Neoliberal Colonialism

Settling Israeli Citizenship in the West Bank

This research addresses the transformation in the politics of the settlement enterprise in the Occupied West Bank: the subsumption of the previously dominant religious-national settlement paradigm by the 'non ideological' one. The Israeli political discourse defined more than half of the Jewish-Israeli settlers today as 'non-ideological' or 'quality of life' settlers (i.e. settlers driven by the offer of affordable 'quality of life' available in the settlement rather than by an ideology of rightful land ownership).

The research examines the aforementioned process of transformation in the light of neoliberal political influence on Israel's control and administration in the West Bank. Neoliberalism is evident in many different aspects of the colonial enterprise such as in the enormous real-estate and construction industry. Thus, one of the manifestations of this process is the phenomenon of private entrepreneurs who seek to market 'dream houses' in gated suburban cities located in the oPt (occupied Palestinian territories) to the Israeli-Jewish public. Following this, my research seeks to demonstrate how the 'quiet' group of the so-called 'non-ideological' settlers, which is often omitted from academic scholarship regarding the settlement enterprise, a group which furthermore does not identify itself as part of the 'settler community', has developed new kinds of engagement in the political life of the conflict.

In this framework, my research explores the pursuit of 'quality-of-life' in the settlement, as the intersection between feelings of national belonging and complicity in the colonial project. The research demonstrates how the non-ideological settlers' interest in obtaining a private house converges with the economic interests of private entrepreneurs and the state to form one joint national-colonial interest – expanding the 'national domicile' into the occupied territories. Thus, I argue a triple process is simultaneously set in motion—the commodification of the occupied land, the subjectification of the settlers-consumers and lastly the judaisation of the West Bank.

Finally, my research touches on the bonds between the commodification of territory, the process of normalisation and the concealment of the project's illegality. Here I return to the overall configuration of the settlement enterprise and argue that the 'ideological' and 'non-ideological' settlements alike function de facto in the following way: the two types of settlement create a fallacy of difference, each thereby receiving different statuses in the political debate. These differences status creates a hierarchy which legitimates the 'non-ideological' settlements (because purchasing a home is perceived an apolitical act) and leads, therefore, to the normalisation of the settlement enterprise in its entirety.


Oecumene: Citizenship after Orientalism is funded by an European Research Council (ERC) Advanced Grant (Institutions, values, beliefs and behaviour ERC-AG-SH2).

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