Participant Abstracts and Bios

Nurhan Abujidi
Yasmeen Abu-Laban
Vida Bajc
Abigail Bakan
Glenn Bowman
Hillel Cohen
Nick Denes
Samera Esmeir
Ilana Feldman
Yotam Feldman
Michael Fischbach
Khaled Furani
Nir Gazit
Neve Gordon
Stephen Graham
Ussama Halabi
Sari Hanafi
Ariel Handel
Rassem Khamaisi
Anat Leibler
Ronit Lentin
David Lyon
Daniel Monterescu
Tamara Neuman
Nigel Parsons
Ahmad Sa'di
Omar Jabary Salamanca
Tamir Sorek
Helga Tawil-Souri
Eyal Weizman
Reg Whitaker
Oren Yiftahel
Elia Zureik

Nurhan Abujidi
Postdoctoral Scholar, Cosmopolis, City Culture and Society,
Free University of Brussels, Belgium

The Palestinian occupied territories as laboratories of the spatial order of the 21st century

What we do - this is not 'living'. We cannot play, pray, work, study, marry. And they say we are the terrorists. This is the terror - 24 hour, 7 day a week, everywhere. Nobody even knows this is a weapon. But it is killing us all, in our bodies and our minds - slowly & quietly. There are no explosions and no blood - this is why the world doesn't see it. And when we scream [hand gestures for suicide bomb], nobody understands why. (Curfew in Palestine, 2002)25

Wars and all other forms of political violence such as urbicide(the intentional destruction of urbanity) distort and change the physical/spatial as well as the human experience of urbanity. This paper aims at highlighting the three stages in the urbicide process, beginning with the prerequisite of politics, which paves the way for action, which then creates the effect of urbicide. The paper’s main focus will be on the third stage of urbicide that is manifested in a new physical, spatial and human condition of the city, which becomes a place, space, and state of exception: a state that alters the human perception and experience of self and place. Thus, charting the changes and inversions that military siege, invasions and destruction create in cities enables us to understand the specificity of this condition of the state of exception. The Palestinian urban condition during the 2002 Israeli military invasions and reoccupation will be analyzed to highlight the above argument. Since the 1948 and 1967 wars, Palestinians within and outside the Palestinian Territories live in a permanent state of exile from what was once “Palestine.” This experience of estrangement is further reinforced by the state of emergency imposed since the establishment of the State of Israel. This state of emergency (originating from the British laws of 1945) regulates and subjugates the Palestinian people’s notion of daily life, an experience that hinders their differentiation between normal and emergency, civil and military, and public and private space. This constitutes the condition of the state of exception according to Agamben.

During times of invasion, the exception of occupation in the Palestinian Territories since 1967 becomes ‘normal’ in comparison to the newly imposed exception established by Israeli army incursions, curfews, and the resulting destruction. This new extreme and exaggerated exception is evident in the collective experience of detention, death, and long periods of curfew, house raids, shelling, and building demolition. This extreme is realized in the presence of an existence of bare survival, living on the edge, where human rights and dignity no longer exist and profound “existential humiliation” is a recurrent experience

These dynamics of the state of exception will be investigated at the specific scale of the city of Nablus, Palestine, between 2002 and 2005.


Nurhan Abujidi is a graduate from School of Architecture at Bir Zeit University in 1996.
She worked as the chief architect for the Palestinian Department of Antiquities and
Cultural Heritage from 1996 to 2000. She received two master degrees from the Catholic University of Leuven, Belgium (one in conservation of historic towns and buildings, and the other in the architecture of human settlement). In 2007 she received her PhD from the department of architecture, regional and urban planning at KULeuven.

Her research focuses on urban warfare and the urban conditions in war zones, working
mainly on developing the concept of urbicide in Palestinian and Middle Eastern cities
(including Jenin, Hebron, Beirut and Fallujah). In particular, her work analyzes how
space is used in military strategies to control and destroy urban material, spatial and
socio-cultural conditions. Her research investigates the impacts of urban warfare and
urbicide on peoples’ collective memory and their perception of self, other and place.

Currently she is a guest professor at COSMOPOLIS; City , Cutlure and Society at the
Vrije Universiteit Brussel. She is also the academic coordinator of the Erasmus Mundus
UII urban studies module for students from Palestine, Egypt and Israel. She teaches three courses: Urbicide, theories of urbanism, and urban design (Brussels’ immigrant

Forthcoming book:
Nurhan Abujidi, “Spaces of Oppression and Resilience: State of Exception, Urbicide and
beyond; the Palestinian case”, Institute for Palestine Studies, (2009-2010)

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Yasmeen Abu-Laban
Department of Political Science, University of Alberta, Canada


Abigail B. Bakan
Professor, Department of Political Science, University of Alberta, Canada

Israel’s Social Sorting Before and After 9/11 and the Globalization of the ‘War on Terror’

Since September 11, 2001, Samuel Huntington’s “clash of civilizations” thesis has become popularized within academic and policy circles as an explanatory starting point from which to assess global security issues and state responsibilities. The clash thesis, while making explicit references to ‘culture’ and ‘religion,’ has in fact fostered an overt acceptance of racialized and essentialized categories that define certain non-state actors as a present or potential threat to Western sovereignty and security. The risk to American citizenry, and by extension the populations of the Western world is, we are to understand, posed most starkly by the projected ‘Muslim terrorist’ and those Arab or Islamic states (or communities) that would ‘harbour’ or ‘breed’ such terrorists. While the normalizaton of this constructed security threat has been thrown into sharp relief in the post 9/11 context, in fact it is not a new discourse. Drawing on the analytical frameworks suggested by Charles Mills’ racial contract, Edward Said’s analysis of Orientalism, and Antonio Gramsci’s concept of hegemony, the paper will argue that the racialization of security that defines Israel’s apartheid-like system has moved further from the local to the global in the post 9/11 period, as have the actual and potential sites and forms of resistance to surveillance and social sorting in the name of justice and human security.

Specifically, utilizing government documents, print media sources, and secondary accounts, we examine the post-1948 period to illustrate how the Israeli military-industrial-surveillance complex came to rely on the figure of ‘the Palestinian ‘terrorist,’” and how this now serves as a microcosm for ‘the war on terror.’ The move from the local to the global has several dimensions, including: the construction of an imperialist aggressor state as ‘victim’ requiring exceptional policies which bypass human rights norms; the ideological association of a constructed national narrative (Zionism) with Orientalism in the Israel/Palestine context, and the consequent normalization of US and Western patriotism with Islamophobia; the defense of borders and construction of ‘security’ walls ascribed as ‘protection’ while serving to expand and defend the interests of Empire; specifically gendered constructions of the occupied and occupier; the rejection of international law in the name of a superior understanding of the risk of ‘terrorism’; and heightened surveillance and state regulation of those who ‘look like’ terrorists within national boundaries. Further, the state of Israel has actively identified with the post 9/11 global security regime, extending international programs to train police and military personnel in anti-terrorist activities and procedures. This is also exemplified in bilateral “security” protocols, most recently in March 2008 with Canada.. This extension of the racialization of security has serious policy implications for Western states, challenging the notion that racism is of purely historic interest or has been dealt with through policies of multiculturalism and democratic inclusiveness. We conclude with a consideration of forms of resistance to the racialization of security that have emerged both in relation to Israel-Palestine and other Western states.


Yasmeen Abu-Laban is Professor and Associate Chair (Research) in the Department of Political Science at the University of Alberta. Her research interests centre on the Canadian and comparative dimensions of gender and ethnic politics, nationalism, globalization and processes of racialization, immigration policies and politics, and citizenship theory. She has published over fifty articles, book chapters and reviews including in such journals as Urban Affairs Review, International Politics, Citizenship Studies, The Canadian Journal of Political Science, The International Journal of Canadian Studies, Canadian Public Policy , and Canadian Ethnic Studies . She is the co-author (with Christina Gabriel) of Selling Diversity: Immigration, Multiculturalism, Employment Equity and Globalization (2002), co-editor of Politics in North America: Redefining Continental Relations (2008) and editor of Gendering the Nation-State: Canadian and Comparative Perspectives (2008). She is an Editorial Board Member of Canadian Ethnic Studies/Études ethniques au Canada , a member of the academic committee for University of Alberta Press, and serves as an elected member on the Board of Directors and Executive of the Canadian Political Science Association. She is currently working with Abigail Bakan on a book-length manuscript dealing with Israel/Palestine from the perspective of racial contract theory.

Bakan, Abigail
Queen’s University, Canada


Abigail Bakan is Professor of Political Studies at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario, Canada. Her publications include: Negotiating Citizenship: Migrant Women in Canada and the Global System (with Daiva K. Stasiulis) (2007 Recipient, Canadian Women’s Studies Association book award); Critical Political Studies: Debates and Dialogues from the Left, Co-editor (with Eleanor MacDonald); Employment Equity Policy in Canada: An Interprovincial Comparison (with Audrey Kobayashi); and “The Racial Contract: Israel/Palestine and Canada” (with Yasmeen Abu-Laban) (Forthcoming in Social Identities).

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Queen’s University, Canada

Surveillance and Security in Public Events: The Pope John Paul II in Jerusalem

Public events are particularly interesting occasions for the study of surveillance and security because they become moments during which security discourse and its technologies and procedures of control most visibly stand out. Their potential to become sites of contentious politics renders them social activities characterized by uncertainty and therefore in need of protection. The security technologies, the institutional apparatus developed to put them to practice, and the logic that accompanies these procedures are brought to bear on their organization. Public events are not social practices in which we routinely engage in our daily lives so it is their out of the ordinary character that allows for these control mechanisms to stand out from the daily routine social life so that the nature of these practices becomes clearly visible.

This paper presents an ethnographic case study of the pilgrimage of the late Pope John Paul II and the thousands of his followers to Jerusalem from March 21st to March 26th 2000. The pilgrimage undertaken was in the context of the Jubilee Year, a Roman Catholic tradition that encourages the followers to visit the biblical sites in the Holy Land and the holy sites in Rome. The Pope’s visit also had a profound symbolic significance for several issues: the religious claims to Jerusalem by Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the context of the peace negotiations between the Israelis and the Palestinians; the reconciliation between Christian and Jewish theology; and the attempts by the Vatican to legitimate both the already established state of Israel and the continuous struggle for the Palestinian statehood.

Looking closely at the scope and the nature of security procedures in this case we observe that the Israeli state security apparatus performed their surveillance as a ritual enactment of safe conditions: it designated the Pope’s visit as vulnerable to disruption; symbolically communicated expressions of threat and safety; anticipated ways in which the event would be disturbed; mobilized a set of institutions, technologies, techniques, and individuals to preempt these disturbances; assumed public support and cooperation; took over the spaces where the disruptions could have occurred; separated insiders from outsiders and desirable from undesirable; created a safe space; controlled human movement within this ritual space; and resumed their daily routine after the fact. What emerged through this enactment was a transformation from a daily routine into a different kind of social relations, those envisioned and executed by the security apparatus.

Such public events exemplify the intimate relationship between state security apparatus and collective public social activity. They show how this symbiotic co-existence between security apparatus and a public event, even of a cosmological kind such as the pilgrimage of the head of the Catholic Church to the Holy Land, endows the security procedures with ritual meaning. The state security apparatus assumes control over a public event in such a way that its own performance of security procedures unfolds as a ritual of safety, a ritual that creates secure social spaces out of a dangerous and uncertain world. The ritual framework for sociological study of security and surveillance in public events allows us to understand the process through which security meta-ritual frames an understanding of what is required to bring about security under conditions of uncertainty. Performance of security meta-ritual in the context of highly symbolic public events is a practice of the enculturation of surveillance as a cultural norm that makes security procedures not only necessary but desirable. It protective shield comes to be seen as indispensable for public collective expressions.


Vida Bajc is a postdoctoral fellow with The New Transparency Project at Queen's University. Her theoretical focus is on the cultural logics that underlie public practices of social ordering. She completed her doctoral degree in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania in May 2008. She is currently editing a book (with Willem de Lint) titled Security and Everyday Life to be published by Routledge (2009). Her journal special issue on surveillance (with John Torpey) appeared in The American Behavioral Scientist (2007). She is currently working on a manuscript tentatively titled Christian Pilgrimage to Jerusalem: Performing Social Realities.

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Bowman, Glenn
Senior Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, University of Kent, United Kingdom

Israel’s Wall and the Logic of Encystation

"Identitarian politics grounded on religious difference draw elements both from what Louis Dumont termed 'Germanic' models of 'blood and land' nationalism and from the anomalous politics Zionism introduced when, forced by the absence of either territorial, ethnic or linguistic continuity within the constituency it was attempting to recruit, it used the category 'Jewish' (as often other-ascribed as self-ascribed) as a marker of 'national' identity. Here religion becomes race, and territories are mapped out as 'proper' to religious 'communities' who share little communality other than the name under which they shelter. Israel, which sees itself increasingly as an exclusively Jewish nation, thus creates enclaves on the territory its state controls, and attempts, in those ghettos, to render invisible, and eventually non-existent, the 'bare life' of 'non-Jewish minorities'.

The bio-politics of what I have called 'encystation' requires the delineation, discrimination, and separation of populations, and wrecks havoc on previous civic-territorial identities which involved a population constituted of a number of religious groups in a complex choreography of interaction and interrelation. While Israel, because of the anomaly of a 'Jewish nationalism' which invented a homeland only after the invention of an identity, is a paradigmatic forerunner of such politics, this model of identity is becoming increasingly popular, as can be seen in the appeal, and the power, of the 'clash of civilisations' discourse. Certainly elements of the 'Wars of Yugoslav Secession' partake of this politics, with the fissures between Serbia, Croatia, Bosnia-Hercegovina, and Kosova being prised open by discourses of religious antagonism. This is also proving to be the case in Macedonia, my second site of fieldwork after Palestine, where a Macedonian-Albanian antagonism is increasingly taking on the profile of a Christian-Muslim struggle (with non-Albanian Sufi and Macedonian speaking Muslims either being forced into the Albanian camp or exterminated in the borderlands).

In this paper I look at the impact of religious identity politics on local practices in both Macedonia and Palestine. My current topic of interest is the dissolution of mixed or shared shrines in these two regions, and I would like here, in line with the themes of the conference, to investigate the way Muslims and Christians in these two spaces are being marked out institutionally as distinct identities, to compare and contrast the ways such distinctions are being determined and imposed by state, religious and popular practices, and to chronicle not only the violence such separations are imposing on both traditional and political sites of inter-communal solidarity but also the way such solidarities resist this religious essentialisation. While my paper will attend centrally to the logic underlying 'the Wall' and the deep penetration of individual and communal identity effected by contemporary identity politics, it will also attend ethnographically to shared spaces in Palestine and Macedonia and thus raise those sacred sites which religion has forced us to abandon.


Glenn Bowman is Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology and Director of Graduate Studies in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Kent. His research has focussed on nationalism and conflict, disaporic and local identities, and secularist versus sectarian strategies of moblization. This work has involved ongoing field research in Jerusalem and Beit Sahour (between 1983 and present) and the former Yugoslavia (especially Serbia and Macedonia) from 1989 to present. Recent publications include: "‘Migrant Labour': Constructing Homeland in the Exilic Imagination". Anthropological Theory. II. 4 (2002) pp. 447-468; "A Death Revisited: Solidarity and Dissonance in a Muslim-Christian Palestinian Community" in Memory and Violence in the Middle East and North Africa. (eds.) Ussama Makdisi & Paul Silverstein. Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 2006. pp. 27-49; and "Israel’s wall and the logic of encystation: Sovereign exception or wild sovereignty?" Focaal - European Journal of Anthropology. L. (2007) pp. 127-136.

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Cohen, Hillel
Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The Matrix of surveillance under Occupation

People who live under foreign rule (occupation, colonization etc.) or as a national minority are usually under double surveillance: of the ‘other’ side as well as theirs. Though the immediate intuition is to focus on the surveillance exercised over the colonized by the occupying/colonial power, whose aim is to maximize its control, a better understanding of life under occupation (or as minority) requires also analysis of surveillance systems imposed on the colonized by members of their in-group. I would suggest that the very existence and performance of contradictory surveillance systems, and the dynamics they create, are among the most essential components of life under foreign rule, which impact both on the individual and the social levels.

The contradicting systems of surveillance and control express the constant competition between the colonizer/occupier/settler movement and the indigenous national movement over the actions and consciousness of each member of the colonized/occupied population. National movements wish for the support of the population for its guerilla activity, the agents of the colonial power demand the villagers to inform on rebels. National movements attempt to mobilize the population into the struggle, the occupying power want them to be passive and to believe that cash money at the end of a work day is more important than abstract national ideas. Each of the parties implements methods, such as ‘stick and carrot,’ in order to make people side with it, and each party uses informers and other methods of surveillance to collect information to enhance its control. This is not to argue that the colonized public as a whole is a tabula rasa whose role is to serve as a playground between two equal forces, but to emphasize a few well known facts: (a) that people under foreign rule do not necessarily reject it; (b) that attitudes of individuals towards foreign rule are determined by diverse variables, such as the conduct of the foreign rulers and of the liberation movement; propaganda of all parties involved, economic situation and opportunities, social networks and so on; and (c) that actions do not necessarily result from attitudes, i.e. not any person who oppose (or even hate) the foreigners would virtually act against them. All this is well known to both the colonizer and the resisters, from day to day experience, and they act accordingly.

Indeed, the matrix of surveillance is even more than twofold and is not composed only of ‘in-group’ and ‘out-group’. First, the in-group surveillance is multi-layered. In situations of liberation struggle, it is the liberation movement that set up rules and norms of behavior, and it is members of the liberation movement who take upon themselves the assignment to control the population. But in addition to this semi-formal, ‘organized surveillance,' which is based on (more or less) clear regulations and derives its legitimacy from a chain of command, there is also social surveillance, which is expressed by social behavior of the ‘man in the street' towards ‘deviants'. These two systems are, sure enough, very well intertwined, as the behavior of the ‘street’ is shaped, to a significant degree, by the national movement. Their joint aim is to compel each individual, hence the society as a whole, to follow the national norms, willingly or not. To add complexity one should bear in mind that empirically speaking, many societies under foreign rule witness internal strife between different segments of society, indeed, even within the national movement itself. Thus, one can identify certain degree of surveillance by, and of, rival national organizations.

The complete matrix of surveillance comprises also the surveillance directed by the colonizers/occupiers towards members of their in-group, the aim of which is to prevent dissidents from opposing the colonial project. And last but not of the least importance, there is also a sort of surveillance that implemented by the colonized on the colonizer.

Thus, one can suggest that in a colonial situation everybody – or almost everybody - is under surveillance to a certain degree, of one side or of both. In addition, there are individuals who are in both sides: inspect others and being inspected. This, of course, is not to argue that all are equal in the suggested matrix, since the methods are different, as well as the power relations are in constant change. Only to distance ourselves from the simplistic view that there is one direction of surveillance, directed by the occupier towards those under occupation.

This chapter aims to present this matrix in the Israeli-Palestinian context. It will analyze various components of the Zionist/Israeli surveillance system, those directed towards the Palestinians and those inward, and in parallel, the Palestinian-Arab surveillance system, intended both to resist the Zionist system and to control Palestinian society. The paper touches upon three major topics that have stood in the center of the Zionist-Arab conflict hence of surveillance: the land, the armed struggle/security (the first is the Palestinian term, the second is the Israeli one), and the political sphere (i.e. the struggle over political participation, political discourse and political views). The matrix will exemplified by test cases – few well-known to students of the Israel-Palestinian conflict and other less known – that represent different situations and periods of the Zionist-Palestinian conflict: Jews and Arabs under British mandate, Majority-minority relations in Israel, and military occupation in the West Bank and Gaza after 1967; taking into account the differences – and similarities - in circumstances and goals throughout time and space. In order to follow changes over time, the surveillance systems and the dynamics between them are presented chronologically.


Hillel Cohen is a Research Fellow at the Henry S. Truman Institute for the Advancement of Peace at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. His research focuses on Palestinian history and the Palestinian Arabs. His publications include: The Present Absentees: The Palestinian Refugees in Israel (Jerusalem, 2000, Hebrew; Beirut, 2003 Arabic); Jerusalem's Marketplace is Empty: The Rise and Fall of Arab Jerusalem 1967-2007 (2007, in Hebrew); Army of Shadows: Palestinian Collaboration with Zionism 1917-1948 (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008); and Good Arabs: The Israeli Arabs and the Israeli Security Services (Jerusalem, 2006, Hebrew; Forthcoming at Berkeley 2009).

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Denes, Nick
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Sociology, Goldsmiths College, University of London, United Kingdom

Israel’s UAV Industries at the “Frontiers”: Looking Beyond the Military Application

This paper looks at Israel’s UAV and military Electro-Optics industries as symbolic assemblages of assertions about Zionist nationhood. By highlighting a dissonance between the questionable “successes” of UAV deployment in battle, and the startling growth in Israeli UAV exports and international R & D collaboration, the paper looks to unravel the “work” which UAV systems and exports do outside their immediate surveillance and combat applications. It argues that UAVs (and their related optical, computational, and miniaturisation technologies) paradoxically act as embodiments of codes and aspirations about Israeli nationhood. In carrying self-defining vocabularies ranging from “precision” and “morality” to “presence” and “masculinity” UAVs act to export and amplify powerful symbolic repertoires about Israel globally, and to institute these codes strategically alongside the particular boundary and security anxieties of allied states from the UK to Thailand. Through this manoeuvre, I submit, ideologically-rooted Israeli claims about the meanings of boundaries, bodies, and security are increasingly produced as normative and even paradigmatic.

The paper augments readings of Israel-Palestine as a “battlefield laboratory” with thoughts on Israel’s “enlisted academic community” and on its relatively “dense community of specialists” to show why and how a state of Israel’s GDP and population base is able to compete successfully with states such as the US and Russia, and to emerge as a leading developer of UAV systems. It notes the unique economics of Israel’s UAV industries and asks how reliance on export rather than local sales has impacted on the R & D process. The paper draws on interviews with chief scientists at Israel’s leading UAV and electro-optics developers, as well as with military and academic figures involved in the development of UAV technologies. It also draws on data collected from industry conventions held in Israel in the wake of the major “battlefield test” of mass-deployed UAVs – the attack on Lebanon in 2006.

“Frontiers” are read as key sites of conceptual and political consequence – where meanings are generated and given forms. In their positioning at the “frontiers” of high-tech and aeronautical research, Israeli UAV systems are interrogated as carriers of nation-defining assertions about contemporary scientific (and hence “civilizational”) excellence. The paper seeks to relate these assertions and their effects to Israeli UAV positioning/deployment at neo-colonial (e.g. Iraq), immigration (e.g. US-Mexico), ethnic (e.g. Thai-Malay), and post-9/11 “security” (e.g. UK) “frontiers”. The embedding of UAVs as resonant symbolic assemblages within these physical but also metaconceptual sites of twenty-first century political ordering is scrutinised for what it can tell us about boundaries as sites of identity formation, and for what it suggests about the diffuse cost-benefits of Israeli arms development industries.


Nick Denes is completing a PhD in sociology at Goldsmiths College, University of London. His thesis examines population management strategies and discourses in Zionism, with a particular focus on reproductive technologies and population genetics.

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Esmeir, Samera
Ph.D. Candidate, Law, University of California at Berkeley, United States

Securing Palestine

The Oslo Accords signed between the PLO and the Israeli government gave birth to a new Palestinian entity. Far from a semi political sovereign state, the new entity is better characterized as a security project that complements the Israeli project, that, in turn, fails sociological explanations that approach it as a state. The proposed paper focuses on the Palestinian side of the equation and suggests that the rise of the PA, and its security apparatuses, signals the rise of one of the first Middle Eastern security projects in the post-cold war era; Iraq is the more developed project of the Palestinian one. The Palestinian Authority was contracted to provide security for Israel. But these Palestinian security practices exceeded their initial “function” and began to constitute the political Palestinian project, as well as (and this is perhaps the most innovative contribution) to “inspire” other workings of security in the region. The proposed paper examines the rise of the Palestine security project as a “spirit” that engenders its own securing means. The Palestine security project is, therefore, theorized as both the means and the end of “global peace and security.”

The paper traces the groups of actors involved in this “creation.” It includes not only Palestinians and Israelis, but also a network of global experts: research centers in Washington DC, law school professors, European national ministries of Justice, and concerned political activists. Together they do not constitute a unified group, but a global field of power containing divergent positions. Actors in this global field of power are effectively, though not necessarily intentionally, “converting” political entities into security projects. Through a close reading of the political peace agreements signed between the Palestinian and the Jewish Israeli parties, as well as some of the proposals suggested by the global network to reform the Palestinian authority, the proposed paper begins to trace the rise of the security project in Palestine. The paper also theorizes the meaning of the resulting security, its relation to other concepts of security, and to the contemporary war on terror. And finally, the paper asks whether the political philosophy of the state can capture the security project in Palestine, and if not, what new political philosophy does Palestine invite us to produce.


Samera Esmeir is completing a Ph.D. in Law at the University of California at Berkeley. Her publications include “The Violence of non-Violence: Law and War in Iraq,” Journal of Law and Society, Vol. 34, Issue 1 (March 2007); “Memories of Conquest,” in Lila Abu-Lughod and Ahmad Sa’di (eds.) Nakba: Palestine, 1948 and the Claims of Memory (Columbia University Press, 2007); and “On Making Dehumanization Possible,” PMLA: The Journal of Modern Languages Association, Vol. 121, No. 5 (October 2006). She is currently working on a book manuscript entitled Losing the Human: The Rise of Juridical Humanity in Colonial Egypt.

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Feldman, Ilana
Assistant Professor, Anthropology Department, The George Washington University, United States

“Altogether Unique in History”: UN Peacekeeping and Security in Gaza

From 1957 until 1967, United Nations peacekeepers patrolled the border between Gaza and Israel. The United Nations Emergency Force (UNEF) was the first UN peacekeeping force, deployed in an era when the idea of a worldwide police force was seen as a laudable goal rather than an imperial adventure. UNEF imagined itself as a force “altogether unique in history” – the first time that soldiers were being sent to “make peace rather than to wage war.” This paper seeks to take stock of this moment, and these operations, by considering not only the international arena in which peacekeeping was imagined and the regional dynamics which necessitated such a force, but also by looking at the on-the-ground operations of this force and particularly its relations with Palestinians in Gaza. The entrance of UN forces into Gaza did not mark the beginning of crisis there, nor even the first arrival of UN personnel (UNRWA has provided services to refugees since 1950). The area had been in crisis at least since 1948 and had already witnessed the development of extraordinary policing and security measures by the Egyptians who administered this space. The arrival of UNEF, rather, brought new dimensions into the security terrain – new partnerships in the pursuit of security (Egyptian, international, and Palestinian police cooperated in policing the border) and new techniques for controlling “subversive” activity. This arrival also created new opportunities for Palestinians in Gaza – new job possibilities and new venues to articulate their claims.

The establishment and work of UNEF provides an opportunity to consider closely, and historically, the intersection of humanitarianism and security. A great deal of attention has been paid to this seemingly paradoxical connection in recent years, though much of this work has focused on what are identified as new connections in the post-cold war and then post 9/11 world (Agamben 1998, Hardt and Negri 2000, Appadurai 2006). Consideration of the birth of peacekeeping in the early years of the UN shows the longevity of this connection. Understanding the creation of UNEF, and of peacekeeping more generally, requires careful attention to “the situation” (Rabinow 2002). We know that humanitarian and human rights discourses and actors are mobilized by the identification of certain kinds of situations. Such namings can now call into action an expansive machinery – what Mariella Pandolfi (2003) calls the humanitarian apparatus and Alex de Waal (1997) calls the “humanitarian international.” Identifying the situation was crucially important in the case of UNEF as well, but because of its emergent qualities – in particular the fact that UNEF was a new sort of organization – such identification did not put into play an already elaborated set of practices and institutional mechanisms. Rather, the work of UNEF provides an opportunity to explore a formative moment in the creation of particular techniques of crisis intervention. In the case of Gaza this took the guise of border control as humanitarian security operation. Relying on both ethnographic and archival research, this paper will trace this intersection of crisis, security, and opportunity in Palestine’s “long emergency.”


Ilana Feldman is an Assistant Professor of International Affairs and Anthropology at The George Washington University, in Washington D.C. Her book Governing Gaza: Bureaucracy, Authority, and the Work of Rule (1917-1967) was published by Duke University Press in 2008. Other publications include “Observing the Everyday: Policing and the Conditions of Possibility in Gaza (1948-67)”, Interventions: International Journal of Postcolonial Studies 9, 3 (2007): 414-33; “The Quaker Way: Ethical Labor and Humanitarian Relief” American Ethnologist 34, 4 (2007): 689-705; “Difficult Distinctions: Refugee Law, Humanitarian Practice, and Political Identification in Gaza” Cultural Anthropology 22, 1 (2007): 129-69; and “Home as a Refrain: Remembering and Living Displacement in Gaza” History and Memory 18, 2 (2006): 10-47.

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Feldman, Yotam
Journalist and independent filmmaker


Yotam Feldman is a journalist and activist. In the past three years he has been a regular writer for the weekend magazine of Haaretz. He has brought exclusive reporting and footage materiasl from the recent political uprising in Burma and conducted several investigative reports and interviews in Israel - including with high-ranking IDF officers. He is currently working on a documentary film about the global export of Israeli security technology and know-how. He participates in "Anarchists Against Walls" demonstrations and activities in the West Bank and is also completing his Masters thesis in Philosophy at Tel-Aviv University.

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Fischbach, Michael R.
Professor, Department of History, Randolph-Macon College, United States

The Importance of British and Zionist Data Gathering on Palestinian Arab Land Ownership and Population during the Mandate

Britain’s ability to govern Palestine during the Mandate, and Zionism’s stated goal of establishing a Jewish state in the country, ultimately rested on their ability to control two key features of life there: land and people. Taking the title of Richard Saumerez Smith’s book about British rule in the Punjab, both the British and the Zionists would need to “rule by records” if they were to succeed, for controlling land and people requires detailed records of both. By the end of the Mandate, British authorities and various Zionist bodies systematically had collected a wealth of detailed information about Palestinian Arab land ownership and population, each for its own purposes.

For the British, information like topographical and cadastral surveys, land taxation surveys, and census statistics were crucial for controlling, taxing, and educating the population. Starting as early as 1920, they began surveying the country, which they followed up with a massive campaign to ascertain and register all rights to land throughout the country starting in 1928. By the time that the United Nations voted to partition Palestine in November 1947, the Mandatory government had created 3,616 land registers, in addition to hundreds of cadastral and topographical maps and a huge number of records relating to land taxation. In 1922 and again in 1931, the Mandatory government conducted a full census of Palestine’s population. During the Second World War, the British Naval Intelligence Division commissioned the exhaustive Palestine and Transjordan as part of its Geographical Handbook series, just as the Mandate published detailed socio-economic studies like Village Statistics, 1945 and the Survey of Palestine.

For the Zionist movement, studying the land and the population of Palestine was essential for its desire to acquire as much land as possible, settle it with Jewish immigrants, and thereby build a Jewish state. Jewish scholars like Rafael Patai, Alfred Bonné, Benjamin Elazari-Volcani, Avraham Granovsky (Granott), Ya`akov Shim`oni, and Arthur Ruppin researched and published about land and farming in Palestine. Aboveground bodies like the Jewish National Fund and the Jewish Agency (including its Economic and Research Institute and its Institute of Agriculture and Natural History) published information on Palestine’s land and population. The underground Hagana’s National Information Service (Shai) meticulously gathered secret data on land, population, and other features of Palestinian rural life for its “Village Files.”

While the records generated by the Mandatory government were no longer useful to British colonial authorities with the end of the Mandate in May 1948, both the voluminous records on Palestinian land and population they had collected, as well as that gathered by Zionist bodies, proved of immense value to Zionist officials and military forces during the first Arab-Israeli war of 1948, and the new Israeli state, as they sought to control as much of Palestine as possible during the war and thereafter. The “Village Files” provided crucial intelligence that helped Jewish forces conquer Palestinian villages during the fighting. After their victory, Israeli authorities used British land and tax records – both those left behind and photographic copies of records obtained from British authorities in London in 1951 – to reconstruct land registers to assist them in the task of determining the extent of the land they seized from the 750,000 Palestinian refugees from the war so they could sell the land to the Jewish National Fund. It was a true case of “rule by records.”

Basing itself on secondary and some primary source research, this paper studies British and Zionist information gathering techniques and records during the Mandate, noting both their original and subsequent uses. It concludes that these records were an invaluable asset for the Mandatory government in controlling the land and its population before 1948, and for the Israeli government in subduing them during and after 1948.


Michael Fischbach is Professor of history at Randolph-Macon College in Ashland, Virginia, USA. He is author of Jewish Property Claims Against Arab Countries (Columbia University Press 2008); The Peace Process and Palestinian Refugee Claims: Addressing Claims for Property Compensation and Restitution (United States Institute of Peace Press 2006); Records of Dispossession: Palestinian Refugee Property and the Arab-Israeli Conflict (Columbia University Press 2003); State, Society and Land in Jordan (Brill 2000); and editor-in-chief of The Biographical Encylopedia of the Modern Middle East and North Africa (Gale Cengage 2007).

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Furani, Khaled
Postdoctoral Scholar, Tel-Aviv University

Writing in a State of Exception

The question of political sovereignty has recently generated much writing about “The State of Exception.” This state has been commonly understood as the suspension of normative law in times deemed exceptional by the sovereign, with the Third Reich and Guantanamo being paradigmatic examples of such states. In any event, “The State of Exception” is generally taken to be a disposition of the ruler, not the ruled.

However, the work of certain writers on Islam and Palestine in the modern era provide an occasion to rethink this common invocation of the “The State of Exception.” Those writers, I propose, may propel an inquiry into “”The State of Exception” in ways that exceed its predominantly legal understandings. Examined as an ethics of becoming, as a constant mode of presence in the world among particular writers on Palestine and Islam, “The State of Exception” can also be understood as having to do with the cultivation of different capabilities of living and dying. In these works, “State of Exception” appears, I suggest, as a mode of living (and dying) carried out by particular subjects and not a modality of law the sovereign imposes on them. Among such writers “The State of Exception” is not the abrogation of the norm but its constituent, often forgotten or suppressed. Towards such expansion of the conception of “exception” I propose to examine closely the works of Sayyid Qutb, Ghassan Kanfani and Rachel Corrie. Dispersed and discordant as their voices may be, they seem to exhibit a vigilance through which “The State of Exception” arrives as a mode and a condition of writing in which the extra-ordinary inhabits the ordinary and the exceptional, the norm -- independent of emergency laws that the nation-state may or may not decree at the time of their writings.


Khaled Furani is a Postdoctoral Scholar at Tel-Aviv University. His publications include “Rhythms of the Secular: The Politics of Modernizing Arab Poetic Forms,” American Ethnologist vol. 35, no. 2 (May 2008); and “Sirens of Denial: Notes on the Confrontation between Hizbullah and Israel,” Boundary 2 vol. 34, no. 3: 109-119 (Fall 2007). He is currently wokring on a book length manuscript under contract by Syracuse University Press entitled When Poets Go to Sleep: The Politics of Secularism in Arabic Literary Forms in addition to articles on theology within anthropology, and Edward Said and the Relgious Other.

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Gazit, Nir
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Sociology, Hebrew University of Jerusalem

Social Agency and Surveillance in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

This paper examines the role of social agency in producing local mechanisms of political control and surveillance in the OPT. Recent research has emphasized the role of inspection technologies and the state official regulations in scrutiny of civil populations, however the role of human agency and face-to-face surveillance has been frequently neglected. In contrast, I argue that the efficacy of a state's surveillance during contested political circumstances is shaped not only by formal and institutional procedures, but also is generated by practices and local arrangements innovated by ground-level state agents. This gives rise to a situational reality that acts as a fundamental political force of inspection.

Based on interviews with 53 Israeli soldiers and Border-police personnel during the Al Aqsa Intifada, and on ten observations in Hebron and at Israeli army checkpoints, I isolate and describe the mechanisms by which localized authorities produce order in varied settings in the OPT. I demonstrate how formal and localized non-formal practices combine to enhance the over-all Israeli political domination in the West Bank.

Empirically, the analysis focuses on the experiences of the Israeli ground-level state agents in two sites: the mixed Palestinian-Jewish city of Hebron and the Israeli army checkpoints dotted along the border between Israel and the West Bank.

In my analysis I ask the following questions:

  • How do Israeli soldiers and police officers interpret their surveillance missions?
  • What kind of official and unofficial procedures do they use (and produce) to maximize the efficiency of Israeli surveillance?
  • How do Israeli soldiers use their geographical and political surroundings in order to optimize their inspection mechanisms?
  • What discursive frameworks and practices do the soldiers use to monitor the Palestinian population? What are their sources (in operational, cultural and ideological terms)?
  • How do Israeli soldiers and police officers responsd to Palestinian resistance to Israeli inspection? Can we identify variations among different sites in the OPT and among different military units?
  • Can we identify local arrangements between Israeli soldiers and Palestinian collaborators that work to enhance Israeli control? What are the patterns of these arrangements?
  • What is the effect of the cooperation between the Israeli military and private security agencies at the checkpoints on the practice of surveillance?

Cumulatively, answering these questions sheds light on the micro mechanisms of Israeli surveillance apparatus in the OPT and underscores its logic. It demonstrates that as state surveillance is a statist project, its effectiveness depends on localized practices and performances led by ground-level state agents. Hence, embracing a micro sensitive prism of analysis on state surveillance is not only a methodological option but also has profound analytical and theoretical implications.


Nir Gazit is a Ph.D Candidate in Sociology at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem and currently is a research fellow in the Munk Centre in International Studies at the University of Toronto. By focusing on the micro-dynamics of the Israeli prolonged military occupation in the West Bank, his current research analyses the role of ground-level agency in the construction and reproduction of political oppressive regimes. He is also interested in civilian-military relations, with a focus on civil-military co-operation in the West-Bank and in Afghanistan.

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Gordon, Neve
Professor, Department of Politics and Government, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

From Jaffa Oranges to Homeland Security: Exploring the Political Economy of Israel’s Surveillance Industry

In this paper I map Israel’s surveillance industry, while outlining the industry’s different components and particular characteristics. The goal is to assess the political economy of the surveillance industry in order to begin explaining its exponential growth. There are, I argue, six central reasons why this industry has managed to guarantee its prominent place within the global markets. 1) Some of the surveillance companies existed well before 9/11 and they managed to enter this growing market before their competitors could latch on, which is critical to a business’ success since companies penetrating markets first often reap benefits such as higher initial profits and a certain kind of loyalty that money cannot buy; 2) The specific structure of this industry, which is very different from Israel’s military industry, in that it is more diverse, has enabled it to be more responsive to shifts in market demands; 3) the relationship between Israel’s surveillance industry and Israel’s security network (i.e., the IDF, Shabak, Mossad, police, and government owned military industries) has both provided the industry direct access to potential consumers and has bestowed upon different companies and products credit and symbolic power in Bourdieu’s sense of the terms; 4) The Israeli military has served as a supplier of different factors of production, such as high skilled labor and technological spin-offs, while simultaneously it has helped engender what Dan Breznitz has called a collaborative public space (i.e., a center of information gathering, processing, and dissemination for the Israeli software innovation systems and a connecting node between various weakly tied social networks); 5) The contribution of basic research carried out by Israeli universities and the cooperation programs between industry and universities that were initiated and funded by the Ministry of Industry’s Chief Scientist’s office; and finally 6), the availability of a laboratory to test many of the products manufactured by Israel’s surveillance industry and the ability to claim that the products have been assessed in real live situations. All these factors have provided Israel with a comparative advantage in the surveillance global market and help explain the industry’s exponential growth.


Neve Gordon is Professor in the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University. During the first intifada, he was the director of Physicians for Human Rights, Israel. He is the co-editor of Torture: Human Rights, Medical Ethics and the Case of Israel, the editor of From the Margins of Globalization: Critical Perspectives on Human Rights and the author of Israel’s Occupation. His articles have appeared in numerous scholarly journals such as International Studies Quarterly, Political Studies, Polity, Constellations, Third World Quarterly and Democratization. He is also a contributor to The Nation, The Guardian, In These Times, and The National Catholic Reporter.

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Graham, Stephen D.N.
Professor, Department of Geography, Durham University, United Kingdom

Laboratories of war: US-Israeli Collaboration and Urban Securitisation

This paper will analyse the intensifying military and research collaboration between the US and Israel in the fields of urban, counter-insurgency, and 'low-intensity' warfare and urban securitisation. Highlighting intense reciprocal exchanges in discourse, R and D, joint ventures, training, and the deployment and tasting of new surveillance, targeting and weapons systems, the paper will argue that the US and Israeli efforts to control, surveil and target purported enemies within the extended geographies and mobilities of urban life are blurring into a single military-industrial-surveillance complex. Troublingly, this complex rests on doctrine, equipment and weaponry that has 'combat proven' through the systematic lock-down pf Palestinian urban life since the start of the Al Aqsa Intifada. More remarkably still, this shift is closley associated with the economic resurgence of Israel, as it sells itself as the ultimate exemplar of the security state and permanent war economy within the context of burgeoning worldwide markets for security and urban warfare equipment.


Stephen Graham is Professor of Human Geography at Durham University. He has a background in urbanism, planning and the sociology of technology. His research addresses the complex intersections between urban places, mobilities, technology, war, surveillance and geopolitics. His books include Telecommunications and the City, Splintering Urbanism, the Cybercities Reader and Cities, War and Terrorism. His next book, Cities Under Siege: The New Military Urbanism, will be published by Verso in Spring 2009.

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Halabi, Usama
Usama Halabi Law Firm, Jerusalem

Review and critique of some surveillance methods used by Israel

Different and various surveillance methods have been used by Israel through its continuous attempts to maintain control over Palestinians living under the state’s jurisdiction. This working paper aims to review some key methods. These methods include special information and serial numbers in Id cards which indicate status (citizen vs. resident), national affiliation (Arab vs. Jewish), geographical affiliation (East Jerusalem vs. the “rest of Israel” or East Jerusalem vs. the West Bank), and membership in subcategories within the same group (e.g., residents who have obtained their status through a family reunification process vs. residents who have obtained there status otherwise). Other methods of surveillance to be analyzed include the use of closed circle television (CCTV) in civilian neighborhoods (such as the old city of Jerusalem), tapping phone conversations, and using special undercover agents posing as Arabs (mustaareboon).

The paper also addresses the implications of new Israeli new laws and law proposals which allow the Israeli police to obtain information from telecommunication companies including (such as the name and personal details of customers, and details about incoming and outgoing calls including their duration and the location of mobile customers). It is suggested that these laws pose more serious limitations on freedom of movement and speech as well as privacy.

The paper ultimately answers a series of questions including the reason for surveillance, the state of exception that justifies particular methods of surveillance, and the extent to which surveillances practices conflict with the basic right of human dignity and privacy recognized in Israeli and international law. It is argued that although surveillance methods may be used to control and fight delinquency and crime, they have mainly been used as a political tool to suppress and control the political expressions of one national group: the Palestinian Arabs.


Usama Halabi received his law degree from Hebrew University and holds a LLM, specializing in national discrimination in Israeli law and a second LLM in International Legal Studies from American University in Washington, DC. He has been a legal researcher and advocate in Jerusalem since 1987. He is member of the board of B’Tselem and the Israeli Information Center in the Occupied Territories. He is a founding member of MADA Al-Carmel: Arab Center for Applied Social Research in Haifa, and a founding member of the Arab Cultural Association in Nazareth. His work and research focuses on constitutional and administrative law, planning law and land expropriation. His published work deals with the legal jurisdictional status of Jerusalem, Israeli practice in the West Bank and Gaza, and the status and rights of the Arab minority in Israel. His publications include “Limits of a Place in Human Existence: Two Dimensions, Geography and Demography in Israel’s East Jerusalem Policy Between 1967-2000” (Jerusalem 2001) and Israel’s Land Laws as a Political Tool, working paper, Badil, Bethlehem, Dec 2004.

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Sari Hanafi
Associate Professor, American University of Beirut

Spacio-cide: Colonial Politics, Invisibility and Re-zoning in Palestinian territory

In the last two decades, the Arab-Israeli conflict has been considered a “low intensity” conflict, based on a typology which simply takes into account the number of casualties. This typology is misleading, since despite relatively low numbers of casualties, on other counts the conflict may be seen to be in the process of intensification. In particular, a key area that has been gaining relevance is related to space and land. The dispossession, occupation and destruction of Palestinian living space is what I call spacio-cide.

In this paper, I argue that the Israeli state of exception should be understood as the potentiality of a structure of juridical-political de-localization and dislocation aimed at transferring the Palestinian population whether internally or outside of fluid state borders. In other words, the Israeli colonial project is “spacio-cidal” (as opposed to genocidal) in that it targets land for the purpose of rendering inevitable the "voluntary" transfer of the Palestinian population primarily by targeting the space upon which the Palestinian people live. This systematic destruction of Palestinian living space becomes possible by deploying bio-politics to categorize Palestinians into different groups, with the aim to render them powerless. Thus, spacio-cide involves a mix between three strategies. First, it involves ‘space annihilation’ (similar to that witnessed in Europe during World War Two, though differently in the case of Israeli practices this is a major not minor tactic). The second strategy involves, ethnic cleansing, to use the words of Ilan Pappé (2006). Ethnic cleansing was part of a long-standing Zionist plan to manufacture an ethnically pure Jewish state. However, this has happened in subtle ways in the case of the Occupied Territories. “Israeli domination in the Palestinian Territories means the reduction of lives to 'bare life' without eliminating too many people, the destruction of habitable space without expelling too many people from that space, the production of impoverishment without starvation, and the denial of access to medical treatment without allowing the outbreak of epidemics. Israeli authorities are very careful not to obstruct this delicate balance.” (Ophir, 2004) The third strategy, deployed in the face of resistance to space annihilation and ethnic cleansing, consists of what Oren Yiftachel calls "creeping apartheid." Creeping apartheid utlizes increasingly impregnable ethnic, geographic, and economic barriers between groups vying for recognition, power, and resources (Yiftachel, 2006).

By examining the political-theological underpinnings of colonial rule, the purpose of this paper is threefold. First it describes and conceptualizes spacio-cide as a framework for understanding the dynamics of Israeli territorial control over Palestinian territory and what Ronen Shamir (forthcoming) calls the de-coupling population and territory, which is ongoing, and ceaselessly operates at both the collective and individual levels. Second, the paper shows that the process of spacio-cide has become possible because of the extensive employment of bio-politics and the state of exception. Third, the paper demonstates that spacio-cide has operated in a complex context in which Palestinians have responded to colonial practices through acts of both non-violent and violent resistance (e.g., targeting the Israeli military apparatus but also terrorist acts targeting Israeli civilians).

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Handel, Ariel
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Philosophy, Tel-Aviv University

Technologies of Uncertainty in the Occupied Palestinian Territories: State of Exception and Spatial Control

In the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) extensive and varied technologies are employed in order to disrupt the movement and life of the Palestinian population. This array of technologies is composed of three central elements: barriers (e.g., permanent manned checkpoints, "flying" checkpoints, physical blocks and trenches, walls, fences and bypass Jewish-only roads); regulations (long-standing entrance regulations to settlements and to East Jerusalem, for example alongside several shifting regulations relating to "isolated" zones, ages allowed or prohibited to pass the checkpoint, "special security zones" near settlements, army bases etc.); and the operators (mainly junior soldiers granted freedom, overseen by company commanders or corporals, to determine the pace and character of movement in the checkpoints, or the number of "flying" checkpoints in a given area).

These three elements are multiplied by each other, creating an extreme spatial uncertainty. Not only does the space decompose into isolated "land cells" – it also "liquidizes" as there are no fixed distances and times between points, and the notions of near and far, outside and inside, lose significance.

It would have been hard for Israel to achieve the control over the Palestinian nation by other means. The uncertainty is a cheap, simple and efficient technology for the destruction of the spatial continuity and coherency in the OPT. It is cheaper and simpler to impose arbitrary limitations on the movement possibilities (knowingly avoiding signposting, documenting or informing the Palestinian population about those limitations) then building thousands of kilometers of walls (which, also, are not very "photogenic" and might affect public opinion in Europe and the U.S). When a Palestinian can't know where he or she can move, or the length of time it will take, he or she will try to minimize movements to those critical for "life maintenance".

Since every human activity takes place in space and time, it is clear that the spatial uncertainty affects all life aspects. Above its direct influences on the economy, health services, education etc. the spatial uncertainty reduces the movement and social interactions to the minimum. According to Giorgio Agamben,
The camp is the space that is opened when the state of exception begins to become the rule. In the camp, the state of exception, which was essentially a temporary suspension of the rule of law on the basis of a factual state of danger, is now given a permanent spatial arrangement. […] Whoever entered the camp moved in a zone of indistinction between outside and inside, exception and rule…

The absence of routine and normal spatial and social life bares the life from their political significance weakens Palestinian social institutions and more broadly "ontological security".

The paper, using maps and graphs and insights taken from the disciplines of Geography and Architecture will show the history and present of the Palestinian space, emphasizing its unilateral use as a mean of control and socio-cide.


Ariel Handel is a Ph.D. Candidate in Philosophy whose dissertation deals with the movement regime in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Publications include:
“Controlling the Space Through the Space: Uncertainty as a Control Technology”, Teoria U’Vikoret (Theory and Criticism) 31 (winter 2007) (in Hebrew); “Gated/Gating Communities: The Settlement’s array in the West Bank”, in Amnon Lehavi (ed.) Gated Communities in Israel, forthcoming (in Hebrew); “Where, Where to and When in the Occupied Territories: An introduction to Geography of Disaster” in Michal Givoni, Sari Hanafi and Adi Ophir (eds.) Occupation: Israeli Technologies of Rule and Governance in Palestine. New York: Zone Books, Forthcoming; and “Chronology of the Occupation Regime: 1967 – 2007”, ibid and in Hebrew, in Teoria U’Vikoret (Theory and Criticism) 31 (winter 2007)

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Khamaisi, Rassem
Associate Professor, Department of Geography, University of Haifa and The Van Leer Institute, Jerusalem

Territorial Dispossession and Population Control

Control over territory constitutes one of the main aspects of the Arab-Israeli conflict. In order to achieve possession, the Israeli state deployed four mechanisms of control: land purchases, outright occupation, confiscation of Palestinian land, and challenging the legality of inheritance rules. Prior to the establishment of Israel in 1948, the Zionist movement managed to purchase and transfer to its ownership not more than 6% of the area covered by Mandatory Palestine. After the establishment of the state, under the aegis of the military government, Israel resorted to using the above-mentioned four methods of control. The establishment of Israel as a Jewish state was facilitated through direct control over the land, expulsion of the population, and containment of the remaining Palestinian minority. These mechanisms resulted in changing patterns of land ownership, the administration of the land through a series of basic laws such as the law governing the Land Administration Department, and application of preferential zoning laws to ensure Jewish/Israeli control over territory.

Control over land and banishment from territory shaped the geographic and occupational mobility of the Palestinian population. It created a siege and dependence mentality which governed their thinking and modes of relatedness to the land and to others. This reality was created in the context of a specific form of colonialism in which religious-national belonging and land ownership rested on a belief that by Providence God promised the land to one ethnic group and denied it to others, in this instance the Palestinian Arabs who are citizens of the country.

The aim of the paper is to document the control and dispossession mechanisms, both visible and invisible, which the Israeli authorities applied towards the Palestinian citizens of the state. The paper will also document the deployment of these mechanisms, their modifications and abandonment in the context of the relationship between the Palestinian population and the state, on the one hand, and the Palestinians and the Jewish society on the other.

The paper will claim that these policies result from a conceptual framework that relies on notions of dispossession which justify control over the land and its natural resources as the property of one ethnic group at the expense of another which lead to conflict that threatens peaceful co-existence.

The paper concludes by offering specific recommendations on how to change these modalities in order to create a peaceful climate by means of which it would be possible to resolve the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians.


Rassem Khamaisi is Associate Professor in the Department of Geography and Environmental Studies at the University of Haifa, senior research fellow in the Van Leer Jerusalem Institute, and head and Editor of the Book project of Arab society. He is an urban and regional planner and geographer, specializing in urban and rural geography. A strong focus of his efforts is on geography and planning among the Arabs in Israel and the Palestinians in the Palestinian territories and Jerusalem. Besides concentration on public administration, public participation, and urban management, Khamaisi has published several policy papers that tackle the issue of urbanization and planning among the Arabs and Palestinians. His publications are in three languages (English, Hebrew and Arabic) in both local and international journals. Khamaisi is a senior researcher and planner at The International Peace and Cooperation Center IPCC, East Jerusalem. At the end of 2007 he was elected President of the Israel Geography Association.

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Leibler, Anat
Postdoctoral Scholar at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem

The Six-Day War Census – Palestinians Under the Statistical Gaze

Shortly after the Six Day War, during August and September 1967, Israel conducted a general census in the occupied territories. Every person present at the time of the census was recorded in a population registry, received the status of permanent resident of the occupied territories, and was issued an identity card. The status of permanent resident permitted the holder to live in the occupied territories, to work and have property rights. Those who were not present during the census lost their rights (Goldman 1991). The population registration had far-reaching consequences for the Palestinians. Since the census was conducted right after the war, many Palestinians had been expelled or had left the territories; others were living in other countries during the war for various reasons. The estimated number of Palestinians who lost these rights as a result of the census is 300,000 (Ibid). One consequence, as discussed in various reports on conditions in the occupied territories, is that the decision to allocate rights to residency and an ID card only to those who were present at the time of the census caused the separation of families. Palestinians who were absent from the census day were defined as illegal residents and could not be legally unified with their families.

This census is surprisingly similar to the first Israeli census and population registration, which took place in November 1948, under a seven-hour curfew. In this census, each resident was numbered by a sequential ID number and received an ID card. A government regulation determined that only those who were counted would subsequently receive citizenship. Those who were absent would lose their civil rights as well as their property. These conditions were proposed by the CBS (Central Bureau of Statistics). Although the ambition of the census architects was to include all the residents of the new state in the census and population registration, the results of the registration fell far short of achieving this goal. While the size of the Arab population was estimated as 69,000, entire geographical areas populated by Palestinians, such as the Western Galilee and the Negev, were not visited by the census enumerators (Robinson 2005). Consequently, in addition to a group of Palestinians who were classified as ”Present Absentees”, due to their absence from their homes during the seven-hour curfew, (Lustick 1985; Morris 1987) other Palestinians who were present in the country, but were not counted, lost their civil rights (Robinson, ibid). The first Israeli census created a discriminatory classification of Palestinians and divided the population into two groups – people who have property and voting rights (most of them Jews) and people who did not have these rights (most of the Palestinians). Thus, the very mechanism that legitimized the nationalization of Palestinian lands, and their unique naturalization, was statistical (Leibler and Breslau 2005).

The similarities between the two censuses, which were conducted jointly with population registration under curfew, raise many questions about the relationship between a scientific organization, like central bureau of statistics, and state practices of surveying political minorities. At first glance, it seems that CBS was an administrative tool in the hands of state institutions, perhaps, including the army. Statisticians’ role in the first census, however, was far from being instrumental. Indeed, the political conception of Israeli citizenship, which was based on the 1948 census, was affected by the coercive power of governmental institutions such as the Military Government’s control over national minorities, but the contribution of the CBS to the census was major (Leibler 2007). The interest in exploring CBS’s role in 1967 grows when one considers the fact that over the years, since its establishment in 1948, CBS gained high professional status as an autonomous organization that has been able to stay indifferent to political pressures (Leibler 2004).

In my study I seek to focus on the process through which the 1967 census was conducted and to shed light on the negotiations between the two worlds of practices – the statistical and the political – as well as to analyze the knowledge that was produced as a result of this process, the statistical categories and classifications. I will ask several questions: Whose idea was it to conduct a census right after the war? What were the justifications for such a census that constituted the legal residential body of the occupied territories? What was statisticians’ role in planning and conducting the census? Were there any controversies? What kind of practices were employed by statisticians in order to retain legitimacy in the eyes of their audiences? What were the methodological difficulties to create a well-defined statistical object of the population so that it could be perceived as a reflection of the Palestinian society, sui generis, rather than an artifact motivated by political interests?

In addition to investigating the CBS’ networks and bureaucratic practices, I would like to ask about its knowledge – here, its set of political, economic and demographic categories and classifications — to identify the “statistical style of reasoning”, a term that refers to different regimes of national statistics, distinguished by particular sentences, objects, tools and explanations, that define what counts as knowledge and what does not (Hacking 1992A; 1992B; Schweber 2000). Using this conceptual framework I will ask: Did the census describe communities or a ‘dot-like world’? Did it describe the territory or demography, i.e., the “people”? And if, for example, it described territory, how was the land divided, by abstract districts or by geographical boundaries of communities? I am interested in the ways in which this statistical regime was established and became a canon of objectivity, and in the way it was maintained and gained its stability through an intimate connection with state institutions.

The census after the war can be studied virtually under laboratory conditions because it was a one-time action carried out in a closed area and on a separated population. These conditions are very unique compared to censuses in the western world. At the same time, they furnish a rare opportunity to learn the way scientific organizations and state institutions co-produce knowledge as well as the political, social and economic order (Ezrahi 1900; Jasanoff 2004).

Ezrahi, Yaron, 1990, The Descent of Icarus: Science and the Transformation of Contemporary Democracy. Cambridge, Mass: Harvard University Press.
Goldman, Neta-Ziv, 1991, Renewal of Deportation of Women and Children from the West Bank on Account of "Illegal Residency". Information Sheet. Jerusalem: B’Tselem.
Hacking, Ian, 1992a. “Statistical Language, Statistical Truth and Statistical Reason: The Self-Authentication of a Style of Scientific Reasoning”, in E. McMullin (ed.) The Social Dimensions of Science, Notre Dame, Ind., University of Notre Dame Press, 130-157.
1992b. “’Style’ for Historians and Philosophers”, Studies in History and Philosophy of Science, 23, 1-20.
Jasanoff, Sheila, 2004. “Ordering Knowledge, Ordering Society”, in: Jasanoff, S., (ed.). States of Knowledge: The Co-production of Science and Social Order. London: Routledge.
Leibler, Anat, 2004. “Statisticians’ Reason: Governmentality, Modernity, National Legibility.” Journal for Israel Studies 9(2) pp. 121-149.
2007. “Establishing Scientific Authority – Citizenship and the First Census of Israel” Tel Aviver Jahrbuch fuer deutsche Geschichte (Tel Aviv Yearbook for German History) (forthcoming).
Leibler, Anat, and Breslau, Daniel, 2005. “The Uncounted: Citizenship and Exclusion in the Israeli Census of 1948.” Journal of Racial and Ethnic Studies. Vol. 28(5).
Lustick, Ian, 1985. Arabs in a Jewish State. Mifras, Haifa. (Hebrew).
Morris, Benny, 1987 The Birth of the Palestinian Refugee Problem, 1947-1949, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Robinson, Shira, 2005. Occupied Citizens in a Liberal State: Palestinians under Military Rule and the Colonial Formation of Israeli Society, 1948-1966, PhD dissertation in History, Stanford.
Schweber, L., 2000. “Styles of Statistical Reasoning: The French Liberal Tradition Reconsidered.” In: Beaud J. P., and Prevost, J. G., The Age of Numbers: Statistical Systems and National Traditions. Saint-Foy (Quebec): University of Quebec Press.


Anat Leibler received her Ph.D. from The University of California, San Diego. Her dissertation is entitled A Comparative Study of the Development of National Statistics During the Twentieth Century in Israel-Palestine and Canada. Her publications include:
“Co-producing State and Science – the Role of Statistics in the Nation State Formation Processes”. In: Hakak, Yohai, Kacen, Lea and Krumer-Nevo, Michal, (eds). The Limits of Quantification: Critical Perspectives on the Measurement and Enumeration of Achievements, Behaviors and People. Ben Gurion University Press (forthcoming);
“Establishing Scientific Authority – Citizenship and the First Census of Israel”, in, Brunner, Jose, (ed). Tel Aviver Jahrbuch fuer deutsche Geschichte XXXV, (Tel Aviv Yearbook for German History), pp. 221-236. Wallstein Verlag, Goettingen: 2007; “The Uncounted: Citizenship and Exclusion in the Israeli Census of 1948.” Ethnic and Racial Studies; 28, 5 (2005): pp. 880-902. (Co-authored with Breslau, Daniel) and “Statisticians’ Reason: Governmentality, Modernity, National Legibility.” Israel Studies 9, 2 (2004) pp. 121-149.

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Lentin, Ronit
Senior Lecturer, Department of Sociology, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Racial state, state of exception

The State of Israel has been theorized as an 'ethnocracy', an 'ethnic democracy', even a racist state, but to date it has not been explicitly theorized as a racial state, the focus of this paper. Through reading Goldberg's (2002) theorization of all modern nation-states as 'racial states', Foucault's (2003) outline of the birth of state racism, and Agamben's (2005) theorization of the 'state of exception', this paper theorizes Israel as a racial state which uses technologies of bio- and thanato-power to control its Palestinian other. The duty to defend society against itself (and by extension defend 'the nation' from its indigenous and immigrant others) means that the state can scarcely function without racism, which Foucault sees as 'the break between what must live and what must die'. According to this analysis, racism has two functions: separating out the groups that exist within a population, and making it possible to establish 'a relationship between my life and the death of the other that is not a military or warlike relationship of confrontation, but a biological-type relationship: the more inferior species die out. the more I - as species rather than individual - can live, the stronger I will be' (Foucault 2003, 255).

The Israeli state of exception with reference to its Palestinian other was instituted from its very establishment through a series of emergency laws, not yet repealed. According to Agamben, through the state of exception, the sovereign excludes himself from the law while creating and guaranteeing the situation that the law needs for its validity. This circularity characterizes not only extreme regimes such as the Nazi state, but also the voluntary creation of a permanent state of emergency which has become an essential practice of contemporary states, including so-called democratic ones. This involves, on the one hand, the extension of the military authority's wartime powers into the civil sphere, and on the other, the suspension of constitutional norms that protect individual liberties.

Beginning by providing a theoretical outline of state racism, the racial state and Agamben's theorization of the state of exception, this paper goes on to posit Israel as a racial state. The paper then engages with the Jewish Israeli sociologist Yehouda Shenhav's (2006) re reading of Fanon's The Wretched of the Earth (1963) and his critique of Agamben's interpretation of Benjamin's 'Critique of violence' (1921), which ignores, unlike Schmitt or Arendt, the role of European imperialism in conceptualizing European sovereignty. However, while Shenhav's postcolonial reading of Fanon and Benjamin may provide the missing link in thinking about Palestine and Palestinian subjectivity, he stops short, surprisingly, of theorizing the State of Israel as a racial state.
However, because racial states always also consist of potentialities of resistance, I conclude by proposing a theorization of 'Palestinians' not merely as victims of the Israeli racial state, or as merely spoken for and about (although, of course, to theorize is always also to objectify), but as active agents of resistance.


Ronit Lentin is Senior Lecturer and director of the MPhil in Ethnic and Racial Studies in the Department of Sociology at Trinity College Dublin. She has published extensively on Israel/Palestine, gender and genocide, and racism and immigration in Ireland . Her books include Conversations with Palestinian Women (1982), Gender and Catastrophe (1997), Israel and the Daughters of the Shoah: Reoccupying the Territories of Silence (2000), Racism and Anti-racism in Ireland (with Robbie McVeigh, 2002), Women and the Politics of Military Confrontation: Palestinian and Israeli Gendered Narratives of Dislocation (with Nahla Abdo 2002), Re-presenting the Shoah for the 21st Century (2004), After Optimism? Ireland, Racism and Globalisation (with Robbie McVeigh, 2006), Race and State (with Alana Lentin, 2006), Performing Global Networks (with Karen Fricker, 2007), and Thinking Palestine (2008).

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Lyon, David
Department of Sociology, Queen’s University, Canada

Identification, colonialism and contemporary control: Surveillance and citizenship in Israel

What is the connection between the colonial roots and conflict zone fruits of identification processes in Israel? Identification is vital to surveillance and especially so in colonial situations where the categories – racial, religious, and so on – are so consequential for political power and for governance in general. By taking a sideways glance at South Africa under Apartheid as a possibly parallel case, the dynamics of identification and power may be traced in the Israeli case. The pass system in South Africa, with its racialized categories, meant that “Africans,” “Coloureds” and “Asians” had to carry identification when outside their designated areas of work or residence. The system provided a potent means of control and was deeply resented and resisted. The wall and the checkpoint system in Israel and the Occupied Palestinian Territories operates in analogous ways, with Palestinians in the “seam zone” between the Green Line and Wall requiring permits to live in their homes, farm their land and make visits to family. The bulk of the Palestinian population in the West Bank live under a restricted mobility regime which is based on elaborate identification system that regulates their movement in the territories. Reviewing the debate over whether Israel and the OPT represent a form of Apartheid, with regard to the specific case of identification systems, throws light on the broader issue of ID, colonialism and control. The aim of this analysis is both historical and theoretical, to indicate how surveillance is accentuated in conflict zones with colonial roots, and with what effects -- with the case of Israel as the main example.


David Lyon is the Principal Investigator of The New Transparency Project and Director of the Surveillance Project. He is also Queen's Research Chair in Sociology and a Killam Fellow. Professor Lyon has been working on surveillance issues since the 1980s, when he discussed surveillance as one of the key issues of information-based societies in The Information Society: Issues and Illusions (Polity 1988). Since then he has been involved in many debates over information politics and policy in Canada and around the world as a result of his research and publications including The Electronic Eye (1994), Surveillance Society (2001) and Surveillance after September 11 (Polity 2003). He is a founding editor of the e-journal Surveillance & Society and has particular research interests in national ID cards, aviation security and surveillance and in promoting the cross-disciplinary and international study of surveillance.

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Monterescu, Daniel
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology and Social Anthropology, Central European University and European University Institute, Hungary

The Banality of Neoliberal Urban Planning: Gated Communities and the Politics of Palestinian Dispossession in Jaffa

Daniel Monterescu


Jean Monnet
Postdoctoral Fellow, The Mediterranean Programme, Robert Schuman Centre for Advanced Studies, European University Institute, Florence, Italy

The emergence of gated communities in Israel/Palestine signals new modes of urban exclusion, which reshape previous forms of spatial distinction. Focusing on the ethnically ‘mixed town’ of Jaffa where an unprecedented number of such gated communities have been constructed in the last decade, this paper interrogates the modus operandi of the Andromeda Hill project and Palestinian resistance to it. Conceptualized as a neoliberal mode of ethno-gentrification, this gated community attempts to achieve the impossible task of positioning itself both within and without local lived space and inhabited time. Operating as a neo-Orientalist simulacrum, such projects subvert the standard logic of urban representation and modernistic notions of segregation. The concept of spatial heteronomy is proposed to address such dialectic strategies of spatial orientationality – circumventing the contested Palestinian urban space and projected onto a mythological plane of Mediterranean fantasy. The paper critically exposes the role of urban planning, architecture and municipal law in de-Arabizing Jaffa and in commodifying lived space.


Daniel Monterescu received his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago in 2005. He is Assistant Professor of urban anthropology at the Central European University in Budapest and Marie Curie fellow at the European University Institute in Florence. Monterescu studies ethnic relations and urban space in bi-national (“mixed”) towns as part of a larger project on identity, sociality and gender relations in Mediterranean Cities. His publications include Mixed Towns, Trapped Communities (with Dan Rabinowitz, Ashgate 2007), and Twilight Nationalism: Tales of Traitorous Identities (Forthcoming, with Haim Hazan) - a bilingual (Arabic-Hebrew) study of narratives of Palestinian and Jewish elderly in Jaffa. His next project proposes a legal anthropology of gender-related transformations in the Shari`a Courts in Israel (with Moussa Abou Ramadan).

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Neuman, Tamara
Visiting Assistant Professor, Anthropology, Bryn Mawr College, United States

Surveillance from the Summits: The “Civilian” Presence in Settlement as a Form of Population Management

One of the important rationales for introducing settlements into the context of the military occupation of Gaza and the West Bank was initially to reduce the burden of the military in managing and controlling the Palestinian population. Introducing a loyal “civilian” population was intended to increase the surveillance of the Palestinian population without adding to the burden of military responsibility. Settlements were designed as panoptical enclosures overlooking Palestinian fields, villages and population centers. Under the watchful eye of these quasi-civilian communities, the idea was that Palestinian residents would begin to police themselves more thoroughly in formal and informal ways. Whether this actually happened in practice, remains unclear. On the settlement side, however, what is interesting is that family life and religious practice (markers of a civilian presence) and social practices such as reproduction, religious celebrations, political rallies, funerals and weddings served a dual purpose. They were used as a means of expanding a loyal population, and as an augmented form of surveillance in their own right. In many ways, the use of a quasi civilian settler population as a form of control represents a permanent albeit low-tech (and not too efficient) form of surveillance whose usefulness would seem to have been eclipsed by much more sophisticated forms of information gathering. Yet social difference and the presumption of loyalty via ethnicity remain important elements of population management. This paper proposes to analyze the uses of a “civilian” presence as a means of enhancing surveillance, and to think about why the conceit of a civilian presence as enhanced surveillance has persisted in the face of far more sophisticated forms of information gathering and population management in a high tech era.


Tamara Neuman is a visiting assistant professor in Peace and Conflict Studies, Middle East Studies Initiative and Anthropology at Bryn Mawr College. She is currently finishing her book entitled Seizing Zion: Jewish Militancy and Israeli settlement over the Green line. Published articles include: “June Leavitt: A Hebron Settler, Struggle and Survival in The Modern Middle East 2nd edition Edmund Burke III and David Yaghoubian eds. University of California Press (December 2005); and “Maternal ‘Anti-Politics’ in the Formation of Hebron’s Jewish Enclave”, 33 (2) Journal of Palestine Studies Berkeley: University of California Press (Winter 2004), pp 1 -20.

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Parsons, Nigel
Lecturer, Politics Program, Massey University, New Zealand

Israeli biopolitics, Palestinian policing: order and resistance in the Occupied Palestinian Territories

Following Salter and Parsons’ work on Israel’s closure regime in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT), this paper explores Israeli biopolitics as a framework for the study of Palestinian policing and incarceration. The Gaza Strip is enclosed, and the West Bank enclosed and overlaid, by colonial infrastructure that expedites racialized biopolitical regulation. Negotiating this imposed physical and bureaucratic landscape, subject to the jurisdictional constraints of the Oslo framework and the contingencies of military occupation, agents of the Palestinian Authority (PA) work through a discrete, under-resourced local infrastructure to formulate and deliver law and order.

The analysis is organized into five parts. First, the Foucauldian concept of biopolitics is defined and related to the OPT; the Zionist state, ethnocentric by design and projected eastward by occupation, is seen to regulate a binary to the detriment of the Palestinian population. Second, analysis of Oslo’s canon and Palestinian security force structure, remit and jurisdiction, point to indigenous disciplinarity conceptualized within a racialized biopolitical schema. Third, PA surveillance and correction is shown to unfold through a dependent carceral regime mandated to police the consequences of accelerated Zionist colonization; failure to provide adequate disciplinary power by proxy drew sanctions and the spectacle of military action. Fourth, the politics of reform and contingent shifts in service capacity and remit point to indigenous coercive systems realigned with colonial biopolitical imperatives. Fifth, resistance is evidenced in counter-espionage, martyrdom, contestation of criminality and inter-factional tension, culminating in the de facto separation of Gaza from the West Bank.

Following Foucault on penality and crime, in Palestine we may rid ourselves of the illusion that security is the prime function of the OPT’s carceral regime. Some indigenous carceral circles do have a mundane criminal function. The Civil Police seek to uphold the law, and the majority of prison inmates are criminal. But the Oslo framework explicitly criminalized resistance to occupation and granted the PA a remit to enforce the new order. Quantified and cantonized, Palestinians are policed amidst a dynamic occupation that territorializes space and projects citizens eastward - at an accelerated rate - into a privileged settlement infrastructure. Palestinian disciplinary and carceral mechanisms regulated the indigenous population within this racialized biopolitical binary. In failure, they were chastised, in rebellion demolished. The reform agenda of hegemonic powers has since aspired to render the PA better equipped to fulfill its remit.

The concentration of coercive power continues to inhere in the colonial state. Israeli carceral circles do buttress Palestinian containment of local resistance; such were the tensions inherent to Oslo’s arrangements, they would have to. But they also contain Palestinian society and expedite colonization. Proximate to Palestinian circles, the IDF maintains a regime of checkpoints, patrols, planners and engineers as easily mobilized for reinvasion and mass detention as for settlement and a wall. In Gaza under Hamas, refusal to subscribe to this biopolitical schema prompted full-spectrum containment; if carceral mechanisms would not realign, predictable sanctions applied. Institutional crisis and territorial division in the OPT reflect the biopolitical design within which Palestinian policing and incarceration unfold.


Nigel Parsons is a Lecturer in the Politics Program at Massey University. His publications include: “Israeli Biopolitics, Palestinian Policing: Order and Resistance in the Occupied Palestinian Territories”, in Carceral Practices: Prisons and Policing in the Middle East and North Africa, Laleh Khalili and Jillian Schwedler, eds. (Hurst/Columbia, forthcoming); “Israeli Biopolitics: Closure, Territorialization and Governmentality in the Occupied Palestinian Territories” with Mark B. Salter in Geopolitics (forthcoming); “Palestinian Refugees”, Oxford Encyclopedia of the Modern World, Peter N. Stearns, ed. (Oxford: Oxford University Press 2008); “Palestinian Statehood: Aspirations, Needs, and Viability Post-Oslo”, Book Review Article Middle East Journal 61/3 (Summer 2007): 521-529 and The Politics of Palestinian Authority: From Oslo to al-Aqsa (London & New York: Routledge, 2005)

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Sa’di, Ahmad H.
Professor, Department of Politics and Government, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev

Under the Israeli Panoptic Eye: Israel’s methods of controlling the Palestinians during the first two decades

Prevailing literature on surveillance has focused on the employment of technological means through which an increasing amount of personal information is gathered and analyzed (Such as CCTV and computers). The shrinking of the private sphere, however, has been mostly carried out within the limits of the law. In this Foucauldian paradigm, power is neither conceived as arbitrary nor as necessarily coercive (although it could be so in a variety of institutions and social settings). Indeed such a form of power can be essential, and in way beneficiary to the normal functioning of the society. However, this perception is historically and geographically bounded. Its frame of reference is relatively stable and atomized societies. Indeed, Western societies have constituted the bulk of the cases for this research. However, very little has been done on cases where surveillance and control methods found their ultimate use: in occupied areas, colonies or areas of intense political or military struggles. In such cases the scope and methods of surveillance are not restricted by laws, rather by their effectiveness or by political expediency.

My paper deals with the methods used by the Israeli state to control the Palestinian citizens of the state during the period 1948-1966. In this phase Israel imposed a Military Government on the Palestinian populated areas, and in fact curtailed the rule of law. The control methods used were not put in place in order to secure public safety, state security or to reestablish normalcy. Rather the State used a variety of surveillance and control methods to achieve hidden political goals, such as: encouraging the Palestinians to leave, driving them out, changing their identity, instigating conflicts among them, expropriating their resources, preventing them establishing organizations for collective action and decreasing their fertility rates. The analysis identifies the the evolution and the changes of State’s goals vis-à-vis the minority, the methods of surveillance used, and the organizations which implement them. Specific attention is given to the agents and objects of surveillance; their subjectivity which found expression in their actions or announcements is highlighted. Such an analysis differs from the Foucauldian perspective where the action of the human agent is mostly absent because Military Governors, political leaders, collaborators and informers are the main actors in this saga.

The material used in the presentation is mostly drawn from Israeli archives, where protocols of the control system’s agents, orders, reports of informers and collaborators as well as dataveillance constitute the main source of information.


Ahmad H. Sa’di is Professor in the Department of Politics and Government at Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. His publications include Nakba: Palestine, 1948 and the Claims of Memory. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007 (co-edited with Lila Abu-Lughoud); "Construction and reconstruction of Racialised Boundaries: Discourse, Institutions and Methods," Social Identities. 10, 2 (2004): 135-149; "The Rhetoric of Public Order and the Excessive Use of Force," Annals of Japan Association for Middle East Studies. 19, 2 (2004): 15-33. (in English) and “The Incorporation of the Palestinian minority by the Israeli State, 1948-1970: On the Nature, Transformation and Constraints of Collaboration,” Social Text. 21, 2 (2003): 75-94.

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Salamanca, Omar Jabary
Ph.D. Candidate, Middle East and North Africa Research Group, Gent University, Belgium

Life support systems, bio-power and resistance Insights from the West Bank

As societies urbanize and modernize, their populations become ever more dependent on a series of extremely fragile and interconnected networks that enable contemporary, condensed, and disciplined urban spaces to function. Infrastructural networks—the life support systems that distribute people, water, electricity, sewage, transportation, information, etc across time and space—are typically noticed only when they fail to work properly. We view them as objects full of technical and economic value, but empty of socio-political meaning. As a result, we rarely consider how they reflect and reinforce dominant configurations of political interest and power, or how they spatialize and orient possibilities for socio-political participation. These infrastructures create possibilities for life, but also provide powerful resources for its management and control. They can bypass and exclude (and thus cut off and destroy) as well as provide opportunities for connection and choice. Infrastructural networks thus link geopolitics (the struggle for control over territories) with biopolitics (the struggle for control over populations) in ways crucial to our understanding of ongoing conflicts around the globe.

The Israeli-Palestinian arena provides a powerful case in point. The construction of infrastructural networks here serves not only as a source of connection, but also as a means of disconnection, discrimination and control (see e.g., Falah and Newman, 1995; Yiftachel, 1996; Halper, 2000). At the same time, state-led infrastructural destruction by military means has led some scholars to identify Israeli policy as aiming at the “de-development” (Roy 1987, 2004) or “forced de-modernization” (Graham, 2002a, 2002b) of Palestinian society. Yet powerful though these contributions are, they tend to overlook the ways in which the governmental aspects of infrastructural manipulation give rise to small-scale acts of resistance where Palestinians are able to subvert the planning practices that give shape to infrastructures of segregation and control (e.g., Hammami, 2004; Pullan, 2006).

This paper seeks to expand on the above insights by exploring the emergent interplay across various layers of spatial practice that underpin the imaginative and physical environments within which daily infrastructural spatial practices are currently performed and contested, as well as the genealogies of their manufacture and use. In doing so, the paper develops critical insight of the biopolitics and geopolitics that shape the dystopian infrastructural geographies of the Palestinian West Bank.


Omar Jabary Salamanca is a PhD candidate at the Middle East and North Africa Research Group in the Political Science Department at Gent University. He holds a degree in Geography (Valladolid, 2002), and a MSc in Urban studies (Rotterdam, 2004). Currently he is a Marie Curie visiting research fellow at the Department of Anthropology at Kent at Canterbury University. Between 2004 and 2006 he worked in metropolitan strategic planning and infrastructure development at Barcelona City Council. His research interests include the intersections of military urbanism and conflict; the role of biopolitics and geopolitics in urban infrastructure development; and geographies of resistance and the application of ethnographies in fieldwork.

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Sorek, Tamir
Assistant Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Florida, United States

Cautious commemoration: The changing patterns of disciplining Palestinian memory in Israel

Shortly before the 10th anniversary of the 1956 massacre in Kafr Qasim, political activists in the village initiated the establishment of a memorial monument for the victims. The initiative was soon discovered by the Israeli Security Service, and the village’s local council was instructed to thwart it. It was only after another decade had passed, shortly after the Land Day events in 1976, that local activists felt confident enough to ignore recurrent threats and build the monument.

In March 1998, the political leadership of the Arab-Palestinian citizens in Israel called for Arab municipalities to establish memorial monuments for the Palestinian martyrs of the 1948 Nakba. Unlike the secret preparations for the monument in Kafr Qasim two decades earlier, this call was public and gained front-page headlines in the Arabic media. Although these leaders expected that at least fifteen municipalities would respond to the request, by the end of September 2000, only three municipalities had built Nakba memorial monuments. Furthermore, only one of those three monuments still stands and has gained public recognition as a commemorative site. The other two failed to become gathering points for political rallies; indeed, they were soon destroyed by local residents. Only after the events of October 2000, during which the Israeli police killed twelve Palestinian citizens, did a wave of memorial-building sweep the Palestinian towns and villages inside Israel.

Although these two unsuccessful attempts to establish memorial monuments in 1966 and in 1998 seem similar, there is a significant difference in the ways they were eventually thwarted, a difference which represents the changing mechanisms of disciplining Palestinian public memory in Israel. Recognizing the potential political power of collective memory, Israeli authorities have been vigilant in monitoring the commemorative practices of the Palestinian minority since the establishment of the state until the present day. The end of the military government and processes of liberalization in Israeli society since the 1970’s, however, have partly legitimized certain political commemorative practices. The annual commemoration of specific events, like the Kafr Qasim massacre and Land Day, seem to face relative tolerance by the state authorities.

At the same time, however, other commemorative practices face new forms of government surveillance. From the state’s point of view, the Nakba is by far the most threatening event in the arsenal of Palestinian collective memories, and initiatives to commemorate it face direct and frequently public threats by state officials. This antagonistic attitude does not prevent the commemoration but it does influence its forms and even its content, which sometimes reflect a caution not to risk the already shaky status as citizens. The paper discusses the transition from the ‘behind the scenes’ pattern of memory policing to the current situation in which Palestinian national commemoration is publicly disciplined mainly by the government’s power to allocate resources, as well as by calculated and careful self-censorship.


Tamir Sorek is Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at the University of Florida. Sorek’s interests center on the production of ethnic and national identities in the Israeli-Palestinian context, emphasizing socio-historical dynamics, power relations, and the juncture of culture and politics. His recent publications include: Arab Soccer in a Jewish State: The Integrative Enclave (Cambridge University Press, 2007), and the article “Cautious Commemoration: Localism, communalism, and nationalism in Palestinian memorial monuments in Israel", published in Comparative Studies in Society and History, 2008. Sorek is currently working on a book about political memory among the Palestinian citizens of Israel.

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Tawil-Souri, Helga
Assistant Professor, Department of Media, Culture, and Communication, New York University, United States

Orange, Green, and Blue: Color-Coded Paperwork for Palestinian Population Control

Palestinians in the West Bank, Gaza Strip and Israel itself, claim that the State of Israel through various methods simultaneously attempts to thwart, isolate, fragment, control, monitor, transfer and erase them away. This is not a chimerical claim, but one that can be analyzed as a technical problem of the geo-political conditions of Palestinians’ status. But how do these contradictory Israeli-imposed processes materialize and co-exist? One particular, often overlooked practice, is a color-coded and tactile means of Israeli state power.

Depending on one’s place of residence, a Palestinian is assigned an orange, green, or blue ID card (all cards are actually off-white, but their required plastic carrying cases come in different colors; they are referred to as colored cards in Arabic and Hebrew). Thus, orange, green and blue are the points of contact between Palestinians and the State of Israel, a physical substance through which their relationship is mediated.

This paper argues that these ID cards are manifestations of a longer tradition of a key component to state power and a state’s ability to control who enters or leaves its territory, based on 19th century bureaucratic and technical advances that led to the creation of passports (Torpey 2000). After describing the materiality, history and administration of these cards, this paper situate them in a history of the ‘high modernist ideology’ rooted in the belief of bureaucratic and rational control (Scott 1999) that led to passports. While other forms of documentation had been used in pre-modern Europe to enable and regulate travel between locales, it was the creation of passports that gave rise to the panoptic and totalizing power of the state— in more controlling regimes such as Tsarist Russia these techniques were used to control movement within its territory. The issuing of these color-coded cards is a historical continuation of documenting and controlling ‘citizens’: here Israeli concerns of security and population control are obvious. But Palestinians are not all Israeli citizens and certainly not equal ones in the case of blue ID holders (the color for those within Israel). Rather they are apatride (stateless), or, following Agamben, reduced to their biological life through a limitation of their civic life, in this case tactically manifested in the ID cards they are issued, or sometimes denied. Moreover, unlike the Nansen passports issued to Russian and Armenian refugees post WW1 (Skran 1995), these ID cards are not meant to ease repatriation or normalization — nor help organize humanitarian aid, since Palestinian refugees must be registered, on paper, with UNRWA to obtain any assistance.

Second, this paper argues that against newer and more visible means of Israeli state power — some physical such as walls and checkpoints; some hi-tech such as manless drones and biometrics— lays the fundamental technique of a ‘monopoly of movement’: that of paperwork (Torpey 2000). There may very well be a practice of fragmenting, isolating, transfering and erasing Palestinians, but they need to be counted, monitored, documented and controlled first. Certain aspects of Israel’s means of Palestinian control is spatial, physical, industrial, violent, and hi-tech; but the ‘low-tech’, dull and tedious need for paperwork remains fundamental. Moreover, the argument is made that, perhaps ironically, the colored-ID policy laid the foundation for eventual Palestinian Authority bureaucracy, control and surveillance.

Orange, green and blue ID cards represent a particular technical, mediated, and tactile response to a political problem — the existence and growth of Palestinians in and around Israel — that embodies in its deployment a particular institutional logic of modern-day Israel. Today, Israel uses multiple means to control, monitor and fragment Palestinians. But new forms of hi-technology will likely come and go. Paperwork will remain. Likewise, paperwork will remain fundamental to state power — no matter the intended goal: normalization, repatriation, control, surveillance, isolation, transfer, or erasure.

Works Cited:
Scott, James C. 1999. Seeing Like a State: How Certain Schemes to Improve the Human Condition Have Failed. New Haven: Yale University Press.
Skran, Claudena M. 1995. Refugees in Inter-War Europe: The Emergence of a Regime. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Torpey, John C. 2000. The Invention of the Passport: Surveillance, Citizenship, and the State. New York: Cambridge University Press.


Helga Tawil-Souri's research focuses on various aspects of Palestinian and Arab media practices and spaces, including analyses of local broadcasting industries and cinema, the relationship between the Internet and national/economic development, and issues around social and political spaces. Recent publications include: “The Political Battlefield of Pro-Arab Videogames on Palestinian Streets” Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa, and the Middle East 27(3), 2007; “Global and National Forces for a Nation-State Yet to Be Born: The Paradoxes of Palestinian Television Policies” Westminster Papers in Communication and Culture 4(3), 2007; and “Marginalizing Palestinian Development: Lessons Against Peace” Development 49(2), 2006.

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Weizman, Eyal
Professor and Director, Centre for Research Architecture, Goldsmiths College, University of London, United Kingdom


Yotam Feldman
Journalist and independent filmmaker

The Laboratory

Israel’s occupation could be seen as an accelerator and an acceleration of other global political processes. The extended significance of this “laboratory” is in the fact that the techniques of domination, as well as the techniques of resistance to them have expanded and multiplied across what critical geographer Derek Gregory called the “colonial present,” and beyond – into the metropolitan centers of global cities.
Indeed beyond their physical reality, the territories of Israel/Palestine have constituted a schematic description of a conceptual system whose properties have been used to understand other geopolitical problems. Yet, if the Iraqi resistance is perceived to have been “Palestinized,” the American military has been “Israelized”. Furthermore both the American and Israeli militaries have adopted counter-insurgency tactics that increasingly resemble the guerrilla methods of their enemies. This is because the separate conflicts now generally collected under the heading of the “war on terror” – are the backdrop to the formation of complex “institutional ecologies” that allow the exchange of technologies, mechanisms, doctrines, and spatial strategies between various militaries and the organizations that they confront, as well as between the civilian and the military domains. This phenomenon will be traced by returning to a theme developed in my book Hollow Land. The paper will further trace the history of Israeli military think tanks, such as OTRI, against transformations in military doctrine in the US and Britain. It will trace its development alongside RMA and NCW doctrines in the US military. After its breakup in May 2006, and after Israel’s defeat in Lebanon, its civilian and military members have left Israel to work for and with different militaries such as the Georgian, the Singaporean and the American. What have they exported with them?


Eyal Weizman is an Architect based in London. He studied architecture at the Architectural Association in London and completed his PhD at the London
Consortium, Birkbeck College. He is the director of the Centre for Research Architecture at Goldsmiths College, University of London. Before this role, Weizman was Professor of Architecture at the Academy of Fine Arts in Vienna. Weizman has taught, lectured, curated and organised conferences in many institutions worldwide. His books include Hollow Land [Verso Books, 2007], A Civilian Occupation [Verso Books, 2003], the series Territories 1,2 and 3, Yellow Rhythms and many articles in journals, magazines and edited books. Weizman is a regular contributor to many journals and magazines and is an editor at large for Cabinet Magazine (New York). Weizman is the recipient of the James Stirling Memorial Lecture Prize for 2006-2007.

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Whitaker, Reg
Professor Emeritus, Department of Political Science, York University, Canada

Behavioural Profiling in Israeli Aviation Security as a Tool for Social Control

The Israeli government and the Israeli national airline El Al have developed a surveillance technique in aviation security often referred to as ‘behavioural profiling’. Applied to international flights from Ben Gurion Airport in Tel Aviv, as well as to El Al flights to Israel from international locations, Israeli-style passenger screening is also a model currently being exported, with some success, to Europe and North America. Focused on the identification of ‘dangerous persons’, as opposed to the detection of dangerous objects in the possession of passengers, this kind of profiling looks to anomalous patterns regarding passenger characteristics; their travel itineraries; their personal behaviour in the airport; their responses under direct questioning. Initial judgments are made to channel passengers into three streams according to level of potential risk, with security resources concentrated on the riskiest stream. Israeli authorities claim a strong success rate in aviation security, citing the lack of any terrorist incidents on El Al flights or at Israeli airports since the bloody assault on the old Lod Airport in 1972 by members of the ‘Japanese Red Army’.

Although elements of this methodology may be appropriated to enhance passenger screening operations in European and North American airports, the Israeli system cannot be easily extracted from the political context within which it is deployed. It serves as one component of Israeli social sorting and control over the Arab Israeli and Palestinian populations. Critics of behavioural profiling cite fears that such methods will tend in practice to resemble racial/religious profiling, a practice widely discredited as both ineffective and abusive of civil liberties and the rights of minority communities. In fact, precisely these criticisms have been raised against behavioural screening within Israel by civil liberties and Arab Israeli groups, and these criticisms have, in part at least, been acknowledged by Israeli authorities as having some validity, with changes promised.

This case study of a particular example of profiling technique in security screening offers both reflections on the Israel-Palestine experience, and more general reflections on the implications of profiling for social control and for liberal democratic practices in the post-9/11 era.

Research is based both on existing literature but also on direct interviews and material gathered in the course of conducting an independent review of aviation security for the Government of Canada, including a visit to Israel to assess Israeli passenger screening and airport security.


Reg Whitaker is Professor Emeritus of the Department of Political Science, York University. His publications include Canada and the Cold War (2003); The End of Privacy: How Total Surveillance is Becoming a Reality (NY 1999, also available in French, German, Spanish, and Korean editions); Cold War Canada: The Making of a National Insecurity State (Toronto 1995). He has served as a Member of the Advisory Panel to the Minister of Transport to review aviation security in Canada (Flight Plan: Managing the Risks in Aviation Security, 2006); and as an advisor to the Commission of Inquiry into the Air India Bombing, 2006 -07.

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Oren Yiftachel
Ben-Gurion University, Beer Sheva, and
Regional Council of Unrecognized Bedouin Villages, Beer Sheva

‘Gray Space’ as a (Fragile?) System of Control: Zionist Colonialism and the Bedouins

The paper analyzes the Judaization of Bedouin space around Beer Sheva, and the methods of control used in this process. Theoretically, it focuses on the political geography of informal development (housing, farming, bodies and economies) which transgresses official state legalities and plans. Informalities are conceptualized as ‘gray spaces’, positioned between the ‘whiteness’ of approval/membership/safety, and the ‘blackness’ of destruction/eviction/death. Gray ‘spacing’ constitutes a strategy of control and surveillance over indigenous and immigrant minorities, aimed at organizing these populations through a system of coerced and constrained urbanization/regulation. Surveillance is typically achieved via the ‘filters’ of immigration, land, housing and economic regulation, whereby ‘gray’ may turn to ‘white’ by state registration and legal impositions. Spatial policies are central to the emerging colonial order, providing the vocabulary, technologies and regulative setup to manage deeply unequal urban societies. Policies typically work to keep gray spaces in ‘permanent temporariness’, thereby trapping minorities between discourses of criminality and societal danger on the one hand, and closure of mainstream identity, political and economic spheres on the other. Yet, given its typical racism and structural inequality, gray ‘spacing’ is an unsustainable system of control, typically generating resistance, insurgence and instability.

Empirically, the paper analyzes the application of ‘gray spacing’ as a system of control around Beer Sheva, as set within the Israel/Palestine drama. The author draws on his experience as a planner for the (unrecognized) Regional Council of Unrecognized Bedouin Villages, and on his intimate knowledge of the land, tribal and planning systems of the Naqab region. The analysis shows a process of internal colonialism through which Israel applied its ethnocratic apparatus to Judaize the land, settlement, immigration and economic systems of the region. At the same time it used its planning and legal system to keep most Bedouins in gray space, suspended between criminalizing illegality and insurmountable obstacles to integrate into Israeli society. The main methods of control and surveillance rely on the ‘filters’ built into the adjudication of land claims and struggles for village recognition. These aim to document, classify and impose state laws on the Bedouins, with the emphasis on spatial, rather than demographic control. Following a historical and legal review, the paper will analyze the working of two recent committees appointed by the state to ‘resolve’ the Bedouin land issue. The analysis shows the devastating effect the gray spacing strategy has had on the Bedouins, but also some loss of state control, as the demographic ‘threat’ begins to conflict with the state’s spatial surveillance, and as Bedouin sumood and insurgent practices challenge sovereignty ‘from below’.

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Zureik, Elia
Professor Emeritus, Department of Sociology, Queen’s University, Canada

States of Exception, Surveillance and Population Management: The Case of Israel/Palestine

Academic research by social scientists and legal scholars about surveillance in Western countries has experienced a remarkable growth in the last couple of decades, in particular after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. There is, however, a dearth of comparable empirical research on states of exception, securitization and surveillance that deal with colonial and post-colonial regions of the Third World in general and the Middle East in particular. This is peculiar because state of exception, in which the law is suspended in governing indigenous populations and territory, is directly associated with the experience of colonial and imperial regimes. The paper highlights the main aspects of surveillance practices that are implicated in the formation of the Israeli state, its security rationale, management of the Palestinian minority within Israel, and control of the Occupied Palestinian Territories. Specifically, the paper is organized along the following themes: (1) why study surveillance? (2) Israeli surveillance practices; (3) Palestinian refugees’ “bare life”; (3) debate over the meaning of state securitisation; and (4) forms of resistance to surveillance.


Dr. Elia Zureik is Professor Emeritus of Sociology at Queen’s University in Ontario, Canada. He is the author of The Palestinians in Israel: A Study of Internal Colonialism, 1979, and Palestinian Refugees and the Peace Process, 1996. He is the co-editor of Reinterpreting the Historical Record. The Uses of Palestinian Refugee Archives for Social Science and Policy Analysis, 2001, Sociology of the Palestinians, 1980, and International Public Opinion and the Palestine Question,1981. His articles on the Middle East appeared in the International Journal of Middle East Studies, The British Journal of Middle Eastern Studies, Third World Quarterly, Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East, Global Dialogue, International Journal of the Sociology of Law, Social Justice, Journal of Refugee Studies, Journal of Palestine Studies, Arab Studies Quarterly, and Dissent, among others.

In addition to his research on the Middle East, Zureik’s research involves studying the impact of computers and the internet on society. He is the co-editor with David Lyon of Computers, Surveillance and Privacy (University of Minnesota Press, 1996), and with Mark Salter, Global Surveillance and Policing: Borders, Security and Identity (Willan Publishing, 2005), and The Social Context of Information and Communication Technology: A Bibliography (Peter Lang Publisher, 1987). His articles on surveillance and ICT appeared in Studies in Political Economy, Industrial Relations, Telecommunications Policy, Communications of the ACM, and Computers and Society. In 2005, he completed an extensive report titled The Information Society in Palestine: the Human Capital Dimension which was funded by the International Development Research Center in Ottawa.

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