Centralized power and divided space: `Fractured regions' in the Israeli `ethnocracy'
Author: Yiftachel O.1, 2
Source: GeoJournal, Volume 53, Number 3, March 2001 , pp. 283-293(11)
This paper uses a critical political-geographical perspective to account for the high centrality of power found in Israel. It suggests that the concentration of power have not been solely caused by national solidarity and integration or by metropolitan development, as commonly explained, but also by the territorial `fracturing' of the main social and ethnic groups in Israel/Palestine. This has prevented the emergence of effective pressure for regional devolution. Israel's character as a settler and settling state, and its central project of Judaizing contested territories, enabled the Israeli `ethnocracy' and its (mainly Ashkenazi and secular) elites to create a political geography of `fractured ethnic and social regions'. Dispersing minorities and legitimizing segregation and inequality, all in the name of the `national interest', achieved this. The Israeli political landscape is therefore organized as `fractured regions', each representing a distinct and interconnected, yet geographically dispersed, set of localities, and resembling a `chain of beads'. The logic of dispersal and segregation, in turn, has also influenced patterns of development and residential separation within Israel's main urban areas. Thus, ethnic and social fragmentation and conflict, and not a putative process of national or metropolitan integration, can explain much of Israel's highly centralized power structure.
Document Type: Research article
Publication date: 2001-03-01