Sara Roy

Sara Roy is based at the Centre for Middle Eastern Studies at Harvard. The third edition of The Gaza Strip: The Political Economy of De-development was published last year.

If Israel were smart: In Gaza

Sara Roy, 15 June 2017

Nearly three-quarters of Gaza’s inhabitants are under thirty and remain confined to Gaza, prohibited from leaving the territory; most never have. Amid such disempowerment, young people have increasingly turned to militancy as a livelihood, joining various militant or extremist organisations simply to secure a paying job. Person after person told me that growing support for extremist factions in Gaza does not emanate from political or ideological belief – as these factions may claim – but from people’s need to feed their families.

If Gaza falls …

Sara Roy, 1 January 2009

Israel’s siege of Gaza began on 5 November, the day after an Israeli attack inside the strip, no doubt designed finally to undermine the truce between Israel and Hamas established last June. Although both sides had violated the agreement before, this incursion was on a different scale. Hamas responded by firing rockets into Israel and the violence has not abated since then. Israel’s siege has two fundamental goals. One is to ensure that the Palestinians there are seen merely as a humanitarian problem, beggars who have no political identity and therefore can have no political claims. The second is to foist Gaza onto Egypt.

Last April President Bush said that Israel’s withdrawal from Gaza would allow the establishment of ‘a democratic state in the Gaza’ and open the door for democracy in the Middle East. The columnist Thomas Friedman was more explicit, arguing that ‘the issue for Palestinians is no longer about how they resist the Israeli occupation in Gaza, but whether they build a decent mini-state there – a Dubai on the Mediterranean. Because if they do, it will fundamentally reshape the Israeli debate about whether the Palestinians can be handed most of the West Bank.’

In 2002, incoming students at the University of North Carolina were required to read Approaching the Qur’an: The Early Revelations by Michael Sells, a translation into English of 35 of the early suras with a commentary and explication. Three students – one Jewish, two Christian – and a UNC alumna argued, with the support of a number of fundamentalist Christian organisations,...

Recently, at Harvard University where I am based, a Jewish student, using an assumed (gentile) name, began posting anti-semitic statements on the weblog of the Harvard Initiative for Peace and Justice, an anti-war, pro-Palestinian group on campus. The student, it turned out, is the secretary of Harvard Students for Israel – which dissociated itself from the incident – and had...

From The Blog
4 June 2018

Gaza appears sporadically as front-page news in the context of violence and terrorism, as it has with the murder on Friday, 1 June, of Razan Ashraf al-Najjar, a 21-year-old paramedic who was fatally shot by Israeli snipers as she was treating wounded protesters along the fence that separates Gaza from Israel. After a day or two of attention, usually marked by the disproportionate deaths of Palestinians, Gaza recedes from view until the next assault. Israel is part of the story but all too often cast as responding to Hamas aggression, acting in self-defence. Without excusing Hamas for its misdeeds, Gaza's misery, isolation and hopelessness are primarily a product of Israeli policy. The form of occupation may have changed since Israel’s ‘disengagement’ in 2005, but the fact of occupation has not. One result is the dehumanisation of the men, women and children who live in Gaza, the denial of their innocence and the resultant loss of their rights.

From The Blog
22 March 2018

The recent decision by the Trump administration to drastically cut its contribution to the United Nations Relief and Works Agency (UNRWA) has left the Palestinian refugees in a more precarious position than ever. A conference was recently held in Rome to raise money to allow UNRWA to continue its vital work providing education, health and other social services to more than five million Palestinian refugees in Jordan, Lebanon, Syria, the West Bank and Gaza. Given a projected budget deficit of nearly $500 million in 2018, UNRWA’s funding prospects look dim.

From The Blog
8 October 2010

I recently returned to the US from a week in East Jerusalem and other parts of the West Bank. I arrived in the city on Sunday, 26 September, the day the temporary freeze on Israeli settlements was set to expire. I was staying with a friend in Sheikh Jarrah, metres away from where two Palestinian families were evicted from their homes last year; more are expected to be forced out in the coming months. As the end of the settlement freeze came and went, what struck me most about it, and about the latest round of peace negotiations of which it was a part, was their utter irrelevance to the realities of Palestinian life.

‘The situation in Gaza is dangerous, and the danger is that Hamas will take over and turn Gaza into “Hamastan” – into a kingdom of thugs, murderers, terrorists, poverty...

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