ben gurion airport

14Jun12

This is not merely racial profiling but the construction of particular racial, sexual and gendered hierarchies that enable Israel to be seen as ‘normal’ and ‘exceptional’ within Western governance practices. Airports in general are spaces where the state performs its sovereign power. In the case of Israel, a settler colonial state with historically shifting borders (even reaching into European capitals, as its actions over the ‘Flytilla’ activists illustrate), the airport is central to the performance of the Zionist identity and logic that underpins Israel as a settler colonial state. Through Israeli security practices, Palestinians are not constructed as a vulnerable minority or a people under decades of illegal occupation but as an essentially threatening group, who must be contained through humiliating, invasive security techniques (that is, gendered feminine). By feminizing Palestinians, Zionism constructs its strategic superiority. Meanwhile, the single Western woman traveler, potentially a victim of Arab manipulation, is physically juxtaposed to the Israeli (most often) woman security officer, simultaneously embodying Israel’s vulnerability and its supposed support for gender equality (and, thereby supposedly reaffirming Zionism’s moral superiority).

That’s Nicola Pratt in her recent piece in Jadaliyya. For more, including some photographs of the incredible posters that greet new arrivals to Israel, check it out here.



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