The year Gaza wouldn’t let us look away — reflections on 2023

Culture, 'politics' and humanity intersected this year and made the world reevaluate many of the beliefs it held true.
01 Jan, 2024

At the end of every year, we do stories recapping what happened during the year — fun things, funny things, enraging things. This year, when we sat down to recap 2023, there was only one thing we could remember — Gaza.

The Palestinian resistance, and attacks on Gaza have so completely overshadowed all other conversations and news that we think it befitting to speak about how monumentally it affected us and the rest of the world.

Images is a culture platform, but all the conversations we’ve had since October have been about boycotts, who’s speaking up and who isn’t, how to help, and why some lives matter less than others. We’ve seen beloved celebrities fall from grace in our eyes and seen others rise in our estimation, all over whether they’ll call a spade a spade.

Even Pakistani celebrities weren’t spared when it came to being called out for not speaking up. The message all over social media was clear — speak up or get out. This made us realise the importance of our individual voices — something we never really valued before.

No longer were people being forgiven for staying silent if they had smaller followings — everyone, regardless of position or social status was expected to post about Gaza and raise their voice for Palestinians. The boycott of products and services linked to Israel remains strong in Pakistan, where celebrities and influencers aren’t the only ones being slammed for supporting Starbucks or McDonalds.

Wearing Zara, or liking Kim Kardashian’s pictures is akin to supporting Israel in the eyes of the people now and they’re holding not just celebrities, but their friends and families accountable.

Silence is now complicity and even Taylor Swift hasn’t been spared for turning a blind eye to the violence in Gaza. Let’s not even talk about how Selena Gomez fared after trying to stay neutral. Because, at the end of the day, what everyone is trying to say is that there is no such thing as neutrality when it comes to violence and murder — to stay neutral and quiet is to side with the killers.

So much has happened that it’s almost impossible to remember that the recent spate of attacks on Gaza began post October 7 and that there were 10 whole months before October 7 that have faded from our memory. We’ve been educated on what it means to be Palestinian, and how important it is to not only talk about it, but also amplify the voices of those who have lived or are living through the violence.

Though some would characterise Gaza as a ‘political issue’, we would argue otherwise. ‘Politics,’ society and culture are so deeply intertwined that to separate them is laughable. Your beliefs — political or social — form a big part of who you are and the culture you’re part of. Culture is more than celebrity outfits and movies — it’s about people and the conversations being had. To bury our heads in the sand — as so many of our international peers have done — would be a great disservice not only to our readers, but ourselves as a publication.

As we enter a new year, we hope that the violence and devastation of 2023 are left behind and 2024 ushers in a more peaceful time for everyone.