A Half Century of Occupation: Israel, Palestine, and the World’s Most Intractable Conflict
Date: Thursday, November 16, 2017
Location: Hagop Kevorkian Center for Near Eastern Studies | 255 Sullivan Street
Subject: A Half Century of Occupation: Israel, Palestine, and the World’s Most Intractable Conflict
Gershon Shafir, Sociology, University of California, San Diego
The Israeli occupation of Palestine has continued for half a century despite claims that it is “temporary”
Although settlers were expelled from Gaza in 2005, Israeli occupation of Gaza continues with restrictions and bureaucracy.
Dr. Gershon Shafir presented the arguments he made in his recently published book, A Half Century of Occupation: Israel, Palestine, and the World’s Most Intractable Conflict, affirming that Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories has continued to be detrimental to both parties as well as obscured by Israeli rhetoric and domination. He referred to the “Technologies of Domination” Israelis utilize, including requiring permits from Palestinians to study abroad, checkpoints, and collective punishment of families tied to terrorists.
Dr. Shafir then examined the ever-changing Israeli alignment with international organizations based on their inclination to offer support, from the Balfour Declaration to UN Security Council Resolution 2334. This contributes to the “paradox” of international support in relation to Israeli occupation, as the territory was granted to them by humanitarian organizations yet those same organizations impose limitations on their sovereignty in reaction to human rights violations.
Finally, Shafir analyzed the feasibility of reversing the settler’s occupation of the West Bank, and the de facto control of the Gaza Strip. After such a long period of occupation, a two-state solution no longer seems attainable, and there is deep controversy over annexation of the territories between humanitarians and Jewish nationalists. Diversity between types of settlements in the West Bank draws further complications into finding a solution, and the sociological division between a minority of first-class Jews and an overwhelming majority of “third-class” Palestinians deepens cultural divisions.
In the Q&A session that followed, Shafir expanded on how Israel continued to control Gaza by restricting what materials could enter the territory, down to the number of calories that could sustain the population. He also noted that there was an historical incontinuity in Jewish settlement of the area, as the kibbutz and moshav movements of the late 19th and early 20th centuries tended to gravitate towards sparsely-populated areas.
He then went on to answer as to why Palestinian citizens of Israel were unlikely to join forces with Palestinian activists, as their lack of participation in the Intifada was a reflection of the imminent threat of having their Israeli citizenships revoked. Additionally, he conceded that a desirability study of removing settlements could be conceived to examine along with a feasibility study.
In response to a question about the potential efficacy of the Oslo Accords had Prime Minister Rabin not been assassinated in 1995, he responded that Rabin was never truly committed to removal of settlements, and that his assassination was probably not a major factor in the continuing issues of settlement.
Report by: Renee Firth, Event Reporter. Edited by Shengdun Hua