What are Hybrid States?

The name of this blog is inspired by the notion of betweenness.

What do I mean by betweenness? What is a hybrid state?

It is the space of Palestinians caught between refugee status and national self-determination. Of Jews imprisoned psychosocially between ultimate victimhood and the bully’s drunken swagger. Of the expanding contradiction between secularism and religious fundamentalism, or democracy and ethnonationalism. Its the perception of time under the slow grinding violence of occupation and the quickfire bursts of bombs and bullets. Its the fluid, hybridized identities of immigrants and emigrants and refugees and cosmopolitans and moderns and postmoderns, those who are neither here nor there nor entirely anywhere in today’s world. Its the confused mixture of hope and terror. Its the definition and pursuit of justice in the context of two overlapping historical narratives.

In other words, hybrid states are a fundamental characteristic of modern life in Israel/Palestine.

This blog aims to explore these hybrid states—these spaces of betweenness—so that we as participants in the endless violence and suffering can see more clearly how to bring about our unavoidable, shared future.

What does that mean in practice?

My writing on hybrid states will work, first and foremost, to open up new critical spaces within Jewish, Israeli and American thought. At present, there exists a homogenizing, somewhat totalitarian mythology around Israel’s past and current behavior, which, in my view, undermines rational discussion of the deadly serious crimes being committed by Israel in the name of Jews with massive US support. Therefore, a primary aim will be to chip away patiently at this party line.

But this blog is about more than the justified criticism of Israel and its unconditional defenders. For as one begins to think critically—sincerely—about our individual and collective responsibility in the ongoing tragedy that is the modern Middle East, the process of questioning allows new spaces of thought to emerge, that is, hybrid states, in which a fair reading of the historical and contemporary record allows us to reformulate our vision of and for Israel/Palestine. By interrogating and deconstructing the currently existing narratives about the conflict, hybrid states thus become simultaneously a mental framework for conflict resolution.

To arrive at that point will require profound introspection, intellectual honesty, and a willingness to confront often uncomfortable messages about our crimes, the crimes that Jews commit in implementing our right to national self-determination at the expense of Palestinian rights.

For the sake of the rights of all peoples, I hope this blog can contribute in even a small way to a new manner of thinking about Israel/Palestine.