Visual Witness in Palestine
“ART REMINDS US OF WHAT IS NOT — AND THUS MAKES US DISCONTENT WITH WHAT IS.” –HERBERT MARCUSE
When it comes to Palestine, nothing has been more damaging to the Palestinians than narratives that are dehumanizing. These narratives are intentional and serve to justify repressive measures that are directed at them. But the beauty of Palestinians is that they refuse to be defined by others’ narratives and instead define themselves through collective memory tactics by documenting their struggles, resistance, and their right to live dignified lives.
One of the ways that the vibrancy of Palestinians is told is through pictures — pictures that tell a different story. These are pictures that remind us to look beyond the surface of government narratives and media narratives to listen to voices that are silenced. It is through pictures that truths are communicated without boundaries and without words that constrain our understanding of not only what exists, but what can be imagined. It is pictures that remind us that another world is possible — one where Palestine is free.
“UNTIL THE LION TELLS HIS SIDE OF THE STORY,
THE TALE OF THE HUNT WILL ALWAYS GLORIFY THE HUNTER.”
This African proverb reveals much of how conflicts are defined — those who are marginalized are painted as the perpetrators, while those who have amassed power, are viewed as heroes. In contrast, the pictures below tell as a vastly different story and challenges everything that has been written to amass a picture of the Israel-Palestine conflict as rooted in Palestinian violence. As these pictures demonstrate, nothing could be further from the truth.
Photography As Intervention
Media narratives characterizing the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have in American media have been especially problematic. As an article based on a research study of media bias noted, “words connoting violence, such as ‘terror,’appeared three times more than the word ‘occupation.’”There’s a reason for this — though seemingly subtle, the role of highlighting one word over another is to infuse bias on who is to blame for conflict.When it comes to Israel-Palestine, U.S. media has consistently blamed conflict on Palestinians.
The pictures above — reveal the realities and terror of the occupation — thus serving as an intervention to the narratives that Palestinians are inherently violent and instead revealing the violence that they are subjected to day in and day out. U.S. media may not want to tell the real story, but the story will be told.
“THE NEED TO LET SUFFERING SPEAK IS A CONDITION OF ALL TRUTH.”
This month (February 2019), Steve Pavey/Hope in Focus will join Eyewitness Palestine’s 2.0 Delegation, intended for experienced travelers to Palestine to go deeper in the experience and struggle. The delegation will be participating in the Open Shuhada Street actions in Al-Khalil, working with Grassroots Al-Quds in Jerusalem, and partnering with Adalah in ‘48. Steve will also be going two weeks early to document and witness the struggle alongside the Good Shepherd Collective and Holy Land Trust who are supporting the village of Um al-Khair, a Palestinian Bedouin village in the South Hebron hills that is under threat of demolition and expulsion.
We invite you to partner with Steve and Eyewitness Palestine to create a photo archive for use in collective storytelling, advocacy, organizing, and educating for justice with Palestinians. The photo archive will be shared with all organizational partners, as well as with others who are donating to support this cultural organizing work.
Check back here for updates to this photo gallery with new images that Steve will be sending back from this trip to Palestine: