When Israeli armed forces blocked reporters from entering the Gaza Strip, the blogosphere became the main source of news from the war zone. Since outside reporters could not report from inside Gaza, bloggers were the ones providing much of the detailed information about the impact on actual citizens.
One Palestinian woman’s blog read, “I am a Palestinian from Gaza. I am a journalist. I am a mother. I am a Muslim. This blog is about the trials of raising my children between spaces and identities; displacement and occupation; and everything that entails from potty training to border crossings.”
Meet Laila El-Haddad. She has been writing on Blogger from Gaza City since November 2008. Her blog, “Raising Yousuf and Noor: diary of a Palestinian mother,” has no mention of anti-Israeli feelings. She does not talk about a need for terrorist actions against the military occupation.
Instead, El-Haddad has just posted a piece with the title “What YOU can do: 10 ways to help Gaza/Palestine.” The post is a guide of, in El-Haddad’s opinion, how not just Palestinians but Americans and other outsiders, can help raise awareness to the conflict in Gaza.
Solutions include informing oneself and contacting local news media. She even says to wear a Palestinian pin, t-shirt or armband simply as a conversation starter in order to raise awareness of what has really gone on in the region since the start of the 23-day war.
Readers who may not be informed on the current conflict in the Middle East may not realize that much of the violence has had little to do with opposing religions.
Religion is sometimes only used as a pretext to inflict greater punishment on both sides.
Palestinian blogger Mohamed Khodr uses his blog in a much different context than El-Hadder. Khodr has a “Gaza Massacre” slideshow on his blog, projecting pictures of headless children and Palestinian men carrying their bloody-faced friends to medical facilities.
He mentions an article from a British newspaper “The Guardian,” with the title “Fueling the Cycle of Hate” in order to advocate how he believes Israelis have “nurtured hate” in their younger generation.
He quotes The Guardian in saying, “Israeli soccer matches were suspended during the assault on Gaza. When the games resumed last week, the fans had come up with a new chant: ‘Why have the schools in Gaza been shut down?’ sang the crowd. ‘Because all the children were gunned down!’ came the answer.”
The brutal realism of Khodr’s language in his blog “They Shoot Children from Womb to Cradle to Grave” is stunning. Where El-Haddad has gone to great lengths to find peaceful ways of advocating and solving the problem, Khodr shows his view of what the conflict has done to the children, the parents and the entire population of Gaza.
Blogging, however, has done much more to inform than just raising awareness of the problem.
Bloggers like Hope Man, an Israeli living in Sderot, and Peace Man, a Palestinian college student living in Sajaia refugee camp, have spread a message of diplomacy and peace building.
Both Hope Man and Peace Man share a blog on Blogger and although both have different backgrounds they are determined to begin a movement of peace between both their peoples.
“We are only several kilometers apart and that will never change. It is extremely important to widen our dialogue and create trust between those that are willing to talk. To share our stories, fears and hopes,” Hope man said.
“What me and others are doing is continuing the dialogue with friends in Gaza. The day after the war we need a new beginning.
Let’s start planting seeds of humanity and trust now.”