Friday, May 21, 2010

The Wall and the Eye: An Interview with Eyal Weizman

One of history's most fiercely contested landscapes, the 2,270 square miles of territory known as the West Bank was under the control of Jordan when it was occupied by Israel during the 1967 Six-Day War. Over the last 35 years, the area has become ¬home to some 200,000 Israelis (400,000 including occupied East Jerusalem) who populate numerous, new, purpose-built settlements perched on its hilltops, overlooking long-established Palestinian lowland communities. This ongoing state-sponsored policy of expansion onto the high ground has been paralleled by the development, within the architectural and urban planning professions, of extremely particularized strategies for building on heights. Many of these draw on historical precedents; all are designed to provide basic municipal amenities within a context of highly refined, surveillance-based security. In the following interview, Weizman, a partner in Tel Aviv-based Rafi Segal/Eyal Weizman Architects, discusses both the natural and built environment of the West Bank – from the social, political, and religious history of the area to issues of photography and mapping to concepts of strategic building forms and settlement growth patterns. He also asks pointed ethical questions about Israeli architectural and planning practice and considerations of human rights, which he says is central to the research he and Segal continue to conduct. Weizman spoke by phone to Jeffrey Kastner and Sina Najafi from Haifa, Israel, in October 2002.

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