Humanism, Scholarship, and Politics: Writing on the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
This essay discusses the role of the intellectual in writing on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, exploring the relationship between scholarship and politics and the writer’s moral and political responsibility. A personal account based both on the literature and on the author's two decades of experience researching and writing on Palestinian-Israeli issues, the essay addresses three recurring themes—objectivity and partisanship, process, and dissent. In so doing, it challenges the essentialist positions that argue against the role of individual judgment and subjectivity in the conduct of research, especially on politically sensitive issues. The essay addresses the critical tasks of the humanist scholar who writes on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the ways in which scholarship can play both a pedagogical and moral role.
SARA ROY, a senior research scholar at Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies, is the author of more than 100 publications on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, including The Gaza Strip: The Political Economy of De-development (IPS, 1995, 2001, revised third edition forthcoming). The current essay is adapted from the preface of her latest book, a collection of her selected works, entitled Failing Peace: Gaza and the Palestinian-Israeli Conflict (Pluto Press, 2007).