Biopolitics and Israel

Biopolitics‘ is a concept emerged in the 1920’s. The French philosopher and social theorist Michel Foucault expressed that Biopolitics is the style of government that regulates populations through “biopower”. It’s a strategy of power to rule people’s health, people’s reproduction, births and deaths.

The concept, very related to racism by the way, can be studied together with the phenomena of Colonialism, and more precisely, with the Zionist movement changing the whole social structure of a land, the historical Palestine, i.e. Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories of the Gaza Strip, West Bank, and East- Jerusalem.

The Supremacy of Numbers

“Yallah. Have more children. You, haredim… you don’t want to serve in the army? So be productive in something else!”.

I close my eyes and imagine these words coming out the mouth of the Zionist conquers of Palestine.

“Let the beduins stay among us in the Negev… It will be useful adding their human production to our statistics of Biopower”. That would be also another Zio-quotation, but have into account the contradiction: Israeli authorities practice at the same time an ethnic cleansing against Negev beduins.

Yes. Israel is a Biopower, an authority which bases its raison d’être (d’existance) on the growth of its population (to show to the world that Jewish ‘are’ majority). In the other hand they just use the number of Israelis, people holding Israeli ID, to say to Western super-powers: “Hey, see? We are increasing in numbers. We ARE a STATE”.

That can be summarized as: How Israel plays with its policies for ethnical and religious domination.

I already mentioned that Biopolitics is racism. If Israeli authorities would have listened to one of its most powerful Zionist leaders and authors, Vladimir Ze’ev Jabotisnky, the biopolitic strategy wouldn’t have been so optime. Jabotinsky hated the idea of having a mix population (Jewish and Non-Jewish):

“A state which has a mixed national population?  To make such a demand is to ask for the impossible”, sentenced Jabotinsky in his essay “The Iron Wall”.

There is no doubt that Israeli Biopolitics are eclectic, for the sake of the supremacy of numbers.

Necropolitics… the remembrance of the Nakba

Reading about Biopolitics I came across a paper written in Spanish by a Chilean professor, Gonzalo Díaz Letelier, “Racism and Neo-Colonial Necropolitics of Israel in Palestine. Notes about the Bonds between Imagination and Violence”.

The word “Necropolitics” was echoing inside my head during the whole night.

Zionists hate them (Palestinians), and hate us (other-nationality people married to a Palestinian). We do believe in the mix. We do want to have children and have them here in the occupied Palestine, in Gaza, in West Bank or East-Jerusalem, even in Israel. However, Israelis impulse a serial of obstacles whose objective is breaking up our steadiness, violating all human rights when it comes to have a citizenship, live with our family or celebrate happily family reunification in Easter Week, Christmas, Eid al-Fitr, Al-Eid al-Kibir…

In its enterprise for judaization of occupied Palestinian territories, and jewish-majoritization of Israel, they go for Biopolitics and Necropolitics.

Necropolitics is the action plan of the occupied territories. We have witnessed it clearly since October 2015. If a Palestinian seems to or is to attack… Israeli forces neutralizes him/her, kill him/her. They killed them all without a trial or a proper checkup. “Just shoot him/her and we will kill two birds with one stone”.

The idea of ‘neutralize’ is the idea of making them wiped away from the Earth.

Nappies for the Perpetuation

“Open up the border for Aleyah… Now, close it up. Change the Halakhah definition of Jew again…”.

Every law has a loophole or, as we say in Spanish: “Done the law, done the trap.”

Here is the thing:

During last months everyone on social networks was bringing into focus how the Israeli population is growing.

The Israeli Central Bureau of Statistics (CBS) affirms that Israel has a current population of 8.522 million people, having grown 2.2% over the previous year. The CBS made public the numbers in the very day of the Israeli Independence, that is, on Nakba Day. That is very significative, isn’t it?

Last year the rate of fertility for 2014 was published: Jewish women have average of 3.11 children (up from 2.6 a decade ago). The piece of news highlighted that Arab women have a higher average, 3.17 kids, but it’s going down as before they used to have 4.3 kids.

Biopolitics… everything is so racist…. Check this out:

“The Labor, Welfare, and Health Committee of the Knesset has passed a bill for its first reading, which would allow the payment of ‘birth grants’ to mothers for having children, but only if they give birth in an Israeli hospital” (12/07/2016, Arutz Sheva).

Four days after an Israeli newspaper pointed out that Israel has the highest fertility rate among OECD nations, in Gaza, where these days people remember the second anniversary of the most bloody and destructive Israeli military operation (Tsuk Eitan, Protective Edge), the Ministry of Interior revealed that 3,894 new babies were born in April and May (2016).

During the fifty days of Protective Edge (July-August 2014) the IDF killed an average of 46 people a day; with last statistics Palestinians in the Gaza Strip are having 125 borns daily…


The Palestinian legal system disregards women during divorce proceedings and allegations of ill- treatment. Studies on gender violence preclude a context marked by Zionist aggressions.

Isabel Pérez | Gaza Strip
22 July 2016

Published originally in ‘Pikara Magazine’ (a feminist, anti-racist, and anti-capitalist project):

In the Gaza Strip a new order issued by the Chief Judge of Supreme Court of Shari’a (Islamic Courts) has triggered bewilderment among the women’s movement. From now on, men who declare themselves victims of “domestic violence” will be able to open a case in order to get the divorce. Organizations working for the protection of women’s rights, the improvement of women’s legal and social status, and organizations providing psychological help to women have expressed their dissatisfaction with a patriarchal system that tends to defend more men than women. In Palestine, women’s life is constrained to an obsolete legislation, inherited from the Ottoman Empire, the British colonization, the Egyptian and Jordan administration, and the Israeli occupation with some attempts for the change that however, eventually, are never applied in real life.

“In the police stations there are dozens of cases of murders of women and thousands of complaints from women who suffer violence at home. This year two women have killed their husbands and they have done a law”, denounces Nadia Abu Nahla, director of the Gaza branch of Women’s Technical Affairs Committee (WATC).

The decision of the Chief Judge of Supreme Court of Shari’a in Gaza, Hassan el-Juju, has angered the defenders of Palestinian women’s rights. With this law, the perspective of gender violence is totally canceled.  

“What they are seeking is that every man who wants to get divorced doesn’t have to pay anything to his wife”, assures Abu Nahla noting that the majority of divorced women are economically dependent on the money that, by law and according to the marriage contract, a husband who wishes the divorce must contribute.

“Besides, men do not give that money, 3,000 or 4,000 Jordanian dinars, at once. It’s paid in installments —adds Abu Nahla—. The Shari’a Tribunals are sexist tribunals. As a woman you don’t feel justice is done”.

Several studies indicate that the post-war period in Gaza and the growth of poverty, which affects more than 65% of population in the Gaza Strip (with a food insecurity hitting 72% of that population), bring about an increase of violence against women. However, neither this indicators nor the recommendations of some organizations, have helped to change the mind of the Chief Judge of Shari’a Courts in Gaza. In an interview inside the headquarters of Aisha Association for the Protection of Woman’s, the director Reem Frainah explains that a month before being proclaimed the new law some judges of the Shari’a Court in Gaza (and al-Juju himself) attended one of their workshops.

“We debated on the damage suffered by women versus the damage suffered by men in divorce proceedings — explains Frainah—. We also talked about the quantity of money that a man (in case of divorce) loses as it is not comparable to the sum of money that a women loses. She loses her family. The society does not look at her with the same respect it looks at a divorced man. It is clear that al-Juju’s decision is in favor of men”.

Frainah insists that she made it clear: the money that husbands must pay to their wives in case of divorce is not a revenge but a protection and a right.

“A divorced woman does not seek to become a millionaire — asserts Frainah—. Divorced women are psychologically destroyed. My twenty-three-year experience working with women tells me that here women prefer peaceful solutions avoiding the courts because they don’t want to lose their children”.

When the Law is Your Enemy

The Law is different in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. In Jerusalem, where Palestinians are considered by the Israeli occupation as “immigrants” in their own land, some married couples cannot reside in there. Israel, with its policies and citizenship laws, violates the right to a family life.

The history of colonization and occupation of Palestine is still present in the legal system. Palestine was ruled by the Ottoman Empire from 1516 until 1917, then came the British Mandate until 1948 the year of the Nakba in which the State of Israel was established and Palestinian people was expelled. At that time, Egypt took over the administration of the Gaza Strip and Jordan annexed the West Bank. In 1967, Israel occupied the rest of Palestine and it was not until the Oslo Accords, in 1994, that a Palestinian Authority was created taking the power to enact a new legislation; however, it did not significantly change the aspects that harm women’s right. Since 2007, the political division between Hamas in Gaza and Fatah in the West Bank is another factor affecting the unification of legislation.

In the Gaza Strip there is the Family Law (1964), in the West Bank the Jordanian Law of Personal Status (1976), along with other laws addressing marital issues, custody, polygamy, obedience, adultery (also a criminal case —Criminal Code—) or inheritance.

“Since the first Palestinian parliament was formed we have been fighting to have a new law —explains Mona Ashawa from the Department of Women Issues in the Palestinian Center for Human Rights, PCHR— In Egypt or Jordan those laws have already developed into new ones, but here there is a great discrimination against women”.

The Palestinian Basic Law, which works as a temporary constitution, sets up that the main source of legislation is the Islamic Law (Shari’a). The sunni school of jurisprudence in Palestine is based on Imam Abu Hanifah Annua’man, the Hanifa school. Even so, the Palestinian feminist movements argue that the laws are a tool used to subdue them with a more than questionable religious basis.

Ashawa mentions that many of the cases of gender violence, rapes, or even incest are solved through the so-called ‘informal justice’ system:

“All this is a taboo in our society and victims show up in a police station or a judge with difficulties. Everything is kept in totally silence or secret. Families normally visit a mokhtar [an elderly patriarch] and sometimes he decides that the victim, specially if she has been raped and is pregnant, marries the rapist”, says Ashawa.

Cases of “honor crimes” are treated by the Criminal Code, not the Islamic one. In Gaza, while a person who commits robbery faces death penalty, a husband who kills his wife is imprisoned for a few years and can be freed after paying a fine. Adultery, understood as a consensual sexual relationship, is reserved both for Shari’a and Criminal Code. In these cases, the adulterous -married- woman loses all her economic and social rights, and the adulterous man receives a warning from the judge.

As for the divorce, there is the talaq, an unilaterally divorce requested by the husband just pronouncing his intention verbally. If she is the part who wants to ask for divorce we will talk about tafriq and this can only be for certain raisons and submitting evidences:

“If he is absent and no one knows where he is; if he is not providing his wife economically; if he goes on a trip for more than a year; if he is imprisoned for minimum three years; if he is mentally ill or has sexual problems. The wife can also ask for divorce if there is a conflict, that is, if her husband beats her. In all cases she must give evidences which is very complicated”, notes Ashawa.

Very few women can opt for the khula’  to get the divorce. Khula’ consists in giving back to the husband the amount of money he paid for marrying her. Helpless, many women renounce their rights only for getting the divorce; however, even this room is blocked by the social norms, stronger than the law itself:

“Society blames women for the divorce. The culture influences more than the legal system for a woman who wants to speak up and get divorced. It is normalized. There is no awareness of gender violence”, regrets Ashawa.

The Violence of the Israeli Occupation against Palestinian Women

According to researches by the Institute of Woman’s Studies at the University of Birzeit, the increase of gender violence is related to the increase of Israeli violence and its occupation policies.

“Most reports on gender violence don’t contextualize and that is a serious theoretical-methodological mistake — declares Eileen Kuttab, director of the Institute—. Women, and then children, are victims of men who are victims of the Israeli occupation”.

Kuttab highlights that the Palestinian women are objective of the Israeli occupation’s project. Israeli forces detain and humiliate Palestinian women, and so do the inhabitants of settlements in West Bank.

“They target the Palestinian woman because she is the one who gives birth. This a central issue in the Zionist way of thinking. They (Zionists) know that by the year 2020 we will be more than them, demographically speaking — claims Kuttab—. Woman is the symbol of strength and steadiness and the Zionists want to destroy that. Women are also used to make pressure on Palestinian men during interrogations”.

In the West Bank or Jerusalem where, unlike Gaza Strip, the presence of Israeli army in the streets continues, the Palestinian woman is despised daily at the Israeli military check-points:

“Inspections are not respectful — assures Kuttab—. They break women’s private space. There are also women who were killed under false pretexts or in ambulances whilst waiting to give birth”.

Soraida Hussein, founder and director of the Women’s Technical Affairs Committee, remarks that every single woman experiences violence and the greater of this violence is the one exerted by the Israeli occupation.

“It’s military violence, bloody and colonialist violence. Their plan is to kick us out of here, like it is happening since October 2015”, she says.

Women movement’s activists in Palestine insist on the idea that their cause must be as urgent as the struggle for the establishment of a sovereign Palestinian state.

El palestino más viejo del mundo

Hace unos años murió el palestino más viejo del mundo a los 120 años. Se llamaba Abu Ahmed. Uno de sus familiares me contó un día en Gaza una de las anécdotas más conocidas del anciano. Es la siguiente:

<< Era el año 2005. Los palestinos de la franja de Gaza salimos de casa para ver cómo los soldados israelíes sacaban de sus casas a los últimos colonos judíos. El caso es que, tras unas horas, nos reunimos la familia en el diwan* y yo le pregunté a mi tío:

  • Tío, tú que eres el palestino con más edad y que has visto las diferentes ocupaciones de Palestina¿Cuál de las ocupaciones es para ti más destacada por una razón u otra?

El anciano se paró un momento y, afirmando con su cabeza, dio una calada a su cigarrillo liado con tabaco shami y contestó:

  • ¿La ocupación de Palestina que más destaca en mi memoria? Es, sin duda, la británica… El día que se marcharon los soldados ingleses estaba con mis amigos y  mis primos al lado de la vía del tren. Del último vagón que se llevaba los últimos soldados británicos de Palestina salió, de repente, la mano de un soldado que nos hacía una señal de ‘jódete’ con el dedo. Desde entonces, efectivamente, hemos estado ‘jodidos’**. >>



*Diwan aquí se refiere al lugar familiar donde se reúnen para discutir temas o resolver problemas.

**El viejo Abu Ahmed dijo en árabe: “Desde entonces, efectivamente, estamos sentados en ese dedo”. Que viene a ser lo mismo que decir: estar jodidos.


Brigadas del Amor Imposible #Gaza

M. llega a casa, le hemos preparado una sorpresa: un buen café espresso y unos dulces. Pero M. no levanta la vista del móvil.

Su entrecejo se arruga cada dos minutos. Está chateando con ella. Su amor. Su amor imposible. Nosotros hemos hecho lo posible para que se sienta bien hoy. No es fácil estar pensando todos los días sobre la misma decisión: ¿lo dejamos o no?

M., como la inmensa mayoría de jóvenes de la franja de Gaza, se topó con ella por casualidad en la calle. El resto, el acercamiento, abrirse el corazón mutuamente, conocerse, amarse, llegó de la mano de las tecnologías, del Facebook.

Tras meses, en los que además M. ha estado yendo al gimnasio para refigurar su delgadísima figura, M. y ella tienen la certeza de que lo suyo es imposible. El padre de ella nunca lo aceptará como yerno y M. no tiene dinero suficiente para convencerlo de lo contrario.

Un significativo número de los intentos de suicidio que se dan en la franja tienen como raíz la depresión por un amor imposible. Unas veces porque la familia de ella rechaza que se casen, otras porque la familia de él no lo permite… pero, sin lugar a dudas, el fundamento estriba en la carencia de solvencia económica. El desempleo golpea al 60% de los jóvenes gazatíes. Es una de las consecuencias de los años de bloqueo israelí.

Otro gazatí, O. le comentó ayer a su padre que quería pedir la mano de una chica. Con ella ha estado chateando, viéndose, paseando discretamente, desde hace cuatro años. O. acaba de terminar la universidad y está sin trabajo. Su padre le dice que no puede pedirle la mano. “¿Con qué dinero? -le pregunta- ¿Crees que yo puedo mantener a tus hermanas y hermano y también pagarte este compromiso y una futura boda?”.

O. ha entrado en estado de depresión por amor imposible. Ella le dijo que se diera prisa porque su primo había llegado a casa para pedir su mano.


Graffiti en un muro de la franja de Gaza: “Brigadas del Amor Imposible”. Foto: Isabel Pérez (2013).

B. tiene el mismo problema que O. con la dificultad añadida de que es un beduino. Un beduino con un título universitario, pero cuyo padre nunca le prestará el dinero que necesitaría para firmar el contrato de matrimonio con su yerno. Y, B., la ama, la ama con toda el alma. Igual que ella quien ha rechazado cualquier petición de mano hasta el momento. No sabe hasta cuándo podrá seguir haciéndolo.

Historias así oigo cada día… En Gaza se están formando las Brigadas del Amor Imposible.




El bloqueo también mata

***Actualización 18/02/2016: las organizaciones palestinas de Derechos Humanos investigan en estos momentos el caso de la niña porque, además de la imposibilidad de que la familia viajara a Israel, Jerusalén-Este o Egipto, se teme que la corrupción administrativa también haya tenido un papel importante.


Una dulzura de niña acaba de morir en Gaza. Sufría insuficiencia renal, pero a estas horas las principales páginas web de noticias palestinas mantienen en portada la foto del Coordinador Especial de la ONU para el Proceso de Paz en Oriente Medio, Nickolay Mladenov. Mladenov ha estado en Gaza y en rueda de prensa ha lanzado un discurso repetitivo (de esos que los periodistas podríamos haber escrito antes de que él llegara) sobre que la reconstrucción sigue, que hay logros alcanzados, que quieren lo mejor para todos en Gaza, etc.

Después de contestar las preguntas, de algunos periodistas, ha terminado con una retórica envolvente de amistad y empatía.

Pero una niña ha muerto en Gaza. Y creo que no hay suficientes palabras que puedan tranquilizar a un padre y a una madre que han hecho todo para que esta niña cruzara el paso fronterizo de Rafah durante los escasos tres días que ha estado abierto, después de 70 días seguidos de cierre total. No lo lograron. El paso volvió a cerrarse y la niña murió.

Todos estamos potencialmente muertos en Gaza. Tienes un accidente terrible y en los hospitales no saben qué hacer porque falta formación y materiales, mueres; estás trabajando sobre un andamio y cede el madero porque no es el apropiado ya que Israel ha bloqueado la entrada de madera gruesa y fuerte, mueres; tienes cáncer, mueres; tienes una enfermedad degenerativa que necesita cuidados especiales, mueres; tienes una mentalidad abierta y libre, también mueres. Mueren también los que quieren casarse y no pueden, cometen suicidio (o lo intentan); o casos como el de una joven que veía su futuro hundirse y decidió cortarte las venas hace unos días en Gaza.

La niña, Marah Diab, ha muerto y ella, como todos aquí, no quería morir. Tenía miedo. Sufría mucho en la unidad del hospital para diálisis. Llamaba a su padre todo el tiempo.

¿Cuántas veces habrá que repetir que el bloqueo también mata, que no solamente son las guerras?