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on May 27, 2008
Weizman begins his introduction by telling the story of the founding of Migron, a Jewish settlement built on Palestinian land in the West Bank. Convincing the Israeli military to build a cellular antenna, settlers first hire a single 24-hour guard. The guard is followed by his family, followed by five more families, and "by mid-2006 it comprised around 60 trailers and containers housing more than 42 families: approximately 150 people perched on the hilltop around a cellular antenna" (p. 2).

But Weizman is not content to recite the facts of Israeli occupation. His analysis draws heavily on post-structuralist thinkers like Foucault, Deleuze and Guattari. Covering everything from Israeli architectural aesthetics, checkpoints and border terminals, to the Wall, Ariel Sharon's conception of depth security, Israeli urban warfare doctrine and targeted assassinations, he repeatedly penetrates the surface of his extensive empirical research, locating the social narratives which give birth to these phenomena.

He is primarily concerned with charting what he calls the "elastic geographies" of the occupied territories (p. 5), a continually modifying frontier in which architecture and space become both a form of power and a conceptual way of understanding the political issues at stake.

Some issues he tackles are well worn, but by combining his extensive fieldwork as a consultant for B'Tselem with a robust theoretical approach, he still brings interesting insight. In a series of chapters covering Israeli settlements, checkpoints and the construction of the wall, he exposes not just the extensive control of Palestinian society, but also the way in which Israel's sense of security has come to depend on a conception of the territories as a malleable and vulnerable space. The spread of these control mechanisms in Israeli society, he claims, constitutes a "cognitive and practical system that sees the physical separation of Jews and Arabs, and the total control of Palestinian movement, as an important component of Jewish collective security" (p. 155).

Some of the issues, however, are less well known, such as his analysis of Israeli archaeology, architecture and landscape. He shows how city planning and architectural policies have attempted to make Jerusalem "an exhibition-piece of living biblical archaeology" (p. 29), drawing on Palestinians as "fossilized forms of biblical authenticity" (p. 43) while simultaneously seeking to reduce their contemporary presence.

Weizman's strength is in the way he hits on two registers at once. His section on Jerusalem connects in a straightforward way with Israel's sustained attempts to minimize the Palestinian population in the city, and to visually and ideologically "unite" the Jewish suburbs with the historic city. But it also taps into the enduring manifestations of the contradiction between Zionism's secular modernism and its ancient biblical promise.

Above all, "Hollow Land" doesn't just explain Israel's spatial practices of occupation. It explores the way in which Israelis' and Palestinians' self-understandings are deeply embedded in these structures. This is Weizman's contribution. While some may feel his work is too abstract, this is where the "cycle" that so often takes the blame for this conflict is found. Weizman is painting a picture of how we have lost ourselves within the conflict, and what it might mean to find a way out.
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on December 11, 2007
Weizman's analysis of the articulation (division, consolidation, dimensionality, etc.) of space as a primary expression of political power is highly original in approach, full of extraordinary insights, and provides a powerful moral argument against the occupation of Palestine. While some writers theorize about this sort of thing, Weizman's application of highly refined ideas to concrete practices demonstrates a kind of eloquence and courage that is rare in discussions of Israel and Palestine.

I think Hollow Land is an intellectual masterpiece.
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on November 24, 2013
This is a PHENOMENAL book. It offers an extremely in-depth, critical examination of Israeli architecture and urban planning within the occupied territories. Weizman folds in thinking about modern Israeli history, military intelligence and architecture to paint a profound, wide ranging picture of how Israel has rendered Palestinian space as permanently plastic, always in the process of being unsettled and shifted, and more importantly he shows how this transformation of space is not merely an academic curiosity but is in many ways the material center of the Israeli-Palestinean conflict, who has space, who doesn't, how is it manipulated and permanently shifted to accommodate government aims to both quell conflict and to make conflict itself irresolvable.

The observations and histories he examines of the Yom Kippur War, of Israeli military/theoretical thinking, of modern urban warfare, of targeted Israeli drone strikes (the chapter analyzing how they are carried out should be required reading for ANY person living in the 21st century), of checkpoints and the Gaza disengagement are all brilliantly elaborated upon, especially to an English speaking audience who might have, at best, little to no idea of how the Israeli government and the IDF actually carries out some of its most controversial methods and the thinking behind them.

The book is obviously written from a leftist perspective, but the range of Weizman's thinking and more importantly the access he has as a native and a professional to the movers and shakers in Israel's extremely small, almost comically rotating military/political elite is remarkable and would appeal to any critical person regardless of where they stand on the whole conflict, especially if your interested in cutting through BS nationalist mythology (both Israeli and Palestinian) to get at how one of the most perceptually problematic places in the world actually perpetuates its problem in terms of actual policies and methods. Highly, highly recommended.
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on April 27, 2008
Hollow Land is very throughly researched and Eyal Weizman is clearly passionate about his topic. The book provides an interesting perspective on a widely discussed topic.

The author is an Israeli, which gives him access and a through knowledge of the issues that many other authors lack. He is an activist and artist working on Israel-Palestine issues. He is also an architect, all of which gives him a unique perspective on the whole Israel-Palestine conflict. His descriptions of Israel's architecture of occupation shows his deep familiarity with the facts on the ground.

His interest in architecture some times took the book in directions I was not interested in, such as the history of the selection of the architect for Ma'ale Adumim. However in general this provided a fresh perspective, and new information.

The author clearly has strong opinions about his subject, but that does not interfere with the narrative. Hollow Land will interest anyone who cares about Israel-Palestine issues, as well as anyone interested in modern occupation. Hollow Land is also an example of a well written, throughly researched book that should server as a model for other authors.
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on April 5, 2011
In his book, Hollow Land, Eyal Weizman provides an original and eye-opening perspective on the various ways Israel maintains control over their occupied territories. Framing his work from the end of the Six Day War in 1967 to the present, Weizman reveals a side of Israel's "architecture of occupation" that is rarely, if at all, brought to light in American mainstream media outlets. He lays bare the "facts on the ground" and how Israel created powerful and oppressive structures of territorial occupation by implementing different spatial practices and technologies of separation and control. These tools of domination are examined individually and chronologically throughout the book's nine chapters that help highlight the evolutionary character of Israel's colonization, occupation, and governance.

Wiezman opens his book by looking at the very controversial Israeli outpost settlements that have become the most contested points of the conflict and a constant focus of political and diplomatic negotiations. These outposts as well as their architecture, Weizman says, play a vital role in formulating Israeli identity. In Jerusalem, for example, the Israeli government used "optical manipulations" in order to naturalize the occupied parts of the city in the eyes of Israeli citizens. This is seen in the use of stone cladding that both authenticated construction and linked new buildings to the sacred identity of Jerusalem.

Nonetheless, the location and layout of new Jewish settlements were not only for a growing Jewish population, but were also a means to prevent Jerusalem from functioning as a Palestinian city. Fearing a growing Palestinian demographic, the Israeli government reconfigured the city to spike the value of the housing market and enacted restrictive building codes for Palestinians that forced many families to leave Jerusalem in search of cheaper housing outside Israel's fluid borders. Weizman writes, "For the Palestinian inhabitants of Jerusalem, unlike the Jewish residents, hardly anything was ever planned but their departure" (Weizman, 47).

Furthermore, Weizman explains that in the post-1967 world, the planning and architecture of the occupied territories dominantly fell into the hands of military men, politicians, and ideological activists. The planning culture, driven by Ariel Sharon, viewed architecture as a "continuation of war by other means." Consequently, Israeli culture was increasingly militarized as battlefield terms became normalized in civilian discourse. The outposts, or nekuda, meaning points in Hebrew, were seen as strategic positions rather than places of residency. Roadways were developed into elaborate defensive systems that separated Israelis from Palestinians as well as divided the Palestinians from themselves. Even the housing that was built in settlement areas was compared by Israeli government officials as "armored divisions." In turn, civilian settlements became military buffer zones that inadvertently made them into targets of attack by radical Palestinian terrorist groups.

In one of his most interesting chapters, "Checkpoints: The Split Sovereign and the One-Way Mirror," Weizman shows how the Israeli government created "a prosthetic political system propped up by the international community." Under Article X in the 1993 Oslo Accords, the Israeli government was granted full control over checkpoint terminals regulating the flow of people in and out of the occupied territories. In effect, these checkpoints let Israel occupy Palestine without actually having to occupy Palestine. However, these were no regular checkpoints. Run by the Palestinian guards, Israeli security agents sat behind one-way mirrors and retrieved personal travel documents through a secret compartment. After processed, the passport is given back to the Palestinian Authority who either rejects or accepts admittance based on the decisions made by the Israeli security staff. For Weizman, the architecture of these terminals served to hide the Israeli mechanisms of power and control. The Palestinian authority was "mere performance" in order to render Palestinians into believing that they were subjects of their own country rather than the objects of an occupying state.

Towards the end of his book, Weizman moves from Israel's rule over the ground to the state's tyranny of the skies. With new sophisticated weaponry, Israel's domination of the air transformed the logic of occupation as targeted assassinations became a mainstay and political tool for control. Although the air assassinations using unmanned drones and state of the art targeting equipment enjoys wide public support (80% according to Weizman) and is justified as legal in response to Israel's security concerns, these killings have "fed the conflict by creating further motivation for violent retaliations, and dramatically increased Palestinian popular support for acts of terror." Moreover, these targeted assassinations have helped normalize violence into everyday life. As Israel tries to make war more "humane" by using high impact-low blast radius missiles to minimize the loss of innocent lives, violence has become more frequent and legitimate. Notably, Weizman criticizes Israel's use of assassinations as a way to avoid engaging in solutions through a political process.

Overall, Hollow Land is a great book. However, since the book's scope is so large it misses out on the finer intricacies of this regional conflict. Also, because of this Weizman is forced into using the old Israel-Palestine binary that we so often see in the media. But these minor infractions do not infringe on this book's importance. It will open your eyes to new ways of thinking about architecture and state control. For me, this book has significantly altered my own perception concerning the Israel-Palestine conflict. Although Weizman leaves the reader off with a bleak prospect of this intense and ongoing conflict, hopefully this book may in some way help bring about a change in the future trajectory of Israeli policy concerning Palestine.
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on March 25, 2016
Expected much more than the diatribe put forth in this highly politicized refrain. In his youth it has been reported that Weizman suffered from some form of deep psychosis that left him unable to cope with the rigours of building a new state in Israel. Sadly the book reflects the childhood trauma experienced by the author, leaving the reader bereft of any substantive message.
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on April 11, 2015
Good book!
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on July 30, 2014
The author tends to overcharacterize. Every event is negative. There is malicious thought in innocuous, regular professional activities. One dos learn about geography, but the overcharacterization gets too ridiculous at times.
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on September 6, 2014
I am suspicious of books that present opinion as fact. Where is the balance? If this author is correct then Israel has to be the most evil country on the face of the earth - forget about the regimes of Syria, Saudi, Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan - it is Israel that is the demon.

And this what makes me switch off from this narrative. If you take Weizman's ideas and follow them through to their logical conclusion you won't arrive at the truth but at some schizophrenic horror ghost train where Jews want only to commit genocide on Arabs. Every single 'normal' flaw about Israel is scrutinised in such an obsessive way it is truly macabre.

Not sure if Weizman was responsible for writing a study on roofs, but I recall reading some architect claiming that the European-style red roofs on Israeli homes is because they can be spotted and avoided as targets when IDF are carrying out bombings over Gaza. This is a LIE but was presented as fact. Architects the world over refuted this and presented hundreds of examples of Arab homes that have the red roofs in neighbourhoods close to Israeli ones. The choice of red tiles became popular during the British Mandate and kind of 'stuck' for their charm. If you had not researched, as I have, after reading about this 'evil Israeli red roof theory', you might well believe that Israel personifies hatred in its most base and elemental form.

Read balanced historical facts about Israel-Palestine. Avoid books by authors with all kinds of agenda and deeply psychological paranoia.
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