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The Jerusalem Scrolls, 2003

In my  Jerusalem Scrolls  (2003-2007) I try to witness and capture the short stories behind the checkpoints and the “Separation Wall resulting from the physical, geographical and political changes that took place at the edge of the city of Jerusalem. The first  Jerusalem Scroll created in September 2003, bares witness to the erection of the concrete Barrier in Adu Dis in East Jerusalem. My incursions into the ‘Border Land’ started in 2002, soon after soon after a suicide bomber blew himself up at the entrance of the popular café ‘Moment’ killing 11 people and wounding many more. As insecurity and violence enhanced a feeling of helplessness, I began to travel to the edge of the city in order to better grasp the conflict. I first went to Adu Dis with a Palestinian  colleague, joining from time to time women from Machsom Watch. These women see themselves as ‘civilians challenging the military on its own ground,’ this radical and subversive movement of Israeli civilian women became ‘observers’ at checkpoints back in 2001, bearing witness in the form of reports after each observation. All voluntaries, they  a source of inspiration in these gloomy days of terror and military retaliation. In 2005 when I became a freelance photojournalist I could more easily go cover demonstrations against the Wall. The construction of the Wall which began in 2002 has definitely reduced terror attacks within the city of Jerusalem yet it has also created tremendous daily difficulties for the Palestinian population, enhancing the mutual alienation between the two people.

In one of my scrolls I have photographed a Women’s Peace March that took place in February 2006. It depicts Israelis and Palestinian women from the Jerusalem Link demonstrating against the Barrier. The women started their march at the A’ ram checkpoint and walked until the Qalandiya’s terminal which at the time was still under construction. The march comprised both Israeli women from Bat Shalom and Palestinian women from the Jerusalem Center for Women. The two organizations share a set of political principles, which serve as the foundation for a cooperative model of co-existence between the two respective peoples. They believe a viable solution of the conflict must be based on recognition of the right of the Palestinian people to self-determination and an independent state alongside the state of Israel with Jerusalem as the capital of both states.

Another two scroll depict the Riots of February 2007 that took place in East Jerusalem (over the Mugrabi issue of the bridge built next to the Wailing Wall and seen as a danger by the Moslem community). One of the scrolls depicts men  praying outside the Damascus Gate. As the prayer ends a man makes a provocative  speech, he is arrested by the border police, this provokes riots. Stun grenades are thrown, rubber bullets are shot, people flee in all direction, a man is wounded. In the second scroll, Border policeman and Palestinians rioters clashes in the vicinity of the Al-Aqsa Mosque where hundred of angry Muslim worshippers threw stones and scuffled with security forces. Soon the narrow streets are filled with clouds of tears gas and sharp booms of stun grenades, the population remained inside their houses until they felt secure enough to come out to find broken cars and the cobblestones walkways littered with rubble, iron bars and vegetables thrown by the protesters.

Ariane Littman