- The Power of Inclusive Exclusion: Anatomy of Israeli Rule in the Occupied Palestinian Territories
This collection of studies by Israeli, Palestinian, and American social scientists is focused on power and the Israeli military control of Palestinian life in the Occupied Territories since the year 2000. It emerged from a multi-year study program called “Catastrophe in the Making,” which analyzed the spatial realities of the Israeli occupation, its built infrastructure, use of legal frameworks drafted and implemented by the Israeli military on Palestinians, and the shrinking of Palestinian physical territory and conceptual space during the eight-year period, 2000–2008. The approach to the studies, whether through analytic discussion or photographic essay, is political, meaning that values and power, and how both are used to further the Israeli military occupation, are central.
The book is, at some level, about the modalities of Israeli military control over the land and Palestinian residents of the Occupied Territories. Debating how they can be unwound and ended is part of many sections. The 31 chapters include ten labeled “Occupation’s Paper Trail” and five “Photo Dossier” — all by Ariella Azoulay. This blending of analysis with theory, case study, and photographic essay is a refreshing approach to what can be dense information. The combination helps to situate the analysis of the occupation in terms of the human disaster it continues to be for Palestinians and its impact on ending the Israel-Palestinian conflict. The introduction to The Power of Inclusive Exclusion provides a tidy literature review of studies that together make up its conceptual framework.
An argument that runs throughout is that the occupation by Israel has been, is, and will be implemented between two poles: the violent application of values through brute military force and their implementation by administrative edict and bureaucratic control. No matter the method, the authors imply that both the political values and the power they harness to deepen and solidify the occupation are integral to a fixed system of enduring control.
Of the many chapters, some are stellar. “Photo Dossier I: The Architecture of Destruction” by Ariella Azoulay documents spatial changes resulting from the Israeli military’s “walking through walls” tactics1 [End Page 482] begun during the Second Intifada in densely populated refugee camps in the West Bank. “Where, Where To, and When in the Occupied Territories: An Introduction to Geography of Disaster” by Ariel Handel is about the shrinking of Palestinian conceptualization of life in the Occupied Territories due to the Israeli military’s constriction of movement, cantonment of land, and creation of settlements. Whether Palestinians are living on, using, or legally claiming land is argued to be irrelevant, as they can be turned out at any time by the violent force or legal writ of the Israeli military. The legal veneer of the military’s seizure of land in the Occupied Territories and its conversion to exclusively Israeli Jewish use is graphically shown in “The Occupation’s Paper Trail VII.” The bureaucratic normality of taking land is displayed by placing land seizure orders side-by-side in Hebrew, Arabic, and English. They appear banal, despite their ability to create thousands of internally displaced and refugee Palestinians.
While having much to commend, the book is too long and its subject too broad. At over 600 pages, in small print, and about dense topics, too much is crammed into one volume. The materials perhaps could have been organized into three volumes: theory, case studies, and applied analysis. The book’s unwieldy size detracts from the potency of its many useful observations. Regrettably, this ultimately might mean that it will not be consulted as much as it could be as a source for social science analysis of the Israeli military occupation. The study also falls somewhat into a rut of having similar themes and voices throughout. This, at times, leads one to feel that the academic argument is less about debating points of view and more about confirming established ideas.