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Meet the People of Palestine

Palestine


As a photographer, I find shooting pics of people in Palestine to be far more interesting than in the West
. Palestinians are less buttoned-down than Westerners - they show their feelings and character more easily. It's as if the volume, colour and contrast settings on reality are switched up higher.

Many Palestinians like to be photographed - especially children, of whom there are far more in Palestine than in the West. (The average age of Palestinians is around 23, while in Britain it is 47). As a walled-off and abandoned people, they want the world to see them.

Perceptions fed by the media encourage stereotyping - images of rioting young men, keening old women, aggrieved fathers carrying dead children, bombed-out buildings. This is not daily-life reality.

Palestinians are just like us - they worry about bills, cars and shopping, their kids' prospects, and they spend their time doing similar things to what we do. They're industrious and engaged, spending a lot of time looking after their families and community life. There's much more respect between the generations and the sexes.

Palestine is one of the more liberal and pluralistic societies of the Middle East, comparable to Lebanon and Jordan. They don't judge people by their nationality, looks or status but by their manifest behaviour. Are you 'a good person'?

They have their differences and disagreements but, as a society under occupation, they stand together. They like visitors who support Palestine and doubly appreciate those who return. Often you're told "Welcome to Falastin" - and they mean it.

They have survived not because of arms, money or politics but because of solidarity and sharing. For thirty years, from the 1967 occupation to the late-1990s, they had no government, instead building a shared consensus of holding firm and cooperation. This made for a strong society. The rest of the world has much to learn from it.

Yet force of arms, administrative and legal oppression and social control by Israelis still impact on them. It's a bizarre paradox. You wouldn't like it if it were happening to you.

The people of Palestine

© Text and pictures copyright Palden Jenkins 2011. This is online material supplementing the book Pictures of Palestine by Palden Jenkins. You may print it out in single copies for your own non-commercial use or forward it by e-mail as long as the piece is unaltered and properly attributed to the author. The book's website is at  www.palden.co.uk/pop

 
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