Non­fic­tion

Vio­lent Acts and Urban Space in Con­tem­po­rary Tel Aviv

Tali Hatu­ka; Diane E. Davis, fwd.
  • Review
By – May 18, 2012
In Vio­lent Acts and Urban Space in Con­tem­po­rary Tel Aviv, Tali Hatu­ka draws on her back­ground in mod­ern urban design to explore an inter­est­ing and intri­cate top­ic — the rela­tion­ship between civic cul­ture and acts of vio­lence in present-day Tel Aviv. Hatu­ka relies on sev­er­al exam­ples to delve into this issue: the assas­si­na­tion of Prime Min­is­ter Yitzhak Rabin, the sui­cide bomb­ing at the Dol­phi­nar­i­um Dis­cothèque in 2001, and the bomb­ings in the Neve Sha’anan neigh­bor­hood in 2003. Hatuka’s impres­sive range of sources encom­pass top­ics as dis­parate as urban the­o­ry and sociopo­lit­i­cal analy­sis.

The top­ic at hand is nar­row, but the lessons are broad. Hatu­ka uses spe­cif­ic exam­ples to illus­trate the greater Israeli real­i­ty. By empha­siz­ing the impact of vio­lence on civ­il rit­u­als, cul­tur­al iden­ti­ty, and the mean­ing of place in Tel Aviv, Hatu­ka elu­ci­dates the greater con­flict at hand. She presents themes such as absence and pres­ence in urban design along­side issues such as behav­ioral per­spec­tives and the rela­tion­ship between nation and state. The com­pre­hen­sive­ness of this book is strik­ing.

Ana­lyz­ing the Arab-Israeli con­flict by exam­in­ing Tel Aviv, using urban the­o­ry as a basis, pro­vides for a com­pelling but heavy read. This is a book whose high lev­el of schol­ar­ship is for those read­ers with a back­ground in his­to­ry, urban design, soci­ol­o­gy, polit­i­cal sci­ence, or con­flict res­o­lu­tion. In addi­tion, as most his­to­ri­ans will attest, true objec­tiv­i­ty is hard to come by, and there­fore I rec­om­mend that poten­tial read­ers famil­iar­ize them­selves with Israeli pol­i­tics and the doc­trines of the var­i­ous par­ties before begin­ning this book. Pol­i­tics aside, Tali Hatu­ka is a seri­ous schol­ar and those wish­ing to learn more about the inter­wo­ven fields of urban space, vio­lence, and cul­tur­al iden­ti­ty should find this book of interest.

Bran­don Stern is cur­rent­ly pur­su­ing his MBA at Rut­gers Busi­ness School. He holds a Bach­e­lor of Arts in His­to­ry from Muh­len­berg Col­lege with a focus ion Israeli and Mid­dle East­ern His­to­ry. Bran­don also received a minor in Jew­ish Stud­ies and stud­ied at the Hebrew Uni­ver­si­ty in Jerusalem, Israel.

Discussion Questions