Days of Palestine

Monday, February 6

What an American found in Gaza

Days of Palestine -

On March 29, 2014 Denny Cormier, 68 and retired and an American activist, began a journey to Gaza in search for the truth about Palestine and about the Palestinians.

He visited Gaza for a month in 2013 to meet the people, whom he had been chatting and Skyping with –people who he has been following on Facebook and Twitter for months. He wanted to meet them face to face to learn more about them, to hear and to share their stories.

Cormier set out to discover for himself what was not being reported by the Western media in order to compare what he had been hearing for months from friends in Gaza with what he had been reading in newspapers and watching on television.

The old man 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 nine months, he has shared that journey using social media, introducing Palestinians to his friends around the world and 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 organises workshops, seminars, speaking engagements, informal Q&A gatherings and many conversations in homes, coffee shops and in the streets. The focus is more effective use of social media with an emphasis on reaching out people who live beyond the barricades that surround it.

But Denny has a story too, including his experiences while living in Gaza during the 51-day Israeli war on Gaza named Operation Protective Edge.

During the war, 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 51 days were spent at Al-Shifa Hospital reporting about the war, meeting displaced people and families, acting as a human shield and an eye-witness on what he has described as “horrific, barbaric and intensive attacks.”

‘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 by the support of and in cooperation with  the Youth Media Centre – Gaza.

Denny is currently living in the 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.

Denny Cormier
Gaza City
January 1, 2015