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Beyond Sides: Towards Reconciliation in Israel and Palestine

  • Woolworth Room 217 15 Barclay Street New York, NY, 10007 United States (map)

Saskia Bory Keely, a Swiss humanitarian photojournalist and documentarian, joined the Peace Research and Education and Program (PREP) and the Peace and Conflict Transformation (PACT) student group to share images, methods and inspiring stories from the photography workshops she has conducted each of the past three summers with Israeli women settlers and Palestinian women living in the West Bank.

By sharing the bold and intimate photos taken of and by participants -- many of whom were spending time with the other for the first time -- Keely illustrated the arc of transformation of attitudes, perceptions and relationships that occurs as a result of participation in the four-day workshops. The camera serves as an equalizing tool in the workshops, creating the circumstances for women to occupy shared spaces, make connections, and build trust across deeply ingrained cultural, political, and physical barriers. The photos and the shared experience of taking them are organic catalysts for difficult and painful conversations, bold questions, and necesitate listening to one another and recognition of the complicated roles both groups play in each other’s lives. The beautifully composed photos serve to humanize the participants to one another and highlight the mutuality of their lives while recognizing unequal power dynamics.

Keely’s workshops are a powerful example of how creativity -- and the vulnerability and empowerment that comes from the process of creation -- can plant the seeds for reconciliation in a conflict so often portrayed as intractable.