South Sudan intro image

The state of Israel is a relatively new phenomenon.

A memory of the long history of Jewish exile and persecution and the short turbulent history of the Jewish state is a necessary compass to its current psyche. But one of Israel’s most acute problems is precisely the way its past weighs upon - and informs - its future.


Gripped in a violent, blood-soaked reality, modern Israeli’s live with a siege mentality, surrounded on all sides by enemies both perceived and real.


It’s hard not to feel some sympathy for the notion of a Jewish homeland. But the violent birth of Israel displaced so many Palestinians that the problems it created remain as fresh and as raw today as when the conflict first began. Events that followed have spawned one of the most bitter, intractable conflicts in the world. 


The only hope for a ‘solution’ - a peaceful co-existence between modern-day Israel and what remains of a painfully fragmented and disenfranchised Palestine - is for Israel to remove its settlements inside the Palestinian West Bank, and a return to the demarcation line - the ‘Green Line’ - put forward by the UN in 1968. 


Each new Israeli settlement constructed on Palestinian land cements years of conflict to come.  Each new violent act of terror or revenge - committed by either a Palestinian Arab or an Israeli Jew - pushes the hope of a resolution ever further out of reach.


Israel’s preoccupation with security and its sense of isolation, continues to thwart its ability to reinvent itself and emerge from the shadows of its past.









In This Land is a photographic series borne from the challenges of attempting to understand the mindset of contemporary Israel. The project investigates the psyche of a nation trapped in a conflict deeply rooted in a struggle for occupation and possession of land.


On my first trip, I travelled the complete land and sea border of the country, exploring the notion that Israel is a nation defined by its borders, with a population gripped by a collective siege mentality.


On my second series (stones), I aim to reflect on Israel’s fiercely unwavering beliefs that its identity – and indeed its perceived right to a Jewish homeland in Palestine - is embedded in the very fabric of the land, with its past, present and future inextricably linked to the rocky ground underfoot.


Confounded, photographically, by the over-familiarity of images of rock-throwing Palestinian youths in headscarves and militant gun-wielding Israeli settlers, this series of images (photographed with a large-format view camera, in the intense light of Israel) depict stones gathered from places in the country invested with historical, social, religious and military importance.


Lifted out of context and scrutinised, these seemingly benign objects seem to reveal the scars of history etched into them, bringing to mind past and future conflicts, triumphs and tragedies. 


Zed Nelson

Israel - In This Land