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From Gaza to Yarmouk, the Human Undoing of Occupation

All photography courtesy of Humans of Palestine.

The paradox of occupation is simple, and it is this: the more you separate, scatter, bomb, and otherwise oppress people, the more they will stick together and celebrate their lives, survival and resistance to said oppression. This special human capacity—for resilience and taking joy in it—is nowhere more evident than in Humans of Palestine, a collective portrait of how love trumps distance along with the many other obstacles imposed by occupation.

The Facebook page is modeled on Humans of New York, which showcases the many faces of that megapolis—with one key difference. As its founder, Anas Hamra, excitedly told HONY’s creator Brandon Stanton when he ran into him at Union Square last year, “I’m going to do the same thing, but with the whole country, not just one city!” That country being Palestine, the result is a truly global gathering that includes Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, members of the diaspora, second-passport holders, Palestinian citizens of Israel and Palestinians in Gaza and the West bank.

“We are so separated from each other,” Anas says. But HOPALreally re-connects all those parts into one single place. And we all have that common thing: a picture with a story to tell.” What sets this page apart from scores of sister sites is how it bridges not just geographical but emotional extremes: one click of the mouse moves the viewer from a beaming grandfather embracing his grandson to a frail, aged mother prevented by checkpoint soldiers from visiting her daughter.

The whole heart of the project is not only greater than the sum of its parts, but also reveals why occupations ultimately fail: human kinship knows no bounds, and human connection transcends material barriers.

For more information: Humans of Palestine on Facebook


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Jennifer MacKenzie

Poet, writer and teacher Jennifer MacKenzie grew up on Bloomcrest Dr. in Bloomfield Hills, MI, which inspired her to wonder about places with patterns other than floral. Following her education at Wesleyan University's College of Letters and the University of Iowa's Writers Workshop, she followed a zig-zag course that included a pilgrimage across the top of Spain and a long sojourn in Syria in pursuit of the language of Muhammad al-Maghout and Moudthaffar al-Nawwab. While in Damascus she completed the books of poems "Distant City" and "My Not-My Soldier" (forthcoming from Fence Books) and edited the magazine Syria Today. Her poems and essays can be found in numerous journals including the Kenyon Review online, Guernica, Quarterly West, and Lungfull. She currently lives in New York.

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