Palestinian Moments’ photo exhibition opens at Beirut Souks

 Images of displacement and war, but also of hope and resilience, have taken over Beirut’s glitzy Downtown Souks. To commemorate the International Day of Solidarity with the Palestinian People, observed on Nov. 29, the Lebanese Palestinian Dialogue Committee has launched a photo exhibition in the Beirut Souks in partnership with the U.N. Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia and the U.N. Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East.

“Palestinian Moments” revolves around the concept of time. Since the exodus of 1948, more than 700,000 Palestinians have lived a life of displacement across the region.

In Lebanon, they constitute an estimated 10 percent of the population, but they still have not achieved full rights, and poverty, unemployment, poor housing conditions and lack of infrastructure plague the community.

“Today, in this public space and in the heart of Beirut, we emphasize the right of Palestinian refugees to return to their homeland,” said LPDC President Hassan Mnymneh at the opening ceremony Tuesday.

“We are all Arabs and we are all humans, we cannot forget what Israel is doing to the Palestinian people.”

The exhibition, consisting of five different sections, will run from Nov. 29 to Dec. 4. One section, “From Palestine to Lebanon, a Story of Displacement,” features a selection of 30 photographs from UNRWA’s film and photo archive that represent the hardships Palestinians have been through since 1948.

Another section, showcasing a selection of work by photographer Adel Hana, from the Union of Arab Photographers, gives a vivid portrayal of life under the siege of Gaza.

Acting Country Director for UNRWA in Lebanon Hakam Shahwan inaugurated “Palestinian Moments” together with Mnymneh, ESCWA Executive Secretary Rima Khalaf, and Palestinian National Economy Minister of Abeer Odeh.

“The Palestinians have been through a very tough journey and this is the message sent by the exhibition,” Shahwan told The Daily Star at the event. “Whoever is attending this event is showing solidarity.”

Political and diplomatic figures, the media and members of the community were welcomed to the opening ceremony by a group of female Palestinian dancers from the Ain al-Hilweh refugee camp near Sidon.

Among those taking pictures and cheering was Tala Masri, a 17-year-old student at the Lady of Balamand High School in north Lebanon.

Masri is a third-generation Palestinian whose family was displaced from the coastal town of Haifa.

Even though she says she has little hope of ever living there herself, she takes up every occasion to spread awareness of the ongoing Palestinian struggle.

“I have never seen my home country, but this does not matter. It is a connection that comes from inside,” she told The Daily Star.

Alongside the photo exhibition, a group of women from Ain al-Hilweh were selling embroidery and other handicrafts with the support of a number of NGOs.

For Wafa Falloush, one of the 18 women working inside the camp, this is one of the few occasions to sell her work outside its confines.

Like others in the group, she is a widow and sells her handicrafts to help her provide for her children. “I learned this art from my mother and now I have taught it to my daughter,” Falloush said. “It is part of our tradition, but it is also a means to ensure our future and to regain our dignity.”

Among the guests at the ceremony was Dr. Mads Gilbert, the internationally renowned Norwegian physician and activist who has been banned from re-entering Gaza by the Israeli authorities.

On Nov. 30, he will be speaking at an American University of Beirut conference titled “Endless Wounds of Gaza,” organized in collaboration with ESCWA.

According to Gilbert, what is even more important than the work he conducts in the field is the work he does at home.

“The only tool we have as ordinary people is not to forget Palestine and to work to shift public opinion on the Israeli occupation,” Gilbert told The Daily Star.

“This is simply a matter of decency; we need to stand up if we want to maintain our humanity.”

keywords: , , , , , ,