Rasha Al Jundi
“Can you imagine what life must have been like with a four meter high wall and an almost seventy meter wide death strip right at your doorstep?” This quote is displayed to the public in Berlin. This is what Germany wants you to imagine. But for many Palestinians living in the city, they don’t have to imagine. They live this back home, in a very stark physical and political reality.
Cacti is a photography series that combines black-and-white digital images with text and line art in selected frames. The project aims to portray the anger, frustration, and hopes of Palestinians and their allies who live in Berlin.
Through a sequence of staged and abstract images, Cacti juxtaposes key monuments erected around Berlin to commemorate specific events in history with hidden or abstract participants. In collaboration with artist Michael Jabareen, chosen frames within the series include his lined illustrations to emphasize the story behind each image.
Despite a bloody history, which includes an occupation wall, Germany is one of the most repressive places in Europe for pro-Palestinian voices. Bottled up public guilt from the Holocaust, together with systemic racism in the German political system, contribute to biased and blind support to a fascist settler colony in Palestine.
Recent media reports confirm that German ministers and senators agreed on several steps that would criminalize pro-Palestinian voices. By adopting the controversial (and legally non-binding) International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance definition of antisemitism, Germany automatically labels any criticism of Israel as antisemitic.
The Palestinian struggle is narrowed down to labels of “Islamic terrorists” versus “Jewish victims.” The first time this project statement was written, five months into 2023, more than 154 Palestinians had been killed by the Zionist occupation forces or settlers. Since October 7th, a full-on intentional genocide has been announced by the Zionist government against Palestinians all over the occupied land. At the time of publishing, more than fourteen thousand Palestinians have been killed in the Gaza Strip alone. This figure reflects only the ones who have been accounted for.
In May 2022, the Berlin local government made a U-turn on its decision to allow the commemoration of the Palestinian Nakba to proceed, instead banning it. The organizers canceled the demonstration but the people stood in solidarity. Flags, the Palestinian keffiyeh, and other symbols were raised in silence. German police arrested 115 individuals, twenty-seven of whom have been charged with taking part in an illegal gathering and carrying the Palestinian flag, among other charges. In May 2023, this crackdown was repeated against Jews and Palestinians. With the current genocide, silencing and intimidation has spread across Germany and has reached new repressive levels. Simple candle vigils are banned and Palestinian school children are questioned about their political views.
Our voices are silenced and existence erased. Some feel threatened to speak out. It is an audacity. It is angering.
Cacti have traditionally surrounded Palestinian lands. They remain silent witnesses to depopulated villages and the continued colonization of our home. They symbolize beauty, continuation, and stubborn resistance. When one Palestinian voice is raised, it echoes and spreads like cacti. It shall never be silenced.
Fall / Winter 2023
Rasha Al Jundi
Rasha Al Jundi (b. 1984) is a Palestinian documentary photographer and visual storyteller. She grew up in the UAE, after which she moved to Lebanon to pursue higher education. During her seven-year stay in the country, she volunteered with the Lebanese Red Cross and worked with a local NGO coordinating rural development programs. Between 2009 and 2021, she worked with several civil society organizations in the Near East and Africa. Her work generally follows a social documentary pathway. Rasha is the 2022 Ian Parry grant recipient and a graduate from the International Center for Photography (ICP), New York. You can follow her on her website and on Instagram: @rashaa_jv