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War/Conflict, Religion
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Middle East, Asia
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Jerusalem, Palestine, Israel, Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Armenian
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The children of the old city of Jerusalem grow up divided into 4 communities, each with their own schools, leaders and religions. Their futures will be conflict; for some children, the front lines are a dream come true, for others a distant but inevitable nightmare.
J.D. Perkins

2001 — student award of excellence

The children of the old city of Jerusalem grow up divided into 4 communities, each with their own schools, leaders and religions. Their futures will be conflict; for some children, the front lines are a dream come true, for others a distant but inevitable nightmare.

The story: The old city of Jerusalem is a small place. At night it takes 20 minutes to walk from wall to wall. In the daytime, it takes hours to weave though the busy markets. On some days, gates may be sealed by security forces. The city has 4 quarters: Armenian, Christian, Muslim and Jewish. During the current intifada, despite Jerusalem’s status as the most disputed territory, or perhaps because of it, violence there has been relatively slight. How do 4 communities live together in such a compacted space?

Each community’s children face their own problems. Jewish children, male and female, face the inevitable prospect of several years of military service on reaching the age of 18. For Christian, Muslim and Armenian children, they face discrimination in a Jewish-dominated workforce, and encroachment into their neighborhoods by illegal Jewish settlements. For the Christians, the past 50 years have been a story of emigration. Armenians are an aging population nursing memories of a forgotten genocide. Muslims, as the most active resisters of Jewish rule, pay a high price - sometimes in their children’s blood.

Children are both the future and the present of this conflict. How do they live? What do they think? What future do they have?

Topicality: With the election of Ariel Sharon looking like a certainty, Jerusalem’s status will no longer be up for negotiation. Peace, if any, will be on Israel’s terms. Sharon owns a large house in the Muslim Quarter which is under 24 hour armed guard. More Jewish settlers will follow his lead following the election. Tensions will be running high for as long as he is in office, and probably longer. Muslim children will continue to express their anger with stones and will continue to be injured and killed.

The pictures: see enclosed slides. I will continue to work with black and white 35mm, using available light and normal lenses. Jerusalem’s narrow streets, strong shadows and many religious festivals provide a fantastic backdrop.

Logistics: Return to Israel, renew Israeli press accreditation. I have contacts among Muslim medical professionals who can introduce me to Israeli social services. I also have links with the Christian community. I have already arranged lodging. I would plan to spend a minimum of 3 weeks on each quarter. I have some of the pictures I want for the Muslim quarter, but would return from time to time to follow up with some of the children I have already photographed.

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Throwing stones at armed Israeli police. Ironically they had closed the mosque for fear of violence. J.D. Perkins/Alexia Foundation
Exams, Al-Nahda school. Average class size is thirty six. J.D. Perkins/Alexia Foundation
In the shadow of border police, Damascus Gate. J.D. Perkins/Alexia Foundation
Horse races, Eid celebrations, after the month of Ramadan, East Jerusalem. J.D. Perkins/Alexia Foundation
Gumi rounds, plastic coated steel bullets, can be lethal. J.D. Perkins/Alexia Foundation
In the playground, Al-Nahda school. J.D. Perkins/Alexia Foundation
Collecting fares on his father's bus. Child labour is not uncommon amongst Palestinians. J.D. Perkins/Alexia Foundation
At home. J.D. Perkins/Alexia Foundation