existence and the world cup

by anzya

Opposite from Joseph Hasboun’s restaurant in Bethlehem, he has set up a World Cup cinema of sorts, projecting the game onto the Israeli Separation Wall. “The wall is a very negative thing,” he says,  “so if we can do something positive with it, we will.” One of his customers, a 25 year old Bethlehem native Raneem Hosh says “I come here for the ambiance. Maybe we can use it as a cinema after, since we don’t have one here.”

This story, in an article from a soccer fan website, is from the first of two articles on the World Cup and Palestine that I came across today. But while this was somewhat uplifting, the second article I  read, from Gazan-based American journalist Ashley Bates was, though  illuminating, rather more depressing.

These two articles really affected me. This may sound glib, but it made me think of how I’ve been enjoying the World Cup with friends over the last week, with so much freedom and privilege. It made me think about what it might be like to live under occupation, and living with the constant stress and deprivations that this brings.

I do recommend that you read Ashley Bates’ article about her frustrating attempt to find somewhere to watch the opening night with friends, and to check out her blog more generally. I think it provides a bit of a window into life and culture in Gaza under the rule of Hamas. I’ll quote a little bit from the article, about watching the World Cup from a Gazan cafe, here:

No more than a dozen, mostly male patrons at this coffee shop sipped Turkish coffee and smoked nargela as they quietly watched the opening ceremonies. South Africans from diverse backgrounds danced across the screen in colorful costumes, seeming to put their nation’s Apartheid history behind them. “Look at what they have in Africa,” mumbled a middle-aged nargela smoker dressed in black slacks and a pale shirt, “And look at what we have.” The rest of the world, it seemed to him, was celebrating and moving forward. And here we were. Existing in Gaza.