Encystation: Containment and Control in Israeli Ideology and Practice
The radical closure of Gaza serves here as an extreme example of a process of isolation and immiseration of national enemies that is deeply rooted in Israeli ideology and practices of state formation. I use encystation to reveal the dual meaning of the term—that of radical isolation of diseased elements and that of protecting a fetus within a womb—and to show how the two meanings connect with respective Israeli policies toward Palestinians and Jews. I suggest in closing that the Oslo Accords have put in place mechanisms for the future imposition on West Bank Palestinians of the same containment currently afflicting Gaza.
Glenn Bowman is a social anthropologist who has carried out fieldwork in the Old City of Jerusalem and the West Bank (largely in Bayt Sahur) since 1983. His recent work investigating the practices of walling discussed in this paper, as well as intercommunal relations between Muslims and Christians around shared sacred sites, is explored in “Sharing and Exclusion: The Case of Rachel’s Tomb,” Jerusalem Quarterly 58 (2014), pp. 30–49.