A Wall in Palestine

René Backmann, Translated by A. Kaiser




Trade Paperback

272 Pages



Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy

The West Bank Barrier is expected to be completed in 2010. Declared illegal by the United Nations International Court of Justice, this network of concrete walls, trenches, and barbed-wire fences could permanently redraw one of the most disputed property lines in the Middle East—the Green Line that separates Israel and the West Bank. To Israel the "security fence" is intended to keep Palestinian terrorists from entering its territory. But to Palestinians the "apartheid wall" that sliced through orchards and houses, and cuts off family members from one another, is a land grab.

In this comprehensive book, Backmann not only addresses the barrier's impact on ordinary citizens, but how it will shape the future of the Middle East. Though it promises security to an Israeli population weary of terrorism, it also is responsible for the widespread destruction of Palestinian homes and farmland; with its Byzantine checkpoint regulations, it has also severely crippled the Palestinian economy; and, most urgent, the barrier often deviates from the Green Line, appropriating thousands of acres of land, effectively redrawing the boundary between the West Bank and Israel.

Backmann interviews Israeli policy makers, politicians, and military personnel, as well as Palestinians living throughout the West Bank, telling the stories not only of the barrier's architects, but also of those who must reckon with it on a day-to-day basis on the ground.

With bold, brilliant, and often impassioned reportage, A Wall in Palestine renders the West Bank Barrier—its purpose, its efficacy, its consequences—as no book before.


Praise for A Wall in Palestine

"[A] well-written history of the barrier . . . The most detailed account of the barrier to date. Backmann places the barrier smack in the middle of the controversy over Israeli confiscation of Palestinian lands: He makes a compelling case that Israel set out to expand West Bank Jewish settlements on the Israeli side at the expense of thousands of acres of Palestinian territory."—Linda Gradstein, The Washington Post

"Superb . . . Backmann's book demonstrates a relentless continuity of Israeli purpose, now cemented by a fence."—Roger Cohen, The New York Times

"A Wall in Palestine cannot fail to move anyone who reads it. It goes beyond journalism because it is a cry for attention from the world."—Howard Zinn

"A tragic story told with truth and passion."—John le Carré

"Anyone who wants to know why the route of the wall that separates Israel from the Palestinians is winding deep into occupied land should read René Backmann's superb book."—Joe Zacco, author of Palestine, Safe Area Goražde, and Footnotes in Gaza

"Sometimes a third party sees better than the parties involved. René Backmann's vivid, courageous book sheds much needed light onto both sides of the West Bank Barrier."—Avraham Burg, author of The Holocaust is Over; We Must Rise From Its Ashes

"An important book that will not only tell you everything about the wall Israel is building in Palestine, but by separating lies from propaganda and myth from fact it explains better than most intricacies of the Arab-Israeli conflict."—Raja Shehadeh, author of Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape

"An investigation of the true suffering and discrimination that is veiled by the wall. A tragic story written with integrity and intelligence that shows the absurdity of occupation, and the need to put an end to it."—Elisa Khoury, author of Gate of the Sun

"René Backmann has followed all aspects of this battle engrained in the hills of the West Bank. He has met with those who are building the wall and those who feel its effects. He has heard the arguments of its defenders and spoken with those who resist them."—Le Monde

"René Backmann describes the effects—political, economic, and human—of the wall that is being built in the West Bank by the Israeli government."—Le Figaro

"[A] beautifully written study of Israel's West Bank barrier wall. I'm always in search of writers who can give voice to the endless nuances of the conflict between the Israelis and Palestinians and Backmann nails it . . . Enjoy!"—Jeff Severns Guntzel, Unte

"It's clear that there is no impartiality in the region, and Backmann is unable to hide his own bias. An impassioned text that combines polemic incitement with assiduous geographical insight."—Kirkus Reviews

"With extensive boots-on-the-ground journalism and close examination of the historical record, Backmann demonstrates that while Israeli security concerns are real, the wall is undeniably also a political tool with life-shattering implications for the Palestinians whose lives it surrounds and constricts. In gathering these various voices in one powerful and accessible book, Backmann makes a vital contribution to the discourse surrounding the potential for peace in the region—and the costs the conflict continues to extract."—Publishers Weekly

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt



One morning in early August of 2002, the residents of Chiyah, El-Azariyeh, and Ras al-Amud, the Palestinian villages that form the eastern boundary of Jerusalem, discovered that pieces of paper...

Read the full excerpt


  • René Backmann, Translated by A. Kaiser

  • René Backmann is an international affairs columnist at Le Nouvel Observateur foreign desk. In 1991 he was awarded the Prix Mumm, France's highest honor for journalism.