As Israel has experimented with various models for controlling Gaza over the decades, the fundamental refusal of political equality that undergirds them all has taken on different names, both to justify itself and to provide a logic for moderating its own excesses. During the bantustan period, inequality was called coexistence; during the Oslo period, separation; and during disengagement, it is reframed as avoiding “humanitarian crises,” or survival. These slogans were not outright lies, but they disregarded the unwelcome truth that coexistence is not freedom, separation is not independence and survival is not living.
Disengagement, however, is not merely the latest stage in a historical process; it is also the lowest rung in a territorially segregated hierarchy of subjugation that encompasses Palestinians in the West Bank, East Jerusalem and within the Green Line. Half of the people between the Mediterranean and the Jordan live under a state that excludes them from the community of political subjects, denies them true equality and thus discriminates against them in varying domains of rights. Israel has impressively managed to keep this half of the population divided against itself -- as well as against foreign workers and non-Ashkenazi Jews -- through careful distribution of differential privileges and punishments and may continue to do so for the foreseeable future. Of course there is always the possibility of occasional, dramatic acts of resistance like the breaching of the border -- which temporarily transformed a desolate stretch of demolished houses into a giant open-air market -- and incremental technocratic changes such as a possible arrangement to reopen the Rafah crossing. But between these two paths, the inexorable governing logic of controlled abandonment seems likely to remain intact.
Sunday, February 17, 2008
Disengagement and the Frontiers of Zionism
Darryl Li in Middle East Report Online: