The normal life of settlers

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This paper concerns Let me tell you a story about Israel, a theatrical play tasked with influencing existing perceptions of the Palestine/Israel conflict amongst international audiences. Drawing on the work of philosopher Baruch Spinoza, I explore the complex issue of how to address the need to change people’s political perceptions by using theatre as a form of activist persuasion. The play attempts to create an image of the conflict mostly absent in the commentaries of international observers who are unaware of the full implications of the conflict’s settler colonial character. Typically, they understand it in terms of two sides competing over land, frontiers and recognition. The sense of balance that this perception conveys pre-empts coming to grips with the colonial history of Palestine beginning with the advent of Zionism from late 19th century. Such a view also obscures the nature of current forms of Israeli domination and fails to take into account a major historical factor: that the settler colonial dynamic in Palestine rests on the ways social life in Israel is organised and reproduced. Hence, the play aims to make perceptible the relation between the social mechanisms of subjectivity formation in the Israeli society on the one hand, and the everyday performance of settler colonial power on the other. Making this relation observable is a necessary step towards rethinking where change could possibly come from.

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