BOOK: “The power of inclusive exclusion – anatomy of Israeli rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”, edited by Adi Ophir, Michal Givoni, and Sari Hanafi 3Jun12 June 3, 2012

This Week in Palestine  -  2 June 2012

The Power of Inclusive Exclusion offers a unique collection of essays that collectively and comprehensively deconstruct and examine the Israeli “occupation regime” – its unpredictable bureaucratic apparatus, the fragmentation of space and regulation of movement, the intricate tapestry of law and regulations, the discriminatory control over economic flows, and the calculated use of military violence.

If you are looking for historical narratives, colonisation studies, or a socio-economic analysis of the Israeli occupation or of the Palestinian national movements then this book is not for you! The authors of the series of studies gathered in this book are wary of considering the occupation as a political and legal fetish, or as a self-explanatory category that makes Israel’s policies, past and present, transparent.

Although this selection of essays includes in-depth analyses, the chronology of the occupation, the geographies of disaster, and a visual archives of destruction, the main focus here is on theorising how “this” occupation is an unstable set of technologies of power that open and limit a space of action and reaction for their subjects.

Perhaps one of the most striking papers is Ariella Azoulay’s visual essay. It analyses how the “occupation regime” intervened in the Palestinian space through the triangle of construction, administration of movement, and destruction. Using a series of photographs presented in her paper, she aims to characterise the “inner grammar” of the faits du prince responsible for the inhuman spatial conditions in the Occupied Territories, and how Israeli Jews observe Palestinian space, together with Israeli Palestinians in the way “this fragmented and blocked space is imposed on them, unravelling the illusion of total separation that is the occupier’s basic principle.”

On the question of apartheid and the regime of separation, Hilla Dayan articulates a convincing argument about “apartheid” in the South African model and “regimes of separation” in the Israeli occupation practices. By differentiating the two, she aims to show that even though concrete ways of doing things and their material effects are not comparable, it is possible and useful to analyse certain phenomenological aspects as belonging to a distinct political type. By “political type,” she means that certain hegemonic orders share identifiable operational principles and mechanisms for the production of, in Israel’s case, deviant political authority.

The volume also includes a paper by Leila Farsakh that addresses the ever-puzzling questions of economy. Why did the expectations set by the Oslo process never really materialise? Diminishing control over the Palestinian resources, limited and dependent access to the Israeli labour market, restricted mobility, fragmentation of land and, of course, the involvement of the international donor community are but a few of the underlying structural mechanisms that brought about such an unstable Palestinian economic situation.

Several other papers examine the colonisation and domination aspects of the occupation, but it is Sari Hanafi’s remarkable writing on the Palestinian refugee camps that provokes reflection. He identifies the importance of the camps as a space for habitat, economic development, memory, and identity affirmation, a space for exercising power and a place for military resistance. He further argues for a process of rehabilitation of the refugee camps and their design as urban space, with reference to the camps’ political and social status. According to Hanafi, there is a real need to empower refugee camp dwellers by giving them the right to access and use their neighbouring cities, and by radically improving the urban conditions of their space.

With several illustrations, documents, transcripts, and a chronology, this comprehensive volume is very thought-provoking and will give you anything but simple answers. It is a refreshing and unparalleled study of the nature of the occupation as a sui generis regime or political system, a complex structure of state and non-state apparatuses.

About the editors
Adi Ophir is professor of philosophy and political theory at the Cohn Institute for the History and Philosophy of Science and Ideas at Tel Aviv University. He is the author of The Order of Evils: Toward an Ontology of Morals, and other books.

Michal Givoni is a post-doctoral fellow in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology at Tel Aviv University.

Sari Hanafi is associate professor of sociology at the American University of Beirut, and is the author of The Emergence of a Palestinian Globalized Elite: Donors, International Organizations and Local NGOs.

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