Response: Critiquing in the Light of The ABC of the OPT

Interwoven across the contributions to this symposium are two central themes: first, the use of conceptual frameworks as critical tools, and second, international law’s relationship with state violence. In what follows, we will reflect on the contributors’ comments regarding each of these themes.

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'Say My Name': The Politics of Not Naming

Despite the many nuances academics employ to draw a picture of Israel’s “complicated” rule over the Palestinian people, this review takes issue with the hesitance displayed when looking for a much needed epistemological shift and concepts in understanding how law creates injustice in Israel_Palestine.

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The ABC of the OPT: The Broken Promise of Belligerent Occupation Law

The ABC of the OPT, the award-winning new publication by three outstanding Israeli scholars and jurists – Orna Ben-Naftali, Michael Sfard and Hedi Viterbo –demonstrates, in a masterly fashion, the use and abuse of the laws of belligerent occupation as a masquerade for raw power and as a tool for oppression. The authors illustrate, using the format of a legal lexicon dedicated to specific legal terms and rhetorical devices (or newspeak), how the distorted application of the laws of belligerent occupation by Israeli lawyers and judges has conferred an aura of decency and legitimacy upon the long and open-ended occupation of the West Bank. This approach draws its intellectual roots from classic insights of critical legal studies – e.g., that law is chronically malleable to abuse and that law constitutes politics through other means.

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Phantom Sovereignty and the Imaginary Version of International Law

In this brief review, I will explore two aspects of the legal cartography offered in the book in the entry on nomos and the entry on military courts. The entry on nomos, authored by Orna Ben-Naftali, takes on a thematic thread of the entire book and explains how Israel created an alternative legal universe of international law. The entry on the military courts, written by Hedi Viterbo, looks at the institutions that have intervened in the lives of most of the Palestinian population: Israel has arrested and detained over three quarters of a million Palestinians. In 2018 alone, the military arrested 6500 Palestinians, 1800 of whom were children.

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From 'Assigned Residence' to 'Zone': Introduction to the Book Review Symposium on The ABC of the OPT

Israel’s half-a-century long rule over the West Bank and Gaza Strip has been the subject of extensive academic literature, also in international law. Yet, there had been no comprehensive, theoretically informed, and empirically based academic study of the role of various legal mechanisms, norms, and concepts in shaping, legitimizing, and responding to the Israeli control regime. The ABC of the OPT. A Legal Lexicon of the Israeli Control over the Occupied Palestinian Territory, the most timely and award-winning new book by Orna Ben-Naftali, Michael Sfard and Hedi Viterbo (Cambridge University Press 2018) fills this gap and offers a comprehensive and yet detailed study of law’s role in constructing and maintaining this protracted and highly institutionalized regime.

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