Picturing “No Man’s Land”

Rather than security, the wall will only guarantee endless war. Robert Frost wrote that ‘good fences make good neighbors.' What do bad fences make?"

“I began photographing Israel’s ‘Security Fence’ in 2003, a decade after I made my first trip to the Middle East, following the signing of the Oslo Peace Accords. I have been documenting the Arab-Israeli conflict ever since that first visit.Canadian photo journalist Larry Towell is exhibiting his pictures of the Israeli-occupied territories in Palestine, at the Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson. His images provide a sensitive and humane view of the people of the Jenin refugee camp home to some 14 000 Palestinians. Recently, the Magnum photographer had this to say about his experience taking those pictures.

“The wall’s massive concrete and wire construction encroaches over the Green Line – Israel’s pre-1967 borders – and snakes through the private property of Palestinian farmers who had hoped this land would become part of their future state. When finished it could cut off half of what is left of the West Bank.

“The wall comes with watchtowers, checkpoints, security gates, electronic fences, settler roads, military highways, and weapons, guaranteeing an infrastructure of ultimate military control. It is being built with all the short-sighted vision of military logic. The government of Ariel Sharon has convinced many of its citizens that the root cause of terror has nothing to do with the occupation – an occupation that the wall ratifies.

“To those Palestinians living behind the fence, it is an apartheid wall that will confine them to ghettos – cutting them off from schools, hospitals, employment, their land, and each other. Families will be divided by cement and razor wire.

“It may take years. It may be soon. But there is little doubt in my mind that eventually the desperation and humiliation developing behind this barrier will erupt into further violence, blowing up in the faces of those who believe in the psychology of walls. Rather than security, the wall will only guarantee endless war. Robert Frost wrote that ‘good fences make good neighbors.’ What do bad fences make?”

Larry Towell “No Man’s Land,” summer 2005, Fondation Henri Cartier-Bresson, 2 Impasse Lebouis, 14e, tel: 01 56 80 27 03