Under a policy that was in force from 1967 until 2005, the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) demolished the homes of the perpetrators of terrorist acts and various security offenses, as well as their accomplices. In 2005, a commission of experts, headed by Maj. Gen. Ehud Shani, expressed its doubts as to the policy’s legality and efficacy and recommended that it be abandoned. Notwithstanding, the home demolition policy was revived three years later, in 2008.
The demolition of homes is an extreme measure. The arguments against it include that it is a disproportional infringement of private property rights, constitutes collective punishment, and that there are no evident gains that can justify its use. Nevertheless, over the years, decision-makers in the IDF insisted that the deterrent effect outweighs other considerations and justifies the infringement of rights. The Supreme Court of Israel, almost without exception, has given its full backing to that position. The underlying assumption about the deterrent effect of home demolition is based on the intensity of the sanction against the terrorist and his family as well as the rapidity with which it is implemented.
This study is a three-part examination of how the IDF reached the conclusion that home demolition is an effective policy and employed it for so many years without ever conducting an empirical study. We also consider what caused the decision-makers to revive the policy only three years after it was decided to abandon it.
Shalhoub-Kevorkian, Nadera and Dorit Roer-Strier. “Context-Informed, Counter-Hegemonic Qualitative Research: Insights from an Israeli/Palestinian Research Team Studying Loss.” Qualitative Social Work (early view; online first).
Theorizing social work qualitative methodologies have always been closely related to the context of the studied subjects. This paper offers the framework of context-informed, counter-hegemonic qualitative research for theorizing research in conflict zones. Based on a case study of a group of Jewish and Palestinian social work researchers who examined together the effect of the loss of home on families during an ongoing political conflict, this paper explores the impact of participating in a research team on the researcher’s perceptions and study of otherness and otherization in the context of asymmetries of power. Analysis of the group dynamics discovered: (1) a growing ability to see and acknowledge the other, accompanied by a growing willingness to be attentive; (2) a growing ability to empathically listen to and hear the experiences of suffering of the other; (3) overcoming silencing by allowing voices of dissent, pain and resilience; and (4) creating a liminal space of “safe haven” for the researchers. The paper explores the development of context-informed group reflexivity leading to emancipatory consciousness and academic activism.
When do words and actions empower? When do they betray? Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this volume tracks the repercussions of advocacy activism against house demolitions in ‘unrecognised’ Arab-Bedouin villages in Israel’s southern ‘internal frontier’. It highlights the repercussions of activism for victims, fund-raisers and activists. The ethnographic episodes show how humanitarian aid intervention and indigenous identity politics can turn into a double-edged sword. Ironically, institutional lobbying for coexistence and its interpretative categories can sometimes perpetuate different forms of subjugation. The volume also shows how, beyond the institutional lobbying, novel figures of activism emerge: informal networks create non-sectarian, cross-cutting countercultures and rethink human-environment relationships. These experimental political subjects redefine the categories of the conflict and elude the logic of zero-sum games; they point towards a shifting paradigm in current ethnopolitics.
Koensler outlines an ethnographic approach for the study of social movements that follows multiple relations around mobilisations rather than studying activism in itself. This perspective thus becomes relevant for scholars and activists engaged with the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and those interested in global rights discourses.
Table of Contents
List of Figures
Note on Transliteration
PART I: THE SOCIAL LIFE OF CLAIMS
1. Ethnography and social movement studies
2. The life of Israeli-Palestinian claims
PART II: CONTRADICTIONS
3.The ‘ghost village’
5. Frictions and connections
PART III: INNOVATIONS
6. Politics of polyphony?
7. Global ecosophies
Appendix: Conceptual Tour
ALEXANDER KOENSLER is Research Fellow at the Institute for the Study of Conflict Transformation and Social Justice, Queen’s University Belfast, UK.