A CIVILIAN OCCUPATION: The Politics of Israeli Architecture

Rafi Segal, Editor, Eyal Weizman, Editor . Verso and Babel $20 (191p) ISBN 978-1-85984-549-3

After winning a competition among 10 major firms, Israeli architects Segal and Weisman were selected to represent their country in last summer's World Congress of Architecture in Berlin, and put together an exhibition for which this book was to serve as a catalogue. Both exhibition and catalogue were banned, however, by the Israel Association of United Architects. After the 5,000 copies originally printed were suppressed (with the authors grabbing up 850 or so), Tel Aviv–based Babel picked it up, co-publishing with Verso. It is unlikely this 6.25"×8.5" book will cause as much of a stir in the U.S., despite some arts pages coverage this past summer, but, among other contentions, it draws direct connections between government operations like "Defensive Shield" (here depicted as a bulldozer destroying a Palestinian house and dragging the rubble across a road) and the planning and design of Israeli settlements within the West Bank. In a series of 14 short, linked essays that include 25 color and 116 b&w illustrations, more than 10 architects and photographers argue that, among other tactics, the hilltop locations of many settlements are part of a strategy for military domination that values the holding of high ground via civilians (often heavily armed) and the Army deployed to protect them. Whatever readers make of the provocative arguments here, they are made by qualified writers in an even-voiced, well-documented manner. Any discussion of the subject of the Israeli settlements—an issue deeply related to the siting of Israel's highly fortified "fence" between Israel and the West Bank—would be incomplete without considering them. (Dec.)

Reviewed on: 12/22/2003
Release date: 11/01/2003
Genre: Nonfiction
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