Introduction: Palestine rarely makes the news in Indian media. When it does, it is usually because "clashes" or “hostilities” have flared up yet again. Knee-jerk sentiments are often quick to ascribe Palestinians with “terrorism”. The reality is that the Palestinians are an exceptionally warm and welcoming people.
Perceptions about Palestine are too often shaped by lack of information or by propaganda. It is easy to dehumanise those we are ignorant about.
This 10-part series on Palestine consists of photographs from East Jerusalem and the West Bank taken by the author during a visit in early 2018. They convey varied aspects of Palestine’s natural beauty, her ancient and unique history, Palestinian art, education and culture, and the grim realities of their lives under Israeli military occupation.
In part three, we look at the food and culture in Palestine.
[Below: A map of West Bank, Gaza and Israel (L); the West Bank (R). Courtesy: palestinett.org]
Food, dance, theatre, art — Palestine has much to offer culture aficionados. Here's a look, in pictures.
Jinan, a play, is performed at the Freedom Theatre in a refugee camp in the city of Jenin. It tells the story of a girl with super-human strength, a metaphor for the mental strength required to live life under a constricting military occupation:
Here's another look at the performance:
The famous Palestinian Dabke dance being performed by students at the Alrowwad cultural center in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. The Berkeley Law school found the Aida camp to be the most tear gassed community in the world.
Yet another group performing Dabke. A video that recently went viral features Palestinian youth dancing Dabke within Israeli sniper range in Gaza.
A ballet school in the city of Ramallah.
A Palestinian ballet dancer teaching and entertaining children at the Alrowwad cultural center.
Che Guevara and Yasser Arafat, crafted in sand by an artist in Hebron’s Old Town district.
Here’s a video of him crafting a sand camel in real time:
A typical Palestinian breakfast of pita bread, hummus, kalayat bandura, olive oil and zatar, a very popular spice. Of course, no breakfast is complete without Arabic or Turkish coffee!
(Below, left) Snacks and the desserts hilba, basbosa and harisa, complete with Fanta and Coca-Cola at a family feast; (R) the main course, including the popular Arabic dish maqluba, waraq al-'anib, kousa mahshi, pickles and salads.
Chirag Dhara is a theoretical physicist-turned-climate change scientist. He is keenly interested in the Palestinian situation, and visited the occupied West Bank for three months in early 2018 in solidarity with the Palestinians. He can be contacted through his Palestine travel blog or Instagram page.