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Exhibit of iconic 1948 photos — ‘The Long Journey’ — opens today in NYC

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The UN agency that deals with Palestinian refugees has opened a new digital archive including many images from the Nakba, the Palestinian catastrophe of 1948, when 750,000 Palestinians were expelled by or fled the Zionist army and militias when the state of Israel was established in Palestine.

And Alwan for the Arts in New York and UNRWA USA are honoring the archive with an exhibition in New York of iconic photographs from 1948 through to the present day. The exhibit opens today downtown and will run for three weeks, culminating in an auction of photos on the night of Thursday February 12.

The exhibition is called “The Long Journey,” and you can see it for free any afternoon during the week from 2-5. The press release is below. Here is a preview of some of these wrenching photos, which will some day be inscribed in American consciousness the way that photos of the Jewish experience of eastern Europe are.

This one is very famous. We often hear the words “forced into the sea” — these people had that experience.

Iconic UNRWA photo of Palestinian refugees

Iconic UNRWA photo of Palestinian refugees (Photographer H. Nakashion)

Or this one could be viewed with a reading from S. Yizhar’s book Khirbet Khizeh, in which he describes the noble/defiant expression on the face of a Palestinian woman being forced to leave her village and get into a transport truck:

UNRWA photograph from  1948

“Civilian evacuation of El-Falujja – 30km northeast of Gaza City 1949” (Photographer unknown  UNRWA archives)

The children’s photo at the top of this post is reminiscent in its beauty and innocence of Annemarie Jacir’s great movie, When I Saw You, about militant refugees in Jordan. Is it any surprise that many of these young people became radicalized, and built their lives around the idea of getting their homes and country back?

Here is the press release from UNRWA USA:

UNRWA USA, in partnership with Alwan for the Arts, presents “The Long Journey,” a collection of historical photographs (1948-2014) from the Archives of the UN Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees, recently exhibited at the UN Headquarters.

On view at Alwan:
Friday, January 23 -February 12, 2015
Monday through Friday
2pm-6pm daily, or by appointment

In this 1967 photo from the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, archive, Palestine refugees flee across over the Jordan river on the damaged Allenby Bridge during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

In this 1967 photo from the U.N. Relief and Works Agency, UNRWA, archive, Palestine refugees flee across over the Jordan river on the damaged Allenby Bridge during the 1967 Arab-Israeli war.

Closing Reception & Charity Auction:
Thursday, February 12, 2015
6:30-8:30pm

Photographs to be auctioned with all proceeds/reception donations benefiting UNRWA’s Gaza emergency relief fund. (Donations through UNRWA USA are tax-deductible.)

Free and open to the public

The Long Journey is an exhibition that recounts the life and history of the Palestine refugees since 1948 through a selection of iconic pictures and films from the United Nations Relief and Works Agency for Palestine Refugees in the Near East (UNRWA)’s archives. The exhibition draws public attention on human stories and the works of UNRWA in the Middle East.

In this exhibit, UNRWA unveils the first part of its newly digitized archive, which consists of over half a million negatives, prints, slides, films and videocassettes covering all aspects of the life and history of Palestine refugees from 1948 to the present day. The first group of iconic photographs are part of the exhibition, The Long Journey, which opens on 23 January, 2015, at Alwan for the Arts in Lower Manhattan.

UNRWA’s archive has been inscribed on the UNESCO ‘Memory of the World’ register, which includes collections of outstanding cultural and historical significance. In tandem with the digitized archive, UNRWA is also launching a website, http://archive.unrwa.org/, where the 1,948 images will be available to media, academics, writers and others who wish to study, explore or just have a window into the world of Palestine refugees from 1948 to the present day.

The Long Journey is organized and endorsed by UNRWA USA.

The following video “The Long Journey” records Lebanese photographer and filmmaker George Nehmeh, whose iconic footage and photography from Palestine, Jordan and Lebanon working for UNRWA from the 60’s through the 90’s is displayed in this exhibit, as he retraces his steps years later.

Thanks to Karen Platt

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18 Responses

  1. just
    just on January 23, 2015, 1:53 pm

    At long last~ thank the stars and heavens above! The beginning of the ongoing Nakba is captured and exhibited in downtown NYC (!), and anyone who disputes it or the existence of the Palestinians will be faced with the documentation! Hallelujah.

    Thank you Alwan for the Arts in New York and UNRWA USA.

    “which will some day be inscribed in American consciousness the way that photos of the Jewish experience of eastern Europe are.”

    Amen. This sampling of photos is breathtaking~ the one of the children smiling captures so much of the indomitable spirit of the Palestinian people.

    I am moved to my very core. Long live Palestine, and may you be home soon in your land, with your freedom and the respect that you so richly deserve.

    (this is going to tick off more than a few people… about time, I say.)

    Thank you very much Phil.

  2. Pixel
    Pixel on January 23, 2015, 5:12 pm

    +1

    • Pixel
      Pixel on January 23, 2015, 5:17 pm

      Let me take that a bit further.

      While I may never have said it before, I always appreciate your comments, Just.

      Thank-you for all of them.

      • just
        just on January 23, 2015, 6:15 pm

        Thank you very much, Pixel.

  3. annie
    annie on January 23, 2015, 5:27 pm

    i just added a video at the base that i highly recommend.

    • just
      just on January 23, 2015, 6:17 pm

      Annie~ that video is truly precious. I still have a lump in my throat, and I found myself holding my breath. The value of that documentary is beyond compare. Thank you.

      • annie
        annie on January 24, 2015, 7:47 pm

        it was really amazing how he went back and met those people years later. in so many cases he remembered who he photographed and where he was. when he went back to khan younis..to the hill and replicated the boys running as they had then, it made me cry. it was so beautiful.

      • just
        just on January 24, 2015, 9:12 pm

        Seems that these events and people remain indelibly printed in his mind and in the minds of those he became reacquainted with. Those smiling and eager children running up the hill were precious~ with their peace sign held high.

        Thank goodness for his archive and for his powerful testimony~ it’s captured forever.

  4. Marnie
    Marnie on January 24, 2015, 3:44 am

    Amazing and inspiring video. I’m really humbled by their strength, courage and their unshakeable faith. Their stories are so heartbreaking and their kindness and hospitality is such a lesson. These are the people I think of when I read about Abraham and the hospitality he and Sarah showed to the angels who brought them the news that Sarah would have a child.

    • Mooser
      Mooser on January 24, 2015, 12:02 pm

      Oddly enough, the very first things which could be called “photographs” were made using a coating of a substance called “Bitumen of Judea” (“The bitumen slowly hardened in the brightest areas of the image. The unhardened bitumen was then dissolved away”)

  5. RoHa
    RoHa on January 24, 2015, 7:08 am

    I’m seeing reports of some sort of deal with Russia on development of the Gaza gas fields. Anyone got details? Will it mean Russian rigs offshore, and Russian techs in Gaza?

    • Whizdom
      Whizdom on January 24, 2015, 9:18 am

      Yes, a surprising bit of news. Abbas was in Russia signing the deal for developing the Gaza gas fields. It is not clear if any coordination with Israel occurred.

      Tony Blair’s British Gas had the license, but Israel blocked the deal for years while they were trying to work out a formula that prevented revenues reaching the PA. BG finally gave up.

      http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/business/2014/01/russia-palestine-offshore-gas-field-gaza.html

      It is only fair, Israel granted licenses to a Dick Cheney company to explore parts of the Golan Heights for oil and gas.

      • Walid
        Walid on January 24, 2015, 11:24 am

        “a surprising bit of news. Abbas was in Russia signing the deal for developing the Gaza gas fields. It is not clear if any coordination with Israel occurred. ”

        There has to be some show-business behind this story since it involves the PA. We have to account for the PA having signed a 20-year deal with Israel in January a year ago, so why would the Palestinian turn around and sign with the Russians? One could safely guess that there is some tie-in between the Russian deal and the already signed Israeli one, that the PA is not devulging. If something or other is happening with Russia, one can be sure that this is being done with Israel’s consent.

        From Israel News January 2014:

        “Israel to Supply PA With Gas for Next 20 Years

        A deal for the sale of natural gas from Israel to the Palestinian Authority was signed Sunday.

        David Lev

        First Publish: 1/6/2014, 12:14 AM

        A deal for the sale of natural gas from Israel to the Palestinian Authority was signed Sunday. The deal was signed in Jerusalem by Israeli and PA officials.

        According to the deal, gas shipments will commence in 2014 and continue for 20 years. The gas will be piped to a power station to be built in Jenin, which will be operated by the PA and produce electricity. As a result of the deal, the consortium that licenses the Leviathan and Tamar gas fields – Noble Energy, Delek Drilling, and Avner – will earn NIS 1.2 billion.

        Over the period of the contract, the PA will receive 4.75 billion cubic meters of gas.

        Yitzchak Shalita of Delek Drilling said that “I believe that a strong and stable economy will bring peace and stability to this region. With peace the entire region will benefit economically. Economic cooperation, such as the agreement signed today,will help us bring the nations closer together and built a strong basis for peace,” he added.”

        http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/175954#.VMPEhyuUdgg

        We have to remember how Cast Lead conveniently got in the way of the BG deal that was set to begin.

      • Vera Gottlieb
        Vera Gottlieb on January 25, 2015, 5:16 am

        Haven’t Dick Cheney and his ilk done enough damage all over the world already?

  6. dudu440
    dudu440 on January 24, 2015, 5:22 pm

    Is there any chance this exhibit could go on the road after New York? I sounds like it deserves to be seen by more of us in the hinterlands. UNRWA could organize the tour in cooperation with various others of us in the movements of solidarity.

    • just
      just on January 24, 2015, 9:14 pm

      It’s a great idea, and would go a long way toward providing much- needed education to the American people.

      • Vera Gottlieb
        Vera Gottlieb on January 25, 2015, 5:15 am

        And not just the American people – many other folks too, including israelis.

  7. Vera Gottlieb
    Vera Gottlieb on January 25, 2015, 5:14 am

    How much longer will the world turn a blind eye to this? For shame!

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