Wednesday, June 20, 2012

My contribution to the Guardian's "Gaza live blog"

9.50am: As part of today's Gaza Live blog, young Gazans bloggers talk about their lives. First up is Yasmeen el Khoudary (left).
What's it like to live in Gaza? I get that question so often that answering it becomes tiring. But what is it really like to live in Gaza? Here, I'm going to try to answer the question in five main points.
The political and economic situation in Gaza is unbearable. With 64 years of Israeli occupation, five years under Israeli physical, political and economic siege, five years of political and geographic division between Hamas and Fatah/Gaza and the West Bank, we have enough problems to fill the world.
Simultaneously, unprovoked Israeli attacks on the Gaza Strip remain relentless. I don't have figures, but I have personal experiences. A couple of nights ago, my usual bedtime lullaby was playing - a series of loud explosions, followed by the buzzing of Israeli spying drones. The following morning's news revealed that Israel bombed a house in one of Gaza's refugee camps–for no apparent reason- leaving seven injuries, including four children.
There is never a guarantee of safety in Gaza, a truth that does a great job messing with our heads and stability. Not all of Gaza's 1.5 million inhabitants were injured and/or suffered the pain/loss of a relative or a friend, but each and every person in Gaza is a direct victim of Israel's unwavering psychological warfare on the Strip.
Yet, the bigger threat/problem is isolation. Israel's policies deliberately aim at keeping the Gaza Strip physically isolated from the world, and also lagging behind in the fields of economic, industrial, educational, technological, cultural development. While the results of the latter speak for themselves, the former has dire consequences that include a blindfolded generation with almost no exposure to the outside world, and a world with no exposure to a population that it plays a major role in determining the fate of.
Conclusion? Despite everything, hope exists. There's nothing easier than giving up on living in a place like Gaza/Palestine, but the real challenge lies in persisting, loving, and believing in Gaza. A common saying here goes: "Love Gaza and it will love you back." To that end, my friends and I found our own way of loving Gaza collectively:Diwan Ghazza, hosted by Gaza's only Museum (Almat'haf), we organise independent activities that we feel Gazan youth need, using ourselves as indicators. We started Gaza's first book, film, and photography clubs, launched a contest for Palestinian bloggers, in addition to several other activities, using nothing but each other's books, DVDs, and cameras, and the cultural thirst of no less than 200 young Gazans.
Almat'haf is part of a greater effort to save all that remains from Gaza's glorious past led by my father, Jawdat Khoudary. An exhibition about Gaza's history is travelling around Europe, and a book about the most important pieces in Khoudary's collection displayed in the Museum and the Exhibition was published in Gaza last month after 5 years of research. We have also finished renovating an 800+ year old house in Gaza's Old City and will turn it into Gaza's first cultural heritage preservation centre. Despite everything, we will keep working towards restoring the glory that once existed in Gaza. 

1 comment:

  1. I've ever commented about your articles on your site by my pen name: yoshio Tamura. However I had to change my name on the website because of the serious risk. Now I've been interested in your issues on Palestine and Gaza. I hope you will be well in your activities.
    Could I contact you on Facebook? If it's possible I'd like to do so.

    Yoshio Tamura