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A Gazan’s wishes for 2015

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My Facebook timeline is overcrowded with “Happy New Year” wishes.

I scroll down my Facebook news feed. I try not to catch a glimpse of the 2015 wishes of my friends abroad. However, my attempt to avoid reading their wishes fails!

It saddens me to see that other people’s wishes for the New Year are so different from what so many Palestinians would even consider possible. Why? Why can’t we dream of things other than having a year without another bloody war with Israel, having 24/7-electricity, and having the freedom to travel abroad? Why can’t Gazans just have a normal life? Why can’t we enjoy a festive beginning to the New Year as all other people around the world do? My heart aches, what I and other Gazans call wishes are what the rest of the world calls rights!

What Are My Big Wishes?

To receive my two language-learning maps

I know this may sound too humble a wish to all of you.

My friend, who lives in the USA, bought me two language-learning maps from Linguisticator: English and French. Being an English teacher, I so eagerly want to have Linguisticator’s English map in which professional linguists explained the entire language. I simply want to use up-to-date teaching techniques. I want to put the French map on the wall of my room so that I can quickly memorize the structures, the patterns, and the vocabulary of French. I want to tell my friends that I am so fortunate that I got those maps.

You might ask yourself why I cannot simply order them. Well, I did ask my friend to send them via an international mail service. Unfortunately, all the services told him they can ship them to any part of “Israel” but not to Gaza. They did not even know that Israel, in practical terms, is farther from Gaza than America is: many Gazans have been to USA but few have ever had a chance to cross the wall and visit Jerusalem.

Gaza! The largest open-air prison in the world. The fact when you are in a normal prison, you can send and receive stuff proves that the situation in Gaza is worse and more miserable than it is in prison for criminals.   Things continue to grow worse for us, especially after Sisi, the current president of Egypt, took over. To enter or leave Gaza is and will be an insurmountable challenge.  All I want are my language maps; where else in the world would getting such educational materials be impossible?

To have 24/7 electricity

Electricity, again! Every Palestinian wishes every year to have 24/7 electricity. Currently, Gaza power operates on a “6 hours on, 12 hours off” schedule. Only 6 hours of electricity a day! It is 3:46 AM right now and I should finish writing this piece before the clock strikes 7 AM for I won’t have electricity for the following 12 hours. Today’s share of electricity, for example, is from 1 AM to 7 AM—it’s the time in which “normal” people sleep. Power cuts twist my sleep time to reading or doing my assignments. Can’t I just sleep, not caring about when electricity will come on or go off?

I think these two wishes are enough for 2015. I will keep hoping I get my maps sometime soon. Knowing very well that electricity will never come all day long here, I won’t waste my hope for it.

Linguisticator French map

Linguisticator French map

Alaa Radwan

Alaa Radwan, 22, is an English-literature graduate from Gaza and volunteers for the Palestinian Independent Commission for Youth Rights (PICYR). Follow her on Twitter @AlaaRadwan7

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24 Responses

  1. Bornajoo on January 2, 2015, 11:13 am

    Dear Alaa
    I wish you a healthy and peaceful 2015
    I hope you get your maps and a proper electricity supply. It defies belief that you are denied these most basic of life’s essential utilities; a proper postal service and uninterrupted electricity, something that we, free from oppression and occupation, take for granted
    Most of all I very much hope that the normal life that you crave, that you deserve, that you have been unjustly denied, will come sooner rather than later
    Thank you for sharing your thoughts

    • aradwan92 on January 3, 2015, 6:13 am

      Dear Bornajoo,

      I really hope 2015 brings peace and love to all people around the world. thanks for your supportive words :)

  2. Susie Kneedler on January 2, 2015, 11:31 am

    Thanks, Alaa Radwan, for another “poem” eloquently teaching us how you endure such cruelty. Yes, “where else in the world would getting such [language maps] be impossible?”

    And the fact that you’re driven to use the light from from 1 to 7 AM–when the night should let you sleep–took me back to your earlier wisdom:

    “I remember my psychology teacher at university told us that he feels weary when electricity has not been cut for three weeks. He is not used to such huge amount of electricity. The funny thing about that is that he was telling about how to cope with whatever faces us in life and he himself was unable to cope with having electricity for three weeks without any cut.”

    How brave you are, understating what you face: “Life in the besieged Gaza has been unfair to us. A lot.”

    And, Annie, thanks as always for your conscience.

  3. ivri on January 2, 2015, 12:18 pm

    We should never forget though the disconnect between apparent misery of people and the (conveniently) blamed “others” for it – while, in reality, it could be mainly the making of own failed leadership. This is particularly frustrating if the leadership that has gone astray has imposed itself on people – I don`t know for sure what is the situation in this regard in Gaza. Most likely it is a mixed story: they managed to brainwash enough the people to be ready “to join the fight” and sacrifice for the “big cause” (after all, there were at a time elections there) but then it is also true that any opposition there is treated brutally.

    • eljay on January 4, 2015, 8:56 pm

      >> ivreee: We should never forget though the disconnect between apparent misery of people and the (conveniently) blamed “others” for it …

      Ah, yes, how convenient it is to blame the rapist for the apparent misery of the victim chained in his basement.

      >> … they managed to brainwash enough the people to be ready “to join the fight” and sacrifice for the “big cause” …

      Zio-supremacism in a nut-shell.

  4. Memphis on January 2, 2015, 2:15 pm

    ALaa, thank you for this post. I really do hope you get your language maps very soon!!

    I really appreciate this post cause it sheds a great light on the things we here in the West take for granted, such as a electricity on 24/7, the ability to get simple products delivered to our door and freedom of movement.

    Makes me so fucking angry. All this wonderful girl wants to do is learn, to further her education!!! And the god-damn occupation is preventing her from getting some simple fucking language maps!!!

    My wish for New Years is that Palestinians, no, all peoples, receive justice and freedom this year.

    I also wish there was a way to help you get those maps!!!

    I’m sorry for the foul language, but I am quite angry after reading this. It’s the simple things we take for granted, that so many others go without. Thank you again, Alaa.

  5. MHughes976 on January 2, 2015, 5:23 pm

    It’s hard to find words, even foul ones, for this detestable business. Think how steamed up we got over the Berlin Wall.

  6. Boomer on January 2, 2015, 9:24 pm

    Thank you for writing. I don’t know how to grant your wishes, but I’ll contribute a bit more for Gaza relief, and pray a bit more as well. For our sake as well as yours, I hope that 2015 will be better for you.

  7. raincatsgalore on January 2, 2015, 10:29 pm

    Just trying to imagine what your life must be like in Gaza is enough to make anyone with a shred of decency seethe with indignation, Alaa. No-one should be forced to live like this. Hoping that 2015 brings peace and freedom at long last to all Palestinians.

  8. Curatica on January 3, 2015, 1:02 am

    Electricity? I think that many of the young lady’s compatriots in Gaza may have a much more basic wish for 2015: to survive it. And to see their children, their parents and their relatives survive it. To outlive the despair of having lost a child, a brother, a mother. To outlive the despair of seeing their homes in ruins. To be able to live without food and water, to live through the cold of the winter and through the scorching heat of the summer. To have a roof above their head, and milk to feed their babies. To live, knowing that it is just a matter of time until another massacre will take place. And to continue to be human beings through the entire ordeal of their lives.

    • annie on January 3, 2015, 2:21 am

      Electricity? … To live, knowing that it is just a matter of time until another massacre will take place. And to continue to be human beings through the entire ordeal of their lives

      gee, why didn’t i think of that? how dare alaa wish for 2 maps and electricity when there are people surrounding her suffering a worse fate. after all, it’s not as if “it is just a matter of time until another massacre will take place” and it could destroy her too. or is it? if this is her wish, 2 maps and electricity, let’s pray she gets it.

    • bintbiba on January 3, 2015, 9:56 am

      Alaa’s wish for her maps is her way to resist the Unspeakable. It is what keeps her thinking straight …instead of losing the will to live under such dire circumstances. She is affirming her Humanity and her Resistance …that give her the courage to go on …surrounded as she is by the cruelest of barbarities!
      She is the brave face of the Palestinian survivor.

      Alaa’ I send you love.

      • bintbiba on January 3, 2015, 10:20 am

        Edit: and the last thing Alaa’ and her people needed is a scolding !

      • Bornajoo on January 3, 2015, 10:25 am

        “and the last thing Alaa’ and her people needed is a scolding! ”

        +1 Bintbiba

      • Curatica on January 4, 2015, 8:35 pm

        I think that nobody meant otherwise.

        She seems to be a candid young lady and her letter is adorable. Any compassionate human being would have a warm feeling for her, and for all those who suffer.

  9. ikklechick on January 3, 2015, 8:02 am

    I may be able to help a small amount.
    I have just looked at the Royal Mail website and it appears they will post to ‘Gaza and Khan Yunis’
    If you need a middleman in the UK I am happy to be that [wo]man
    Here’s hoping your maps are just a couple of mail journeys away :)

    • aradwan92 on January 3, 2015, 8:15 am

      Thanks so much for your help. I just visited the Royal Mail website. Where in the website do they mention Gaza? I found ” Israel” only. can you send me the link please?

      • ikklechick on January 3, 2015, 1:25 pm

        on the right was a button which said ‘get a price’. That will take you to a bit where you can specify letter or parcel, weight and country (i filled it in a parcel weighing 20lbs for instance)

        It brought up a list of countries of which (for me anyhow) came up Gaza & Khan Yunis amongst the list.

        Fingers crossed!

  10. Pixel on January 3, 2015, 10:33 am

    Sometimes, all we can do is sit with others in the pain and the questions.

    Holding you – ALL of you – gently in my heart…

  11. Felix Krull on January 3, 2015, 1:08 pm

    Message me on Facebook (look up felix.krull.73932) and I may be able to help you. Not a big help, but better than nothing.

  12. Liz18 on January 4, 2015, 9:09 am

    Thank you for writing such an important, beautiful, and painful essay. It is important for people to know that your wishes are others’ rights. Please know that people all over the world support you and want that for you too.

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