Translated from Hebrew into Arabic, This Regime Which Is Not One: Occupation and Democracy between the Sea and the River (1967-) covers four decades of Israel’s control over the Palestinian population, who are deprived of any political status or political protection. According to the authors, this period is adequate for the transformation of control relations between an occupying power and the occupied population into an independent regime with its peculiar development logic.
Azoulay and Ophir present the guidelines for a conceptual diagnosis of the control over the Palestinian territory. By reconceptualising known facts, the authors hypothesise that control is a constant and essential component in the Israeli regime.
The book examines the fact that, four decades after the occupation, almost everybody, either in political discourse or within academic circles, continues to view the occupation as a temporary condition and incidental characteristic of the Israeli regime. This ensures that the question of whether Israel is willing to put an end to the occupation is absented in favour of talking about the prerequisites to do so.
Azoulay and Ophir indicate that this analysis allows to view Israel as a democratic state, the majority of Israel’s citizens as people with enlightened perceptions and modern life styles, and the population of the territories as a dangerous enemy who threatens the regime from without.
The book is particularly interesting because it strongly opposes this premise. It employs and benefits from earlier theories, which analyse the Israeli case and its relationship with the occupied territory. However, it does not attempt to reduce this relationship to a single conceptual statement. Azoulay and Ophir consider that the analysis which views Israel’s existence as a distinctively colonial case is correct and instrumental. Still, they are of the view that Israel’s existence cannot be reduced to such an approach. This is also the case of apartheid: Israel exercises a clearly defined segregation regime which is not only apartheid. It is a case of occupation, but is only occupation.
Azoulay and Ophir use several conceptual frameworks to help capture and distinguish the specificity of the Israeli case. This lies, among other things, in the ability to combine the status of the occupation as if it were “outside” the state, while at the same time placing it “within” the state.
The book has an added value at this important stages on both the Arab and the Palestinian levels. It presents an extremely significant, though not completely new, statement: ending the Israeli occupation implies the change of the regime in Israel.