Mapping for Peace – Without a Map

Two views of the same territory:
Map on left is one application of the Camp David proposals. It illustrates the point made by Noam Chomsky and by President Jimmy Carter and supported by many Israelis. The areas designated as Palestinian territory would be effectively cut off from one another.
Map on right, according to Dennis Ross, reflects the actual proposal intended at Camp David. Clearly, our mental maps make a difference in how we make decisions. Surprising? Not really: maps always frame and shape the way we perceive reality. Their messages have power.

Let’s time-travel to Camp David near Washington, D.C. The year is 2000. We look in on negotiations that we hope, as the whole world fervently hopes, will bring peace to the Middle East. – or at least significantly closer to peace between Israelis and Palestinians. One common perception of the outcome is that U.S. President Bill Clinton and Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak have come up with a generous offer, which the Palestinians perversely reject.

Noam Chomsky begs to differ: “There is a simple way to evaluate these claims: present a map of the territorial settlement proposed. No map has been found in US media or journals, apart from scholarly sources and the dissident literature.” Evidently with good reason, certainly with major result: “A look at the maps reveals that the Clinton-Barak offer virtually divided the West Bank into three cantons, effectively separated from one another by two salients consisting of expansive Jewish settlement and infrastructure developments.

Dennis Ross, a Fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy and chief negotiator for the U.S. in the Camp David process, agrees with Chomsky to this extent: “we actually never put a map on the table…. We were leaving it to the parties to … develop the maps.”
Develop their own maps — that is precisely what they did. In effect, the map shown pn the left makes clear what mere words in a news release could hardly show: that the proposed solution would, according to one understanding, subject Palestinians to a permanent state of isolation and dependency. In fact, “In Israel, maps did appear in the mainstream press, and the proposals are commonly described as modeled on South Africa’s Bantustans of forty years ago.” Would the right maps, widely circulated, actually change what people thought — and still think — of Camp David 2000? Chomsky, a leading analyst of current affairs, clearly says “Yes!”

Above is excerpted from Ward Kaiser’s, How Maps Change Things.

See other maps (cartograms) showing the dynamics & consequences of apartheid: i.e., Israel/Palestine disparities.

These remarkable (and disturbing) maps were created by the
Social and Spatial Inequalities Research Group of the Department of Geography at the University of Sheffield, led by Ben Hennig and Danny Dorling.
This mapping project was initiated by Prof John S Yudkin (MD FRCP) an Emeritus Professor of Medicine from University College in London.

Yudkin, a medical academic and a concerned secular Jew, visited Palestine in 2008 and was horrified by the conditions there. He is coordinating an effort to document the trend of accelerating inequalities between Israel and Palestine and would welcome your comments and support for his project.

Bob Abramms

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