Recent stories: The Holyland of the settlers (2011-2015)
“Of course it’s worth building my home here, even if I might lose money and my home one day” says one of the young settlers, “ I build my home in a territory which belongs to the Sate of Israel, in a holly land, and I do it for my country. We are in a state of war and our Palestinian neighbors are our enemies”.
The Jewish Settlements in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip and Eastern Jerusalem have become one of the most argumentative issues in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. In the past few months, I have been spending quite some time in the Jewish Settlements, and as a “leftist”, I have been trying to understand the depth of man’s attachment to land and the reasons for one’s willingness to sacrifice himself for land while casting Palestinians away from their homes.
Right wing parties in the Israeli political map have gained much power in the past few years. Government has been supporting the Jewish Settlements and is considerably dependent on the settlers’ votes. The Israeli government spends a great deal of money and resources on these settlements while, at the same time, important national matters such as education and welfare suffer from cutbacks.
In the eyes of the Palestinians, the establishment of Jewish Settlements is an ongoing effort to remove them from their land. An internal committee assigned by the Israeli government has recently determined that there is no occupation in the west bank, the Gaza strip and Eastern Jerusalem, the apparent “occupied territories” are in fact legitimate Israeli territories, and therefore, Israeli citizens are allowed to build their homes in these areas. I chose to focus my photography work on the landscape of the Palestinian villages as it appears from the occupied territories, as well as the intensified building by Jewish settlers in the territories, mostly done with elemental and easy-to-use substance. My work also includes portraits of young settlers known as “hill top youth”. Many of the “hilltop youth” claim that the mainstream settler movement has lost its way, opting for cheap housing built by local Arab labor. “Hilltop youth” often engage in organic farming and favor Hebrew labor - 'Avoda Ivrit' over Palestinian labor. Marital age among the settlers is usually 19-20 years. Man often builds his home by himself, asking for no assistance, and is aware of the fact that since his home is being built illegally- at some point Israeli court might decide to demolish it. A small hut in an olive-tree plantation is all it takes to create a settlement. The Jewish settlers believe that one small hut can be a first step to establish a large city. They also gain much strength from their political power.