Daily Picture Show

The Palestine That Isn't In The Headlines

  • Mahmud, at his vineyard in Wadi Fuqin, Palestinian territories
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    Mahmud, at his vineyard in Wadi Fuqin, Palestinian territories
    Leeor Kaufman
  • Taha (right), photographed in 2010, was planning to start studying at Bethlehem University next year, but most of the young who graduate are unemployed.
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    Taha (right), photographed in 2010, was planning to start studying at Bethlehem University next year, but most of the young who graduate are unemployed.
    Leeor Kaufman
  • Beitar Illit is being built in order to provide housing for the orthodox community that is experiencing a housing shortage in Jerusalem.
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    Beitar Illit is being built in order to provide housing for the orthodox community that is experiencing a housing shortage in Jerusalem.
    Leeor Kaufman
  • Adnan picking sabras at his fields at Wadi Fuqin.
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    Adnan picking sabras at his fields at Wadi Fuqin.
    Leeor Kaufman
  • The ongoing construction of Beitar Illit above the ancient farming terraces of Wadi Fuqin.
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    The ongoing construction of Beitar Illit above the ancient farming terraces of Wadi Fuqin.
    Leeor Kaufman
  • A Palestinian boy from Wadi Fuqin aims a toy gun at the Beitar Illit settlement.
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    A Palestinian boy from Wadi Fuqin aims a toy gun at the Beitar Illit settlement.
    Leeor Kaufman
  • Jamil is treating the ancient canal, letting the water flow to his fields. The ruined landscape in the background is a result of quarrying stones for the settlement construction.
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    Jamil is treating the ancient canal, letting the water flow to his fields. The ruined landscape in the background is a result of quarrying stones for the settlement construction.
    Leeor Kaufman
  • An agriculture field at Wadi Fuqin is covered with waste spilled from the construction sites of the Beiter Ililit settlement.
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    An agriculture field at Wadi Fuqin is covered with waste spilled from the construction sites of the Beiter Ililit settlement.
    Leeor Kaufman
  • Hamad, cleaning his radishes before taking them to the market.
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    Hamad, cleaning his radishes before taking them to the market.
    Leeor Kaufman
  • Some of the village fields still get sufficient water from the springs and are still fruitful.
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    Some of the village fields still get sufficient water from the springs and are still fruitful.
    Leeor Kaufman
  • Families from the village pick fruit for the evening dinner during Ramadan.
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    Families from the village pick fruit for the evening dinner during Ramadan.
    Leeor Kaufman
  • Muhamad, 18, wants to work and study but is unemployed — and studying is too expensive if he can't find work.
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    Muhamad, 18, wants to work and study but is unemployed — and studying is too expensive if he can't find work.
    Leeor Kaufman
  • A Palestinian teenager bathes in the ancient farming pools of Wadi Fuqin.
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    A Palestinian teenager bathes in the ancient farming pools of Wadi Fuqin.
    Leeor Kaufman
  • Jamil takes cabbages to the market in Bethlehem.
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    Jamil takes cabbages to the market in Bethlehem.
    Leeor Kaufman
  • Karim is studying for an exam, near his home at Wadi Fuqin. The youth of the village are very educated and most of them continue to study university in Palestinian territories.
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    Karim is studying for an exam, near his home at Wadi Fuqin. The youth of the village are very educated and most of them continue to study university in Palestinian territories.
    Leeor Kaufman

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The word "Palestine" often conjures up mental images informed by the news: bombings, riots, protests, etc. Israeli photographer Leeor Kaufman, though, "would be glad if people would get a deeper and different perspective these days," he says.

Now based in Brooklyn, Kaufman grew up in Tel Aviv, Israel, and often ventured into Arab villages in the West Bank. As a student in film school, he began documenting those villages, and one in particular, Wadi Fuqin.

In 2010, UNESCO recognized Wadi Fuqin as a potential World Heritage Site, describing it as "the best preserved and continuously managed cultural landscape of its type in all the West Bank."

Kaufman describes it as "a well-preserved model of a traditional agricultural way of life developed thousands of years ago."

But the Palestinian Authority, because it is not a sovereign state, cannot register a site under the World Heritage Convention. A state, such as Israel, would have to do it.

Wadi Fuqin lies in a valley and relies on mountain spring water for irrigation. On a hillside east of the village is one of the fastest-growing Israeli settlements in the West Bank, Beitar Illit, which threatens Wadi Fuqin's water supply with its sewage, according to Palestinians.

And to the west of the village, Israel's West Bank separation barrier has also created difficulties and complicated the water supply system.

Kaufman's poetic photos of life in Wadi Fuqin are not about conflict, though. They are informed by his personal desire for harmony, and his quest to simply document a place as it evolves.

"So many Arab villages are gone and can only be visualized through the refugees' memories," he explains. "I wanted to make pictures of the villagers in their fields with their produce — trying to make ... the image they would have in their memory."

In this video, a teenager in Wadi Fuqin explains life in his village.

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