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‘I Will Never Forget These Images’

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I have had the pleasure of working with Mondoweiss for almost one year now. My work with the organization has taken me across Palestine, my home, to places I never would have been if not for Mondoweiss and their commitment to telling the stories of my people. I write this message today to express my gratitude for this Donate to Mondoweissopportunity, my pride in my people, and to ask you to take action to keep this vital work going.

I am a refugee, originally from the Jerusalem-area village of Deir Aban, and was born and raised in the Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem. My entire life, I have seen Palestine in the news and have seen how media organizations have misrepresented my people, particularly in Gaza. You too must have seen these biased narratives, aimed at comforting those in power.

Because of the brutal Israeli occupation of Palestine, I have never been able to travel to Gaza to meet my brothers and sisters there. But when the Great March of Return began, I felt it was my duty as a Palestinian journalist to share my platform with the people in Gaza. Mondoweiss gave me that platform.

I connected online with fellow journalists in Gaza who were covering the protests and together we produced powerful videos about the Great March of Return, why people were protesting en masse, what it meant for us as a people, and the horrific suppression of the protests by Israeli forces. Because we were working for Mondoweiss, we were able to tell our Palestinian story, without reservation, and counter the mainstream media narrative that these protests were militant and being orchestrated by Hamas.

I connected with the protesters on a deeply personal level, as the majority of them are also refugees. They were not protesting because they are violent terrorists, as most media outlets said, or because they wanted to destroy Israel and all Jews. They simply were demanding an end to the unbearable siege, and their internationally enshrined rights to return to their homelands that were stolen from them—a right that I myself and my people in Aida have dreamed of achieving for generations.

In one of our videos for Mondoweiss, we attempted to portray the excessive use of force being used by Israeli forces across the border and the catastrophic effects it was having on protesters, many of them young men like myself. My partner in Gaza went to hospitals and clinics and filmed scenes of dozens of people in wheelchairs and crutches, their legs torn apart by explosive bullets.

I will never forget these images. I will never forget the story of Alaa, a young competitive cyclist whose leg was amputated after he was shot by Israeli snipers. His story brought me to tears.

I have witnessed many atrocities in my life here in Palestine. I have seen my friends shot and killed during protests and my family members arrested and thrown in jail. But nothing prepared me for what I witnessed in the footage that was sent to me from Gaza.

If it wasn’t for organizations like Mondoweiss, many of these images would never be seen by the international community.

I cannot express how grateful I am for the existence of organizations like Mondoweiss, that do not answer to the agendas of governments or major corporations, and serve only to expose the truth about Israel and its occupation of Palestine.

I am proud to work for an organization that does not attempt to whitewash the atrocities of the occupation, and has given me and my colleagues in Gaza the incredible opportunity to tell our stories as we experience them.

Donate to MondoweissMondoweiss’s work is essential to our ongoing fight for liberation and to ending the injustices in Palestine. Please contribute today, in whatever amount you can, so that this work may continue. My people need Mondoweiss to thrive and grow—please help now.

Akram Al-Wara
About Akram Al-Wa'ra

Akram Al-Wa'ra is a freelance Palestinian filmmaker based in Bethlehem, Palestine.

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2 Responses

  1. annie
    annie
    July 20, 2018, 2:45 pm

    Akram Al-Wa’ra, thank you for your amazing efforts to bring the news and videos from the great march of return. when you say you had never been able to travel to Gaza before, it seems like one of the cruelest things about the occupation, to separate palestinians from each other so permanently. i had not really considered that personal aspect of your reporting and even though it had to be under these conditions, i’m so grateful you were able to go there.

    and the personal interviews, especially with the cyclist Alaa al-Dali (who lost his leg and what that meant for his dream) — really all of the people, seeing their faces and hearing their voices. thank you — and be careful!

    i really can’t think of a better value for our donations to mondoweiss than to support more reporting by palestinians in palestine. some of the best reporting i’ve read on the march anywhere on the web. thanks Akram, mondoweiss and everyone who donates!

    • Generalist
      Generalist
      July 20, 2018, 3:42 pm

      Annie, thank you for these eloquent words and for your gift a few hours ago! We are, as always, in your debt.

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