Crossing a Line
Laws, Violence, and Roadblocks to Palestinian Political Expression
Amahl Bishara


Contents and Abstracts
Prologue: Prologue
chapter abstract

This prologue introduces Bishara's role in the field and as a writer, starting with her visits to the Israeli Ministry of Interior to acquire personal status documentation. Research and political expression on Palestine / Israel are both shaped by assumptions about the state and about Palestinians during the War on Terror and as racialized subjects. The prologue addresses dynamics of research as well as the politics of solidarity and connection both among Palestinians and between Palestinians and other groups. Finally, it introduces the concept of knowledge made in motion as a way of thinking about the distinct situatedness of knowledge produced in a colonial context of fragmentation and dispossession.

Introduction: Introduction
chapter abstract

The introduction opens with ethnographic material on how Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians in the West Bank expressed solidarity with hunger striking political prisoners. These two groups, each living under Israeli sovereignty but with different political statuses, are differently ostracized and endangered by Israel, and their political expression faces different constraints. Laws restricting expression and related cultural contexts constitute environments of expression that are themselves interrelated across scales. Palestinians in these two places also have distinct political habitus, or embodied, everyday political understandings and ways of maneuvering under Israeli sovereignty. Geopolitical fragmentation is an underrecognized dimension of the settler colonial structure of elimination that impacts all Palestinians. Addressing expression and geopolitical fragmentation also introduces the book's primary theoretical interventions regarding political expression and action as integrally related, the state as a shaper of publics, and expression as emplaced and embodied.

Passage 1: Passage: Aida Refugee Camp to the Haifa Beach
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This passage chronicles a 2005 bus trip to the beach from the West Bank with two busloads of children. It introduces both the logistics and the feel of closure for Palestinians in the West Bank, who had little chance to cross the Green Line during the second Intifada.

1 The Shifting Ground of Palestine
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Is Palestine a place or a promise? Is it a state in the making? Is it a compromise or revolutionary proclamation? This chapter explores what and where Palestine is for Palestinians today. It conceives Palestine as a place-name that has qualities of a "shifter," meaning different things in different contexts, and also having layered significances that can evoke the past, confirm existing arrangements of power, or imagine a new future in residual, dominant, and emergent formations. Equating the West Bank and Gaza to Palestine is consistent with the sleight of hand sovereignty in which the PA and Israel are both engaged, a formation that gestures toward Palestinian independence while perpetuating Israeli occupation. In news and advertising, the PA's version of Palestine threatens to overcome an anticolonial notion of Palestine. As evoked in an arrest or in graffiti, Palestine can stand in opposition to securitized, expanding colonial sovereignties.

Passage 2: Passage: Aida Refugee Camp to the Northern Galilee
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A drive from one beloved Palestinian home in the West Bank to another in northern Israel suggests that towns in each place face similar constraints on growth, constraints that are often experienced through distresses in everyday practices such as parking.

2 Protesting the War on Gaza Together, Apart
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Palestinian citizens of Israel and subjects of military occupation in the West Bank used different tactics to protest Israel's war on Gaza in the summer of 2014. In Al-Lidd / Lod, Israel, Palestinians marched through the street with chants that drew on generations of resistance poetry. In Bethlehem, the West Bank, nightly protests involved stone throwing and firecrackers as a mode of confronting Israeli soldiers. They could not protest together, and the distinctive bravery involved in each mode of protest was sometimes hard to discern from afar. Still, protesters drew on a shared heritage of resistance. Drawing on participant-observation and interviews, this chapter argues that we must interrogate how apparent state borders legitimize certain forms of resistance and stigmatize others. This chapter also argues that we must recognize that symbolic forms of protest are continuous with confrontational forms of struggle.

Passage 3: Passage: Bethlehem to Lubiya
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On a drive to a commemoration of the Nakba, we encounter Palestinian soldiers staffing Israeli military checkpoints heading out of the West Bank and Palestinian police officers directing parking at the event itself in northern Israel. Moving through space as Palestinian citizens of Israel, we on this occasion did not experience a great separation or dichotomy between the West Bank and Israel, but rather a strange coexistence of the threat of state violence and identity-based control of movement on the one hand and a veneer of normalcy on the other—and Palestinian citizens of Israel were thoroughly part of this system as both soldiers and police.

3 The Momentum of Commemoration
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Commemorations of the Nakba (literally "catastrophe"), the Palestinian term for the mass dispossession they experienced in 1948, occur in many locations each year. Historical commemorations like Nakba Day and the March of Return demonstrate a fundamental shared quality of Palestinian political practices inside Israel's 1948 territories and in the West Bank, even though commemorations are also organized with local priorities in mind, and despite the fact that Israeli authorities restrict commemorations inside the Green Line and both Israeli and Palestinian authorities repress them in the West Bank. Participant-observation reveals that participants both commemorate the past and also call for land rights and the right of return today. These events create collective memory, foster knowledge about a multiplicity of Palestinian places, and allow for a discursive practice in which new things can be stated alongside the reiteration of longstanding messages. Through their repetitiveness, they maintain the possibility for future action.

Passage 4: Passage: Jaffa to Aida Refugee Camp
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This passage captures a drive home where Bishara enjoyed the open road but also navigated various social and security-related elements of a drive through Israeli space.

4 A Juxtaposition of Palestinian Places
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In the summer of 2014, a photography exchange took place between two groups of amateur photographers from different sides of the Green Line. The exchange, conducted during the height of Israel's war on Gaza, demonstrated that even in fraught political circumstances, we should look to modes of research that happen alongside or through creative processes. Palestinians in each place confronted distinct dangers in this tense time, threatening their ability to meet and the continuity of the project. Attending to both the process of the exchange and its products, this chapter explores a logic different than that of solidarity, sameness, or comparison to explore how settler colonialism can foster difference on an experiential level. While nationalist communication is often made to be about a single unitary speaker or narrative, this chapter explores a decentering approach to Palestinian societies that makes peripheries visible.

Passage 5: Passage: Jerusalem to Nablus
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During the Second Intifada, travel from Jerusalem to Nablus was unpredictable and even dangerous as soldiers acted as the ultimate authorities at the checkpoints they controlled.

5 Territory and Mourning on Social Media
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Social media and videos taken from cell phones and surveillance cameras have made Israeli military and police violence against Palestinians visible in new ways and with new temporalities. As Palestinians watch the killings of other Palestinians in other places, they register that the threats that other Palestinians face are not so different than those they themselves face. For Palestinians, social media do not necessarily bridge geographic difference, as many hoped they might. However, they do help to constitute emergent intimacies of mourning. Social media practices of mourning are integrally related to longstanding Palestinian practices and traditions. Sometimes the emergent intimacies generated in Facebook commemorations of martyrs challenge the divide between Palestinian citizens of Israel and those in the West Bank, and sometimes they do not—but they do foster a sociality and awareness around a shared sense of loss and threat.

Passage 6: Passage: Bethlehem to Jerusalem
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Israeli soldiers board a Palestinian bus from Bethlehem to Jerusalem, demanding riders' identification. The system of closure operates by separating people by legal status, gender, age, and more. Will Palestinian ideals of protecting each other and this small collectivity of bus riders survive this intrusion?

6 Bonds of Care: Prison and the Green Line
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Both Palestinian citizens of Israel and those in the West Bank could be imprisoned for what they said. Still, Israeli citizenship did blunt some of the violence, recklessness, and capriciousness experienced by those arrested inside Israel. Drawing on interviews and media analysis, Bishara argues that these two groups had different affective orientations to incarceration. In part because they lived together in prison, prison was also a site of caregiving and even kin-making that bridged the Green Line. A range of Palestinian expressive practices confront Israeli incarceration and express the pain of incarceration, ranging from human rights videos to poetry to art. An approach to politics that looks to new, tentative practices of kin-making as care—another modality of Palestinian emergent intimacies grounded in Palestinian traditions—can decenter our assumptions about what politics are and refocus our attention on process, on cultivating a ground for liberation and survival.

Passage 7: Driving North
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Bishara drives along the northern edge of Israel on the way to an illegal daytrip to enjoy Palestinian places and pleasures.

Conclusion: Conclusion
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The conclusion considers events related to the 2018 March of Return and the 2021 General Strike to analyze the state of Palestinian collective-making today. Although activists across the Green Line share political practices, texts, and visions for the future, living separately they develop distinct political habitus, and different structures of feelings take shape. The conclusion expands on themes around how states generate norms for communication by comparing Palestinian norms for protest with those found in the Black Lives Matter movement in the United States—and considering how US empire shapes expressive norms beyond its boundaries. For those of us with relative comforts and privileges, whatever our identity, recognition of the interrelatedness of environments of expression should nevertheless help us to ask: How can I say something with someone else to whom I am connected? The practice of doing this itself illuminates communicative terrain anew, and remakes that terrain.