With a Wink and a Nod: Settlement Growth Through Construction as Commemoration in the Occupied West Bank

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Construction as commemoration refers to the construction of new settlement outposts and the expansion of existing settlements to commemorate the loss of Israeli life in the occupied West Bank. Popular discourse surrounding this commemorative construction maintains that these acts are aimed at “sending a message” to Palestinian terrorists, asserting that Israeli settlers will stand fast in the face of violence. Settlements, however, grow regardless of what Palestinians do or do not do. In this paper, I argue that when viewed through the lens of settler colonial theory, construction as commemoration is revealed to not be aimed at sending a message to Palestinians, but rather at appealing to the hearts and minds of the Israeli public, and at providing cover for the Israeli government to openly support settlement growth regardless of international pressure. In contrast to commemorative acts like monuments and memorials which are aimed at symbolically controlling space, construction as commemoration results in the material, physical control of contested territory. The discursive framing of construction as commemoration maintains the fiction of a conflictual relationship between settlers and the Israeli government, which allows for settlement growth to continue, in the words of one informant, “with a wink and a nod” – with the tacit support of the Israeli government at the same time that it claims to try to rein the settlers in.
Original languageAmerican English
StatePublished - 2016


  • Social and Behavioral Sciences
  • Growth and Development
  • Peace and Conflict Studies

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