Graphic illustration of Palestinian concerns
The team behind the website Visualising Palestine is reporting on Israeli occupation through the medium of infographics
‘Data nobody uses’
What upsets him most is that “respectable agencies are documenting what happens,” providing “data nobody uses”.
Visualising Palestine’s graphics normally take six to eight weeks to finalise, though the one about Adnan was rushed through as the prisoner “was dying”. It appeared on Twitter before being published on the website.
The graphics are created by a multinational core team of seven, average age 31, assisted by part-timers and a fluctuating number of volunteers from around the world, from the
US west coast to the Gulf emirates. In addition to Palestinian and Syrian-Saudi Arabian, core members are Lebanese, Yemeni-American, American, English and Italian-Dutch.
Their base is a tiny cottage, next to the Sursock palace in Beirut – there are offices in Amman and Ramallah also.
Ramzi describes production as a “social venture” involving workshops, brainstorming and exchanges with a wide range of people.
“We seek to emulate Wikipedia, which has 80,000 contributors and 77 full-time staff,” he said. Ramzi and Jouman are volunteers, as neither takes a salary.
Ninety per cent of outreach has been via social media, said Chris Fiorello, a Californian. This is changing, however: their graphics have appeared in the Huffington Post, the Guardian, Al-Jazeera International, the Daily Beast and Open Democracy and in Arabic, French, Spanish, Korean and Finnish as well as English. Visualising Palestine also provides material for activist organisations.
In March, infographics calling for an end to $30 billion in weapons aid to Israel were taken to the streets of Washington DC during the annual conference of the US pro-Israel lobby. One enlarged graphic was mounted on a pick-up truck and used to stalk lobbyists on their way to Congress.
Two others were displayed at metro stations. Visualising Palestine’s partner in this venture was the Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation.
The website receives support from the Arab Fund for Arts and Culture, the Jerusalem Fund and the South African Shuttleworth Foundation and raises funds from the sale of its graphics.
It has launched a campaign to secure donations, aiming to become financially self-sufficient while publishing free content under a creative-commons licence.
The team is also moving beyond strictly Palestinian issues, producing, for example, a stunning graphic – on a new site, Visualising Impact – that juxtaposes politicians’ salaries with GDP per capita.
Kenyan politicians topped the lot by taking 97 times more in income than average constituents; Palestinian politicians came second with a multiple of 24.
The team’s ultimate vision is, naturally, Visualising Justice.