I have always been fascinated by divided cities.  Whether they be divided by a river like Paris and Dublin, creating two separate societies on either riverbank, or in a more political way like a wall in Berlin. Division creates diverse geography and architecture and can intentionally or unintentionally split people up by race or class, creating two separate worlds in one city.

I spent most of my summer in Israel and Palestine. I found the presence of the wall and division of Palestinian and Israeli society to be confusing and incredibly interesting. The city of Jerusalem is a prime example of division in this region.  Exploring East Jerusalem and West Jerusalem and the Old City helped me focus in on the similarities and differences in Palestinian and Israeli society, the politics, and the dense history of a divided city.

I was in Palestine with the Bard Palestinian Youth Initiative. We were in a small village in the West Bank called Mas’ha. I found the culture of Mas’ha to be unique. Geographically, Mas’ha is directly on the border of Israel and the West Bank.  Mas’ha used to be the home of one of the busiest Israeli-Palestinian markets, but with the construction of the wall in 2003 (which runs directly through the city) the market was shut down and 70% of the farmland was taken to build Israeli settlements.

Street life in Mas’ha is vibrant. The kids spend most of their time playing in the dusty, dirty streets. There is also plenty of street art on the side of the wall facing Mas’ha. Here are some images from Mas’ha and other parts of the West Bank, and a map that helps to show where Mas’ha sits within the West Bank and what surrounds it.

 

Here are some links about divided cities that I find interesting:

http://www.time.com/time/photogallery/0,29307,1686697,00.html

http://peacenow.org/map.php

 

http://www.bpyi.org

 

 

 

 

 

 

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