The Number of Arab Students on the Rise and so is the Apartheid Analogy
Surveys indicate that the number of Arab students enrolled in the Israeli universities is on the rise.
One such a survey was conducted by the Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS). "Higher Education in Israel - Selected Data for 2016/17 On the Occasion of the Beginning of the New Academic Year. It concluded that "in recent years, the percentage of Arab students has increased significantly in all levels: undergraduates - from 9.8% in 1999/2000 to 16.5% (17.4% in new students) 13.6% and in postgraduates - from 2.8% to 6.6%, respectively". Another survey, conducted by the Council of Higher Education (CHE) also indicated that the number of Arab students in Israeli universities is on the rise. The number had grown from 26,000 in 2010 to 47,000 in 2017 by 78.5% over the past seven years. Arab students accounted for 16.1% of undergraduate students, rising from 10.2 % in 2010. In the graduate programs the percentage of Arab students since 2010 has doubled from 6.2% to 13%. In the postgraduate programs Arab students rose from 3.9% to 6.3%. The CHE survey was intended to assess the success of a program integrating Arab Israelis into the higher education system. Between 2012-2016 the government spent NIS 300 million ($88 million) on this program.
As a result of this success, the government decided to extend it to the year 2022 totaling a budget of NIS 1 billion ($294 million). This program aims also to prevent Arab students from dropping out of university.
Similarly, in December 2016, Prof. Peretz Lavie, the president of the Technion said of the Technion, that the number of Arab students has tripled over the last decade to 20%. Twelve years ago just 7% of students were Arab, then theTechnion began a program for Outstanding Arab Youth, preparing students to meet the admission requirements by offering them free of charge 10 months camp in mathematics, physics, English and Hebrew, paid by Jewish philanthropists.
To encourage Arab candidates, in October 2017 Prof. Rivka Carmi, Ben-Gurion University's president,announced thatbeginning in next year, the University will be accepting Arab students without having to take the psychometric exam usually required to enter the university.
Despite these impressive statistics, the calls for BDS intensify with charges against Israel of conducting apartheid policies. Palestinians and pro-Palestinian activists lead such charges. Dahlia Scheindlin, formerly of the BGU Department of Politics and Government published an article on April 3, 2017 "Why 'it's not apartheid' arguments fail: Response to NYT op-ed" arguing that Israel is an apartheid state. She based her argument on the writing of Yael Berda, and wrote "according to Dr. Yael Berda Permits are wielded collectively, racially and demographically. There are no permits governing movement for Jews." Berda, a lawyer representing hundreds of political activists who were denied entry to Israel, is an adjunct professor of Sociology at the Hebrew University. Berda's scholarship focuses on "Israel's Expanding Permit Regime" and its "racial hierarchy". Berda suggests that it is a racial intention that drives Israel to be vigilant to Palestinian acts of terrorism. While studying in Princeton University, Berda was a member of the Princeton Committee on Palestine (PCP) which "works to end the occupation in Palestine, defend Palestinian human rights, and raise awareness in the Princeton community about the Palestinian narrative." As a member of Machsom Watch, "Advs Lea Tsemel and Yael Berda called on the court to recognize the racial discrimination practiced by the Israeli police."
Berda's newly published book Living Emergency, "offers a first-hand account of how the Israeli secret service, government, and military civil administration control the Palestinian population." As Berda sees it, while "terrorism, crime, and immigration are perceived as intertwined security threats, she reveals how the Israeli example informs global homeland security and border control practices, creating a living emergency for targeted populations worldwide."
Berda has also written of checkpoints "Searching and Stripping," that the "perverse relationship between Israelis and Palestinians is a depressing B movie that the entire world daily watches. Many actors, spectators, and producers take part in the Mis-en-Scene: soldiers, civilians, international observes, humanitarian organizations, to name few. Despite the attraction to the action, not many realize that the Israeli occupation is all about the body: sweat, heavy breathing, desire. There are several principles to the erotics of the occupation, such as stripping and searching." For Berda, “the desire for the exotic other and his appropriation. Racism becomes more pronounced the greater the desire for appropriation is. In the delirious colonial encounter, the colonizer wants to separate, enclose and protect himself, yet is attracted to the other through the senses as to entertainment or to a cooking spice.”
Berda's work influences many. For example, in Nili Belkind'sPhD thesis at Columbia University she adopted Berda’s final conclusion that "the occupation bureaucracy does not exist only within the West Bank Occupied Territories. Its racialized principles and practices have ‘leaked’ into the very core of governmental, judicial, and other sites of centralized, as well as privatized, governmentality practices within the Green Line as well. According to Berda, This includes the IDF central quarters in Tel Aviv, the government offices in Jerusalem, the police stations, the courts, the border patrol jeeps, Israeli buses in which security personnel profile Palestinian passengers via visual indicators – to which one might also add here – the various agents dealing with foreigners who are guilty ‘by association.’ This too is the byproduct of the spatial management of ‘porous borders.’ For anyone working under these constrictions, the bureaucratic managerial practices of these borders foreground the mundane banalities of the occupation, as manifestations of its appalling dimensions."
Stephen Lendmancited Berda's calling the measures of Israeli surveillance as “scary and undemocratic…criminalizing an entire population for identifying with an organization that Israel considers terrorist (true or false).” Lendman continues that according to Yael Berda, “(y)ou don’t have to do anything to be considered a terrorist. You can publish an article or make a comment in cyberspace, and you will be criminalized... If you are located in the physical environment of terrorist activities, you are guilty.”
Currently, Berda is supervising in the department of Sociology at the Hebrew University, the PhD thesis by Leehee Rothschild, a staunch BDS activist, titled "Body Searching and Security" with Prof. Edna Lomsky-Feder. Rothschild BDS activities were described in length in AlJazeera's "Boycotting Israel ... from within." Also, in September 2011 Ali Maniku, a member of the Scottish Palestine Solidarity Campaign (SPSC) published an interview with Lehee Rothschild in Scotland, announcing that "Lehee joined at the weekly SPSC Perth Branch Stall and gave us this wee interview". In her interview Rothschild has said: "Hi, my name is Leehee Rothschild I am 27, I am an Israeli who enjoys the privileges under the Israeli apartheid regime. I may be really persecuted for saying that, since 2011 Israel has passed a law which bans calling to boycott Israel, nonetheless, I am calling you to boycott, divest and sanction Israel until it complies with all three Palestinian basic rights and international law, the right of return, the right for freedom and the right for equality." Rothschild was also celebrated in an article in 2014 "Boycotting the land you love: Israeli activist Leehee Rothschild on BDS and the struggle for Palestinian rights."
Berda's racial allegations against Israel provide the scaffolding for the apartheid analogy. While the Israeli Government spends fortune to encourage Arab students to study, Israeli universities provide positions to political activists masquerading as academics who tarnish Israel's standing in the world.
Number of Arab students in Israeli universities grows 78% in 7 years
Despite success of government program, minority community is still underrepresented in academia, especially the Bedouin sector
By DOV LIEBER
25 January 2018, 3:16 pm
The number of Arab students in Israeli universities grew by 78.5% over the past seven years, according to new research by Israel’s Council for Higher Education (CHE).
According to the survey, Arab students accounted for 16.1% of undergraduate students in Israeli universities, up from 10.2 % in 2010.
This increase has carried over to graduate programs, where the percentage of Arab students since 2010 has doubled from 6.2% to 13%. In postgraduate programs, the proportion of Arab students rose 60% from 3.9% to 6.3%.
The survey, which was reported Wednesday in the Marker business daily, was tracking the success of a CHE program aimed at better integrating the Arab Israeli community into higher education. The government spent NIS 300 million ($88 million) on the program in 2012-2016.
The success of the program has led the government to extend it to 2022, with a total budget of NIS 1 billion ($294 million).
In total, the number of Arab students in Israeli universities grew from 26,000 in 2010 to 47,000 in 2017.
The program concentrates on preparing Arab students in high school for study in Israeli universities, where Hebrew is the primary language, and for matriculation exams.
The program also aims to prevent Arab students from dropping out during the difficult first years of undergraduate studies.
Despite the success of the CHE program, Arab Israelis are still underrepresented in Israeli universities.
The 1.75 million Arab citizens of Israel constitute 21% of the population and at the age bracket for undergraduate university students they constitute 26% of the population.
The only subjects in which Arab students were represented in proportion to their percentage of the population were education and medical professions.
According to the survey, there has been an increase of Arab students in subjects in which their representation has been low in the past. This includes increases of enrollment in engineering (66%), mathematics and hard sciences (44%), humanities (66%) and business administration (87%).
Illustrative view of the Bedouin town of Hura, in the southern Negev Desert, on August 27, 2015. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
The Bedouin community, however, continues to be severely underrepresented in Israeli academia.
According to the CHE, there were just 850 Bedouin students enrolled in Israeli institutes of higher education in 2016, whereas thousands of Bedouin Israelis are enrolled in Palestinian universities in the West Bank.
The CHE has developed a five-year plan, with a budget of NIS 100 million ($294 million), to increase Bedouin enrollment rates by 75%.
Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats, chairperson of the CHE’s planning and budgeting committee, said in statement on the council’s website: “The Planning and Budget committee defined the multi-year plan for accessibility and narrowing of the gaps in the higher education system as a central goal.”
She added: “Academia is key for integration into society and industry. Therefore, in the next few years we will invest plenty of resources, including professional and individual support, in order to pave the way to academia for students, the Bedouin in particular.”
IN 2004, THE SCHOOL'S DROPOUT RATE FOR FIRST-YEAR ARAB STUDENTS WAS 75%; TODAY, IT IS 15%
At Israel’s MIT, education, not affirmative action, triples Arab enrollment
Technion offers hopefuls a 10-month 'boot camp' in math, physics, English and Hebrew, funded by Jewish philanthropy
By DOV LIEBER
16 December 2016, 11:46 am
Israel’s top technological university has seen the size of its Arab student body triple over the last decade. This growth spurt, according to the president of the Technion, has nothing to do with affirmative action — which is nonexistent at the university — and everything to do with closing educational gaps.
While Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics said Arabs made up 20.7 percent of Israel’s 8.412 million citizens in 2015, Haaretz newspaper cites the Council for Higher Education as saying that the ratio of Arab students in higher education has only grown modestly over the past five years — from 9.3% to 13.2%.
The great exception to this is the Technion — Israel Institute of Technology, the highly regarded university sometimes referred to as “the MIT of Israel,” where currently 20% of students are Arab.
Prof. Peretz Lavie, the president of the Technion, told The Times of Israel that his university’s achievement is the result of a rigorous program preparing students to meet admissions requirements before they apply. It is, he said, also a total rejection of affirmative action, a policy that usually provides eased admission standards for historically disadvantaged populations.
Twelve years ago, when just 7% of students in the Technion were Arab, the university began its NAM program, a Hebrew acronym that translates roughly as Outstanding Arab Youth. The program, which is paid for by Jewish philanthropy, begins with an all-expenses-paid 10-month “boot camp” in mathematics, physics, English and Hebrew.
Israeli business man and philanthropist Eitan Wertheimer is the founder and primary supporter of the program, which to date has seen 300 participants.
Participants in the program receive full funding for tuition fees, a living stipend of NIS 800 ($210) a month and a free laptop. Spared of a financial burden, the students can focus on their studies.
After the camp, its participants — who are accepted to the program based on their good performance in high school — are ready to apply to the Technion at the same academic standard as every other candidate.
During a recent Knesset discussion, Jewish Home MK Betzalel Smotrich charged that “Arab students are getting into the Technion because they’re lowering the minimum requirements due to affirmative action.”
Lavie vehemently rejected this claim. “There is no affirmative action at all in the Technion. Not for any group, and not in any of the faculties,” he said.
The NAM program has not only succeeded in pushing students through the admissions process, but has dramatically decreased dropout rates.
When the program began 12 years ago, the dropout rate among first year Arab students at the Technion was 75%. Currently, according to Lavie, that rate has plummeted to 15%, a figure very close to that of the Jewish student body.
During their studies, NAM participants are assigned a mentor, and discussion groups help students adapt to the new academic environment and any emotional problems that may arise.
“It’s their first time leaving the house,” said Lavie, pointing out that Arab students are usually 3-4 years younger than their Jewish peers because they likely didn’t serve in the military.
“Emotional adaptation is as important as academic adaptation,” Lavie stressed.
In a positive sign for the economic potential of the Arab community — where employment rates are low partly because a majority of women do not work — Lavie pointed out that 61% of the 527 Arab students in the incoming class is female.
“I don’t think there is any parallel for this among any other university, even among the Jewish population. The number of students in the Technion university-wide is about 37% women and 63% men,” he said.
Lavie believes female Arab students outnumber their male counterparts at his university due to their desire for “social mobility.” This, he said, is “no doubt dependent on education.”
“For many Arab kids, education like a Technion degree is a pathway to finding a proper job in Israel,” he said.
The average salary among Israel’s Arabs is less than half that of the average pay for Jews, according to 2015 CBS statistics. And with unemployment among working-age Arabs at close to 50%, breaking into Israel’s booming high-tech industry could be a way to end the cycle of poverty.
A survey of 1,500 recent Arab graduates of the Technion found that nearly all of them landed jobs in their first year after graduation. Of that number, 20% were employed at international high-tech companies.
In October, Haaretz accused the Technion of “squeezing out” Arab students after raising the required score on the Hebrew proficiency exam from 105 to 113. The highest score on the exam is 150, while the average is 92, Haaretz reported.
But Lavie argued the new requirement was a measure of tough love, and said the paper missed the mark in its reporting.
“Haaretz was vicious and so off-course. We realized that Hebrew is a key to the success of freshman students in the Technion and that the number of dropouts during the first year is dependent on Hebrew proficiency,” he said.
He said the decision on the score was made after two years of deliberation, and will only come into effect next year, giving prospective students a chance to prepare for the new, more rigorous standard.
Yet while the number of Arab students at the Technion has skyrocketed in recent years, those choosing to go onto graduate programs has not grown proportionally. This is a fact of life, Lavie said.
Many Arab students need to support themselves and their families as soon as possible, he said, so adding on extra years for graduate and post-graduate studies is not an option. But like enrollment, this is an issue currently under the school’s microscope.
“We are now trying to increase the number of graduate, PhD and post-doc students in order to increase the number of Arab faculty members,” Lavie said.
“This is the next challenge. We have Arab faculty members, but not enough.”
Ben-Gurion University: Arabs Will Be Accepted Without Psychometric Exams
October 31, 2017 6:30 am2
Ben-Gurion University has decided that beginning next year, it is going to accept Arab students without having first taken the psychometric exam, which is a requirement for all to enter a university. The announcement was made by university president, Rivka Carmi.
Applicants to colleges and university take the psychometric exam and based on their score together with the level of their matriculation diploma from high school, one is determined eligible to enter university to study a profession. For example, to enter medical school one needs a combined score of at least 737 as compared to the score required to become a teacher, which is 550.
The objections to the university’s decision are being heard among many in the academic community, as well as in Knesset. MK (Yisrael Beitenu) Oded Forer sent a letter to the president, decrying her decision to wave the psychometric exam for Arab applicants, calling the decision discriminatory against citizens “who serve and contribute to the State of Israel”. Forer is speaking of Jewish citizens who enter the IDF and national service, while Arabs, who by and large do not serve in any capacity, are now being given a free pass to enter university.
Forer questions if “the blood of Arabs redder than the blood of discharged soldiers and new immigrants?”
Forer is demanding that if this new track is opening, then it includes others and not remain exclusively for Arab applicants to the school.
How racial hierarchy and bureaucracy are reshaping Jerusalem.
by YAEL BERDA
For Palestinians living outside Israel’s 1948 borders, life is precarious and heavily regulated by a persistent procedural violence that limits their freedom of movement and shapes daily life. In the West Bank, impediments on the freedom of movement take the form of physical checkpoints, roadblocks, and a massive network of walls and fences manned by heavily armed guards and state-of-the-art surveillance technology. For Jerusalemites who are not Israeli citizens but hold identity cards distributed to them when Israel annexed the eastern part of the city in 1967, mobility has been somewhat easier. And though maintaining life in Jerusalem presents a financial and political burden to many Palestinian families, it’s a hardship many take on, as they understand that living in Jerusalem protects them from the draconian permit regime that restricts the mobility of neighboring Palestinians in the West Bank. At least, such was the case until recently.
Today, Palestinians who are stateless, but residents of East Jerusalem face a new threat to their political rights and freedom of movement in the form of new legal and bureaucratic plans to reshape the city through the exclusion of hundreds of thousands of residents from its jurisdiction.
Palestinians who are stateless, but residents of East Jerusalem face a new threat to their political rights and freedom of movement.
The new plan is yet another instance in which the Israeli government has attempted to move Palestinians from East Jerusalem to the occupied West Bank. For decades, the policy of the Israeli Ministry of Interior was called the “silent transfer,” which consisted of ever-mounting procedural demands to prove one’s center of life was in Jerusalem, or have one's residency status revoked. The building of the separation wall in the early 2000s caused thousands of families who had lived in East Jerusalem, beyond the wall encircling the West Bank, to seek housing, work, and education within the wall. This put extreme pressure on education, sewage, and welfare infrastructure—systems that were underfunded and underdeveloped compared to their counterparts in Jewish Jerusalem.
The wall itself was justified by Israeli politicians, to curtail the violence of the Second Intifada, and in the last few years the very same politicians that invented the separation wall, such as Haim Ramon, began to promote racist campaigns to encourage the isolation of the Palestinian villages in Jerusalem. Following an outbreak of violent episodes that came to be known as the intifada of stabbings, Israeli politicians affiliated with Labor began to voice the possibility of redrawing the municipal lines of Jerusalem in order to exclude the Palestinian residents living on the Jerusalem side of the separation wall.
The idea of parceling off Palestinian villages through permanent redistricting arose out of the government’s temporary measures to clamp down on the attacks of the stabbing intifada. In October 2015, after a violent couple of weeks in Jerusalem, the Israeli government gave police discretion to impose a closure on certain East Jerusalem neighborhoods to monitor the movement of the city’s Palestinian population. The measures, which severely impeded freedom of movement—preventing people from going to work, children from going to school, businesses from receiving supplies and equipment, and halting critical municipal services—were justified by politicians and security officials as temporary measures necessary for maintaining security. Yet because of the residency status of the Jerusalemites and how intertwined the populations of Jerusalem are, closure was impossible to sustain by policing power alone.
Living Emergency» offers a first-hand account of how the Israeli secret service, government, and military civil administration control the Palestinian population.
The history of Israel’s sophisticated systems of population management in the West Bank should have served then as a warning that even temporary closures on the Palestinian neighborhoods of Jerusalem can have lasting political consequences. This type of process, in which temporary measures become a permanent fixture of the logic and justification of the legal system, sheds light on what I call the routinization of emergency, a feature of colonial bureaucracy in which exceptions to the rule become part of the administrative system, even when they may have been unimaginable prior to a particular crisis. Those few weeks of closure instituted the logic of a unilateral disengagement from East Jerusalem and the creation of a permit regime.
Another critical aspect of the permit regime is the way permits are used for recruiting informants for the Shin Bet, Israel’s internal security agency, which also operates in the West Bank. Desperate Palestinians are offered permits in exchange for providing intelligence information to the agency. While the majority of permit holders are not collaborators, the suspicion, atomization, and lack of trust in the West Bank—particularly of permit holders—is a result of these practices. Leveraging permits as a method of recruiting collaborators is as old as the state itself, but the permit regime turned the recruitment of informants into a wholesale, inherent operation of the bureaucracy of the occupation, producing fear and coercion on a massive scale that affects every family in the West Bank.
The history of Israel’s sophisticated systems of population management in the West Bank should have served then as a warning.
Today the Israeli government appears intent on expanding this permit regime to incorporate Jerusalem residents as well. As of last month, the Israeli government is promoting a law proposed by Deputy Minister Zeev Ekin, whose goal is to exclude eight Palestinian neighborhoods and administratively expel a third, which, taken together, affects over 120,000 families from the municipality of Jerusalem (for more details on this plan,see Ir Amim’s policy paper on these proposals). What this would mean is that Jerusalemites would not lose their status as residents, but they would lose their standing as residents of Jerusalem. Residency would still entail access to some social rights, but spatially, they would be excluded from the city. It would also mean they would be entirely subjected to the permit regime, for even though they would carry identity cards and not permits, the effects would be similar.
The Israeli Labor Party has proposed an even more draconian law, styled in newspeak as “a plan for a Jewish and democratic Jerusalem,” that would exclude all of the Palestinian neighborhoods in Jerusalem that are behind the wall from the municipality in addition to annulling their residency status.
This reshaping of the city through tactics borrowed from the bureaucracy of the occupation developed over the course of half a century in the West bank turns population management through brief acts of rezoning into a silent and insidious weapon of war.
Recently, an exhibit titled “Endless Checkpoints” opened on the 100-level of Frist Campus Center. The exhibit purports to display the way in which Palestinians suffer due to Israeli military checkpoints. The exhibit accuses Israel of “apartheid” and of preventing the formation of a Palestinian state. The pictures, however, tell only part of the story, and the captions are rife with inaccuracies.
Firstly, the exhibit claims that Israel tries to “hide from outside observers the abuse of human rights” taking place at checkpoints. But the very fact that a civilian group — Machsom Watch — is able to photograph checkpoints attests to the openness of Israeli society. In no other country in the region could photographers take — much less publish — such photos.
Second, the application of the term “apartheid,” a state policy of racial or religious discrimination, is unwarranted. Israel has over one million Arab citizens who are granted exactly the same rights as all other citizens, whileArabsin the West Bank and Gaza are full citizens of the Palestinian Authority. While Israeli Arabs are often discriminated against by private citizens, this unfortunate fact is true of minorities in many countries. The government of Israel has no discriminatory policies, so the use of the term “apartheid” is a terrible calumny.
The exhibit neglects to mention that the checkpoints and security fence were mostly instituted during the Second Intifada to stop terrorists. In the first three years of the Intifada, there were 73 terrorist attacks; in three years following the completion of the first section of the fence, “only” 12. The exhibit also claims that Israeli policies “slice the West Bank into cantons, thus preventing territorial continuity for a future Palestinian state.” In fact, the West Bank is contiguous within the security fence, and the checkpoints can be easily removed when the Israeli army believes they are no longer necessary to keep Israeli citizens safe.
Many photos have captions that are clearly inaccurate. For example, one claims that a little girl is crying because a soldier is aiming a rifle at her father. Anyone who has fired a gun knows that someone leaning on his elbow with his gun held across his chest is not aiming at anything. The soldier is holding the rifle to protect against the frequent terrorist attacks at checkpoints. Many photos lack proper context, showing pictures of arrested Palestinians who may well have been a legitimate threat to security. Abuses occur, which Israeli courts punish, but surely any nation has a right to prevent attacks against its citizens.
This is not to say that what the Palestinian people must go through at the checkpoints is fine. Certainly, the searches and long waits to which they must submit should be ended — as soon as they are no longer vital to Israeli security. But to present such an incomplete portrayal as the one offered by this exhibit is unacceptable.
The most shocking thing about the photo exhibition “Endless Checkpoints” is the realization it provokes: that the violence, humiliation and despair captured in these candid snapshots are completely normal. For Palestinians living in the West Bank, standing in line in a military checkpoint for hours on the way from one Palestinian village to another is an everyday reality. Being humiliated by young, frustrated soldiers is often a part of the drill. Even dying in an ambulance held at a checkpoint on its way to the hospital is not unusual.
The Israeli women working for the volunteer organization “Machsom Watch” do not aim to show that Palestinians are good and Israelis are evil; their photos demonstrate what happens when one people tries to dominate the life of another through the control and obstruction of movement.
In fact, checkpoints began in the early ’90s in connection with the Oslo Agreements and before the Second Intifada. They arose largely as part of a new policy of separating Israelis and Palestinians in preparation for eventual Palestinian independence. The Second Intifada precipitated a new security regime, instituting hundreds of checkpoints between Palestinians and Palestinians. It created a permanent state of what the Israeli army calls “closure.”
The closure regime allows the army to control the pace of Palestinian life in the Occupied Territories. It provides the army with a magic button. Press it, and life goes by in slow motion so that soldiers can scrutinize each individual. Press it again, and you achieve a state of “frozen life” — an expression actually used by the Israeli army.
The price, however, is insufferable to anyone who believes in the equal worth and dignity of human beings. Millions of Palestinians, including those who are yet to be born, are sentenced, without trial, to live in a state of permanent captivity. They are prisoners in their own homes and villages.
In the Occupied Territories, the rights of human beings are determined by their religion and ethnicity. Both law and policy prioritize the security and welfare of illegal Israeli settlers. This includes roads exclusively for the use of settlers, and unequal distribution of drinking water and other resources. Whether this systematic and institutionalized discrimination should be called “apartheid,” we leave to the reader.
The pictures in “Endless Checkpoints” were taken by Israelis, not only because some of us care about the human rights of Palestinians, but also because some of us worry about the effect of occupation and oppression on our own society. Control mechanisms and human rights violations do not stop at the border. They seep into the dominating society, undermining democracy and corrupting humanity. Our only way to survive is to find a sustainable solution to the conflict. The reign of fear does not increase our security; it causes us to drift away from it, one humiliation at a time.
DEPORTATION HEARING FOR DETAINED US PEACE ACTIVIST
On Tuesday July 6, 2004 at 2:00 pm, US citizen, Ann Petter will be brought before an Israeli judge atTel Aviv’s District Courtafter being denied entry into Israel at Ben Gurion Airport and spending nearly two weeks in an Israeli jail.
On June 23, the 44 year-old graphic designer from New York was detained for nearly 10 hours at Ben Gurion Aiport without explanation and later told that she was refused entry into the country based on “security” concerns. Petter was accompanying to Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories, a 79-year-old Holocaust survivor. She was planning to attend a wedding in Israel and participate in the International Solidarity Movement’s Freedom Summer campaign, a 56-day campaign of nonviolent action for freedom and against occupation that includes a 3-week peace march along the path of the Apartheid Wall. Ann Petter’s legal representative, Adv. Yael Berda, obtained an injunction on the deportation order after Ann refused to be deported without a legal procedure.
Advocate Shamai Leibowitz says, "The words 'security threat' and 'terrorism' are the most abused words of our times, and Israel is the primary abuser of these words. Ms. Petter represents no security threat to the state of Israel and is being denied entry for the same reason thousands of other human rights people have been denied. She simply wants to witness the current situation in the Middle East with her own eyes and stand peacefully in support of human rights."
Over the past 3 weeks, the number of international citizens who have been denied entry at Ben Gurion airport has notably increased. At least 10 people coming from different countries have been detained and denied entry after being interrogated about their affiliation with the International Solidarity Movement. Dozens others have been harassed, intimidated and extensively searched by the security services of the airport. According to Adv. Yael Berda, the Israeli authorities must differentiate between physical and political dangers. Denying people entry into the country based on the latter violates the principles of democracy. “The Israeli security services are treating us like an illegal organization in an effort to stop nonviolent resistance to illegal occupation policies. In doing such, they are encouraging violent resistance” said ISM spokesperson Huwaida Arraf.
For more information please contact:
Huwaida Arraf (ISM) at +972-547-473-308
Attorney Yael Berda at +972 68 743 083
Attorney Shamai Leibowitz at +972 64 414 505
מינהלת המעברים עושה מהלך מופלא עבור הארוטיקה של הכיבוש: היא הופכת אותה מתערוכת סטילס של מציאות מאובקת לתצוגה אדירה של הפשטה, ללא מגע יד. זהו הקולוניאליזם של הגוף, רק בלי הלכלוך של המאבק
כנשים הנאבקות בכיבוש, אנחנו תמיד משתמשות בזכויות אדם ובמשפט הבינלאומי הפומבי. אנחנו מצטטות את אמנת ז'נבה. את תקנות האג. אנחנו בוחנות את תפקידיו של המפקד הצבאי בשטח כבוש, בודקות מהו המאפיין של "האנשים המוגנים", האזרחים הכבושים. מקסימום טכני, מקסימום סיפור אנושי. לפעמים הזדהות. לפעמים-לפעמים שותפות.
אלא שיותר ויותר אני חשה שמשהו נעדר מהדיבור הזה. חסר הדיון בארוטיקה של הכיבוש. אותם יחסי אהבה–שנאה סוטים ומשונים של ישראלים ופלסטינים, אותו סרט לוהט ומייאש, קולנוע סוג ז' שכל העולם צופה בו, מרותק אל הסצינה הארוטית החולנית. חלקנו שחקניות, חלקנו צופות, חלקנו שותפות פעילות שמייצרות חלקים מהמיזנסצנה: חיילים, אזרחים, משקיפים, בינלאומיים, ארגונים הומניטריים, מחסומים, זיעה, התנשפות, ייאוש, אלימות וסודיות. וכמו תמיד, הכל מתחיל בגוף. גם הביטחון הלאומי, והרי לך עיקרון על מס' 1 בארוטיקה של הכיבוש: ההפשטה.
המשחק מתקיים כבר שנים. במקום לומר לך שלום, מחפשים לך את המלחמה בתוך התיק, מבקשים זיהוי, עושים חיפוש בגלאי מתכות ידני, אחר-כך חיפוש של משקוף בטחוני, מעבירים את התיק דרך הרנטגן, ואם אומרים שלום בכל זאת, מברכים אותך בתחנת אוטובוס כדי לבדוק מבטא. נוסף לזה גם החיפוש הפנימי בכל חור של הגוף, וגם של הנפש. נוספו החקירות בשדה התעופה, למי באת ואיפה את עובדת ואיפה את ישנה ועם מי ומה יש לך לחפש במקום שאת הולכת אליו. בחינה, זיהוי, בדיקה, חיפוש, הפשטה וחוזר חלילה. אכן חלילה.
ועכשיו, ההפשטה האולטימיטיבית. השיקוף התלת-ממדי ההולוגרמי: מינהלת המעברים במשרד הביטחון אחראית בין היתר על מה שנקרא "מרקם חיים". הכוונה ב"חיים" היא לחיים של תושבי השטחים הפלסטינים ותושבי מזרח ירושלים בעקבות הקמת גדר ההפרדה ומשטר ההיתרים. ב-8 בדצמבר 2005 נחתם בין ארה''ב לישראל הסכם על העברה של ציוד בידוק משוכלל במיוחד, בעלות של 50 מיליון דולר, שעובד על טכנולוגיה חדישה של הבניית הולוגרמה של הגוף. קוראים לזה Three Dimensional Holographic Body Scanning, וזה עדיף מרנטגן, כי זה עובד על תדרים ארוכים ובעצם מייצר תמונה של הגוף, רק בעירום.
חברת SAFEVIEW, שפיתחה את הטכנולוגיה, התמודדה באמת עם בעיות של פרטיות, שכן צילום עירום שלך בזמן אמיתי באמצע שדה תעופה או קניון עדיין איננו מתחרז יפה עם ההגנה הליברלית על הפרטיות. כדי להתמודד עם הבעיה החוקתית, איכשהו הצליחו לעשות צילום הולוגרפי של כל מה שאיננו חלק מגוף "נורמלי" (אבל גם לא חייב להיות רק מתכת, אלא גם כל חומר שאיננו אורגני לגוף).
כל מתקן כזה עולה 100 אלף דולר, ומינהלת המעברים הזמינה כאלה ב-50 מיליון. ישראל היא המדינה הראשונה שיש ל SAFEVIEW כלקוחה, באדיבות שירותי התיווך של ממשלת ארה''ב ואנשי הרכש של משרד הביטחון.
רוב האנשים עדיין אינם רואים בטכנולוגיה מקדמת של ארוטיקה. משהו בסטריליות תמיד נראה לנו רחוק מהדימוי הפראי, החייתי, של ההפשטה. מינהלת המעברים עושה מהלך מופלא עבור הארוטיקה של הכיבוש: היא הופכת אותה מתערוכת סטילס של מציאות מאובקת לתצוגה אדירה של הפשטה, ללא מגע יד. זהו הקולוניאליזם של הגוף, רק בלי הלכלוך של המאבק. הטיעון הבטחוני חזק מהטיעון הארוטי, ומרקם החיים לא ממש קשור לחיים עצמם, לכמיהות וחלומות. מרקם החיים הוא צילום תלת-מימדי, הולוגרפי, של החיים של הפלסטינים. תכף יצא הסרט גם בדי.וי.די.
זה עדיף מרנטגן, כי זה עובד על תדרים ארוכים ובעצם מייצר תמונה של הגוף, רק בעירום. SAFEVIEW
על יעל ברדה
יעל ברדה היא עורכת דין של זכויות האדם, פעילה חברתית ומשוררת ברים.
The essay The Erotics of the Occupation was originally published in Hebrew as a series of articles in Ma’arav Hebrew. Translated by Hilla Dayan.
Searching and Stripping
The perverse relationship between Israelis and Palestinians is a depressing B movie that the entire world daily watches. Many actors, spectators, and producers take part in the Mis-en-Scene: soldiers, civilians, international observes, humanitarian organizations, to name few. Despite the attraction to the action, not many realize that the Israeli occupation is all about the body: sweat, heavy breathing, desire. There are several principles to the erotics of the occupation, such as stripping and searching.
The Israeli authorities look for war in your handbag. They ask for your identification papers. They strip and search you with a metal detector, and put you through a screening machine. If they say hello to you, at the entrance to a bus station, for instance, they just check your accent. Airport interrogations may take hours and they are all about intimate knowledge. The Israeli authorities want to know who did you come to visit, and where do you work, and where do you sleep, and with whom, and what are you looking for in wherever it is you are going to. National security is obsessed with inspecting, identifying, examining, searching and stripping the body.
The Israeli Ministry of Defense has a unit called the Passages Administration. This is the authority responsible for “fabric of life,” and “life” stands for the life of the residents of the occupied Palestinian territories. The Passages Administration recently began to import a machine that is going to improve its stripping capacity. The new apparatus produces a three-dimensional hologram picture of the body, and is officially called the Three Dimensional Holographic Body Scanning. Long transmission signals produce a naked image of the body. Safeview, the American company that developed this stripping technology, had to seriously deal with the issue of privacy. Indeed, it is hard to imagine how a naked image produced in real time at the airport or in the mall can be reconciled with the right to privacy Americans so cherish. To avoid constitutional problems, the machines were made to create a hologram image of inorganic parts of a “normal” body. Israel is an enthusiastic client.(1)
The extent to which technology advances erotics is not well appreciated. Something about the sterility of technology goes against this notion. With the Three-Dimensional Holographic Body Scanning, however, the Israeli Passages Administration has found a new sex toy that will help it stimulate the erotics of the occupation. The gallery show of still-life pictures of Palestinians passing checkpoints is going to transform into a giant media installation. Of course, authorities convince most Israelis that they make use of stripping and searching technologies only to enhance their security, rather than to enhance the erotics of the occupation. But the new machine is clearly an erotic device. After all, for the Passages Administration “the fabric of life” has nothing to do with life itself. They are not interested in the life of human beings with aspirations and dreams. Life is, rather, the fabric of the Palestinian body, stripped and frozen into a three-dimensional hologram picture.
Arabness or Arabism is booming in Israel. You notice it everywhere on the street. You hear it in the music, you eat it in restaurants, you smoke it with a nargileh [oriental tobacco pipe]. The Israeli Arabism is Palestinian-less, a principle of the erotics of the occupation. Especially since intifada 2000 Tel Aviv rediscovered the humus, the knafe [a sweet desert], and Arabic music. Suddenly there was a craving for the authentic humus and knafe. The more impossible it became to travel to places like Bidia or Bethlehem in the West Bank, the more their tastes became desirable.
This is the nature of the asymmetrical affair, the relationship of attraction and revulsion between Israelis and Palestinians. Israelis have to know, to touch and to smell everything that the other has – the land, the coffee, the music – but without knowing the other. They desire the senses and the tastes, without knowing the people and their language, and for Israelis not to know the Arabic language is rather like insisting not to know. It is not a coincidental ignorance, but an active ignorance.
Israelis basically know nothing about Palestinians or Palestinian culture, but the other side suffers from ignorance as well: many believe that Israelis live, think, and breath only in uniforms.
Arabism was actually a gradual process, which started in the 1990s. A search for lost Mizrahi roots was in full swing. Popular music bands like Sheva and Hasmakhot made the country a darboukkah [drum] land, and Mizrahi-Arabic music became mainstream. The battalions of post military service India-crazed Israelis have been recruited for the mission. They began celebrating the Orient in hippie festivals, like the Shantipi festival, where ethnic music was played, suddenly becoming part of the hegemonic Israeli culture. For the sake of clarification, this music is not influenced by Arabic music at all, Fairuz or Marcel Khalife, for instance. Only the 4 sound of typical Arabic music instruments, the ud and the daff, is heard everywhere.
This cultural transformation came about just as Palestinians became trapped in the occupied territories, and daily interface was completely obstructed. Now, with an official ban on the possibility of knowing, with border patrol jeeps cruising Salame street in Jaffa and Shlomtzion Hamalka street in West Jerusalem, and with a ninemeters-tall separation wall, Arabism flourishes within the 1948 borders. More Arabic coffee is poured in Tel Aviv now that the Palestinians have completely disappeared from its streets.
Dana Levy, from the exihibition, Three Cities Against The Wall
In New York after 9/11, new Afghan restaurants were all the rage, just like belly dancing classes in the East Village. Every bombing campaign on the Taliban carved cultural spaces of mystery, and generated yet another photo exhibition showing veiled Muslim women. And likewise, for every so-called targeted killing operation of the IDF (Israeli Defense Forces), you could buy more Hayona Tahinah from Nablus in Tel Aviv. In 2005, a popular song titled “the middle of the night in the village” hit the radio charts in Israel. The lyrics sung by Harel Moyal, a former border patrol soldier from the settlement Ma’ale Edomim, depict an imaginary place, somewhere between the Palestinian village al-Hader and Beit Jala in the West Bank. He is on duty, listening to the voice of the Muezzin in the mosque, lighting one last cigarette before going on an arrest operation. Moyal sensually pronounces the names of Palestinian villages, and the melody of the Muezzin is incorporated into the music.
This song is a simple lesson in Orientalism: the desire for the exotic other and his appropriation. Racism becomes more pronounced the greater the desire for appropriation is. In the delirious colonial encounter, the colonizer wants to separate, enclose and protect himself, yet is attracted to the other through the senses as to entertainment or to a cooking spice. Meanwhile, Tali Fahima(2), resisting the occupation with her mind and body, is thrown into administrative detention just as authentic
Arabic humus joints multiply in Tel Aviv. Israel is like an obsessed lover, who wants to separate forever and by all means from his loved one, but equally desires to wake up each morning beside him, smell his clothes and spray his perfume all over a house that they share.
The occupation is experienced visually. Another principle of the erotics of the occupation is the desire cultivated by the eye to witness the occupation and the war.
Tullio Crali, "Nose Dive on the City", 1939
The eye has gotten accustomed to the excitement, to the orange and red flashes on the television screen, to the blood-red smeared headlines of the daily newspapers, to the illustrations and maps of the bombing campaigns that graphically depict the event, the incident, the attack, the war zone. The eye, aided by a dramatic soundtrack announcing the special news edition, cultivates a desire for the aesthetics of violence.
Israel has a film industry, which exports violence and suffering, and benefits the makers and the spectators. It rips awards for the makers, and expands for the spectators the possibilities for witnessing disasters. The subjects of the films, the victim, the terrorist, the refugee, the prisoner or the soldier, are usually figures, who trigger national and international catharsis. Already in 1991 the Israeli filmmaker and critic Jad Neeman observed that the Israeli film industry produces war movies comparable to soft porn movies, and argued that it is difficult to make the distinction between the war movies industry and the war industry itself. It is indeed not easy to establish what gives to what: do wars inspire the images, or images produce wars? Today, the aesthetics of the occupation has become a big industry. Many documentary films on the occupation find a comfortable place on the programs and 6 catalogues of prestigious film festivals all over the world. The industry and its consumers seem to believe that watching documentary films is a political act, and this gives them a sense of relief from responsibility to what they are witnessing.
The war campaign Israel launched in Lebanon in the summer of 2007 signaled a return to the pyrotechnics of a good-old war movie: smoke over Beirut, mass destruction, debris, and scores of anonymous corpses. This was not the skillful and engineered aesthetics of documentary films on the occupation. No beautiful visuals of the separation wall and the checkpoints, these were messy images of a full-blown campaign of doom, Gog and Magog, a nightmare projected on the conscience screens of culture.(3) And we as spectators accept this as part of our normal visual experience of life. The futurist artists in the early twentieth century thought that war was a good thing, a stage in the development of mankind. Mussolini had said that peace is decadence, and that war makes the human being stronger. And we indeed become stronger, more pronouncedly fascist as we experience war on the screen. The image feeds our eyes and souls with erotic violence that we have become addicted to.
Without this visual feed we do not exist. If the flames stop burning there is no desire left in our lives. The short answer to the question of what gives to what, images or war, is that although not always and not in every case, usually it is the image that is in the service of violence. The aesthetics of violence make us believe that this is simply how the world is and another world is not possible. If we wish for another world or at least for the possibility of imagining it, we need to start thinking of inventing a new body, and we must begin with the eye.
Giacomo Balla, "Warship", 1916
Mystery and Uncertainty
In every erotic relationship there is an element of uncertainty: secrets, words whispered in bedrooms, intimate situations, delicate games of closeness and distance. The Israeli authorities specialize in intimate games of intrigue. They create a radical uncertainty as for the present and the future of the relationship, and the uncertainty is a central principle of the erotics of the occupation. To begin with, uncertainty is generated by the law, which is normally boring, because it is public and accessible, and appears in the official books. Like the identity number of your partner, the law is not a very interesting detail. But for Palestinians in the occupied territories the law is determined ad hoc by the military commander of “the area,” and is thus mysterious, flexible, changing all the time. It is very difficult to obtain information about it in Hebrew, let alone in Arabic. I once tried, as a human rights lawyer, to get a hold of a new warrant regulating passages in the occupied territories. I called the “fabric of life” office at the Ministry of Defense, and was told that all military orders are kept in public libraries in Israel. Indeed, at the library of Tel Aviv University I found some military orders updated only up to 1994. Criteria for authorizations or bans, procedures for permits or applications, administrative decrees, the protocols of appeal committees of IDF military tribunals are all secret materials. These secrets time and again ignite the passion in this crazy relationship.
Obtaining and maintaining secret information used to be the purview of the General Security Services (Shin Bet). Today they have serious competitors. Secret information is no longer the property of the Israeli intelligence services alone, but is gathered by many mistresses, such as the Israeli police, and specifically its “prohibited from entry” unit. The boring protocols of the Inter-Office Committee for Special Affairs at the Ministry of the Interior also contain juicy secrets. This is a practice of desire. The most trivial information about a person becomes an object of official whispering and yearning.
The Israeli High Court of Justice in its ruling on targeted killings established that the fun'ction of secret materials is not to determine the security danger a certain person poses in advance.(4) Supreme Court Judge Aharon Barak wrote in this ruling, that you cannot know and make a decision in advance as to whether the assassination operation is legal or not according to international law. Only in retrospect, after the execution, the court will review secret materials in order to determine that. But the true func'tion of secrets is to sustain the erotics of the occupation. The intimate language whispered in the bedroom of the occupation, includes such terms, as security needs, investigation needs, the defense of sources and methods of action, indications, insinuations, allegations, and saves the occupation from becoming boring. It sustains an exceptional, out of the ordinary, relationship. Secrets are the aphrodisiac, an addictive love potion. Something has to keep a forty-year-old relationship going.
Direct Action against the wall and restrictions of movements in Palestine, Anarchists Blocking Bazel street in Tel Aviv, Israel, 28/12/06
Poster boards in Jerusalem are filled with tempting calls for Defensive Shield operation in Gaza.(5) The mailboxes of Israeli leftists meanwhile explode with invitations to take part in the celebrations of the fortieth anniversary of the occupation. But, the general feeling is that the occupation is no longer as exciting as it used to be. It is becoming redundant, like a “slight bang on the wings of the airplane” as Dan Halutz famously put it (when he was IDF Chief of Staff), referring to what Israeli air force pilots felt when they dropped a one-ton bomb on a residential building in Gaza. Even the excitement of targeted killings, having gone through the 9 laundromat of the High Court of Justice, is winding down. The assassination operations used to infuse new blood to the dying romance, but now barely get four and- a-half lines in the newspapers. This is the dry season of academic conferences and human rights reports. When passion is over, when a routine of violence makes everyone yawn, you have to look for excitement somewhere else. And so we look for Iranian Shihab missiles with nuclear heads, and gaze at the Syrian landscape.
Up to now, the relationship was mostly restricted to Gaza and the West Bank, but how much longer can one mess around with this domestic triviality of the Palestinian “fabric of life”? We need new names, new places, new infrared desires. And so the romance is turning into polygamy. Emmanuel Wallerstein conceives international relations as one whole system, which reflects the power of capital to shape the world.(6) Not only capitalism, but erotic violence as well, always seeks bigger, more serious partners. It is likewise in a polygamous relationship with the world. This violence is real, strong, divine, wrath of God violence, not like the checkpoints, and the wall, and bypass roads, and the ban on family unification, and the ritualistic invasions of Jewish settlers to houses in the Muslim quarter of the old city in Jerusalem. The search for a polygamous relationship is not just prompted by boredom, but also by an imperial passion, the passion to expand, to make the arena of conflict bigger and bigger, and the rules of the game more complicated. James Ron compared the repertoires of state violence in Israel and Serbia.7 Violence deployed in what he calls ghettos tends to be less pernicious than in frontiers, where violence is directed against populations that are not under the direct control of the state. We witnessed this dynamic on the northern frontier in the 2007 Lebanon campaign. Exiting the ghetto of the occupation, Israel unleashed hellish violence against populations not under its control. The erotics of the occupation may go global, or turn 10 into nostalgia. It is likely, in any case, when it reaches its full-blown imperial proportions, to make old objects of desire increasingly irrelevant. As Bertolt Brecht said, “the public is dead,” and for that matter all publics are dead and irrelevant in this global war. We live in an era of polygamous violence, and there is no telling what is yet to come.
Tali Fahima, a young Israeli woman, established contacts with Zacaria Zbeidi, head of the Al Aqsa brigade at the Jenin refugee camp, and declared she would be prepared to serve as a human shield to protect him. Fahima served a three-year sentence in the Israeli Jail for her actions.
Gog and Magog are a Biblical pair associated with apocalyptic prophecy, and are also mentioned in the Quran as Yajooj (Gog) and Majooj (Magog).
HCJ 765/02, Public Committee against Torture in Israel and Law v. Government of Israel (2002).
Defensive Shield was a large-scale IDF operation to re-occupy major Palestinian cities, which took place between March and May 2002. During this massive military campaign 497 Palestinians werekilled and 1447 were wounded according to UN statistics.
Wallerstain, Immanuel. World-Systems Analysis: An Introduction. Duke University Press, 2004.
James Ron, Frontiers and Ghettos: State Violence in Serbia and Israel, University of California Press, 2003.
[Jerusalem] Wednesday morning the Israeli Supreme Court gave its decision concerning the path of the Apartheid Wall in the northwest Jerusalem area. Please see following report for more details.
[Jerusalem] At 1:30 this afternoon, two of the Palestinian peace activists, Mohammed Khalil Mansour and Khaled Fuad Salameh, arrested in A-Ram last Saturday presented their defense to Judge Shelev-Gerter at the Jerusalem Peace Court. Advs Lea Tsemel and Yael Berda called on the court to recognize the racial discrimination practiced by the Israeli police, as Israeli activists arrested at the same demonstration were released the same evening whereas the Palestinians were beaten, jailed and are facing charges. A judgment is to be announced Friday at 10 AM at the Jerusalem Peace Court.
Nidal Musa Ka’abneh, age 17, and Mohammed Ahmed Amr, age 15, also arrested in last Saturday’s A-Ram demonstration, had a closed hearing today presided over by Judge Shelev-Gerter. Video presented by the defense clearly shows the violent way in which these two youths were apprehended and refutes the claim that they attacked a police officer. The judgment as to their case is also set for Friday at 10 AM.
Attorney Yael Berda's new book looks inside the daily operations of the Palestinian permit system, where she says no one is in charge and everyone loses.
Vered Lee Jul 26, 2012 1:18 PM
"The Bureaucracy of Occupation: The Permit Regime in the West Bank 2000–2006," by Yael Berda, allows us to peek over the shoulder of the military bureaucrat, as Max Weber, one of the founders of modern sociology, put it. Berda, a practicing lawyer, specializes in administrative and constitutional law and is a research student at Princeton University. In her book, she surveys the administrative system of the Israeli occupation of the territories, exposing the day-to-day work of the clerks, the organizational devices and the rituals that manage the Israeli occupation in the territories.
The permit regime is the worlds largest and most developed mechanism for filtering, identifying and restricting the movement of a large civilian population, says Berda. Since the Oslo Accords, Palestinians from the territories have needed entry permits to enter Israel. The permit regime is inefficient and clumsy system of documents and permits that are difficult to obtain.
Haaretz: When did you first encounter the military legal system in the territories?
For the first case I worked on when I was self-employed, I drove to the Ofer military base to find Naim and Ayad Murar, who were among those who organized the popular protest against the separation fence in the village of Burdus," says Berda. Together with attorney Tamar Peleg Sharik, I appealed their administrative detention. The court accepted our position that the arrest had been made for political reasons and released them. I was shocked by what I saw in the military courts. Not only were there different laws for the entire [Palestinian] population, but there was also physical separation in the court between the entrance for Jewish civilians and the entrance for Palestinian residents. There were even separate sitting areas. One of the soldiers said to me, What are you so shocked about? Youre in the territories – there are different laws here.'
What is the bureaucratic model of the occupation?
The bureaucratic model that most people are familiar with is what sociologist Max Weber called the legal-rational authority. This is when the bureaucracy is supposed to operate according to clear laws and administrative work is performed systematically in a universal way. In other words, the laws apply to everyone equally with no connection to the identity of the client or the clerk. We talk about corruption and crooked behavior mostly regarding bureaucratic systems. But I say the bureaucracy of the occupation is a different model. It operates like the British bureaucracy that managed populations of subjects in the colonies. The colonial model is based on the principle of racial hierarchy, in which there is one legal and organizational system for the ethnic group in power and another for the group that is under their control.
Israel claims that it acts this way out of fear of risks to its security. What do you think?
One of my principal claims is that the way the civilian population in the West Bank is being managed endangers the security of the Jews. This is because the way what constitutes a security risk is decided makes all the Palestinians a security risk. This kind of model prevents two important things from happening: the management of security risks (if everyone is dangerous, then I cannot make decisions about allocating resources), but more important, it leads us into a political catch-22. If everyone is dangerous, no political solution can be found, and if there is no political solution, there are only violent solutions.
Who is actually responsible for managing the civilian population in the territories?
That is a really good question. It is supposed to be the Civil Administration and the OC Central Command, who is the military commander of the area. But in practice, this system has many partners: the General Security Service, the Defense Ministry, the Interior Ministry, the Ministry of Industry, Trade and Labor, the Employment Service, the Border Police, the Israel Police, the Manufacturers Association of Israel, the Association of Contractors and Builders in Israel, international organizations and corporations. This is a very complex system that contains uncertainty, administrative flexibility and the constant creation of exceptions. I call this difficulty in finding someone who is accountable, the phenomenon of the phantom sovereign.
Who gains from such an inefficient bureaucratic system?
Its important to understand that the system was not planned this way. There was never any decision by the government or any other administrative agency to establish the permits regime, so it was not done deliberately. As far as gain – the administrative flexibility, waste of resources and the frequent administrative friction that is part of granting work permits leads to two desired results in the governmental system. It makes the Palestinian civilian population dependent on the administrative system, enabling the system to control, monitor and apply pressure and it preserves the principle of keeping the two populations separate.
Berda calls the lack of a clear authority in the Palestinian territories, the ‘the phenomenon of the phantom sovereign.’AP