CSC: "Stone Men: The Palestinians Who Built Israel"

w/ Andrew Ross, Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University

CSC: "Stone Men: The Palestinians Who Built Israel"

Thursday, November 21, 4:30 PM

Johnson Center, Assembly Room D

Join us at the third and last Cultural Studies Colloquium in our mini-series on Palestine-related events this semester for Andrew Ross' talk "Stone Men: The Palestinians Who Built Israel."

Andrew Ross is Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University, and a social activist. A contributor to The Nation, the Village Voice, New York Times, and Artforum, he is the author of many books, including, most recently, Bird on Fire: Lessons from the World's Least Sustainable City and Nice Work if You Can Get It: Life and Labor in Precarious Times.

Below is a summary of his talk.


The story of Palestine's stonemasons and the building of Israel.

"They demolish our houses while we build theirs."

This is how a Palestinian stonemason, in line at a checkpoint outside a Jerusalem suburb, described his life to Andrew Ross. Palestinian “stone men,” using some of the best-quality limestone deposits in the world and drawing on generations of artisanal knowledge, have built almost every state in the Middle East except one of their own. Today the business of quarrying, cutting, fabricating, and dressing is the Occupied Territories’ largest private employer and generator of revenue, and supplies the construction industry in Israel, along with other countries in the region and overseas.Ross’s engrossing, surprising, and gracefully written story of this fascinating ancient trade shows how the stones of historic Palestine, and Palestinian labor, have been used to build the state of Israel—in the process, constructing “facts on the ground”—even while the industry is central to Palestinians’ own efforts to erect bulwarks against the Occupation. For more than a century, the hands that built Israel’s houses, schools, offices, bridges, and even its separation barriers have been Palestinian. Looking at the Palestinian–Israeli conflict in a new light, this book, largely based on field interviews in the region, asks how this record of labor and achievement can and should be recognized.

The story of Palestine's stonemasons and the building of Israel.

"They demolish our houses while we build theirs."

This is how a Palestinian stonemason, in line at a checkpoint outside a Jerusalem suburb, described his life to Andrew Ross. Palestinian “stone men,” using some of the best-quality limestone deposits in the world and drawing on generations of artisanal knowledge, have built almost every state in the Middle East except one of their own. Today the business of quarrying, cutting, fabricating, and dressing is the Occupied Territories’ largest private employer and generator of revenue, and supplies the construction industry in Israel, along with other countries in the region and overseas.Ross’s engrossing, surprising, and gracefully written story of this fascinating ancient trade shows how the stones of historic Palestine, and Palestinian labor, have been used to build the state of Israel—in the process, constructing “facts on the ground”—even while the industry is central to Palestinians’ own efforts to erect bulwarks against the Occupation. For more than a century, the hands that built Israel’s houses, schools, offices, bridges, and even its separation barriers have been Palestinian. Looking at the Palestinian–Israeli conflict in a new light, this book, largely based on field interviews in the region, asks how this record of labor and achievement can and should be recognized.


Andrew Ross Flyer