Nathan Witt reflects on the origins of Campus in Camps, an experimental, community-based educational initiative in Dheisheh Camp, Bethlehem. Read up on, support, or donate to Campus in Camps here, and the Decolonizing Architecture Art Residency here.
By Nathan Witt, July 2015
Campus in Camps in Dheisheh Camp, Bethlehem, was first set up by Alessandro Petti and Sandi Hilal from Decolonizing Architecture (DAAR) in 2012. It is an experimental educational programme run by local and visiting volunteers from various backgrounds. The focus of the programme is on the production of alternative methods of shared knowledge, seeking to empower both the volunteers and the community through the sharing of lived experience. This way, Campus in Camps affords opportunities to negotiate what is too seldom understood as a site of permanent and normalised exile.
Following Palestine can be an act of devastation. Each day is filled with news of destruction, displacement, and, often, death as well. The two-state solution has been killed by settlement expansion, policies that have separated the West Bank from the Gaza Strip, intensified Judaization of East Jerusalem, arbitrary residency revocation and denial of entry, and now, explicit proposals to annex Area C or 62% of the West Bank. None of this, however, is surprising in light of Israel’s steady rightward shift. Its primary patron, the United States, has shielded Israel from any form of accountability making its settler-colonial policies and deadly forays seemingly costless. This helps to explain how the far-right settler movement has come to heightened power and constituted a new centrist position in Israel. The hawkish PM Netanyahu is struggling to stay relevant to this base as evidenced by his promises to never establish a Palestinian state and to warn voters to come out and vote for him to compete with the “droves of Arab voters.”
And while ardent pro-Israelis insist that there can be peace without Palestinian rights or a Palestinian state, the farce of a peace process and of an “honest broker” in the United States is not lost upon anyone paying a modicum of attention. And those ardent peace activists are joining the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions movement in increasing numbers.