Palestine Is Throwing a Party and the Whole World Is Invited: Capital and State Building in the West Bank
In 2008, Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad invited international investors to the first-ever Palestine Investment Conference, which was designed to jump-start the process of integrating Palestine into the global economy. As Fayyad described the conference, Palestine is “throwing a party, and the whole world is invited.” In this book Kareem Rabie examines how the conference and Fayyad's rhetoric represented a wider shift in economic and political practice in ways that oriented state-scale Palestinian politics toward neoliberal globalization rather than a diplomatic two-state solution. Rabie demonstrates that private firms, international aid organizations, and the Palestinian government in the West Bank focused on large-scale private housing development in an effort toward state-scale economic stability and market building. This approach reflected the belief that a thriving private economy would lead to a free and functioning Palestinian state. Yet, as Rabie contends, these investment-based policies have maintained the status quo of occupation and Palestine's subordinate and suspended political and economic relationship with Israel.
“Drawing on his exceptional knowledge and understanding of Palestine, along with a considerable amount of original, innovative, and detailed fieldwork, Kareem Rabie presents thought-provoking insights on the question of urbanism in Palestine. This extremely interesting study makes an important contribution.”―Adam Hanieh, author of, Money, Markets, and Monarchies: The Gulf Cooperation Council and the Political Economy of the Contemporary Middle East
"[A] detailed, often dense but intellectually penetrating look at how that conference heralded a significant change in both economic and political strategy."―Ian Black, Tel Aviv Review of Books
"The capitalist concept of Palestine, despite its exclusion, is part of the normalised state-building process, which in turn normalises dealings with Israel. Rabie's book is a pragmatic approach that does not necessarily condone the alteration of Palestinian territory, but takes a dispassionate look at the facts."―Ramona Wadi, Middle East Monitor
"By applying the analytic of settler colonialism without essentializing indigenous identity, and by theorizing the effects of global capitalism on Palestinian class formation, Palestine is Throwing a Party shows the way forward. Though there is nothing optimistic about its portrayal of relations between Palestinians and Israelis as a dark, distorting mirror, its reminder that the two groups are forever shaping one another against a backdrop of steep global inequalities will be crucial for any politics of democratic decolonization."―Matan Kaminer, +972 Magazine
"Palestine Is Throwing a Party exemplifies the best of what ethnography can do: theoretically nuanced analysis derived from the specificities of social life rather than imposed on them. One of the many strengths of this ethnography is the way Rabie eschews easy invocations of a universal version of capitalism, instead making 'universalism' into an ethnographic object: first, by examining how capitalist investors in the West Bank invoke it to make their profit-seeking projects appear desirable, cosmopolitan, and inevitable, even as these projects are contingent and uncertain; and second, to illuminate how the liberalism of the Israeli legal system works to enhance Israel’s domination."―Lisa Rofel, Journal of Palestine Studies
"Palestine is Throwing a Party can contribute to a wide range of literatures. . . . It should prove crucial reading to all those interested in the future of Palestine . . . as well as political economy approaches more broadly."―Dana El Kurd, International Journal of Middle East Studies
"Brilliant . . . . Rabie’s book forces scholars to more deeply reflect upon and analyze contemporary forms of settler colonialism and the partial, constrained sovereignties under which indigenous peoples all over the world currently live and struggle."―Les W. Field, Journal of Anthropological Research
Kareem Rabie is an Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of Illinois, Chicago.
We Also Recommend Reading:
The Hundred Years' War on Palestine: A History of Settler Colonial Conquest and Resistance
Nine Quarters of Jerusalem: A New Biography of the Old City
Stranger in My Own Land, Palestine, Israel and One Family's Story of Home