Following the massive Loma Prieta earthquake in California in 1989, I was glued to the radio and TV to learn the news about the situation, and talking with friends, family and neighbors.
Here in Gaza, the same feeling of urgency exists, but as an American who doesn’t understand Arabic, I’m in a very different information zone.
My Palestinian family has the TV and radio on constantly (when there is electricity) and the news is non-stop about the Israeli assault. (I refuse to call it a war because that would imply that the sides were equal.)
The family draws comfort from visitors and phone calls and Skyping, all in Arabic.
I studied Arabic for a year in the US before arriving in Gaza in September, but it is a very difficult language to learn, or maybe I’m just too old to get my head wrapped around it.
So how am I staying informed?
When we have electricity, I am “on” Facebook and Twitter reading and posting furiously. Sifting through the propaganda from both sides is challenging, but I’m getting better at recognizing which sources of information are legit and which are hype.
Last night a big press conference was announced here. Hamas was going to make some dramatic news and there was alot of excitement. I scratched my head in frustration. How was I going to understand it?
Then my friend in the USA started to message me with simultaneous reactions from a UK journalist who was listening to the press conference. And a Palestinian friend who speaks English was posting a real-time translation on Facebook. An amazingly small world with all this social media!
I’m concerned that I will feel starved for information if the Internet goes down. Fortunately, someone is thinking about that and has posted alternative ways to access the Internet especially for us. See here.
To the people of Gaza and the “Occupied Territories”, know that Anonymous stands with you in this fight. We will do everything in our power to hinder the evil forces of the IDF arrayed against you. We will use all our resources to make certain you stay connected to the Internet and remain able to transmit your experiences to the world. As a start, we have put together the Anonymous Gaza Care Package – http://bit.ly/XH87C5 – which contains instructions in Arabic and English that can aid you in the event the Israel government makes good on it’s threat to attempt to sever your Internet connection. It also contains useful information on evading IDF surveillance, and some basic first aid and other useful information. We will continue to expand and improve this document in the coming days, and we will transmit it to you by every means at our disposal. We encourage you to download this package, and to share it with your fellow Palestinians to the best of your ability.
I haven’t shed a tear in the past four days of the Israeli assault, until yesterday when I saw pictures from home (Albuquerque, New Mexico) showing the support and solidarity from many who gathered at UNM. Thank you! Knowing that the world is watching this assault gives me hope.