Saturday, May 09, 2009

Palestine: The archipelago 'map', spaciocide, etc.

Posted by Helena Cobban
May 9, 2009 11:42 AM EST | Link
Filed in Palestine 2009

I imagine that by now most JWN readers have seen the thought-provoking nautical representation (shown below) by French cartographer Julien Bousac of the land mass that is (as of now) left to the Palestinians of the West Bank...

Bousac comments on that page that,

    To make things clear, areas ‘under water’ [in the map] strictly reflect C zones, plus the East Jerusalem area, i.e. areas that have officially remained under full Israeli control and occupation following the [Oslo] Agreements.
He also seems fully aware of the irony/paradox of using a "romantic" kind of imagery like this to represent a grim reality.

I think this is a great device. One shocking aspect is, of course, that it demonstrates that the whole area of occupied east Jerusalem is "under water", i.e. unavailable for Palestinian land-use or development planning purposes.

However, readers should be aware that Bousac's map still considerably under-represents the amount of West Bank land that is available to the Palestinians, since he marks the large areas of the southeastern West Bank that have been arbitrarily designated by Israel as "nature reserves" as being somehow "above water."

You can find another representation of what is currently available to the Palestinians if you look at the small map in the bottom-left corner of this larger (PDF) map from UN-OCHA. Only the areas left white in that small map are now available to the Palestinians.

I note that designating land as a "nature reserve" is a trick the Israelis have often used to render it unavailable for Palestinian development. That sort of it puts it into a lock-box for them. Then, when the occupation authorities discover they have the budget or need to develop it for themselves, as settlements or whatever, they speedily "un-green" it-- and presto, it is available for Israeli development. Many Palestinians have, as a result, become pretty cynical about Israel's claims that it "cares for" the enviroment of the land that both peoples claim to love.

Sari Hanafi is a Palestinian sociologist who has been arguing that what the Israelis have been pursuing towards the Palestinians living in the area of Mandate Palestine constitutes a policy of "spaciocide":

    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 the Palestinian living space becomes possible by exercising the state of exception and deploying bio-politics to categorize Palestinians into different groups, with the aim of rendering them powerless...
Other examples of spaciocide abound around the world... including Saddam Hussein's draining of the marshes.

Anyway, here, for those who haven't seen it yet, is a small version of Bousac's map.