ed kashi p h o t o
jewish settlers in the west bank

With the peace process in the Middle East moving ahead, the Jewish settlers living in the Occupied Territories aren't looking forward to the changes that will take place. The first of these settlers to be effected have been those in the Gaza strip with the handing over of authority there to the Palestinians. Once Israel signs an accord with Syria, which seems imminent, the Jews living in the Golan Heights will also be pressured to either move or retrench into siege mentality. But it's those settlers living in the West Bank who will ultimately put up the biggest fight. They are also the ones who are motivated most passionately by the ideology behind Zionism, even viewing themselves as the present day pioneers ordained by God to rebuild the Kingdom of David.

Many of the Jews living in Judea and Samaria, as they call the West Bank, are there due to economic incentives and for the convenience of living within commuting distance of Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. But there is a segment living there specifically for the purpose of carrying out the dream of replanting their roots and rebuilding the Kingdom of David in that conflicted piece of land. This is especially true of those living in Hebron, home of the Cave of the Patriarchs where the tragic massacre took place earlier this year. This city of eighty thousand Arabs and four hundred Jews is often a flashpoint of frustration and conflict.

I have begun a photographic project to document the lives of the Jews who are living out this Zionist dream under pressure and who are potentially standing in the way of the convulsive historical change taking place in the region. It is these people who will not move off the land and let their dream of Eretz Israel be destroyed ever again.

Never before have a people attempted to return to their original homeland to rebuild their past after two thousand years. Zionism is a form of affirmative action, to make up for the historical slights of the Jewish diaspora and the Holocaust. The implacable settlers in the West Bank represent the cutting edge of this mentality. It's an attitude which proclaims dominion over this land, a right of return, an unwillingness to change in the face of moral, political and often violent outrage. The intention of this photographic project is to show the lives of this community and the ways they react to and deal with the tide of history that might sweep over them.

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