Thursday, 28 October 2010

The political economy of Israel's occupation

My new review of Shir Hever's book 'The Political Economy of Israel’s Occupation: Repression Beyond Exploitation':

Shir Hever, a radical Israeli economist, recently wrote an article which posed the question: ‘Why does Israel continue to occupy the Palestinians?’ That is also one of the major questions addressed in his new book, an ambitious work on the political economy of the occupation.

Hever is an academic/activist on the Israeli Left with a consistently critical perspective on the Israeli state. As a researcher based at Jerusalem’s Alternative Information Centre, he is able to draw on a wealth of sources for this tremendously well-informed account of the economic dynamics of the Israeli occupation.

He provides an invaluable historical perspective, tracing developments since 1967, when Israel massively expanded its occupation of Palestinian land. Perhaps surprisingly considering the topic, Hever’s book is highly accessible to those who don’t specialise in economics.

The analysis seeks to address some important questions: why is it that Palestinians in the Occupied Territories live in such awful poverty? Does Israel benefit from Palestinian poverty, and if so how? A great strength here is Hever’s skilful avoidance of simplification. The focus is on ‘the economic aspects of the relations between the Israeli authorities and the occupied Palestinians’, noting that these are frequently neglected yet just as important as military and geopolitical aspects.

Nonetheless, he rejects the reductionist, over-simplistic idea that Israel is driven to maintain its occupation solely by economic factors, narrowly conceived. The reality is more complex. He insists that that ‘profit alone cannot explain the actions of the many actors perpetuating or resisting the occupation.’

Read the rest HERE


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