Exile and Return: Predicaments of Palestinians and Jews is a bold attempt to understand constructively and build upon the terrible irony of two peoples, each with a searing memory of displacement and exile, struggling for a return to a land each remembers, each claims, and from which each has sought to exclude the other.
The Israeli, Palestinian, and American contributors to this volume consider the catastrophic failure of the Oslo peace process, the years of bloody violence that ensued, and a renewed awareness of the centrality of the Palestinian refugee question and the issues of demography and justice it raises with respect to any peace settlement. They explore the political meaning of the past delivered into the present by Palestinians whose personal and collective lives were forever transformed by the Nakba (catastrophe) of 1948, and by Israeli Jews whose sense of their own security and identity has been inseparably bound to centuries of persecution, culminating in the Holocaust, and a vividly constructed image as a people whose suffering arose from its exile from the Land of Israel twenty centuries ago.
The contributors' work is honest and often as inspiring as it is provocative. This volume stands as a major contribution to the construction of a new intellectual infrastructure for decisive thinking about the refugee question, about the entire notion of the right of return (whether in Zionism or in Palestinian nationalism), and about the unavoidable obstacles and unappreciated opportunities that confront peacemakers. It offers formulas, categories, and approaches that can be used by both Palestinian and Israeli leaders to convince their peoples that the agreement being sought will destroy neither the state that Israeli Jews have built nor the deep yearnings for vindication and return that lie at the emotional core of the Palestinian struggle.
The authors are leading scholars able to take full advantage of the flood of new work on these issues that the opening of various key archives has made possible. Their contributions here signal a shift toward a kind of reconciliation that is informed by the past, present, and future.
Contributors: Elazar Barkan, Michael R. Fischbach, Sari Hanafi, Amal Jamal, Laleh Khalili, Ze'ev Khanin, Ann M. Lesch, Ian S. Lustick, Ilan Pappe, Elie Podeh, Nadim N. Rouhana, Gershon Shafir, Yehouda Shenhav, Salim Tamari.