Archive for April, 2013


ImageIt has become commonplace when reading about Gaza to come across descriptions of it as an “Islamist enclave” or “Hamas-controlled territory” and so on. In case someone exists who does not know what Hamas is all about, commentators make sure their readers understand that it is the “fundamentalist” group bent on the “destruction of Israel” and nothing else.


The Palestinians of Gaza, therefore, are often categorized as either ardent Hamas supporters or suppressed dissidents, including women, who receive the severest treatment imaginable, not only from the Hamas government, but also from misogynistic and backward average male residents. Such categorizations are then followed by sweeping generalizations about each of these stereotypes. Whereas the Hamas supporters consist of “terrorists” and “bloodthirsty barbarians,” the dissents are seen as peace-loving minorities who seek neighborly relations with Israel, the occupying entity.

A recent example of such portrayals can be found in a feature story published in The Independent on April 13. In “Tales from Gaza: What Is Life Really Like in ‘the World’s Largest Outdoor Prison’?” the author alleges to provide “a small snapshot into life in Gaza.” Before he proceeds, however, he assures us that what follows are “testimonies” by people “who can rarely get their voices heard.”

At the start of six interviews, the author makes clear that all of those featured are men not because that was his intention — he is a Westerner who believes in gender equality after all — but because in his two and a half days in Gaza, he could not find a woman willing to speak to him “independently.” In fact, the only occasion when he had the chance to speak to a woman, he tells us, was in the presence of a male guardian, the woman’s husband in this particular instance. Hence, while he was able to “give voice” to men, his attempts to do the same for women were all thwarted.

Such assertions play into Orientalist notions. This usually results from foreign journalists coming to Gaza with a set of preconceptions about the place and its people and then seeking to confirm them rather than verify them. While Gaza is, indeed, no haven for women or anyone else, there are thousands of educated women who are willing to speak for themselves and do so in every field, from medicine, theater, and politics to fishing and farming.

Just a few months ago, a play written by the renowned Palestinian writer Samah Sabawi was read at one of Gaza’s cultural centers, which continue to thrive despite Israel’s ceaseless attempts at cultural de-development. Nearly all the participants who performed the play were women, as was the case with the vast majority of the audience. They were not accompanied by husbands, brothers or fathers in order to attend or to perform.

Events like this, however, hardly ever make it into the mainstream media. Moreover, any mention of a considerable number of women going out without a hijab instantly provokes expressions of surprise by those who have only heard about Gaza through mainstream and particularly Western publications. To say women in Gaza are also allowed to drive would sound like a lie to many ears.

Women are not the only part of this story. To claim that Gaza is “Islamist” automatically dismisses the existence of the leftist and secular groups there, most of which denounce religion in its totality. Homogenizing “life in Gaza” could not be more obvious than in The Independent feature.

Of the six interviews the author conducted, one was with a Hamas official, while four were with blue-collar male workers, and the remaining one was with an unemployed man. Despite being at odds with Israel, five of them belong to the category of “ready to forget the past,” has no problem inviting former Israel prime minister Ariel Sharon for coffee, and even views Yitzhak Rabin — the man behind the Iron Fist that broke hundreds of bones in the lead up to and during the first Palestinian intifada — as a man of peace.

With the exception of the Hamas official, the interviewees followed suit in reiterating the same unconditional desire to achieve peace with Israel that one might think no other viewpoint existed. At the same time, they viewed Hamas as the primary source of their distress. Israel was seen as only secondary to their everyday ordeal. 

That no evidence was provided to challenge the views in question suggests that there is none — just as the author claims to have found no women able to speak to him. Thus, portraying the residents of Gaza as a homogenous people who all experience life in the same way is condescending at best and Orientalist at worst. The views expressed in the article are undeniably extant but do not reflect the reality.

Israel, which has launched two deadly assaults on Gaza in less than five years, is rarely perceived as a friendly entity. The vast majority of the politicized and non-politicized segments of Gazan society are not ready to “forget the past” that continues to shape the lives of 1.1 million local Palestinians officially registered as refugees at the United Nations Relief and Works Agency.

Rana Baker is a student of business administration in Gaza and writes for the Electronic Intifada.

Read more: http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2013/04/gaza-misconceptions-women.html#ixzz2RZYP2mvw

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April17th 2013, Palestinian Prisoners Day.


This year in Gaza city, A replica Israeli jail has been erected on the site of the former “Saraya” Prison.

.The former prison dates back to the 1930’s when it was under British rule and has subsequently come under Egyptian, Israeli and Palestinian rule ( firstly the PA and then handed over to Hamas after 2007)

Many of Saraya’s original concrete cellblocks and interrogation rooms were destroyed over the years by Israeli air strikes, although some cells still remain standing. These cells differ in sizes , some were 1.5m x 3m and held up to 6 people, another being 3mx5m and held as many as twenty! There are also rooms still standing where the torture of prisoners took place, hooks on walls where prisoners were stretched to standing on their toes for hours on end.

Dotted throughout the site are many pictures , posters and paintings depicting the different torture techniques used on the prisoners.There are posters of prisoners, former and current and the list of  names of all the Palestinian prisoners . Waed , Captive and liberators society, built rows of tents it says resemble detention camps still in use in Israel’s nearby Negev desert. There are watchtowers surrounded by barbed wire, people on hand at all times to guide you around, explaining all. In another section, a tent is being used to display photographs, art work, paintings etc , some of them by the prisoners themselves, some of them depicting the prisoners, male and female.

Quotes taken from Reuter’s:

“When I came in I was overcome by the memories and the feelings of suffering prisoners are undergoing,” said Zeyad Jouda, a former detainee at Saraya who was guiding visitors.”By being here I am conveying my story to people who are visiting to increase their solidarity with prisoners. We are trying to explain to them what detention and what the cells were like.”

Salwa al-Mashharawi froze briefly at one of the prison room windows where she used to visit her two sons when they served time there during Israel’s occupation. “I recalled the cries, the tears and the pain – but no regret,” she said as women around her chanted, “God is Great.”

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Earth Hour is a worldwide event organized by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and held towards the end of March annually, encouraging households ,  businesses and indeed whole countries to turn off their non-essential lights for one hour to raise awareness about the need to take action on climate change. The phenomenon first took place in Sydney in 2007 and has subsequently grown and spread……….Earth Hour calls on individuals, businesses, communities and governments to go beyond the hour by committing to a positive action for the planet and celebrating that commitment with the people of the world by switching off their lights for one designated hour.

Earth Hour creates history as the world’s largest ever voluntary action with people, businesses and governments in countries across every continent coming together to celebrate an unambiguous commitment to the planet.

Earth Hour’s iconic global ‘lights out’ event bring’s the world together in a global celebration of the one thing that unites us all – the planet. : via  https://www.facebook.com/ehpalestine/info

Gaza ,  although forced to be isolated through siege, is not separate , It is part of a wider Palestine, and it is part of the Global community and so….

This year, Gaza Strip , Palestine took part, as part of  “Earth hour , Palestine”.


The Gaza strip is not somewhere with the luxury of constant electricity, with power to homes rationed , sometimes up to 12 hours a day. The lack of electricity in Gaza adds hardship to an already hard life, families struggle to cope with day to day tasks that many of us take for granted.  Gaza has “Earth hour” for many hours each day.

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Pictures of Gaza in darkness by Jeff Bright

But, Gaza strip does have the luxury of having people of conscience, people with  hope for their future, their planet and so therefore , Gaza switched off…………..

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Pictures of Earth hour by “Earth hour media team

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