Friday Lens Affair #77

Beirut, Lebanon

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.


11 thoughts on “Friday Lens Affair #77

  1. #77 - Seven Second Rhapsody

    […] inadequately) a little piece of how Beirut has affected me. I’m number #77, check it out here. Thanks again, […]

  2. Lory at Designthusiasm

    I learned a little something from this picture – about not jumping to conclusions. I looked at your blog and was interested in it, so I clicked on your Google+ link to add you to my circle. Then I saw the pic and immediately thought, ‘omg, I must delete the connection if this person supports the boycott of Israel’. But then I read your post and saw there is much more complexity here than my original conclusion. So it seems your post and your thoughts, as well as the very conflict in that part of the world, parallel the multi layered complexity of your photo. Adding you back again… ;-)
    Lory at Designthusiasm recently posted…Potted PienzaMy Profile

    • Hey Lory, first of all this post is written by Judy. But I have chosen this picture because of the whole story behind it. I live in Israel and love this country completely with its beauty and ugliness. It is what it is but I think i have enough distance and knowledge not to be afraid to post such pictures!
      I’m glad that you took a time to read a story, many people jump in conclusion without even reading the article first, this is what I wanted to point out as well here.
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #78My Profile

      • Judy

        Thank you Lory and Marysia! This photo means a lot to me, and I’m glad you’ve found it to be as interesting and thought-provoking as I had.

        • Judy this photo was very special and I’m surprised that more people didn’t noticed that.
          Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #78My Profile

  3. Rachel

    For me, having people in photos give an additional drama or story.. but it could have a different to anyone who sees it. Like how I see this photo; this man appears to me like a blind man, mainly because of his sunglasses and by how he walks.. with his invisible walking stick.

    • Very good observation Rachel. That is a whole beauty of photography as many eyes as many stories.
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #78My Profile

  4. Chloe Logan

    Very interesting post. I’d love to go to Beirut, but not right now–and I have Israeli stamps in my passport (I’ve been twice now, but the first time was before they stopped stamping passports). I love Israel, too, so it breaks my heart to see everything that’s happening, especially since my little sister is on a summer seminar there right now. I hope you’re staying safe and enjoying beautiful Tel Aviv, and I can’t wait to return sometime next year!

    Chloe | Wanderlust in the Midwest
    Chloe Logan recently posted…Guest Post on Cashmere KangarooMy Profile

    • Chloe here everything is ok, and really there is no reason to stress too much. Tel Aviv is an amazing place, that is why I have choose to live here! And Beirut is one great city as well, generally whole country is very beautiful. And I have been in Lebanon with an israeli stamp in my passport :) Nothing is impossible as I like to say! :)
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #78My Profile

  5. Van

    Great story. Definitely makes you think……And I hope you’re alright in Tel Aviv. Heard about the attacks today!
    Van recently posted…New Blog Name & Favourite Travel Moments of a Gap YearMy Profile

    • Hey Van. Tel Aviv is always ok. Life goes on and believe me media exaggerate situation a bit! We are all safe and well here! Enjoying the beach and partying! :)
      Marysia recently posted…Friday Lens Affair #78My Profile

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