While most academic enemies of Israel are Middle East studies specialists, increasingly those in the social sciences and humanities are finding new ways to weaponize their fields against the Jewish state. Mapping Israel, Mapping Palestine by Jess Bier, an assistant professor of urban sociology at Erasmus University, Rotterdam, uses the field of geography to portray Israel's alleged colonization of "Palestine" and isolation of Palestinians in "segregated Bantustans."
Beir combines the now-familiar rhetoric of "anti-colonialism" with the arcana of ethnographic cartography. The book is suffused with language and terminology that will be unfamiliar to most readers: graduated circles, choropleths, critical triangulation, and so on. Page after page of geographical jargon and lectures on various mapping techniques from the British Mandate to the present aim at showing how Israel unfairly uses its technological superiority to "erase" Palestinian villages, hamlets, and towns, and to force Palestinians to live in remote "Bantustans."
Baffling sentences are found on nearly every page: "Both mobility and fixity can lead to disempowerment, but through a focus on the production of place, stasis provides an additional aspect for the study of knowledge created within political and social movements."
Among the book's shortcomings is its lack of any analysis of Palestinian maps that erase Israel, such as that provided in a short, clear article by Tsivya Fox titled "Who Took Israel off the Map?" What ethnographic details might lurk beneath the ground in Palestinian tunnels into Israel? How about a cartographic history of the ancient kingdoms of Judea and Samaria? The book's only use lies in illustrating what happens when an academic polemicist takes aim against Israel.