“People outside expect us all to be wrapped in keffiyehs … and to be stalwarts of the Palestinian cause every second of every day, and we feel we don’t want to disappoint them but we are human beings and sometimes we just want to blog about what’s on our mind”.
These words were spoken by a blogger from Gaza at a meeting in July which brought together 11 bloggers who use the Internet to tell readers all over the world about the reality of life in the Strip.
It seems that the Internet and its ability to cross borders are the exact opposite of life under closure in the Strip. In Gaza, residents cannot leave freely and are almost completely barred from traveling to the West Bank. The realities of the closure mean that the Internet and independent bloggers have become an important source of information about life in Gaza.
In recent years, many young men and women from Gaza have begun writing blogs, the number of which are hard to estimate. Most of them write in Arabic and address readers in Gaza, the West Bank and the Arab world at large, but a substantial number write in English to an international audience. They write about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, local issues and the dispute between Hamas and Fatah or about personal issues. Blogger Mohammed Rabah Suliman, for example, says that he writes about his personal life and his daily experiences in order to show the human face of his hometown, Gaza City, which is usually described in terms of statistics instead of through the personal stories and experiences of people.
Blogger Sameeha Elwan critiques the blind judgements about women’s lives in Gaza made by her local and international colleagues. Yasmeen El Khoudary writes about the blossoming of the rare flower “The Last Queen of the Night”, while the blogger Bashar describes his experiences in the Gaza Strip through unusual video art:
Many bloggers from the Gaza Strip know each other and in the meeting they shared their experiences. According to Mohammed, even though many bloggers are friends in the “real” world, they are still a long way from cooperating on the Internet. Judging by the unusual and interesting collaboration between “Peaceman” and “Hopeman”, an Israeli from Sderot and a Palestinian from Gaza, who blogged together in 2008-2009, it seems that the Internet has great potential as a tool for understanding and border-crossing friendship.