Wednesday, 27 March
The People’s Forum
320 W. 37th Street
“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,” utilising some of the best-quality dolomitic limestone deposits in the world and drawing on generations of artisanal knowledge, have built almost every state in the Middle East except their own. Today the business of quarrying, cutting, fabrication, and dressing is Palestine’s largest employer and generator of revenue, supplying the construction industry in Israel, along with other Middle East countries and even more overseas.
Drawing on hundreds of interviews in Palestine and Israel, Ross’s engrossing, surprising, and gracefully written story of this fascinating ancient trade shows how the stones of Palestine, and Palestinian labour, have been used to build out 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 decades, the hands that built Israel’s houses, schools, offices, bridges, and even its separation barriers have been Palestinian. Looking at the Palestine–Israel conflict in a new light, this book asks how this record of achievement and labour be recognised.
Stone Men: The Palestinians Who Built Israel by Andrew Ross is available from Verso on March 26: https://www.versobooks.com/books/2926-stone-men
Andrew Ross is Professor of Social and Cultural Analysis at New York University and a social activist. A contributor to the Nation, 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 Get It: Life and Labor in Precarious Times. He lives in New York.
Lamis Deek is a human rights attorney, activist and strategist.
Nerdeen Kiswani is a Palestinian organizer from NYC. She’s the founder and chair of Within Our Lifetime – United for Palestine, a youth organization that has been organizing the Palestinian diaspora in NYC for the past 3 years. She has been centrally involved in multiple coalitions for Palestine both locally in NYC, building multiple Palestine student organizations in different universities and participating in the national student movement in the US, and internationally, having participated in conferences around the world and across the US to further the Palestinian struggle.