We don’t generally equate pleasure or humor with war-torn areas like Gaza and the West Bank, and yet photojournalist Tanya Habjouqa manages to give us an alternative perspective in this image of three boys cooling off in a kiddie pool. The metaphors in this image are noteworthy—a respite from the heat of war in the shade of an olive tree, the symbol of peace. Does this image detract from the severity of the region’s war—seemingly making light of daily struggles?
Habjouqa’s compilation of photographs shared in a New York Times article entitled ‘Palestinian Pleasures‘ humanizes the region in a meaningful way. Images of young people doing yoga and surfing were a jolting reminder that Palestinian life is not all about death and destruction. Her artistry reawakened my perspective of Palestine as a people as opposed to a warring region. Rather than making light of their situation, Habjouqa draws the viewer into the connection that we all experience enduring hardship – casting about for some levity and pleasure to survive what might otherwise become unbearable. Peace building is just as much about tranquility and freedom from oppressive emotions as it is a state of cultural and political harmony.
Our HasNa programming creates a “space” for that dual peace building by bringing participants to a new environment and inviting exploration through team building. Photos of our training teams depict laughter and camaraderie, shedding light on the emerging bonds of cooperation and mutual respect as individuals and not cultural stereotypes. In experiencing a sense of personal peace, each is able to open their perspective to an “other” and see him or her as a kindred spirit. One by one, those connections create community.