ICAHD held an opening ceremony for the new exhibit on Saturday 3rd November documenting the traumas and struggles of the Shawamreh family who have had their home demolished four times. Since Israelis rarely travel to the Occupied Territories (except as soldiers or settlers), ICAHD brings the realities of the Occupation to them through exhibitions. ICAHD also works with overseas partners to create exhibitions that raise awareness about house demolitions outside of Israel.
Currently ICAHD is holding three photo exhibitions in three different parts of the world:
- The Occupation on Our Heads in Palestine
- The Sky in My House in Italy
- Jerusalem Dispossessed in the USA
The Occupation on Our Heads opened in Anata on the 3rd November 2007. It is a photo exhibition documenting the courageous struggle of the Shawamreh family to build and live in their own home. Composed of 58 pictures taken over nine years, 1998-2007, from the time of the first home demolition until today, The Occupation on Our Heads graphically illustrates the abuse of Israeli planning law and enforcement to deny the Shawamreh family their right to a home.
Salim and Arabiya Shawamreh have built and had their West Bank home in the village of Anata demolished four times. The exhibition tells how the Shawamrehs were forced to build their house illegally, as are thousands of other Palestinians. Israel uses old British mandate laws predating Israel to restrict Palestinian building to levels in 1942. These laws are abused to “legally” deny building permits to Palestinians throughout the Occupied Territories, including the Shamwareh family.
The Shawamrehs tried to work with the system, applying for a building permit from the Israeli Supreme Court. However the Shawamreh family’s new home was destroyed in 1998 for the first time. The photos explain that despite their trauma, fear and financial ruin, the family rebuilt their home as a political act of resistance to the injustice of the Occupation. Palestinian, Israeli and international volunteers came together and rebuilt what was called “The House of Peace”.
Yet again, Israeli authorities demolished the newly constructed home, even before the family could move in. Refusing to allow the Occupation to prevail, the Shawamrehs again rebuilt their home with ICAHD, the LDC (Land Defence Committee) and their activists, local neighbors and the entire Anata community. Again it was demolished, after the Shawamrehs had slept in it only one night. The home was subsequently rebuilt and demolished twice more, but still the Shawamrehs would not give in. In 2003 their house was rebuilt for the fifth time and they lodged yet another appeal with the Israeli Supreme Court to grant them a building permit.
The Shawamrehs have realized that the Israeli authorities will never allow them to live in their home. The exhibition documents their decision to dedicate their home as a peace center, a place where Palestinians, Israelis and Internationals can meet in order to develop campaigns that will end the Occupation, until that day when they can actually move in. The home/center has been named named Beit Arabiya in honor of Arabiya Shamwamreh.
This exhibit is available on loan to organizations in Israel and abroad. Contact us for information.
The Sky in My House will open in Naples in 2008. It informs visitors about the cruel impact of house demolitions upon Palestinians in Israel, and shows Israel’s systematic discrimination in housing policy against the Palestinian population living under Occupation.
The exhibition comprises 30 photographs from different photographers exploring three main issues:
- The process of demolition
- The consequences of demolition on families and individuals
- The process of reconstruction.
The photography exhibition is accompanied by a screening of the film ‘Inshallah’ – a documentary about house demolitions in East Jerusalem and West Bank made by ICAHD members in April 2007.
This project has been developed by ICAHD – Israeli Committee Against House Demolitions – CISS – International Cooperation South South – and the Province of Naples.