Jadaliyya interviews Keith P. Feldman
Jadaliyya (J): What made you write this book?
Keith P. Feldman (KF): Edward Said once quipped that in the United States, Israel and Palestine are in so many ways “local, not foreign policy, matters.” I began research for this book in order to understand how this came to be so. Of course, in a certain sense, the answer to such a question is overdetermined by the proliferation of popular, political, and official state-authorized discourse in the US about this “special relationship.” Israel and Palestine matter intimately in the United States because of powerful lobbying interests, regional strategic interests, shared national security technologies, and a Judeo-Christian framing of Israel’s timeless promise. The Jewish character of Israel matters because of the European catastrophe of World War II, and Palestinians matter insofar as they are called upon to be “partners in peace."
Yet this kind of common sense formulation of the US-Israel-Palestine entanglement overshadows a dynamic cultural history, one that in many ways both precedes and exceeds its commonsensical contours. Fierce debates, critical contestations, shifting grounds, changing identifications: by carefully examining culture work, and the dynamic contexts in which such culture work was produced and circulated, I surface a different kind of story, one that emerges out of a rich counter-archive of critique, dissent, and contestation.