The Relationship Between Israelis and Palestinians (1990-)

David H. Wells


In 1990, before the first Madrid peace conference, I started photographing the relationship between Israelis and Palestinians. In my experience, the relationship between Palestinians and Israelis is best viewed as a spectrum. At one end of the spectrum is conflict, at the other end of the spectrum is cooperation, intentional attempts at understanding one another through dialogue groups, summer camps, etc. The middle of the spectrum is co-existence, day-to-day interactions in shared working, living, and playing spaces. Coexistence is the heart of the relationship and the part of the relationship that is most ignored in the media at large. Much of my work has been an effort to humanize both sides. My photographs of the occupation and the forced interaction between Israelis and Palestinians highlight the problems, while images of their intentional, chosen interactions show the positive possibilities. It is very telling that when I disseminate my work, in and out of the Middle East, viewers are surprised by their inability to tell Palestinian from Israeli, reminding viewers of the similarity between the two. My goal was to put a human face on the struggles for Middle East peace and to educate people both in and outside of the Middle East.
This project was funded by a fellowship from the Program of Research and Writing on International Peace and Cooperation of the MacArthur Foundation.


David H Wells is a visual storyteller based in Providence, Rhode Island whose photography and film-making straddles the line between fine-art and documentary work. His hybrid work is created on assignment and through grant-funded projects. The final work can be seen in editorial publications as well as on the websites of non-profit organizations and multi-national corporations. His dramatic, story-telling videos use ambient sound, dramatic compositions, careful use of focus, tight editing, minimal text and lots of atmosphere so the viewer experiences the story as if they were right there. Wells is affiliated with Aurora Photos. Past assignments have been for Life Magazine, National Geographic, the New York Times Magazine and the Philadelphia Inquirer Sunday Magazine, to name a few. He has worked for corporations including Consolidated Natural Gas and DuPont as well as non-profit organizations including Brown University, the Ford Foundation and the New Israel Fund, among others.