Disclosure along with current events:
I do not take pictures of Palestinians who do not wish to be photographed.
I do take pictures of soldiers and policemen even if they do not wish me to do so, and I publish these photos.
These are both conscious choices. I choose about what and about whom to write, out of everything I see and hear. I also choose what and whom to photograph and publish in these reports.
From the many things I saw and heard and experienced and photographed in the more than two and a half hours I spent there, I choose to tell about Abu Suleiman.
He is an elderly man, whose black-dyed hair does not conceal his age, revealed by his furrowed face. He has been here for many years, a part of the local landscape
I don’t know how many years he has been here, perhaps as many as the checkpoint itself, maybe more, maybe less. Perhaps I’ll know one day.
Abu Suleiman sits on a stool at the entrance to the checkpoint compound next to the cart that is the source of his livelihood, a cart loaded with snacks and candy and other trivia. It’s a mobile cart, and next to it is a crate with bottles of soft drinks and water at 1 shekel a piece. He’s a friendly, warm-hearted man who never raises his voice, never tries to coddle customers. Just waits for them to come.
Abu Suleiman has a home of his own, in Hebron. He has a home and he is here, a home far away from home. A place to spend the night, a rented spot in A-Ram town. The need to earn a living has forced him there.
All week he is here with his wife. They return there, to their family, on weekends and holidays.
All hours of the day Abu Suleiman sits alone by his cart. The child-vendors whom he likes keep him company. He spoils them and smiles at them as if they were his grandchildren. At evening time he is joined by his wife and together they push the heavy cart along all the way to A-Ram.
Why do I tell you about Abu Suleiman ? Because he is no longer at his usual spot. One day before Ramadan month began, on Wednesday – he told me – they came, the Israeli authorities, took the cart and all its content, and warned/promised that if he ever come back here as a vendor they would come back too and take again everything he has.
So now the same man and the same stool are at a different spot, with another cart and other goods.
Now Abu Suleiman sits at the side of the road in the scathing summer sun, for what can he do? One does need to earn a living, how would he? Where else could he go?
And I wonder what will happen with old Abu Suleiman when the summer is over and the days of wind and cold and rain will be here?
It is important to tell about Abu Suleiman because beyond his personal tragedy and beyond the mutual acquaintance and affection, this is the story and fate of thousands of migrant-workers inside Palestine.