The Saga of Abdul Halim

We recently posted the introduction to photojournalist William Parry’s new book Against the Wall: The Art of Resistance in Palestine, as well as a selection of images. Below please find one final excerpt from the book, detailing the struggle of a Palestinian man named Abdul Halim whose home in Nazlit Issa in the northwestern West Bank was commandeered as a base for the Israeli army while his territorial holdings were truncated by the West Bank Wall. Following the excerpt are 9 images of Abdul Halim, his home and village, and the Wall.

All photographs by William Parry.

(Click here to view an interview with Parry on Rattansi & Ridley.)

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If you were Abdul Halim, with a wife and children dependent on you, what would you do? You’re building a large, new home for the family – your sons are nearing that age when they will marry and they will share the house and start their own families. As the house nears completion, Israeli soldiers recognise its strategic position and decide they’ll position themselves on the rooftop – and there they set up base. The commander, his soldiers and their guns say: ‘We’re going to use your rooftop whether you like it or not.’ They station themselves there for 18 months and completion of the house is postponed as it’s now effectively a military structure, replete with bullet-proof glass. Things then get even worse: the house abuts the Green Line and you receive notice that the building you have nearly completed is going to be demolished to make way for the Wall. However, the Israeli military intervenes, telling the Israeli Civil Administration folk: ‘Don’t demolish it, we’re using it.’ Civil Administration agrees to freeze the demolition order – and it remains frozen to this day.

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Is the spray can mightier than the sword?

This is the question posed by photojournalist William Parry at the start of his new book Against the Wall: The Art of Resistance in Palestine (Pluto Press, May 2010), in which he documents graffiti artwork on the West Bank Wall and the stories of Palestinians whose lives are affected by said monstrosity.

Below is the introduction to the book, which has been endorsed by political cartoonist Joe Sacco, among others.

Check back early next week for a selection of images from Against the Wall.

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In December 2007, the celebrated and famously elusive British street artist, Banksy, and a London-based organisation called Pictures on Walls, relocated their annual ‘squat art concept store’ called Santa’s Ghetto from London to Bethlehem and invited 14 other international street artists to join him to work with Palestinian artists. The concept was simple: the artists would make artwork available for sale by auction to the public – but those wanting to buy an original work of art by Banksy or the others had to physically go to Bethlehem, witness Israel’s occupation and checkpoints, and bid in person. The artists also used the opportunity to utilise the Wall as a giant billboard for their own political messages with some massive, stunning images – wall spaces throughout the city were also populated with work that challenged or subverted understandings about the reality faced by Palestinians under occupation. Within a few short weeks, Santa’s Ghetto had raised over $1 million from art sales for local charities and brought Bethlehem and the Wall to the world’s attention in a way that transcended language and engaged millions who wouldn’t ordinarily take an interest in Israel’s illegal occupation of Palestine. Just as important, it sent a message to the people of Palestine: you are not alone in your struggle.

Continue reading “Is the spray can mightier than the sword?”