JERUSALEM and ISRAEL 1983
In 1983 Elaine was invited to teach an antique photographic processes workshop at the Bezalel Institute of Art and Design in Jerusalem. A friend who wanted to visit Israel offered to go with Elaine and act as Julia’s Nanny until I could join them three weeks later.
Jerusalem and Judea has been photographed since 1839, nonetheless I had little anticipation of what I would photograph. Shortly after arriving, Elaine called to say the landscape was amazing, and to bring the longest lens I had, a 30” Goerz Artar as seen on the Home page and below.
At that time the tension between Lebanon and Israel was very high. So it wasn’t a surprise that the long round cylindrical tripod case got me pulled aside immediately for a search.
Everything inside was carefully examined, but it was the film that caused a real problem. Trying to convince the soldiers that the several large boxes of 8″x20″ sheet film could not be opened for their inspection was difficult, but finally reason prevailed.
As photographers in Jerusalem we were not really out of the ordinary. Only our out of the ordinary equipment was viewed with interest or suspicion. Outside the city, I often drew attention from both West Bank residents suspecting Israeli government land surveys, and Israeli soldiers proclaiming the landscape before me was a restricted military area.
The most unnerving moment was stopping to take a photograph on the outskirts of Battir. As I stood under the black cloth focusing the camera, Elaine noticed a large crowd walking toward us. She became wary when she noticed the men ordering the women and children back to the village.
Holding Julia, she climbed out of the car and walked toward the crowd. Quickly surrounded by women and children, she spent time comparing Julia with their babies. As she hoped, that activity softened the moods of the men. The only way to communicate what I was doing was to allow each of the men to view the image on the ground glass. Each one came out from under the cloth smiling, and Arab hospitality came to the fore. Each suggested a place for me to go, assuring me, that it was more beautiful than the view before me.
A few days later, while photographing camels in the Judaean wilderness, we again attracted what seemed at first negative attention. After a discussion of our intent, and views through the camera for the Bedouin elders, we were invited into the family tent for tea. Before things began, the Elder explained that we could stay for three days, but then it would be time to leave.