Final Project

For my final, I decided to make the occupation focused in one city, as opposed to the whole country. This way, the situation becomes even more relatable for someone to see that they can’t reach their relatives in the same city, or they need a permit to go to work everyday, on the other side of the wall. I mapped the various architectural elements of the Israeli occupation, such as the separation wall, the settlements, the checkpoints, the settler-only roads, and isolated Palestinian communities onto the map of Manhattan, in order to make the Israeli-Palestinian conflict more relatable to the American audience, and envision a life under occupation and confinement.


I did a comparative spatial analysis of Manhattan with Jerusalem, a city in Palestine that contains all these elements. Of these elements, I chose to map the 8 Israeli settlements found in Jerusalem proportionally onto Manhattan. Jerusalem is a heavily contested urban center, for its religious and historical significance, thus, consequences of colonization are especially prevalent in it, such as Israeli settlements surrounding Palestinian communities, resident house evictions, restriction of movement in the city, manifested through military checkpoints and separation barriers, among others. I chose Manhattan to be the city in which I will visualize those elements, envisioning what a reality of occupation would look like.

Manhattan is almost half the size of Jerusalem, so I got the data of each settlement and split the area in half to find out the hypothetical area in Manhattan.


Jerusalem Area: 125.1 km squared

Manhattan Area: 59 km squared


I used several mapping software programs, such as QGIS to measure the areas and draw polygons, MAPublisher to draw and geo-reference graphics like the checkpoints and the wall on the map of Manhattan, and finally, Mapbox, to create the base map and make the various elements in it interactive.


For the map, I chose to take the architecture of occupation in Jerusalem and put it in a fictional context in Manhattan, using actual qualitative and quantitative data, for mapping the settlements onto Manhattan (quantitative), and providing a description (qualitative) about each element on the map when the user interacts with it. The final outcome consists of two parts:


1- A parallax narrative as a historical overview of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with an introduction of the 4 main architectural elements of the occupation. 


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2- A website with the interactive map of Manhattan in an imagined scenario of an occupation on the island, with the various architectural elements imposed on the local inhabitants of New York.




User Scenario & Persona

My target audience is generally the American public and specifically people who might not be informed or even misinformed about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. The US is Israel’s biggest ally and sends $3.1 billion in military aid to Israel every year, making Israel the largest recipient of US foreign aid (Madar). In addition, there is also a very powerful pro-Israeli lobby that plays a pivotal role in American politics, influencing America’s foreign policies towards the Israeli occupation, often vetoing sanctions that the international community brings forth against Israeli violations of international law through daily practices. As a result of this heavy political influence, it is less likely for large US media outlets to portray the occupation and current conflict impartially, influencing American public opinion.

User Persona

Tom is a 25 year-old investment banker who works in the financial district in Manhattan. Like many other young Americans, he immigrated to New York to start a successful career. He likes to keep up with the latest news occurring domestically and internationally. He has a few news apps on his smart phone in order to gain different perspectives of the same story. Although he has superficial knowledge of world history and politics, he never studied a specific region in depth, so he is aware of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but not the details of it. He is worlds apart and cannot relate to anything happening in the region, culturally, politically, or geographically. This interactive narrative is for people like him, to make it easier to relate to the conflict, but putting it in an American social and geographical context. 

Below is a link to user scenario video I made for my second prototype user testing.