Covid-19 and the Necroeconomy of Palestinian Labor in Israel
Special Feature: 
Keywords: 
Covid-19
disposable labor
necroeconomy
necropolitics
surplus population
Palestine
Palestinian laborers
Abstract: 

The situation of West Bank Palestinians working in Israel has highlighted a number of parallels with the conditions of global labor employed in essential sectors during the Covid-19 pandemic. Under capitalism, the compulsion to work, ostensibly to cultivate life, comes at the risk of being exposed to death, but is preferred over immiseration caused by unemployment. The pandemic has merely amplified existing structural features of such employment. For Palestinian workers, with the risk of infection in Israel being significantly higher, the perilous conditions experienced by Palestinian labor have turned the preservation of life enabled by such employment more firmly into the production of death. The Palestinian Authority (PA), too, faces a conundrum: to balance the economic benefits it derives from Palestinian disposability in the Israeli labor market with public health considerations limiting such employment. This essay argues that the Covid-19 pandemic lays fully bare the necroeconomy produced by the intersection of settler colonialism and capitalism, which also forms the bedrock of the necropolitical order in the West Bank.

Author biography: 

Sobhi Samour is visiting assistant professor and head of the Economics and Finance Program at Al-Quds Bard College, Jerusalem.

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