Eyal Weizman, 'Hollow Land: Israel's Architecture of Occupation'

IssueNovember 2007
Review by Ewa Jasiewicz

On first approach, Hollow Land appears to be very much an academic study, aimed at architecture/political science/anthropology students.

The language is convoluted, and challenging and demands much of the reader's existing understanding of both post-modern academic discourse and the history and context of the Israeli occupation.

But stick with it. Hollow Land deconstructs and reconstructs architecture and archaeology as never neutral - but instead fundamentally political - practices, used as tools of war and identity building.

Fleshed out with quotes from court transcripts, anecdotal evidence, press reports, drawings and photographs, this book is both a map and visual aid to understanding these disciplines and the physical and mental occupations they have created.

The chapter on Ariel Sharon's role as the out-of-control, anti-establishment rebel commander, ignoring orders, and snoring over military radio, is fascinating.

Sharon's responsibility for massacres and for bulldozing his way through refugee camps earned him the Palestinian nickname of “The Bulldozer”, then the portfolios of Planning and Construction Minister, and, later, Prime Minister.

Weizman explores the merger of settlements with military bases overseen by Sharon as a continuation of war by other means.

Weizman's elaboration teaches us much about the dangers of militarised societies through “endless war” doctrines and the popularisation of military strategies and practices in the civilian sphere. “The civilianisation of military terms was to lead to the militarisation of all other spheres of life. War was only over because it was now everywhere.”

Hollow Land is a visionary work. It is essential reading for all human rights and anti-war activists.

Despite being largely focused on Israel, its lessons have resonance and application in the doctrines of permanent war both in the UK and US as well as Iraq, Palestine and Afghanistan and beyond.

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