Edward Said and Intellectual Resistance

Refusing the Politics of Accommodation


In an interview in the summer of 2000 concerning the 1947–1948 Palestinian dispossession at the hands of the yet-to-be-formed Israeli Defense Forces in the form of the Haganah and the Irgun (IZL), Ha’aretz’s Ari Shavit and the famed cultural critic Edward Said reflected on the possibilities of an Israeli-Palestinian binational state, something Said had advocated for quite some time— long before the failure of the Oslo Accords and Camp David II. This interview took place just a few months before the outbreak of violence that began the Second Intifada in the occupied territories, a possible reaction to the failure of Camp David II talks where, brought together by then-president Bill Clinton, Ehud Barak had supposedly offered Arafat (in exchange for the Palestinian recognition of “Israel’s right to exist as a Jewish state”) nearly 80 percent of the West Bank for a viable Palestinian state, a deal of a lifetime. Many, however, considered the offer a call for Palestinian submission to a Bantustan arrangement reminiscent of the South African national territories.1 As he came to fully understand Said’s nuanced position, which clearly placed reconciliation between the Israelis and the Palestinians ahead of revenge or retribution for either group’s historical grievances and the identification of a mutual interest in peace and coexistence in a future binational state before the assignment of blame, Shavit proclaimed, “You sound very Jewish.”


Central Intelligence Agency National Liberation Jewish Question Palestine Liberation Organization Israeli Occupation 
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    Gauri Viswanathan, ed., Power, Politics, and Culture: Interviews with Edward W. Said (New York: Pantheons, 2001), p. 458.Google Scholar
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© Matthew Abraham 2014

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