Photo of the Week: Born into refugeedom

Photo credit: Ali Ali
Date taken: May 7, 2013
Location: Beit Lahya, Gaza Strip, Palestine

A Palestinian refugee feeds her baby as the sunlight floods the inside of her family’s home in the town of Beit Lahya in the northern Gaza Strip. [Read more...]

Algerian star dedicates World Cup success to the Arab world, ‘especially to Palestine’

Moments after Algeria advanced to the knockout stage of the 2014 World Cup, attacking midfielder Sofiane Feghouli tweeted the following message:

The message can roughly be translated to, “Thankful to God that we forty million Algerians and millions of Arabs have advanced. We gift all of the Arabs with this win, especially the people of Palestine. Thank you.”

In other words, Feghouli dedicates the team’s successful run through the qualifying stages to the Arab world and, in particular, the people of Palestine.

This warm gesture comes from one of Algeria’s stars. His early goal in Algeria’s opening match against Belgium was the first time Algeria had scored in the World Cup in 28 years. Despite not scoring since then, his ability to set up scoring chances and to assist along the wings during crucial counter attacks helped push Algeria on to the next stage. [Read more...]

Critical update on ZARA’s kuffiyeh-printed shorts

Earlier, we reported that fashion retailer ZARA was selling kuffiyeh-printed shorts without any attribution to the culture or history associated with it.

Days later, we updated the initial report after discovering that the item had been removed from the website. The original link as well as another direct link to the shorts both bring up a webpage that reads: “We are sorry. The item you are looking for is no longer available. Next, you will see similar products to: printed shorts”.

Searching for “printed shorts” — which is what the kuffiyeh-themed shorts were originally classified as — also fails to bring up any sign of the item in question.

It is unclear whether the shorts sold out or were taken down in response to pressure. However, it seems most likely that ZARA made an executive decision to take down the item. Normally, items that sell out remain listed with some kind of indication that the item is sold out or that the item is on backorder until more units are produced.

In providing an update on the kuffiyeh-inspired shorts, we also want to address some of the concerns many readers have shared with us over the nature of the initial report. Some readers feel that we are inappropriately sexualizing the product and misdirecting our criticisms. Others feel that our criticism of the kuffiyeh-printed shorts is overly sensitive. Still others feel that we are wasting energy that could be better spent supporting ZARA for promoting the kuffiyeh design. We will do our best to address each point individually. [Read more...]

Coca-Cola’s World Cup ad from Ramallah blames football struggles on culture, not occupation

Coca-Cola recently released a series of mini-movie advertisements for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Among them is a feature on Ahlam Abueed and Dalal Foqua, two young girls from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

There are a few versions of the advertisement available online. The full version, above, runs for a little over four and a half minutes. In it, Coca-Cola highlights both Ahlam’s and Dalal’s aspirations to challenge cultural taboos by becoming successful footballers. The entire montage of interviews and voiceovers paints Palestinian culture as prohibitive and restrictive and concludes by sending the two young athletes to Brazil. Though seemingly in good faith, Coca-Cola essentially plays the role of the savior and offers two Palestinians an opportunity they could supposedly never have.

Despite how pleasing it can be to see Palestine featured relatively positively in mainstream media, there are a few glaring problems with the advertisement’s messaging.

First, Coca-Cola’s presentation of Dalal’s and Ahlam’s circumstances entirely ignores the illegal military occupation of their land and the Israeli soldiers who control virtually every aspect of their lives. Considering the typical experience of Palestinians attempting to travel to and from the West Bank, including countless hours of interrogation and arbitrary entry denials, Coca-Cola had to have run into complications when arranging travel itineraries for the two young girls. How they managed to leave these crucial details out is baffling, particularly for a segment on footballers breaking free from the restrictions around them. [Read more...]

Photo of the Week: ‘Just let me through,’ a mother mourns

Photo credit: Paolo Pellegrin
Date taken: 2002
Location: Jenin, West Bank, Palestine

A mother mourns the death of her child following an Israeli military incursion in the West Bank city of Jenin. [Read more...]

Talented painter recreates powerful photo of children in Gaza during Israeli assault

Immediately following Israel’s November 2012 invasion of the Gaza Strip, deceptively dubbed “Operation Pillar of Defense”, we published a collection of remarkable photographs captured by young Egyptian activist and photojournalist Mosa’ab Elshamy. In the midst of covering Egypt’s revolution, Elshamy managed to visit Gaza just days into Israel’s full-scale assault. His photographs introduced the world to Gaza’s very grim reality. But the bleak scenes also painted a picture of resilience, of Palestinians finding the strength to overcome the destruction that befell them.

One such photograph captured the eye of Summer Issa, a talented painter who was looking to recreate an iconic image for a school assignment. The original image shows a smiling boy surrounded by his friends, all of whom are holding up their two fingers in the shape of a V for victory. [Read more...]

ZARA makes shorts out of stolen Palestinian kuffiyeh design

Update: It appears that ZARA has taken the item down.

The kuffiyeh, typically slung over the shoulders and around the neck, is recognized around the world as a symbol of Palestinian resistance against occupation and oppression. To fashion retailer ZARA, the kuffiyeh is a design best worn around the waist and over the butt.

Printed shorts are all the rage this season, prompting ZARA to release a line of shorts printed with all kinds of colorful and unique patterns. Of the six designs for sale on the company’s website, five of them have floral patterns. The sixth is a mock-up of the Palestinian kuffiyeh.

Both the product and the webpage it is featured on lack any context concerning the origin of the design or its connection to Palestinian history and identity. [Read more...]

Photo of the Week: An important pre-Nakba demonstration in Jaffa

Photo credit: Unknown
Date taken: 1929
Location: Jaffa, Palestine

Palestinian men gather in Jaffa’s city center in 1929 to demonstrate against the British government’s Mandate over Palestine. The man’s sign reads “Down with the BALFOUR Declaration”. [Read more...]

Rare scenes from the First Intifada

Photojournalist Robert Croma visited Palestine and Israel in 1988 during the First Intifada and captured a collection of powerful images of life under Israeli military occupation. Although he no longer has access to many of his original negatives, his blown-up contact prints give us a window into the brutality and intimidation, both physical and emotional, endured by Palestinians in both the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank. Here are some of his best photographs.

Click on the images to open them in new tabs where you will be able to zoom in and appreciate the subtle details of the scenes.

A Throw in Jerusalem


A plain-clothed Israeli security serviceman throws a tear gas canister down a narrow corridor at Palestinian youths in Jerusalem, 1988.

A Mother’s Intervention


A Palestinian mother tries to prevent an Israeli soldier from arresting her son in Gaza City, 1988.

(Untitled)


(Uncaptioned, although research suggests that these photographs are likely of Palestinian mothers urging Israeli military personnel to stop physically abusing their children. The setting is possibly in a refugee camp in Jabalya.) [Read more...]

Watch: Beit Ummar relieved to report no one was killed after rogue tire embarrasses Israeli patrol

Normally, the footage featured on this blog is serious, heartbreaking, or unsettling. But this time, we can breathe a sigh of relief.

Last Friday, a large truck tire rolled down a wide street toward an Israeli patrol in the West Bank village of Beit Ummar. A group of Palestinian men filmed the tire as it bounced off of a curb and continued down the road toward four soldiers walking in front of an armored Israeli military vehicle.

One soldier attempted to knock the tire over with a large rock although he missed entirely. Another soldier attempted to kick the tire to the ground but misjudged the tire’s speed and lost his balance, only to hit the ground with his back turned to the jeering crowd.

We aren’t featuring this footage to make light of the occupation or to implicitly ignore the presence of the soldiers in the village in the first place. Although it seemed as if everyone in Beit Ummar broke into loud cheers when the soldier fell, our attention is turned to the soldier’s immediate response to the situation. [Read more...]

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