Instead, he not only found the locals welcoming, but he took more than
1,000 pictures, including many from two weeks on the West Bank (known
to Israel as Judea and Samaria), staying with locals and visiting the
region’s towns, villages and refugee camps.
Two weeks in the West Bank
On Will Boland’s trip this summer through Lebanon, Jordan and a
Palestinian swath of Israel, he expected at least some hostility from
“I’ve never been more well received anywhere as I was in
the Arab world,” he said. “They have a tradition of
hospitality. It’s fundamental to their culture and I guess I
wasn’t quite ready for that ... So it was very much a surprise
and a pleasure.”
Before traveling through the Palestinian territory with an organized
group, Boland traveled on his own, from Amman, Jordan, to Beirut,
Lebanon, through Lebanon’s Bekaa Valley back into Jordan and
south to Aqaba, on the Red Sea, crossing into Israel at the resort town
of Eilat. He went north to Jerusalem and then the few miles to
Bethlehem, in the West Bank, meeting up with a group organized by
Whitefish-based Neighbors East to West, a group “promoting peace
through personal contact and experience,” going back to the days
of the Soviet Union, according to its website.
Boland will share some of what he saw through his lens in a slideshow
Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 7 p.m. in the large meeting room in Lewis and
Boland, who also visited Iran in 2009, is well aware of the criticism
he may face for making such a trip, and for his potentially positive
portrayal of the Palestinian people, in light of the long history
attacks by Palestinian forces against Israelis. But he said he aims to
give voice, through the photos, to people he says are often voiceless
in the Western media.
“If you can bring back images, that sheds light on the subject right away,” he said.
The photos — Boland may show about 140 at the library Wednesday
— include images of the people and land, both urban and pastoral
scenes. There are children, elderly people and hip-looking students
from Bethlehem University, busy street scenes and shots of the security
wall and guard towers. Many photos show the extensive graffiti on the
security infrastructure and other surfaces, reminiscent of the graffiti
on the Berlin Wall. They show barbed wire, open fields, blocky
apartment buildings, soldiers and guns.
And while Boland describes the West Bank population as upbeat and
spirited, it’s still a place of checkpoints, curfews and a
400-mile security wall, which snakes across the landscape in some of
his photos. Everyone there knows the Army, with its helicopters, is
just minutes away.
“No matter what they suffer, they tend to feel it’s the
will of God, and they can smile through it,” he said.
“It’s a feeling of being in a fairly pleasant, open prison
The West Bank includes the towns of Bethlehem, Hebron, Nablus and
Jenin, but much of the Palestinian population is agrarian, Boland said.
The trip included visits to what are called refugee camps, those
settlements that began as tent camps about a half-century ago and now
resemble actual towns, housing thousands.
The slideshow is called “Palestine Heartbreak: The slow motion
war” and promises to be a little darker than the mostly cheerful
images in the library lobby, in a setup called simply
Speaking about the slideshow last week, Boland said he’s still
deciding still whether to end it with an upbeat or negative outlook.
Posted in Community on Friday, November 11, 2011 12:00 am | Tags: Palestine, Israel, West Bank