Next month, the Palestinian non-violent resistance movement will take center stage at an art gallery in New Mexico. Mati Milstein, an Israeli photojournalist, has spent the last year documenting the activities of a group of women activists fighting the occupation. He discusses “Nesa’iyéh (a woman thing),” his exhibition of their struggle, as depicted through his lens.
The Israel-Palestinian conflict is dominated by a very specific sort of visual images: armed soldiers shooting guns, young men throwing stones, tanks, warplanes, flags, suffering. These images are dictated by an accepted and assumed paradigm that dramatically influences our perception of the conflict, of each side party to the conflict, and of the nature of “acceptable” interaction and communication. You rarely see conflict-related images of women – Palestinian or Israeli – unless they are mourning the loss of a loved one or themselves suffering in one way or another. You almost never see strong women, in control of and making decisions about their own fate.
My meeting with this subject matter came, coincidentally, just after reading an analysis by Gila Danino-Yona of photographic news coverage depicting the presumed role and place of women in the Arab Spring revolutions in North Africa. I realized that right here at home, I was witnessing women taking an outspoken and proactive approach to political activity that runs directly counter to the West’s dominant perception of Arab women.
I also realized that I could document Palestinian protests in one of two ways. I could choose to reinforce and maintain the current, ego- and male-dominated paradigm of conflict: you shoot, I shoot back. My gun is bigger than your gun. Or I could choose to allow my own perception to be altered and evolve – starting at the immediate, visual level – and attempt to honestly and accurately capture images of this new paradigm and new approach now being written by Palestinian women.
I am having a bit of confusion on this - like about wording/phrases - such as ‘women network’ ‘lead by women’
but that’s probably something up to coming further developments/continuations on the ground and then how exposure/coverage would go on about them.
The 972 article mentions the name March 15th movement - and Electronic Intifada’s this piece provides bit more contextual information about the movement.
Contrasting how it has been in Gaza and West Bank.
And the article really doesn’t mention gender. Gender or youth. Dissection -
But that’s something should be more adequately left to the future.
And the article ends in mentioning Fayyadism - Salam Fayyad’s state building project (this blog’s one of the long standing ‘mentioned but undealt with’ topic) - and its ‘corrosive’ effect. (Though not really described. I don’t know March 15th or youth has critical views on Fayyadism (nothing but PLO/PA?) - or they might have their own take. This Fayyad bit can be just a foreign insertion by EI’s writer. )
The street has become a place of expression of people’s interests, and community organizing has built awareness and injected Palestinian society with the spirit of volunteerism and resistance that Salam Fayyad’s state-building policy managed to corrode. For all of the revolution’s imperfections and trials, Palestinian youth are putting us back on the course to liberation.