AS A WAVE of revolution, unrest and upheaval sweeps slowly across the Arab world, one question has arisen repeatedly. This is the place of the question of Palestine in these ongoing tectonic shifts in the political map of the region. It has long been an article of faith for partisans of the status quo from which Israel benefits that this is an unimportant question, artificially sustained by corrupt unpopular regimes in order to distract their oppressed citizens. In her article on the place of the Palestine question in Egypt’s revolutionary upheaval, Reem Abou-El-Fadl shows that in the case of Egypt the political forces that made the revolution (and those that have emerged in its aftermath) have long been deeply involved with the cause of solidarity with the Palestinians and opposition to the regime’s policy of normalization with Israel. This important article highlights how central the question of Palestine and Israel is in Egypt, in spite of the overwhelming emphasis on domestic factors since the January 2011 revolution.
Three other articles in the current issue of the Journal highlight the response of Palestinians to aspects of their varied circumstances, in Syria, in the Jenin refugee camp, and in the Gaza Strip. Anaheed al-Hardan bases herself on extensive fieldwork to trace the growth of the Right of Return Movement among the Palestinian refugee population of Syria. While subject to government oversight, this community is nonetheless able to operate within a limited sphere of autonomy. Linda Tabar shows how the rebuilding of the Jenin refugee camp by UNRWA in the wake of its destruction by Israeli occupation forces in 2002 has been driven by a specific paradigm that she argues undermines the community’s autonomy, and is influenced by a neo-liberal paradigm. Finally, Helga Tawil-Souri’s article on the high-tech “enclosure” of Gaza illustrates how the electronic sphere serves as part of the mechanisms employed in the siege of the Gaza Strip. A fourth contribution, field-notes by Elena Hogan, compares differences and similarities between Israel’s occupation regime in Jerusalem and its maintenance of control from a distance over the Gaza Strip.
In an essay, Avi Shlaim returns to the topic of one of his most acclaimed books to reflect on the enduring usefulness of Ze’ev Jabotinsky’s theory of the “Iron Wall” for understanding Israel’s behavior towards the Arabs, whether under the Likud heirs of his Zionist Revisionist ideology or under Labor Party leaders. Shlaim points out that with one exception all of these Israeli leaders have paid little attention to important aspects of Jabotinsky’s thinking, stressing instead only its emphasis on naked power and unilateralism.
With this issue, the Journal is beginning the migration of sections of the important back matter to an online format on the IPS website, as the Chronology is moved there. Our hope is that this will make this section easier to use and accessible to a larger number of people, while freeing up space in the Journal for other features. As this process develops, our hope is to put online earlier parts of these sections, ideally in a searchable format, making them an even more valuable tool for readers and researchers.
—Rashid I. Khalidi