In the news, the conversation about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict often revolves around the settlements built in the West Bank, which Israel conquered from Jordan in 1967. Very little however is said about the actual design and construction of the settlements, and their relationship to Zionism as well as to the tradition of modernist architecture that developed in Israel.
This talk looks at the design of one of the first settlements built in the West Bank, at a time when Israelis were still debating the administrative fate of the occupied territories. While government officials were hesitant to populate the West Bank with Israelis, activists advocated for building settlements, whether out of a desire to be close to Biblical sites or to be close to Arab culture. Meanwhile, professional architects preferred ignoring the West Bank. This talk examines the debates that emerged between these different groups and the architectural forms that resulted from those debates. It takes the case of the Jewish settlement of Hebron in order to show how a political landscape that we take for granted today came about in contingent and unexpected ways.
Noam Shoked is the Postdoctoral Research Associate at the Princeton-Mellon Initiative in Architecture, Urbanism and the Humanities at Princeton University.
In partnership with Fordham University’s Jewish Studies program.