Dr. Timothy Seidel:
Thank you to Mohamed, Samirah, and the Palestine Center for this opportunity. It’s really good to be here.
Good afternoon. I want to begin by acknowledging the contributors that made this volume possible: Nijmeh Ali, Dana El Kurd, Melanie Meinzer, Anders Persson, Ben White, and Jeremy Wildeman. And of course, my colleague and co-editor Alaa Tartir (who sends his regrets for not being able to join us this afternoon). This edited volume is not merely a collection of chapters, but has been a joint project and a collaborative scholarly effort [note: on power and knowledge. A real privilege.
Also special thanks to Professor Richard Falk for his generous forward to our book and to the editorial team at Palgrave Macmillan, Alina Yurova and John Stegner, for their support.
Over the next several minutes, I will attempt to give you a glimpse into what our volume is trying to do. I will begin by sketching out the overall framework of the book, discussing the key themes. [If it makes sense, I’ll try to say a little about my recent visit and the observations and insights I heard about the so-called “deal of the century” with regards to settler colonialism and neoliberalism and resistance.] I will then give an overview of the chapters, but there’s a lot of good stuff in there and I can’t cover it all, so I’ll of course invite you to read the book
1. Book introduction.
In his History of the Peloponnesian War, Thucydides wrote that the strong do what they will and the weak suffer what they must. In a way, this volume reinforces that notion, of the rule of power in late modernity. As the chapters in this volume describe, power expresses itself in many different ways: settler colonialism, liberal peacebuilding, institution-building, foreign aid and its inflections of power in terms of security and political economy. But in another way, this book challenges this sort of Thucydidean power politics inasmuch as it recognizes that the “weak” do not simply “suffer what they must” but act—as social and political agents—in terms that we refer to as the resistance that co-constitute power. Palestine and Rule of Power explores some of those ways in particular in Palestine today.
Through its ten chapters, the book tackles three interconnected themes, namely: 1) resistance, steadfastness, and mobilization against settler colonialism and repression in Palestine; 2) impact of neoliberal external aid and intervention; and 3) security-sector reform and Palestinian authoritarianism.
Earlier this year in January, Israeli bulldozers razed some 15 dunams (3.7 acres) of Palestinian agricultural lands in the Wadi al-Samn area of southern Hebron in the occupied West Bank. That month, in the West Bethlehem village of Battir, Israeli bulldozers razed and leveled another 15 dunams of Palestinian agricultural lands, uprooting about 60 olive trees. (Battir is on the UNESCO world heritage list due to its terrace farming and irrigation channels.) Days later, Israeli settlers chopped down 40 Palestinian-owned olive trees in the al-Mughayyir village in the central West Bank district of Ramallah. The village has come under increasing attacks by Israeli settlers, such as running over flocks of sheep, uprooting of trees, seizure of land, and burning local mosques.
This escalation of settler violence was evident again in al-Mughayyir when Israeli settlers attacked the village. The UN office for the high commissioner for human rights (OHCHR) said that it was “deeply concerned about the protracted and extremely violent attack” that led to the killing of Hamdi Naasan, a 38-year-old father of four.
Since Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in 1967, between 500,000 and 600,000 Israelis have moved into Israeli settlements in occupied Palestinian territory, in violation of international law. These examples of Israeli settler violence have both social and economic effects. As the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) points out, “Olive-based livelihoods in many areas of the West Bank are undermined by Israeli settlers who uproot and vandalize olive trees, and by intimidation and the physical assaults on farmers during the harvest itself.” OCHA also reports that the average number of violent incidents instigated by settlers every month increased by 57 percent in 2018 compared with 2017, and by 175 percent compared with 2016.
The Israeli human rights group B’Tselem also reports on Israeli settler vandalism adding that “Settler violence and vandalism takes place with full backing by the Israeli authorities. Sometimes soldiers take part in the assault; at other times, they stand idly by. The police makes no substantial effort to investigate the incidents, nor takes measures to prevent them or stop them in real time.” The incidence of settler colonial violence in the West Bank benefits Israel because, the B’Tselem report points out, “settler violence has gradually dispossessed Palestinians of more and more areas in the West Bank, paving the way for a state takeover of land and resources.”
In our book, we explore the structures and processes that explain these expressions of violence and Palestinian resistance to it. In particular, our book examines the impacts of settler colonialism and neoliberalism in Palestine today as well as explores forms of everyday resistance to the logics and regimes of neoliberal governance and settler colonialism.
Settler Colonialism (from pages 2-4)
Power is expressed through the ongoing settler colonial present in Palestine (Salamanca et al. 2012). In this volume, we understand settler colonialism as a global, transnational phenomenon that is as much a thing of the present as a thing of the past (Veracini 2015), distinct from other forms of colonialism in several ways. One critical feature is that, unlike colonial agents such as traders, soldiers, or governors, settler colonizers “come to stay” (Wolfe 1999) with the intention to permanently occupy. Settlers are founders of political orders who carry with them a distinct sovereign capacity, asserting sovereignty over indigenous lands (Veracini 2010). In this way, settler colonialism is not just an event but a structure “that persists in the ongoing elimination of indigenous populations and extension of state sovereignty and juridical control over their lands” (Barker and Lowman n.d.).
Wolfe (2006) underscores another key feature of settler colonialism, that it is inherently eliminatory (387). And while settler colonialism has typically employed the organizing grammar of race, Wolfe argues that, regardless of what settlers may say, the primary motive for elimination is access to territory. “Territoriality is settler colonialism’s specific, irreducible element” (388). This logic of elimination animates both the negative goal of the dissolution of native societies and the positive goal of constructing a new colonial society on expropriated land. As Wolfe puts it:
settler colonizers come to stay: invasion is a structure not an event. In its positive aspect, elimination is an organizing principal of settler-colonial society rather than a one-off (and superseded) occurrence. The positive outcomes of the logic of elimination can include officially encouraged miscegenation, the breaking-down of native title into alienable individual freeholds, native citizenship, child abduction, religious conversion, resocialization in total institutions such as missions or boarding schools, and a whole range of cognate biocultural assimilations. All these strategies, including frontier homicide, are characteristic of settler colonialism. (388)
As Veracini (2010) observes, this marks a critical distinction between settler colonialism and other forms of colonialism, in that settlers want indigenous people to vanish (while making use of their labor before they are made to disappear). The “peaceful settler hides behind the ethnic cleanser” who enters a “new, empty land to start a new life.” Indigenous people “naturally and inevitably ‘vanish’; it is not settlers that displace them.” In this way, “settler colonialism obscures the conditions of its own production” (14).
The “natural” and “inevitable” vanishing of the indigenous population points to what Wolfe (1999) emphasizes, not the indispensability but the dispensability of the indigenous person in a settler colonial context:
The primary object of settler-colonization is the land itself rather than the surplus value to be derived from mixing native labour with it. Though, in practice, Indigenous labour was indispensable to Europeans, settler-colonization is at base a winner-take-all project whose dominant feature is not exploitation but replacement. The logic of this project, a sustained institutional tendency to eliminate the Indigenous population, informs a range of historical practices that might otherwise appear distinct – invasion is a structure not an event. (163)
The role of land is central in settler colonial struggles. In Palestine, the legacy of settler colonialism is that it has destroyed in order to replace and has renamed in order to erase. And yet not simply to replace but a process of replacement that “maintains the refractory imprint of the native counter-claim” (389). Settler colonialism endeavors to recast indigeneity onto the settler, requiring the elimination and erasure of the native population. This is another key feature: settler colonialism seeks its own end in that it trends towards the ending of colonial difference in the form of a supreme and unchallenged settler state and people. However, as Barker and Lowman (n.d.) point out, “this is not a drive to decolonize but to eliminate the challenges posed to settler sovereignty by indigenous peoples’ claims to land by eliminating indigenous peoples themselves and asserting false narratives and structures of settler belonging.”
Neoliberalism (from pages 4-8)
The second expression of power this volume considers is the neoliberal political and economic order defining appropriate behavior in late modernity, seen most clearly in Palestine in the state-building project. Over the last twenty-five years, since the Oslo Accords and the establishment of the Palestinian Authority (PA), the rule of power has been displayed through institution building agendas and commitments, expressing itself in terms of humanitarianism, foreign aid, and dependency, as well as political economic and security sector terms.
Richard Falk, former UN Special Rapporteur for Human Rights in Palestine, observes that it is this neoliberal approach to “peace” that has set the stage for years to propose what President Trump calls “the deal of the century”—the essence of which is the substitution of an economistic agenda of promises that when applied to the structural realities of Palestine end up hardening security and softening resistance without changing the abusive and corrupting victimization of the Palestinian people.
While its usage is wide and varied, we explore neoliberalism in both its political and economic effects as a logic and an order that advances an understanding of social and political freedom that can only be realized in free market terms. The market itself is cast as a natural phenomenon where, as George Monbiot (2016) describes it, competition is the defining characteristic of human relations. “It redefines citizens as consumers, whose democratic choices are best exercised by buying and selling, a process that rewards merit and punishes inefficiency.” Monbiot also points out that this logic sees attempts to limit competition as inimical to liberty because it is the market that reveals a natural hierarchy of winners and losers. Monbiot says, “inequality is recast as virtuous…Efforts to create a more equal society are both counterproductive and morally corrosive. The market ensures that everyone gets what they deserve.”
A critical feature of this volume is how the chapters consider the ways settler colonialism and neoliberalism interact with each other to express a very specific kind of power that rules in Palestine today.
There has been a robust conversation in recent years identifying the role of neoliberalism and the liberal peace thesis in contemporary state-building, peacebuilding, and development. For example, Roland Paris (2002) has noted the liberal bias in peacebuilding with its resemblance to old imperial modes of global governance: “One way of thinking about the actions of peacebuilders is to conceive of liberal market democracy as an internationally-sanctioned model of ‘legitimate’ domestic governance…as the prevailing ‘standard of civilization’ that states must accept in order to gain full rights and recognition in the international community” (650).
One feature of the liberal peace project in particular explored by Vivienne Jabri (2010) is its characteristic as interventionist, cosmopolitan, and largely in the hands of Europeans and North Americans. She argues it contains a disciplinary, governmentalizing effect that results in a dispossession not simply of material resources but of political agency and “the capacity to determine what constitutes political identity” (42).
Jabri understands the liberal peace project as a project of war that “has the element of ‘humanity’ as its organizing principle,” the purpose of which is “the management of populations” (42). Drawing on Foucault’s analytics of power, she argues that the liberal peace governmentalizes post-colonial societies while depoliticizing social conflict. Far from being an emancipatory project, the liberal peace project reinforces “a hierarchical conception of subjectivities premised on the primarily European liberal self as against others whose modes of articulation remain ‘other’” (43).
Jabri underscores the implications for political subjectivity when she discusses resistance in terms of the claim to politics, a particularly salient point in the context of what she sees as the liberal peace project’s characteristic of dispossession, in that it “seeks to depoliticize the temporal and spatial articulation of selfhood in place of a globally affirmed, institutionalized discourse that seeks conformity to a liberal international political economy” (48). As a project of dispossession and governmentalization, Jabri sees the liberal peace’s complicity in the banishment of politics and political agency, so that
societies targeted for liberal intervention come to be reduced…to a division between culprits and victims, where the former come to be defined as the enemy while the latter constitute the biopolitical mass to be protected or rescued…There is in this scheme of things not so much a right to politics, which assumes agency and distinct subjectivity framed in the contingencies of social and political life, but a life lived as mass, simply one element in a category inscribed elsewhere and by others. (55)
Political subjectivity and resistance in terms of the “claim to politics” or the “right to politics,” argues Jabri, is not conferred from the outside, but is framed in struggle and contestation. In her attempt to articulate a decolonial agenda, Meera Sabaratnam (2013) reveals ways in which the intellectual Eurocentrism underpinning the liberal peace is reproduced even in the critique of the liberal peace. One aspect of a decolonial approach is “an engagement with how those targeted by an intervention experience and interpret the material effects of that intervention” (273). The second aspect is an analysis “that politicizes the various forms of entitlement, dispossession and accumulation that characterize the rationales for intervention and its distributive effects.” (274)
The conclusion critical to Sabaratnam for a decolonial agenda are efforts not simply to dismiss the “old crude versions” of Eurocentrism, but to be vigilantly attentive to new manifestations in which “it quietly re-presents itself.” She suggests, “this is best achieved through taking seriously questions of subjects’ presence, positionality and the materiality of experience as the starting points for critical understandings of intervention” (274).
How does this relate to Palestine? What purchase does that critique have for our particular conversation? One way it matters to our discussion is that neoliberalism and liberal institutionalism with its (technical) problem-solving approach to governance de-politicizes in a manner similar to how Ferguson (1995) described the effects of (neo)liberal peacebuilding and development as an “anti-politics machine” in Lesotho (see Turner 2012, 2015).
The attention to postcolonial/ decolonial conversations makes clear the ways that (neo)liberal peace has always been made possible because of the violence and dispossession of colonialism. Neoliberalism depoliticizes the situation in Palestine in a way that obscures the settler colonialism that has been and continues to happen (as well as the resistance to it), allowing it to continue, in a way, as if it is not really there because it has been depoliticized. This is the neoliberal logic—that politics doesn’t matter, that this is not a political issue (or at least politics follows economics [see the “deal of the century” and recent news about the economics workshop in Bahrain]). Following Ferguson, Jabri, and Sabaratnam, we understand this depoliticization as a kind of erasure that takes a contested social, political, or economic issue and renders it invisible and inaccessible to debate. There is no need to debate these institutions and agendas because “common sense” says it is not up for debate because it is not really “there.” So what we observe in Palestine is a neoliberal logic, agenda, and order with depoliticizing effects, and varieties of resistance and local dissent with repoliticizing effects. By excavating the claims of neoliberal institution-building and settler colonialism, the chapters in this book engage in acts of repoliticization, revealing these agendas and institutions as very much contested issues subject to debate.
Resistance (from pages 8-9)
So while power is expressed in these particular ways in Palestine today, power is always accompanied by resistance.
Another major contribution of this volume is an exploration of resistance and local dissent in Palestine today, particularly in response to—or even co-constituted with—the rule of power seen through the logics and regimes of neoliberal governance and settler colonialism.
Critical to understanding the context of occupied Palestinian territory is this everyday resistance. Drawing from Wolfe (2006), Dana and Jarbawi (2017) describe settler colonialism as “fundamentally based on the operative logic of ‘eliminating the native’ and failing to utterly marginalize and ‘minoritize’ him” (197). And yet, as they point out, this project is foiled by the non-erasure, the refusal to be erased, of Palestinians on the land.
The vibrant Palestinian presence in the land, the everyday resistance to the colonial order, and the robust Palestinian adherence to their rights all stand as structural obstacles to the ultimate realization of the “Zionist dream.” Despite Israel’s relentless colonial power and domination, Palestinian steadfastness means that this project will remain impeded and incomplete, a matter that may lead to its future demise. (197)
A critical feature of these chapters is that they signal towards this kind of resistance that does not always take the shape of nonviolent direct action but instead articulates resistance as popular struggle, with particular attention to “everyday” acts of resistance. This focus recognizes that to confine resistance to instances of direct action not only overlooks an entire layer of activity in settler colonial context but also belies certain assumptions about what “civil” resistance is. It produces limited conceptualizations that not only overlook other forms of resistance, but also risk imposing our own notions of what “counts” as struggle. In contrast, by broadening our understanding, we can better understand the many acts of resistance and local dissent undertaken on a daily basis—“everyday” acts of resistance and popular struggle accessible to and embodied by Palestinian communities (see Scott 1985; Zaru 2008; Meari 2014; Johansson & Vinthagen 2015; Pogodda & Richmond. 2015; Tartir 2015). In other words, we begin to hear and see a much larger and more powerful landscape of resistance in Palestine.
This problematization begs the question: If we do not have the language, categories, or frameworks to identify or talk about something—such as resistance—does that mean it is not there? Addressing this challenge is central to discussions on “everyday” acts of resistance, where local, place-based experiences are privileged, alternative forms of everyday life are respected, and critical agency is expressed in unanticipated forms of resistance. Dipesh Chakrabarty (2000) describes the challenge as a “struggling, or even groping, for nonstatist forms of democracy that we cannot not yet either understand or envisage completely” because, instead of erasing difference, “we stay with heterogeneities without seeking to reduce them to any overarching principle that speaks for an already given whole” (107).
By destabilizing hierarchical binaries, we follow the lead of scholars such as Chakrabarty who points out that these binaries, as well as their political implications, have emerged from a “historicizing” modernist discourse that consigns “rude” nations (like Palestinians, Indians, or Africans) to an imaginary waiting room of history—waiting until they move out of their anachronistic “prepolitical” stage to the stage of the “modern citizen” (2000, 8). These instabilities can be ignored in an effort to totalize our categories of resistance, thus locating populations who do not conform to those categories in a certain stage along the historicist continuum of appropriate modern behavior. This discussion leads us toward an interrogation of international governance, liberal peacebuilding and development, the claim to politics, and the category of resistance that will have an impact on our observations of the kind of local dissent that is occurring in Palestine.
In his forward to our book, Professor Falk argues that despite Israel’s flagrant violations of international law and the stark failure of the formal Palestinian leadership to address the aspirations of the Palestinian people, the transformational potential of a mobilized, resourceful, and resilient people should not be overlooked. It is the vitality and resilience of the Palestinian people, as argued by Professor Falk, that allowed them not to lose sight of their fundamental entitlements to self-determination and other human rights.
This local dissent and resistance was also observed earlier this year, when Palestinian, Israeli and international activists shut down the recently opened Route 4370 or “Apartheid Road” near Jerusalem. The West Bank has many segregated roads, but this is the first road to have a wall along its entire length, dividing Palestinian and Israeli drivers. And it was observed this past Friday and every Friday since March of 2019 when “The Great March of Return” protests were launched seeing thousands of Palestinian civilians in Gaza—which has suffered from a decade-long Israeli siege—took to the borders to demand their right of return as refugees to their original homelands, now in present-day Israel.
Yet, multiple inward-outward diffusions aim to silence this local resistance to the expressions of power. International aid is a key instrument that is mobilized for this purpose. While international aid had failed to bring a lasting peace to Palestine-Israel, that aid has been successful in setting the rules for a securitized version of peace as well as for securitized processes of state-building and political reforms that criminalize Palestinian resistance.
Despite Israel’s flagrant violations of international law and the stark failure of the formal Palestinian leadership to address the aspirations of the Palestinian people, the transformational potential of a mobilized, resourceful, and resilient people should not be overlooked.
3. Book overview.
In its ten chapters, our book tackles three interconnected themes, namely: 1) resistance, steadfastness, and mobilization against settler colonialism and repression in Palestine; 2) impact of neoliberal external aid and intervention; and 3) security-sector reform and Palestinian authoritarianism.
Part I “Resistance and Mobilization Against Apartheid, Settler Colonialism, and Repression,” discusses and illustrates how the settler colonial present, the framework and structures of apartheid, as well as the failure of the Palestinian state-building project, are all resisted and confronted. They illustrate how repressive rules and the expressions of power are manifested and also challenged by the Palestinian people.
Chapter 2, written by Ben White, sets the settler colonial context and contextualizes the state-building project of the PA within a de facto condition of apartheid imposed by Israel. White shows that the de facto status quo of a single state in all of Mandate Palestine—which is being increasingly identified as matching the definition of apartheid in international treaties and conventions—is unlikely to change soon, as none of the Israeli political parties who either currently hold power, or who could conceivably form an alternative government, recognize the Palestinian people’s right to self-determination or sovereignty. Given these realities, White argues that the PA leadership especially in the occupied West Bank and Palestinian political factions more broadly, are facing difficult and significant questions, including whether a focus on “state-building” under occupation has, in fact, laid the foundations for a Bantustan.
Illustrating how sovereignty and its rules can be challenged through the everyday practices of colonized people and through steadfastness and resistance is the focus of Chapter 3 written by Timothy Seidel. In his chapter, Seidel demonstrates that despite the significant constraints imposed by the fragmented political and economic geography of Palestine, the story of many Palestinian communities is not one of resignation but of steadfastness and resistance. In particular, the chapter explores ways in which this resistance is rendered visible or invisible by interrogating the violence of Israel’s settler colonial occupation with the concepts of sovereignty, and claims that a focus on bodies helps us visibilize, helps us see the violence and the resistance as embodied subjectivity. In conclusion, Seidel argues that attention to embodied subjectivities not only challenge the centrality of the state in our political and geographic imaginations but also takes the embodied experiences of Palestinians as a starting point for talking about political claims and resistance.
The concept and practice of steadfastness (Sumud) is further explored in Chapter 4 written by Nijmeh Ali through focusing the analysis on the actions and perceptions of the third generation of Palestinian activists in Israel. In her chapter, Ali reveals an alternative approach to understand Sumud that moves away from the dominant passive and cultural understandings of Sumud toward a forward-looking approach that adopts active and transformative Sumud to alter social and power relations in Israel. The chapter presents four patterns that characterize that transformative Sumud: practical, personal, cultural, and active. It argues that challenging the monopoly of Sumud as cultural resistance and demand moving to active Sumud as political, allows the Palestinians in Israel to fulfill their potential away from romanticizing their physical remaining in their homeland. The ultimate aim of the chapter is to offer new openings as they relate to the debate about resistance, its terminology, its nature, and its potential, through the perspectives of third-generation Palestinian activists in Israel.
The thematic focus on resistance continues in Chapter 5 written by Dana El Kurd. “Who Protests in Palestine?” is the main question tackled by El Kurd, and addressed through a class and social strata lens. The chapter utilizes an original dataset on daily mobilizations in the West Bank, from 2007 to 2015, to assess the pattern of mobilization quantitatively, and illustrates that mobilizations occur overwhelmingly in rural areas and refugee camps. The chapter argues that the middle class does not mobilize precisely because its interest is tied to the status quo; mainly, the retrenchment of the PA and, unwittingly, the occupation. And therefore, the relation of individuals in society to the status quo regimes determines mobilization, hence why mobilization is concentrated in areas that are more rural with less organizational capacity and with members that do not necessarily have more education or information. The chapter concludes that future research on this matter would benefit from bringing class “back in” to the analysis, as well as looking at a class in novel ways and considering new resources.
Part II of the book, “External Intervention and International Aid,” examines the uniqueness of the Palestinian–Israeli conflict in European Union (EU) discourse, and discusses the impacts of international aid regimes driven by neoliberal logics as well as the expressions of solidarity in the international donor community that seeks to accompany popular education in the occupied West Bank.
In Chapter 6, Anders Persson reviews 820 EC/EU statements published in the Bulletin of the European Communities and Bulletin of the European Union between 1967 and 2009 and asks: why has the Palestinian–Israeli conflict dominated European foreign policy discourse for over five decades now? And what were the major policy departures that induced the shifts in the views and positions of the European Union over the decades? The chapter argues that while the EU proved forward-thinking in promoting Palestinian claims as legitimate demands, however the Israeli accusation that the EU is inherently anti-Israeli has little merit. The chapter ends with an open question that remains to be answered: with an EU in relative decline and disunity, and with the rise of various right wings, nationalist or populist governments and parties in Europe in recent years, would the EU continue to be a “normative power” in the Palestinian–Israeli conflict?
External intervention takes different shapes and forms, however since the Oslo Accords international aid comprises a major tool that has been used and abused by multiple local and foreign authorities and actors at stake. In Chapter 7, Jeremy Wildeman describes how Western donors have used their power to radically refashion Palestinian institutions and the economy while building a state based on neoliberal Western values. However, this approach was flawed from the onset because it adopted an ahistorical and decontextualized neoliberal approach to Palestinian development that specifically ignored Israel’s aggressive behavior as a settler colonial entity. So rather than nurture economic growth and peace, donors have ended up feeding into a process of de-development, dispossession and violence. In other words, this chapter describes how neoliberal development aid has contributed to the settler colonization of Palestine. The case of Palestine, this chapter argues, is far from being without precedent as Western liberalism has had a long history of acting in tandem to, and often been the handmaiden of, colonialism.
Chapter 8, written by Melanie Meinzer, examines other dimensions in the Palestinian aid industry to illustrate how popular education can be used to counteract the depoliticizing and demobilizing tendencies of the donor liberal development paradigm. While some argue that the dependence of Palestinian nongovernmental organizations (NGOs) on donor funds diminishes their ability to challenge the Israeli occupation, Meinzer explains in her chapter how aid recipients can resist depoliticization by collaborating with “solidarity” donors on popular education programs. In particular, Palestinian educational NGOs and membership-based organizations in the West Bank work in the informal spaces around the donor-funded official Palestinian curriculum to reinsert Palestinian historical narratives into education. In other words, this chapter demonstrates how these actors’ shared visions of education and development as long-term, grassroots processes of sociopolitical change challenge the depoliticizing and demobilizing tendencies of the donor-driven development paradigm. Consequently, the chapter contributes to new theorizing on popular education as a means of cultivating the values and knowledge that support political resistance and ensure cultural survival.
Part III of the book, “Security Sector Reform, Resistance, and Authoritarianism,” examines and problematizes the trajectories of security sector reform and the accompanying emergence of, and resistance to, authoritarianism in Palestine, by focusing on donor-driven security reform and its ramifications on criminalization of resistance and the professionalization of authoritarianism.
In chapter 9, Alaa Tartir argues that security sector reform under the PA’s post-2007 state-building agenda did not only aim to enhance the PA security forces functionality and effectiveness and to ensure stability and security for Israel, but it also sought to tame resistance to Israel’s occupation and colonial domination by criminalizing militancy and stripping it of its basic infrastructure. In particular, the chapter tackles the consequences of the post-2007 PA’s security campaigns in Balata and Jenin refugee camps in the West Bank from the people’s perspective through a bottom-up ethnographic methodological approach to illustrate how and why resistance against Israel has been criminalized. The chapter concludes by arguing that conducting security reform to ensure stability within the context of colonial occupation and without addressing the imbalances of power can only ever have two outcomes: “better” collaboration with the occupying power and a violation of Palestinians’ security and national rights by their own security forces.
The thematic focus on the consequences of security sector reform on the sustainability of the status quo and the denial of Palestinian democracy extends to Chapter 10 by Alaa Tartir. As the PA’s state-building process has atrophied, Tartir argues, securitization has found a renewed impetus, being elevated at the expense of initiatives that seek to promote democratization. In particular, Security Sector Reform (SSR), far from being a neutral process, has strengthened the foundations of Palestinian authoritarianism. In focusing upon the development of the EU’s police mission in the West Bank (EUPOL COPPS), this chapter argues that EU-sponsored “reform” has directly contributed to the “professionalization” of Palestinian authoritarianism. The chapter therefore suggests that the EU has consistently failed to acknowledge the political implications that extend from its technical mandate and interventions. The EU has become, to the extent that its interventions extend Israel’s colonial project, part of the problem.
In conclusion, I want to read Mandy Turner’s (Director of the Kenyon Institute) endorsement of our book:
In The Wretched of the Earth, Franz Fanon stated: “The business of obscuring language is a mask behind which stands the much greater business of plunder.” Palestine and Rule of Power rips off the mask of the obscure language that surrounds Palestine and the Palestinian people by analysing the intersection of Israeli settler colonialism and neoliberal forms of rule as a system of oppression. At a time when justice and rights are being cast aside in favour of a victor’s peace, incisive analyses of the cruel and unjust context that Palestinians face in their struggle for survival and self-determination are necessary and urgent.
It is our hope that this volume advances scholarly knowledge on Palestine and beyond, and in doing so will contribute to imagining new ways of being and drawing new paths that will bring future generations closer to freedom.
Again, many thanks to Mohamed, Samirah, and the Palestine Center and to you all for being here and I look forward to your questions.