Dinner and a kidnapping
Forget about snafued radio programs (see my live Open Source Radio Interview in the wee hours of Tuesday morning, where the phone line kept geting disconnected), let's talk about snafued dinner parties.
I had invited a few friends of mine, along with two officials I had the pleasure of meeting through some work-related interviews, to dinner at my place. The dinner invitation was the result of a visit I made to the EU fella's office for an article I was writing on the economy and the future of Gaza. I saw a "zibdiah" on his desk-a small clay pot used to make a famous Gazan hot tomato dill salad in (called "dagga"), and used to bake a spicy shrimp dish in. He got it as a gift and did'nt know what it was used for (he made a pencil holder out of it) so I promised him dinner, along with his colleague, to show them.
So we wrapped our grape leaves, stuffed our squash, clay-potted our dagga, and set the table. Only to receive a phone-call from Antoine informing us that he had "good and bad news".
"We just received a warning from the security forces for all foreigners not to move from their locations, there are armed groups prouncing around the city looking to kidnap someone."
The warning was repeated every 5 minutes, until finally, there was an attempted kidnapping by two gunmen of a foreign woman in front of her beach-side hotel, but she got away safely (as did the gunmen).
I wasn't so mad about all the hard work we put into the dinner party, but at the fact that some moron who thinks this is the way to address his greivanances-mainly because no one is telling him othewrise or doing anything to stop it-threatened the safety of my friends and continued to propogate this image of Gaza as a lawless, free-for-all place.
The interesting thing to note is these people, while not identified this time, have in the past been disgruntled members of the security forces themselves, not "armed groups" threatening Abbas's authority. Its his own party threatening his authority, which is why it doesn't get much publicity.
My first reaction was "yeah right, this can't be happening in Gaza, Antoine can't come over because someone potentially wants to kidnap him?!" What we have to remember is Gaza is very small-its like a small city with a village mentality. Everybody knows everybody so it hard to conceal something like a kidnapping.
But I think its becoming a sad reality that many people-including the PA-are not coming to grips with. To their credit, this was the first time they put out a "warning" like this, and actually PREVENTED a kidnapping. That's a good first step-although the conspiracy theorist in me thinks the whole event may have been staged to bolster the appearance of a competent Palestinain security force. Tonight, there is a Palestinian vigil protesting the incident (also sponsored by the PA), and the continued lawlessness in Gaza. I suppose they are trying to project the image that this is a taboo, not a norm, in our society.
The good news is, we wrapped up the food-and the yummy dessert I made-, put it all in a basket, took the guests, and drove to Antoine's place. We got to have dinner after all.