Sunsets of Palestine

It’s easy to lose sight of some of life’s simple pleasures when you’re mired in the politics of a land you’re forbidden to enter. But every now and again we deserve to be reminded of just how beautifully the sea sparkles in the Gaza Strip, or just how high the rainbows over the West Bank’s grassy hills can go, or just how easy it is to visualize the earthy way of life in villages wiped away in 1948.

Abu Qash

Deema Alsaafin, 2012

Akka (Acre)

Alaa Milbes, 2012

Husam El-Qoulaq, 2013

Hanan Wuhush, 2012

Al-Mazra’a Al-Sharqia

Alaa Milbes, 2013

[Read more...]

Photo of the Week: Forced to work the occupation

Photo credit: Dean Chaim
Date taken: October 11, 2012
Location: Just outside of Bethlehem, West Bank, Palestine

A Palestinian man files into an Israeli checkpoint on his way to search for employment in Israel. If he is lucky enough to find a job for the day, he will be paid far less than any Israeli counterpart. [Read more...]

Why must Palestinians sometimes remain anonymous?

A little over one year ago, an amateur Palestinian photographer with a cell phone captured an image of a group of Palestinian men scaling Israel’s barrier wall in order to make it to Friday prayers in Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa Mosque. The men used a ladder and worked in unison to elevate one another up and over the giant concrete slabs.

The photographer remained anonymous. In fact, to my knowledge, she or he never even published the image. A non-Palestinian photographer also at the scene took a similar photograph and uploaded it to the internet for the world to see.

Here we’re already met with an unfortunate double standard. For the Palestinian photographer, any mention of her or his name would connect her or him to the scene. Although no crimes were broken (unless you consider apartheid law to be legitimate in any way), this is terribly dangerous, especially considering how in-depth and persistently inflammatory Israeli intelligence services can be. Future visas can be denied. Access through Israeli checkpoints can become twice as difficult. Her or his name could be blacklisted as a “Threat to the Security of the State”, and this can have permanent repercussions on this person’s family, friends, and city of residence. [Read more...]

There is another Palestinian player in FIFA 14

You’ve met Roberto Bishara. Now meet Alexis Norambuena whose teammates to the left and right can’t contain their excitement over what he just did to the other team’s goalkeeper.

Norambuena is a Palestinian-Chilean born in Valdivia, Chile. Like Bishara and hundreds of thousands of other Palestinian descendants in Chile, Norambuena traces his roots back to Palestine where his family likely emigrated to escape pillaging by the British following World War I or forced displacement at the hands of Zionist paramilitary forces in the late-1940s.

Norambuena is a starting player for Jagiellonia Białystok in Poland’s premier football league. He carries the number 17 and is a very versatile defender. Although FIFA 14 registers him as a left back, he is equally skilled at covering the right side of the pitch. [Read more...]

Website offers custom-engraved ethnic cleansing jewelry

An offensive and dangerous sponsored post is making its rounds on Facebook again. For $39.00, IsraelBlessing will engrave your name on a sterling silver pendant shaped as pre-1948 Palestine. The tagline for the product, which the website repeatedly refers to as an “Israel necklace”, is: “Wherever You Go, You Will Take Israel With You!

According to the website, IsraelBlessing was established in 2006 and sells products made in a “Jewish workshop in Jerusalem” which it says is “the heart of Israel”.

Since the establishment of Israel in 1948, Palestinians have been displaced from their lands and their homes, groves, and other properties have been systematically destroyed to make way for expanding Israeli settlements and crawling Israeli borders. IsraelBlessing aims to legitimize this mass displacement and evident ethnic cleansing by wiping away the Gaza Strip and the West Bank in its entirety.

Playlist: 10 must-hear Palestinian songs

Guest contribution by Jumana Al-Qawasmi

Earlier on Sixteen Minutes to Palestine, I wrote about the importance of engaging with the Palestinian [national or personal] narrative when looking at the broad context of resistance. It is one thing to be well-read in the history of the Palestinian struggle. But it is another thing entirely if the narrative of loss completely dominates the Palestinian identity.

Personally, I love my Palestinian heritage not because it is something that has been taken from me. Rather, my Palestinian heritage is a source of joy and positivity. Music is one way I ensure that my identity remains one of hope and productivity, not of loss and mourning.

So I’ll attempt to give a diverse sampling in this short list of Palestinian songs. This is not meant to be a list entirely comprised of Palestinian artists either; the Palestinian struggle has always been intertwined with the narratives of other countries. Thus, it would seem disingenuous to discount the artistic support of musicians from neighboring countries. I also mean to deviate from the canonized Palestinian playlist; you will not, unfortunately, see Mohammad Assaf, famed dabke instrumentals, or well-known hip-hop tracks (Assaf: if you’re reading this, I still love you). Instead, you will get a list of hopefully new and interesting music to add to your library. [Read more...]

Bearing Witness to Similarities between Native Americans and Palestinians

Guest contribution by Wafai Dias

When I first visited a Native American reservation in South Dakota with my school, Temple University, the similarities that I observed between Native Americans and Palestinians were so vast that they just kept piling up in my mind as the trip went on.

Both Palestinians and Native Americans are victims of ethnic cleaning, colonization and settler colonialism. The two peoples are far too familiar with war, death, occupation and bogus peace processes and negotiations that have only resulted in the loss of more of their land.

On our trip I learned that the Black Hills are extremely sacred land to Native Americans. Initially respecting this religious significance of the Black Hills, the United States government signed a treaty with the Natives in 1868 that clearly stated to all parties that the Black Hills belonged to the Native Americans.

However, when gold was discovered in the Black Hills the U.S. passed a treaty that in effect stole the Hills, to a point where today the Native Americans barely own 10 percent of their sacred land. In the early 1900s the faces of four Presidents were carved into these Hills — known today as Mount Rushmore — and the rest of the remaining land was turned into state and national parks. Although Natives today are allowed to practice their religious ceremonies in the parks within the Black Hills, they are regularly interrupted by the masses of tourists that flock to visit these landmarks. [Read more...]

Timeless stories in Gaza without color

This is the second set of photographs from my short trip to the Gaza Strip this summer. I only had nine days to spend catching up with family and friends so I found very little time to photograph freely.

But when I did, these were the kinds of moments that presented themselves. I was lucky to be able to capture anything.

I chose to make these images black and white because the colors don’t say anywhere near as much as the faces, wrinkles, clouds, or walls do. They are timeless stories that share a bit about everyday life in the Gaza Strip. I hope that each photograph can evoke in you the admiration, the caution, the laughter, the dread, or the awe I experienced whenever I lifted the camera.

These photographs were all taken in July 2013. See the first photo set here: Gaza in life, love, dignity, and strength. See the third and final photo set here: Final scenes from Gaza.

Three boys climb over large rock slabs near Gaza City’s port. The boy to the right of the frame is carrying a large rod that he and his friends will use to test the depth of the water if they choose to dive in or fish for crabs.

A fruit vender finalizes a transaction in a popular street market in the center of Gaza City.

The setting sun signals the end of the day’s Ramadan fast in the Gaza Strip. [Read more...]

Gaza in life, love, dignity, and strength

Two years ago, I arrived in the Gaza Strip fully anticipating the most depressing scenes. Wary of my presence and confident that nobody would appreciate a camera documenting their private struggles, I set my camera up for stealth shots that would get me in and out of a situation fast. But I quickly learned what few outside of Gaza seem to realize: Despite the siege and occupation, Gaza is vibrant with life and love. I changed my camera settings and my mindset and embraced the colorful energy in the Gaza Strip.

This summer, in 2013, I crossed through Rafah with my camera pointed up not down. I wanted to capture the dignity and strength of Palestinians in the Gaza Strip from the very start. I wanted to share their emotions just as much as their stories. I also wanted to capture the mysterious glow that illuminates Gaza even when the sun hides behind the curvature of the sea.

I wish I could show you what my eyes saw. But the best I can do is show you what my camera saw. I hope it shows you Gaza like you’ve never seen it before.

These photographs were all taken in July 2013. See the second photo set here: Timeless stories in Gaza without color. See the third and final photo set here: Final scenes from Gaza.

A horse rears up on the beach in Gaza City as families begin to arrive with packed dinners to break their fasts on the shore.

A man sits in the entrance to his home in the Gaza Strip. One traditional architectural feature of homes in the Gaza Strip are these long and open hallway entrances that lead from the gates facing the street all the way to the main door of the building.

The sun sets on the Gaza Strip, behind the low waves of the Mediterranean Sea. [Read more...]

American Red Cross to blood donor: ‘Are you sure Palestine is a country?’

A year and a half ago, the American Red Cross told me my trip to Palestine could not be verified because the country was absent from their database. Yesterday, the American Red Cross told me I am Israeli.

A classmate and I made our way to a mobile donation bus on campus after class on Friday. We were each directed into separate miniature offices where nurses or registered phlebotomists walked us through a brief questionnaire and took our vitals. One of the questions asked if I had traveled outside of the United States in the last twelve months. My answer was yes, to Egypt and to Palestine.

The lady who welcomed me into her office quickly found Egypt on the Red Cross database. Palestine, however, was nowhere to be found.

“Can you spell it, please?”

“P-A-L-E-S-T-I-N-E,” I told her.

“Spell it again, please? I can’t seem to find it.”

I spelled it again and told her that the same thing happened to me when I donated blood a year ago. The attendant called a field office that transferred her to a manager who, after almost an hour of waiting, told me that I had actually traveled to Israel. I suggested she just ignore it. [Read more...]


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