Two Sides to Every Story

By | Jan 12, 2010

By Caroline Kessler

Although the barrage of international media coverage on Israel’s war on Gaza seems to have sloped off, more personal coverage has emerged. B’tselem, the Israeli Information Center for Human Rights in the Occupied Territories, started a project to give the people of Gaza an audible voice and a visible face. Naturally, the New York Times covered the project, in which 18 young Gaza refugees were given video cameras, instructor and web guidance to document their lives and situations since the war.

The short, poignant videos range from an account of working in smuggling tunnels, to wounded children singing, to a girls’ soccer team. Israeli media rarely shows this kind of humanitarian coverage of Gaza citizens, but this time, they did. Israel’s biggest news web site, Ynet posted five of the videos here, under the heading “Gaza: An inside look.”

The one that gave me chills was called “Into the Light”, filmed by Awatef al-Jadalli of the Al-Bureij refugee camp in Central Gaza City. It shows two young girls who were both injured during the war, one on whom is balancing on rickety crutches. Both of her legs were broken and she has eight stitches. The closing part of this two-minute video is a large group of children singing these words:

We want a field with grass to play on / We are the pioneers of Palestine, alive but not alive, / We ask for your loving help, so we can be like all children

The lilting, minor-key melody was hauntingly familiar in that way that Middle Eastern music often is. If the goal of this project is to show that there is not much difference between Palestinian and Israeli children, then they’ve certainly succeeded.

Caroline Kessler, hailing from the not-so-charmed city of Baltimore, is an undergraduate at Carnegie Mellon University.

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