Precarious Bureaucratic Waiting and the Measurement of Delay at the East Jerusalem Ministry of Interior
Wadi al-Joz
permanent residency
lam shamel
family unification
ministry of Interior
organized abandonment

When Palestinian Jerusalemites refer to “the ministry” (al-dakhliya), they also refer to the sense of weightiness, lost time, frustration, exhaustion, and anxiety that accumulate to the Israeli Ministry of Interior located in the East Jerusalem neighborhood of Wadi al-Joz. Multiple pressures and limited access produce tedious and outright cruel conditions for Palestinians visiting the institution. This essay attends to the affective associations and meanings the institution represents to Palestinians in Jerusalem by drawing on the author’s own experiences there and while conducting ethnographic fieldwork, including conversations and interviews with interlocutors, journalistic reporting, fiction writing, and an examination of Google reviews of the ministry. It attempts to appreciate how the experience of delay at the ministry is configured as a tool of punishment within the context of ongoing Israeli settler colonialization.

Author biography: 

Thayer Hastings is a PhD candidate in the Department of Anthropology at the CUNY Graduate Center in New York City. His dissertation explores the relationship between the bureaucratic forms of proof Palestinians produce to document their “center of life” in Jerusalem and Israel’s settler-colonial anxiety over maintaining a Jewish demographic majority in the city. The research investigates how crises of and within colonialism shape and take shape in everyday life, and the analytical openings revealed by attending to spaces of intimacy, relationships, and the home.