Denial, Ignorance and Wilful Unknowing: The Episteme of the Israeli Occupation

Seminars and Colloquia

To the external onlooker, a puzzling predicament plagues Israeli politics. While the majority of Jewish-Israelis state that they support reaching a peace agreement with the Palestinians abiding by the two-state solution, this public still has been repeatedly electing leaders who oppose reaching such an agreement for over two decades to date. Most often, this apparent anomaly is explained through the disillusion of Jewish-Israelis from the peace process, which has swayed the Israeli electoral power towards nationalistic hardliners. However, a more fundamental change has occurred in this period, rendering the question of the position of the Jewish-Israeli electorate towards peace obsolete. Accordingly, Jewish-Israelis are increasingly becoming ignorant regarding the causes fueling regional hostilities: that Israel maintains an occupation, and that Israel is holding millions of Palestinians as occupied subjects under a military rule. This talk explored the political technologies and discursive strategies through which this ignorance has been induced, and how the politico-spatiality of the occupied Palestinian territory has so successfully been eradicated from the collective Israeli consciousness. Through this analysis Merav Amir demonstrated that this epistemic reshaping has not only reconfigured the geography of the Israeli polity for this public, but has also warped the region’s political time, and disrupted the State’s own political trajectory, as it bestows the (presumed) future eventuality onto the present.

Merav Amir is Senior Lecturer in Human Geography at Queen's University in Belfast and Emma Goldman Fellow at the IWM.

Mieke Verloo, Professor for Comparative Politics and Inequality Issues at Radboud University and Non-Resident Permanent Fellow at the IWM, will provide the comment.