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In workshops with Palestinian women and Israeli settlers, Saskia Keeley unpacks decades of fear and bias through the simple acts of looking and listening. In Through The Lens of Humanity, we see what Saskia witnesses through her camera lens and in her workshops. We discover how these women use the lens to give us insight into their own world, their home, their family. We also see the humanity in the portrayal of their perceived enemy and witness the intimacy created in a safe environment.
Note from the Author:
During the past two summers I partnered with Roots, an initiative now in its fourth year led by a Palestinian and Israeli joint committee, to conduct photo workshops exclusively for women who would otherwise have no contact. An important part of the program was to develop photographic skills. Just as essential was the opportunity for women “from the other side” to interact in a daily setting, many for the very first time in their lives.
Last year a 250-page photo album was published which included my journal describing the work done with brave and inspiring people. The latter was an eye-opener for many readers which they greatly valued. Following that success and the feedback, this past summer’s West Bank assignment is now printed in the format of an illustrated digital book. The assignments included two more women’s photo workshops with Roots. And a new initiative got off the ground: three daylong photo seminars exclusively for Palestinian women in remote villages where they have few opportunities for expression and empowerment (those were organized by Taghyeer, a nonviolent Palestinian movement).
In this e-book I describe the crucial work done on the ground by local peace organizations, the hardship experienced with the situation on the ground becoming more harrowing, the moments of inspiration as well as the ones when remaining hopeful is a challenge. I share the stories of many of the individuals I interacted with. I describe the process of conducting photo workshops for women from different cultures. I illustrate the women working together, showing intimate connections and how the participants’ individuality shines through with their own style and narrative: a recognition of their uniqueness and worth.
The need for such endeavors to create trust and promote the recognition and the support of each other’s identity on all levels is crucial.
Please note that all proceeds of this book will be going to fund more photo workshops for Palestinians and Israelis in the West Bank.
Saskia ran a photography workshop for Palestinian and Israeli girls and women. She put together the concept, rallied her friends and raised thousands of dollars, and then got on a plane for the experience of a lifetime. This journal gives a little glimpse of it.