In this deeply political visual presentation, which won the 2015 Palestine Book Awards, Sanbar collects images of Palestine and Palestinians that date back to the 19th century. Palestine has always been of immense interest to photographers and it is one of the most frequently photographed places in the world. The photos reiterate the global significance of Palestine, and its uniqueness, beauty and rich, complicated history. They also depict Palestinian nature in its full beauty.
Sanbar painstakingly exposes the Zionist fallacy that Palestine was a land without a people and shines a light onto Orientalist depictions of the land replete with colonial clichés, which nonetheless resonated at the global level. One section, entitled “Images of Proof”, includes rare photographs of Palestinians being forced from their homes, cities and towns.
In “Thrown into the Sea”, Palestinians fleeing the Nakba are shown wading into the Mediterranean Sea while carrying boxes, suitcases and even fellow Palestinians on their shoulders. Sanbar reflects on the Zionist fabrication that Jews would be driven into the sea by Arabs, noting “Palestinians had only just pulled themselves out of the sea into which they had actually been thrown”.
Amelia Smith, author and Gombrich Prize and Zilkha Prize winner observes:
The Palestinians offers an alternative way to look at Palestine, a glimpse beyond the headlines. But it also leaves you with a question: How do these ‘alternative’ images come to be adopted as the ‘normal’ lens through which the world views Palestine? Answering that question is perhaps key to answering the fate of the Palestinians themselves.