Power Territory And Democracy In Israel Palestine Politics
The geographical concept of spatial environmental narratives is useful in explaining the relations between power, territory and democracy in Israel/Palestine. Alatout's article places emphasises on how environmental narratives can affect forms of power and how power can in turn affect the environment. Environmental narratives are very spatially important and can be seen as "effects of power" (Alatout, 2006: 603). The environment covers such problems as desertification, over population and resource scarcity (E.g. water). The scarcity of water in the region highlights spatial difficulties and that there is a need for territory and sovereignty to gain control and access to resources. Territory can be seen as the key to gaining power over water resources in Palestine/Israel. For example, the Good Water Neighbour project had positive effects on some communities but there are still territorial problems (Monterescu and Rabinowitz, 2007:238). The project still enforces the unjust existing territorial arrangements meaning that the West Bank is still split into a "number of disconnected zones that make the emergence of a contiguous and independent Palestinian state difficult, if not impossible" (Alatout, 2006:614). Therefore spatial environmental narratives explain the strong link between the power exercised in a territory and the level of democracy experienced there. Environmental narratives are useful concepts because they affect property rights- an important part of democracy and sovereignty. The concept of spatial environmental narratives show that Palestinians and Israelis have such different aims that co-operation for environmental activism is very poor. This has a negative effect on the quality of territory. "Environmental degradation is tied directly to the lack of sovereigntyâ€¦sovereignty is an essential prerequisite for any nation to achieve sustainable development and sound environmental management" (Isaac et al, 2005) and in most cases democracy.
Israelis take the stance that "pollution knows no border" (Tall, 2002) therefore they concentrate upon a form of power that focuses upon the quality of life of the population rather than the quality of territory. Palestinians take the view that territory is more important and valuable than the health of the population. This illuminates the two basic forms of power evident in Palestine/Israel - territorial power and extra territorial power.Territorial and extra territorial power:
Alatout's concepts of territorial and extra territorial power emphasises that Israel and Palestine have different forms and experiences of power. Israel is based on biopower (extra territorial power) whereas Palestine is focused on sovereignty and territorial power. These two forms of power are some what complicated in Israel/Palestine because superseding power over Israel/Palestine is linked to territory though both territorial power and extra territorial power. The territorial aspects of especially the Palestinian side, is a strategy of establishing who has access to resources and people. Therefore this explains that whoever has authority over territory has power upon environmental resources and people. The Israeli side focuses more upon what Alatout calls, extra territorial power. This is also known as biopower and is a form of power where the main aim is to foster the population. It must be noted that territorial and extra territorial forms of power are not dichotomous; they are closely connected and can effect and support each other. The geographical concepts of territorial and extra territorial are useful in explaining that the separation of these two types of power in Israel/Palestine elucidates why the two sides cannot co-operate and why there is such a power imbalance. This article also explains how the concepts of the different forms of power influence space/territory. The article tells us of the historical relationships between power and territory. Israel is more interested in keeping their population healthy whereas because Palestine is threatened by Israeli's it is more interested in keeping its land. The link between power and democracy can be seen through Palestine not wanting to improve its population because it may improve the lives of the Israeli's. The Israeli focus on biopower has not addressed problems of territorial power. Without sovereignty there is poor governmentality and therefore poor democracy and enforcement of power. It can be seen that there is a dark side to biopower, populations have their own dynamics, and parts of the population can threaten the life of the whole population. This can explain the poor relations between those in power and the level of democracy found in Israel/Palestine. The relations between power, territory and democracy can be also explained and understood in terms of analytical spectra. The diagram below shows dimensions of power found within the three articles.VIOLENCECOERCION CONSTRAINT MANIPULATION INCENTIVE PERSUASIONCONFINEMENT CHANNELING ATTRACTIONBODILY INTEGRITY LOCATION/MVMT ACTIONS MENTAL PROCESSESPOLICE WELFARE SELF-GOV'T.MILITARYADMINISTRATIONSTEERINGConstitutive PowerEstablished Power
Figure 1. Spectra of power found in Palestine/Israel. (Adapted from Hannah, 2010).
As seen in the figure 1 many basic forms of power can be seen and theorised in Palestine/Israel. Examples of forms of power related to territorial power are circled in red where as examples of forms of power related to extra territorial power are circled in blue. By understanding the different forms of power found in the geographical concepts the relations between power, territory and democracy can be better explained. Extra territorial forms of power tend to use more persuasive overt forms of exercising power and fostering the population whereas territorial forms of power are more likely to involve violent ways to exercise power and gain/secure territory. This way of explaining relations between power, territory and democracy must be critically analysed. It is not reliably useful because there are exceptions. For example, extra territorial power could also include violent measures, such as a military force securing polling stations for democratic voting which in the long run would be positive for the biopolitics of the population.Concepts of Panopticism:
Panopticism is a social theory developed by Foucault in his book Discipline and Punish (Foucault, 1979). In relation to Israel/Palestine it describes the disciplinary concept and apparatus used by the Israeli's to exert their power over the Palestinians in an efficient manner. As Yacobi explains the "ethnically mixed territories are subject of constant surveillance and controlâ€¦space is a crucial element explaining power relations" (Yacobi, 2004:55, 57). "Surveillance and spatial control that took place in the city during the military administration period has had a significant influence and was used as a basis for constant supervision of the Arab inhabitants" (Yacobi, 2004:56). Weizman goes further to say that "settlements could be seen as urban optical devices for surveillance and the exercise of power" (Weizman, 2002). Settlements were constructed and produced "panoptic fortressesâ€¦which gave control in the overlooking of Arab towns and villages" (Weizman, 2002). The enclosure of the Palestinians by the Israeli's was a mechanism to develop self-governance and a way to reduce the invisible life path segments of the Palestinians. It was an efficient way to achieve total visibility, observe the space they were in and exercise power over them. Panopticism is such a useful concept because it provides visibility. Visibility is an important form of knowledge and exposes anyone who deviates from acceptable behaviour. Panopticism as a geographical concept is helpful in explaining the relations between territory and power. This is because control of territory enables urban design to include Panopticism and use it as apparatus to exert power. Panopticism is a useful concept because the situation in Israel/Palestine shows that the concept has credibility in analysing spaces other than just institutional settings. It is valuable in examining the relations between power, territory and democracy within an enclosed area as well as over a "trans-institutional society" (Hannah, 1997). Panopticism is useful because it illuminates who has the most power (both territorial and extra territorial power), increases the visibility of the power, defines territories and can explain limited levels of democracy. Panopticism is useful because it "reflects and symbolises the location of bodies in space and the hierarchical organisation of power" (Foucault, 1997:364).Disciplinary architecture and iconoclasm:
Linked closely to Panopticism is the geographical concept of disciplinary architecture and iconoclasm. The architecture found in Israel/Palestine is a clear example of landscape fetishism, it "expresses, produces and reproduces power relations" (Yacobi, 2004:62). For example when Israeli's occupied the land some Palestinian architecture remained in the mixed city of Lod. "This apparent shift towards preserving the Arab urban texture is but another form of dominance" (Yacobi, 2004:66). Arab architecture was preserved to remind Israeli's of the enemy and to create wealth through tourism. The concept of disciplinary architecture and iconoclasm explains how the challenging relationship between power, territory and democracy was understood, rationalised and justified.
This "urban iconoclasm was not presented as an act of aggression, but as an act towards modernization. Hence, the modernist interpretation of the city and its inhabitants was used as moral and ethical foundation to make them subject of surveillance and control. For without constructing the 'other' as a less civilised enemy, there would have been no justification to control them"
(Yacobi, 2004: 65).
Control of the territory dictates who holds the power to decide urban design. With control over urban design Panopticism takes place. This therefore takes away many democratic rights (such as working rights) of the group of people being heavily supervised and controlled. The geographical concept of contested architecture and iconoclasm also explains the link between power, territory and democracy through the lack of embodied performativity. There is a need for public spaces in a democratic country yet in Israel/Palestine there are limits to public space access based upon specific identity, not everyone has an opportunity to be heard, there are imbalances of communicative power and arguments are not often discussed and evaluated on rational soundness. National identity and cultural heritage is performed, experienced and maintained through architecture. Due to Israeli's damaging and changing urban landscapes they weakened Palestinian's identities and therefore displayed power over them (Newman, 2002). Architecture is therefore helpful in explaining why Israel/Palestine has contested, poor relations between power, territory and democracy.
Concepts of disciplinary architecture and iconoclasm relate to the 'de jure vs. de facto' debate. Through architecture Israelis could give the appearance that they were containers of uniform power. Yet in reality there were many contests to this power. Power is only real when it is used but in truth it was only exercised in small sectors of the country that delegated power and assets. The diagram below (figure 2) illuminates the relation between imagined power and territory. This is useful because it explains how the Israelis could gain considerable power without actually making significant territorial gains. It illuminates and complicated imagined spaces of power (Finkelstein, 2003).
Power in reality- contests to connections, networks of assets.
Imagined Uniform Power
Figure 2. Sovereignty. De Jure De Facto (Adapted from Hannah, 2010)
The concept of disciplinary architecture and iconoclasm is useful because is clarifies the relationships between power, territory and democracy through an uncompromising evidential form of construction. This makes it a more credible concept in explaining relationships because it is not based upon a biased opinion but an inanimate urban structure. The concept is also useful in illuminating forms of power such as hierarchical dominance and urban discipline. Whoever has control over architecture and the population that can use the buildings is usually the force behind other relations of power, territory and democracy.Concepts of governmentality: Democracy vs. Ethnocracy:
Alatout's article demonstrates the relations between power, territory and democracy. For example Palestinians' are suffering from the declining Red Sea even though they are not contributing to its decrease. This can be seen as very undemocratic. Lipchin et al described it as an "intolerable violation of the right of future generations" (Lipchin et al, 2003).Yacobi also notes the undemocratic nature of Israel/Palestine. It can be seen through Israeli's exercising their power through using security forces-"these forces had total control over the Palestinian's conduct, including their movement and their right to work" (Yacobi, 2004: 58). In figure 1 this can be seen as a form of constitutive power, further explaining that the relations between power, territory and democracy in Israel/Palestine are far from established. Yiftachel also uses the concepts of governmentality to explain that "in Israel's fiftieth year the state's highest legal authority still finds it difficult to protect a basic civil right such as equal access to state land" (Yiftachel, 1999:364). Yiftachel notes the strong correlation between territory and democracy by stating that territory is essential to self determination and it is "the principle of self-determination, which forces the basis of popular sovereignty and thus of democracy itself" (Yiftachel, 1999:384).
Territory and democracy are also closely connected because as Yiftachel states, democracies have "an inclusive body of citizens within given borders" (Yiftachel, 1999:377). Yet Israel has "made every Jew in the world a potential citizen, while denying this possibility to many Palestinians born in the country" (Yiftachel, 1999:370). "Israel is a state and polity without clear borders" (Yiftachel, 1999:376).
The power of the Israeli's has a large impact on how democratic the county is. Because they achieved so much power over the people they influence politics, "in 1985, a revision made to the Basic Law on the Knesset added that no party would be allowed to run if it rejected Israel's definition as a state of the Jewish people" (Yiftachel, 1999:370). This is an example of the Israeli's exercising their power over the territory in an undemocratic fashion.
During conflicts there is a "unidirectional character of all land transfers: from Palestinians to Jewish hands, and never vice versa" (Yiftachel, 1999:373). This illuminates the power relations seen between territory and democracy. As Palestinians are no longer fairly governed their control over their territory weakens. Power does not resides in a body of citizens which elect people to represent them but the power is now in the hands of a proportion of population determined by ethnicity and religion. Yiftachel describes this as "the religious challenge to the democratization of Israel" (Yiftachel, 1999:380). Yiftachel states that Israel/Palestine is an ethnocracy rather than a democracy. Ethnocracies appear open and democratic but in reality this is just another way to gain more power. Ethnocracy is thus an "unstable regime" (Yiftachel, 1999: 368).
The concept of Democracy vs. Ethnocracy illuminates the need to analyse power relations between Jewish groups, "the ethnocratic settling nature of Jewish-Palestinian relations has adversely affected intra-Jewish relations" (Yiftachel, 1999:373). This may weaken the power relations between the Israeli authority and its territory. The different sectors of Jews will not want one sector rising above the power of another (for example, the Ashkenazim or the Mizrahim). This in turn may lead to protests for a more democratic territory. Although it then may become more democratic for the Jewish population the Arab inhabitants may still be subjected to exclusion.
The concept and analysis of different styles of governmentality is useful because it gives better insight into how democratic a country is. Critically, Democracy vs. Ethnocracy is not a fully useful concept because it cannot totally reveal all the relations between power, territory and democracy within Israel/Palestine. For example, how democratic or ethnocratic a country is does not determine environmental conditions of territory or the economic power of the country. It also does not take into account the idea of an "ethnic democracyâ€¦which meets the minimal and procedural definition of democracy but in quality falls short of the major Western civic democracies" (Smooha, 2002). Therefore by just concentrating on the concepts of Democracy vs. Ethnocracy the relations between power, territory and democracy cannot be fully explained.Conclusion:
In conclusion, all three articles can help to explain the relations between power, territory and democracy in Israel/Palestine. Environmental narratives explain that control over territory and natural resources are essential to gaining power and control the existence of democracy. The connection between territorial and extra territorial power explains the poor relations between those in power and the level of democracy found in Israel/Palestine. Panopticism, architecture and iconoclasm as geographical concepts are helpful in explaining the relations between territory and power because control of territory enables urban design to include Panopticism and use it as apparatus to exert power. All of the geographical concepts found in the three articles are useful but in particular I feel the concept and theory of Panopticism is particularly helpful in explaining the relations between power, territory and democracy in Israel/Palestine. This is because it emphasises who has the most power (both territorial and extra territorial power), increases the visibility of the power, defines territories and can explain limited levels of democracy.
Concepts of governmentality explain the relations between power, territory and in particular democracy. Those with the majority of political power govern the territory and decide whether it is run as a democracy or an ethnocracy.
The three articles illuminate forms of power such as sovereignty, disciple and architecture. The articles also complicated forms of power. For example, forms of governmental power (such as democracy and ethnocracy) as well as territorial and extra territorial power. The future of examining relations between power, territory and democracy in Israel/Palestine should focus on combining many concepts and not look at them separately. For without analysing every sector of life in Israel/Palestine the true relations between power, territory and democracy will not be understood.
Article name: Power Territory And Democracy In Israel Palestine Politics essay, research paper, dissertation