Marc Martorell Junyent – Informed Comment https://www.juancole.com Thoughts on the Middle East, History and Religion Sun, 19 Jun 2022 18:55:32 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.7.6 New Identity: Religion, Nationalism and Foreign Policy in Turkey (Review) https://www.juancole.com/2022/06/identity-religion-nationalism.html Mon, 20 Jun 2022 04:08:38 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=205297 Review of Filiz Çoban Oran, Religion, Nationalism and Foreign Policy: Discursive Construction of New Turkey’s Identity. London: I.B. Tauris, 2022.

Tuebingen (Special to Informed Comment) – In 2009, US President Barack Obama advised Europe to welcome what was then called Turkey into its fold and benefit from the country’s “diversity of ethnicity, tradition and faith.” In the current context, marked by the growing mutual disenchantment between the European Union and Türkiye (the country’s new name), and President Erdogan’s increasingly authoritarian practices, political analysts would be surprised to see a Western leader make a similar statement. But the late 2000s and early 2010s were a very different period for Türkiye. That was a time when “revolutions in the Middle East prompted many commentators to point to Turkey as a model for democracy in the region.”

In her book “Religion, Nationalism and Foreign Policy,” Filiz Çoban Oran, an Associate Professor of International Relations at Türkiye’s Canakkale Onsekiz Mart University, sheds light on this specific period. Resorting to discourse analysis, she studies the (re-)conceptualizations of Turkish state-identity during the second term in power (2007-2011) of the Islamist Justice and Development Party (AKP) with Recep Tayyip Erdogan as prime minister. On the one hand, Islamist nationalism – mainly represented by the AKP – constructed its discourse “on Ottoman history and Islamic heritage.” On the other hand, the secular Kemalists – mainly represented by the Republican People’s Party (CHP) – resorted to their decades-old nationalist discourse, based on “the Republican times, M. Kemal Ataturk’s principles and heritage.”[1]

The author deploys a smart discourse analytic strategy. She studies four Turkish newspapers of different ideological currents (from the Muslim conservative Zaman to the Kemalist Cumhuriyet) regarding three key moments within the AKP’s second term: Türkiye’s presidential election in 2007, the ‘Kurdish Initiative’ in 2009, and the changes in Türkiye’s foreign policy in 2010. At that time, the country was immersed in what Professor Joshua D. Hendrick called a “media war” between Islamist and secular elites.[2] By now, one can confidently say that the AKP emerged victorious from this war. In fact, it is a testament to Erdogan’s repression of press freedom during the last decade that a study like Çoban Oran’s, which traces the diverse voices of different Turkish daily newspapers, would be almost undoable nowadays. As Professor Jenny White has remarked, the AKP now “uses the largely cowed and co-opted media to target new enemies and scapegoats for its failures.”

“Religion, Nationalism and Foreign Policy” is based on the author’s doctoral research at the University of East Anglia, United Kingdom. The very academic context in which the research project was born is probably a bit too present in the final text of the book. The introduction to Türkiye’s modern history and the ensuing discussion of the discourse analytical approach of the researcher are certainly welcome, yet both parts could have been presented in a less extensive way. In addition, a more prominent role for the actual discourse analysis and its results would probably have resulted in making the book more appealing for readers beyond the academic community.


Filiz Çoban Oran, Religion, Nationalism and Foreign Policy: Discursive Construction of New Turkey’s Identity. Click here.

This being said, Çoban Oran presents key findings to understand the political struggle over the definition and future of Turkishness. As Professor Neophytos Loizides has remarked, “unlike its Ottoman predecessor, modern Turkey was apprehensive of expressions of ethnic particularism, and it aspired to full homogenization (Turkification) of its citizens.”[3] After Mustafa Kemal Atatürk established the Turkish republic in 1923, the official Kemalist discourse revolved around the idea of a nation that is “culturally and ethnically homogenous.”[4] Çoban Oran notes that Islam and the Kurds were seen as the “traditional others of Kemalist nation-state identity.”[5] This is why profound changes in the way the state – which after 2003 was in the hands of the Islamist AKP – related to religion and the Kurds produced a massive backlash from the Kemalist opposition. In 2007, Abdullah Gül was elected president of Türkiye by the country’s parliament, where the AKP held a majority. The fact that Gül’s wife wore a headscarf was seen as proof of the ‘Islamist danger’ looming over the Republic of Türkiye. A columnist for the Cumhuriyet newspaper stressed the need to “protect the modernity of the country, secular regime of the state and the unity of the nation.”[6] When interviewed, one of the organizers of demonstrations against Gül remarked: “We are the enlightened future of Turkey, the real children of the country.”[7] The Kemalist opposition was not only displaying a very obvious ‘we versus them’ mentality, but also a certain disregard to democracy. After all, it was the AKP’s landslide victory in the 2007 parliamentary elections – where they gained a majority of seats and 47% of the vote – that allowed the party to appoint Gül as president in Türkiye’s National Assembly. At the same time, it is important to note that the AKP’s rhetoric did little to ease tensions. As Çoban Oran explains, the AKP claimed that before they came to government “Turkey was governed by a Kemalist elitist minority who were not aware of the Turkish people’s demands and sentiments.”[8]

AKP’s outreach to Kurdish nationalists in the so-called ‘Kurdish Initiative’, launched in 2009, was another major cause of concern for the Kemalists. The ‘Kurdish Initiative’ revolved around the granting of cultural rights and some devolution of power to Türkiye’s Kurds, while aiming to reach an agreement with the Kurdish militant group Kurdistan Workers’ Party (PKK), which has been battling the central state since the 1980s. A columnist for the newspaper Sabah defended that the AKP was the only party “both for Turks and Kurds.”[9] Although the ‘Kurdish Initiative’ soon collapsed under the weight of renewed conflict in South-eastern Türkiye, the Kemalists saw this limited opening as the prelude to the country’s fragmentation.

After exploring the 2007 presidential election and the 2009 ‘Kurdish Initiative’, Çoban Oran delves into what she calls the “axis shift in Turkish foreign policy,” that is, the AKP’s increasing engagement with the Middle East in its foreign policy. Even though it is obvious that Türkiye’s foreign policy underwent a significant change around 2010, it is not clear why the author chooses this particular year as a reference point. It might be related to the May 2010 breakoff in Turkish-Israeli diplomatic ties after the Mavi Marmara incident, in which Israeli commandos killed Turkish nationals attempting to deliver aid to Gaza. The confrontation followed the verbal clash between Erdogan and Israeli President Shimon Peres at the Davos World Economic Forum the previous year. The changes in Türkiye’s foreign policy implied a closer interaction with the Arab world, something that drew the ire of the Kemalists. Whereas then foreign minister Ahmet Davutoglu presented his ‘Strategic Depth’ doctrine as an embrace of Türkiye’s key position at the crossroads of civilizations and inheritor of the Ottoman Empire’s legacy, a columnist for Cumhurriyet interpreted the changes as “leaving Ataturk’s honourable foreign policy.”[10] The opposition to the AKP government’s foreign policy often manifested itself in anti-Arab feelings. Thus, another columnist for the same newspaper expressed his resistance to the AKP’s intention “to transform ‘beautiful Istanbul into Arabia.’”[11]

Çoban Oran’s analysis finds its chronological end in the early 2010s. And Türkiye has changed in many aspects since then. The Turkish economy, which was growing at an annual rate of 11% in 2011, is now in deep crisis. Davutoglu, Erdogan’s foreign and then prime minister, founded the Future Party in 2019 and is now siding with the Nation Alliance that will try to defeat the AKP in the next presidential and parliamentary elections, which will most likely take place in 2023. Gül also parted ways with AKP after the end of his presidential mandate in 2014. Anti-Arab xenophobia has spread, permeating the AKP’s electoral base. Erdogan appears to be aware that his initial welcoming policy towards Syrian refugees could imply considerable electoral costs this time. With this in mind, he has recently been pressing for the return of Syrian refugees living in Türkiye to their home country, however unsafe such a return would be. As we have seen, key political heavyweights from the Islamist camp such as Davutoglu and Gül have deserted to the opposition forces. This, together with Erdogan’s move to team up with the ultra-nationalist Nationalist Action Party (MHP) in the People’s Alliance since the 2018 presidential election, might have attenuated the salience of the cleavages around Türkiye’s state-identity identified in “Religion, Nationalism and Foreign Policy.” Nevertheless, it would be unwise to disregard Çoban Oran’s main findings. She concludes that her research shows that the power struggle in Türkiye is about “more than the secular-Islamic dichotomy; it is the clash of different national imaginations.”[12] It is true that this clash might be less visible today that it was a decade ago, but Çoban Oran’s conclusion continues to hold in the present day.


[1] Filiz Çoban Oran, Religion, Nationalism and Foreign Policy: Discursive Construction of New Turkey’s Identity (London: I.B. Tauris, 2022), p. 141.

[2] Joshua D. Hendrick, “Media Wars and the Gülen Factor in the New Turkey,” Middle East Report Information Project (MERIP), no. 260 (2011): 43-44.

[3] Neophytos G. Loizides, “State Ideology and the Kurds in Turkey,” Middle Eastern Studies 46, no. 4 (2010): 516.

[4] Marcie J. Patton, “Turkey’s Tug of War,” Middle East Report Information Project (MERIP) no. 239 (2006): 42.

[5] Çoban Oran, Religion, Nationalism and Foreign Policy: Discursive Construction of New Turkey’s Identity, p. 72.

[6] Ibid., p. 93.

[7] Ibid., p. 94.

[8] Ibid., p. 90.

[9] Ibid., p. 114.

[10] Ibid., p. 123.

[11] Ibid., p. 126.

[12] Ibid., p. 140.

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The Geopolitics and Diplomacy of US–Iran Relations by Monshipouri – Review https://www.juancole.com/2022/05/geopolitics-diplomacy-monshipouri.html Mon, 23 May 2022 04:08:21 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=204786 Book Review – Mahmood Monshipouri, In the Shadow of Mistrust: (London: Hurst and Co., 2022).

Bonn (Special to Informed Comment) – Sixteen months have passed since the inauguration of Joseph Biden as the 46th President of the United States. As of now, negotiations to revive the agreement signed in July 2015 between the members of the UN Security Council plus Germany and Iran to limit Tehran’s nuclear program — a deal formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) — appear to be in a stalemate.[1] According to informed accounts, the main point of contention is the US designation of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC), the Iranian military force officially tasked with guarding the Islamic Revolution, as a Foreign Terrorist Organization (FTO).[2] Whereas Tehran insists that the FTO designation must be removed, Washington does not seem to be prepared to take this step.


Mahmood Monshipouri, In the Shadow of Mistrust: The Geopolitics and Diplomacy of US-Iran Relations. Click here.

There is nothing exceptional in the climate of tension that currently prevails between the United States and Iran. After all, the adversarial atmosphere between the two countries has been a constant feature of global politics since the 1978-79 Iranian revolution. This notwithstanding, there were expectations that the Biden administration would soon return to the JCPOA or some variation of the initial agreement, thus undoing former US President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from the nuclear deal in May 2018. Biden had not only occupied the position of vice-president in the Obama administration that signed the JCPOA, but had also strongly criticized Trump’s Iran policy on the campaign trail.

In order to understand why diplomacy between the United States and Iran is extremely complex, one needs to move beyond the contemporary news cycle and approach the issue from a historical viewpoint, covering the more than four decades that have passed since the 1978-79 Iranian revolution. This is the conviction behind the book “In the Shadow of Mistrust: The Geopolitics and Diplomacy of US–Iran Relations,” the latest work by Mahmood Monshipouri, Professor and Chair of International Relations at San Francisco State University.

Monshipouri’s work is very critical of US foreign policy towards Iran. To be sure, “the history of the last forty years demonstrates that the authorities of the Islamic Republic have vigorously restricted human rights.”[3] Washington’s response, however, has too often been politicized and rooted in geopolitical interests. Even more problematically, draconian sanctions imposed by the US on Iran “have dramatically undercut the voices of globalization and political moderation”, as they have contributed to putting the country on the defensive.[4] Ironically enough, US sanctions have benefited the vested interests of the small but extremely powerful group Monshipouri figuratively describes as “the revolutionary gerontocracy.”[5] According to the author’s assessment, US policy towards Iran should better follow “a holistic approach to security that places human rights on an equal footing with other strategic issues.”[6]

Monshipouri explains that the United States has too often failed to understand the key drivers of Iran’s international relations, to an important extent because it “frequently assumed that Iran’s foreign policy is driven by ideology and ideology alone”.[7] In its interactions with the Middle East, the Islamic Republic has capitalized on its Shi’ite identity on multiple occasions, such as in Iraq after the 2003 US invasion. At the same time, when geopolitical interests do not overlap with principles of Islamic ideology and solidarity, ideational components have normally taken a back seat to security and economic considerations. As an example the author refers to Tehran’s siding with Armenia over Azerbaijan in the 2020 Nagorno-Karabakh War. Of note, around 65% of Azeris are Shi’ite Muslims and, consequently, a foreign policy only based on religious ideology would have dictated support for Baku. Monshipouri’s arguments, although necessary, are not necessarily new. They are in line, for instance, with those of Kayhan Barzegar, Director of the Center for Middle East Strategic Studies in Tehran. As Barzegar notes, although Iran’s interactions with the world can oftentimes be deeply imbued with ideology, the logic of Tehran’s foreign policy decision-making process always ensures a certain “return to pragmatism.”[8]

Monshipouri intelligently puts to task the much-touted notion that Tehran and Riyadh are engaged in an ongoing military buildup. The author describes the situation as “a one sided arms buildup in which Saudi Arabia has out-spent Iran by colossal amounts.”[9] Iran has sought to confront the Saudis by resorting to asymmetric warfare and alliances with non-state actors but this does not obscure the fact that Tehran cannot compete with Riyadh when it comes to military spending. This is even more the case when considering the recent findings of Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, founder and CEO of the Bourse & Bazaar Foundation. Batmanghelidj has shown that the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (SIPRI), which compiles the most authoritative database of national military expenditures, has vastly overestimated Iran’s military budget for years due to a mistake in the conversion rate from Iranian rials to US dollars.[10]

“In the Shadow of Mistrust” presents Iran as being politically closer to China than some experts on bilateral relations between both countries would suggest. The author writes that Iran, especially after Trump’s withdrawal from the JCPOA, “has the potential to become a Chinese client state of sorts.”[11] Surprisingly enough, Monshipouri’s take on Iran-China relations does not differ so much from that of US neo-conservative pundits, who warn about the dangers of “a growing alignment between Beijing and Tehran.”[12]

This contrasts with the much more convincing assessment of Jacopo Scita, doctoral fellow at the School of Government and International Affairs at Durham University and an expert on China-Iran relations. Scita assesses that “it is unlikely that the relationship [between China and Iran] will move significantly forward from the status quo.”[13] He explains that bilateral relations are relatively weak “in terms of policy coordination and financial integration, which are the crucial factors to enhance the quality of the relationship.[14]

Monshipouri has written a book which will likely appear to most readers as moving too often back and forth chronologically as well as thematically. This weakness notwithstanding, “In the Shadow of Mistrust” will be a useful resource for those who seek to better understand the historical roots of current tensions between Iran and the United States as well as the challenges laying ahead on the road to diplomatic re-engagement. As the author explains, the failure to reach a deal “is not an option.” At the same time, “it is critically important to realize that Iran’s nuclear program is a manageable—not insolvable—problem.”[15]


[1] Maziar Motamedi, “Iran Confirms EU Envoy Visit to Save Stalled Nuclear Deal Talks,” Al-Jazeera, July 5, 2022, https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2022/5/7/iran-confirms-eu-envoy-visit-to-save-stalled-nuclear-deal-talks.

[2] Laura Rozen, “U.S. on Iran Deal Deadlock: ‘We Know the Status Quo Can’t Endure for Long,’” Diplomatic (Substack Newsletter), June 5, 2022, https://diplomatic.substack.com/p/us-on-iran-deal-deadlock-we-know?s=r.

[3] Mahmood Monshipouri, In the Shadow of Mistrust: The Geopolitics and Diplomacy of US–Iran Relations (London: Hurst and Co., 2022), p. 94.

[4] Ibid., p. 91.

[5] Ibid., p. 129.

[6] Ibid., p. 94.

[7] Ibid., p. 256.

[8] Kayhan Barzegar, “Iran’s Foreign Policy Strategy after Saddam,” The Washington Quarterly 33, no. 1 (2010): 174. Retrieved from https://doi.org/10.1080/01636600903430665.

[9] Monshipouri, In the Shadow of Mistrust: The Geopolitics and Diplomacy of US–Iran Relations, p. 258.

[10] Esfandyar Batmanghelidj, “SIPRI Has Overstated Iran’s Military Spending For Years,” Bourse and Bazaar, May 5, 2022, https://www.bourseandbazaar.com/articles/2022/5/3/sipri-has-overstated-irans-military-spending-for-years.

[11] Monshipouri, In the Shadow of Mistrust: The Geopolitics and Diplomacy of US–Iran Relations, p. 267.

[12] Bradley Bowman and Zane Zovak, “Biden Can No Longer Ignore Growing Iran-China Ties,” Foreign Policy, January 13, 2022, https://foreignpolicy.com/2022/01/13/iran-china-biden-gulf-security-military/#.

[13] Jacopo Scita, “China-Iran Relations: A Low-Quality Comprehensive Strategic Partnership,” in Routledge Handbook On China–Middle East Relations, edited by Jonathan Fulton (London: Routledge, 2021), p. 176. Retireved from https://www.taylorfrancis.com/chapters/edit/10.4324/9781003034520-14/china%E2%80%93iran-relations-jacopo-scita?context=ubx&refId=1640e395-7ac6-4b5b-9f37-f828baed3bf8.

[14] Ibid., p. 172.

[15] Monshipouri, In the Shadow of Mistrust: The Geopolitics and Diplomacy of US–Iran Relations, p. 235.

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Azmi Bishara, “Palestine: Matters of Truth and Justice” – Review https://www.juancole.com/2022/04/bishara-palestine-matters.html Wed, 27 Apr 2022 04:08:29 +0000 https://www.juancole.com/?p=204319 Tübingen (Special to Informed Comment) –

Book Review – Azmi Bishara, Palestine: Matters of Truth and Justice. London: Hurst and Co., 2022.

2021 saw Benjamin Netanyahu and Donald Trump leave power in Israel and the United States, being replaced by Naftali Bennett and Joseph Biden. This, however, has not led to any significant improvement in Palestinians’ lives. Two aspects are key to understand why this has not been the case.

Firstly, Bennet is at least as radical as Netanyahu when it comes to his denial of essential rights to the Palestinians. In his first interview with international media after becoming Prime Minister in 2021, Bennett told The New York Times that he would expand West Bank settlements and discarded the possibility of reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians. Meanwhile, if we turn our view to Washington, we cannot fail to observe that the new Biden administration remained silent during the last major outbreak of violence in the Gaza Strip in May 2021, which left more than 250 Palestinians dead and 13 people killed in Israel.

Secondly, the Netanyahu-Trump partnership was histrionic in its open display of reciprocal affection but, seen in a historical context, was only a culmination of a decades-long process by which Washington had drawn closer and closer to Israel’s positions on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas may have needed the presentation of Trump’s so-called ‘Deal of the Century’ for him to make clear that the US cannot be “the sole mediator” in the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but this had been obvious to many observers for a very long time.

One of these insightful analysts of Palestinian politics who had alerted about the risks of relying on the US as a mediator is Azmi Bishara, an Arab Israeli scholar who holds the position of General Director of the Arab Center for Research and Policy Studies. In fact, Bishara criticizes in his new book, Palestine: Matters of Truth and Justice”, that in the 1970s both Arab regimes and the Palestinian Liberation Organization (PLO) accepted “mediation rooted in international power balances, which effectively translates into exclusive dependence on US foreign policy.” (p.132).[1]


Azmi Bishara, Palestine:
Matters of Truth and Justice
Click Here

Bishara’s latest work combines a historical overview of the Israeli- Palestinian conflict with the author’s analytical reflections. The Arab scholar has extensive experience in Israeli politics, having served as a member of the Israeli parliament, the Knesset, for over a decade. Bishara was behind the foundation of the Balad party in 1995, which became a platform defending the rights of Arab Israelis and greater democratic freedoms. Outspoken in his criticism of successive Israeli governments, Bishara was brought to court in Israel in 2002 for allegedly supporting Hezbollah.

After he visited Syria and Lebanon in 2005, he was accused of “assistance to the enemy during war.” Fearing an unfair trial and the gravity of the charge leveled against him (which may carry the death penalty) he handed in his resignation as a Knesset MP at the Israeli embassy in Cairo and has lived abroad ever since.

Bishara defines the Nakba as “a rupture in modern Palestinian history”, adding to this assertion that “there is no national Palestinian political history that is not modern.” (p. 48)[2] The author’s historical narrative pays also particular attention to the 1967 War, which he argues should not be understood as a pre-emptive conflict initiated by Israel. Although “the provocative Egyptian rhetoric generated confusion” (p. 111), Bishara concurs with military historian Roland Popp’s conclusion that “the Israeli leadership sought to preempt a diplomatic solution to the crisis, instead opting for a military confrontation the outcome of which few doubted.”[3]

The historical periods Bishara addresses in a least convincing way are the First (1987-93) and Second (2000-2005) Intifadas. The Arab scholar convincingly explains that political gains arose from the Palestinian uprisings, such as the reinstatement of the PLO after the First Intifada. At the same time, nevertheless, he appears to under-estimate the economic costs of the intifadas for the Palestinians. With the support of graphs, Bishara delves into the considerable economic price Israel had to pay for the intifadas in terms of Gross Domestic Product (GDP) per capita or foreign investment. But the toll on economic development for Palestinians was much higher, in part because of the diverging departure points.

In the mid-1990s, the GDP per capita in the West Bank was 10% that of Israel, with Gaza featuring an even lower 5% – not that there has been any significant change in the years since, as the GDP per capita in Israel is currently over 44,000 US dollars whereas the figure for the West Bank and Gaza barely overcomes the 3,000-mark. During the second intifada, Israel did indeed experience an economic downturn, but its extent pales in comparison with that Palestinians had to go through. As economist Salem Ajluni documents, during the 2000-2002 period the Palestinian unemployment rate quadrupled and the poverty rate among Palestinians increased by a factor of 3.[4]

Bishara’s historical exploration of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is highly instructive, but it is certainly when discussing current events that the Arab scholar’s analytical skills are at their sharpest. In “Palestine: Matters of Truth and Justice”, the reader will find a blow-by-blow dissection of Trump’s so-called ‘Deal of the Century’. Bishara easily identifies the key problematic at the core of the project: “The Israeli narrative is not distinguished or identified as such, since for the authors of this document, it is the default narrative, the rule to which everything else is an exception.” (p. 209)[5]

The author accurately notes that the document outlining the Trump deal appears to have been originated in the world of real estate development. This is no surprise considering the former president’s past career and his transactional approach to internal and foreign politics. The Palestinians, however, were not even offered a real deal in which there was something significant to be gained, but “a formalization of the status quo in the framework of a nominal ‘state’.” (p. 221)[6]

“Palestine: Matters of Truth and Justice” hardly dwells on Bishara’s personal experience as a parliamentarian. This notwithstanding, the attentive reader who consults the footnotes will learn about the author’s encounters with the absurdity of occupation and Israel’s two-tiered legal system in his role as political representative. Bishara explains how, at the turn of the 21st century, he reached out to then Israeli interior minister Anatoly Shcharansky to advocate for a group of Arab Jerusalemite academicians who had had their residency rights revoked after not having been able to return to Jerusalem for three consecutive years. Shcharansky, a Soviet dissident who was granted the opportunity to emigrate to Israel in 1986 because of his Jewishness, did not appear to have much understanding for the plight of the Palestinians who were denied the possibility of visiting their families in their hometown.

The reader will not find an optimistic assessment of Palestine’s future in Bishara’s book. This is easily understandable considering the ongoing Palestinian infighting, the recurrence of open conflict in Gaza, the expansion of settlements, and the shift to the right in Israeli politics. Recent developments in the international realm are also not auspicious, namely the ‘normalization’ of diplomatic relations between some Arab states (so far, the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Sudan, and Morocco) and Israel.

In the face of all these changes, Bishara has remained constant in his preferred way forward for Palestine. In 1995, he defended the idea of implanting in both Palestinian and Israeli democratic forces “bi-nationalist values over narrowly nationalist values.”[7] In his latest book, the Arab scholar argues that, although its chances of materialization are slim, “a single democratic bi-national state is the model that best fulfils Palestinian national and civil rights while offering a democratic vision for Jewish Israelis.” (pp. 259-60)[8]

“Palestine: Matters of Truth and Justice” will satisfy those who read it as an introductory volume to the history and politics of Palestine while also being of interest to readers more acquainted with the topics at discussion. It is the result of Bishara’s analytical talent and his long-time experience as both an academic and political representative.


[1] Bishara, Azmi. Palestine: Matters of Truth and Justice (London: Hurst and Co., 2022), p. 132.

[2] Bishara, Palestine: Matters of Truth and Justice, p. 48.

[3] Ibid., p. 111; Popp, Roland. “Stumbling Decidedly into the Six-Day War.” Middle East Journal 60, no. 2 (2006): 308. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/4330250.

[4] Ajluni, Salem. “The Palestinian Economy and the Second Intifada.” Journal of Palestine Studies 32, no. 3 (2003): 69. Retrieved from https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.1525/jps.2003.32.3.64.

[5] Bishara, Palestine: Matters of Truth and Justice, p. 209.

[6] Ibid., p. 221.

[7] Usher, Graham. “Bantustanisation or Bi-Nationalism?: An Interview with Azmi Bishara.” Race & Class 37, no. 2 (1995): 49. Retrieved from https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/030639689503700205.

[8] Bishara, Palestine: Matters of Truth and Justice, pp. 259-60.

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