March 23, 2008

The Coming Of Age Of The Blast Wall

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Mccain-Blast-WallIn this newswire shot — just outside a bomb shelter in Sderot, the town in the Israeli north infamously known as a target for crude and occasionally lethal Palestinian rockets — I think a unique thing happens, the foreground lending new weight and meaning to the background.  The presence of today’s most famous war veteran, and the war-obsessed potential next President of the United States, begins to elevate the blast wall to a new level of recognition.

Given that McCain is in Israel, there might be a tendency to associate this background with the Israeli separation wall.

Can anyone argue, however, that these harsh, more portable and yet disarmingly grayish-white half-militaristic, half-political human dams have become the defining post-9/11 symbol for authoritarianism, culture war and the lost art of diplomacy?

Update: Below is Michael Kamber’s eloquent image of a worker taking a moment to pray at the booming Kurdish blast wall factory near Kirkuk.  There are two more images accompanying a post at the NYT Baghdad Bureau blog describing the operations. 


Visually, the walled perimeter and the pit, combined with the heavy cloud cover, is almost haunting.  Regarding the content, the act of piety, the man kneeling on this deteriorated wall, the base of rubble, and the realized blast walls makes this seem all too much like a cycle.

McCain visits rocketed Israeli town (Reuters)

In Kurdistan, Brisk Business in Blast Walls (NYT)

(image: Uriel Sinai/Pool/Reuters. Sderot, Israel. March 19, 2008. via YahooNews. image 2: Michael Kamber for The New York Times.  March 2008.

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Michael Shaw
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