Not a thesis (something can be true even if apologists and critics agree): Rhys Machold, ‘Reconsidering the laboratory thesis: Palestine/Israel and the geopolitics of representation’, Political Geography, 65, 2018, pp. 88–97

09Jun18

Abstract: Recently, there has been a surge of interest in the notion of Palestine/Israel as a ‘laboratory’ for the production and export of advanced weapons, security knowhow and technology. Critics of Israeli wars and the ongoing colonization of Palestine use the laboratory metaphor to make sense of Israeli state policies and practices used in controlling Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT) and fighting wars but also to address how Israeli instruments of violence come to travel elsewhere. This article brings these discussions into sharper focus by examining how the concept of the laboratory is employed in making sense of Israel’s perceived centrality in global patterns violence and militarism, here termed the laboratory thesis. The article argues that although the thesis develops powerful insights, it has analytical limitations. It further calls into question the thesis’ polemical force, suggesting that critical references to Palestine/Israel as a laboratory reinforce misleading ideological tropes at the core of Israel’s settler colonial project. The article takes these concerns as an opportunity to re-assemble the policing/security laboratory as a critical concept, in relation to Palestine/Israel, the global war on terror and beyond.



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