ONCE AGAIN, Gaza dominates the news coming out of Palestine, where the aftershocks of Hamas’s 2007 takeover continue to reverberate. With Hamas insisting on launching its rockets from the Strip, Israel’s response has been predictable but brutal: almost daily armed incursions and one major operation. Of the more than 130 Palestinians killed this quarter (against four Israelis), the vast majority were Gazans, including many civilians. Meanwhile, the impact of the tightening siege and closure—the subject of growing international humanitarian concern—is taking its toll, slowly but surely driving the population to the breaking point.
The centerpiece of the current JPS is also Gaza, but from a very different vantage point: Gaza’s archeological wealth, and more particularly an unprecedentedly ambitious multi-stage archeological project launched with European and UNESCO backing. Astonishingly, few people in the United States—or for that matter the West Bank, underscoring the extent of separation between the two territories—have even heard of the project, despite the fact that it was inaugurated with a major exhibition showcasing Gaza’s rich archaeological heritage that just closed at Geneva’s Museum of Art and Archaeology. Thanks to Fareed Armaly, the exhibition’s guest artist, JPS is the first to run his four fascinating interviews with the project’s leading players. As Armaly himself notes, the importance of the interviews goes beyond Gaza, for they raise controversial issues confronting archaeology everywhere in the third world: development needs versus preserving the past, private interests versus public patrimony, methods of archaeological extraction, the role of poverty, pressures of urbanization, and so on.
Also in this issue is an article addressing the economic dilemmas of a key segment of the Palestinian people: the 1.2 million who remain in Israel as citizens of the state. Economist Raja Khalidi, surveying the community after 60 years of failed integration, demonstrates how the Palestinian economies in Israel, the West Bank, and Gaza are all part of a single Israeli-dominated economic regime. Starting from this position, he calls for a new economic paradigm capable of charting a course for Palestinian development based on restructuring relations between the two unequal economies along lines laid out in the economic annex to the 1947 partition plan. The issue also includes a review essay on Israel’s other main disadvantaged (though far less so) community—the Mizrahim, or Jews of Middle Eastern origin—by Moshe Behar.
Turning to less current subjects, anthropologist Sandy Sufian takes an unusual approach to history in her article analyzing political cartoons in Arabic and Hebrew newspapers during the great Palestinian Revolt of 1936–39 to show the use of body images to convey stereotypes of the adversary. Finally, returning to the archeological theme from a historical perspective, JPS is reprinting as a special document an article that appeared in Ha’Aretz on the destruction in 1948 by the Israeli army of sites important to Palestine’s archaeology and history. These are casualties of war that often go overlooked.
—Rashid I. Khalidi