Wednesday, March 5, 2014
1 p.m. – 2 p.m.
McKinney Conference Room, Watson Institute
Reflections on the Structure of the Israeli Regime and its Unusual Resilience
Adi Ophir, Visiting Associate Professor, Cogut Center for Humanities
The Israeli regime is often described as a democracy with a certain lingering problem, i.e., "the Occupation." "Ending of the Occupation," it is often argued, would ensure Israel's future as both Jewish and democratic. But the occupation is not simply a temporary state of affairs but rather a systemic condition in which for almost half century about third of the governed population is ruled by the Israeli state as non-citizens subjects. On the basis of a theoretical distinction between technologies of government and state projects, and a historical distinction among the major projects of the Israeli State, I will argue that in this sense, as a systemic condition, the occupation has played a crucial function in reconciling the conflicting tendencies of three major State projects: colonization, creating and marinating a Jewish majority, and liberalization. The lasting occupation has resolved inherent tensions and contradictions between liberalization and colonization, on the one hand, and between colonization and the goal of achieving and maintaining a Jewish majority, on the other hand. I will explain why the very structure of the Israeli regime requires the continuation of those three State projects. From this it follows that the inclusive exclusion of the Palestinian non-citizens has contributed to the unusual resilience of this regime, sustaining half a century of ongoing pressure, from within and without, for either a re-partition of the Land or for a full annexation of the Occupied Territories.
This argument focuses on and expands a point made in The One State Condition (Stanford 2013), co-authored with Ariella Azoulay.