Israel's Occupation

Israel's Occupation

Israel's Occupation

Israel's Occupation

Synopsis

This first complete history of Israel's occupation of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip allows us to see beyond the smoke screen of politics in order to make sense of the dramatic changes that have developed on the ground over the past forty years. Looking at a wide range of topics, from control of water and electricity to health care and education as well as surveillance and torture, Neve Gordon's panoramic account reveals a fundamental shift from a politics of life--when, for instance, Israel helped Palestinians plant more than six-hundred thousand trees in Gaza and provided farmers with improved varieties of seeds--to a macabre politics characterized by an increasing number of deaths. Drawing attention to the interactions, excesses, and contradictions created by the forms of control used in the Occupied Territories, Gordon argues that the occupation's very structure, rather than the policy choices of the Israeli government or the actions of various Palestinian political factions, has led to this radical shift.

Excerpt

It took me a moment before I understood why my story about a few relatively inconsequential incidents, which occurred years ago at my high school, had such an effect on the undergraduates taking my course in the fall semester of 2006. One of the anecdotes was about my classmates who lived in the Jewish settlements located in the northern tip of the Sinai Peninsula. It was 1981, and the following year they would be forced to leave their homes as part of Israel’s peace agreement with Egypt, but at the time, I told my students, the evacuation did not seem imminent, at least not in the minds of many teenagers for whom each year stretches without end. A particular issue that did occupy us, I continued, was learning to drive. I described to my students how my friends from the farming communities located in the Sinai and the small town of Yamit took their lessons in the Palestinian town of Rafah and were among the first to pass their driving tests.

My students found this story incomprehensible. They simply could not imagine Israeli teenagers taking driving lessons in the middle of Rafah, which, in their minds, is no more than a terrorist nest riddled with tunnels used to smuggle weapons from Egypt — weapons that are subsequently used against Israeli targets. The average age difference between me and my students is only 15 years, but our perspectives are radically different. Most of my students have never talked with Palestinians from the Occupied Territories (OT), except perhaps as soldiers during their military service.

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