Occupation’s Wake

By Mumia Abu-Jamal

As we examine, study, and analyze the events in Gaza and Israel today, we learn of the lengths taken by the occupation as it dominates the land space of Gaza in the Palestinian territories. Occupation is a polite way of speaking of what is, in fact, the seizure and taking of another people’s land by military means.

Cameroonian philosopher Achille Mbembe, in his remarkable book, Necro-Politics, writes keenly and deeply of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and provides dazzling insights into the origins and drives operating beneath the roof of consciousness. First and foremost, as Mbembe explains, we find separation. This is followed by the creation of an enclave, or separate space, and next, the destruction of those deemed enemies of the state. This separation instinct, Mbembe tells us, is a master’s desire to dominate another who then faces subjugation, which leads further to a desire to destroy. Mbembe writes, tellingly, that, and this is a quote, “Occupation is in every respect, hand to hand combat and a tunnel.”

Please note that his book was published initially in French in 2016. Mbembe writes:

“The colonial enterprise was driven by a mixture of sadism and masochism, applied gropingly and in response to largely unexpected events. It was inclined to smash all forces standing in the way of its drives. To inhibit their course toward all sorts of perverse pleasures.”

“The limits to what it considered normal were constantly shifting. And few desires were subject to straightforward repression. Let alone embarrassment or disgust, the colonial world’s capacity to cope with the distraction of its objects, natives included, was astonishing.” —Mbembe, pages 45-46.

Achille Mbembe, like many African scholars, activists, and thinkers, looked at the settler colonial setup in Palestine, and they see apartheid. But if so, it’s apartheid with a difference. In South Africa the system needed African labor to build its wealth. Israel doesn’t need Palestinian labor. It seeks their land, making the people superfluous, and therefore, in a worse and weaker position.

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