Why Jericho ?
Jericho, known as the city of the moon, is often said to be one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities of the world. Its historic heritage gives it a special kind of enchantment: the ruins of an Omayyad winter palace overlooking old mosques coexist with the pagan roots of the city and with an abandoned casino, previously destined mainly to the Israeli population. All of this gives Jericho a special place in local imagination.
The existence of Jericho, as that of any oasis, is something of a miracle. This is why it remains to this day a city of pleasures. Marc-Anthony offered the city, as he would have a jewel, to Cleopatra. Looming over the city, the troglodyte monastery of the Mount of Temptation still carries this essential part of the oasis: a city of sins, of love and joy, Jericho has been the target of immemorial hatred. But, like its flamboyant trees, which grow in the desert for no discernible reason, the city knows how to rise up back from every one of its downfalls.
The Second Intifada choked Jericho and transformed it into some- thing of a slum. The el-Atlal residency aims to give a new breath of life to the city, building upon its ruins a possible horizon of creation. Geographically, Jericho is an interface. It stands halfway between the cities of the north of the West Bank such as Ramallah or Nablus, and those of the south, such as Bethlehem and Hebron. Jericho is most notably the point of entry into Palestine through Jordan. As such – and for most Palestinians who are only allowed to leave the country through Amman – Jericho is an interface between Palestine and the world.
The golden triangle of culture in Palestine stretches from East Jerusalem to Ramallah and Bethlehem. By integrating Jericho not as a fringe of this triangle but as a centre, el-Atlal creates a new cultural dynamic. At the same time, it remains a mere car-ride away from the cities of the golden triangle.
All pictures of Jericho © Qais Assali for paltrips.ps