Statuses and Headlines: Dedicated to the tireless social media activist

Words scatter

Attention span expands

between statuses and headlines

I frame my perils of wisdom

on cyber walls

I denounce

I declare

I divulge my soul

I offer solidarity

and pass verdicts like delusional royalty

My virtual life a parody

my profile page an imaginary throne.

 

Newsfeed filled with corpses

Attention span expands

between statuses and headlines

We protest discrimination

famines and wars

140 characters to tear down the walls

140 characters to stop genocide

140 characters to expose a politician who lied

140 to give voice to the voiceless

to affirm a life

branded worthless

Nameless

children die everyday

Nameless

mothers grief everyday

Nameless

fathers bury their sons everyday

Nameless

mass graves are dug everyday

Nameless

insignificant refugees

threaten our peace of mind

Nameless

faceless detainees

out of sight out of mind

Nameless

women sell their bodies

sell their babies

sell their organs to survive

No dignity in poverty

Populations stripped of humanity

Only atrocities bare names

Military operations romanticized

‘enduring freedom’

‘desert shield’

‘pillar of clouds’

‘cast lead’

air strikes idealized

Minds stalled paralyzed

War on terror

War of terror

War for terror…

terror…

terror…

terror…

terror…

we grow numb desensitized

News feed jammed with hasbaranitzes

Government agents paid for lies

They ‘like’ and ‘share’ what we despise.

 

Morals in peril

Attention span expands

between statuses and headlines

140 characters to liberate Palestine

140 characters for gender equality

140 characters to raise money for charity

140 characters

I am wearing thin

140 characters

where do I begin?

 

Thoughts scatter

Attention span expands

BEYOND statuses and headlines.

 

Did Facebook kill Arab nationalism? The impact of social media on the drive for democracy in the Arab region

By Samah Sabawi

Social media played an essential role in the early days of the Arab revolutions in promoting and strengthening civil society actors in their quest for democracy.  However, more recently, social media has become a tool used by various movements in the region to disempower civil society and prolong democratic reform by highlighting divisions, polarizing views while making citizens more vulnerable to government propaganda and surveillance. After all, social media is open to anyone who logs in regardless of his or her true or made up identity, intellect, education, nationality or status in society. While this inclusive nature can be viewed as a positive democratic feature, it can have a detrimental impact on the quality, integrity and credibility of the content shared and the information needed in order to create a healthy and informed ‘public sphere’.

The arrival of the Internet opened up new and exciting venues for public deliberation. Transforming the power of broadcasting away from the centralized structure of traditional media to the decentralized nature of the Internet. This has been hailed as ‘the second media age’ (Poster1995). Many sources can now broadcast to many receivers, and citizens have seemingly equal access into this public forum that has global reach. This has transformed the existing political power structures, empowering and amplifying the voices of civil society while challenging the power and control of the ruling class.

Social media played an essential role in this transformation, with Facebook being one of its most popular social networking services, boasting 1.11 billion monthly active users as of March 2013 (Facebook 2013). These numbers continue to increase as users from around the world join the social networking site and form virtual communities unhindered by physical distance, class, ethnicity or gender. Within these virtual communities, strangers who may never meet in real life can become ‘friends’, exchange photo albums, comment on each other’s triumphs and tribulations and share their political and social views of the world. Semitsu (2011) described Facebook as a ‘controlled ecosystem’ where users voluntarily reveal private information about their lives and sometimes even their most intimate thoughts. This has made it a very attractive tool for advocates, corporations and world governments alike, as they all compete for access into the hearts and minds of this large online population in order to dominate the social networking space and to promote their agendas.  The current revolutions in the Arab world offer us great insight into how these cyber battles for space and influence are fought between citizens and state actors.

In the Arab world, the internet offers civil society and opposition groups space where they can express dissent, organize and network, away from the intrusive gaze and control of the authoritarian governments under which they function.  ‘To peruse the Arab social media sites, blogs, online videos, and other digital platforms is to witness what is arguably the most dramatic and unprecedented improvement in freedom of expression, association, and access to information in contemporary Arab history’ (Ghannam 2011). According to a report published by the online resource Arab Crunch, in the year 2010, before the first Arab revolution began, 17 million people were using Facebook in the Arab region with 5 million users in Egypt alone.

The year 2011 saw sweeping protests throughout the Arab world starting in Tunisia and moving to Egypt, then Syria, Jordan, Bahrain, Yaman and in smaller numbers other Arab countries. Howard and Hussain (2013) examined the role of digital media in provoking inspiring and sustaining these popular movements for democracy.  Adopting a comparative method in their approach and taking into account both the diversity and the common shared experiences of the citizens within the region, they argued that even though only a minority of the population in countries that were affected by the ‘Arab Spring’ had internet access, this minority was in fact significant politically as they represented the ‘educated elites’ who have the energy and the financial means to organize. This view was shared by many analysts and pundits who applauded the leading role Facebook and Twitter played in offering the protestors the space needed to organize, strategize, raise awareness and share tips on how to resist and challenge the authority.

Egyptian youth were amongst the first users of Internet in the Arab world to utilize social networking sites as a political tool (Harb 2011). They were the force behind various movements sprouting online focusing on Egyptian police repression and the corruption of the Mubarak regime. These movements included the 6th of April protest movement, which ultimately took its online expression of discontent into the streets, staging protests as early as 2007, years before the Egyptian revolution of 2011 began.

Governments in the Arab world watched these online communities closely and with contempt. Their initial reaction was to meet online criticism with brutality in order to strike fear into the hearts of the offenders while deterring others from such acts, after all ‘It is when power is wedded to chronic fear that it becomes formidable’ (Eric Hoffer 1954). For example, the former Egyptian regime implemented a heavy-handed response to online activism arresting bloggers and torturing and imprisoning them. This gave the regime a mistaken sense of security (Harb 2011), which soon began to diminish as Egyptians collectively decided to break the fear barrier and to take to the streets on the 25th of January 2011.

As protests spread in the Arab region, the important role of social networking became all the more evident as it gave the protestors access to the world community where they were able to amplify their message and receive tactical support. According to Howard and Hussien (2013) boingboing.net was quick to offer guidelines on how to protect anonymity online, an ‘Activist Action Plan’ was translated and hosted by the Atlantic Monthly while Telecomix posted information on how to rely on landlines in order to bypass the state’s efforts to block access to broadband networks. In the week leading up to the fall of Hosni Mubarak’s regime, the number of tweets from Egypt and world-wide about the Egyptian revolution increased from 2,300 a day to 230,000 a day while videos featuring protests and political commentary went viral (O’Donnell 2011).

During the first year of the Arab revolutions it appeared that ‘Digital media provided both an awareness of shared grievances and transportable strategies for action’ (Howard and Hussien 2013), which enabled the rise of the people and the fall of at least three oppressive regimes in Tunisia, Libya and Egypt.  But as time passed, it became more difficult for the people to achieve their democratic aspirations in other countries such as Syria, Bahrain and Yemen, where the protests still rage today. One theory as to why this may be the case was offered by Howard and Hussien (2013) who suggested that a revolution’s failure or success hinges on its citizen’s access to technology.  They argued that countries that have more ‘tech-savvy civil society groups’ such as Egypt and Tunisia were able to successfully overthrow their dictatorships faster and with less ‘casualties’ than those countries that were not as strong technologically such as Syria. While this may be the case, it is also important to consider that just as the protestors were learning from one another the blue print of revolution, the dictators were also learning from one another how to manage these revolutions, drive a counter revolution and gain the upper hand both in the real world and online.

Authoritarian regimes often apply the same blue print in controlling the flow of information and crushing dissent. In fact, Arab ministers of Interior meet annually in order to exchange ideas on how to further secure their regimes. Howard and Hussien (2013) point out that during the last several years, the meetings focused on developing ways to tighten media regulations, increasing censorship and government control and expanding this control to the world wide web. For these governments, it is crucial to establish deterrence by creating and fostering a culture of fear by way of arresting and torturing dissidents.

However, the traditional deterrence factor proved to be no longer sufficient in 2011 when dissent spilled out from the virtual realm into the streets. As the protests spread, Arab governments had to develop new strategies. The first strategy was to censor and block online content while using their state media agents to disseminate their version of events. For example, when the revolution began in Egypt, the regime quickly tried to block Twitter, then Facebook, and to disrupt phone-messaging services. This resulted in an ongoing ‘battle of the blogosphere’ (Ghannam 2011) where citizens relied on proxies to bypass government blockings and firewalls. Two days later, the Egyptian government tried to shut down the Internet all together and even targeted phone networks to disrupt the flow of text messaging. The result was not in the government’s favour.  Feeling a sense of isolation, people who lost their Internet connection and phone services were forced to go out into the streets ‘when they could no longer follow the unrest through social media’ (O’Donnell 2011). It didn’t take long for the tech savvy cyber army of activists from across the Arab World to exchange codes, tips and software to enable Egyptians to access the Internet once again.

When the Mubarak regime finally collapsed, many hailed the Egyptian revolution over attributing its apparent success to social media. Howard and Hussien (2011) even went on to suggest that ‘it is difficult to say whether the revolutions would or would not have happened without digital media’. Others proclaimed that the new media era has ushered in ‘the age of empowered individuals, who use potent new technologies and harness social media to organize themselves’ (Kirkpatrick 2011). But in hindsight, it would appear such views might have exaggerated the role of social media in the drive for democratic reforms in Egypt and beyond.

History teaches us that where there is state oppression, eventually the people will rise with or without the help of technology. Research done on political activism and the Internet also downplays the role of social media as a driver behind political action as it suggests that people who are likely to be politically active online are those who are already ‘political junkies’ (Johnson and Kaye 2000). Therefore, it would be incorrect to contend that without Facebook, the Arab revolutions wouldn’t have happened. As Zahera Harb points out, ‘social media facilitated the revolution when the right moment arrived’ (2011). The incident that sparked the first of the Arab revolutions in Tunisia was not planned on the pages of Facebook, it was a spontaneous act of despair by a Tunisian man who set himself on fire to protest the economic hardships the people of Tunisia endured. It was his act that brought about ‘the right political moment’. Harb notes that the success of the Tunisian revolution is what inspired the youth of Egypt to follow suit and to organize their revolt. In other words, the Tunisian revolution is what brought about ‘the right political moment’ for Egypt’s revolution to begin. Finally, the suggestion that the revolutions were a result of a sudden online mobilization lead by the youth grossly overlooks the importance of the older Arabs ‘whose participation was critical’ (Lust &Wichmann 2012).

More telling of the limited power of the Internet and especially social media in driving democratic reforms is the fact that the revolutions in the Arab region are not over and democracy is yet to be delivered even in places where the regimes did fall like Egypt, Tunisia and Libya. Remnants of the failed regimes and the existing authoritarian regimes are evolving and are becoming more sophisticated, creating and supporting websites that promote their own view of politics and morality while dispatching their foot soldiers online to spread confusion and gather information. Arab officials have also become active on social networking platforms such as Twitter and Facebook (Ghannam 2011) and governments are expanding their state-run media institutions into the online sphere.

Hussien and Howard explored in their work the rise of the counterinsurgency campaigns in the Arab world, pointing to how activists from the Arab region struggled to dominate their country’s hashtags on Twitter as army of advocates for the various Arab regimes used the countries’ hashtags to disseminate countless tweets depicting ‘photographs of national monuments and soccer statistics’ (Hussien and Howard 2013). Another method used by the Arab governments in the cyber battlefield was dispatching an army of anonymous trolls to defend the Arab regimes in order to silence the debate. This was evident when twitter feeds about the protests in Bahrain were suddenly dominated by the appearance of thousands of online anonymous defenders who ruthlessly executed a strategy of abusive attacks on anyone tweeting about Bahrain. Lynch (2013) argues it was the actions of these ‘trolls’ that ultimately crushed the online debate.

The use of anonymous trolls by governments adds to an already confused online ‘public sphere’ in which many activists and civil society actors also choose to remain anonymous for fear over their safety. With anonymity comes the question of credibility and trust. This issue is strongly evident if we observe the ongoing debate surrounding Syria on social networking sites. Videos and graphic photos are constantly being disseminated but many come with no disclosure and no way of verifying their origin or the authenticity of their message. The result of this is a public sphere where people become sceptical of any information they receive unless this information corresponds with their own pre-existing views. Unfortunately, this leads to increasing polarization.

Lynch (2013) argues that the polarization in the Arab world is reinforced within social media discourse, blaming this on the prevalence of the ‘informational bubbles’ that exist within social media. These bubbles do more to fragment and divide than they do to inform and encourage democratic compromise. Most often they foster  ‘a narrow geographic focus’ of the world (Lynch 2013). Lynch’s argument is supported by the fact that Facebook groups are mostly nationally based or driven by a common political or religious agenda.

In the Arab region, the lines have been drawn in social networking space between the various parties to the raging conflicts.  While such trends can strength the various groups internally by reinforcing their beliefs, they do little to encourage positive interaction with other groups who share different points of view.  Lynch (2013) points to the current online interaction between the Egyptian Muslim Brotherhood ruling party and opposition groups and observes that each side is eager to share and disseminate ‘uncritically’ any article that makes the other side look bad, in the final analysis he concludes that ‘the reality is that Islamists and their adversaries retreat to their respective camps, reinforcing each others’ prejudices while throwing the occasional rhetorical bomb across the no-man’s land that the centre has become’ (Lynch 2013).

This is not to say that social media is to blame for the current sectarian divisions in the Arab world. What social media does, is play a role in reflecting the current changes in the ‘texture of Arab politics’ (Lynch 2013) moving away from the traditional hold the Arab regimes had on the flow of information and creating new means by which the battle for control of information is waged.

Therefore, while it may be true that social media offers a new space not previously available for citizens to organize, communicate, and develop new and enhanced tactics of democratization, it cannot be viewed as an ideal space that will bring democracy to the Arab region, as many had hoped it would during the initial phase of the Arab revolutions. Democracy cannot be born nor flourish out of a sphere where the facts can be mixed with fiction, where sources cannot be verified and where accountability is lacking. If anything, social media is now being used to amplify sectarianism and to spread fear and mistrust of the other. And just as messages of Arab nationalism and unity dominated the social media networks at the start of the Tunisian and Egyptian revolutions, messages of sectarian hatred fuelled by the tragic ongoing fighting in Syria is what is now dominating social media networks in the Arab world.  The initial optimism for democratic reform has given way to scepticism while social media has become a virtual battlefield that is being manipulated equally by propaganda from all the different sides, as they all compete for dominance and power both in the turbulent regions of the Arab world and online.

References:

Arab Crunch 2010, ‘Facebook Population: Arabic The Fastest Growing, English Falls from The Majority Leader-ship’, August 30, accessed 11 May 2013, http://arabcrunch.com/2010/08/facebook-population-ar- abic-the-fastest-growing-english-falls-from-the-majority-leadership.html

Facebook 2013, News Room, Key Facts, accessed 14 May 2013, https://newsroom.fb.com/Key-Facts

Ghannam, J. 2011, ‘Social Media in the Arab World: Leading up to the uprisings of 2011’, Centre for International Media Assistance, February 3, accessed 10 May 2011, http://scholar.googleusercontent.com/scholar?q=cache:YEbWlPGY8xsJ:scholar.google.com/+social+media+revolutions+in+Arab+world&hl=en&as_sdt=0,5&as_vis=1

Harb, Z. 2011, ‘Arab Revolutions and the Social Media Effect’, M/C Journal, Vol. 14, No. 2  – ‘diaspora’, accessed 10 May 2013, http://journal.media-culture.org.au/index.php/mcjournal/article/viewArticle/364

Hoffer, E. 1954, The Passionate State of Mind, Harper & Brothers, New York.

Howard, P.N. & Hussain, M.M. 2013, Democracy’s Fourth Wave? Digital Media and the Arab Spring, Oxford University Press.

Johnson, T. J. & Kaye, B. K. 2000, ‘Using is believing: The influence of reliance on the credibility of online political information among politically interested Internet users’. Journalism & Mass Communication Quarterly, 77, 865-879.

Kirkpatrick, D. 2011, ‘Social Power and the Coming corporate revolution’, Forbes, July 9, accessed15 May 2013, http://www.forbes.com/sites/techonomy/2011/09/07/social-power-and-the-coming-corporate-revolution/

Lynch, M. 2013, ‘Twitter Devolutions: How social media is hurting the Arab Spring’, Foreign Policy, February 7, accessed 18 May 2013, http://www.foreignpolicy.com/articles/2013/02/07/twitter_devolutions_arab_spring_social_media?page=0,1

Lust, E. & Wichmann, J. 2012, ‘Three Myths About the Arab Uprising’, Yale Global, 24 July, accessed 1 May 2013, http://yaleglobal.yale.edu/content/three-myths-about-arab-uprisings

O’Donnell, C. 2011, ‘New Study Quantifies Use of Social Media in Arab Spring’, University of Washington, News Release, September 12, accessed 1 May 2013, http://www.washington.edu/news/2011/09/12/new-study-quantifies-use-of-social-media-in-arab-spring/

Poster, M.1995, Cyber Democracy: Internet and the Public Sphere, University of California, Irvine

Semitsu, J.P. 2011, ‘From Facebook to Mug Shot: How the Dearth of Social Networking Privacy Rights Revolutionized Online Government Surveillance’, Peace Law Review, Volume 31 Issue 1 Article 7, Social Networking and the Law, University of San Diego School of Law

Al-Akhbar: Visualizing Palestine Design Against Injustice

Written by: Yazan al-Saadi

Published Sunday, April 14, 2013 by Al-Akbar English 

 

A quote at the bottom right corner of the graphic reads: “We are not in search of death, we are looking for real life.” The words are from the 1989 declaration of the Tiananmen Square hunger strike.

This was Visualizing Palestine’s first infographic and it was quite a compelling start.

More than a year later, other stunning infographics were produced. These elegant images range from a simple demonstration
of childhood births at Israeli checkpoints to a more complex image detailing the inequality of water distribution in the West Bank.

“Visuals are important because of their speed, its adaptiveness to social media, and the fact that the mind captures more from visuals than from texts,” Joumana al-Jabri, one of the co-founders, remarked to Al-Akhbar during a lunch on a Sunday afternoon that gathered most of the VP team at her apartment on Bliss Street.

The use of images and graphs to emphasize the daily injustices experienced by Palestinians by the Israeli colonial occupation is not entirely unique, but what makes the works produced by VP groundbreaking is the group’s ability to streamline and bond documented facts with eye-popping visuals.

The bread and butter of the project’s work are rooted in its embrace of a multi-disciplinary approach. In this way, diverse strands are tied together, further strengthening the emotional and intellectual impact of each graphic.

The staff of VP are very much aware of the power they hold.

In the Beginning…

The idea of VP was conceived by Ramzi Jaber in the early months of 2011. Like most good tales, it began with a journey and personal questions.“The story I tend to tell is this: I was part of TEDxRamallah, and for a year and a half I was going from village to village, asking myself why as Palestinians are we in this mess and who is doing something about it,” he said.

On his trips, he’d hear shocking statistics, like the fact that each year, 700 Palestinian children are incarcerated in Israeli jails. To Jaber, the injustices committed in Palestine are “the most documented injustices on earth.”

“I was shocked on two levels – shocked by the whole colonial aspect and the sheer injustice, and shocked by my own ignorance,” he said.

At the same time, Jaber was in awe of the growing popularity of TED, prompting him to think about how to take Palestine’s statistics and “present it through the power of storytelling.”

In April of that year, Jaber attempted to establish such a project using volunteers. According to him, he spent months organizing two workshops that brought in researchers and designers, but zero graphics were produced. According to him, the problem they faced was two-fold: the amount of expertise required was difficult to find since this was a new endeavor and it required a stable, committed team rather than volunteers.

Soon after, Joumana al-Jabri, a designer and architect mainly based in Dubai, and Ahmad Barclay, an architect by training, were brought into the fold. Immediately, they began looking for others.

Naji El Mir, a designer based in Paris, and Hani Asfour, founder of PolyPod, a multi-disciplinary designing company located in Lebanon, became key partners at VP, as well as the main designers behind many of the graphics.

“Infographic is like an iceberg, you see one-tenths of it and there is so much below that of work being done. We needed researchers, people who sit down and do huge amounts of research and we still need more,” Jaber said.

Today, VP is a small core team of eight individuals, most in their twenties and thirties, and each providing their own unique skill set. Recently, Saeed Abu-Jaber, a young designer from Jordan was hired. In terms of research, text, and copy-editing, Zaid Amr, in Palestine, and Chris Fiorello, in Beirut, were added.

“Most of the people are from a mixed background so this adds a nice flavor to the design. We aren’t brought together by nationality or driven by jingoistic tendencies, and we are not an activist project that simply wants to save ‘the poor helpless victims,’” Barclay stressed.

Infographic 101

How does VP create an infographic?Mainly, if an urgent news story breaks out, the team decides to develop an infographic in order to give context to what is happening. “Often, or almost always, the news is misrepresented or isn’t given context by the media. The rule of thumb tends to be that if the news is more prominent, it is more likely to lose its context,” Jaber said.

The final element, which is not the main focus of VP presently, is to highlight the absurdities of daily injustices. As an example, Jaber spoke of how Israel prohibits Palestinians holding different color-coded IDs from marriage, a restriction he had personally experienced and was keen on highlighting sometime in the future.

Once a topic is selected and fleshed out through various brainstorming sessions, the researchers gather the data and verify sources. From there, it is passed on to Barclay who molds it into a story.

The hardest part, according to Barclay, is the ability for one close to the data to take a step back and try to look at the bigger picture. He pointed out that there may be topics that simply can’t be visualized easily, topics and data that are segregated by borders, complicated stories that are hard to simplify on a static, two-dimensional image.

“It’s a good and bad exercise, in the sense that how do you get to the core message that strikes people and is rooted in analysis and facts? How do you tell the story to engage and motivate people, without becoming jingoist? How do you get people to understand an idea better or that the continuation [of injustice] isn’t inevitable?” he emphasized.

Abu-Jaber, the newest hire, said, “The beautiful thing is choosing. Finding that point of the story that grabs you. I like the process. It is quite fantastic because you’re learning something new while you’re designing. Essentially, you need to educate yourself.” For Abu-Jaber the work with VP offered a much more meaningful experience than his previous experiences working in fashion and magazine design.

“The work I used to do before made me feel dead inside. But this has a point and I feel like I’m doing something meaningful. This is like design activism,” he chuckled.

After this stage, a brief is made and shared with the designers, who proceed to translate the words into an alluring visual. The visual product is reviewed in order to ensure that the story is still intact.

“The facts are always the red-line. We actually go beyond, and try to maneuver the story to put the context in because you can take the facts out of context. So we maneuver it to include context, and puts the fact right where it needs to be,” Jaber said.

Once all parties are satisfied, it is published online.The final step is to track the graphic’s impact, seeing who shares it and what type of debates it generates. This entire process can take anywhere between three days and three months.

The structure behind the process came out of a lot of trial and error, or as Jaber joked, “more error than trial.” But a structure was shaped, and in the spirit of the project, it was presented as an infographic available online for others to see and use.

Yet even now, the production isn’t entirely without kinks. “We need more effort, more people,” Jaber stated, “People who are dedicated, committed, and have the required skills. It’s harder than getting money.”

Funding, the bane for every organization on the planet, is particularly an issue, especially for a team that is independent from political backing. The VP team are planning to tap into crowd-funding campaigns through sites like Kickstarter, rather than the traditional grant route. This way, they hope, will continue to ensure the project’s ideological independence.

Visualizing International

Since its first graphic, VP has steadily been building a strong following, particularly within the NGO, civil society, and international solidarity sectors. For Jaber, it’s a sign that VP is on the right track.

“Success to me is that our visuals are being used effectively. I’ve heard that people have used them in conferences and in schools. They use our visuals to deliver a message, and the more that effectively happens, the better,” he said.

As another sign of success, the graphics by VP have been translated into more than seven languages, such as Arabic, French, Spanish, Korean, and Finnish. They have penetrated parts of the mainstream media, popping up in Al Jazeera English, the Huffington Post, and elsewhere. And there is still more to come.

“Our next plan is to move into other media. We are very keen to go into animation, dynamic infographics, or even crowd-designed graphics,” Jabri stated.

But it is the ambitious concept of Linked word Visualizing Justice that has the most potential. The idea builds from the successes of VP and first conceived during an American tour by Jaber.

“We were being contacted by lots of people around the world who wanted to use the same form of visual styles for their causes and communities. They saw that communications is what rallies and mobilizes people together. So we wanted to provide tools and platforms for people to do the same thing in other cause. That’s our plan, but right now we are barely surviving as it is,” Jaber explained.

“Visualizing Justice became our platform that allowed us to transfer knowledge and become an umbrella for other groups to visualize topics other than Palestine – such as Visualizing Syria, Visualizing Burma, and Visualizing Water,” Jabri said.

Jaber reflected on the end-game for VP. He pointed to how the end of Apartheid was brought about by the achievement of a “world-wife understanding.”

“When people understand, it translates into action. Positive change is happening, whatever it is,” Jaber said with a wide smile.

The Japanese technological-fashion designer Issey Miyake once wrote, “Design is not for philosophy, it’s for life.” Can design really change realities and lives? In the case of Visualizing Palestine’s designs, it seems to ring true.

This article first appeared here