Closing Words
Visual Occupations opens with an inquiry into Israeli blindness, charac-
terized by the visible invisibility in present- day Israel of the Palestinian
Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948, and follows with a chapter
about the absurd experience of Palestinian invisibility, which occurs in his
own homeland for Elia Suleiman’s cinematic protagonist, E.S. While the
book’s first two chapters focus on the Israeli visual field, the following two
chapters shift attention to the visual field that dominates the interactions
between Israelis (citizens) and Palestinians (noncitizens) within the Occu-
pied Territories. Chapters 3 and 4 examine surveillance and the military
gaze, further interrogating various artistic interventions’ capacity to re-
direct and undermine those modes of power. Finally, the book’s last two
chapters focus on what I call “the crisis of witnessing.” Through a close
engagement with several Palestinian and Israeli films, these final two chap-
ters probe the ethical and political limitations of the eyewitness accounts
and visual testimonies that humanitarian and global media typically rely
on to document and decry atrocities.
The book as a whole targets the colonial visual arrangement that cur-
rently grants unequal visual rights to Israelis and Palestinians (Occupiers
and Occupied). Denaturalizing vision and questioning the pre- givenness
of any dominant visual order, Visual Occupations suggests that identifying,
mobilizing, and manipulating sites of ambiguity and gray zones is key to
bringing about political change. Marked as they are by the barely visible,
the visibly invisible, and the disappeared, such skewed visual arrangements
are often associated with failure: the failure to see, the failure to appear,
the failure to bear witness, or the failure to provide visual evidence. Yet, the
book suggests, such failures must also be considered political and ethi-
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