RAMALLAH, July 1 (JMCC) - How can Palestinians living in Ramallah
picture the city of Jerusalem
– only a few kilometers away but impenetrable?
Palestinian photographer, Osama Silwadi, has breached the city’s blockade with his memories.
Silwadi managed to publish the book “Jerusalem in Pictures,” despite his own inability to enter the city holy to all three monotheistic faiths.
“I have not visited Jerusalem since the year 2000,” he says, “but before that I took tens of photos of the city. When I tried to enter the city again to make the book, occupation authorities prevented me, so I gathered the old pictures with new ones I took of checkpoints and from behind the Wall
, thus completely reflecting the state of blockade.”
Silwadi’s book of 136 pages and 150 pictures reflects the stifling closure imposed on the city and its people.
“This is a book I personally put together in an attempt to document the state of Jerusalem today,” Silwadi says, “because I’m sure that over time it will become a different city with features unrecognizable to its people.”
Silwadi considers his work documenting the state of the city under blockade as more crucial than any political condemnation.
“Israeli changes in Jerusalem nullify its traditional form. The gates of the city and Al-Aqsa compound have changed, the Old City quarters have became interspersed with settlements
Silwadi points out how the Zionist movement was successful in convincing the West that Palestine was an empty land waiting for the establishment of a state for the Jews by using pictures. “How can we stand silent while the city is being ferociously occupied one day at time?” he asks. “I can speak through pictures.”
In his book, Silwadi, who was paralyzed from the waist down by a stray bullet in one of the incidents of security breakdown in the West Bank
, depicts how the Palestinian has become a stranger to Jerusalem.
“”My book illustrates how Palestinians can see Jerusalem now,” he says, “and how non-Palestinians can feel their suffering.” His book is a journey into the city from the perspective of those barred from entering it.
“On the outskirts of Jerusalem, one runs into a military checkpoint called Qalandiya
checkpoint that looks more like a military airport. You then encounter a twisted object surrounding the city called the Wall, before you move from the hills trying to sneak to get a glimpse of al-Aqsa or the Dome of the Rock. If you get any closer you will hundreds of armed soldiers, you will see the Old City as painted by memory, but you will not see the real Jerusalem -- you are a stranger.”