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Mapping Israel, Mapping PalestineHow Occupied Landscapes Shape Scientific Knowledge$
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Jess Bier

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9780262036153

Published to MIT Press Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.7551/mitpress/9780262036153.001.0001

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Removing Borders, Erasing Palestinians: Israeli Population Maps after 1967

Removing Borders, Erasing Palestinians: Israeli Population Maps after 1967

(p.81) 3 Removing Borders, Erasing Palestinians: Israeli Population Maps after 1967
Mapping Israel, Mapping Palestine

Jess Bier

The MIT Press

Chapter 3, “Removing Borders, Erasing Palestinians”, provides an analysis of the ways that even abstract statistical facts are conditioned by the political landscapes where they are produced. It examines Israeli population maps in the years 1967-1995. After 1967, the close geographic proximity of Palestinians posed a challenge to the policy of not indicating the borders of the Palestinian Territories on Israeli maps. Roberto Bachi, the director of the Israeli population census, sought to address this challenge while also helping to turn cartography into an international science. As a result, he led the census away from mapping shaded areas of uniform population, and towards dot maps of population distribution. Such efforts served to limit the calculation methods at the census cartographers’ disposal. They also revealed that, despite repeated claims by Israeli politicians that Palestinians did not exist, in fact the Israeli cartographers’ methods were inherently shaped by the presence of large numbers of Palestinians in the region. For even though Palestinian areas were intentionally left blank, the resulting gaps actually made them show up on the map. So through their exclusion, Palestinian populations were made visible, and this is one way that the landscapes of the occupation have shaped Israeli maps.

Keywords:   Maps, Census, Population statistics, Palestine and Israel, Borders, Calculation methods, Visibility, International technoscience, Israeli occupation

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