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1970, ’Arab al-Shibli. Lives in Haifa.

Unrecognized is a series of photographs taken at the village ’Arab al-N’aim, a village of Palestinians of Bedouin descent, established during the 1930s on Abu Qrad Hill in the Galilee. When the photographs were taken it was repressed by the State of Israel and therefore didn’t officially exist, was not signposted and didn’t appear on official maps. It was one of 179 villages unrecognised by the State of Israel since 1948.
In 1957, a team from the Israel Lands Administration mapped the area and deliberately omitted the village’s stone houses. Wanting to expand a nearby Jewish town and contain the Palestinian Arab population, the government demanded the community relocate to a nearby Palestinian Arab town.
The villagers’ refusal meant that their village was condemned to ‘illegal’ or ‘unrecognised’ status. In winter 1964 they were evacuated, their houses and wells dynamited, the men arrested, forced to pay a fine and to agree not to build permanent houses.
As tax-paying Israeli citizens, the inhabitants of ’Arab al-N’aim were deprived of local representation, health and education facilities and municipal services including sanitation and electricity. They were forced to live in poverty, in shacks made of sheets of tin.
These photographs are concerned with two approaches to someone’s home: the State trying to delete it and the villagers being compelled to demonstrate self defence.

Alexandra MacGilp


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