Thursday, February 27, 2014

One Day in the West Bank

In January 2012, I spent two weeks in Israel/Palestine thanks to the generosity of the wonderful folks who make up the Six Degrees Consortium. I stayed in a convent in Jerusalem's Old City, just a floor above the busy streets of the Muslim Quarter. My time in the Old City was an incredible experience that I will never forget, and there were many moments of joy and discovery. For one day however, I left the magic of the Old City for a tour of the West Bank city of Hebron. Newspaper and television reports had not prepared me for my insight into the reality of life for Palestinians in the occupied territories. I created this series of 12 collages in an attempt to portray the people of Hebron and their struggle for autonomy. More information on the Israel/Palestine situation may be found on the web at, and a weekly newsletter by Professor Mazin Qumsiyeh may be accessed at

Lori Gordon
February 19, 2012
In the narrow, twisting streets of Hebron's Old City marketplace, one can see a strange site by looking overhead. Chain link fence and other heavy gauge wire covers the open area between the rooftops on either side of the street. The wire is necessary to protect the shop owners and customers of the markets from refuse. This trash-garbage, broken pieces of furniture, even large chunks of rebar-embedded concrete-has been thrown from the windows of a high rise apartment building that is situated next to the market. The high rise residents are settlers-hardline Zionists whose avowed purpose is to make Israel/Palestine 100% Jewish.

I decided to use portions of the fence in all of the pieces in this series, both as a visual reminder of the actual wire overhead and as a symbolic device to indicate the virtual prison in which the Palestinians of the occupied territories are forced to live. I also wanted to capture the everyday life of these people; a tailor working in the doorway of his shop, two women on an errand, people with a donkey loaded with belongings making their way through a checkpoint.

My methodology consists of several stages. I first designed the collages on my computer and when I had a mock-up of the piece, I printed out sections of the images on 80 lb. Paper. The images were then individually cut out and fitted together in the manner of a jigsaw puzzle, and adhered to the support. The completed pieces were then coated with a satin UV varnish.

All collages are available for sale. Please email me for prices and availability.
Hebron Collage 1

The expression on this young man's face reflects the misery of the occupation, which has profoundly affected several generations of Palestinians. I placed him walking on the top of several pieces of concrete used by the Israelis to block off a street, and which display grafitti in both English and Arabic. All over the world, there is a growing consensus that the Israeli occupation is a land-based apartheid system, and a call for boycott, divestment and sanctions against Israel is gaining popularity daily. Overhead is the screen of wire, and a pile of settler refuse is in the background.
Hebron Collage 2

I came upon this tailor in his shop, surrounded by his work and intent upon his efforts. He is suspended in mid air, surrounded on all sides by the presence of the settlers.
Hebron Collage 3

The symbolism in this piece is obvious; these men are walking forward, out of the wasteland of the occupation on stepping stones to a future that many people worldwide are affecting to change. Israel is a powerful military state with a profound amount of financial support from other nations, including the United States. The call for BDS campaigns (boycott, divestment and sanctions) is becoming a worldwide phenomenon but change is slow to come to Palestine.
Hebron Collage 4

Palestine can be seen as a study in contrasts, as illustrated by the Israeli jeep and the the boys with their traditional mode of transportation. Both above and below, the chain link fence holds their lives in suspension.
Hebron Collage 6

I saw a good number of Jewish people walking in the Old City area of Hebron, and I do not know if they were settlers or not.  I do know that there are Jews worldwide who are aware of the injustice of the occupation and all of its consequences, many of whom are working to correct the injustice, and I would hate to represent someone who was not a hard core Zionist as a settler. Whoever this man is, he is walking in a chaotic wasteland that is packed with symbolism.