Security has come to be the overriding issue in every debate about development and immigration issues - and it's part of a worldwide trend which in fact does the complete opposite and helps to create insecurity. That's according to anthropologist Rema Hammami, a US national with Palestinian roots, working at Birzeit University. (At a seminar in Oslo on security we came to the same conclusions) Last week, she gave her inaugural address in The Hague (Netherlands) on accepting the Prince Claus Chair in Development and Equity, reports Radio Netherlands:
Hammami claims that a quarter of the Palestinians have lost their jobs as a result of Israel's security regime, adding that growing poverty leads to frustration and ultimately to an insecure situation. She says that the recent past in this part of the world demonstrates that too much emphasis on security issues achieves exactly the opposite:
"During the interim period of the Peace Process, what you had was an ongoing policy by the various Israeli governments that kept making everything secondary to Israeli security. For Palestinians this meant a checkpoint everywhere they turned, inability to get into East Jerusalem […] Ultimately all of those Israeli security policies led to the outbreak of the uprising. People found the situation unbearable."
She criticizes the immigration policy in Europe and the United States: Migrants are seen as enemies until proved otherwise, and this reflects the increasingly sharp division in the world:
"It [this dominance of security policy] becomes blind to seeing that all human beings need some basic, similar types of things. Instead what it does is say that 'There is us and there is you, and what we have and what we need and want to preserve, is different from what you want, and just the fact that you want to be part of this is a threat to us.' While, in fact, people the world over basically just want the same thing."
Rema Hammami is a truly engaged anthropologist and has published extensively on these issues, among others in the Middle East Report. See also her texts Waiting for Godot at Qalandya: Reflections on Queues and Inequality and On Suicide Bombings. A longer text, published in the Jerusalem Quarterly: On the Importance of Thugs. The moral economy of a checkpoint
The first issue of "Practicing Anthropology", the journal of the Society for Applied Anthropology Goes Palestinian deal with the topic THE COMMITMENT TO SOCIAL ACTION IN PALESTINE: PROGRAMS AND PRACTICE. But of cource, none of the articles are available online, not even to subscribers.
PS: One of my favorite journalists on Palestinian issues is Mohammed Omer. He got known with his website Rafah Today. Now, his articles are published in the Norwegian weekly Morgenbladet. There's also a a blog about Omer and Rafah where most of his articles are published.