|Book: Israel's Occupation|
ZNet Book Page
Publisher: University of California Press
A must read
There are many sources of information from websites through newspapers to books that carry significant referenced information about the history and context of the Israel/Palestine problem that, with the support of the
Now added to this relatively strong list of materials is
It develops several themes about the occupation that keep recurring, with alterations, as it develops the history of the occupation from 1967 to the present. First is the theme that the occupation is both temporary and arbitrary. Not that the occupation is temporary, but the means employed to control the population are fully temporary and arbitrary. Control of the population is another ongoing theme, as the Israelis desired a "land without people for a people without land" and therefore perpetuated this idea through these arbitrary controls on the population, while at the same time using that control to confiscate and annex Palestinian land, piece by piece, through quasi legal means. The third theme is of excesses and contradictions that ties into the arbitrary and temporary theme. For all that Israel tried to do to control the population, to "normalize" the situation, the built in contradictions of their actions and the excesses they went to in order to create this similitude of normalcy, all created more and more problems that in turn created further actions with contradictions and excesses.
What has recently happened in
At first, the population was controlled by "sustaining some form of security, while currently it controls the occupied inhabitants by producing endemic security." That in itself places a frightening prospect on what the future will look like for the Palestinians of both the West Bank and
In the "Introduction" Gordon claims that the above changes "were and continue to be an outcome of the daily practices characterizing life under occupation." He defines control as
not only the coercive mechanisms used to prohibit, exclude, and repress people, but rather the entire array of institutions, legal devices, bureaucratic apparatuses, social practices, and physical edifices that operate both on the individual and the population in order to produce new modes of behavior, habits, interests, tastes, and aspirations.
As the reader works further and further into the work it becomes obvious that there is not a single element of physical space or intellectual/emotional/social space that is not under some form of control mechanism. Gordon develops the idea that "most of the coercive measures used in the
This control is maintained by various "modes of power". Originally
Rule of law
The idea of rule of law and the legal expropriation of land is used throughout the work. However that is not the 'rule of law' that protects the citizen but serves to control the citizen.
Just as the occupying controls were densely applied, Gordon's work is densely written. That density is well structured and makes it accessible to readers, lay and academics alike. To quote extensively from the work would be redundant (other than what I have presented above to provide the overall themes of the work). The material covers the original physical infrastructure and develops through the various ways and means that structure was used to control the population and separate it from the land.
The two most significant chapters - among a series of chapters in which all is significant - were the last two chapters on "Outsourcing the Occupation" and "The Separation Principle".
Briefly, "Outsourcing the Occupation" discusses the Oslo Agreements and how they arose from the First Intifada and then created the conditions necessary for the Second Intifada. In brief,
"The Separation Principle" discusses the end result of the change from a colonialist occupation seeking to normalize the population while owning the resources to that of a separation principle that ignores the population constrained within its greatly reduced cantons while extracting and possessing maximum benefit from the greater part of the occupied land.
The primary contradiction to all Israeli actions and policies is that of denying the unity of the people and the land, "the attempt to separate the people and their land." Separation is not a withdrawal of power from the OT, "but is used to blur the fact that
That primary contradiction has implications of course that extend beyond the borders of Israel into the political/corporate/military headquarters of the U.S. and into the physical boundaries and other occupied territories of Iraq, Afghanistan, and the threatened territories of Iran and Pakistan. Thus the Palestinian problem remains at the centre of Middle East policy in the U.S., as the U.S. fights for land and resources rationalized within the war on terror.
Gordon does not get into this extension of the topic and rightly so. He remains within his primary focus, within the primary contradiction, and leads the reader through an amazing array of physical, psychological and social controls within every detail of Palestinian society. Israel's Occupation becomes a must read on my list; and my first question of anyone that wants to argue with any perspectives on Israel would be "Have you read this book yet?"
Jim Miles is a Canadian educator and a regular contributor/columnist of opinion pieces and book reviews for The Palestine Chronicle. Miles' work is also presented globally through other alternative websites and news publications.