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Animals in Palestine


About Animals in Palestine

Much gets forgotten and overlooked in conflicts - all the attention goes on human suffering. But conflicts have tremendous effects on other creatures too, and on the condition of the natural environment. Humans, as always self-preoccupied, fail to think of the wider efffects of what we're doing.

But these effects are not all negative. The Israeli separation wall, for example, with cleared security zones around it, serves as an enormous, long and sinuous, undeclared nature reserve. Not even an ecologically managed nature reserve. This gives certain species freedom to live their lives relatively unmolested - lizards, insects, birds, flowers and scrub.

Not that this serves as a justification for the separation wall. But, when the Iron Curtain came down twentyish years ago, Europe's biggest nature reserve was lost, and the land it affected was subjected to that rampant feeding-frenzy called 'development'.

The unintended consequences of conflict rather interest me. It's a matter of seeing such things with an objectivity which steps beyond what we tell ourselves is happening. For example, in Pictures of Palestine I observe that, strangely, and in my judgement, Palestinians are on balance marginally happier than Israelis, even though Israelis have relative freedom and prosperity compared to Palestinians.

But the wall doesn't just keep Palestinians out of what Israelis consider to be their territory - it also keeps Israelis out of Palestinian territory. It walls in both Palestinians and Israelis. It ruins the landscape of this Holy Land. Yet it has its dubious compensations too.

The conflict also means that animals aren't hunted like they are in other lands - all the guns are aimed at humans. Which is tragic, yet also an ironic twist that works in animals' favour. It also favours donkeys, which are kept not just because of rural backwardness and conservatism, but as a reserve transport option in case the Israelis or wider world circumstances shut off the oil or block the roads. Thus, if such a shut-off affects Israelis too, Palestinians will have a survival advantage.

Most of these pictures are of cats and donkeys, but other species I've managed to photograph are included. This is to remind us that there's another side to things, and that human life is not all that goes on around here.

NEXT: The Southern West Bank landscape

© Copyright Palden Jenkins 2011. All text and photographs on this website are copyright Palden Jenkins.
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