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Fractured look, fractured reality

Contributed by Toine Van Teeffelen on 12.03.2014:

Column from Bethlehem

Toine van Teeffelen

March 2014

At breakfast I mention my plan to visit an exhibit of Palestinian photographer Elias Halabi next to the Wall at Claire’s. It is called “Fracturing Separation.” There are two possible spoilers: heavy rain (good for the country after an extremely dry winter) and teargas. There have been almost daily clashes at Aida camp, as no less than seven Palestinians were killed by the Israeli army on Monday and Tuesday.

Mary asks whether I heard about the Palestinian judge killed at the Allenby Bridge to Jordan. While passing the border he – according to the Israeli army version –wanted to hit a soldier with an iron pole, then attempted to strangle another soldier. But who would do this at the border… a judge?

On Monday a Birzeit student who apparently threw stones was killed by soldiers. In south Gaza three militants were killed. In the northern West Bank what may have been a car thief was killed by the army while driving – or was it a car accident? A fractured – and heavily oppressive – reality. The best Palestinian news agency, Maan, gives the different versions of the news events.

No teargas at Rachel’s Tomb. So I go, despite the rain, to the Fracturing Separation exhibit. According to the dictionary “to fracture” means “break or cause to break.” Several of the photographer’s pictures look through small openings in the Wall, as if peeping through a closed curtain. One photo is called “Waraa jidaar… dar” – “behind the wall… a house.” The house is barely be seen on the other side; the symbol of life hidden behind the symbol of death. Jara told me that once she looked through such an opening and saw right in the eyes of a religious Jew visiting Rachel’s Tomb. What do you read in such eyes?

Another poster shows the two divided sides at the end of a stretch of the Wall, where it breaks off. Still another presents the Wall as if on a Christmas card, the surroundings covered by snow. An alienating look.

Many visitors take pictures of the pictures put in front of the Wall. The VIPs hear the photographer’s explanations. On the way back I notice the wall story poster that has recently been damaged. Should it be repaired? Rania looks at it differently. Maybe just leave the poster as it is. After all, stories too can be fractured, sometimes.

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