The Non-Decisive Moment

First Published in Activestills: Photography as Protest in Palestine/Israel (2016)

As a photojournalist and activist, I travel from place to place looking for the next event, the next“ decisive moment” (to use the famous words of Henri Cartier-Bresson) of violence and oppression. These moments are often chosen to represent the Israeli occupation. However, the more I traveled and witnessed the occupation, the more I came to understand that violence is not only when military forces shoot at protesters, or when families lose their homes, or live through an airstrike. The ongoing occupation is, in itself, violence. While we (Israelis/colonizers) are able to move freely in and out of the West Bank and our Palestinian photographers and friends are restricted in their movement—this is violence. As Israeli settlements continue to expand and Palestinian lands to contract—this is violence. When our voices are considered valid while Palestinian voices are questioned—this is violence.

These instances of violence, not considered news, take place in between the locations and events of physical confrontations. It is our duty to take pictures of the non-decisive moments because we cannot limit our visual documentation only to those decisive and explicit moments that everyone recognizes as acts of resistance or violence.

For me, these two photographs represent such “non-decisive moments” within the occupation. In the spring of 2008, construction of the Israeli separation wall began on the land of the village of Nilin. The village’s Popular Struggle committee started to organize demonstrations within the broader campaign against wall’s construction. I joined the protests in Nilin the first
week and immediately felt welcome.
After several years of being involved, I had developed friendships in the village. One
weekend, my friend Saeed invited me to stay with his family. After dinner, we went to a wedding
that took place on the main street. After it ended, we walked to a hill overlooking the nearby checkpoint. I could see the lights of Tel Aviv on the horizon. The proximity and the contrast of the wedding to the nearby checkpoint made me understand how the occupation is everywhere, always present. This experience in Nilin gave me a new point of view, as an Israeli and as a photographer, by introducing me to the importance of creating images of the non-decisive moments of the occupation and the Palestinian people who struggle against it.