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Ben-Gurion University
BGU Geography Professor Oren Yiftachel denounces Israel as an Apartheid "Ethnocracy"


Oren Yiftachel

[Published in News From Within, Vol. 15, No. 11, pp. 13-21]

Israel is a settler society that has time and again reshaped its landscapes, borders and settlement geography. Yet despite the importance of colonization to the construction of the Israeli society and identities, the influence of space on social relations and collective identities has rarely been raised in the public discourse, let alone from a critical perspective.
In this article I will try to reflect critically on the process of shaping Israeli living spaces, arguing that the meta-principle of Judaization, rooted so deeply in the Israeli existence, has created ethnic fragmentation and inequality which now surface as a major source of internal tension and instability.
The colonial Judaization process is the central 'spine' of a regime I have labeled Jewish 'ethnocracy'. This regime, which stretches over the entire land of Israel/Palestine, is established for, and by, a dominant ethnic group. The powerful 'ethnos' and its diasporas, appropriate the state apparatus to facilitate its geographic, economic and political expansion. Thus ethnicity, and not citizenship, is the key for resource distribution, often privileging diaspora Jews over local Palestinian-Arab citizens. Ethnocratic regimes are neither democratic nor authoritarian: they use a democratic facade of open (though not universal) elections and relatively open media to facilitate a non-democratic ethnic seizure of contested territories. Such regimes could be found in previous centuries in Australia or Canada, and today exist in states such as Estonia, Latvia, Serbia, Sri-Lanka or Malaysia.
In the pages below I also suggest that Israel's ethnocratic regime has buttressed at the same time, the dominance of the Jewish-Zionist ethnic nation, and the power of the Ashkenazi-Jewish ethno-class by the shaping and division of national space. Ethnocratic regimes, such as the one existing in Israel/Palestine, tend to stratify the population through the dynamics of the settlement and development. These reshape and even create new collective identities, as groups crystallize their self-consciousness through the concrete reality of settled spaces. The scope of this paper allows us to focus only on three main Israeli groups: Ashkenazim , Mizrahim, and Palestinian-Arabs, although the analysis can be extended to the entire Israeli/Palestinian space, and to groups such as Druze, Bedouin, 'internal' Palestinian refugees (on both sides of the Green Line), West Bank Jewish settlers, Haredi Jews, or 'Russian' immigrants, whose collective identities have been molded by the ethnocratic Judaization of Israel/Palestine.
A central argument of the paper is that both Palestinian-Arabs and Mizrahi Jews (who arrived in Israel as Arab-Jews) became victims of the Jewish settlement project. But one should not assume symmetry between the two groups: the harm caused to the Arabs has been much deeper, while the Mizrahim themselves participated in Judaizing the country. Yet, much of the marginalizations of Palestinian-Arabs and Mizrahi Jews derive from the very same Judaization (and de-Arabization) project, which positioned these communities in geographic, cultural and economic peripheries.
The Judaization strategy has its roots in pre-1948 Jewish settlement methods which attempted to create contiguous 'blocks' and 'chains' of segregated Jewish localities, mainly along the coastal plains and northern valleys. But the project swung into full force, using the legal, planning and violent might of an internationally recognized state only after1948. A leading instrument Jewish colonization of areas with an Arab majority, such as the Galilee and the North-Eastern Negev, or in regions with a 'shadow' of a pre-1948 Arab majority, such as the North-Western Negev or the Lachish and Jerusalem 'corridor' regions.
The Judaization and parallel de-Arabization of the space included other strategies which followed the eviction and exile of Palestinians in the 1948 Nakbah, and the prevention of their return. These included massive expropriation of Arab lands, destruction of villages and neighborhoods, the cultivation of Arab agricultural areas by Jewish immigrants, and establishing Jewish local and regional municipalities that gradually covered almost the entire Israeli rural regions.

What made the massive Judaization project possible? Clearly, military force, violent imposition of state rule, and international political clout played their part, as did the toughness and resilience of Jews, most of whom refugees with a sense of isolation and betrayal, feeding from the Nazi holocaust and Arab hostility. I have elsewhere charaterized pre-1948 Jewish settlement in Israel/Palestine as 'colonialism of collective survival'. But here we also need to account for a powerful process of cultural construction which enabled Jewish leaders to proceed with a dispossessing project, while presenting it, internally and externally, as moral and necessary.
The Judaization project was premised on a hegemonic Zionist myth that 'the land' (Haaretz) belongs to Jews and only to them. An exclusive form of territorial ethnonationalism developed, in order to quickly 'indigenize' immigrant Jews, and to conceal, trivialize or marginalize the prior existence of a Palestinian-Arabs.
The 'frontier' became a central icon, and the planning and implementation of frontier settlement considered one of the highest achievements of any Zionist. In some respects the entire country (within whatever borders) became a frontier. The kibbutzim (collective rural villages) provided a role model, and the reviving Hebrew language was filled with positive images such as aliya lakaraka (literally 'ascent to the land', i.e.. settlement), ge'ulat karka ('land redemption'), hityashvut, hitnahalut (positive biblical terms for Jewish settlement), kibbush hashmama ('conquest of the desert'), and hagshama (literally 'fulfilment' but denoting the settling of the frontier). The glorification of the frontier thus assisted in the construction of both national-Jewish identity, and in the capturing of physical space on which this identity can be territorially constructed.
A popular youth-movement song, frequently sang in schools and public gatherings and known to nearly every Jew in Israel during its formative years, illustrates the powerful construction of these icons and myths. This song was far from exceptional among dozens of other similar songs and cultural expressions in attempting to anchor Jewish-Zionist identity in the land, and create an unbreakable bond between people and country, blood and soil:

(Nivne Artzenu Eretz Moledet)
(By: A. Levinson; Translation: Oren Yiftachel)

We shall build our country, our homeland/ Because it is ours, ours, this land
We shall build our country, our homeland/ It is the command of our blood, the command of generations
We shall build our country despite our destroyers/ We shall build our country with our will power
The end to malignant slavery/ The fire of Freedom is burning
The glorious shine of hope/ Will stir our blood
Thirsty for freedom, for independence/ We shall march bravely towards the liberation of our people

Such sentiments were translated into a pervasive program of Jewish-Zionist territorial socialization, expressed in school curriculum, literature, political speeches, popular music, and other spheres of public discourse. Settlement thus continued a cornerstone of Zionist nation-building, well after the establishment of a sovereign Jewish state.
To be sure, the 'return' of Jews to their religious and historical mythical land, and the perception of this land as a safe haven after generations of Jewish persecutions, had a powerful liberating meaning. Yet the 'darker sides' of this project were nearly totally absent from the construction of an unproblematic conquest of a biblical promised land. Very few dissenting voices were heard against these 'Judaizing' discourse, policies or practices. If such dissent did emerge, the national-Jewish elites found effective ways to marginalize, co-opt or gag most challengers.
After the establishment of the state, the frontier concept remained central in Israeli society, while the frontier regions became ‘internal’-- places and regions within the state (usually Arab) over which the ethnic, cultural and political center aimed to exert its control. Thus the Judaization of the Galilee and the Negev (as well as the Jerusalem Corridor, the Lachish region and the Triangle area) was defined as a 'national' goal, and supporting these efforts became a cornerstones of the new Israeli society. Thus, the value of the Jewish colonization as a central contribution to the well being of the collective has remained unchallenged, while the settlers have been granted large resources and the status of pioneers who lead the people.
The zeal and pace of the Judaization of the land has calmed in recent years, and it is no longer the very central project of the Israeli ethnocracy. However, it has remained a cherished national value, even during the 1990s. This is aptly demonstrated by a song which became immensely popular in recent years, composed and sung by a renown Israeli rock-singer, Rami Kleinstein.

OUR TINY-LITTLE LAND (Artzeinu Haktantonet)

Yoram Tahar-Lev and Rami Kleinshtein

Our tiny-little land/ Our beautiful land
A homeland with no clothing/ A barefoot homeland
Sing your poems to me/ You beautiful bride
Open your gates to me/ I shall cross them and praise the Lord?

It is worth paying attention to the total devotion and erotic attraction to the land, radiating from the song's lines, and its religious and historical under-tones. Absent are the Arabs in this idealized landscape, as evident by describing the land as ‘barefoot’ or ‘having no clothing’. So, while, the drive to settle the frontier and expand Jewish control has waned in recent years, it is still a major political and cultural icon in Israeli society.

But there was a hitch in this cultural construction: the yearned-for pioneering projects depended not only on the location, but also on a rather specific cultural-ethnic origin. The person to whom the Jewish-Israeli society granted the status of a pioneer had to have the image of the mythical usually Ashkenazi and secular Tzabar (Israeli born), who was connected in one way or another, to the group of 'founders' of the society and to the Zionist Labor Movement. Thus the wave of new settlers in the frontier -- especially in the developing towns and the Mizrahi immigrant collective settlements (moshavim) -- who outnumbered the settlers of the veteran kibbutzim and moshavim, were not included in the social definition of the pioneer groups. Moreover, as will be explained later, the founding group took care to divide the space on the peripheries in a way that the bulk of the means of production and land reserves were in their possession. Furthermore, they maintained a segregated social arrangement, so their members would not mingle with the new settlers that arrived at the frontier (mainly North African immigrants, and the Arabs). This segregated ethno-class geography marks the human landscape of Israeli rural regions until the present day.
It is important to emphasize that the Palestinian-Arab Citizens of Israel, who also live at the frontier regions, were never included in the settlement process, and never shared the material social fruits which the Jewish settlers enjoyed. This despite often comprising a majority in what was declared as 'development areas'. Consequently, the Arabs experienced the waves of Jewish colonization around them as a tightening of boundaries and encroachment of their private and collective space. Against this active Jewish settlement, Arab geography remained literally frozen due to state restriction which did not allow the establishment of new Arab localities (expect the coerced concentration of Bedouins). Thus a pattern of Arab ghettoization has developed during the last 50 years.
The ongoing attempts to encourage Jewish settlements at the frontier were also assisted by promoting images of the ‘danger’ involved in the existence of areas with an Arab majority. Thus the Arab towns were portrayed in the Israeli media year after year as a 'dangerous' element, which Jews had to control. This in itself, added legitimization and resources to the Judaization project, during which Israeli (Jews) were encouraged to inspect and control other Israelis (Arabs).

The settlement in frontier regions and the associated division of space, created, multiplied and deepened the 'ethnic gap' by marginalizing the Mizrahim, thus slowing down their social integration into the mainstream of Jewish-Ashkenazi society. This policy, which was mainly implemented by the Ashkenazi elites who dominated the Israeli planning, land and settlement systems was a true reflection of the ethnocratic regime. As we have seen, the central 'spine' of such a regime was the imposition of expanding ethnic control over a contested land. Typically, it also stratified society into ethno-classes, and generated conflictual collective identities which emerge from the new social geography.
The high status of the Jewish settlement project in Israel has caused the granting of large public resources aimed at inducing development in the Jewish periphery, and attracting more immigrants to these regions. This policy included tax reductions, subsidized housing and land, incentives for investments, regional infrastructure, and the definition of many localities and regions as ‘development-priority areas’, or immigrant-'absorbing towns'. All these buttressed the Judaization project which progressed in three main historical waves.
In the first wave (1949-1952), 85 kibbutzim and 185 moshavim were erected, mainly along the international border, or in regions where Arab villages were abandoned, destroyed, or whose inhabitants were expelled. The housing of Palestinian refugees which were not destroyed (mainly in towns and cities) were quickly filled by Jewish new-comers. In the second wave (until the mid 60s), 27 ‘development towns’ and 56 moshavim were built, mainly by Mizrahi Jews from Islamic countries. The main policy instrument was the ?public housing project? of the ‘development towns’, and ‘Jewish Agency Housing’ in the moshavim, into which many of the inhabitants of transient immigrant camps (ma'abarot) were coercively moved . Consequently, the 'development towns' and Mizrahi moshavim quickly became hubs of social deprivation and isolation, turning quickly from 'frontier' to periphery.
The third wave, called ‘community localities’ (yeshuvim kehilatiyim), started in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, (and still continues), is characterized by the erection of 167 small and medium suburban settlements (also called 'mitzpim' or 'private settlements'). These communities, established as semi-suburban, were scattered between Arab villages and the development towns in the internal frontier regions. The erection of these settlements combined two strong interests: the state’s ambition to continue the Judaization project by reviving awareness of the ?internal frontier?, and the use of the settlement apparatus by the middle classes, wishing to realize the 'house and garden' dream, not far from Israel's main metropolitan areas.

Although the establishment of 'community localities' was mainly presented as a renewed effort to settle the hostile internal frontier regions in Israel, (using the rhetoric of the Arab enemy on State Lands, or the fear of an Arab uprising), the new settlers were mainly middle class Ashkenazim. Most of these localities developed into attractive homogenous neighborhoods with a wide range of community services, in beautiful surroundings. They have thus penetrated the peripheral regions and created their well-to-do communities with a high standard of living (with the active help of the state and public funding). These communities strictly kept their geographic, social and institutional separation from the ‘development towns’, (and of course, from the Arabs) and thus added another 'layer' to the ethno-social fragmentation in the frontier regions, as well as to the socio-economic gaps in the state.
The three waves of settlement thus generated notable differences between: (a) the mainly Ashkenazi kibbutzim, veteran moshavim and communal localities; (b) the mainly Mizrahi development towns and new moshavim; and (c) the Arab localities. These differences, were consolidated and stabilized in the frontier areas by the institutional structure. This is almost self-evident when we examinee the separation between the municipal jurisdiction areas of the various social-spatial sectors. The creation of ‘homogeneous spaces’ was accepted in the 50s by the authorities in Israel, as a prevailing social norm, and often led to the distortion of spatial organization in supplying services and establishing regional communities. The norm of creating homogenous enclaves in mixed areas was based at first on the wish to help the original settlers of the frontier regions -- the kibbutzim -- that were part of the Ashkenazi founders of the state. In this way, the kibbutzim were spared 'the need' to interact with the inhabitants of moshavim, development towns, or Arabs, living nearby. Thus the seeds of the institutionalized and stratified social division we see in Israeli today was already sown in the 50s with the 'separate and unequal' development of space.
Moreover, the kibbutzim and moshavim belonged to state-wide organizations which supplied them with services and commodities, thus by-passing the struggling industries and businesses in the nearby development towns. The centralization of capital and political influence in the center of the country among the Ashkenazi elites, and the lack of means of production in the development towns, caused the latter to become suppliers of cheap labor in agriculture and intensive labor industries. The institutional separation continued during the third wave of settlement with the definition of new jurisdiction areas, exclusively for the dominant groups, thus creating another ‘layer’ in Israel's social-political stratification.
Here again, it is important to emphasize the role of the state in reviving the ‘frontier’ concept, which resulted in granting public resources and subsidies to well established group in Israeli society who strove to improve their quality of life in private and communal settlements. By so doing, the state not only transferred public resources from the poor to the rich, but also redivided the social space causing additional separation between the inhabitants of communal localities (mostly Ashkenazim) the development towns and moshavim, (mostly Mizrahim), and the Arabs, all concealed behind the glorifying rhetoric of the calling ‘national frontier’, and behind slogan such as the 'Judaization of Galilee' of the 'blooming of the Negev'.
The separation between the segments was not equitable, but rather reflected power relations in Israeli society. This can be exemplified through analysis of municipality controlled land, as presented in the attached maps. The map of central Galilee shows that 58% of the land is under the control of municipalities with an Ashkenazi majority, mainly kibbutzim and community localities, although these settlements comprise only six percent of the population in the region. Municipalities with a Mizrahi majority, mainly development towns and cooperative settlements (Moshavim), control 20% of the land, whereas the population comprises 24%. As for Arabs, the situation is even more distorted: they comprise 71% of the population in central Galilee, but control only 16% of the land. The situation in the Northern Negev is even less equitable: municipalities with an Ashkenazi majority control about 55% of the area, whereas their population comprises only 5% of the inhabitants of the region. Mizrahi municipalities cover 21% of the area, but their population comprises 62%. The Arab municipalities are still the most discriminated: their inhabitants are 23%, but control only 1.5% of the land. On a state-wide level, Arab municipalities control only 2.5% of the land, despite accommodating some 16% of the population, while councils with Mizrahi majority cover 14% of the country, and hosting some 36% of the population.
Another social-geographic aspect points to separate developing paths of the settlement sectors. My detailed studies have shown growing gaps between the populations of the different types of settlements, expressed by a variety of indicators. For examples, levels of household income have remained around 66% among the Arabs and 75% among Mizrahi Jews, as compared with the mean Ashkenazi population. Housing density among the Arabs is twice that of Ashkenazi Jews, and about 1.5 times that of Mizrahi Jews, while college education levels among Ashkenazim in the periphery are three times as high as Mizrahi Jews and Four times higher than the Arabs.
Most recently, the division of space assumed even larger economic importance, as Israel began to gradually loosen its tight development control over agricultural lands. A historical decision of the Israeli Land Authority (No. 533, 1992), allowed, for the first time, Jewish farmers to develop or sell 'their' (public) agricultural land for commercial use. This generated rapid land-use change in some agricultural areas, suring which kibbutzim and moshavim land began to be developed for a range of uses, including shopping malls, warehouses, entertainment centers and tourism complexes. But most of the 'privatized' lands are officially public, and were Arab before 1948. Hence this process, while having a liberating aspect of loosening state control, reinforces the socio-economic gaps between Israeli ethno-classes. This is mainly because the 'baseline' for the 'privatization' is the existing situation, which was created by domination and force. As such, the control of public agricultural lands is increasingly becoming a platform for amassing real-estate wealth, privileging the landed sectors, and intensifying the dispossession and marginalization of Palestinian-Arabs from their private and public land resources.
To be sure, the processes described above are not uni-dimensional. Groups of Mizrahim do integrate into the Israeli middle-classes, especially in the large urban areas, while the control exerted over the Arab citizens has eased in recent years. In addition, other important factors such as divisions of the labor, accessibility to capital, educational background, and family and social connections contributed to the gaps between the sectors, but the division of space is by no means a minor factor. This was shaped throughout the settlement process and, as noted, created a 'separate and unequal' socio-geographic reality, where an Ashkenazi-Mizrahi-Arab hierarchy was created. This forms a clear basis for inter-group tension, especially because of the physical proximity, which emphasized the social gaps.

How then was such an inequitable division of space made possible in a state claiming to be a democracy? Let us look more closely at a set of Judaizing practices and regulations adopted by public bodies and institutions. As regards the Palestinian-Arabs, and as shown by many studies, these policies included appropriation of lands, destruction of houses, encirclement by Jewish settlements, and spatial containment of villages and towns. But Mizrahi discrimination by the very same Judaization process, has been also significant, contributing greatly to the on-going Jewish 'ethnic gap' in Israel.
This was assisted by several dimensions of Israeli planning policies. First came the settlement of weak Mizrahi groups away from the state's center, restricting them to development towns and isolated Moshavim. Through the policy of housing supply, social services and employment, development towns became dependent on state hand-outs. Many of the residents became ‘trapped because of the stagnation in the real estate market and the policy of public housing companies, (especially Amidar) not to allow residents ownership or inheritance rights over their property. These problems, in addition to the low educational standards, menial employment and lack of accessibility to influential networks, generated social stigma and restricted social-economic mobility of their residents.
True, there were also a considerable number of Ashkenazim who lived in development towns. Most of these however were able to find ways to move to other settlements, by taking advantage of their better connections with the authorities or to key personalities in the state. In the population census of 1961, the Mizrahim in development towns of Shlomi, Ma’alot, Kiryat Shmona, Netivot, Ofakim and Kiryat Malahi comprised over 95% of the population. In most other development towns, they comprise more than 85% of the population, after the majority of Ashkenazim who had settled there in the 50s moved out. The immigrants from the former Soviet Union who came to settle in the development towns in the ‘90s, did not change the social-economic situation markedly, since mainly weaker groups from among the recent immigrants settled in those towns.
The second element facilitating inequitable division of space, was the use of segregation mechanisms, first by the kibbutzim and later by the community localities. The latter’s first step towards segregation was made with the very establishment of the new settlement, which necessitated a government permit (difficult to receive in the 80s), as they were not defined as ‘cooperative’ or agricultural. Actually, according to the regulations of that time, no state land in the rural space could be allocated for communal localities. Nevertheless, well organized groups with good connections often managed to receive permits from the planning authorities, often with the help of the Jewish Agency, that wished to preserve its sagging status as the central body developing rural regions in Israel.
The second segregation step was inherent in the procedures made to ‘screen’ candidates for communal localities. These settlements were given the authority to use the screening process to get the wished results: only people with a high socio-economic status were accepted and could reside in that specific communal location. Their screening procedures were developed in the first years of Jewish settlements, when ?suitable? candidates for membership in socialist kibbutzim had to be chosen. These practices are still used, but the objective has been changed significantly, from that of ?choosing pioneers?, to a practice of overt elitist segregation, directed mainly against Arabs, but also affecting 'non-suitable' Jews. The legality of the whole institutional setting is now under cloud as the Israeli High Court is deliberating on the 'Katzir Case', following an appeal by Mr. Ka'adan against his rejection from this communal settlement on grounds of being an Arab.
The third component included the re-drawing of municipal borders. The new borders lent themselves to the fixation of the ethno-class segregation, which the communal localities had already achieved, thus reproducing social, developmental and political inequality between the communal localities and the residents of the development towns, the new Moshavim and the Arab villages. We can clearly see how the apparatus of screening ‘pioneers’ for the frontier regions is exploited to create enclaves of the upper middle class groups. This occurs with the active help of state institutions, legal arrangements and public resources, all riding the 'momentum' and legitimacy of the hegemonic Judaization project..
On occasions, the mayors of the development towns attacked these tactics, demanding that the new community localities be included in their jurisdiction borders. But not one of the over 150 communal localities built after the late 70s, was included in the municipal area of a development town! Therefore, the third wave of settlement not only sharpened the differences between the different types of settlements, but also greatly harmed the development towns by drawing ‘quality’ populations to the communal localities -- a population which could have contributed to the prosperity and status of the deprived towns.
Israeli governments, regardless of the political color, continued to support the establishment of communal localities and helped perpetuate most of the segregation practices. A good example here is the granting of municipality status to places like Kfar Vradim and Lehavim in the Negev, whose populations were 2,100 and 2,300 respectively. This made them the smallest local councils in Israel -- much smaller than the minimum number of residents needed according to Interior Ministry regulations. At that same time, the government amalgamated several Arab and Mizrahi towns, much larger than Lehavim and Kfar Vradim, under the banner of 'efficiency'. And further, while Lehavim received municipal status, dozens of Bedouin villages who often been in the same region for centuries are denied recognition and basic services.,
The real estate market well reflects the issue. A characteristic example of this can be seen with the development town of ‘Ofakim’ and the communal settlement of ‘Lehavim’ in the Negev. In the mid 80s, the price of an average-sized apartment in both settlements, was about 65-75 thousand dollars. Today, the price of the apartment in Ofakim rose to about $90-100,000, whereas houses in Lehavim jumped to $210-240,000. Given that the state was greatly involved in subsidizing Lehavim, it clearly shows how financial resources were transferred to private, well-to-do people through public channels of ‘settling the frontier’.

We have seen how the waves of Jewish settlement that characterized the construction of Israeli ethnocracy, divided the space of the internal ‘frontier regions in a hierarchical manner and on an ethnic basis, thus creating the foundation for emergent and conflictual collective identities and social gaps. The settlement created or strengthened stratification, while adding a structural geographic dimension to the social and economical differences. However, despite this reality, national rhetoric always granted solid legitimization to the waves of settlement and ‘covered up’ the stratified spatial division between Ashkenazim and Mizrahim, as well as the discrimination and repression of Palestinian-Arabs.
The overlapping of social and spatial realities, coupled with stratification and overt inequality, often give rise to the emergence of conflictual collective identities. This aspect of the commonly glorified Jewish settlement project has been neglected by most Israeli research and public discourse. Let us then listen to the cynical words of Kobbi Oz, a lead singer of the rock group 'Tippex' coming from a southern development town, who writes about the establishment and life of an imaginary town named 'Ma'ale Avak' ('Dust Height'). Oz scorns the 'need' of the Israeli government to 'fill gaps' on the map, he laments the fate of the reluctant pioneers in the towns, and hopes with them for a day they could merge back into the Israeli center.

(TIPPEX, 1995)
It's not impressive, thought the government ministers / there are empty patches on the map
Down there a settlement is amiss/ So the powers laid down the order:
We'll build a town, and bring some people/ So they fill with their lives all the new houses
It's good, plenty of settlements (dots) on the maps/ And the newspapers promised exposure
So the ministers ordered in a sleepy voice/ And went to treat other 'emergencies'
A junior clerk covered the distance/ To announce the opening of the new town called:
Dust Height..... dust.... dust.....dust....

In Dust Heights at Dusk/ People gather along the central path
To remember dreams of the forgotten/ Solidarity of the forsaken

They paved a road, black and narrow/ Cutting deep into the desert
At the edge, they built some homes/ As if they scattered match boxes

Coffee-shops with drunken men/ And others are locked inside their homes
And each and every one just dreams/ About the day they will cross the road to/from nowhere

Perhaps the awareness raised by Oz and similar writers of the new generation will gradually diffuse into wider circles, and begin the de-mystification of the Jewish frontier. It is imperative to 'peel off' the 'heroic' and 'pioneering' image of the frontier, and present it for what it is: an ethnocratic project of exerting domination and exploiting resources. It is high time more critical voices emerge in order to begin the withering of the Jewish frontier, and the raising of alternative values, such as justice, equality and democracy into the public and policy discourses of this troubled land.

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