M.Sc Thesis

M.Sc StudentTamari Youval
Subject"Imagine Life without Wall"
Segregation and Plannining in a Mixed City: The
West Ramle Case
DepartmentDepartment of Architecture and Town Planning
Supervisor PROFESSOR EMERITUS Rachel Kallus


This research focuses on a phenomenon that developed in the last few years in the Israeli urban space, namely separation walls dividing between Jewish and Arab neighborhoods. It focuses on a wall that was built in 1995 in the city of Ramle, which separates between two such neighborhoods. The aim of the research is to analyze this separation wall and study its meaning. It is based on content analysis of 10 interviews, held with people well informed about the wall: residents, Arabs and Jews, and local authority employees. The research focuses on the following questions:

  1. What is the meaning of the wall for Jewish and Arab residents, as well as for Jewish public officials and decision makers?
  2. What is the narrative told by each group about the construction of the separation wall?
  3. How were planning practices involved in the creation of the separation wall?

The literature review examines the history of partitioned cities in the world in general and in Israel in particular. It considers the important role of nationalism in the Israeli society, using the "Ethnocracy" theoretical framework (Yiftachel and Ganem 2005) and the "Border Society" approach (Peled and Shafir 2001). Also considered is the psychological dimension of feelings evolving from an encounter with the “other”, and especially the feeling of fear from the “other”.

The findings show that all the Jewish interviewees, residents and public officials alike, support the building of the separation wall, while all Arab interviewees oppose it. The Jewish residents perceive the wall as a means to defend themselves from the "frightening Arabs". Their fear from the Arabs is based on stereotypical thinking as well as on common stories of violent encounters with Arabs.

The research's findings also point to the perception of the local authority employees regarding the wall, and the way they view it as an instrument in their struggle over a "demographic balance" between Arabs and Jews in the city. According to them, the wall is supposed to serve two purposes. On the one hand to create a secure environment that would attract Jews to the Jewish neighborhood, and on the other hand to mark a border and control the expansion of the Arab neighborhood. As for the Arab interviewees, they perceived the wall as carrying a message of exclusion and were deeply insulted by it. The focus of the final discussion considers the repressive use of planning practice by local authorities, employees and planners.