CFP HM Special Issue: Palestine/Israel and the Critique of Capitalism
In the introduction to his recent book, Kareem Rabie observes that “in Palestine, [capitalist] planning is in large part a form of speculation that implies a future and a day after the occupation; yet, it does not attempt to bring that day forward” (Rabie 2021, 6). Rabie’s critique joins other critical efforts in recent years to understand the ways neoliberal capitalism normalizes and facilitates the continued Israeli oppression of Palestinians (Hanieh 2016; Haddad 2016; Algazi 2006). That the critique of capitalism can crucially inform analyses of Palestinian and Israeli societies, is, of course, not new: intellectuals committed to ending the Israeli oppression of Palestinians have long incorporated critiques of capitalism into their work (Kanafani 1972; Touma 1973; Hanegbi, Machover, and Orr 1971; Gozansky 1986; Abdo 1991). Yet, changing historical circumstances inevitably compel new critiques, such as Rabie’s and others’, to reinvent the way capitalist and state oppressions are related to one another, in the case of Palestine/Israel.
This special issue of Historical Materialism seeks to explore contemporary attempts to bring the critique of capitalism, and Marxism in particular, into conversation with analyses of Palestine/Israel. For instance, this issue seeks to engage with the way class and labor composition are related to Israeli domination. How are the partial exclusion of Palestinians from the Israeli labor market (Farsakh 2006; Berda 2012) and their replacement by migrant workers from abroad (Kemp and Raijman 2008) related to Israeli strategies of control? How has the Oslo process and subordination of the PNA to Israeli colonial prerequisites within a “free market” framework shaped Palestinian class formation in the occupied territories?
Another set of questions we explore in this issue focus on the relation of global capitalism to Palestine/Israel. How does the ongoing crisis of neoliberal capitalism exert pressures, or set certain limits, on what happens in Palestine/Israel? How do specific geopolitical and economic events elsewhere affect class structure and economic development in Palestine? What role does the use of the Occupied Territories as a “laboratory” for the surveillance-security complex (Sa’di 2021) play in Israel’s rise to wealth and global prominence? How does the rise of multinational Arab Gulf capital (Hanieh 2011) and the normalization of relations between Gulf countries and Israel (Plonski 2022) (transform conditions in Palestine/Israel?
We are also interested in interrogating how Marxist approaches to Palestine/Israel relate to other conceptual frameworks. For example, are Marxist approaches completely compatible with the analysis of Israel/Palestine through the prisms of settler colonialism (Sabbagh-Khoury 2022) and apartheid (Erakat 2021)? Or, what do Marxist analyses add to understanding of Palestine/Israel in terms of gender or race (Abdo-Zubi 2011; Lentin 2018; Abu-Laban and Bakan 2019)? How do categories such as Palestinian citizens of Israel, or Arab Jews, and the forms of oppression they entail, intersect with the critique of capitalism? How do theoretical accounts of the relationship between national and class struggle – derived from the writings of Lenin, Luxemburg, Fanon, Mahdi Amel and others – affect the way we approach this relationship in the case of Palestine/Israel? How has the political focus on resolving the “primary contradiction” of colonialism rendered class formation and struggles for social and economic emancipation subordinate, if not indefinitely postponed (Khalidi 2018)? What are the ecological substrates implications of Zionist colonization and Palestinian resistance? How do Marxist perspectives enable us to relate Palestine/Israel to global political issues, such as the rise of authoritarianism? Alternately, in what ways, if any, do any of these perspectives clash with Marxian understandings?
This issue also seeks to ask how Marxist and socialist approaches to emancipation may change the way we view contemporary struggles in Palestine/Israel. What do critiques of capitalism have to tell us about the debate between two-state and one-state solutions? Do mobilizations which link inhabitants of the OPT, Palestinian citizens of Israel and the diaspora advance the conditions for national liberation, or transcend national contradictions altogether? What is the role of the left within Jewish Israeli society and how can coalitions be built without normalizing the oppressing status quo? What can Marxist approaches tell us about events in the cultural, legal and political spheres – from hunger strikes to land annexations, from speculative fiction to recent shifts in electoral politics? What would Marxist approaches have to tell us about new forms of power, such as Israeli control of digital space in the West Bank and Gaza Strip? And how would a socialist approach to the Palestinian refugee problem be different from other approaches?
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Abdo-Zubi, Nahla. 2011. Women in Israel: Race, Gender and Citizenship. London: Zed Books.
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Sabbagh-Khoury, Areej. 2022. “Tracing Settler Colonialism: A Genealogy of a Paradigm in the Sociology of Knowledge Production in Israel.” Politics & Society 50 (1): 44–83.
Sa’di, Ahmad H. 2021. “Israel’s Settler-Colonialism as a Global Security Paradigm.” Race & Class 63 (2): 21–37.
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