With The Sun Comes Hope

1888454_10207192556065210_8997645204048485790_nVery few photographers can capture the soul of what they see through their lenses.  Not only the souls of human subjects, but the soul of all they photograph.  The ones who have this gift have the ability to speak a thousand words, touch a thousand emotions, and stir the very soul of those who see and enjoy their work.  Such a photographer possesses a deeply profound and beautifully poetic flare.

My Partner, Haitham Khatib epitomizes and possesses all of these gifts and qualities.  His photography is a visual documentation and testament of his history, of life in Palestine, and the very essence of Palestine’s soul.

In talking with Haitham about his work as a photographer and my work as a writer and a poet, we find we share the same perspectives, and personal introspection of the Palestine and the Palestinians we want the world to see, to feel, to sense, and to be forever moved and changed by.

12360248_10207125113899198_5954398593356885989_nThere is something quite remarkable about the rising and setting of the sun from and upon horizons.  To behold such amazing beauty, let alone capture in the moment, is moving, romantic and spectacular.  Many photographers capture these moments in their work, but for Haitham the rising and setting of the sun over his beloved Palestine is very personal to him, the sun is a favored subject in his work.  For the Palestinians, every sunrise brings a fresh sense of hope for their future, encouragement and strength; and with every sunset brings a calm, peaceful and quiet reflection of self, of hope, of purpose and of something greater than themselves.

1936541_10207192555225189_4803221565003273270_nThere is calling to the soul with every sunrise and every sunset, a personal, emotional time, and one that through Haitham’s work we can all share in those moments with him, with Palestine and the Palestinian people.  A connection that without his work we would not have the privilege to experience.

12631358_10207407638922147_7487545467186298821_nI look forward to the day that I stand with Haitham and view the magic of sunrise and sunset over Palestine firsthand, to see, to feel, to experience what he does every time his lens steals a moment in time, of beauty beyond measure.



Palestinian Strong – Palestinian Proud

1359_990710824319345_5007116844199080076_nWhen I started this project, my book “Faces of Palestine” two months ago, all the knowledge I had about Palestine was from history, documentaries, news stories over the years and books written about Palestine.  Through all of this, I realized something was missing, the voice of Palestine from the people first hand, from their mouths, from their families, their individual histories and experiences, their perceptions of the world around them and the world that is Palestine under occupation and oppression.

It is not my intention to write my book about the complexities of politics, or the complexities of religion.  My intention is write about the humanity of Palestine, the Palestinian people who are and remain forever strong and proud.  About their losses, tragedies, and great triumphs in the face of adversities unimaginable. Rich in centuries of culture and heritage, uniquely their own, traditions and values that are passed down from one generation to the next.

Over the last two months, I have met and have the distinct pleasure of now knowing many Palestinians that live within Palestine and some who live throughout the world, but whose hearts and roots remain forever in Palestine.

1888612_10202934194408830_6174820751435918259_nMy closest partner on this project and dear friend, Haitham Khatib, has and continues to spend countless hours with me, teaching me more about the Palestinian people, their cause, their lives, what they feel, think and experience.  Haitham has and continues to teach me more than I have learned in my lifetime about Palestine.

I am also learning from others more about the beautiful lives of the Palestinians, the ones the news and mainstream media never shows, and rarely talks about, if they acknowledge at all.

The last two months and ongoing, serve to validate why I am doing this, why I am writing this book, their stories, showing their faces, giving voice to their truth – and I am more encouraged, dedicated and determined to see this project through, to see it a success.

I have actually been asked quite a lot recently a question by people reading this site, my articles and my posts on social media – “are you Palestinian? you must be, because you have the heart and courage of a Palestinian”, I take this question and comment as a distinguished compliment, one that I am honored by.  My answer has now become, in all sincerity, “my heart and soul are Palestinian most surely”.

Someone said to me recently, “Maria what you are doing is remarkable and good, and greatly appreciated by the Palestinian people, but please don’t be disappointed if your efforts do not bring about big and drastic change for Palestine, because the machine of what works against Palestinian freedom is huge”.

My response was one of great determination and I explained I have no delusions or unrealistic expectations about what my book will accomplish.  Then, reverting to my inner poet, I used the following analogy… I am one person, but one person can bring about change in lasting ways; when you look at a still pond of water, where nothing breaks the surface tension of that water, and you pick up stone, throwing it to the center of the still water; what happens is the surface tension of the perfectly still water is now forever changed, never to revert to exactly as it was before the stone fell.  Once the stone has landed and sunk deep to the bottom, what remains are hundreds of ripples that spread and grow, bringing change forever to the water and the land it touches.

12494996_10153888178442533_2887465968704746376_nThis is what I hope to achieve with this book.  To be the stone thrown into the still water of the pond.  To provoke the reader, to draw the reader into the real lives of the Palestinian people.  To invoke a need to seek the truth, the need to take a stand with the humanity of the Palestinian people, to create a compelling hunger in the reader that they may begin to question their own knowledge of Palestine, their own perceptions and misconceptions about Palestine.

Even if my book only affects a handful of readers in these ways, this project, this book will be a success and be the ripples of the pond that bring positive change for Palestine and the Palestinian people.

For me, this book is only the beginning of what will be a lifetime of ongoing support, advocacy, and activism for Palestine and the Palestinian people, to bring awareness to the world and be a voice, one of many, speaking for Palestine; for a free Palestine.