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Security and Suspicion

Security and Suspicion: An Ethnography of Everyday Life in Israel

Juliana Ochs
Copyright Date: 2011
Pages: 216
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  • Book Info
    Security and Suspicion
    Book Description:

    In Israel, gates, fences, and walls encircle public spaces while guards scrutinize, inspect, and interrogate. With a population constantly aware of the possibility of suicide bombings, Israel is defined by its culture of security.Security and Suspicionis a closely drawn ethnographic study of the way Israeli Jews experience security in their everyday lives.

    Observing security concerns through an anthropological lens, Juliana Ochs investigates the relationship between perceptions of danger and the political strategies of the state. Ochs argues that everyday security practices create exceptional states of civilian alertness that perpetuate-rather than mitigate-national fear and ongoing violence. In Israeli cities, customers entering gated urban cafés open their handbags for armed security guards and parents circumnavigate feared neighborhoods to deliver their children safely to school. Suspicious objects appear to be everywhere, as Israelis internalize the state's vigilance for signs of potential suicide bombers. Fear and suspicion not only permeate political rhetoric, writes Ochs, but also condition how people see, the way they move, and the way they relate to Palestinians. Ochs reveals that in Israel everyday practices of security-in the home, on commutes to work, or in cafés and restaurants-are as much a part of conflict as soldiers and military checkpoints.

    Based on intensive fieldwork in Israel during the second intifada,Security and Suspicioncharts a new approach to issues of security while contributing to our appreciation of the subtle dynamics of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. This book offers a way to understand why security propagates the very fears and suspicions it is supposed to reduce.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0568-8
    Subjects: Anthropology, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
  3. Author’s Note
    (pp. ix-x)
  4. Introduction: The Practice of Everyday Security
    (pp. 1-18)

    It was early February 2004, and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon had recently announced plans to remove all Israeli settlers from Gaza. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) launched armored raids in the Gaza Strip, killing numerous Hamas militants. A Palestinian police officer from Bethlehem killed eight Israelis in a suicide bombing of a Jerusalem bus, for which al-Aqsa Martyrs’ Brigades claimed responsibility. Israelis and Palestinians were in the midst of a war for territory, sovereignty, and security fought through air strikes and gunfire, Qassam rockets and suicide bombs, curfews and land seizures. But in Holon, an industrial city outside Tel...

  5. Chapter 1 A Genealogy of Israeli Security
    (pp. 19-34)

    With intrusion-detection systems and metal-detection archways, Elite Professional Units and Shopping Mall Units, Hashmira Security Technologies Ltd. is Israel’s largest security company and the largest private employer in the country. Its employees, veterans of IDF combat units, guard Israeli ports and military defense-related institutions across the country. The company provides monitoring technologies to the Israeli prison system and to Israel Railways and calls its “Moked 99” unit Israel’s largest private police force. With earnings that grew from $60 million in 1995 to $185 million in 2003, Hashmira’s revenue and scope reflect the expansion of Israel’s security industry in the 1990s,...

  6. Chapter Two Senses of Security: Rebuilding Café Hillel
    (pp. 35-63)

    At 7:30 on a September morning in 2003, a middle-aged man wearing red shorts and sport sandals stood across the street from the popular Café Hillel in the German Colony, an upscale Jewish neighborhood in West Jerusalem. His head turned downward, he was reading the cover article of the daily newspaperMaʾariv, which described the previous night’s suicide bombing of this very café by a Palestinian militant. The article’s large color photograph reflected the shattered storefront he now stood opposite. In the image and before him, the café’s sign had been swept off and a blown-out roof left only a...

  7. Chapter 3 Paḥad: Fear as Corporeal Politics
    (pp. 64-78)

    Fear in Israel was elusive but palpable, inexplicable but shared. Israeli Jews commonly assumed that Palestinians caused fear, that Israelis felt fear, and that suicide bombings reinvigorated the circulation of fear. People spoke about fear without a referent, expecting the listener to already comprehend their anxiety about Palestinians and their fear of bombings. The second intifada was not the first time that fear was an omnipresent trope that saturated political rhetoric, steered public opinion, and seemed to unite Israeli Jews through shared senses of physical and national threat. But fear’s most recent incarnation was particularly pervasive. Israeli ideas about fear...

  8. Chapter 4 Embodying Suspicion
    (pp. 79-98)

    At 8 o’clock on a Thursday evening, wearing a reflective yellow Israel Police vest, I and my fellow volunteer, thirty-five-year-old Aharon, set out from the Rehavia neighborhood of Jerusalem on our weekly patrol as members of the Civil Guard (ha-Mishmar ha-Ezraḥi), the national voluntary division of the Israel Police. As we entered the courtyard of the Evelina de Rothschild School, I carried a flashlight and Aharon his Civil Guard-issued World War II era carbine rifle. We walked the perimeter of the school and turned the handle of each door to make sure they were locked. I shone my flashlight into...

  9. Chapter 5 Projecting Security in the City
    (pp. 99-118)

    In this dinnertime exchange, Esther and Shimon Shenhav, whom we met in Chapter 3, shared perceptions of safe and dangerous spaces in Israel. They had devised and internalized schemas to ascertain what spaces to circumvent and what spaces to use, where they would feel safe and where unsafe. They cut into and completed each other’s sentences with the synchronized diction and harmonized thinking of a long-married couple. There was a sureness in their speech that seemed to reflect considerable time spent discussing and exercising these concerns. Esther and Shimon agreed to circumvent Route 6, the Trans-Israel Highway located in some...

  10. Chapter 6 On IKEA and Army Boots: The Domestication of Security
    (pp. 119-137)

    The Israeli market for Swedish massages and bed-and-breakfast retreats swelled soon after the start of the second intifada. As both diversions from and antidotes to the tension wrought by conflict, people sought out herbal relaxants, yoga classes, and psychotherapy sessions. Israeli terror victims’ funds coordinated with kibbutz guesthouses to offer free rooms to terror victims during certain days of the week. At a time when foreign tourism to Israel diminished dramatically, Israelis reportedly spent 17 percent more nights in local hotels in 2003 than they did in 2000 (Steinberg 2003). People saw their own homes, with new resolve, as places...

  11. Chapter 7 Seeing, Walking, Securing: Tours of Israel’s Separation Wall
    (pp. 138-160)

    On a hot, dusty Saturday afternoon in July, a man in his late forties wearing a navy-blue polo shirt, khaki pants, and a blue baseball cap stood in front of a cement barrier in Gilo. Gilo seems like a suburb on the southern edge of Jerusalem, although it is a city-sized Jewish settlement beyond the Green Line in the occupied territories, built in the 1970s on a hill-top overlooking Bethlehem and the Palestinian refugee camps that surround it. A deep gorge separates Gilo from Beit Jala, a Palestinian town that is part of the Bethlehem municipality. In the fall of...

  12. Epilogue: Real Fantasies of Security
    (pp. 161-166)

    National security permeates the practices of everyday life. During the second intifada, the ways people organized their homes, experienced their bodies, and took care of their children were conditioned by shared notions of danger and threat and state-mediated conceptions of what is safe and what risky. In homes and public spaces across the country, desires for comfort and protection shaped relationships and propelled economies. Imaginaries of Palestinian violence impinged on what Israeli Jews ate and where they ate it, the cities they visited, and the ways they moved between places. Pedestrians could not help but see the threatening signs they...

  13. Notes
    (pp. 167-178)
  14. Bibliography
    (pp. 179-196)
  15. Index
    (pp. 197-202)
  16. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 203-204)