From Gaza with Love
By Leah Pfenning
Fadi Thabet is a Palestinian photographer in Gaza. He has dedicated over a decade to photographing Palestinian children throughout the Gaza Strip. Thabet considers himself a human photographer, as his focus is on relaying truth through the eyes of children of the Beit Lahia area of the northern Gaza Strip, a marginalized border that has survived several bombings. Thabet edges away from photographing political and bloody events, but after President Trump publicly recognized the holy city of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, Thabet couldn’t turn his lens away from the rage of his people.
Following the declaration and the signing of the official proclamation last week by President Trump, protests have broken out in the West Bank, the Gaza Strip, and all throughout the Muslim world, a cri de coeur of the unjust ruination of a peace brokerage. On Wednesday at a gathering in Istanbul, the 57-member Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), a group formed in 1969 as a “collective voice of the Muslim world”, met and declared East Jerusalem the Capital of Palestine. Israel has occupied East Jerusalem since the end of the 1967 war when they established themselves as the regional military power.
Jerusalem is a holy city for Muslims; it is where the Prophet Muhammad ascended into heaven, and the OIC is firm that despite President Trump’s hasty proclamation, Palestine and the rest of the Muslim world will never waiver on their claims to the city. The OIC announced that the United States has eradicated their position of peace broker in the two-state solution. Jerusalem is at the heart of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict and as the United States has lanced decades of negotiations for peace with the President’s announcement last week, the Muslim world is uniting in an inexorable remonstration of their disposition.
In the Muslim world, in the wake of President Trump’s announcement, “we” became singular, and Thabet felt it necessary to capture the events in Gaza from a Palestinian lens. Too often when we receive documentation of protests it is from an outsider’s perspective, namely a white perspective. We are conditioned to fear rage, especially a rage we don’t understand. The vehemence that Thabet captures in his photography gleans a vicarious empathy. You become apoplectic with fury when you see the antagonized masses of Palestinians fighting for their city, for a global recognition, and for the refutation of an unjust and disruptive proclamation. Thabet lends us his rage, the rage of his people, not as a burden but as an invitation to reunite with our humanity. Anger is one of the most base emotions; home is one of the most base necessities. We’ve deprived a people of their home, we cannot now deprive them of their anger. In fact, we should share in it.