Country of Contradictions
These photos search for the visual similarities that exist between subjects that are situated on opposing ends of the political, religious, economic, and ideological spectrums of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict.
Since moving to Jerusalem in June 2014, I was exposed to a continuously complex and nuanced place. I lived on the fault-line between East and West Jerusalem and I explored the relationship between Israel and Palestine, and the many Israels and Palestines that exist.
These experiences highlighted for me that there is no such thing as a clear side in this conflict. Blacks are not blacks and whites are not white. This project seeks to explore the in-between.
While living in Israel/Palestine, I began to know my family. They represent a wide spectrum of Israeli society. Some cousins live in a communal Jewish village in the North, surrounded by the call-to-prayer echoing off the neighboring hills and Arab villages. Others live in a Kibbutz in the Negev desert in the South: true pioneers of the Secular Labor Zionist project. My aunt meanwhile, lives in Jerusalem and is a part of the Ultra-Orthodox, Haredi community that rejects the State of Israel, claiming that it is not “Jewish” enough. My grandmother lived in the North where, while floating in the Kibbutz pool, you can see the confluence of the Syrian, Lebanese and Israeli borders collide. There are 19 cousins in my generation alone: some are religious with 6 kids, some finishing their army service, some are studying, some are working. I've begun to lose track of how many we are now.
While living in Israel/Palestine, I began to know the people. I became involved in many different activist collectives and organizations including, All That's Left: Anti-Occupation Collective, Combatants for Peace, and the Sumud Freedom Camp.
From these experiences, I have found that Israel/Palestine is a country of contradictions; it can best be described as a place shaped by the friction between differences. Through these photographs, I hope to recognize the existing multiplicity of realities here and to find the nuances in blacks and whites.
This blog spans from June 2014 until the present and encapsulates the three years I lived in Israel//Palestine as well as my return to Denver and the beginning of my PhD at the Josef Korbel School of International Studies.
Greetings from the [un]Holy Land
This project began as a question of story telling. How could I share the fraught realities of Israel and Palestine with a larger audience in a more layered and nuanced way than what makes the news?
Through daily postcard snapshots [that endure for longer than a snapchat], I hope to capture and share the strange intricacies and surreal dissonance of daily life and violence in Israel and Palestine.
How does the message on the back interact with the idealized image on the front?
The project has since grown to also interrogate routes of communication and the shifting from a virtual space to a concrete object which will pass from me to its recipient and be held in the hands of many others along the way. A postcard is very public: anyone can read what is written on the back. Who knows who will come across my message?
My list of addresses to send postcards to soon became a challenge in and of itself: can I send mail to my friend in Beirut? In Cairo? In Dubai? In Ramallah? What are the implications of the Israeli stamp and the Israeli post on crossing borders and forging bonds throughout the region? Will me and my friend in Dubai be black-listed for communicating? Will the message ever arrive?
The title of [un]Holy Land is meant to reflect my own questions of what does holiness mean? How does the construction of Israel as a holy place interact with the very profane, and even unholy, events of daily life?
This project concluded September 2017. Postcards were mailed out, hopefully reaching their destinations, and definitely had an adventure along the way.