Friday, November 28, 2008


This week Emad Bornat from Bil'in village, west of Ramallah, was taken to hospital in a serious condition after a tractor accident. Returning home after ploughing his fields, Emad was forced to detour down a steep hill because of the illegal apartheid wall separating his lands from the village.  His tractor overturned into the mesh and razor wire barrier.  Israeli road blocks delayed the ambulance from reaching hospital, where doctors removed his spleen,  for more than an hour.

Emad has fought the occupation with his video camera for many years.  He is never absent from the weekly demonstrations at Bili'in, documenting the theft of land and the human rights abuses taking place. He shows great personal courage, getting up close when the bullets are flying, even after his camera was shattered - while he was filming - by a live round. His video footage can be seen on YouTube.

I am proud to claim Emad as a friend.  Please pray for his safe recovery.

Tuesday, November 25, 2008

The sun is shining

Another dove of peace painted on the apartheid wall. This one is bound and blindfolded, it cannot even attempt to fly.  A powerful symbol.

The poet Chaim Nahman Bialik makes the point, in what is almost a Jewish haiku:
"The sun is shining
The acacia is blooming
And the slaughterer is still slaughtering."

Saturday, November 22, 2008

The dove

On a nearby wall in Bethlehem is this painting of a dove in flight, wearing a flak jacket and carrying an olive branch in its beak. A sniper has it in his telescopic sights.

The so-called peace process is equally doomed.  Year follows year of fruitless negotiations.   Nothing is achieved.  And this suits Israel's purpose down to the ground.  After all, the state of Israel was founded on terrorism and military might and, while "peace negotiations" drag endlessly on, the dispossession of Palestinians from their homes, lands and businesses continues unabated.  As a militaristic economy, with the fourth largest sales of arms worldwide, Israel goes from strength to strength. Why would they want a peace agreement?

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

The struggle

What is one to make of this wall painting on the side of a building near Bethlehem? Two donkeys, their tails tied together, pull in opposite directions. The white donkey appears to have a Palestinian village on its back while the black donkey supports a Jewish settlement (the trees and the style of buildings give the clue). The donkeys - notoriously stubborn beasts - appear to be engaged in a futile, unthinking struggle.

If the artist has used the donkeys as a metaphor for the struggle between Palestinians and the Jewish settler movement then he (or she) is way off the mark. Settlements in the West Bank are encouraged, protected and supported by the government of Israel as part of its decades-old campaign to ethnically cleanse the land of its indigenous population.  Israel, with the fourth most powerful army in the world (one which has the power and military hardware to crush Australia's armed forces) is opposed by a handful of lightly-armed resistance fighters in Gaza. Economically, Israel boasts one of the highest per capita incomes in Europe.  It has imposed a "surrender or starve" policy upon the populations of Gaza and the West Bank, where poverty is widespread.

To depict this as a struggle between equals, or infer a moral equivalence in the Palestinian or Israeli positions is, quite frankly, disgusting.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Nothing lasts forever

A corner of the apartheid wall near Bethlehem, complete with watch tower, razor wire and graffiti.  On this side, Palestinians.  On the other side, the spreading cancer of Jewish settlements built on stolen land, and Palestinians cut off from their neighbours and families.

Friday, November 14, 2008

The human spirit

On this grey obscenity which has been designed to grab land and split communities -even families - apart, the human spirit shines through.  Amongst the political statements and messages of solidarity there are moments of happiness and even humour.

Talking to people throughout the Occupied West Bank I couldn't get over their lack of bitterness. Mostly, they felt bewilderment: Why do the Jews steal our land?  Why won't they live in peace? And the one I couldn't answer: If people in the West know what is happening here, why do they do nothing?

Tuesday, November 11, 2008

The evil you deplored

Great image!  The camel is being swarmed by tiny figures emerging from the depths. Down at the base of the wall someone has asked the question: "Israel - have you become the evil you deplored?"

For many of us the question is rhetorical - and the answer is "Yes".  Like the abused child who goes on to himself become an abuser, most modern-day Israelis are indifferent to the sufferings of the people they have dispossessed.  They enjoy their privileged lives upon the suffering, despair and pain of the indigenous population, the Palestinians.  So much pain and suffering, all predicated upon a belief that there is such a thing as a Chosen People.

Saturday, November 8, 2008

I'm from Texas

One of the more down-to-earth images appearing on the apartheid wall lampoons the 43rd president of the United States of America, whose foreign policy has proved such a disaster for that country.  He and his neo-con henchmen leave behind a legacy of death, destruction and misery throughout the Middle East. His delusional secretary of state, Condoleezza Rice, recently declared herself: "especially proud of the situation in the Palestinian territories".

The hopes of millions around the world are pinned to the president-elect, Barack Obama. He seems like a decent sort of person. However, his appointment of Rahm Emanuel, son of an Israeli terrorist and himself a hardline supporter of the Zionist state, as his chief of staff, sends an alarming message.  If the Barack administration continues the disastrous policy of putting Israel's so-called interests ahead of American interests then Israelis and Palestinians will continue on in their lethal struggle for the forseeable future. 

Tuesday, November 4, 2008


This series of large-scale photo portraits has been pasted on The Wall near Bethlehem.  The grimacing faces make a powerful statement - the nature of which eludes me!

This part of The Wall is rich in graffiti and street art and has become something of an "in" tourist destination.  The nearby shops, however, struggle to exist, as foreign tourists are warned against entering Bethlehem (or indeed, anywhere on the West Bank) for "security reasons" by the occupying Israelis.  This is a strategy in their ongoing campaign to ethnically cleanse Palestinian neighbourhoods - starve them out and they will, in desperation, abandon their homes and businesses.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

An olympic sport

While I was photographing The Wall at Qalandia four young children came out of their nearby houses to see what I was doing.   I agreed to take their photos and, despite the lack of a common language, we established a rapport.  When it was time to leave I said my goodbyes and walked off.  I hadn't gone far before a shower of stones came whizzing past.  I thought I was their friend! Later, an acquaintance explained that stone-throwing amongst Palestinian kids is almost the national pastime, and if it is ever made into an olympic sport then Palestinians will be world champions.  *

Which is all very amusing until you reflect that a number of kids have been shot dead while throwing stones at Israeli tanks and armoured personnel carriers, and that many young stone-throwers rot in Israeli jails at this very moment.

*  I would like to add that, at the time, I thought: "Israeli soldiers and border police have fired rubber-coated steel bullets at me and missed (except once).  So give it your best shot, kids." But no, I didn't.  I was really pissed off.

Saturday, November 1, 2008

Another world

The quote on the right, attributed to Arundhati Roy, reads: "Another world is not only possible, she's on the way.  Many of us won't be here to greet her, but on a quiet day, if you listen very carefully, you can almost hear her breathing".

Heartbreaking, when you think of the generations of Palestinians who have passed away while waiting to return to their beloved homeland.