprivation of the political and existential reality of Palestinian lives it expresses, is one of the enabling conditions, I want to suggest, for the current genocidal onslaught Gaza taking place today in Gaza. In what follows, I want to use this opportunity to reflect on some the linguistic and discursive conditions through which this attenuation of Palestinian perceptibility has been repeated produced, that by which the human horror of annihilation can be envisioned without the slightest flicker of moral strain. This question is often approached through the lens of “dehumanization,” the process by which the humanity of Palestinians has been rendered illegible within the highly racialized discourses that dominate Israeli and Western imaginaries of Palestine. References to Palestinians, such as that by the current Israeli Defense Minister, Yoav Gallant, as “human animals,” are exemplary of this dehumanizing rhetoric, and are pervasive, not only in Israel, but within much of European and US media. (New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman’s recourse in recent piece to insect metaphors to describe Hamas and the Iranians is hardly exceptional).[1] This essay builds on the analysis of dehumanization practices but focuses more specifically on the languages and practices that deprive Palestinians of reality, that render them perceptually distant, inaccessible, or absent, and hence weaken and undermine whatever claims they make on moral and political conscience. In my conclusion, I want to turn to reflect on the contemporary significance of the Palestinian struggle for peoples of the global south.



Since the 1960s, the plight of the Palestinian people has only appeared above the threshold of diplomatic and political visibility when Palestinians have put it there, almost always through acts of militant resistance and struggle. Thus, the actions of Palestinian resistance groups in the 1960s and early 1970s, the first and then second intifada, more recent attacks launched from Gaza by the Hamas government and other factions in the territory—all of which were followed by massive retaliatory measures by Israel—in each case resulted in short-term diplomatic attention to the Palestinian question followed thereafter by its subsequent abandonment and disappearance once immediate political pressures declined. When the Palestinian question has been raised outside these cycles of militancy, violence, and retaliation, it has largely been addressed as a refugee problem, a matter of humanitarian assistance rather than as a problem of military occupation and ethnic cleansing. Palestinians have been often assimilated, in other words, to the category of what might be called “unfortunate humanity,” with a consequent loss of moral and political visibility. Silence on the issue has largely been the norm, a condition encouraged, supported, and manufactured by American and European governments continually over the decades in their fealty to Israel.

In more recent years, Israel has established new methods for achieving a more profound disappearance of Palestinians from the global purview. In Gaza, this has been done through a blockade that kept the entrapped Palestinians in a permanent state of poverty, unemployment, hunger, and dependency, an architecture of enforced scarcity and suffering meant to crush the spirit and will of those seeking to resist the relentless bulldozer of Israeli expansion into Palestinian lands. In the West Bank, a similar though somewhat more porous blockade, combined with intense restrictions on movement and daily harassment and violence at the hands of Israeli military personnel and settlers, has aimed to achieve comparable results. Encircled and confined within a vast network of walls, checkpoints, physical, digital, and administrative barriers, subject to policies and practices meant to decimate the material infrastructures sustaining their will, hope, resistance, and agency, Palestinians, until October 7th, had been effectively taken off the map, effaced from the scene of political and economic calculation for all except the few humanitarian agencies entrusted to ensure them some form of bare survival.

Their disappearance had widespread political consequences, allowing Israelis to not only enjoy the fruits of their impressive, technology-driven, economic growth, but also make great strides toward normalizing their relations with neighboring Arab countries. The Abraham Accords that were mediated by Trump administration officials in 2020 and that enabled Israel to establish bi-lateral agreements with a number of Arab regimes were negotiated without any Palestinian participation and with very little mention of the Palestinian situation at all. The one-time primary obstacle to Israel’s economic and political integration into the region—the besieged Palestinian population under its sovereign control—had all but disappeared from view behind Israel’s carceral occupation, for both Israelis and for the Arab leaders eying the economic and security advantages that relations with Israel would procure their autocratic and kleptocratic regimes. The near total withdrawal of European and American journalistic and political attention for the relentless decimation of Palestinian lives and the accelerating expropriation of their lands in recent years, ensured the success of Israel’s attempt to conceal the reality of their brutal occupation.



Beyond the technologies of walls and barricades, however, Palestinians have also been deprived of considerable reality through rhetorical methods which attenuate their historical, social, and political existence. What do I mean by this? One aspect of this phenomenon concerns the way Palestinians have been positioned historically, as less a present-day society than one that inhabits the present anachronistically, as a contemporary remnant of a world whose dissolution has been foretold. This is evident in the way people often talk about the “tragedy of the Palestinians,” as if the seizure of their lands and pervasive violence imposed on them by Israel were written in the stars, and not the product of an ongoing Zionist project for which this perspective itself is one enabling anchor. A useful parallel can be made here to the languages used by the European settler-colonialists of the 18th and 19th centuries to describe the Native Americans whose society they were in the process of destroying. Seen through the evolutionary lens of racial (and racist) sciences of the time, Native Americans were understood by the colonists to be remnants from an earlier stage in human development, inhabitants of the present but not fully belonging to its time, in this world but actually part of another. This historicist perspective on the lives of the Native Americans they encountered strongly colored the perception of the European colonists, enabling them to imagine that the genocide they were engaged in had in some sense already taken place, already had the status of an evolutionary destiny. Native Americans could then be seen as an element of the contemporary world but one without a future, their erasure more an act of historical necessity than land theft and murder.

Early Zionist descriptions of the indigenous peoples of Palestine deployed the same social evolutionary languages used by the settler colonists in the Americas, frequently identifying Palestinians as ‘primitive,’ ‘barbaric,’ and ‘uncivilized.’[2] Such colonialist categorizations often played a role in Zionist arguments and depictions that sought to undermine claims to Palestinian, or even Arab, identity among the people of the region. For example, in his 1937 book, The Rape of Palestine, the American Zionist William Ziff suggested that, due to their lack of “racial pride,” the Arabs no longer existed, having become nothing more than “a motley assortment of peoples, low in the scale of human development, who speak the Arab tongue.”[3]

The idea of the Palestinians as a people who had been surpassed by the march of progress, remaining only as a kind of historical residue and anthropological curiosity repeats itself across Zionist literature of the time. When it was recognized that Palestine was not entirely devoid of people, the designation of those people as a historical detritus moving inexorably toward dissolution served to dematerialize their lives, confining them to a state of political liminality and invisibility. Ben Gurion’s rhetoric of civilizational decline is exemplary here, as when he notes: “the deserts of Israel were once inhabited in ancient times, and, even today, they are not entirely unpopulated.”[4]

More recent writings by Israeli scholars shed some (though not all) of the evolutionary language that characterized the earlier Zionists, but often still ascribe some notion of historical backwardness to Palestinians, now cast in a more anthropological idiom, as in the case of historian Benny Morris. He notes: “Commitment and readiness to pay the price for national self- fulfillment presumed a clear concept of the nation and of national belonging, which Palestine’s Arabs, “still caught up in a clan-centred, a village-centred or, at most, a regional outlook, by and large lacked.”[5] Mired in a pre-modern political identity, Palestinians, in Morris’s formulation, cannot accede to the form of recognition required for modern political visibility, namely the nation. They inhabit the present but—as interlopers from a vanished or vanishing past—it does not belong to them.

Interestingly, Morris recognizes the parallel between the ethnic-cleansing of Palestinians carried out by Israel and the genocide of Native Americans by European colonists, finding justification for both instances in the notion of historical necessity.

There are circumstances in history that justify ethnic cleansing… There was no choice but to expel that population. It was necessary to cleanse the hinterland and cleanse the border areas and cleanse the main roads. It was necessary to cleanse the villages from which our convoys and our settlements were fired on…Even the great American democracy could not have been created without the annihilation of the Indians. There are cases in which the overall, final good justifies harsh and cruel acts that are committed in the course of history.[6]

The word “annihilation” does not provoke the slightest moral hesitation for Morris. Nor is there any question that it is Israel that is on the side of good, on the right side of history. When he turns to the description of Palestinian Muslims, Morris invokes well-worn stereotypes that extend from European colonialism to contemporary Islamophobia: “A world in which human life doesn’t have the same value as it does in the West, in which freedom, democracy, openness and creativity are alien. A world that makes those who are not part of the camp of Islam fair game.”[7]

As I noted, Morris’s discourse on Palestinian backwardness and moral corruption draws on a familiar colonial imaginary. As with earlier Zionist writers, he links this colonial vision of the primitive, ruthless native to a theory of history emphasizing the necessity of violence for historical progress, for good’s overcoming of evil. In this way, the ethnic-cleansing carried out by the Israeli state in 1948 is removed from the realm of political events and placed on the existential plane of redemptive history, a plane which the Palestinians can only inhabit negatively, a shadow existence to be removed by history’s forward motion. Within this historical frame, the perceptibility of Palestinian life is thinned out, attenuated, rendered inaudible against a background of rival Zionist claims that occupy the foreground of economic and political legibility.

The sort of temporalizing discourse I have been describing, one that deprives the Palestinians of presence by figuring them as part of a disappearing past, has a long history, not only in the orientalist imaginary of European colonialism but also in the discipline of anthropology, a point brilliantly analyzed by the Dutch anthropologist Johannes Fabian in his classic text, Time and the Other. Anthropology’s alignment with the project of colonial domination, according to Fabian, lay less in the disparaging attitudes of ethnographers toward the so-called primitive societies they studied, than in their textual employment of a rhetorical device that denied the coevalness of the anthropologist’s time and the time of the societies represented in their writings. In his words, anthropology demonstrated “a persistent and systematic tendency to place the referent(s) of anthropology in a Time other than the present of the producer of anthropological discourse.”[8] “The Other’s empirical presence,” Fabian asserts, “turns into his theoretical absence, a conjuring trick which is worked with the help of an array of devices that have the common intent and function to keep the Other outside the Time of anthropology.”[9] This absenting of the other through the device of temporal distancing—what I have discussed above as one of the rhetorical means by which the deprivation of Palestinian reality is secured—aligns anthropological discourse with projects of power predicated on the displacement or elimination of indigenous communities, or of those aspects of community that hinder their effective subordination. From the earliest Zionist narratives in the 19th century up through contemporary Israeli and Euro-American journalistic accounts, a temporalizing rhetoric has given to Palestinian life a vaporous, flickering quality, one that—as I am arguing here—gives sustenance to Zionist and Western fantasies of Palestinian disappearance, and thus Zionist and Western practices of ethnic cleansing and genocide.

Such a fantasy can be witnessed in the recent comments that Jared Kushner, Donald Trump’s son-in-law and one-time senior advisor, made during a recent interview at Harvard University.[10] In his description of possible next-steps for Gaza and its people, Palestinians are endowed with a remarkable lightness and malleability, an object offering little resistance to superior forces of capitalist development and Israeli power—a striking image given the many decades of Palestinian struggle, resistance, and violent suppression. Kushner starts off immediately by anchoring his perspective in the dominant logics of investment capital, a view which immediately relativizes and attenuates the realities of the conflict. “Gaza’s waterfront property,” he notes, “it could be very valuable, if people would focus on kind of building up livelihoods, you think about all the money that’s gone into this tunnel network and into all the munitions, if that would have gone into education or innovation what could have been done—it’s a little bit of an unfortunate situation there, but I think from Israel’s perspective I would do my best to move the people out and then clean it up.”

Viewed from the lofty heights of the profit-making potential of real-estate investment, the destruction of Gaza and its people is scaled down to “a little bit of an unfortunate situation,” a situation easily remedied by a little bit of old team effort—“doing their best”—to sweep out the people and clean up the mess—as Kushner may have had to do at his fraternity hall at Harvard after a night of drinking. And how is that ethnic-cleansing to be accomplished? Kushner: “I would just bulldoze something in the Negev, I would try to move people in there.” In other words, just do that, like pushing a button for a train to Switzerland. What the popular press often describes as the “intractable” problems of Israel-Palestine appear in Kushner’s vision to be as light as a feather—“just bulldoze something”—the indefiniteness of the terms signaling the simplicity of the solution. It is this distance from reality—of Palestinian lives, of the brutality of ethnic cleansing—that invites unfathomable violence.

A few moments later in the interview, Kushner starts to question whether Gaza exists at all, if the place and its residents are more fiction than reality: “I am not sure there is much left of Gaza at this point. If you think about even the construct, Gaza was not really a historical precedent [sic]. It was the result of a war. You had tribes in different places and then Gaza became a thing. Egypt used to run it and then over time different governments came in.” Here, Kushner extends upon, albeit in a characteristically fumbling manner, the older Israeli discourse on the historical absence of a Palestinian identity: Gaza became a thing, he suggests, a passing fashion, but one that is ultimately empty and fictitious. Particularly telling is the way Kushner links the current destruction of Gaza—a place where there is not “much left”—to his claim that Gaza is a mere “construct” without historical foundation, as if the one—the decimation of Palestinian life by the Israeli military—was simply the natural outcome of Gaza’s tenuous claim to historical legitimacy. The genocide of the Palestinians of Gaza just makes visible the fact that they were never really there, a mere construct assembled from the fragments of a historical formation whose time had long passed.

In short, at the core of Kushner’s style of reflection of the question of Palestine, including on the current war on Gaza, is an incredible lightness of Palestinian being, a perceptual shallowness that subverts even the possibility of registering the violence done to them.


The Israeli and more broadly Western project of disappearing the Palestinian people has assumed horrific dimensions with the current onslaught on Gaza—though the practices and aims we are witnessing are hardly new, only the scale and intensity of the destruction. As Samera Esmeir has recently commented, the current obliteration of Gaza cannot be adequately grasped within the legal and political framework of “genocide,” however valuable this term may be in bringing international recognition to the workings and scope of Israel’s machinery of death. The continuous and repetitive destruction of Gaza’s universities, its hospitals, its mosques and churches, of the fertility of its land and the potability of its water, of its physical physiognomy and memory: such an orchestrated obliteration aims at something more than physical persons and infrastructure, what Esmeir will identify as the “historicity of Palestinians.” She writes:

By centering the colonial mass killing of civilians and the apartheid-based government of the remaining living, these formulations [genocide, apartheid] do not catch up with the repetitive, cyclical rhythm of Israel’s obliteration machinery. Attention to this rhythm reveals Israel’s desire to wish Palestinians out of political and historical existence, to eradicate their historically cultivated way of life, to render them soulless bodies, to obliterate the conditions of the Palestinian inhabitation of the land—in short, the desire not to govern Palestinians.[11]

Esmeir’s formulation—“a desire to wish Palestinians out of existence”—captures a key dimension of the apparatus of disappearance traced above. The very lightness of the act of “wishing away,” “wishing out of existence,” an abstraction from the pragmatic space of political and military calculation (much like the train to Switzerland) creates the moral and sensory distance from which an eschatological, world-ending violence can be imagined—for the Palestinians—and subsequently enacted by the Israeli military. Fantasizing the Palestinians as a ‘vanishable people’ from Zionism’s onset, Israeli security and military planners have spent decades developing dehumanizing techniques and technologies for the regulation and gradual elimination of the Palestinians under their control, techniques and technologies that show the same logic of those now deployed against Gaza.

One thinks, for example, of the Israeli army’s routine practice of bulldozing roads in the West Bank towns and cities, thereby destroying electrical, water, sewage, and transit infrastructures which the Palestinian residents of these towns and cities must, again and again, rebuild anew. This longstanding military tactic can be understood as an act of collective punishment, but it is one that strikes at the soul from a very particular angle. Such infrastructural elements enable and sustain the space of collective, relational life—the aspiration and realization of opening a store, a day-care center, of bringing one’s harvest of olives to sell, of providing clean water and medical support to injured and aging people, of checking in on one’s relatives or friends in a neighboring village, of washing one’s hands before prayer at a mosque. That is, it strikes at these acts and the aspiration for a life in common with others that they express, especially the sedimentations of memory and experience that nourish and are strengthened by that life, reducing these sedimentations to the anonymity and perceptual poverty of rubble. It is not only that one is made to feel the futility, hopelessness, and powerlessness of one’s predicament as totally subordinated to a brutal military occupation; one is divested of the resources of memory, habit, and knowledge that make a distinct form of life recognizable to those who inherit and extend it, and left instead with a the sort of fragmented and fractured human form—outside of time and place—that is the plight of the refugee. Palestinians are made to experience their disappearance well before they disappear.


A final aspect of Palestinian invisibility that I want to explore here concerns the way the current assault on Gaza by Israel has been framed by Israel and its Western allies as a war against Hamas. From the inception of Israel’s current military campaign following upon the attacks by Hamas on Israel on October 7th, Israeli and Western leaders, and the docile media that serve their interests, have insisted that the singular target of Israel’s military actions are what they call ‘Hamas terrorists.’ Israeli military officials frame every IDF action—the bombings and shelling of hospitals and universities, the shooting of unarmed Palestinians attempting to return to their destroyed homes, the mass arrests in Gaza and the West Bank—as strikes against “Hamas terrorists” and their “terrorist infrastructures,” and the Western press dutifully reiterate as fact the reports that Israel provides them. Thus, we hear of “terror tactics” and “terrorist activity” taking place in “terror tunnels,” that Israeli planes spotted “a suspicious terrorist cell entering Hamas terrorist infrastructure.” The pervasive and consistent use of the qualifiers “terror” and “terrorist” to identify not only Palestinian fighters but, synecdochically, any activity or object that makes up the life world of Palestinians, aims to produce an abstract enemy for whom humanist moral frameworks don’t apply. With the target of Israeli violence reified and circumscribed by this terminology, the identifier “Palestinian” appears as a referent for a population defined by their humanitarian predicament—starving, diseased, displaced—and not as a group suffering from a devasting onslaught by a vastly more powerful military aggressor. Disconnected from the history of resistance to Israeli repression that has shaped their existence, a history of which Hamas forms an integral part, Palestinians are assigned the category of humanitarian subjects, those whose physical and biological vulnerabilities outweigh—and thus render invisible—any historical identity as subjects of struggle and resistance.[12] Thus, the war against Hamas and the humanitarian rescue of vulnerable humanity are pried apart as two distinct phenomena, sites of distinct affective considerations and investments that further distance and immunize one from the other, hindering any attempt to demonstrate their profound entwinement. US President Biden’s policy of sending weapons to Israel while at the same time insisting on [though without any real commitment to] the provision of humanitarian assistance to the hundreds of thousands of starving Palestinians, and doing so without any sense of contradiction, reflects the efficacy of such a framing.

The objectification of Hamas as a discrete, identifiable enemy, in no way reducible to the population of Gaza as a whole, would seem to set limits to Israel’s campaign of destruction in Gaza, but the reality is actually just the opposite. While the war is justified on the international stage through the claim that the enemy, Hamas, is identifiable in terms of a determinant set of people and places, the fact that Hamas, counter to this claim, cannot be circumscribed in this manner but is complexly linked (historically, politically, socially, administratively) with the broader Palestinian society means that any attack on Palestinians can be described as an attack on Hamas. The purposeful misidentification of Hamas as a discrete, numerically definable force makes possible and justifies the near infinite extension of the term to any persons or structures Israel deems a threat.

In short, Western and Israeli framings of the current assault on Gaza doubly divest the Palestinians of reality. When it turns out that the so-called war on Hamas encompasses the entire obliteration of everything in Gaza, Palestinians have simply disappeared into the rubble strewn landscape. And when they reappear, it is as a humanitarian problem, namely, how to provide shelter and food to starving, homeless people.


If the West (a concept whose political geography embraces Israel), has been articulated, conceptually and affectively, on the premise of Palestinian absence, this has not been the case for the countries of the global south, neither historically nor today. If there is one thing that the recent hearings at the International Court of Justice on the legal status of Israel’s actions in Palestine made clear, it is that, for much of the world, the question of justice for Palestine is not a marginal concern but rather lies at the intersection of the historical and political fault-lines that structure global power today. It is in the state of Israel where the humanistic mask of the contemporary American imperial project falls away, where the falsities and contradictions of the post-1948 global institutional order are revealed in their starkest and most violent dimensions. Moreover, Palestinians in this order are not just victims of circumstance, an unfortunate sacrifice necessitated by the West’s need for an imperial outpost in the Middle East. The apparatus of oppression developed by Israel to dominate and decimate Palestinian lives, including its immense investments in weaponry, have propelled the country to become, in the words of author Antony Loewenstein, “a global leader in surveillance, drones, and ethnonationalist fervor.”[13] Israel now plays a dominant role at the fascist edge of contemporary capitalism, a country whose spy software, policing techniques, and innovative weapons are increasing recruited around the world to anticipate and quell threats to the evermore unequal distributions of wealth and power. As a recent essay on Israel puts the matter:

The “fascist fix” seeded by the osmosis between settler-colonial violence and national security neoliberalism, a fix that Israel models and sells, takes place with relation to global scenarios of crisis and mass unrest, or organised resistance, that differ starkly from those of the 1930s. This is what Gustavo Petro’s vision of Gaza as the “first experiment to deem all of us disposable” is responding to—a form of potentially planetary fascism exacerbated by climate collapse, the vast inequalities produced by racial capitalism and the ongoing histories of colonial domination.[14]

It is an awareness of Israel’s position within this emerging order, and of the longer colonial history of which it is a part, that led so many of the countries that offered testimony at the International Court of Justice hearings to see the predicament of the Palestinian people as also their own.  The ongoing and so far ineffectual attempt to use the instruments of international law to restrain Israel from its genocidal campaign has made it ever more clear to many that the structures of power that produce the disposability of the Palestinians are inseparable from those that sustain the ongoing subjugation of the peoples of the global south. Far from absent, Palestine has become hypervisible for the countries of the south, making strikingly evident the lie that the racial logics that undergirded Western rule at the height of European colonialism ended with the formation of the post-World War II international order. Palestine now appears to many as the beachhead in the struggle for decolonization, just as the courage, perseverance, and humanity of the Palestinians over the many years of Israeli rule now stands as a model of resistance to the false promises of that international order.

[1] Thomas Friedman, “Understanding the Middle East through the Animal Kingdom.” New York Times, February 2, 2024.

[2] See, for example, Janice J. Terry, “Zionist attitudes toward Arabs.” Journal of Palestine Studies, Vol. 6, No. 1 (Autumn, 1976), pp. 67-78.

[3] William B. Ziff, The Rape of Palestine. London: St. Botolph’s Press, 1948; 1st. ed.,1937, p. 149.

[4] David Ben Gurion, Israel: Years of Challenge London: Anthony Blond, 1964, p. 199.

[5] Morris, Benny. 2004. Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem Revisited. Cambridge University Press, p. 26.

[6] Morris, Benny. 2004. “An Interview with Benny Morris.” By Ari Shavit. Counterpunch, January 16th, 2004.

[7] Ibid.

[8] Johannes Fabian. Time and the Other: How Anthropology makes its Object. New York: Columbia University Press, p. 36.

[9] Ibid., p. xi.

[10] Middle East Dialogues – A Conversation with Jared Kushner. Middle East Initiative. Youtube. February 15, 2024. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dtaIHr5S0ts.

[11] Samera Esmeir. “The End of Colonial Government.” In From the River to the Sea: Essays for a Free Palestine. In Sai Englert, Michal Schatz, Rosie Warren, eds. Verso Press, 2023, pp. 164-65, https://www.versobooks.com/en-gb/products/3293-from-the-river-to-the-sea.

[12] Esmeir writes: “[G]enocide cannot frame the other target of the Israeli obliterating machine: the collective expansive existence of a resistant, resisting people, in short, its way of life, as it has been cultivated in struggle over time.” Ibid., p. 169.

[13] Antony Loewenstein, The Palestine Laboratory: How Israel Exports the Technology of Occupation Around the World (London and New York: Verso, 2023), p. 207.

[14] Alberto Toscano. “Israel, fascism, and the war against the Palestinian People.” In From the River to the Sea: Essays for a Free Palestine. Sai Englert, Michal Schatz, Rosie Warren, eds. Verso Press, 2023, pp. 380-81.

From the River to the Sea


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About Charles Hirschkind

Charles Hirschkind is an assistant professor of anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. He is the coeditor, with David Scott, of Powers of the Secular Modern and has published numerous articles on religious practice, media technologies, and emergent forms of political community in the Middle East.