Areej Sabbagh-Khoury: “Politics is the continuation of war by other means,” Michel Foucault wrote in “Society Must Be Defended” (2003), reversing Clausewitz’s well-worn dictum. Foucault’s point is that there is a continuous battle of sorts that takes place in times of peace, and the public space that hosts civil society, with all its depth, substance, and methods of influence, is the ultimate field of battle. Foucault asserts the importance of replacing the juridical discourse with the discourse of war. According to him, the law and official political agreements are imbued with violence and the modern ”achievements” of establishing governmental political institutions only serve to obscure a continuous infrastructure of war that is inherent to such institutions. Utilizing this interpretation, I hope to show how the war waged on Palestinians in Israel rages on.
The 1948 war has not ended for Palestinians from within the borders of Israel established by the 1949 armistice (the so-called Green Line). The establishment of Israel and the cease-fire agreements with neighboring Arab countries set the stage for “the continuation of war by other means” through the imposition of Israeli law over the Palestinian population. This war that started with Zionist settlement in the pre-state era lies within the system of Israeli citizenship.
Following the establishment of the Israeli state, this war was waged through the enactment of legislation to enable the conquest of as much Palestinian land as possible; attempts to forbid Palestinian internally displaced persons (IDPs) from returning to their homes even as they remained in Israel; and the deportation of residents of some villages even after the armistice. One such case of the latter is the villages of Iqrit and Biram. This war has been quite explicit: from 1948-66, Palestinian-populated areas were governed through a military government inside Israel. After the military government ended, the implementation of policies discriminating against Palestinian citizens in the political, social, and economic fields continued. Among other Israeli ambitions, this “war” sought the Judaization of entirely or predominantly Arab areas. Since 2000, following the start of the second intifada, these practices have only escalated, and there has been an unprecedented pursuit of aggressive legislation targeting Palestinian citizens of Israel. [Continue reading…]