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Posts Tagged ‘Tanya Habjouqa

Hold Refugee Families Together: WhatsApp Messages

“Listening to these messages, I felt these stories had been given a life”

Joanna Choukeir Hojeily shared this link

@olivierclaurent March 28, 2016

Beautiful what’s app voice messages between Syrian refugees and their family member.

“Listening to these messages, I felt these stories had been given a life.”
time.com

They send back messages of love, hope and sorrow. Hundreds of thousands Syrian refugees have fled their homeland for Lebanon, Jordan, Turkey and, in increasing numbers, Europe.

But families separated by thousands of miles still stay connected, thanks to smartphones and applications like the cross-platform mobile messaging program WhatsApp.

For the past three years, Jordanian-American photographer Tanya Habjouqa has been documenting the aftermath of the Arab Spring and Syria’s descent into civil war through the eyes of the millions of refugees that have flocked to Jordan and across the Mediterranean.

At the end of a two-month stretch in the Azraq and Zaatari refugee camps, as well as in Amman, Ramtha and Irbid, she came to a crossroads. “Since Alan Kurdi, the imagery around Syrian refugees is ubiquitous,” she says. “We’ve seen everything.”

Looking at her own work, Habjouqa thought her images failed to convey the urgency of this story as millions of Syrians continue to live in squalid conditions in Jordanian, Turkish and Greek refugee camps. Her role, she says, was to make people care for these refugees at a time when public opinion is shifting toward isolationism.

“I was racking my brain,” she says, “trying to find the imagery that said something I hadn’t been said again and again.”

Then, toward the end of her assignment, she saw a mother playing an audio message of her husband singing a lullaby to their child. The woman’s husband had sent his messages from Germany, where he was residing apart from his family. Listening to his messages, she felt that the story gained new life.

Habjouqa gathered dozens of audio messages that her editor and colleague Rabab Haj Yahya edited into this video, to accompany her photographs.

“It felt dignified and humanizing,” says Habjouqa. “Sometimes, the simplicity can be what brings us back to the power of a story. And, in this case, it’s their stories and their words.”

Tanya Habjouqa is a photographer with Panos, based in East Jerusalem.

Rabab Haj Yahya is a documentary and narrative film editor based in New York.

 

Note: Sabine Choucair has been documenting the stories recounted by refugees

We start the Clown Me In tour on the 19th of April and the best part is that the awesome clown/friend Clay Mazing ( with whom Sabine Choucair had the best Clowns Without Borders missions) and his Emergency Circus, Moniek De Leeuw are joining for a week / 8 shows!.
Thank you Embassy of Switzerland in Lebanon / Ambassade de Suisse au Liban Sawa for Development and Aid
Sara Berjawi, Viveva Letemps, Walid Saliba, Hisham Abou Nasr Assaad

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With the support of the Embassy of Switzerland in Lebanon / Ambassade de Suisse au Liban ClownMe In, Clown Me In we will be touring different Syrian and Palestinian camps and local communities, starting April 2016.

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Captured the limited Joys in Gaza

Posted on: October 12, 2015

Captured the Joys in Gaza

Tanya Habjouqa—born in Jordan, raised in Texas, and is married to a Palestinian with an Israeli passport—has been working in the area for years.

She’s done her share of hard-news photography, but since 2009, she’s also been taking photos for her “Occupied Pleasures” series.

A book of them will be published in December. Habjouqa says she doesn’t want to trivialize her subjects’ difficulties by showing them in carefree moods, but those moods are real too.

“The humor, the sadness, the suffering, fear,” she says. “It is one giant cocktail here. Fluctuating in seconds.”

Andrew Bossone shared a link.

Two furniture makers take a break next to the barrier that separates the West Bank from Israel.

Habjouqa says she saw them repeatedly and slowly built up a relationship before she started photographing them.

From days at the beach to party preparations, Tanya Habjouqa offers a different look into life during conflict.
news.nationalgeographic.com

National Geographic photo editor Sherry Brukbacher spoke with Habjouqa about her work.

How has the political and religious situation changed since you started your project, and how has it affected your access and the acceptance of you as both a woman and a photographer?

With the Israeli economic siege and blockade of Gaza, it hinders every aspect of daily life.

Simultaneously, over the years Hamas has been able to operate their own fiefdom and restrict many aspects of life on the Palestinian population in Gaza.

I have noticed that police on the street felt entitled to question dress, even mine as a foreigner, which shocked me, as that is something that never happens in Palestine.

As to me as a photographer, I have not felt a restriction photographing in Palestinian society, be it in Gaza, West Bank, or East Jerusalem.

In Gaza for this project, I was heavily pregnant. The minute people would see me hobbling on a beach with my camera gear, they would invite me to sit down and talk, and often insisted on carrying my equipment.

And more doors would open when they would discover my husband was Palestinian.

What is your approach to photographing this project?

Do you carry your camera everywhere, hoping to find situations, or is it more deliberate?

I have found covering hard news in Palestine sometimes easier, as some feel a political obligation to talk to you about the suffering. But I was looking for something more intimate.

While you drive in West Bank, where the vast majority of my work is, you pass the same checkpoints. You wait.

You watch the symphony. Usually it is a boring one of frustrated, beeping cars, but sometimes the interactions and little moments of resistance are hilarious.

For a lot of the youths in my photos, Facebook served a great role of access. They may be uncertain about me and ask if I had Facebook.

It was almost as if they were online shopping me, in some cases. After a week, I would often hear back an invitation to come meet.

What’s different about a place where people “live” the conflict—where it’s part of their lives, maybe even their entire lives?

And how does your own experience growing up in the region affect this project?

For me, I am from a minority group in Jordan, Circassian, and half Texan to boot. I had a Jordanian grandfather who was a leader in the community and a Texan grandfather who was a deputy sheriff.

So I was always aware of the multiple narrations of identity and place.

Picture of young girl on beach in gaza

A young girl plays on the beach in the party dress she wore the night before at a wedding, at the Deir El Balah refugee camp in Gaza.

On top of this, I had covered journalistically the occupied Palestinian territories, in addition to spending a vast amount of time working in Iraq and Darfur.

I thought I knew Palestine. But I could not be prepared for what it would mean to make this place my home, which only happened because I married a Palestinian.

Me, who has always had a U.S. passport and lived with a certain certainty. Now I live in fear constantly that my residency visa will not be renewed.

I once woke up in the middle of the night ranting to my husband, who works in politics and human rights, over my fear of an upcoming ministry of interior meeting for my visa. He grunted back to sleep and said, “Tanya, never bring the Israelis into our bed again.”

So it is living with the ability to compartmentalize. To disassociate from the present.

What has the reaction to the work been so far?

When the work was first published, I was flooded by emails from Palestinians in diaspora who would sometimes simply write, “Thank you.” Or occasionally expand and say, “Thank you for showing us as we are, for allowing us to recognize ourselves.”

One woman told me about the work, “It is a reminder that the moment of happiness for us is a win outside of all the defeating moments. It’s a reminder it is OK to smile … that happiness is OK, not that you giving up but winning. Maintain your humanity.” I utilize a lot of humor, sarcasm; I think my scenes are quiet.

And what I am working on now, a long-term assignment from UNHCR on Syrian refugees in Jordan.

It is not allowing for a lot of humor at the moment. Now I am banging my head how to tackle this story, and where do you go after the image of Aylan Kurdi, the Syrian refugee washed ashore in toddler sleep position on a Turkish beach.

Maybe my attempt to utilize humor in my photography is a wishful approach in my work, as right now, living in a place where friends and family are being displaced or directly affected by the unfolding violence. It’s too close to home.

I am over the moon by my first U.S. Book review at the thoughtful intelligent hands of writer/editor/photographer Jen Tse. Thank you Olivier Laurent and time light box. Now the book is born and seen!

Occupied Pleasures shows humanity’s ability to find pleasure in trying circumstances
time.com

 

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State of Emergency declared by Palestinian Red Crescent: 14 ambulances targeted by Israel

Posted on: October 7, 2015

State of Emergency declared by Palestinian Red Crescent:

14 ambulances targeted by Israeli force

77 Palestinian youth fell by live bullet in a single day of demonstrations

Scores detained on administrative charges

PRCS Declares a State of Emergency following the escalation of the attacks against Palestinians and its ambulances in the Past 72 hours

(Al-Bireh-4/10/2015): PRCS declared a level 3 state of emergency in the West Bank, including East Jerusalem, in response to developments on the ground and increased attacks by occupation forces and settlers.

PRCS also activated its central Operations Room at its HQ in Al-Bireh, with all PRCS’ staff, teams and volunteers put on standby.

PRCS announced that fourteen attacks were carried out against its staff and vehicles by occupation forces and settlers in the West Bank and the Gaza Strip in the past 72 hours, in a serious escalation of violations against PRCS, its teams and the humanitarian services they render.

Tanya Habjouqa shared this link

Amid a worrying escalation of violence in the West Bank, the Palestinian Red Crescent Society has declared a ‘State of Emergency’ following attacks against Palestinians and its ambulances over the past 3 days.

palestinercs.org|By Palestine Red Crescent Society

On Sunday the 4th of October, Israeli occupation soldiers attacked a PRCS’ ambulance in the line of duty in front of Al Quds University in Abou Diss, firing rubber bullets and tear gas grenades at it. (Palestinian university students are shared the uprising, possibly a third Intifada)

On the 2nd of October, occupation soldiers attacked an ambulance in Al Eissawiyeh to the North of Jerusalem.

They then proceeded to arrest an injured Palestinian from inside the ambulance.

In Boureen (Nablus Governorate), settlers prevented a PRCS’ ambulance from discharging its humanitarian duty and smashed its windshield.

The next day, 5 PRCS’ paramedics were beaten up by soldiers in Jerusalem.

That same day, another group of soldiers attacked with their batons another PRCS’ ambulance in the Old City of Jerusalem.

Also on the same day, occupation soldiers severely beat another ambulance crew in Jabal Al Taweel (Al-Bireh), wounding two paramedics.

They then kidnapped an injured Palestinian from inside the ambulance, firing tear gas grenades and rubber bullets at it.

PRCS underlines that these practices constitute a blatant violation of key IHL provisions, mainly the Fourth Geneva Convention of 1949 on the protection of civilians in time of war, which legally applies to the oPt.

This Convention affords protection to the personnel engaged in the search for, removal and transporting of and caring for wounded and sick civilians.

It also calls for the respect of human life and dignity in times of military occupation. In particular, such practices constitute a crying violation of article 63 of the Fourth Geneva Convention which states that recognized National Red Cross (Red Crescent, Red Lion and Sun) Societies shall be allowed to pursue their activities.

PRCS urges the International Community, represented by the UN General Assembly and Security Council, to shoulder their responsibilities by taking the necessary steps to make Israeli occupation authorities comply with IHL provisions, and to put an end to the targeting of civilians and their properties.

It calls on these parties to compel Israel to respect IHL provisions regarding the respect of medical and PRCS’ emblems, and recalls that the occupying power is obliged to protect emergency, medical and relief personnel and to facilitate their safe access to the sick and wounded. End.

Note: 77 Palestinians injured by live, rubber bullets in 24 hours: Red Crescent
The Palestine Red Crescent Society (PRCS) says nearly 80 Palestinians have been injured from live rounds and rubber bullets in clashes with Israeli forces and illegal settlers in the past 24 hours.
en.abna24.com
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Whitewash Rainbow Flag from West Bank barrier of shame: Palestinian protesters

Posted on: July 8, 2015

Whitewash rainbow flag from West Bank barrier: Palestinian protesters

Palestinian protesters have whitewashed a rainbow flag painted on six slabs of the West Bank separation barrier.

Khaled Jarrar, the Palestinian painter of the piece, said his art was meant as a reminder of Israeli occupation, at a time when gay rights are in the news after the US allowed same-sex marriage.

But protesters perceived the painting as support for homosexuality, a taboo subject in Palestinian society where gay people are not tolerated. (That should be the least of their worries and indignities)

It ignited angry responses and activists whitewashed the flag on Monday night, just a few hours after it was painted on the best-known section of Israel’s graffiti-covered barrier, next to a portrait of Yasser Arafat and other Palestinian figures.

Jarrar, 39, who has exhibited his work in Europe and the US, told the Associated Press on Tuesday that the destruction “reflects the absence of tolerance and freedoms in the Palestinian society”.

“People don’t accept different thinking in our society,” he said, adding he painted the rainbow flag on the barrier to put a spotlight on Palestinian issues.

Israel, meanwhile, has emerged as one of the world’s most gay-friendly travel destinations, in sharp contrast to the rest of the Middle East where gay people are often persecuted and even killed. Earlier this month, more than 100,000 people attended a gay pride parade in Tel Aviv.

Officially there is still no same-sex marriage in Israel, primarily because there is no civil marriage of any kind – all Jewish weddings must be conducted through the rabbinate, which considers homosexuality a sin and a violation of Jewish law. But the state recognises same-sex couples who marry abroad. (Same for Lebanon of a civil marriage)

Same-sex relations are punishable by death in Iran, Mauritania, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen.

Palestinians who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer (LGBTQ) face a unique, complex, and often dire set of struggles on multiple fronts.

Palestinian society is in many ways deeply conservative and traditional, so those who identify as LGBTQ often face harsh reactions from their families and communities, ranging from social ostracism to physical violence.

At the same time, LGBTQ Palestinians in Israel and the occupied territories regularly face discrimination, denials of civil and human rights, and other forms of violence and inequality as a result of their Palestinian identity.

LGBTQ Palestinians are often urged to choose between being Palestinian and being queer, but these problems are not separable: as LGBTQ Palestinians, our sexual/gender identities and our national/cultural identities are inextricably linked – both in how we understand and identify ourselves and in the struggles we face as individuals and as a community.

Troubled by the absence of an organisation that caters to the specific needs of our community, we – a group of LGBTQ Palestinians who live in Israel and the occupied territories – founded al-Qaws (Arabic for “rainbow”), which became the first legally recognised, autonomous Palestinian LGBTQ organisation in November last year.

Motivated by a vision of a non-hierarchical society that recognises – and values – the diversity of sexual and gender identities, al-Qaws aspires to play a pioneering role in helping to build a just Palestinian society based on tolerance, equality, and openness. We believe that such a society will serve as a source of freedom and creativity and will enrich the lives, not only of LGBTQ Palestinians, but Palestinians in general.

Founded as an autonomous project within the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance (JOH) in 2001, al-Qaws obtained non-profit status and became an independent legal entity at the culmination of an intense process of organisational and group work among our leadership group that began in September 2006.

Our desire to form an independent organisation was based on our conviction that this was the only way we could adequately address our specific and growing needs as Palestinian LGBTQs and provide a forum for internal dialogue about our multiple identities and our relationship with Palestinian society at large.

The particular social context in which we live and work provided the original catalyst for al-Qaws, but it also shapes our overall mission and our daily work. In contrast to many western societies, where queer communities and movements have matured over the past several decades, the queer Palestinian community is still nascent, at best.

Besides that, the dominant western constructs of queer identity do not have the same relevance for many Palestinians, who are left without a culturally meaningful set of narratives around which to organise a movement and understand their identities and desires. The result is that most LGBTQ Palestinians face two equally unsatisfactory options. One is to conform with local cultural norms and live outwardly “heterosexual” lives. The other is to risk persecution by adopting an identity that many Palestinians associate with the west. Al-Qaws is therefore determined, not simply to mimic an existing model of queer identity/community, but to provide a social space for LGBTQ Palestinians to independently engage in a dialogue about our own visions and ideals for a community.

More broadly, we aim to promote transformation and change in Palestinian society by, on one hand, challenging social attitudes and religious taboos about sexuality and gender and, on the other hand, advancing the social engagement and contributions of LGBTQ Palestinians through empowerment, education, and the development of leadership skills.

At the same time, however, we emphasise that LGBTQ Palestinians face pressures, not just from Palestinian society, but from the wider context of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. LGBTQ Palestinians’ struggles are a complex result of problems internal to Palestinian society and the harsh realities of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

Al-Qaws aims to serve the needs of LGBTQ Palestinians with an eye to both sides of this equation, and although we are hopeful and determined, we are also recognise the limits the political situation places on our ability to bring change.

For example, while Palestinians in Israel, Jerusalem, and the occupied territories of the West Bank and the Gaza constitute one community, our different legal statuses and the different realities of each of these locations – including, for example, restrictions on the freedom of movement of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza – severely constrain our ability to meet as a community.

Despite these obstacles, al-Qaws is actively engaged in promoting the development and growth of the Palestinian LGBTQ community in Israel and the Palestinian National Authority. Because this process is inherently linked with the wider struggle to build an equal, diverse, tolerant and open society, al-Qaws is an enthusiastic partner with those who share our vision of a vibrant Palestinian civil society that honours the human and civil rights of all individuals, including those who do not conform to cultural or religious norms of gender and sexuality.

Al-Qaws is currently engaged, for example, in the preparatory stages of a joint research project with local human rights organisations in the West Bank.

This innovative project will examine, for the first time ever, attitudes of social justice activists, human rights activists, and LGBTQs in the West Bank toward the taboo topic of sexual diversity/orientation.

This research will draw attention to the problem of LGBTQ civil and human rights in Palestinian society, inform the scope of our future awareness-raising programmes and educational outreach, and ultimately, we hope, initiate public debates among human rights, women’s, and social justice organisations on frequently ignored issues of gender and sexual identity

Another upcoming research project of al-Qaws will investigate alternatives to the western model of homosexuality/sexual diversity, informed by our own cultures, values, and histories.

The western model, in which “visibility” and “coming out of the closet” are central motifs, is not practical or meaningful for many LGBTQ Palestinians. In order to deal effectively with the actual experiences and needs of LGBTQ Palestinians, a new and more relevant model that responds to our unique historical and cultural context is urgently needed.

In addition to these long-term research projects, al-Qaws is engaged in regular projects that have immediate impacts on the lives of LGBTQ Palestinians in Jerusalem, Yaffa-Tel Aviv, the northern region of Israel, and the West Bank (as often as possible given the political limitations).

For example, we have organised workshops to develop activist and leadership skills among LGBTQ Palestinians, as well as meetings to discuss issues of sexuality and gender more generally.

Additionally, because one of our goals is to provide a safe space for members of the community, we regularly organise social events where LGBTQ Palestinians can feel free to meet and socialise.

And al-Qaws’s LGBTQ Arabic website, one of few such websites, has been a particularly valuable tool, both for networking and educational purposes. More than 1,000 people from Israel-Palestine and beyond have participated in Arabic discussion forums on issues of gender and sexuality since we developed the site.

These are only a few of the many projects in which al-Qaws is engaged, and we are constantly searching for new and innovative ways to respond to the diverse needs of LGBTQ Palestinians. To be sure, ours is not an easy job.

We are fully aware of the complexities of this moment and the challenges that lie ahead. But our move towards independence is an exciting change, and we believe that it will open new opportunities for LGBTQ Palestinians – and also, if less directly, for all Israelis and Palestinians – to imagine, and create, a future based on equality and respect for our differences, rather than the petty prejudices and injustices that characterise so many of our lives

Andrew Bossone  and  Carol Mansour shared and commented on this link.

Not impressed with the shaping of this narrative. Very simplistic. And what the hell does the “Israel, meanwhile…” have to do with this piece?

Israel, meanwhile has giant gay parades, so it is the epitome of tolerance….right.

Never mind the occupation, look at our rainbow feather boas….

Obnoxious. And this is why the move was silly for those who painted over it.

I knew it was inevitable such a fluff piece would come out. Tanya Habjouqa

Khaled Jarrar, a Palestinian artist, said he had meant to call attention to Israeli occupation at a time when gay rights are in news, but flag was labelled ‘shameful’
theguardian.com
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Real Lives, beyond idiosyncrasies, of Palestinians in pictures

Posted on: April 15, 2014

Lives of Palestinians in pictures

If you are considering a visit to Palestine and had never traveled there before, you need not imagine that going there is quite dangerous.

In the mainstream media, images of conflict permeate, along with the tragedy that is expressed afterwards.

While it may be interpreted as a melancholy environment, where an endless dissension between two people groups continues, there is still the spirit of life.

One that each human participates in, whether in an conflicted area or not.

East-Jerusalem based photographer Tanya Habjouqa has focused her work on photographing the Palestinian communities of the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem.

She captures a way of life that is not always seen by the public eye. Her series is titled “Occupied Pleasures,” and displays the Palestinian community enjoying the pleasures of life as any person would.

 posted this April 8, 2014

The Rarely-Seen Lives of Palestinians

Photographed by Tanya Habjouqa

palestine pleasure5

Teenage girls try on dresses for an upcoming dance at their private school in Ramallah.

Bodybuilders in Gaza show off the results of their work.
Tanya-Habjouqa1_palestine1

The images are striking yet simple and garnered her a World Press Photo award. Regarding the Occupied Pleasures work, Habjouqa says:

More than 4 million Palestinians live in the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, where the political situation regularly intrudes upon the most mundane of moments. Movement is circumscribed and threat of violence often hangs overhead.

This creates the strongest of desires for the smallest of pleasures, and a sharp sense of humor about the absurdities that a 47-year occupation has produced.

This is an exploration of the moments where ordinary men and women demonstrate a desire to live, not just simply survive.

A family and friends play cards on the roof in the Dheisheh Refugee Camp of Bethlehem
Tanya-Habjouqa1_palestine9

A yoga class in the outskirts of Bethlehem in the village of  Zataara.
Tanya-Habjouqa2_palestine

Students from the  Al-Quds University javelin team finish up one last practice before the summer holiday begins.
Tanya-Habjouqa1_palestine4

A few boys enjoy a cool break from the heat in a small kiddie pool in the West Bank village of Kufr Ni’ma.
Tanya-Habjouqa1_palestine7

Two young women enjoy the view on the way up to the “Mount of Temptation” in a cable car in Jericho.
Tanya-Habjouqa1_palestine8

Young men enjoy some shisha in the natural setting of Ein Qiniya. A few Israeli settlements are nearby.
Tanya-Habjouqa1_palestine10

On the way to the Eid Celebration, a man enjoys a cigarette on the last day of Ramadan in the West Bank.
Tanya-Habjouqa1_palestine3

Some women model at the Intercontinental Bethlehem for upcoming designer Nadya Hazbunova.
Tanya-Habjouqa1_palestine13

The Gaza Parkour team practices in a cemetery on the outskirts of their refugee camp in Khan Younis, Gaza.
palestine parkhour

After final high school examinations, youth in Gaza flock to the sea and to the fun fair to let off steam
palestine pleasure2

Two furniture makers take a break in a pair of plush armchairs (of their creation) in the open-air in Hizma, against Israel’s 26-foot high Separation Wall.
palestine pleaure

14 year old Sabah Abu Ghanim, Gaza’s famous girl surfer, waits to catch a wave
palestine surfing

A young fiancee goes wedding dress shopping in Gaza. Her future husband is working in Libya, where she hopes to join him.
palestine wedding

A mobile toy store van cruises along the Gaza beach highway.
Tanya-Habjouqa1_palestine5

A young boy takes his donkey for a swim, and attempts to get him out near Gaza’s Deir al-Balah refugee camp.
Tanya-Habjouqa2_palestine 3

A family enjoys a picnic in Ein Qiniya, the nearest nature spot for families in Ramallah
palestinian pleausre 12

via featureshoot

Shawn Saleme is a full time writer for Visual News.

Having traveled to over 45 countries, his international escapades continue to influence his writing and perspective. When not in a foreign territory, he makes his home in his native San Francisco Bay Area. Become friends with him on Facebook and invite him to share drinks and stories with you.

Read more at http://www.visualnews.com/2014/04/08/rarely-seen-lives-palestinians-photographed-tanya-habjouqa/#8y9IuYgvElL2sQf8.99

 

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