Sacred Bodies

On social media there has been a trend to post photos of bodies, particularly those of children, killed in Gaza during the escalation of bombings by Israel.

Is this the only way the Palestinians can grab our attention? By shocking us with their daily horrors, shaking us into realising that it’s not just something that happens ‘over there’ but is the obliteration of their families, the inconsolable loss of their children?

I’ve seen a photo of a distraught father holding his lifeless baby covered in dirt, its little mouth in a pout, its lower limbs blown away. If it were my child would I allow this photo to be published? How can I know the utter desperation of those who use such images to draw attention to their plight?

Are these photos making a difference or have they become another form of voyeurism? Media reports indicate that international condemnation is on the rise. Mass rallies are being held around the globe; there’s even a photo of orthodox Jews protesting against Israel in New York City. Does this imply that no matter how gruesome the photo, it should be shared?

I was still pondering these questions when I came across footage of a suitcase in the wreckage of the MH17 flight in eastern Ukraine. What struck me about the lime green interior of the small case was its innocence. It somehow contained all the lost hopes and never-to-be realised promise of its owner.

The reporter began to rifle through the case; its small privacies were exposed as he fingered keys and a toothbrush. To the viewer it felt like a violation. The reporter soon stopped when he realised he’d crossed a line.

Of course the Palestinian children hold no comparison to a suitcase. But sometimes symbols speak directly to us. The innocent bodies of children hold infinitely more potential, more life, more love, than anything a fleeting photo could convey.

But we have the choice to look away. 


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