What do we see when we think of Gaza? The majority of the world sees only the bleak side of Gaza, Palestine. The side of it that has and is under constant conflict and war; an ongoing Intifada from one degree to another.
But there is a side of Gaza, Palestine that not many see or appreciate and it is this side of Gaza I write about in this article. Specifically from the perspective and through the lens of my esteemed friend and partner in this project, Fadi Thabet (pictured). Fadi was born, raised and lives in Gaza, Palestine. A brilliant teacher, loving and devoted husband and father, and one of the most talented Palestinian photographers I have the honor to know.
Fadi has an exceptional gift for capturing the beauty, humanity, strength, resilience and dignity of Gazans in their day-to-day lives. What Fadi does not say in commentary, he speaks volumes through his photography. His photos provoke emotion, thought and show us the side of the Palestinian people we all need to see and know.
Gazans are diverse in their heritage and this makes the people of Gaza exceptional. Every photo has its own story, never just random pictures and most caught in the moment, bring us the viewer into the lives of the Palestinian people of Gaza. People who forever find reason to smile, to hope, to resist and believe that Gaza will be free again, that Palestine will be free.
I am most inspired by the inner spirit of the Palestinian people. Their struggle and sense of hope is something I personally relate to on intimate level. There is ongoing conflict throughout the world, and especially in the middle-east, but there is something so distinctly different about the Palestinian people and how they face these ongoing conflicts with a level of hope and endurance that surpasses so many others. That even through the worst humanity can experience, Palestinians still smile. A genuine inner joy they find in the darkest of hours. We, the rest of the world have much to learn from the Palestinian people.
It is so easy for us who live outside of the middle-east, especially in the western world, to find things in our day-to-day lives to complain about and be unhappy about. Personally I am not one like this, but I, like the Palestinian people am unique this way. I always find the good even in the worst, and still I smile.
What touches the emotions so deeply is what is seen in the eyes of the children of Palestine. Especially in Gaza, and Fadi captures these emotions in the moment so profoundly.
There is an innocence that survives the brutality of humanity, but an innocence that is wise before its time. No child in the world should have to ever experience conflict, war, and destruction; or oppression like the children of Palestine do living under Occupation.
Denied basic human rights, denied the right to human existence, persecuted at every turn, for no other reason than they are Palestinian.
We the world, the citizens of the world with social conscience cannot continue to be complacent about what is happening in Palestine to the Palestinian people. The world’s media works very hard to keep the spotlight off of Palestine, in the hope that we will forget about Palestinian people. But this will not happen, because of brilliant photographers like Fadi Thabet and others who continue to share their work with the outside world through sites and collaboration like this project, and through the power of social media.
The reality of how some Gazans are forced to live is subhuman at best. Like what you see in this photo of a man and his children. The shipping containers you see in the background are salvaged and used as what was supposed to be emergency, temporary shelter for those Gazaz displace due to the wars and conflicts. But these have now become the only shelter for those lucky enough to have them, because many still live in displacement camps within tents and little to no protection from the elements.
Even among the devastation and destruction, Gazans still find reason to remain strong and to strive to live as normal a life as possible, including celebrations of accomplishments of students (pictured). A stark contrast of the darkness and despair of war and the hope and determination for a better future with the newest generation of Palestinians.
I cannot express enough how much respect and admiration I hold for the Palestinian people. I learn from each of them so much each day, my life forever changed. The unrelenting perseverance of the Palestinian people puts life into perspective. For example, this young boy continuing his studies boldly in the face of adversity.
This article is just one of more to come featuring Fadi’s work. It is the hope that you will catch a glimpse of the real side of Palestine, of her people, and begin to question preconceived ideas and misinformed knowledge you may have of Palestine.
The Palestinian people are proud, rich in culture, from a long lineage and heritage in this land, on this land, and nothing can or will ever change this.
The children pictured here are one of many groups of Palestinian children and youth proudly demonstrating the beautiful dance of Dabke. A music style and dance full of energy, joy and strength.
Another wonderful quality of Fadi’s is his love for the children of Palestine, his heart is big for the coming generation, and his encouragement of them and for them through his teaching and his photography is something quite special and can be tangibly felt through the faces captured in his photographs.