Israel has dramatically escalated the scope of its aerial assault in Gaza this week, hitting hundreds of supposed Hamas targets as the Palestinian death toll continues to rise. A Gaza health ministry spokesman said two Palestinians were killed and three injured in an Israeli air strike on Friday that brought the total death toll so far to 100. This renewed violence suggests a bleak future for Palestinians and Israelis.
Behind this latest conflict lie long-standing historical issues – an occupation which makes peace impossible for both Israelis and Palestinians.
Israeli historian Ilan Pappe places Zionism under an uncompromising lens in his latest book The Idea of Israel. He was interviewed on BBC HARDtalk on why he believes Israel is founded on a deliberate programme of ethnic cleansing.
Philosopher and professor in rhetoric at the University of California (Berkeley), Judith Butler, born in 1956, made her name in the English-speaking academic world a quarter of a century ago with the publication of her Gender Trouble. Feminism and the Subversion of Identity. This complex work, which has now become a classic, has nothing in common with the ‘gender theory’ recently invented by the opponents of gay marriage.
Far from having invented gender studies, which have been taught in American universities since the early 1960s and which sought to distinguish anatomical sex from socially or psychically constructed gender identities, Judith Butler was rather more of an iconoclastic heir to them. Basing herself on the French thought of the 1970s – from Simone de Beauvoir to Jacques Lacan – in her 1990 work she gave due focus to life on the ‘border lines’, arguing that sexual difference is always fluid and that transsexuality (the conviction that one belongs to another sex), for example, could be a way of subverting the established order and refusing the biological norm. Butler had herself very early in life found herself in a situation outside the norm, lacking in borders, on account of her identity as a Jewish woman raised as a Jew but critical of the policies of the State of Israel.