In This Review

Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique
Queer Palestine and the Empire of Critique
By Sa'ed Atshan
Stanford University Press, 2020, 274 pp

This taxing but ultimately rewarding book offers an impressive treatment of the complex challenges that Palestinian LGBTQ activists face. In a tone both knowledgeable and modest, Atshan describes how the gay rights movement must negotiate constant censure and faultfinding—an “empire of critique.” Palestinian activists must juggle the competing demands of advocating gay rights, anti-imperialism, and Palestinian liberation, finding themselves disparaged as insufficiently committed to one or the other cause. Some critics argue that expressing international LGBTQ solidarity is tantamount to complicity in imperialism, or they link Palestinian nationalism to the tolerance of homophobia. This social movement is certainly not the first to grapple with divides over strategy and tactics or to founder in the “radical purism” of academic disputes, but few books so eloquently describe the human costs of these struggles and, in so doing, suggest the often overlooked power of honesty and generosity in politics. Atshan’s work is candid, self-critical, and unexpectedly inspiring.