Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation

Yonatan Mendel writes:

Being the son of an Israeli civil engineer I never believed I would one day write something about architecture. My father would come back home with many boring black and white sketches, and I realised as a child that I would not become an engineer. He tried to teach me the differences between engineering, architecture, design, contracting and surveying, but he was not sure I understood them, and quite frankly he was right. Yet as Eyal Weizman explains, architecture is more than just sketches; architecture is what we see, architecture is everywhere. Focusing on the Occupied Territories, Weizman takes his readers on a tour of the visible and invisible ways in which Israel implements its control over Palestinians. This journey leads from the streets of Jenin to the view over Gaza from an Apache helicopter and on through the subterranean tunnels in Rafah. It is a landscape of many colours: from red roofed settlements, through the green pine trees surrounding them and up to the black one-way mirrors of the Allenby border crossing into Jordan, which allow Israeli security agents to monitor Palestinians in transit without themselves being seen. There are many methods of navigation: a bridge over a road over a tunnel-road, or a Jewish highway through an ocean of Palestinians. Architecture is not only everything and everywhere, but also everyone. The Israeli political leadership, settlers, judges, army officers, security-men – even architects – have a part in the shaping of houses, roads, windows, cladding and angles, to facilitate the complex mission of occupying the Palestinian territories.

(LRB 2 August 2007)

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