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Mental segregation: Mapping Jews and Palestinians into separate worlds

In a short news piece (available so far only in Hebrew), Haaretz reported this morning of the damage caused by the recent storm to both settlers and Palestinian in the West Bank. The wording of the article gives us the opportunity to examine the difference in news coverage for Jews and Arabs living under the same regime in the same stretch of land. Reports of settler suffering take up five paragraphs, while Palestinians get one. More importantly, however, is the way in which the spaces the two peoples inhabit are described. The text (as well as the headline, at least in the printed version) entirely separates the area into two: the first part of the reports deals with “settlements in Judea and Samaria” whereas the latter begins with the words “The storm also caused extensive damage in the West Bank.”

Palestinian youth stand on a rooftop in Aida Refugee Camp overlooking the Israeli separation wall and snow-covered olive groves on the other side, Bethlehem, West Bank, December 14, 2013. (photo: Activestills)

This, to me, is a remarkable example of the mental maps that many Israelis imagine when thinking about the occupation. While many know that settlements are indeed located in the West Bank, they may also imagine a deep separation, two spaces existing in a single physical location. The first is “Israeli,” inhabited by “our own” and run by our government. The other is located “somewhere behind The Wall” (the route of which I believe only very few would be able to point out on a map), inhabited by Palestinians and run by the Palestinian Authority, with checkpoints that separate the two.

Read more: The world’s only ethnic time zone

Of course, such imagined spatial separation is not without basis. First of all, there is the PA controlled Area A, which is separate from the IDF-controlled Area B and Area C. There is also deeply-entrenched legal segregation which allows Jews to live under Israeli civilian law and deems Palestinians to a life under military rule. Yet settlements and Palestinian villages, towns and cities are not quite as separate. They are interlinked, from the most extreme example of “sharing” the city of Hebron to the routine expansion of settlements on lands belonging to Palestinian villages. Of course, snow storms affect both peoples, as Mairav pointed out yesterday. But the Haaretz editor who worked on this report must be imagining one snow-covered area as two detached locations, inhabited by different people who deserve different coverage and different sets of rights. The story does not ask, for example, if IDF forces helped Palestinians in South Hebron Hills reach safety or a hospital as they did with settlers in the very same region.

This is yet another way in which racial segregation takes place in the minds of Israelis: from the mental map of the editor, to that of the reader, and back.

Ahead of worst winter storm in years, IDF razes Palestinian homes
‘Snow makes everyone equal for a day on Hebron’s Shuhada St.’

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    1. “…different people who deserve different coverage and different sets of rights.” : Where the IDF is, that set of rights is null, at best the largesse, good will, of soldiers.

      South African apartheid is often thought of in terms of the bantus, which were in part legal fictions segregating people conceptually even if they never entered “their” bantu. This is happening in the WB as an artifact of Oslo collapse. The PA is a product of Oslo, ostensibly the granter/guaranteer of Palestinian “rights.” No matter where WB Palestinians live, the PA, Ramallah, is their custodian. The IDF, or settlers, really don’t do anything to Palestinians because the PA, their agreed custodian, has failed them, them being both Israel and Palestinians. It’s a nice set up: responsibility just vanishes into history.

      This conceptual space portends not Two States but a confederation with a minor half. Israel doesn’t want to govern Ramallah and other such areas directly. This insures a bantu supported by Israel and evolved confederation, assuming people in Ramallah, etc., don’t rebel too much. The nature of that confederation will be significantly shaped where Israelis and the occupied regularly overlap, in IDF security and economic rights (or lack thereof). Both matters of legal segregation, Israeli apartheid becomes a legal matter. Actually, compared to the Courts of apartheid era South Africa, you are starting in a better place.

      Reply to Comment
    2. Tomer

      Convert Jordan into Fakestine in 3 easy steps:
      1. Depose the Midget King
      2. Remove 1 star from the Jordanian Flag.
      3. Rename the Country

      Problem Solved !!!

      Reply to Comment
      • BaladiAkka 1948

        Removing Khazars, Moroccan and Iraqi Jews is much easier !

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          Really? You think it is easier and preferable to ethnically cleanse Israel of Jews than to remove a star from the Jordanian Flag?

          Reply to Comment
          • BaladiAkka 1948

            Because you think Tomer’s comment only implies removing a star from the Jordanian flag… no removing of indigenous Palestinians, right !
            As Ahmad Tibi responded to the fascist Ayalon who’s got wet dreams about transferring the Palestinians: the last to arrive will be the first to leave !
            And where did you come from, K9

            Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            I came from here.

            Tomer suggests that Jordan, a country that is 70% Palestinian, can easily function as the state of Palestine. It wouldn’t even have to remove the monarchy. The next in line is a Palestinian. It would really be just removing a star from a flag.

            Reply to Comment
          • BaladiAkka 1948

            Of course you don’t come from ‘here’. You, your parents, grand-parents or great-grand-parents came from somewhere else. No Jew with ancestry in the Old Yishuv would say as you did recently that learning Arabic is of no use. And believe me, before Jordan turns into a Palestinian state, you and that Tommy-boy have already gone back to where you came from, and the more than two million Palestinan refugees in Jordan returned to their homeland.
            Since you know French history (haha) you know they used to say ‘la France de Dunkerque à Tamanrasset’. Well, they got kicked out of Tamanrasset….

            Reply to Comment
          • andrew r

            Since the Algiers Declaration where the PLO declared the independence of Palestine in the 4 June 1967 boundary, Jordan has recognized the territories as an independent state. King Hussein decreed there would not be dual Palestinian-Jordanian nationality. In case Zionists don’t get the hint, Jordan is not on board with the Jordan-as-Palestine meme, and there’s no interest there for another wave of displaced persons that would be created in the “Jordanian Option”.

            It most likely will not happen at all unless Israel pulls an Operation 25 (Germany’s invasion of Yugoslavia in 1941) and creates a puppet govt. in Jordan. And given the dearth of candidates for the role of Ante Pavelic, they’ll probably have to go with a more General Government -type approach. But maybe I should stop giving you ideas.

            Reply to Comment
        • Marcos

          How do you figure? You are not a very seasoned logisticsian.

          And Jews will never be removed from Israel. Get over it and your snarky self.

          Reply to Comment