Photographic Aggression, Trust, Shame: Susiya, Sheikh Jarrah, June 5, 26, 2015

20150626-IMG_6883lvlcrvYou won’t see the touching photograph I took at a memorial wall in New York after September 11, 2001, when a woman’s smile gave way to tears as my shutter clicked. It amounted to inadvertent aggression. Some regard all “street photography” categorically as aggressive and unethical. But I think photographic aggression needs to be judged on a case-by-case basis, even when that can be difficult. Such moments arise frequently during and between my intermittent visits to Palestine this past year, where I have been thinking about and documenting photographic practices while engaging in them. As a foreigner I learn local customs slowly. In my effort to do no harm, I navigate photography’s interrelations and worry about breaking photographic taboos. Continue reading

you must photograph, asfar, 30 may, 2015


Question: How many Palestinian farmers does it take to plant an olive tree?

Answer: Just one. But only if ten volunteers will watch

This is not a joke. And in fact the farmer had several members of his family at his side. But the farmer and his family can only plant if non-Palestinian activists accompany them. When they plant alone settlers from the illegal settlement above the orchard drive them off. The settlement stands on land belonging to the same group of Palestinian farmers. Continue reading

Susya Demolition Order: Please read and share

2015-03-21 13.17.12Crp

Some of you may recognize Susya (also spelled Susiya) as the name of the tiny village I mentioned in my last post, where two of us visited Nasser, a Palestinian activist, at his home. This town is now threatened with demolition – again. Please read and circulate David Shulman’s letter, which I received early this morning, April 1, 2015 Continue reading

March 14, 2015: Zanuta and Rahwah. David Shulman (text), and Margaret Olin (photography)


Four happy months in India, and today I’m back in south Hebron. Before leaving I asked my friends to finish off the Occupation before I returned, but somehow they haven’t managed this. Yesterday I meet my neighbor Rama in the street, and she asks how it is to be home. It’s good, I say, at first I was even high, but little by little despair seeps in. “That’s right,” she says, “here everything is really fine except for the despair.” Continue reading

A Lovely Day in South Hebron: Second Story


It turned out not to be a story, but it is and is not what it seems – a group of lethargic people on a lazy day. Technical aspects of photography come up in conversation. For a court case, someone explains, there is no need for high-resolution video. Better to use low resolution and save storage space.

Feeling self-indulgent, I distract myself with my camera, set at high resolution. Continue reading

An Eruv in South Hebron

Project20140531_0587-lvlbrnfltAn eruv is a symbolic courtyard used by orthodox Jews.   For one day each week, Shabbat, it turns a group of private dwellings into one shared home for anyone who lives there and wishes to take part.  The transformation allows its inhabitants to carry things (a prayer book, a meal, a child) from their private homes into the public space and throughout the eruv, an activity otherwise forbidden on that day.  For some people, Shabbat would be a somber affair without one.  Others may never even know that this subtle border is there. Here the boundary is designated by a series of poles linked with string to stand for the posts and lintels of interconnecting gateways. Continue reading