Hollow Land

Daniel Miller writes in the New Humanist:

Look at the map produced by architect Eyal Weizman for the Israeli human rights group B’Tselem (a high-res PDF of this is available here). Plotting the Jewish settlements in the West Bank (blue) against the built-up Palestinian areas (brown), the map transposes these with the original terms of the Oslo Accord (light brown, yellow) to reveal a total territorial incongruity.

In dark brown, a dozen or so morcellated areas of full Palestinian sovereignty are shown to be encircled entirely by a patchwork of light brown Israeli security zones, cleaved by light blue areas of full Israeli sovereignty, and meanwhile, menacingly surveilled by a series of bright red Israeli military bases. Studying this map, it seems difficult to believe that it once formed the basis of a proposal for a functioning state, and harder still to comprehend how it ever could have been seen as a generous one

We owe the reproduction of this map to Eyal Weizman, who colaborated with B’Tselem on the detailed research which underpins it and has now included it in his new book Hollow Land: Israel’s Architecture of Occupation. This latter work amounts to the freshest and most eye-opening analysis of the Israeli occupation of Palestine to have been produced for some time. The power of insight which this work achieves, its focus on the material and literally concrete reality of occupation, is frankly astonishing.

Weizman, who combines work as an architect, campaigner and founding director of the Research Architecture programme at Goldsmith’s College in London, ranges widely, combining historical, political and architectural inquiry into the form of domination. He shows how an obscure 1918 Jerusalem bylaw regulating building materials was extended into the occupied territories in order to create the impression that these new settlements were an integral part of the Old City. He combines this with a detailed journalistic investigation into the surprising operational interest in post-structuralist philosophy taken by the Israel Defence Forces (in which he served). Yet another focus shows how the assassination squads of the Shin Bet have become bureaucratically entrenched to a point where assassinations are now considered simply another method of exerting political influence

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