Published on 01 May 2015, by M. Tomazy.
On March 29, 2014 Denny Cormier, 68 and retired and an American activist, began a journey to Gaza in search of the truth about Palestine and about the Palestinians.
He had visited Gaza for a month in 2013 to meet the people with whom he had been chatting and Skyping - people who he been following on Facebook and Twitter for many months. He wanted to meet them face to face - to learn more about them - to hear and to share their stories.
He set out to discover for himself what was not being reported by Western media - to reconcile what he had been hearing for months from friends in Gaza versus what he had been reading in newspapers and seeing on television.
He had been told to beware of terrorists - but, in fact, what he found was a beautiful people - welcoming to Americans, warm, kind and generous.
Frankly he fell in love with Palestinian people during that first visit in 2013 - and vowed to return.
That opportunity came in 2014 when he was invited to work with a group of citizen journalists, photographers, filmmakers and social media activists at the Youth Media center.
Over a period of 9 months, he has shared that journey using social media - introducing Palestinians to his friends around the world - sharing stories and photographs about his journey to Gaza.
But his primary work in Gaza is not just about sharing his own experiences. With Palestinian friends he developed a training initiative that was named 1000 Voices for Gaza - an effort to empower a group of new activists who wanted to share their personal stories and the Palestinian story. Together with Palestinian friends he organizes workshops, seminars, speaking engagements, informal Q&A gatherings - and many conversations one on one in homes, coffee shops and in the streets. The focus is more effective use of social media with an emphasis on reaching out to people who live beyond the barricades that surround it.
But Denny has a story too, including his experiences while living in Gaza during the 50 day attack on Gaza that the Israelis named Operation Protective Edge. During the attacks he reported on those experiences using live streaming, Facebook and Twitter. He chose not to leave Gaza. He chose to stay with his friends - as a supporter and a witness. Many of those 50 days were spent at Al Shifa Hospital - reporting on the war, meeting displaced people and families, acting as a human shield - a witness to what he has described as horrific, barbaric in its intensity.
Gaza Through My Eyes is a series of short documentaries about this journey - what an American found in Gaza from the moment he arrived in 2013 and again in 2014 - what he has come to love and to treasure.
This is the first in a series of documentaries. It was filmed during December 2014 and was released on January 1, 2015. It will be followed with a number of other documentaries during the coming months.
This documentary series is being made with the support of and with coordination from the Youth Media Center - Gaza.
Denny is currently living in Gaza City in a home not far from the sea at Al Mena. He spends his days meeting and sharing with Palestinians from all walks of life - including students, farmers, journalists, business owners, photographers, government officials, religious leaders, policemen, taxi drivers, shop keepers, academics, fishermen, working people, families - and many, many children.
This is his story of a journey to Gaza..
January 1, 2015