This is the first of three special, guest-edited issues of ISR that will precede the retirement of the current editors from the journal. This issue, co-edited by Nir Gazit and Yagil Levy, takes on the unusual and seemingly somewhat arcane subject of military policing in Israel—that is, in the West Bank and on the Gaza border. The subject seemed somewhat arcane when we started planning it early in 2019, but now, as this issue reaches publication, we find that military policing is closely related to current events around the world, especially in the US, sometimes even competing with the coronavirus pandemic for the headlines. See the guest editors’ introduction immediately following this note for a fuller exposition before delving into the articles that follow.
This is also a ‘prize issue’, as it contains two articles by laureates of the AIS's Kimmerling Prize for the best graduate student paper of the year. Netta Galnoor is the 2019 winner, and her piece is entitled “From Jewish Sentiments to Rational Exhortations: Battle Missives in the Isreal Defense Forces.” ‘Battle missives’ (dapim kravim) hit the Israeli headlines in 2014 during the last Israel-Hamas war. Galnoor provides an analysis of how the motivations and justifications for such missives have changed over time. It is followed by the article of the 2020 winner, Hayim Katsman, entitled “The Hyphen Cannot Hold: Contemporary Trends in Religious-Zionism.” If you want to know what a hyphen (-) and an allusion to Yeats have to do with Religious-Zionism, you will just have to read the article.
We also have a plethora of reviews of some particularly significant books, which you might want to read if you find yourself locked down again—or even if you are not. Yael Barda's slim but disturbing volume, Living Emergency: Israel's Permit Regime in the Occupied West Bank, reviewed by Hilla Dayan, happens to fit right into the military policing theme of this special issue. Another book hewing to the military theme is Randall Geller's Minorities in the Israeli Military, 1948–58, reviewed by Anat Stern, which covers a little-known aspect of Israeli military and social history.
Contemporary politics and Israeli society are also well represented, as usual, including Yaacov Yadgar's Israel's Jewish Identity Crisis: State and Politics in the Middle East, reviewed by Roman Vater. Very relevant to the current talk of annexation is Ian S. Lustick's Paradigm Lost: From Two-State Solution to One-State Reality, reviewed by Yoav Peled. Taking a longer and more interdisciplinary view is Ilan Peleg's edited volume, Victimhood Discourse in Contemporary Israel, reviewed by Neta Oren.
Different Israeli realities are represented by Sarah Willen's Fighting for Dignity: Migrant Lives at Israel's Margins, reviewed by Tally Kritzman-Amir, and Palestinians in Israel: The Politics of Faith after Oslo by As'ad Ghanem and Mohanad Mustafa, reviewed by Oded Haklai.
Two books relating to opposite aspects of Israel's relations with the US are Daniel Hummel's Covenant Brothers: Evangelicals, Jews, and U.S.-Israeli Relations, reviewed by Dov Waxman, and Cary Nelson's Israel Denial: Anti-Zionism, Anti-Semitism, and the Faculty Campaign Against the Jewish State, reviewed by Raphael Cohen-Almagor, which examines the campaign to ‘delegitimize’ Israel on American campuses.
Should you binge on all of these works, you will likely emerge with a fairly comprehensive knowledge of Israel as it is today—filtered, of course, through the views of the authors and reviewers.
In any case, all of us are facing a leap into the unknown as we deal with social distancing, online teaching, and varied policies (or non-policies) of dealing with the pandemic. We ask you to be careful and stay healthy, and, as always, your comments are very welcome.