Dabkeh is a traditional dance that encompasses public performances and informal celebrations, like this community gathering in 2008.
Source: Museum Victoria Palestinian Community Photographic Collection
The sons and daughters of Palestinian immigrants are reminded daily of the issues that drove their parents to leave their homeland, and the international debate over land and belonging bestowed on them by their birth.
“You’re brought up with people who had everything ripped off them,” says 21-year-old Jamil. “You get angry, but there’s also a sense that you have to do something.” Mai, who came to Australia as a baby from the occupied West Bank during the intifada (uprising) of the late 1980s, explains. “People ask you, ‘Where is Palestine?’ You have to try to put people in your shoes, and you have to put yourself in the shoes of those still oppressed. You feel more worldly.”
In recent times young and old have rallied to raise awareness of the Palestinians’ situation. Groups such as the Palestinian Community Association of Victoria, Beit Jala Association, Australians for Palestine and Women for Palestine raise funds, screen films, hold peace vigils and organise cultural events aimed at showing Palestinian life in all its variety.
“Palestinian families are scattered across the world,” says Bushra, 23. “So the other kids in the community become our cousins, our family.”