It’s a tiny dot deep in the desert, hidden in a wild sweep of hills and rock and narrow goat-tracks, brown-beige-gold. It’s the end of the world. A rough road takes you there. There’s a bigger village, Isfay, on the ridge above it; they have a health clinic and a wind turbine. Magha’ir al-‘Abid, “Caves of the Slaves,” has a few dozen souls, most of whom live in caves. Each of the caves has a carved stone façade, and inside they’re well appointed, clean, warm on this sunny mid-winter day. Outside you hear wind rippling over sand and the gentle bleating of goats and sheep.
I am trying to make the best out of an unwelcome break from the Palestinian territories with a few modest digressions. This one, from January, 2017, could also have been titled “the lonely demonstration.” I prepared it in a more innocent time, but never posted it until a thread on crowd photography, on the FlakPhoto Network, inspired me to take it out of mothballs. The third to last image is the cover of a book due out next week, Photography and Imagination, which I co-edited with Amos Morris-Reich.
Nothing can happen in many different ways. When it does happen it is always eventful, full of tension and suspense. Sometimes nothing takes a very long time, and often a lot of work to happen. Here are three brief stories:
‘Aziza proudly shows us the faucet. It’s a
miracle: you just turn it, and water
flows. She’s never had running water in her home. Comet Middle East put in the
water tower and the pump to draw water from the well.
“Soldiers are always training for one war or another,” says Yehuda Amichai in one of his poems. For the Bedouins of the Abu al-Kibash clans in the northern Jordan Valley, several times each year, the Army’s training exercises on their lands means forced evacuation. The arbitrary declaration of military “firing zones” in the Valley is an instrument for mass expulsion of Palestinian Bedouins. A large percentage of all the lands of the Jordan Valley belong to this category. There is no attempt to hide the final goal.
Army and police swarming all over the roads. Just a week ago they arrested seventeen activists (out of 120) who were fixing the road to Bi’r al-‘Id. Now, still early morning, a car stops beside us. The officer, bored, irascible, dazed, asks what we’re doing.