A History of False Hope: Investigative Commissions in Palestine

Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2020

Winner of the 2023 Vinson Sutlive Book Prize, William and Mary College
Honorable Mention, American Ethnological Society Senior Book Prize, 2021-22

This book offers a provocative retelling of Palestinian political history through an examination of the international commissions that have investigated political violence and human rights violations. More than twenty commissions have been convened over the last century, yet no significant change has resulted from these inquiries. The findings of the very first, the 1919 King-Crane Commission, were suppressed. The Mitchell Committee, convened in the heat of the Second Intifada, urged Palestinians to listen more sympathetically to the feelings of their occupiers. And factfinders returning from a shell-shocked Gaza Strip in 2008 registered their horror at the scale of the destruction, but Gazans have continued to live under a crippling blockade.

Drawing on debates in the press, previously unexamined UN reports, historical archives, and ethnographic research, Lori Allen explores six key investigative commissions over the last century. She highlights how Palestinians’ persistent demands for independence have been routinely translated into the numb language of reports and resolutions. These commissions, Allen argues, operating as technologies of liberal global governance, yield no justice—only the oppressive status quo. A History of False Hope issues a biting critique of the captivating allure and cold impotence of international law.

Reviews:

Marc Lynch, “A History of False Hope.” Abu Aardvark’s MENA Academy, 25 July 2022,

Abraham Silberstein, “Lori Allen, A History of False Hope: Investigative Commissions in Palestine.” Israel Studies Journal, 37(1) (2022):144-146.

Nicola Perugini, “A History of False Hope: Investigative Commissions in Palestine,” Journal of Palestine Studies, DOI: 10.1080/0377919X.2022.2040883

Zach Lockman, “Lockman on Allen, ‘A History of False Hope: Investigative Commissions in Palestine.” H-Diplo, 12 September 2021.

Saeb Rawashdeh, “New book examines roles of British, UN commissions in Palestine from 1919 until 2011.” The Jordan Times, 8 July 2021.

Ramona Wadi, “A History of False Hope: Palestine’s quest for recognition.” The New Arab, 16 June 2021.

Ziyad Muna, “Investigative Commissions in Palestine… False Hope.” AlAkhbar, 12 January 2021 [in Arabic].

Josh Ruebner, “Much Hope But Little Gain.” Electronic Intifada, 4 January 2021. Reprinted as: “A History of False Hope,” The Citizen, 12 January 2021.

Jim Muir, Book Review — ‘A History of False Hope.’ LSE Blog, 19 March 2021.

Paola Zichi, “A History of False Hope: Investigative Commissions in Palestine.” Irish Yearbook of International Law, 15: 239-248 (2020).

More details/Order

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This