Hamas in power: one year on
I was asked to record an essay for the BBC's World Update program, which aired yesterday (and which unfortunately I can never find archives for )to give my thoughts on the election of Hamas, and my recent visit, one year on.
So instead of providing you the lost link, I'm pasting the text of what i said short-handed for Radio..thnx to my amazing friend Amy. I have it recorded on my computer somewhere but I'm not sure how to link that to here, I am SO behind on this technology thing, I need help immediately!!
Visiting –and leaving-Gaza is never an easy task; especially when you spend half your time waiting at the border to enter in the first place.
My experience was particularly jarring this time around. The magnitude of change I saw and felt was not just political; it was in the people themselves.
The Gaza I knew only a few months earlier had changed so starkly and so quickly that it was almost indiscernible.
Everywhere there was a sense of misery, hopelessness and abandonment. It was there in the frowns and even smiles of every man woman and child.
Just one year ago around this time, it was the elation that was unmistakable.
That night in January the surprise election results were announced. The looks on people's faces will be forever seared in my memory. The looks of disbelief and astonishment and jubilation; and those, most importantly, of hope.
For arguably the first time in their history, Palestinians felt they had actively changed their lives for the better, voting out the corruption that had beleaguered them for years.
But the gritty hopefulness of those days is long gone, having since hardened into something more angry and empty and sad.
Sanctions were quick to be enforced. The borders were shut. The people encircled and became impoverished beyond precedent. Gaza was plunged into darkness.
What is most alarming is how all of this unfolded with such purpose and yet with so little protest.
Before our very eyes, global powers have colluded to create a strip of land more isolated than North Korea itself. In so doing, they have sentenced Gaza's residents to a living death in the world's largest internment camp.
Gaza has been cast away into the abyss, its residents left to fend for themselves. They are completely severed from their counterparts in the West Bank and Jerusalem; completely severed from the outside world.
It is the first time in history, according to the UN’s John Duggard, that an occupied people have been subject to international sanctions, especially sanctions of this magnitude and rigor.
The result is this: Gaza is gradually declining into anarchy and its entire social, political, and economic fabric is unraveling.
And it is this complete decay of whatever semblance of normalcy they had left that makes Gazans more afraid than ever before.
Order no matter how corrupt or ruthless or artificial it may be, is for the most part predictable and safe.
And now it is disorder that is being intentionally fuelled in Gaza's dusty streets.
It is more than a mere power struggle. It is a fight for both political legitimacy and the pen that will write history. Who will continue the national historical narrative of the Palestinian struggle?
And then there's that other story: the one about a people forgotten in all of this. Who will relay their narrative?
The strawberry farmer who has no harvest to look forward to this year; the hospital-bound grandfather who went blind waiting to leave Gaza; the child who has stopped asking when the borders will re-open, and when he finally can return home.