Part 3: Israeli Separation Wall, Jerusalem

“Just like they brought the Berlin Wall down, so too will this wall come down.”


Detail #3, The Separation Wall, Seen from Bloomfield Gardens, Jerusalem 2011

© Leslie Hossack

The question of inclusion and exclusion permeates my photographs of modern Israel and historic Berlin. This theme underscores every image, but it is most obvious in photographs of walls: the walls of the Old City, the walls of Masada, the Western Wall, the Separation Wall, and of course the Berlin Wall.

Some observers have compared the Israeli barrier to the Berlin Wall, but the provocation, purpose and impact need to be examined separately. To borrow from Robert Frost’s poem Mending Wall, one was built for “walling out” and one for “walling in.” The Israeli barrier is still standing, but the Berlin Wall fell November 9th, 1989. René Backmann, author of A Wall In Palestine, writes: “I still can’t believe that what the entire world saw fall down yesterday in Berlin could be a solution tomorrow for Jerusalem.”

In 2007, a group of German bishops toured Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories. They were upset by the Jerusalem Wall, the concrete barrier seen in this photograph. While crossing into East Jerusalem, Cardinal Meisner, Archbishop of Cologne, said: “This is something that is done to animals, not people.” He was referring to the wall and the fortified checkpoints where Palestinians are subjected to questioning and demands for Israel-approved documentation. The Archbishop, who grew up in Communist East Germany, added: “For me it is a nightmare. I didn’t think I would see such a wall again in my life… Just like they brought the Berlin Wall down, so too will this wall come down.”

Part 2: Israeli Separation Wall, Jerusalem

“Something there is that doesn’t love a wall, that wants it down.”


Detail #2, The Separation Wall, Seen from Bloomfield Gardens, Jerusalem 2011

© Leslie Hossack

The Israeli Separation Wall, barely visible in this photograph, runs along the top of the distant ridge. For the entire length of the barrier, there are observation posts, sensing devices, and gateways controlled by Israeli soldiers.

Passage through these gateways is particularly difficult for Palestinians living in the West Bank, even if they have the required permits. The barrier restricts access to their own fields and orchards and wells, to health care and education, to jobs, and to holy sites in Jerusalem. Since construction of the barrier started in 2002, Palestinians have taken their concerns to the Israeli courts numerous times, but with mixed results.

The Israeli separation fence, or the apartheid wall as Palestinians prefer to call it, brings to mind a passage from Robert Frost’s poem Mending Wall.

Before I built a wall I’d ask to know
What I was walling in or walling out,
And to whom I was like to give offence.
Something there is that doesn’t love a wall,
That wants it down.

In 2004, the International Court of Justice ruled that Israel’s security barrier was a violation of international humanitarian law. The Court called for the barrier to be removed, for Arab residents to be compensated, and for other nations to take action to obtain Israel’s compliance with the Fourth Geneva Convention. Immediately, the United Nations General Assembly voted 150-6 to condemn Israel and demand removal of the barrier. Israel has not taken down the Separation Wall, but has continued to add to it.