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February 03, 2011

Geographically-Challenged Architecture Review

One would think that a journalist reviewing an architecture exhibit would have a handle on the relevant geography. Think again. A review today in the Los Angeles Times of the "Decolonizing Architecture" exhibition states that the exhibition is

driven by a simple but provocative question: If and when Israel decides, or is compelled, to leave the occupied territories in the Gaza Strip and West Bank, what should returning Palestinians do with the buildings, roads and bridges the army and the settlers leave behind? (Emphasis added.)

Um, hello? The fate of structures in the Gaza Strip is not a question, provocative or otherwise, since Israel completely withdrew from the Gaza Strip, pulling out each and every last civilian and soldier in 2005, a dramatic event covered in depth by the Los Angeles Times at the time. (The only Israeli left in the Gaza Strip is captured soldier Gilad Shalit.)

Acceding to Palestinian requests, Israel leveled much of the single-family housing, which did not meet Palestinian needs. Israel, however, did not raze the synagogues and they were subsequently torched by Palestinian mobs. The Los Angeles Times' own stories about the Israeli evacuations and the fate of the remaining buildings include "Gazans Burn Synagogues in Israeli Soldiers' Wake, Jubilant Palestinians storm in after Israel refuses to raze temples in former settlements," (Laura King and Ken Ellingwood, Sept. 12, 2005) and "Gaza Sites Are Awash With Palestinians on a New Shore; After Israeli troops leave, thousands flock to a long-forbidden beach. Others cart off what remains from abandoned homes," (King and Ellingwood, Sept. 13, 2005).

The departing Israelis left in place most of the farmers' hothouses, which had been purchased by Jewish American philanthropists and turned over to the Palestinians. Rather than make use of the 3,000 greenhouses to help build the Palestinian economy, looters destroyed them. For details, see the Los Angeles Times' "Palestinians in Gaza Loot Greenhouse Equipment," (AP, Sept. 14, 2000).

The fate of settlements, past and future, has certainly been a challenging subject for the Los Angeles Times in recent days. The paper still owes its readers a correction on Saree Makdisi's false claim that the "Palestine Papers" show that Palestinian negotiators agreed to let Israel hold on to large West Bank settlements.

Posted by TS at February 3, 2011 05:56 AM

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