A piece today by Moe Ali Nayel at Electronic Intifada (“Palestinian refugees are not at your service“) should be required reading for anyone doing work on Palestinian refugees, or indeed anyone researching war- and disaster-affected populations:
“Are you enjoying filming our misery? Film: it’s fine, you are like the others. You show up in the camp, film, leave, and we are still here.”
I used to reply: but we want to tell the world about your story. Always, with the same sarcasm, is the reply: “how much are you getting paid to tell the world our story?”
Throughout my time working as a fixer with international journalists I never understood why people on the sidewalks of the camps’ busy streets always regarded our “humanitarian” mission with skepticism. But earlier this year I came to understand this skepticism of Palestinian refugees in camps in Lebanon….
This has been the Palestinian refugees’ dilemma since 1948: watching groups of people from across the globe stroll through the misery of their camps and and then leave. Making their personal plight and stories available to writers and advocates is for them a way to induce change and action and to advance their moral cause around the world.
But humanity is the key here. To tell stories and conduct research, one would do well to remember that refugees deserve our sensitivity when dealing with their hardships. It’s been 65 years and Palestinians in the camps are still clutching onto whatever crumbs of hope or aid they can. But ultimately they are left awaiting the day they can return to the place where their dignity and humanity can be restored: Palestine.
Read the whole thing at the link above.