Friday, January 26, 2007

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.


Blogger ياسمين حميد said...

To post the audio file you have on your computer, you have first to upload it. Like there are websites like flickr for pictures, there are similar ones for audio files, for example.

5:30 PM  
Blogger annie alina said...

salam laila,
i just discovered your blog and i am touched by your intense words-
i am working on a youth project which will take place in palestine in may 2007, but always trapped by deep doubts, if this can be a possible way to work. There for i would be honored to come into a dialogue with you!

my blog:

here the wesite:

here my email adress:

hope to hear from you,



6:11 PM  
Blogger Heba said...

laila ...i like the part in which you say " And then there's that other story: the one about a people forgotten in all of this. Who will relay their narrative?"..
this is the beauty of liking a certain writer, like i like you ,...this writer is very much able to express what we can't ..this is what you do for me all the time..if i had been obssessed about sth in my life, it is the real desire to tell the simple daily narrative of gazan people..the one that is forgotten ..the one that will be remembered at the hands of people like you . Heba

8:57 AM  
Blogger Asad Ramallah said...

I am always happy to read you posts! i hope you will succeed uploading your files to the net, and soon we will be able to hear it!
You may use any upload service you wish, and add the link to the post!

and yes, leaving gaza is quite a hard mission,
i wish that the border would be open,
and then i will visit all my friends every week, or even just go and meat some reletives..
so what do you say?

Have we got something to do about it?
And make it happen??
(maybe haniya? abbas? alzahar? siam?!)

Asad al nimr,


5:22 PM  
Blogger Stephen Pearcy said...

What's happening in Gaza is very much connected with what's happening in Iraq.

The political destabilization of each area is occurring because the U.S. and Israel have made it so.

Ultimately, what helps the U.S. pursue its goals in Iraq will also help Israel and be harmful to Palestinian interests. Similarly, whatever helps Hamas will be an obstacle to U.S. and Israeli long term goals.

And this is why I'm surprised to see articles such as one I read in today's Aljazeera, titled, "US official: US not winning in Iraq," state:

"Many tens of thousands of Iraqis and more than 3,000 US troops have died since the US-led invasion of Iraq in 2003, with the country in the grip of sectarian violence, an insurgency, Islamist militant attacks and crime."

Only "tens of thousands of Iraqis"? Really? And do the editors really blame "Islamist militants" and "insurgency" for these deaths? Why wasn't war criminal candidate George W. Bush's name listed? Why wasn't the U.S. military listed? Doesn't Aljazeera believe that the U.S. military killed any of those "tens of thousands" of Iraqis"? In fact, haven't they actually killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis (mostly civilians)?

I know that you don't speak for the editors, and they don't speak for you, but I think these are important rhetorical questions nonetheless.

When I read these kinds of passages from a news source that is purportedly more sympathetic to Palestinians, it surprises me. It makes me ask, "Has Aljazeera become another arm of the U.S. propaganda machine?"

Understating the number of Iraqi deaths and failing to properly place the most blame on the U.S. military will only worsen the conditions for Palestinians because it advances the militaristic goals of the West (and Israel). Again, it's all inter-related.

Many people still turn to Aljazeera for a more trustworthy source of Middle East news. Are they unwittingly just reading another version of CNN? Again, this is a question for your readers to consider and not for you directly.

Hamas is the legitimate, democratically elected governing body in Palestine, and it's under attack. I hope that the people who read this blog know that it is not "insurgents and Islamist militants" who are backing the unrest in Gaza.

The people in Gaza, like those in Iraq, are facing a U.S./Israeli-orchestrated crisis. Much of that orchestration is fostered by major news delivery systems--i.e., those that reach large numbers of people.

7:24 PM  
Blogger Laila said...

you bring up valid points- and I can be the first to tell you that often the editors don't get it right, or overlook important words/descriptions etc. in Wire Copy, which they use heavily. But they are also good about making corrections if brought to their attention. Can I suggest you send them yoru observations as feedback to the article, which t hey do read?

I will also bring it up with my editor.


7:47 PM  
Blogger eurofrank said...


We read of heavy casualties yesterday.

Do please let us know you are safe.

7:08 AM  
Blogger Laila said...

hi Frank yes I am fine-seeing as how I am currently in the US, but htank you so much for asking. My parents, a different story-they are mortified and described it to me as all out street battles the past two days, and my mom got stuck on one street on her way home.

i'll try to post about it tonight..

1:03 AM  
Blogger eurofrank said...

Oops sorry

I looked at your location and should have read the past postings.

I look forward to the posting.

11:48 AM  

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