Thursday, December 29, 2011

A sample of Gaza's youth- Diwan Ghazza

Published in "This Week in Palestine" Dec. 2011

Diwan Ghazza
By Yasmeen El Khoudary 
I am not an official representative of the young generation of Palestinians in Gaza, but I am a young woman who often gets asked questions about the young generation of Gaza. Therefore, I’ve decided to share my thoughts with the world, which has suddenly become interested in more than half of Gaza’s 1.5 million people (who are under the age of 23), and what they have to say about things. 

I once heard a joke that so painfully, yet so perfectly exemplifies our situation. An American asked an Arab, “What are your dreams in life?” to which the Arab answered, “to get a good education, find a good job, start a family…” “Stop!” interrupted the American, “I asked you about your dreams, not your rights.” 

Well, even in that case, our “dreams” are much more humble. We dream of - I won’t use the “normal/safe life” cliché - sleeping peaceful nights without the uninvited company of Israeli drones, whose excruciating annoyance could easily extend to thievery of our most prized possession - life. Not our own, but the lives of our loved ones, without whom we would lose our sanity. We dream of a life where our saddest event of the year would be the death of Steve Jobs, a life where the smallest things that people of the free world take for granted would be available to us. Enough said. 

But this is not meant to be a plea for help or a sympathy-evoking article. The reason is that we, the young people of Gaza, have learned how to put our psychological issues (result of Israel’s rigid psychological warfare) aside and stand up to life. We expect that it might well be hiding unpleasant losses and surprises for us, but expectations do not disappoint us anymore because life has already taught us not to expect anything from anyone. 

So spare us the pessimism and the expectations, and do not dwell on the difference between a “right” and a “dream.” Mainstream media has done an excellent job in portraying us - young people in Gaza - as either death-lusty masked gunmen or as being so desperate in life that we dream to become one. The reality of our situation is very different, however. Yes, the vast educated majority of us are unemployed and experiencing everything that unemployment entails. But an increasing minority of us have surpassed that level of dependency on the world. Young people in Gaza do not need the world’s money, but they need the world to open up to them. We need to see the world, and the world needs to see us. 

If there is one thing that we know for sure, it is that our world is ruled by hypocrisy. Let alone the politics of our country, of course. None of it makes sense. Is it even supposed to? Probably not. Reaching that level of “wisdom” is an important landmark in life, and walking past it and past the depression it entails is another life-changing event.

A group of friends and myself have attained that wisdom. Today, at this stage in our history, nothing that we, as young people, do will affect the politics of our country. So we decided to take things into our own hands, and do for our country what politics can’t: make sure the world actually knows it. 

We’ve started a youth support network, starting with ourselves, that aims to be a self-sufficient network to help us lead projects that we believe Gaza needs. We call ourselves Diwan Ghazza. We organised the first Gaza Tweet-up (a meeting where Twitter users meet and get to know each other face to face). We’ve started a book club (with the help of the Palestine Writing Workshop). We’re discussing launching an online radio station from Gaza, and writing its first English magazine. And stay tuned for the first Gaza Talent Show! 

We’re not running away from the reality of life under occupation and under siege. Instead, we’re learning how to use the few resources we have to combat these obstacles with a lot of young, positive energy. Yes, there’s a lot of suffering in Gaza that the world already knows enough about, but there’s also hope, and lots of it. We are portraying reality the way it actually is. 


  1. I was very impressed by her statement, yes it should be said as the statement done by a young woman. I maybe felt the sense which must be true. Many thanks.

  2. thx very much , sis for this wonderful piece. It truly express us (youth), especially the idea that politicians whether (Fatah, Hamas, others so-called"independent" stupids, etc) We must stand on our feet, because nothing will come to you. You must seek& work by force not "wishing" & hoping. We are not beggars. We produce hope. Am eagerly waiting for the radio channel or any other project. please let us always updated.

    I think there is a little fragmented idea in paraphrasing this sentence"and do for our country what politics can’t: make sure the world actually knows it. "
    I think it should writes" making sure & still there z someting missing. maybe it's just me. not sure.