I recently returned from Israel/Palestine where violence, fear, and hatred have reached unprecedented levels. When violence makes the international headlines everyday countless commentators and pundits weigh in with their analyses. Everyone is busily pointing fingers and laying blame, but understanding the roots of this violence requires taking a deep breath and a step back to uncover the deeper foundations that make this situation possible. My new book, Producing Spoilers: Peacemaking and the Production of Enmity in a Secular Age, explores these issues. We can (and should!) try to end this round of violence, work for a cease-fire, a truce, or a longer-term peace agreement. But to arrive at a better way of living together, we must first understand the taken-for-granted ways of being and believing that limit our options and unwittingly trap us even as we seek peace.
Producing Spoilers provides some insight to help shift our moral imaginations and make room for alternatives. The book shows how processes of conflict resolution, diplomacy, dialogue, education, and social theorizing about liberation, peace, and social justice actually participate in constructing enemies, thus limiting the options for peaceful outcomes. Producing Spoilers looks at the limits of territorial solutions and the consequences of nationalism– the context in which the Israeli-Palestinian conflict takes place. That nationalism is contrasted with current theorizing on flexible citizenship and diasporic identity.
Providing examples of people on the ground in Israel/Palestine who have been thinking and acting in ways that defy conventional enemy categories, the book culminates by moving beyond national enmity and outside conventional peacemaking to clear a space in which to think about alternative forms of negotiation, exchange, community, and coexistence.