Ominous 25ft walled gates wrapped in barbed wire and torn plastic bags escorted my crossing. Passport control, one-way turnstile, another passport control. An endless reminder of entering somewhere forbidden, dangerous as I cleared each security check, until the last gates opened and I entered Bethlehem, said birthplace of Jesus Christ.
Snaking for miles, dividing the Holy Land, stark gray walls on the Israeli side give way to artistic expression canvassed across the Palestinian walls, so began my journey of photographing these images.
I was advised to keep my nationality quiet, but when the first question, “Where are you from?” reverberates down corridors and alleyways within the Middle East, I prefer not to lie, “I’m American.”
This set off a monologue of emotion with misunderstanding, sadness and rare spouts of anger. At times, we were brushed off or asked to leave, more often we were invited into the homes of Muslims, a gesture of peace.
As a non-Muslim woman, I was surprised when the Muezzin of the Bethlehem Mosque invited me upstairs to his Minaret, a room reserved for men, where at precisely 1:15 he sang the call to prayer.
The Israeli-Palestinian conflict remains one of the world’s major sources of instability. Through my extensive travels, humanity prevails and people world wide share the same aspirations- a world free of war, famine and destruction.