REVIEWS & MEDIA
Noura Erakat's "Justice for Some: Law and the Question of Palestine brings clarity to the occupation"
This book narrates the Palestinian struggle for freedom as told through the relationship between international law and politics during five critical junctures between 1917-2017. It argues that international law is politics and to serve an emancipatory function it must be wielded in the sophisticated service of a political program that challenges the geopolitical structure sustaining an oppressive status quo. The book carries this argument by exploring how the balance of geopolitical power, the historical context, and the strategic deployment of law have shaped the content and application of international law to both advance and blunt Israeli as well as Palestinian interests. While international law has been the site of resistance and oppression, on balance, it has done more to advance Israel’s interests due to the country’s relative power and its correlate appreciation of the law’s utility. These entwinements of law and politics over one-hundred years provide a history of the present by examining how each of the five junctures structured diplomatic relations around, as well as conceptual frameworks about, the Palestinian struggle for freedom. In the present context of the death of the two-state solution and the reality of Israel’s singular jurisdiction across Israel and the Palestinian Territories, the book traces how a sovereignty framework has become a trap. While a rights-based approach may overcome this trap, it remains inadequate for lacking a political program for decolonization. The book culminates in offering counterintuitive approaches to transcend the current impasse in the Question of Palestine.
Justice in the Question of Palestine is often framed as a question of law. Yet none of the Israel-Palestinian conflict's most vexing challenges have been resolved by judicial intervention. Occupation law has failed to stem Israel's settlement enterprise. Laws of war have permitted killing and destruction during Israel's military offensives in the Gaza Strip. The Oslo Accord's two-state solution is now dead letter.
Justice for Some offers a new approach to understanding the Palestinian struggle for freedom, told through the power and control of international law. Focusing on key junctures—from the Balfour Declaration in 1917 to present-day wars in Gaza—Noura Erakat shows how the strategic deployment of law has shaped current conditions. Over the past century, the law has done more to advance Israel's interests than the Palestinians'. But, Erakat argues, this outcome was never inevitable.
Law is politics, and its meaning and application depend on the political intervention of states and people alike. Within the law, change is possible. International law can serve the cause of freedom when it is mobilized in support of a political movement. Presenting the promise and risk of international law, Justice for Some calls for renewed action and attention to the Question of Palestine.
"Noura Erakat's incisive exploration of the role of law in shaping the development of Israel/Palestine reveals the consistent genuflection of international legal institutions to Israel's reliance on well-established colonial practices. She also forcefully argues that the skillful use of international law as a tool of struggle can be generative of hope and possibility—for Palestine and the world. Justice for Some is precisely the book we need at this time."
—Angela Y. Davis, author of Freedom Is a Constant Struggle: Ferguson, Palestine, and the Foundations of a Movement
"A radical rethinking of the role of law and legal advocacy in the struggle for Palestinian rights. Noura Erakat tells how a refugee problem became a national liberation movement, and the tragic story of how initiative and momentum were squandered after Oslo. Brilliant, inspiring, coldly realistic—and hopeful."
—Duncan Kennedy, Carter Professor of General Jurisprudence Emeritus, Harvard Law School
"Without any doubt, Justice for Some is the best book on the law and politics of the Palestine/Israel struggle—sophisticated, learned, humane, and creative. Noura Erakat makes a profound contribution to our general understanding of the paradoxical role of law in the contemporary world."
—Richard Falk, Former UN Special Rapporteur for Palestine, author of Palestine's Horizon: Toward a Just Peace
"Anyone wondering how and why international law has failed so miserably to curb Israeli violations in Palestine and the deleterious effect this has had on the law itself should read this book. Noura Erakat communicates...with the skill of a lawyer and the passion of an activist. Justice for Some is both enriching and inspiring."
—Raja Shehadeh, founder of Al-Haq, author of Where the Line Is Drawn: A Tale of Crossings, Friendships, and Fifty Years of Occupation in Israel-Palestine
"Through a brilliant and bracing analysis of the Palestine question and settler colonialism, Noura Erakat offers a compelling story of how the antinomies of structure and indeterminacy shaped international law and its possibilities. Justice for Some is a vital lens into movement lawyering on the international plane. At once tragic and inspiring, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in decolonization and the politics of international law."
—Vasuki Nesiah, New York University, founding member of Third World Approaches to International Law (TWAIL)
"Noura Erakat brings a sophisticated understanding of the role of international law over the last century in the Question of Palestine. This brilliant book will be of great interest to anyone seeking to understand why the outcome, thus far, to the disposition of the Palestine problem has not been a just one."
—Rashid Khalidi, author of The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: Settler-Colonial Conquest and Resistance, 1917-2017