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The role of the Jewish settlements in the Israeli - Palestinian conflict over land

Part 2 Dissertation 2003
Jacques Dahan
Kingston University Kingston | UK
This dissertation deals with the complex and emotionally charged subject of the Israeli settlement project in the West Bank. In the harsh and turbulent reality, when death is on every street corner and the endless cycle of violence dominates every aspect of the day-to-day life in Israel, it seems that our 'struggle for existence' has acquired a whole new meaning. I have tried here, despite of my own involvement as a Jewish Israeli, to create a balanced argument acknowledging both the Israeli and the Palestinian points of view. It is important to first outline the historical European circumstances that led to the founding of a Jewish national home, the state of Israel. I will then look at how the Israeli settlements in the occupied territories came into being, and examine their planning and architecture. The implications of the built environment on civil life and common conscience are far-reaching; I will finally address the settlements as an expression of and tool for the domination of this land, and discuss their role in the conflict today.
Jacques Dahan

Jacques Dahan’s dissertation on Israeli settlements impressed us with its clarity, maturity and sensitivity in dealing with such a difficult subject. The bravery and originality of choosing this subject in the first place is matched by the thoughtfulness and intelligence with which it has been treated. The complex issues composing the socio-political and cultural backdrop against which the drama of the settlements is played out, are unravelled carefully but critically, assisted by excellent source material which includes first-hand interviews. An even greater achievement, however, is the coherence and sophistication with which the fundamental premise of this piece – that the built environment can impact on civil life and common conscience in devastating ways – is developed. This is a highly accomplished dissertation, measured and critical, even as it is honest and moving. It does full justice to the ambition of its subject, while revealing the crucial role that architecture and the built environment play in our lives.

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