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A Breach in the Wall

These images are part of my ongoing documentation of cooperation of Israelis and Palestinians committed to peaceful co-existence.  Over many years, my role has been to witness those who have rejected armed action, and who risk much to publically show support for peaceful dialog.  The majority of each side’s populations (and governments) view such activism as betrayal, and the brave individuals who participate show governments, militaries and fellow citizens that interpersonal communication and mutual support is the only way to stop the killing.  Small in number, the participants are often courting danger to attend.  The event’s location was secret until we actually arrived; had either right-wing Israelis or Palestinian media known the location, there would have been violence.  Even so, IDF guards stationed between the two fences of the separation wall lobbed a smoke bomb towards the Palestinian demonstrators. The people did not disperse, and both sides convinced the soldiers that this was a peaceful event, with no wish at all for violent confrontation. 

Palestinians and Israelis had together prepared large puppets, with images of men, women, birds and doves, and mock sections of the separation wall.  As legitimatization of a Palestinian State is now being negotiated internationally, it falls upon the citizens themselves to show support for a peaceful resolution, and to show their fellow citizens that fighting for peace is counterproductive, not to mention deadly.

There was, as usual, no media coverage of this event: all governments and media on all sides of the conflict view these events as threatening social cohesion, and are ignored.  Only violence is shown widely – peaceful interaction is erased or mocked.

The huge puppets were art’s answer to such invisibility.  Towering over walls, throwing shadows over soldiers, and visible to all as if there were no barriers between them, these symbols used artistic forms to communicate larger ideas.  When people create art together, they have already begun a dialog.  The two groups met later in an area within Palestinian territory.  Along with the fear of meeting the “enemy”, there was familiarity and camaraderie. They and their children wearing wings and carrying birds, waving flags to each other, had already cracked barriers, in hearts or on land.

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