Very useful article by Nicolai Ouroussoff in the Sunday New York Times on the wall and the architectural debate over it in Israel. A key figure in the debate is architect Eyal Weizman, who has published a report that "essentially accused Israeli architects of being collaborators in the colonization of the West Bank." Says Weizman, "We examined these architectural drawings in a clinical manner...We showed that the crime was in the making of the line - in the drawing itself - not only in the principle of building a settlement."
Shimon Navez, a retired brigadier general and director of the Israeli Defense Forces' Operational Theory Research Institute, is also a critic of the wall, but from a position that endorses, rather than critiques, Israeli colonialism. Navez deploys the theories of Deleuze, Bataille and the Situationists, claiming that the West Bank is already a "smooth space," and the wall (the "barrier," in his parlance) a kind of ineffective anachronism, representative of "striated space." Navez cites Gaza as an example of how Israeli forces are effectively using "smooth space" as a mechanism of control, "saying that as long as Israel controls the air space, what happens on the ground is essentially irrelevant from a security standpoint. 'The main idea is that we can see and do what we please,' [Navez] said."
According to Weizman, General Navez "is simply trying to replace one form of control with another that is less visible."
Ouroussoff proceeds to give a very useful description of the wall, and he concludes (very surprisingly, for a NYT article):
The consequences extend beyond the ghettoization of Palestinians and Israelis. The wall destroys the space for those who once occupied the middle ground: those who refuse to divide the world into good and bad, civilization and barbarity. It threatens to sever the threads, already fragile, that might one day be woven into a more tolerant image of coexistence.
(My only complaint about the article: no Palestinian voices! Why not talk to Palestinian architects like Suad Amiri?)
Some articles by Weizman:
"Strategic Points, Flexible Lines, Tense Surfaces and Political Volumes: Ariel Sharon and The Geometry of Occupation." In Cities, War and Terrorism: Towards an Urban Geopolitics, ed. Stephen Graham (Blackwell, 2004)
A piece (I can't locate the title) in Against the Wall: Israel's Barrier to Peace, ed. Michael Sorkin (The New Press, 2005)
Tags: Palestine, Israel, architecture