After The Watchman, 2018
What, what, from night to night?
Silence in the Valley.
Sleep, Valley, land of glory.
We stand guard over you.
Nathan Alterman, Song of the Valley (1934)
The story of the monument in Sheikh Abreikh:
Long praised over the centuries for its fertility and beauty, the Valley of Jezreel, Emek Yizra’el, is described in the Hebrew Bible and by Josephus Flavius as the place of important historical battles. For Christian eschatology, the Jezreel Valley is where the final struggle between Good and Evil will take place.
During the British mandate, the creation of the first Kibbutzim by Jewish farmers in Emek Yizra’el fulfilled the ethos of the Labor Zionist Movement. Alexander Zaïd was one of them. An orphan, Zaïd moved in 1904 from Vilna to Palestine at the age of 15. A prominent figure of the Second Aliya, he founded the first Jewish self-defense organizations. He settled in 1936 with his family in Sheikh Abreik with the mission to oversee and protect the lands of the Jewish National Fund. On July 10th 1938, Zaïd was ambushed by an Arab gang and shot to death.
Today, on the hill of Sheikh Abreik, stands a bronze monument in his memory, not far from Beit She’arim, the ancient Herodian Hebrew city and necropolis that Zaïd helped discovered.
The impassible watchman on his horse now oversees a valley crisscrossed by motorways under construction and banners against a planned controversial civil airport.
Incidentally, the performance took place on July 10th 2018, exactly 80 years after Alexander Zaïd was left bleeding to death on a side road.
Performed by Ram Atkin Matzliach and photos by Gal Mosenson
Produced in collaboration with Beit Hankin in Kfar Yehoshua