Beyond Resistance Fighters: how artists in Palestine Fight For Their Creative Livelihood Amidst an Ongoing Genocide

Palestinians teach life. You might have heard this phrase before, originally from the poem by Rafeef Ziadeh. And it's true. If you visit Palestine you will find them teaching you about how to live life even though it feels impossible against such challenges much of the time. But Palestinians simply love life and they have a rich history and tradition of showcasing that love through their cuisine, traditions, hospitality and amazing art. Be that crafting of traditional garments with tatreez design, creating crafts of all kinds with their unique designs which signify specific historic moments, making ceramics, embroidery, or paintings, sculptures, wood work. Any type of art you like, you can find Palestinians creating it and making it a piece of a larger story which is the ongoing story of resistance to injustice and living - not just surviving - under occupation.
We’ve interviewed 5 artists about their work, who spoke about their experiences as creatives under Israeli occupation and the difficulties of making a living as an artisan under these conditions.
Introducing Sarab from Straps by Sarab, she designs yoga and bag straps and belts with traditional Palestinian motives and fabrics. She herself is Palestinian-American and grew up seeing her mom's traditional clothing as well accessories with all their bright and fun colors and she remembers always loving it but not really knowing how to incorporate it into her own style. After moving to Palestine, she volunteered as a yoga instructed and wanted to create a Palestinian style strap for her yoga mat. Interest in her design was surprising so from that it was a natural development to start her business crafting bag straps, belts and more.
It’s been 5 years since Sarab has joined the Handmade Palestine, having the opportunity to market her work for (Palestinian) American shoppers abroad and gaining plenty of experience about what it means to be a creative under aggressive Israeli occupation.
"Even our raw materials are under occupation," she says. Checkpoints, restrictions, long waiting hours to get materials, uncertainty for all the previous reasons - it all affects the creative process and work and can sometimes bring it to a halt. It affects prices, too.

„It’s always inconsistent here and that’s what remains consistent“

Her philosophy is to keep making, keep creating, keep connecting and sharing her story in hopes to build bridges between Palestinians in Palestine and the diaspora in order for them to reconnect with their roots and seeing themselves in their brethren in Palestine.
To make accessible original hand made art pieces from Palestinians in Palestine is investing into the land, the people and ultimately into a long and rich ongoing history and tradition. Check out her collection here.

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