On Friday 23rd December the UN passed a resolution demanding a stop to Israeli settlement in the occupied territories as, in a shock move, the US refused to veto the resolution. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu exploded, calling it a 'declaration of war' (having recently been granted a $38 billion military aid package by the US), and Secretary of State John Kerry criticised Israel's approach to the peace process. But with Trump tweeting that Israel should 'stay strong' until his inauguration, progress still seems unlikely.
Verso presents a list of books from Israeli, Palestinian, and anti-imperialist authors, to explain the conflict and provide some perspectives on the future.
Brett Story's film The Prison in Twelve Landscapes depicts the variety of ways in which incarceration and criminal punishment shape the American landscape, both urban and rural — without ever showing a penetentiary. It begins its New York theatrical run on November 4th at Anthology Film Archives.
Below, Story recommends five books on carceral geography: an approach to analyzing incarceration and policing in spatial terms, drawing from the discipline of human geography.
From The Prison in 12 Landscapes
1. Golden Gulag: Prisons, Surplus, Crisis and Opposition in Globalizing California by Ruth Wilson Gilmore (University of California Press, 2007)
Regardless of your interest in space or place, if you read only one book to help make sense of mass incarceration, it should be this one.
Following the recent escalation and justification of US drone strikes in the name of national security, Eval Weizman reminds us how the demand for calculation paves the way for a continued justification of violence. The following excerpt from his book charts the philosophical underpinnings of Western military and humanitarian intervention from the late twentieth century to the present.
Drone pilots at work, via Wikimedia Commons
If, as a friend recently suggested, we ought to construct a monument to our present political culture as an homage to the principle of the ‘lesser evil’, it should be made in the form of the digits 6-6-5 built of concrete blocks, and installed like the Hollywood sign on hillsides or other high points overlooking city centers. This number, one less than the number of the beast — that of the devil and of total evil — might capture the essence of our humanitarian present obsessed with the calculations and calibrations that seek to moderate, ever so slightly, the evils that it has largely caused itself.
In this extract from The Least of All Possible Evils, Eyal Weizman details the dyanamic of the transport of provisions between Israel and Gaza, comparing it to a reverse Milgram experiment - a classic psychological experiment in power and authority and the capacity to inflict pain on ordinary people.
Milgram in Gaza
The legal petition against the further reduction of provisions into Gaza was rejected at the end of January 2008. ‘This is the difference between Israel, a democracy fighting for its life within the framework of the law, and the terrorist organizations fighting against it,’ the High Court stated, as if it were a state spokesperson. The court performed the task of an administrator rather than an adjudicator, a partner in the calibration of how much pain Gazans are to be made to legitimately feel. As such, acts of torture and terror aimed at forcing civilians into political compliance conferred on their makers a dignified image. Those proportionaly admin- istering the level of pain could now see themselves as being responsible for the necessary and tragic task of calculating and responsibly choosing the lesser of all possible evils.
At Full Stop, Michael Schapira and Carla Hung interview Eyal Weizman on the occasion of the release of his latest book, The Least of All Possible Evils, new from Verso. Weizman fields a number of questions related to forensic architecture:
Forensic Architecture is grounded in both field-work and forum-work; fields are the sites of investigation and analysis and forums the political spaces in which analysis is presented and contested. Each of theses sites presents a host of architectural and political problems....
You read details, speckles, pixels and patterns, connect them to larger forces, or at least you understand the impossibility of doing so, often noting paradoxes and misrepresentations. We have done this very close reading of aerial images of colonies in the West Bank, we have read almost all elements from architectural through infrastructural archaeological to horticultural ones visible in these images as a set of tools in a battlefield.