An article by academic Shela Sheikh entitled “Corinne Silva: Plants, Power and the Israeli State” attacks Israeli shrubs and trees for “erasing memory” of other peoples.
While there certainly is value in researching how plants and infrastructure affect the public sphere and a society’s social fabric, the depth of analysis on Israeli plants and gardens reveals quite a lot more about the researcher’s and writer’s state of mind than it does anything else. For the more academically-inclined among us, we found it useful to periodically remind ourselves – this article is about gardens. Not guns or tanks, not fences or walls, but gardens.
Sheikh focuses on a series of photographs taken by Corinne Silva examining “the inherent links between cultivation and colonisation.” The piece is dotted with bland photographs of typical suburban scenes – nondescript white fences, stubby trees, and the irrigation tubes that are ubiquitous in Israel, literally bringing life to a desert land. Alas, all these are framed as being “designed with the aim of transplanting Israelis… on to land formerly populated by Palestinians.”
I agree, this article is a piece of fertilizer. If you truly want an example of using trees to erase other people, you needn’t look too far past this photo:
Incidentally, the Hamas-hole pictured (Fathi al Gharbawi) is now pushing up daisies.