Follow Laila El-Haddad on Twitter: https://twitter.com/gazamom
I received an unanticipated email from my Women’s Studies student, Samantha:
I was going to write you soon because my friend is visiting Palestine for the summer and she is close to Bethlehem. She is in the middle of the war. I honestly can say that before taking these classes I wouldn’t of understood or maybe even cared, but I am posting things on social networks about trying to end it for the children and women because the Israelis are targeting little children and women. It sickens me to have to listen to this. My friend said that they are spraying tear gas every night into homes in Bethlehem and she told me that the media is making it seem like Israel is only defending themselves when Palestine is so poor they barely are attacking. She said their missiles go off and hurt maybe 1 person and Israel missiles go off every day killing dozens . . . I just can’t believe that media and broadcasters are trying to make Palestine the bad guys. I thought about the class after hearing about this. I don’t know if you have an Instagram but I follow a guy on there that has graphic but truthful things they don’t put on the news that should be on the news—his name is freemind_1. I wish this wasn’t going on no matter who is it is against. I just want peace for the innocent children. Hope you receive this, I had a great semester and I hope I get to work with you in the future. Sorry for the long message, I thought to vent to someone who actually cares about this situation . . .
Samantha was in my Global Women’s Issues class last fall when we were fortunate to have Laila El-Haddad visit with us. El-Haddad provided an insider perspective on what it is like to live in Gaza under the Israeli occupation. Her book, Gaza Mom, based on her blog, captures her daily life in Gaza as a citizen, woman and mother. Her story is not the one we receive in sound bites from U.S. media. In considering my curriculum for my fall Global Women’s Studies class, I thought about assigning Gaza Mom and then changed my mind. Samantha’s email has caused me to add Gaza Mom back to my reading list for the class. Thank you, Samantha, for caring and thinking critically about what is happening in Gaza, for compelling me to bring the Palestinian story to my new group of students.
I recently read and highly recommend The Unlikely Settler by Lipika Pelham. Pelham has an interesting insider perspective; as someone from India who has lived in the Middle East, Pelham shares her first-hand observations and experiences as she gets to know people who are involved in different ways and who have different perspectives on the conflict and occupation. She captures the complexity of identity, political alliances, and of life on the street, through her observations and reflections.