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Telling Stories: Nations

Telling Stories: Nations

Issue 100 January 2013

The Nations series of emel has covered Project Pakistan, Remember Bosnia: 20 Years On, Islam in China, and Shalom Palestine: Staying Human under Occupation. All have been amazing issues to put together. 

 

The Nations series of emel has covered Project Pakistan, Remember Bosnia: 20 Years On, Islam in China, and Shalom Palestine: Staying Human under Occupation. All have been amazing issues to put together. 

Shalom Palestine was humbling to all who were involved. The first feature, Peace by Piece, looked at individuals who are preparing themselves for nation building, and who are building civil society. We spoke to architects, musicians, mayors, bishops, educators etc., all people who are striving to build a Palestine that is capable of being a nation state despite the sacrifices and every day challenges. 

The interview with comedian Mark Thomas was anything but funny. His account of walking the length of The Wall was harrowing in the extreme. The fact that the international community would so silently accept the construction of a physical blockade that leads to the creation of Bantustans for the Palestinians and fundamentally is a roadblock to peace and to the attainment of independent statehood for the Palestinian people, beggars belief. 

The Real Lives section of our Shalom Palestine issue was particularly emotive for all who worked on it. The stories of Dr. Izzeldin Abuelaish, who lost his three daughters in the bombardment of Gaza in 2009, but still who refuses to hate. The wonderful married couple, Raya and Issam, cut off from each other by the check points that divide East Jerusalem from the West Bank, described how they are both committed to each other and their children despite their daily struggles. The Migrant Memoirs of Ghada Karmi detailed how she fled Palestine after the 1948 Nakba and arrived in Britain as a child. Socially and culturally disorientated, she describes how they maintained their roots with food and music, but that these things both enriched and  tormented them for they were reminders of all that they had lost.

We did contemplate ‘how can we possibly put a lifestyle section of food and fashion together for Palestine?’ but quickly recognised, ultimately, that this was equally important to acknowledge. The amazing women who sew beautiful Palestinian-embroidered garments, where every stitch is a stitch of hope, of dignity, need our support. The ‘Food of Home’ is a remembrance for the Palestinians in the diaspora of where home truly is. The wonderful, young engineers who have put together their own car, built from bits of pipe and tube in order to compete in international competitions are an inspiration. 

These were the rousing stories that led to the tagline, ‘staying human under occupation’. We cannot forget that it is an illegal occupation, but at the end of the day, individuals were capable of maintaining their humanity and not allowing themselves or their humanity to be defined by that occupation.

Bosnia was another harrowing issue. Whilst not an ongoing conflict, remembering that it was but 20 years ago that saw the war in Bosnia that spawned the genocide in Srebrenica, and the brutality that man wrought upon man. Despite this, we also looked at the hope—the hope of individuals who continued to build, who continued to strive, even though they had experienced so much hatred and injustice. 

 

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