Pancakes for Palestine

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These days there’s no escaping the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. The war has escalated to ¬†headline level once again, and I must admit that I am taking it all in with a great mixture of fear, sadness and – I am ashamed to say – immunity. Because we have seen and heard it all before.

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It’s like a fight between kids who are eager to place blame, but not so good at looking for a permanent solution. Part of me is sick and tired of it all, but then again, who am I to be sick and tired of something that people are clearly willing to die for?

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However, while I am still struggling to understand why the situation has to be so inflamed, my thoughts are going to the people who live on both sides of that much debated, criss cross border. A great majority of them is also sick and tired of living in a war zone. My thoughts go to the people who we met during a recent trip to the holy land:

Рthe young Palestinian boy living in Aida Camp

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– the young, Palestinian mother and her newly born baby

 

 

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– the Palestinian girl walking through an area of town where the Israeli have closed down local businesses and painted the star of David on the closed down shop fronts

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– the young, Israeli soldier girl

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– the little, Jewish boy celebrating purim with a cigar

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And finally, the Israeli pancake flipper. After all, some things are international…

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Shalom Mea Shearim!

Grey, dilapidated buildings along narrow streets devoid of any signs other than temporary pieces of paper announcing religious events. Bearded men in black hats and long coats. The occasional woman dragging her long skirt along the ground while tugging a bunch of kids along.

You could be forgiven for thinking you have just walked into a Jewish neighbourhood of pre war Eastern Europe. However, it’s present day business as usual in Mea Shaerim, a short walk from Damascus gate in the old, walled city of Jerusalem. This is home to the Hasedim people (ultra orthodox Jews).

This is where I decided to celebrate the holy festival of Purim. What I discovered was a very conservative religious group of people who’s passion allows them to leave their inhibitions aside once a year, and celebrate in a manner that could easily be misinterpreted by outsiders.

As a photo journalist I was able to join them in their celebrations, but it was made abundantly clear to me that other journalists in the past have sensationalized their behaviour. Yes, they are drunk. Yes, there were under age kids smoking. Yes, there were grown men doing summer saults down the middle of the road. However, they insisted that this was all part and parcel of their religious belief.

As a token of my appreciation for allowing me in, I would like to take this opportunity to invite all the Hasedim people out there to contribute in creating my picture texts. My collection of images from Mea Shearim can be found here.

Feel free to make comments below by indicating which picture you are referring to. Or drop me a line at spencer@photito.com

Your help will be much appreciated!

A final thank you to all the residents of Mea Shearim for making my visit so special.