The now calls for a Gaza read more than ever. ‘Gaza Mom’: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, and Everything In Between, initially published in 2010, offers a detailed view into the lived experiences of Laila El-Haddad. This compilation comprises El-Haddad’s blog entries spanning from 2004 to 2007, along with her contributions to Al Jazeera English, where she serves as a journalist. This book is a story about mothering, homeland, identity, and survival in Gaza during some of its most turbulent years, shedding light on the resilient lives of Palestinians amidst violation and hardship.

Throughout the book, there are many characters: Yousuf, a three-year-old boy, Noor, a new-born baby and their mother El-Haddad. Yassine, her husband, resides in the USA and is denied any version of the ‘right of return’ to Palestine by Israel. Maii El Farra and Moussa El Haddad, Laila El-Haddad’s parents, work as physicians.

Not much has changed on the ground in Gaza since the book’s publication. Rather things have become worse. Palestine remains a nation dispossessed; its basic freedoms are suppressed more than ever before. Israel still exercises effective control over Gaza’s borders, sea space, airspace, and even its taxation system and population registry.

Ceasefires, hostage releases, protests, international aid to Gaza are issues the world leaders are still talking about & ‘discussing’, while each day brings more bloodshed, more devastation, hunger, disease, & tears. To spell it out: nearly twenty-eight thousand Palestinians dead in total, about 100,000 killed, injured, or missing. Among the survivors, huge numbers of children are, maimed, orphaned, or traumatized for life.

The book vividly portrays the challenges El-Haddad faces as a new mother. She recounts moments of her son’s mischief, such as painting his face red, humorously labelled as ‘war paint’. Additionally, she draws a comparison to Yousuf’s treatment of a bunny toy, which he hits to make it sing, suggesting that it rewards violent behaviour. This prompts the author to question whether she is inadvertently echoing the tactics of a particular ‘occupation army’.

There have been occasions when the author faced rejection from certain countries, solely due to her possession of a Palestinian passport. She remembers a time when she travelled to Qatar for the launch of Al Jazeera International but was denied a visa upon arrival at Doha airport.

Ironically, she managed to enter the country two days after the channel’s launch. Another incident occurred in Egypt where entry was refused because of her Palestinian passport. Booking a ticket with British Airways was also problematic as Palestine was absent from the list of countries in the dropdown menu. Despite reaching out to British Airways for clarification, her complaint went unanswered. She describes the Palestinian passport as one that obstructs rather than facilitates travel, denying her entry to her own homeland. It represents a system that categorizes Palestinians without a recognized identity

El-Haddad suggests that the international community must realize that throwing money at the problem is not the solution. While donating billions of dollars is necessary, it’s not enough on its own. There needs to be a significant political pressure put on Israel to cease its inhumane & cruel acts on Gaza. Tragic life continues in Gaza, but any hope for a brighter future seems distant. Forget about the light at the end of the tunnel. The tunnel itself, as far as Gazans are concerned, has been destroyed.

The book appeals to readers who still hold onto shreds of humanity, regardless of their geographical location or social status. Each line vividly portrays the unfiltered reality of life in Gaza. Journalists who have extensively covered Israel’s invasion of Palestine, note that headlines from five or even ten years ago could easily be headlines today too, illustrating the stagnant and ongoing struggles faced by Gazans.

In conclusion, ‘Gaza Mom’: Palestine, Politics, Parenting, & Everything In Between transcends borders & backgrounds, urging readers to confront the cruel realities faced by Palestinians on a daily basis. With its raw honesty & unapologetic portrayal of life amidst conflict, this book leaves an indelible mark on the conscience of humanity, reminding us of the urgent need for empathy, understanding, & action in the pursuit of justice & peace.

1 Comment

  1. Dr. Aboobakkar A

    Gives an insight into the plight of the Palestinians. It’s more urgent now as Israel continues its genocide since last October 2023

    Reply

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