Matthew Cassel

Photostory: Hip-hop for Gaza

On 12 April 2009 GAP brought together world-renowned hip-hop artists to Chicago’s Logan Square Auditorium to perform in solidarity with Gaza. The event, which aimed to raise funds and gather support for Palestinians in the Gaza Strip, brought out a diverse crowd of hundreds from around the city. The following images are by Matthew Cassel. 

The weapon of the occupied

Shoes are a weapon of the masses. The fact is that most do not have the means to defend against their foreign invaders equipped with superior American-made weaponry. Shoes, like stones and most other projectiles used by people under occupation are not about defeating or causing physical damage to the enemy. It is a symbolic act, and one filled with anger, like I’m sure all of us at one point have thrown something during a fit. It is a clear and simple message from the people to the occupiers that they are not welcome. And it is a message that the occupiers and its media so arrogantly refuse to admit. Matthew Cassel comments for EI

Lebanon's new proxy force

The US and Israel — the two states committing the only military occupations in the region — are having an adverse influence on Lebanese internal affairs. But the people wait, unsure of what the future holds for Lebanon. The question for many is no longer if, but when will the situation quickly deteriorate into an armed internal conflict reminiscent of Lebanon’s recent history. EI editor Matthew Cassel comments. 

Ready to return with nothing

It took over three months, but in the end the Lebanese army claimed victory over Fatah al-Islam, the previously unheard of non-Palestinian, al-Qaida-inspired group that had established itself in the Nahr al-Bared Palestinian refugee camp in northern Lebanon. On Tuesday, 4 September 2007, outside the entrance to the destroyed camp the Lebanese army massed together to begin what would be a 10-hour-long parade from Nahr al-Bared to Beirut just over 50 miles away. EI editor Matthew Cassel reports from Lebanon. 

Refugees, again

In June 2006, Dr. Tawfiq Assad stepped out of the seaside Rafiq Hariri airport in Beirut and took a deep breath of the Mediterranean air. It wasn’t home but it was as close to it as he had ever been. Dr. Assad returned to Lebanon to visit family and friends for what he thought would only be a few weeks’ stay. A Palestinian refugee himself, Dr. Assad’s story is not uncommon. His family was forced from their home in Nazareth during the Nakba in 1948 when the Zionist armies invaded to make way for the Jewish state. 

A meaningless stamp

I’ll never forget his face. He held his hand to his ear listening to his earpiece as he stared right at me. He smiled as I struggled to carry all my bags, following a young female soldier with my passport in her hand. I no longer cared at that point and I stared back as hard as I could — cursing him with my eyes. She walked me to the bus stop and handed my passport to another soldier. She walked me to the bus stop and handed my passport to another soldier. I waited in the blistering heat silent and motionless. 

This is every night in Balata

The neighbor’s baby is sick. How do I know? There are only two thin walls and about 15 feet of separation between them and us. These thin walls also create for a magnificent arena to echo the shots of M-16 fire which ring throughout the night. It’s impossible to sleep, at least for me — I’m not used to this. My friend says that he sleeps through it just fine most nights. Although, when the larger Israeli vehicles come with their big artillery I don’t think that sleeping is possible. 

And the occupation goes on...

Home demolitions are a regular tactic of the Israeli occupying army. On a recent trip to the northern West Bank city of Jenin, I met with a family in the Jenin Refugee Camp. Their home was destroyed for the second time in just over two years this time because one of their 11 children was “wanted” by the Army. In April of 2002 their home was also destroyed during the invasion of Jenin Camp where over 50 people were killed and hundreds of homes destroyed. Their home was rebuilt over the past year and recently completed with nearly 30 million (US) in aid being donated by the United Arab Emirates to help rebuild the camp.