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Jewish Journal

Portrait of an Embattled Nation

Debbie Hill's photos explore Israel's convergence of cultures, religions and politics.

by Journal Staff

June 20, 2002 | 8:00 pm

"I think I could spend a lifetime here, walking around 18 hours a day, and talking to people, and observing, observing, observing -- and barely skim the surface," says Debbie Hill, a freelance photographer who made aliyah from West Virginia in 1995, although she has lived in Israel on and off since 1983.

Suicide bombings, funerals, demonstrations, retaliations: these are the daily events of life in Israel; though it wasn't always this way.

"I live in Nachlaot, in the center of Jerusalem and it's hard to see what has happened to the city that I love," says Hill, 46. "I've covered so many terrorist attacks within five minutes walk of my apartment, that I can hardly walk without flashbacks of horrific scenes of innocent civilians blown apart from deadly suicide bombers."

When she's not shooting for newspapers around the world, Hill does black and white photography, handpainting parts of photos with oil paints, reviving an old technique (see top right).

"Since October 2000, I've hardly had time to escape into the darkroom and work. And when I do have time, my work is frequently disrupted by the sound of my beeper announcing another terrorist attack and I have to rush off," she says.

"I long for the day when life will be normal again, but I fear that day is far off."

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