Documenting Palestinian Diaspora: 48 Stories that Need to Be Told

Over 80 people participated last Friday at the NOOR & Paradox project collaboration: 48 stories. The event marked the launch of 48 stories, a web app which documents the life stories of the Palestinian diaspora. The concept and name of the project refer to the year 1948, remembered in history as either the War of Independence, the War of Liberation, The Catastrophe or as the creation of Israeli state and the expulsion of over 700,000 Palestinians.

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The guests at NOOR & Paradox: 48 stories project engage the audience in a Q & A discussion after their presentation on Palestine diaspora. Raluca Dumitrache/ Staff Photographer

Photographers, filmmakers, academic scholars gathered to illustrate the stories of Palestinians who have found other places to live across the world, with the hope of returning back home one day. The first guest, Dr. Ihab Saloul, an associate professor of heritage and memory studies at UvA, explained why 48 stories should play an important part not only for the Palestinians, but for other nations as well.  “I think this is an important project and the moment I was approached by Bas to talk about this I immediately said ‘yes’ because I think the relationship between Palestinian catastrophe, memory, and mapping is very important and this app certainly plays an important role in spreading or keeping the memory alive in terms of digitization and the whole relationship to heritage,” Saloul said.

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Dr. Ihab Saloul, Associate professor of Heritage and Memory Studies at UvA, raised a very important question as well during his presentation: “We have a Palestinian national museum, like our Rijskmuseum without a nation-state. How can you function in that kind of circulation?” Raluca Dumitrache/ Staff Photographer

Kadir van Lohuizen, 55, a photographer at NOOR Images, started his professional career as a photojournalist in Palestine in December 1987, during the first Intifada. The Dutch photographer explained how being a child of parents who had lived the second World War and growing up himself in the time of the creation of the state of Israel after the Holocaust encouraged him to cover the follow-up of the events.  “I really felt the need to tell a story about Palestinians,” van Lohuizen said. Despite spending a lot of time in Palestine, the photographer had other projects going on. While working on contemporary migration in the Americas, an unusual encounter in Honduras told him “You should do a story about the Palestinians,” he recalls. “I was a little bit puzzled,” van Lohuizen admits. “And […] it is actually one of the biggest Palestinian communities in the western hemisphere.” About 6 million Palestinian are believed to have fled the country. Among them, 250,000 live in Honduras, the 9th destination of the Palestinian diaspora.

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Ezz al Zanoon, 26, independent photojournalist and filmmaker talks with regret about the situation in his home city, Ghaza. “The situation in Gaza […] when I say that there (isn’t) a life for people, I really mean it, so there is not a future for young people”, al Zanoon claimed. Raluca Dumitrache/ Staff Photographer

For Debby Farber, 40, a curator at Zochrot, “this week was extremely harsh, to say the least, and I’m gentle in what is happening in Israel and in Palestine, where so many people have been killed by the idea of armed protestors in these dark days such a project is a sign of hope, to help us keep going.” Last week, dozens of Palestinians were killed and thousands were injured during a demonstration in Gaza, which makes it the deadliest since 2014. After 70 years of conflict between Palestine and Israel, van Lohuizen believes the bloody confrontation has stories that need to be told. “Our goal is to collect as many stories as possible,” she said. “[W]hat we’ve witnessed the last couple of weeks […] makes it more necessary than ever because we are talking about people.”

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Debby Farber, 40, curator at Zochrot talks about the NGO and its goals. “Zochrot means remembering, but it’s also the female form of the word remembering and this was chosen because we believe that the ways Israelis remember the 1948 war is fundamentally militaristic and humanistic nature, focusing primarily on battles, operations, conquests and reinforced heroism”. Raluca Dumitrache/ Staff Photographer

Photographer at The Amsterdammer

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