Tikkun Winter 2019 (34.1) - Page 130

“pincer-like sequential strategy: entangle lead- ers in a lethal web of bureaucracy and create a national crisis through military spectacle.” In 2003, 2011, and 2014, as Lavie explains in the new edition, Israeli military actions against os- tensibly “external” threats shifted the attention of the media and elites alike and precluded many organizations and activists from linking their demands to combat intra-Jewish racism with demands to end the occupation of Pales- tine. The Israeli government’s recent curtail- ment of protests against the incarceration and deportation of African asylum seekers followed a similar pattern. In this crucial way, the book conceptualizes intra-Jewish racism as a constitutive feature of Israel, one that routinely calibrates the capacity of differential privilege and stigma to be lever- aged in ways that winnow away the unpredict- able dispensation of a diminishing social safety net. In searing prose, Lavie illuminates how modalities of Mizrahi social protest can at once seek a more equitable distribution of the social wage and reinscribe non-Jewish difference as the state’s paramount exclusion. Securing the state against the demographic Palestin- ian threat trumps all, including the capacity to articulate substantive demands for social equality. In Wrapped in the Flag of Israel, there are no anti-racist saviors and the agency of identity politics is not a given. GendeRace functions not so much as a dimension of the Left or the Right. After all, “it was the socialist Zionist left that advanced the ideologies and policies of intra-Jewish racism.” Rather, GendeRace is a “a primordial truism…. Rather than moving through it, people are stuck.” The differential distribution of life chances that racism cease- lessly works to legitimate casts the non-Jew as excluded and obdurate, the vessel of a divine as much as a demographic threat. While Ashke- nazi feminists have readily mobilized against 130 W W W .T I K K U N . O R G Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights, they have done so, Lavie argues, without en- gaging Mizrahi women’s issues, in no small measure due to the latter’s right-wing political orientation. At the same time, Lavie demon- strates that when Israel-Palestine serves as the sole binary framework for understanding the highly differentiated lifeworlds and life chanc- es entangled in the region, we miss the tragi- cally foreshortened horizons of possibility for social transformation. In problematizing the left-right binary alongside the Israel-Palestine binary, Lavie calls neither for an anti-politics nor an abdication of the field of the political to the status quo, but rather simply for a more capacious rendering of reality, jagged edges and all. In short, Wrapped in the Flag of Israel palpa- bly renders the somatic violence of neoliberal- ism, the gendered racialization of the settler state, and the capacity of the state to incor- porate its internalized racial others over and against its external threats. The book’s “or- chestrated rage” and ethnographic rigor slice through the propensity among Left scholars and activists in the United States to seize on any glimmer of possible transnational solidar- ity and cross-racial coalition while missing the far more troubling and challenging realities, not only of inter-group animus, but also, and more importantly, of the structural obstacles that radically delimit the mundane horizons of action. Naming that pain, as bell hooks long ago argued, must be a foundational dimension of any liberatory future. KEITH P. FELDMAN is Associate Professor of Ethnic Studies at UC Berkeley, and the author of A Shadow over Palestine: The Imperial Life of Race in America. WINTER 2019