This Friday I’m hosting slightly controversial photograph taken in Beirut by Judy Cheong from Seven Second Rhapsody. So please read the story before commenting :)
I must admit that this picture caught my eye straight away, maybe because I love Israel so much, maybe because I have been to both countries and had amazing friends in both of them and understand how different reality is from what media show us. Or maybe I simply like stirring the discussion a bit.
Judy’s blog is full of outstanding images and stories, therefore, it would be a big shame if you missed it! Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
Picture Story: Beirut, Lebanon
In this image, I see the past, present, and future of Beirut. Its undying hopes and dreams. My partner and I had travelled to Beirut in a period of relative peace, but where trouble in nearby Syria was just brewing. We discovered that Beirut was a place of hot-headed taxi drivers. Always bargaining and yelling. Full of kind-hearted strangers with smiles on their faces. The people of Beirut are extremely resilient, they are nonchalant, they are proud. Their city was a landscape of beautiful architectural history juxtaposed with modernity. Mixed with abandoned buildings in the city centre crumbling from the sheer volume of bullet holes.
When we first arrived, it felt like Beirut was a city always on edge. Beirutis themselves exude an impossible nonchalance. They keep calm in the face of all the civil wars and occupations they’ve endured. In the central district, armed guards patrol Nejmeh Square. While Beirut is smoke shisha and lounge about in cafés. The atmosphere was electrifying.
On this particular day, we had been finding our way around on foot. Exploring Hamra, once known as Beirut’s “Champs Elysées” before the Lebanese War. Nevertheless, although less dazzling, today it is still a popular destination for young adults. Who frequent the dozen pubs and cafés in this area. As we shuffled along drinking in the sights and sounds, we wandered into a sleepy neighbourhood lined with comfortable apartments.
This one long wall stretched down a hill, made colourful from the many message dozens of youth have tagged over time. What kind of graffiti do you find where you live? In my city, it’s always a random thought, a beautiful design, or a self-promotional message. This wall was filled with political messages and thoughts of peace, such as “Make love not war”, and “Drop beats, not bombs”.
A huge tag said, “Boycott Israel – H&M supports the occupation”. A reference to how the fashion chain established outlets in Israel. While I was snapping pictures of the tags, this elderly gent shuffled past, oblivious. I snapped a shot just as he walked past. In this picture, he covers up the secondary message to the tag. Giving a whole new meaning to “Boycott Israel” when you looked at the picture. Looking at him as he went about his day, I wondered how many conflicts had he lived through throughout the years. I wondered if he cared whether H&M opened outlets in Israel. If “Boycott Israel” meant something completely different to him.