This article argues that scholars and activists concerned with peace and social justice in Israel/Palestine may unintentionally undermine their own goals when they abandon theory for praxis through recognition of parties to conflict. Recognition of ethno-national identity in peacemaking efforts helps reproduce the hegemonic order. Recognizing the subaltern here is a form of Elizabeth Povinelli's 'cunning recognition', which may do little more than produce a moral community of the recognizers. This case illustrates a broader pattern in which controversial ideas only succeed in arriving at the center of politics when they can no longer be implemented. It raises concerns about abandoning theory for praxis more generally, suggesting that theory not be abandoned because it is inconvenient for political purposes.
Peacemaking, Cunning Recognition, and the Constitution of Enmity
What do secular, left-wing Israelis living inside the Green Line have in common with religious, right-wing 'settlers'? Despite their conflicting positions, I argue that there is a depth of commonality that fuels the hatred and intolerance between these groups. This article aims to reveal a positional unity that appears as conflict, difference, and disunity. Resituating the apparently incommensurable discourses, I contend that this discord is best understood within the context of a society that is continually struggling with the outcomes of its settler origins and ongoing settlement activity. The focus is on the arguments between the two groups concerning uses of the past, which serves as a reference from which to demonstrate that the desire, particularly among the secular, to differentiate rather than identify is located in a fear of what today's settler activity reveals about the Zionist project in a broader sense and what it therefore stands to potentially undermine.