Accumulation through dispossession and the “security” paradigm. Domènec and the capture of the post-modern ethos. Jordi Font Agulló

“[…]A curvy wall, not a straight one, should be built.”

Flavio Vegecio Renato, Compendio de técnica militar, segles IV-V

 

“[…] since the social world is wholly present in each ‘economic’ action, we must resort to instruments of knowledge which, far from questioning the multidimensionality and multifunctionality of practices, enable us to draw up historical models capable of rigorously, minutely explaining the actions and the economic institutions as they are offered to empirical observation. […]”

Pierre Bourdieu, Las estructuras sociales de la economía

 

“[…] Our blood is outside the law, it can be spilled, we can be killed, massacred, with total impunity.

Yitskhok Katzenelson, Le chant du peuple juif assassiné

 

“[…] Shadowy shall be the night… scarce the roses.”

Mahmud Darwish, Menos rosas

 

 

1. Since 1948, when the state of Israel was created, something very significant has been happening in Palestine which stretches beyond this plot of land and has gradually taken on the air of a transcendental dispute, at least in the Western world. The clash between the antagonists is extremely harsh, and there is increasingly little room for dialogue. Even compassion, if it has ever been present, has wholly disappeared. In this sense, the latest large-scale deployments in Tsahal (regular Israeli army) in both Lebanon in the summer of 2006 and in the Gaza Strip in early 2009 confirm the prevalence of a bellicose logic that makes it very difficult to reach even minimal peace agreements between Israelis and Palestinians. The coexistence of these two peoples seems to be eternally condemned to roaring failure. In fact, it is actually an ancient enmity almost a century old whose point of departure was Zionist nationalism’s desire for a return to the hypothetical lost fatherland: the biblical Israel of the Old Testament. When Zionism began to talk about an unpeopled land for a landless people is when the conflicts, of course, began to break out.

As is common knowledge, despite its low population density in the 1940s, Palestine was not exactly an unpeopled land. Under the domain of the British Empire, the Palestinians, most of them Muslim Arabs, already had problems sharing with increasingly numerous groups of Jews from all over the world the scarce, exiguous resources of a place with highly limited productivity. The tone of this conflict grounded in the prevailing scarcity rose after World War II, especially due to the consequences of one of the most horrific episodes associated with war devastation: the Shoah or destruction of the Jewish people in Europe. After having taken such a beating, the Jewish people only had a more zealous desire to tread on that supposed Promised Land. The symbolic charge rose exponentially as the mythical place also effectively became the host to thousands of survivors of the anti-Semitic genocide policy conducted by Nazism. Despite the fact that quantitatively the most significant number of immigrants were Jews from the Near East and North Africa, the arrival of boats overflowing with Jews recently released from the extermination camps and the ghettos scattered around Eastern Europe had – because of the emotional effect prompted by the genocide perpetrated by the Nazis – a foundational meaning. Indeed, in 1948 the state of Israel was born. However, the edification of this new political, administrative and also military entity did not materialise fluidly and peacefully in an unpeopled land, as the more doctrinaire Zionist propaganda heralded it, rather the entire process became yet another story of violence.

Still, the victorious international community consented and even actively contributed to this, especially the United States, when it attached the existence of Israel to its geopolitical interests. Ultimately – and some scholars of the Palestinian plight like Norman G. Finkelstein make well-founded mentions of this – both in the period between the wars and during and after World War II, the use of methods such forcibly displacing people to resolve ethnic conflicts was habitual, and not exactly the subject of condemnation. Despite that apparent, consented normality, what happened was unquestionably a terrible chapter of pain, uprooting and exile that affected a considerable proportion of the local Palestinian population. It was the year of the Nabka (misfortune or catastrophe) as the Palestinians justifiably call it. And in the end, not even all the suffering of the Jews in Europe has managed to offset the trauma caused by the founding of the state of Israel. Some revisionist Israeli historians such as Ilan Pappé have dismantled the founding myth and turned it upside down using solid arguments. The new studies link the newly-found Israeli nationality – apart from the mythological re-creation of a lost past that is present in all the processes of nation-building – to dishonourable episodes of violations of fundamental human rights, and even abominable ones like ethnic cleansing.

 

2. Therefore, we should consider that the founding of the state of Israel was not only induced by the suffering of Nazi persecution, but that it was a factor that precipitated it and somehow legitimised it. This is true to such an extent that engendering further suffering on the people that had lived and worked in that corner of the Near East for centuries did not initially pose any moral impediment to the Zionist enterprise. In the history of modern Israel, it is very meaningful – because of its controversy and the repercussions linked to it – that the victims – surely the victims par excellence of the 20th century – have engendered other perennial victims that delegitimize the viability of the state and place it in a constant state of war and mobilisation. From this accumulation of historical circumstances, a state organisation has emerged with certain peculiarities that situate it in the avant-garde, based among other things on the treatment, invention and forging of collective memories and particularly on global capitalism’s latest forms of management and production. Israel is a radical paradox. As historian Régine Robin has pointed out, it is a fragmented, ethnicised, communalised society which at the same time is modern, linked to the development of high technology and the most advanced media, Americanised, globalised like all Western societies. Surely Israel is a privileged place to capture that post-modern ethos where the most rampant modernisation, combined with the most deregulated capitalism, coexists alongside identity and religious elements ruled by unbridled atavism.

As Régine Robin has noted, blindness has prevailed in Israel for some years now. In fact, what reigns in a kind of sentimental and visual indifference that makes it difficult to perceive the Palestinians and their history. Everything has led – and has been accentuated in recent months as bombs have rained down from the skies to the depressed land of Gaza – to a wholly oppressive policy that involves, using the exact words of the author herself, […] transformation of the landscape, destruction of the ancient cities and towns, reconstruction of the towns and creation of other settlements; everything falls within a different symbolic organisation of space, a radical transformation of the toponymy, a straightening of the modern motorways that have nothing to do with the ancient roadways. The goal is to re-create the country, to re-constitute the geography, to re-design the landscape, to ensure not only physical but also symbolic domination. And based on this, later on, the new colonies and settlements, the detours in the networks of conduits and irrigation, the beltways, and the web of territory and the ‘Bantustanisation’ of the occupied territories. […] This is unquestionably a highly accurate description of the climate in which Israeli nationalism has unfolded for a long period of time. According to another historian, Mark Mazower, spatial planning has always played a prime role, plus this nationalism has had inspirational sources whose referent was the German school of economic geography from the between-war period. This is not strange if we bear in mind – as already mentioned – that the belief in the ethnically pure nation-state as a solution to the distribution of the population and resources was the currency of exchange in the cartographic redesigns after the war and in many processes of decolonisation. Therefore, in this sense we could say that the architects of the new state of Israel were not at all singular in using criteria – debatable and human, as demonstrated – already used by many other peoples. Nonetheless, there was one difference: the creation of Israel was a classic act of colonisation at a time when the empires were disintegrating. Given this, it could only have led to conflict, the victims’ tenacious resistance and the weakness of the democratic system.

As a result, this state that is vainglorious about being the only state in the Middle East where a parliamentary system comparable to any other Western country is actually a curious form of democracy. In reality, just like many other issues, Israel is on the cutting edge in terms of a conception of democracy that is increasingly fashionable and characterised by restricting democratic participation, by enshrining individualism and by the pre-eminent role of the elites. Political scientist Sheldon S. Wolin has described it quite accurately using the terminology ‘managed democracy’ and the development of the notion of inverted totalitarianism, which means a connivance between the state organisation, the active, politicised participation of the large corporations and the acritical political passivity of the majority of citizens. In Israel, this phenomenon is largely visible, but with a difference worth highlighting: the degree of military mobilisation which is required by a people drilled based on the cultivation of a culture of fear and external threat. In short, from its very origins it has been a nation at arms against real and potential enemies – the PLO, Hamas, Hezbollah, Iraq, Iran and others depending on the point in history – which might endanger its territorial integrity and the survival of its identity.

This situation of constant alert has placed Israel among the ranks of the pioneering countries in the generation of security technologies and action protocols to handle both low-intensity conflicts and open warfare. This technological progress has gained unexpected momentum since 9/11, which, as is common knowledge, ushered in the age of the war against global terrorism. Through America’s unbridled, militarised policy, Israel has amply confirmed its status as a “security” laboratory and testing grounds for the garrison society, as French sociologist Armand Mattelart calls it. As a perfect illustration of this “security” practice, the author himself spotlights the 29-metre tall concrete security fence with electronic alarms, reinforced by trenches and barbed wire in some places, which is expected to run 700 kilometres long, as long as the West Bank’s “green line”, which marks the boundary set in 1967 during the Six-Day War. Yet things are even more serious because as we speak, the construction of the wall now arbitrarily invades the line set as a result of this conflict. The Israeli administration is consciously carrying out an aggressive territorial policy of deeds consummated with the excuse of protecting the Jewish colonies that are located inside the Palestinian occupied territories. With the sophisticated surveillance defences and networks surrounding them, these clusters of homes contribute to illegally expanding Israeli land and reducing the Palestinians’ living space. It is a way of acting that takes into account the perspective of a future partition of Palestine into two states. In this way, Israel, with part of its job already done, would keep the best part of the pie.

As pointed out, one of the priorities of whomever holds the political power in Israel, at least until now, is stressing its modern, Western personality, which means publicising its democratic credentials and public policies, which somehow conceals the chilling scene that is wreaking havoc on Palestinian territory and its displaced inhabitants, as well as those confined to residual areas without no rights whatsoever. These wastelands where the Palestinian people are suffering are a stumbling block that still needing resolution on the planning agenda of a territorial restructuring that Israeli authorities deem unfinished. In fact, the masking manoeuvres in which culture plays an active role are quite inherent to the capitalist West, especially since the 1980s when the large private corporations and the state, in a subsidiary role, forged a close relationship, a link that merges corporate sponsorship with public policy. As a result, according to researcher Chin-tao Wu, this unit connected the arts and culture with the spirit of the free market so highly prized in the Reagan and Thatcher decade. However, not only did it entail this meaningful mutation, rather it also involved, based on the modus operandi in the sacrosanct market, art playing the role of identity-merchandiser and consensus-reacher. Despite this, it should be pointed out that at times, in institutional art policies – both public and private – ambivalence arises that open up avenues where antagonistic discourses with little sympathy for the powers-that-be may circulate.

In such an unedifying juncture as Israel, from the moral standpoint, therefore, it should come as no surprise that cultural and artistic exchanges with other states are promoted, states that in theory are exemplary in relation to the defining parameters of what is considered to be a democracy. In this sense, conducting artistic exchanges could be viewed as a sign of normality, and it was largely based on this pathway that Domènec made his first journey to Israel in 2006. However, as mentioned, there are also cracks within the institution that enable some artists, managers and curators to work from a somewhat critical standpoint and desire for subversion. As can be clearly seen in these projects, Domènec and his Israeli hosts exploited this crack. Likewise, if we bear in mind his career in the past 15 years, it is not surprising that he ended up in Israel.

What stands out with this artist is his work revolving around the crisis in the modern project and the post-modern mutations that have taken place since the last third of the 20th century. Domènec accomplishes this artistic choice through an increasingly expanded conception of sculpture, with the use of technical devices and diversified presentations in which proto-architectural recycling and the para-documentary process play a predominant role. Therefore, we could state that, by using architecture as a means of approaching metonymics, Domènec has confected a veritable survey of the utopian pretensions of modernity. In this way, situating himself in the terrain of critical post-modernism – which he distinguishes from that lame statement that does nothing other than apologetically intone the undoing of radical humanism and the social propositions that defend equality – he choose to adopt a rebel commitment which, although it questions the limitations of modernity, insists on showing that the inherited order is more the expression of a shipwreck than the rendering of a positive solution to something that is exhausted. In short, his critical position has led him to inquire into the marrow of the potential modern utopia in order to reinterpret and resituate it. That is, his goal is to give it back meaning in the midst of the systemic, fragmented chaos that surrounds it. He has mainly conducted this operation, as mentioned, by exploring the transformational potential and the utopian imagination of modern architecture. In the past, reinterpreted projects by architects like Alvar Aalto, Le Corbussier and Mies van der Rohe, just to name three, have served the artist to bring to light in a very productive, educational way the deficiencies, paradoxes and desires to change contained in polyhedral modern thinking. In this way, his reinterpretations, which are objectually captured in scale models often decontextualised from their original setting and purpose, become the mirrors of a kind of modernity in crisis and of post-modern disorientation, plus after a process of stripping away any pretensions at grandiloquence, they re-launch the utopian modern virtues to apply them in an everyday context.

His journey to Israel, invited to a residence by an Israeli organisation (Jerusalem Center for The Visual Arts) may likely have led him to continue along this avenue of inquiry. In fact, a significant number of architects identified with rationalism ended up building in Israel. Tel Aviv is one of the cities on the planet with the most buildings of this kind. At first, it would not seem contradictory that the place envisioned and so often designated as the Promised Land would end up being the home to a kind of architecture designed to improve humanity’s living conditions, but if we examine the process through which this state was founded, along with its history and current status, the contradiction unfortunately becomes clear. What is more, it is not brazen to state that these paradoxes implicit in modernity take on an unforeseen visibility in each of Israel’s actions in Palestine. Certainly, one of the places on the globe where the humanistic route coupled with the modern discourse has encountered its most striking failure is Israel. For example, we should bear in mind that early on the reality of a Hebrew state had very direct connections with versions of unionism and socialism. Yet, as is known, this did not prevent the forced isolation of many of the Palestinian inhabitants who lived there, and this segregation has not stopped, rather today it is even more accentuated.

Domènec did not remain impassive when confronted with this scene in which the brutalisation of everyday life flourishes. It might have been interesting, but it was not enough for him to just set his scrutinising sights on some emblematic architectural construction. The metonymic speculation about some modern architectural remain amidst so much injustice and barbarism might have taken on the air of a mere formalist exercise, a choice inherent in a kind of inoperative, depoliticised refolding, as Dominique Baqué would say. Domènec, then, saw himself – and kept seeing himself –trapped and enthralled by a living, vibrant universe that exposed the ultimate condition of post-modern policy to plain view. Even further, we could agree with George Arthur Goldshmidt – the journalist cited by Régine Robin in her book on the dynamics of memory in terms of history – that perhaps the very fate of collective Western memory is at stake in this minuscule part of the planet. Without any hesitancy, we must assert that Israel’s warlike, humiliating conduct towards the Palestinian people defames the memory of the Jewish people’s tragedy at the hands of Nazi criminality. As is common knowledge, Auschwitz checkmates the intellectual monument of modernity. But at the same time, the massacres at Sabra or Shatila or the latest bombardments of the depressed Gaza Strip, with all the distinctions and nuances that you will, follow a determination that can only end up feeding the dark universe of barbarism.

Having reached this point, even the arguments used by all those who, from the memory of the Shoah, have made and make the model for erecting a negative criticism of the modern Western way are questioned and lose importance. Obviously, this does not mean that there are no longer reasons to evaluate the modern project with all its latent and visible contradictions – the founding origins of Israel cannot be understood other than in this paradoxical key of modernity – but the real problem arises when that memory of the hurt from the extermination camps becomes an instrument used to justify execrable behaviours. The moral incongruence is lethal, and the victims’ sublimated memory becomes something banal, liturgical and ritual at the service of a cause that consciously ignores the immorality of the means used. The after-effects are a dually outraged modernity and the manipulation of the memory of a crime committed on the Jewish population during the leaden years as a result of the criminal expansion of German imperialism. This episode has left a moving remnant thanks to thousands of witness reports and exceptional literary works such as the long poem written in Yiddish, The Song of the Murdered Jewish People, written by Yitskhok Katzenelson, the spokesman and emblem of the suffering caused by the annihilation of the Warsaw ghetto, who ended up being gassed at Auschwitz. In truth, this is the vast disappointment that overwhelms us as we perceive the testimonial legacy of the Shoah (indisputable humanist cultural edifice) sullied by the often infamous behaviour of the state of Israel. In this sense, and on an individual level, the life story of the Bergen-Belsen camp survivor Hannah Levy-Hass, the mother of the eminent Israeli journalist Amira Hass, is quite meaningful. This woman saw all her worlds collapse: the devastation of the Jewish minority in Europe, the implosion of socialism in her birthplace, Yugoslavia, and finally the huge disappointment of her adopted home, Israel, which whose colonialist character soon reared its head.

For all of these reasons, and without ignoring other aspects already mentioned about the capitalist organisation of production, Israel has this close tie with the condition of post-modernity. Israel-Palestine is therefore a reality and a metaphor of the terrible dead end in which contemporary mankind finds itself. With his trip to the Middle East, Domènec’s artistic oeuvre has undergone a change, but not in the semi-mystical neo-Orientalist sense of reencounter with the deepest essence of his being, rather one that should speak about a re-politicisation of his aesthetic procedures. This transformation, vivid and without signs of having finished, has enabled him to capture the routes through which the political economy and symbolic capital of the latest generation move. As a result, the journey, more accurately, the different sojourns, in Palestine, far from being well-intentioned cultural tourism, have helped him to even further fine-tune his artistic procedure, which has shifted, by shedding light on the deficiencies of modernity, to reveal the dysfunctions of the post-modern period in a specific place.

 

3. Even though we are living in an age in which the act of travelling has degenerated into a frivolous, consumer activity, it is also true that some people extract fascinating lessons that they then process in creative and knowledge-based acts that may have a public, general interest. The British playwright, David Hare, is one of them. His monologue Via Dolorosa was written after a stay in Israel and the Palestinian territories in 1997. It is a quick, ironic work as confirmed by this excerpt: “There is nothing that prepares you for the physical shock of entering to Gaza. A writer said that to go from Israel to the Gaza Strip by car is like going from California to Bangladesh. You get so used to wide highways and the easy sensuality of Israel that it is the vision of dust, a sudden dust, a giant, brown storm of real filth that warns you that you’re about to enter a society where people earn exactly 8% of what their counterparts in Israel earn. […]” Without a doubt, this impressionistic description clearly shows the drama and deterioration in the disputed Palestine. Without going to Gaza yet developing an intense work halfway between detective work and the situationist drift of the divided city of Jerusalem and the occupied territories on the West Bank, Domènec, in turn, has managed to convey to us the disturbing nature that the Israeli economic and political project has taken on recently. As is common in his oeuvre, with an austere exercise in style surmounted by critical distance and irony, he shapes a dissident portrait whose innovativeness shapes an effective, accessible critique.

In order to examine what he sets out to do – we have already mentioned that this time he is not working around any specific, authorial architectural paradigm – the procedure with which he has deployed his aesthetic re-appropriation has borne in mind three vertexes of Israeli society: security and war, the fact of living associated with an economy with highly singular colonial features, as we shall see, and finally the victims and their memory. It is clear that the expository approach entails a prior disorientation which, however, is transmuted into a brilliant instrument of critical reflection. The vague re-creation of a real estate office, with its hypothetical promotional materials, might seem like a provocation when examining the reality of a society in such upheaval. However, the artist’s incursion into everyday life makes it clear that there is no neutral economic activity; rather that it always responds to the intense presence of the social world, as Pierre Bourdieu stressed.

In the case of Israel-Palestine, given the gravity of the conflict, the very fact of inhabiting and situating oneself in the territory – even though this holds true everywhere – takes on a much stronger political connotation, and even becomes an act of colonialist violence with odious consequences for the vast, disadvantaged Palestinian majority. Domènec presents it ironically in order to get us to grasp it, but real life is much worse. It is cynical, and there is nothing hindering the fact that real estate ads appear in the Israeli press showing homes located inside the illegally occupied Palestinian territories. The sale of these homes is possible, and what is more, is encouraged as yet another tool in Israel’s dominance strategy. However, putting into practice everyday questions like the gradual entrenchment of these settlements of colonisers who view themselves of pioneers in a messianic cause and, furthermore making it viable, requires the assumption of an extreme security-based policy that has catastrophic after-effects in civil society. It is democratic restriction without any stops on it, which unfortunately confers on it an exemplary role. Naomi Klein has expressed what this prominent Israeli role in the global security race consists of in crystal clear terms. About this matter, the Canadian analyst said the following: in South Africa, Russia and New Orleans, the rich build walls around themselves. Israel has taken this process a step further: it builds walls to encircle the dangerous poor. As Naomi Klein states, this is the best exponent of disaster capitalism. In no way it is anti-capitalist rhetoric. For example, quite recently, a project was unveiled in the city of Rio de Janeiro that will consist of erecting a large wall around the impoverished neighbourhoods known as favelas.

This latter definition appealing to disaster fits in perfectly with everything that Domènec captures and shows us through the materials that complement and give meaning to his purported real estate office. First, a fragmented documentary – far from the linearity of television’s visual narrative – expanded into four thematic propositions that reflect the civil and territorial rupture and therefore the impossibility – despite the existence of Jewish leftist activists who seek an alternative route to reconciliation – of instilling a certain degree of social cohesion in view of the inexorable advance of a kind of communitarianism that is grounded on inequality and exploitation. This last word is gradually losing weight because, ever since the arrival of the Jews from the former Soviet Union in the early 1990s, the Palestinian population is no longer considered productive, and herein lies the singularity of late Israeli colonialism. Treated as a bothersome residue, they are displaced and locked up in vast prisons, the occupied territories themselves, and their presence becomes the essential pretext – by maintaining a ongoing, low-intensity conflict – for driving a prosperous security industry. Despite the disaster, the economy’s growth rates are vast, comparable, according to Naomi Klein, to those of China and India. The latent state of war is the backbone of Israeli capitalism. Maintaining this climax of tension is expressed, according to Ariella Azoulay and Adi Ophir, in the unstable balance between the suspended everyday violence (that is, the sure yet hidden threat of a hypothetical use of force) and the spectacular violence that the media pay no heed to which is applied in certain situations in which the oppressed people’s resistance is heightened. What is more, thanks to the planet-wide extrapolation of the state of exception promoted recently by the US administration of former President G.W. Bush, the benefits have only risen.

Next is a special edition, a kind of publication inspired by real estate advertising supplements, which Domènec turns into a catalogue that documents and photographically verifies what is in fact a segmented society imprisoned in unscrupulous economic dynamics: Jewish settlements in the Arab and Palestinian neighbourhoods of Jerusalem, the Wall of Shame being built, demolished Palestinian houses, refugee camps, Jewish colonies in the occupied territories, bothersome checkpoints, the remains of old Palestinian towns dating from before 1948. In short, the strident declaration that the prevailing sectors in Israel have chosen the route of a futuristic fortress that views itself as capable of ensuring its survival and primacy despite being surrounded by enemies and chaos, and the indignant humiliation that it causes. Suffering is the business: surveillance technologies, security companies, more privatisation and restrictions in social services, the weapons industry and the construction of a sinuous, undulating wall that is ready to shape – and offensively penetrate when it needs to – the territory of the population considered left over and unproductive.

 

4. A song by composer Kurt Weill mentions a supposed utopia, called Youkali, which is supposed to be a haven of happiness and pleasure, the country of our fondest wishes that fades away when we realise that it has only been a dream, a fleeting folly. In Israel, the madness is not fleeting; it is chronic and negative, plus it aims to achieve a degenerate utopia which could well be embodied in the enigmatic name of Baladia. In the middle of the Negev Desert, Tsahal and the United States army are experimenting with counterinsurgency fighting techniques in the streets and homes of a simulated city, Baladia, which is a precise replica of a Palestinian town. This is the workshop, the incubator of companies from the security age. Unfortunately, Israel-Palestine is heading towards extreme polarisation: first the city-citadel, and secondly the proliferation of gigantic segregationist ghettos in the Gaza Strip and the West Bank. Lebanese writer Elias Khoury drove it home when he wrote that the Israeli politicians in charge of confinement via military force are not only forgetting the history of their own people’s oppression rather they seem to have actually decided to identify with their murderers and make the Palestinians become the Jews’ Jews. This play on words is not exactly a diversion; rather it is a bloody reality which Domènec has examined with Sàgar Malé in a sober, convincing way in the stills of the videographic work 48_Nakba. Indeed, five interviews with Palestinians who have lived in squalor in refugee camps inside their own country – what a paradox to be exiled in one’s own home – reflect the marginalisation of an entire people and the attempt to annihilate their culture and identity, a form of destruction that is conducted on a daily basis by executing a systematic plan whose goal is to erase all referents that might give the hope of maintaining in the present ties to the lost recent past. However, there is more than that, as there is evidence of aggression and physical mutations on the Palestinian geography through a process of dispossessing the resources whose only destination is capitalist accumulation. This is a sort of spatial reorganisation, using the terminology of geographer David Harvey, which is materialised under neo-conservative political guidelines targeted at imposing a territorial logic of order and control, and under the economic impetus driven by the liberal privatisation of a place where there is not an abundance of resources. Water, for example, is an explicit case of this. All in all, it offers the security-military complex vast opportunities, and it is legitimised with the mask sculpted by the discourse revolving around combat against purported Palestinian terrorism – whose actions at time also entail a violation of fundamental human rights – otherwise already included in the global catalogue of the Axis of Evil.

One could say that the incursion into Israel-Palestine signalled the addition of a variation in Domènec’s artistic oeuvre. That is, the fact of resizing the rationalistic architectural political and philosophical paradigm by subjecting it to a strategy of dismantlement as a way of accessing a stripped-down analysis of the insufficiencies of modernity is joined by an attitude more commonly found in an agitator – which does not mean that it is any less complex or reflexive. This gesture becomes clear in the prominent role granted to human relations and in the establishment of connections with the social and political milieu that does not accept a present tainted with opprobrium and oppression. Domènec’s foray – somewhere between urbanistic investigation, sociology and cultural anthropology – has not gone in the direction of constituting artificial forms of social life as in the majority of propositions from relational aesthetics; rather its purpose is to documentarily show us the vestiges of an archaeology of what might be a widespread future, with fear and violence as the underpinnings of the social order. Israel-Palestine is a very credible example of the obscurity that our future might embrace, and at the same time this binomial has already taken on tragic proportions deriving from the lament for the perversity that the human condition can harbour within it. That is, the unease that seeps out from the fact, as Eva Figes pointed out in her novel-essay, that the victimism of the Jewish population may justify acts that produce more victims. What should have been a moral referent for humanity, the Holocaust, runs the risk of losing its dignity and becoming a mere propaganda tool in the falcon-like talons of the state of Israel.

With regard to the situation in the United States, which, we should recall, often acts as both a sounding board and a pole of influence on official Israeli stances, historian Peter Novick has warned about these simplifying banalisations which, in his opinion, are closely related to the closing of the ranks of the Jews in the United States and the fact that they have gradually drifted to the right in politics. This has led them to adulterate and distort the cultural weight of the tragedy linked to the Nazi death camps. Without a doubt, the recent Israeli governments’ policies towards the Palestinians put up further hurdles to the possibility of keeping this humanist reference universal. The combination of racial identity and religion with state-of-the-art technologies makes Israel the breeding grounds par excellence of the post-modern ethos. Nonetheless, in accordance with everything said until now, within post-modernity there is also room for critical dissidence and resistance, even in the Palestinian places where roses no longer abound, as Mahmud Darwish’s verse says. Domènec already travelled along this pathway of resistance some time ago, and for this reason it is no coincidence that his aesthetic, so appropriate for these times of urgency, has operated in Israel-Palestine.

In short, to conclude I would only like to add that despite the fact that some authors continue to stress it – especially within the Jewish cultural world itself – it no longer makes much sense to calibrate whether or not founding the state of Israel in Palestine in 1948 is relevant. The reality of the present imposes itself, and therefore the most important objective is to make that plot of land inhabitable for both peoples. The difficulties are vast, perhaps insurmountable, but the only way is a deepening of democracy coupled with a transformation in the socioeconomic model – which, on the other hand, is only possible it if takes place in parallel on the global scale – and the complicity of the pacifist and more progressive sectors on both sides. A continuation of the option of force will lead to a cataclysm. Have the powers-that-be in Israel thought about – as Peggy Anderson suggests – what might happen if the Arab countries in the Near East shake off the American neo-imperialist domination one day? It is likely that Palestinian captivity would cease to exist as we know it today. At the same time, it is virtually certain that the opportunity to redefine a country with room for democracy and secularism would have been squandered. As is palpable every day, Israel’s radical nationalist and extremely neo-conservative social actions are the best fuel for their most fundamentalist, reactionary adversaries. In the end, the fact that the state of Israel is determined to forge ahead with the security paradigm and disaster capitalism cannot be anything but an evil omen. It is the most transparent expression of the very fragility to which it is exposed.

 

Bibliography cited and used

 

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LADDAGA, Reinaldo, Estética de la emergencia, Buenos Aires, Adriana Hidalgo Editora, 2006.

LEVY-HASS, Hanna, Diario de Bergen-Belsen 1944-1945 (Prologue by Amira Hass), Barcelona, Galaxia Gutenberg/Círculo de Lectores, 2006.

MATTELART, Armand, Un mundo vigilado, Barcelona, Ediciones Paidós, 2009.

MAZOWER, Mark, El imperio de Hitler, Barcelona, Editorial Crítica, 2008

NOVICK, Peter, Judíos, ¿vergüenza o victimismo? El Holocausto en la vida americana, Madrid, Marcial Pons Ediciones, 2007.

NÚÑEZ VILLAVERDE, Jesús A., “Todo empezó en Baladia”, El País, 16th of January 2009.

PAPPÉ, Ilan, La limpieza étnica de Palestina, Barcelona, Editorial Crítica, 2008.

RABKIN, Yakox M., La amenaza interior. Historia de la oposición judía al sionismo, Hondarribia, Editorial Hiru, 2006.

ROBIN, Régine, La mémoire saturée, París, Éditions Stock, 2003.

WOLIN, Sheldon S., Democracia S.A. La democracia dirigida y el fantasma del totalitarismo invertido, Madrid, Katz Editores, 2008.

WU, Chin-tao, Privatizar la cultura, Madrid, Ediciones Akal, 2007.

 

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