I always meant to follow up on a post “Why would anybody ride a bicycle through the West Bank?” (September 2012), and a year and a half on, I feel like I’ve accrued enough time and distance to share just a few photos captured in that trip of a wall which so many have garnished with images and text of protest, frustration and even hope since the first partition was laid in 2003. At the time of my visit in 2012, The Wall With Many Names had supposedly reached more than 60% of its planned length of over 700 km of barbed wire and concrete slabs, and will be more or less complete within the next decade.
If walls could talk…
This artist seems to ask for comparison between the bombing of the Spanish town of Guernica (1937), a pivotal event in the Spanish Civil War (or perhaps it refers to the large mural painting “Guernica” by Picasso of the same year) and al-Nakba [The Catastrophe] in Palestine of 1948, a mass displacement of 750,000 Palestinian/Arabs which simultaneously occurred with the inception of the Nation of Israel.
Very different to the “new” city boundaries, this centuries-old gate to Old Jerusalem, first built in 2nd century, is known as “Damascus Gate” and is one of the seven main entrances to the Old City.
The Western Wall is still one of the most famous walls of the Holy Land, and is sacred to Jews everywhere as it is held to be a section of the compound that surrounded the Temple Mount in King Herod’s time (19 BCE).
This single image sums up the world’s fascination with The Wall as subject matter for visitors from around the globe, often known as “conflict tourists” in the guise of artists, scholars, activists or journalists; the irony being that this wall often draws attention away from any potential peace measures attempted by those on either side of it.
Finally, here’s a glimpse of what sunset looks like in a Palestine with no walls at all.
More links and information
- Wikipedia article on the “Israeli West Bank barrier“
- More about the Bike Palestine tour, organised by George Snow and Siraj Centre, Beit Sahour. This “alternative” tour occurs twice yearly in April and October.
- More about Aida Refugee Camp, near Bethlehem in Palestine/Occupied Territories. Approximate population 3,600.
- Artists draw attention to Bethlehem by Brie Schwartz for CNN – 12 December 2007. British artist Banksy and others paint new works on The Separation Barrier/Wall in Bethlehem.
- “Keep Your Eye on the Wall: Palestinian Landscapes” published by SAQI books, London (2013). Photography and artworks by Taysir Batniji, Raed Bawayah, Rula Halawani, Noel Jabbour, Raeda Saadeh, Steve Sabella and Kai Wiedenhofer. Texts by Malu Halasa, Yael Lerer, Christine Leuenberger and Adania Shibli. Forward by Raja Shahadeh. A really good treatise on The Wall as subject for contemporary artworks.