Over the years tons of ink have been expended on the seemingly interminable issue of the Palestinians and Israel. The wonderful Educational Bookshop in East Jerusalem is filled from floor to ceiling with books, films and merchandise on the Palestinians and their struggles, while Steimatsky’s in West Jerusalem offers as much (but less critical) material on Israel. The Association for Israel Studies lists thirteen affiliated institutes and departments of Israel Studies; there are eight Institutes of Palestine Studies in the world. Plus journals specializing in Palestine and Israel, dozens of international conferences on specific issues around Israel and Palestine and thousands of articles in a wide variety of journals. What else could be added to the analysis? What else could significantly alter how we view “the conflict”?
Photo Source Charity Organisation | CC BY 2.0
In the end, analysis matters. Seemingly arcane discussions of issues in academic language impenetrable to most readers and outside the activist discourse at time spawn ways of conceiving the political situation that open up new possibilities of reaching a political settlement while eliminating others. Such is the power of settler colonialism, a relatively recent focus of study, maybe twenty years old. Although totally absent from the considerable public discourse and political debate (even as a term “settler colonialism” is too academic and awkward to integrate into popular discussion), it clarifies more than any other term (“occupation,” for instance) the situation in the entirety of Israel/Palestine while pointing the way to decolonization, the only just and feasible political resolution.