From a village you are and to a village you will return

“For dust you are and to dust you will return.” Thus God curses mankind in Genesis 3:19, a curse that symbolizes the cycle of life and death and the transient and ephemeral nature of human existence. As symbolic as this association between humankind and dust may be, humans became tied to the land, they began to see the land as something they possessed rather than something they were connected to, defining geographic and mental territories and becoming enslaved to narratives. Every culture has its own unique narrative, which in many cases contradicts other narratives. Religious, historical and cultural differences in narratives are a source of hatred and dispute, with each side claiming exclusive ownership of the absolute truth.

In 1953, at a time when government authorities were engaged in destroying hundreds of Palestinian villages that had been emptied of their residents during the war, Marcel Janco became enchanted with the beauty of the deserted Arab village Ein Hawd at the foot of the Carmel Mountains. In the early 1950s Janco was tasked with designing and preserving the Israeli national parks and he promised to find a way to rehabilitate the village and turn it into an art colony. Like many of his generation, Janco saw the ruins of the Arab village only in its scenic context, with the Arab village representing the ancient Israeli landscape. In 1953, the village of Ein Hawd was renamed Ein Hod.

In Arabic the word “Ein” means “wellspring.” According to Arab mythology, a flowing spring symbolizes the incessantly tearing eye of the earth. Spring waters are known for their unique qualities, and legends and stories about them have emerged throughout human history. A natural pool of water usually forms at the foot of the spring, and often this pool is the work of human beings who use it for their sustenance. This is the origin of the name of the village under consideration here: Ein (spring) Hawd (pool).

Golda Meir’s presumptuous declaration that “the old will die and the young will forget” was meant to be a prophecy of sorts regarding the fate of the coming generations of Palestinians born in Israel and in the refugee camps. It was as if she did not or could not fathom that the Palestinians would deliberately insist on remembering. The Promised Land that the people of Israel had dreamed about for two thousand years without ever seeing it, with their knowledge and love for it originating only in descriptions and stories, has become the Promised Land of generations of Palestinian refugees dreaming of their right to return. Indeed, the old have died while the young dream of returning to the land of their ancestors despite never having seen it or set foot on it.
In May 2017 the State of Israel is celebrating 69 years of independence and the fiftieth anniversary of the Six Day War, while the Palestinians are marking the 69th Nakba Day and fifty years since the Naksa. Over the years many have attempted to bring these two narratives together, and many others are still trying. A meeting between the two sides will produce neither historical nor political justice. Yet so long as Ein Hod/Ein Hawd remains a dormant volcano, the topic must continue to be raised anew.

This exhibition raises questions regarding the complex relations between Israel and Palestine in general and the resulting meanings for the villages of Ein Hod/Ein Hawd in particular. None of the artists participating in the exhibition is a resident of either village. This glance from the outside provides room for both direct and indirect reactions. All of us, Israelis and Palestinians alike, carry within ourselves the tensions, anxieties and excess baggage with which we have grown up. These find expression in our daily lives and even more so in creative works of art.

The exhibition includes a study corner containing historical materials on the Ein Hod/Ein Hawd region: books, articles and films taken from field research conducted over the past several years and provided through the courtesy of the Zochrot NGO.

Artists: Raida Adon, Halil Balabin, Haya Jubran, Esther Cohen, Assi Meshullam Ruba Salameh, Adi Oz-Ari, Ashraf Fawakhry, Tamir Zadok, Mahmood Kaiss, Fatma Shanan

Raafat Hattab
Exhibition Curator

The Exhibition was made possible through the support of the Israel Lottery Council for Culture & Arts

Special thenks to Marcia Riklis ans Edna Fast