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A Shadow over Palestine

A Shadow over Palestine: The Imperial Life of Race in America

Keith P. Feldman
Copyright Date: 2015
Pages: 312
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    A Shadow over Palestine
    Book Description:

    Upon signing the first U.S. arms agreement with Israel in 1962, John F. Kennedy assured Golda Meir that the United States had "a special relationship with Israel in the Middle East," comparable only to that of the United States with Britain. After more than five decades such a statement might seem incontrovertible-and yet its meaning has been fiercely contested from the first.

    A Shadow over Palestinebrings a new, deeply informed, and transnational perspective to the decades and the cultural forces that have shaped sharply differing ideas of Israel's standing with the United States-right up to the violent divisions of our day. Focusing on the period from 1960 to 1985, author Keith P. Feldman reveals the centrality of Israel and Palestine in postwar U.S. imperial culture. Some representations of the region were used to manufacture "commonsense" racial ideologies underwriting the conviction that liberal democracy must coexist with racialized conditions of segregation, border policing, poverty, and the repression of dissent. Others animated vital critiques of these conditions, often forging robust if historically obscured border-crossing alternatives.

    In this rich cultural history of the period, Feldman deftly analyzes how artists, intellectuals, and organizations-from the United Nations, the Black Panther Party, and the Association of Arab American University Graduates to James Baldwin, Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Edward Said, and June Jordan-linked the unfulfilled promise of liberal democracy in the United States with the perpetuation of settler democracy in Israel and the possibility of Palestine's decolonization.

    In one of his last essays, published in 2003, Edward Said wrote, "In America, Palestine and Israel are regarded as local, not foreign policy, matters."A Shadow over Palestinemaps the jagged terrain on which this came to be, amid a wealth of robust alternatives, and the undeterred violence at home and abroad that has been unleashed as a result of this special relationship.

    eISBN: 978-1-4529-4486-9
    Subjects: Sociology, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PROLOGUE James Baldwin in the Holy Land
    (pp. vii-xii)

    At the end of September 1961, James Baldwin arrived in Tel Aviv as the guest of the Israeli government. Treated as what he called an “extremely well cared for parcel post package,” Baldwin spent his days being escorted around “this fragile handkerchief at the gate of the Middle East.” He was driven to the Negev desert in the south, the Dead Sea to the east, the Jerusalem hills, Tel Aviv’s famed cafés, Haifa’s art colony in the north, and a kibbutz near the Gaza Strip in the west. “Israel and I seem to like each other,” he wrote in a...

  4. INTRODUCTION Special Relationships
    (pp. 1-22)

    After signing the United States’ first arms agreement with Israel at the end of 1962, U.S. president John F. Kennedy assured Israeli foreign minister Golda Meir that the United States had a “special relationship with Israel in the Middle East, really comparable only to that which it has with Britain over a wide range of world affairs.”¹ U.S. presidential administrations ever since have emphasized the unique qualities of this geostrategic, military, and economic relationship, as well as the “shared values” that these countries are purported to hold in common. After more than five decades, such a statement has achieved nearly...

  5. 1 Specters of Genocide Cold War Exceptions and the Contradictions of Liberalism
    (pp. 23-58)

    On November 10, 1975, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 3379, determining that “zionism is a form of racism and racial discrimination.”¹ The resolution’s preambular paragraphs based this determination on the UN’s 1963 Declaration on the Elimination of All Forms of Racial Discrimination; its 1973 condemnation of the “unholy alliance” between South African racism and Zionism; and the trio of 1975 declarations by the World Conference of the International Women’s Year in Mexico City, the Organization of African Unity, and the Conference of Ministers for Foreign Affairs of Non-Aligned Countries. The resolution was passed in the context of a...

  6. 2 Black Power’s Palestine Permanent War and the Global Freedom Struggle
    (pp. 59-102)

    Thus opens “Third World Round-up: The Palestine Problem: Test Your Knowledge,” a two-page article composed of thirty-two “documented facts,” two archival photographs, and two cartoons. The article was published in August 1967 in the humble eight-page bimonthly newsletter of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC). The sources for the article’s documented facts were uncited, though much of the article reproduces verbatim the Palestine Research Center’s first pamphlet,Do You Know? Twenty Basic Facts about the Palestine Problem, published in Beirut and likely distributed in the United States through the Arab Information Center.¹ Within days, prominent civil rights organizations denounced what...

  7. 3 Jewish Conversions Color Blindness, Anti-Imperialism, and Jewish National Liberation
    (pp. 103-146)

    In the mid-1970s the metaphor of anti-Semitism as disease shaped the conceptual categories of prominent U.S. organizations tasked with tracking and understanding discrimination against Jews. For Arnold Forster and Benjamin Epstein of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL), the most troublesome site where the “disease” had taken root was the so-called Radical Left, a segment of the antiwar and civil rights movements that had, in the ADL’s estimation, expressed an unconditional solidarity to those “most radical and nationalistic blacks.”¹ According to Forster and Epstein, the concept of race around which Black freedom struggles had mobilized was “the most vulnerable aspect of American...

  8. 4 Arab American Awakening Edward Said, Area Studies, and Palestine’s Contrapuntal Futures
    (pp. 147-184)

    Looking back, like so many Arabs and Palestinians in the United States, Edward W. Said would say that the June war of 1967 marked a world-shattering breach. The Naksa, or “setback” of the June war contorted and intensified the catastrophic effects of displacement and dispossession, called the Nakba, that Palestinian Arabs experienced two decades earlier. Between 1947 and 1949, over four hundred Arab Palestinian towns and villages were razed and renamed.¹ Nearly 800,000 people were dispersed into a dozen refugee camps around the region and were prohibited from returning; some sought refuge and respite in the United States, Europe, Egypt,...

  9. 5 Moving toward Home Women of Color Feminisms and the Lebanon Conjuncture
    (pp. 185-220)

    These are the concluding lines from the Black feminist essayist, poet, and teacher June Jordan’s 1982 poem “Moving towards Home,” written in the immediate aftermath of the massacre of hundreds of Palestinians in the Sabra and Shatila refugee camps of Lebanon. In recent years, these lines have become a touchstone for naming convergences between racial and gender justice struggles and struggles for justice in Palestine. They serve as the closing lines to the preface of the 1988 Black British anthologyCharting the Journey: Writings by Black and Third World Women.¹ The poem was reprinted in the 2007 inaugural issue of...

  10. EPILOGUE On Shadows
    (pp. 221-230)

    Precoccupations of Palestine and Israel in the United States have produced a vexing history of shadows. Across the cultural terrain mapped herein, shadows and their kin have produced a veritable chiaroscuro linking incommensurate but resolutely entangled histories. Their presence, function, and effects cannot be overstated. This book has offered one conjectural tracing of their mutable complexity, their turns and angles, their surfaces and depths, in order to desediment the imperial life of race in the United States. The implications of this approach warrant a further word, then, on shadows.

    It is a veritable truism that when it comes to Israel...

    (pp. 231-236)
  12. NOTES
    (pp. 237-284)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 285-314)
  14. Back Matter
    (pp. 315-315)