Here's What Tourists Might See If They Were Allowed To Visit Gaza
August 11, 2019 1:54 PM   Subscribe

It's not easy to find a tour guide in Gaza. Even clerks at the local Tourism Ministry, a vestige of the 1990s that remarkably still exists, struggle to recommend professional guides, before suggesting a man who hasn't led tourists around for 20 years.

Ayman Hassouna seems delighted to spend a sweltering day in a suit jacket, showing off the historical sites, colorful markets and delicious grilled fish of his native Gaza — among other unexpected gems made even more precious by the reality that most people in the world are unable to experience them.

This is a post about Gaza, the history, and what Palestinian culture offers. Am hoping to avoid derails—is not a post intended to 're-litigate' the conflict and occupation.
posted by Ahmad Khani (7 comments total) 40 users marked this as a favorite
 
That's a surprisingly well written article on a very difficult subject! I'm pleased that it didn't ignore the Jewish connection to Gaza, which is historically significant. One thing I'm wondering and haven't been able to find out by Googling: how many hotel rooms are there in Gaza, and who's occupying them?

Also, the reference to the Al Salam Abu Haseira fish restaurant was contextually interesting, because Abu Haseira is cognate to the famous Jewish surname Abuchatzeira. There are a lot of Palestinians surnamed Abu Haseira (Abuhassera, etc.) but I wonder if there's a familial connection.
posted by Joe in Australia at 5:58 PM on August 11


This is a really lovely and sad piece that makes you think about what could have been...
posted by lesbiassparrow at 8:02 PM on August 11 [2 favorites]


What is remarkable about the Wikipedia page on Gaza history - is just how long it is - and how many different people have made the place a home or a conquest: Cannanites, Egyptians, Greeks, Romans, crusaders, Ottomans, British... It is exactly the sort of history that should make a place fascinating to visit.
posted by rongorongo at 2:38 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]


Hope to see it someday!
posted by Meatbomb at 5:25 AM on August 12 [1 favorite]



Also, the reference to the Al Salam Abu Haseira fish restaurant was contextually interesting, because Abu Haseira is cognate to the famous Jewish surname Abuchatzeira.


When used as a surname, Abu-something is usually derived from a trade. (E.g. Abu-Dajaj - poultry-seller, surname of a certain presidential candidate from Indiana.)
posted by ocschwar at 12:14 PM on August 12 [2 favorites]


Joe in Australia: I'm guessing the main occupiers of the hotel rooms are people who work for organizations like the UN and go for a few weeks to months. I've known a few people with jobs like that. From what they described, the hotel becomes a kind of dorm for internationals, coming together each night to eat, drink and commiserate, which always bring to my mind the Anthony Bourdain episode in Beirut where he and his crew sit by the pool watching Israel bomb the airport.
posted by Corduroy at 2:14 PM on August 12 [3 favorites]


Abu-Dajaj - poultry-seller, surname of a certain presidential candidate from Indiana.

Huh. I would never have made that connection. For everyone else: many surnames originate as epithets describing someone's occupation. Buttigieg is apparently a Maltese surname that would have originally been "Abu-Dajaj". Maltese, which was originally a form of Maghrebi Arabic, has been strongly influenced by the Romance languages spoken in Italy and Sicily.

IIUC the Arabic surname (kunya?) Abu Haseira may have originally described someone who made or sold woven mats. I guess that would have been a not-uncommon profession, so there's probably not much likelihood that geographically-distinct bearers of that name are directly related.
posted by Joe in Australia at 4:05 PM on August 12 [1 favorite]


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