The Atlas of the Conflict maps the territorial aspects of the relations between Israel and Palestine over the past 100 years.

I started this research 10 years ago as an architecture student in Israel. During my studies, I was confronted with a fundamental necessity to understand, at first, the events that led to the formation of Israel and, later, to take a personal and professional position in it.

In my third year of study at the Technion (the Israel Institute of Technology), I was assigned to design a new program, preferably a shopping mall, on an empty plot near Tel Aviv. During the preliminary site research, I discovered it to be a ruined Palestinian cemetery. My reaction was to stop designing. I felt the need to delve into the past and to learn the history of my country. A history that is not directly told. Driven by a genuine sense of curiosity, I started collecting illustrations, maps, photographs, diagrams and other visual materials. Textual testimonies, although very important, simply weren’t tangible enough, as they cannot have a sense of scale.

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In part, I have been, one could say, led to believe that Israel was always there, and that the tragedy of Palestine has nothing to do with it: that was an incidental episode.

As maps are usually drawn by the body that is in power, the powerless can easily disappear. While it was very easy to find maps that indicate the formation of Israel, from its first settlement on, it was very difficult to find much documentation of the Palestinian existence. Not only in reality, as many Palestinian localities were razed to the ground, but also in its representation, in maps, and in illustrations. As I was interested in comparing the two processes, Israel and Palestine, I needed to start mapping myself, investigating and (re-) assembling the realities. I realized that my original curiosity led me to possess a unique document that covers a 100 years of conflict. I don’t see this book and my work to be intentionally political. I wanted to make a straightforward analysis of the territorial features and figures of the


Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 

The book is divided into themes such as borders, walls, patterns of settlements, typologies of settlements, demography, water, landscaping, archeology and Jerusalem. They are, inevitably, all interlinked, not just with each other, but with reality, with personal stories, traumas, myths, beauty, tragedies, popular tales, defeats and victories. It is a reality that does not exist by itself, as either Israel, or as Palestine.

Israel’s dynamic spatial maneuvers are tied to fluctuations in borders and to patterns of settlements. They result in a unique and ever evolving spatial practice of temporality, which can be detected in settlements typologies, from a Wall and a Tower (1930s) to Caravilla’s (2005). The settler is, until this day, used as an occupying power, creating a fact on the ground, a living wall, a keeper of the land and of its natural resources: always placed strategically, according to a national agenda.

The constant intensive movements in space and time of the Zionist project have no precedent.


Shaping the state territories and widening its boundaries, pushing and intensifying undesired demographic fragments out or into enclaves, settling and foresting, covering up the traces of the past while excavating other layers under; all together these define a fluid state of existence, a new Israeli and Palestinian reality. However, reality is too complex to be captured in a book or to be told through a one-person-narrative.

I have tried to restrict the use of personal expressions. Instead, I use maps and illustrations to unveil the territorial dynamics and shapes of the conflict, using factual data. In addition to my own analysis, I have tried to give room to other elements to emerge, such as popular quotes, personal stories, national and international legislations, legal terms, snapshots and portraits.

I wanted to know what the image of over 500 destroyed Palestinian localities looks like on a map with a relative scale, in space, and in comparison to the thousands of newly built Israeli localities.

It is very difficult to grasp an architectural project on the scale of a state or a nation. To plan, design and construct a building takes years. To destroy a whole country and build another one on top of it took a couple of decades.  For me, this new sense of scale and its realities resulted in a personal moment of complete bewilderment. After leaving the university, I continued with my research, analyzing spatially the creation of Israel in the light of the destruction of Palestine.

I was brought up in a Zionist context. We were overwhelmingly and completely appreciating Israel, considering it a miracle: a nation that constructed itself almost seamlessly from thousands of years back into the present day. The 2,000 years of exile were absent in my historical consciousness.

Introduction

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