A perspective on the separation wall, from the man who built it

Branden Harvey is a photographer and story-teller, currently traveling in Israel and the West Bank. He is posting photos and stories on instagram, as he journeys, and I have found much value in his posts. Tonight he posted a photo of Danny Tirza, the architect who planned and built the separation wall (also referred to as the Occupation Wall) separating the West Bank from Israel.

I was taken by what he wrote, and received Branden’s permission to share the post on my blog.   Take a read.   Here is the actual instagram post.  I have copied the text below, so it is a bit more readable.

Note: there is a second follow-up post below.

 

Danny Tirza is the architect that planned and built the hugely controversial separation barrier between Israel and West Bank. It wasn’t his idea, but he was the person called upon to implement everything. In his own words he says, “I was the bad guy that had to be on the ground, figure out where to draw the line and build the fence very quickly.”

I got to spend a morning with Danny visiting key parts of the barrier (made up of 95% fence & 5% wall), listening to him talk about what went into each decision he had to make. Honestly, I was really surprised to learn about the amount of care that went into the construction of the barrier. From the beginning, Danny says his final goal was peace. He built a barrier across 451 miles and didn’t destroy or evacuate even one Palestinian home. He routed the wall to be sensitive to its effect on communities, even building special gates for farmers or people visiting certain religious sites and special roads for Palestinians and Jews who need to reach certain communities. He met with local Palestinian officials, Israeli officials and foreign officials, seeking as much wisdom as possible. Danny was so intent on drawing the lines in the right spots (or least worst spots) that once when he struggled to figure out exactly where to draw the line around a number of Palestinian Christian communities, he flew out to the Vatican to work toward a solution with top officials and bishops. Again and again, Danny would reiterate that he didn’t build these walls to stay up forever. He built them to create and encourage peace. And when peace is here, he want to be the first one to start breaking down the walls. In fact, in every segment of the wall, there is a hole in the top. This is so that “it will be easy to remove the wall when the time comes for peace.” Peace is Danny’s final goal. #DannyTirzaStory 1/2 ////////// Yes, I know this is SUPER controversial. I’m not sharing this because I think this wall is right or wrong. I’m sharing this because I see a glimpse of humanity in the way Danny carried out a very difficult job. //////////// I’ll be responding to comments all day. I’d love to dialogue with you.

A photo posted by Branden Harvey (@brandenharvey) on

  Here is the full text of what Branden posted: “Danny Tirza is the architect that planned and built the hugely controversial separation barrier between Israel and West Bank. It wasn’t his idea, but he was the person called upon to implement everything. In his own words he says, “I was the bad guy that had to be on the ground, figure out where to draw the line and build the fence very quickly.”

I got to spend a morning with Danny visiting key parts of the barrier (made up of 95% fence & 5% wall), listening to him talk about what went into each decision he had to make. Honestly, I was really surprised to learn about the amount of care that went into the construction of the barrier.

 

From the beginning, Danny says his final goal was peace. He built a barrier across 451 miles and didn’t destroy or evacuate even one Palestinian home. He routed the wall to be sensitive to its effect on communities, even building special gates for farmers or people visiting certain religious sites and special roads for Palestinians and Jews who need to reach certain communities.

 

He met with local Palestinian officials, Israeli officials and foreign officials, seeking as much wisdom as possible. Danny was so intent on drawing the lines in the right spots (or least worst spots) that once when he struggled to figure out exactly where to draw the line around a number of Palestinian Christian communities, he flew out to the Vatican to work toward a solution with top officials and bishops.

 

Again and again, Danny would reiterate that he didn’t build these walls to stay up forever. He built them to create and encourage peace. And when peace is here, he want to be the first one to start breaking down the walls. In fact, in every segment of the wall, there is a hole in the top. This is so that “it will be easy to remove the wall when the time comes for peace.” Peace is Danny’s final goal.

 

#DannyTirzaStory 1/2 ////////// Yes, I know this is SUPER controversial. I’m not sharing this because I think this wall is right or wrong. I’m sharing this because I see a glimpse of humanity in the way Danny carried out a very difficult job. //////////// I’ll be responding to comments all day. I’d love to dialogue with you.”

 

Here is part 2 of this series:

“We had all this bad graffiti on the wall. Mostly just bad art. It’s funny. I don’t know why all the graffiti is in English. We don’t have much graffiti in Arabic or Hebrew. At first, we tried everything to get rid of the graffiti. But when we painted over it, people would just put up something worse the next day. We began trying everything to keep these walls clean. I even had some friends in New York who told me they have this special paint for the subways that graffiti doesn’t work with. So I went to New York, brought back this paint and painted the wall with it. I bought Palestinian spray paint and tested it out on the wall. It turns out Palestinian spray paint is especially good and still works on the walls. The more things we tried, the more I realized what living in a democratic country means. In a democratic country we let people share their opinions. Even with spray paint and graffiti. In Israel there is no law against it. And I’m glad there isn’t. I think it is better that people let out their anger against Israel through graffiti.”i —Danny Tirza, architect responsible for planning and building the wall between Israel and West Bank #DannyTirzaStory 2/2 

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