Muhammad from Gaza on Arabian Nights Stories in the New York Times

June 13, 2015

In Blog News

I asked my young ​correspondent Muhammad from Gaza his opinion of the New York Times story in today’s edition:


Here’s what he replied:


The tunnels were first dug in 2007 because people in Gaza were desperate.  Israel had imposed a siege after Hamas won the parliamentary elections in January 2006.  Not even bread was available in the marketplace.  The first goods that came from Egypt were simple things like cheese, snacks and candies.


I still remember those terrible times.  My father rushed to purchase something when we heard the news on the radio.   He bought three boxes of Twinkies  (the spongy cake), and gave me two pieces.  I kept them for more critical times and instead ate a thyme sandwich in homemade fossil bread.


The tunnel economy eventually expanded to make fortunes, even more for Egyptian officers (they were paid to shut their eyes when they caught you) than Palestinians.  People were soon able to bring everything through the tunnels—KFC, McDonalds “happy meals,” even humans.   A lover boy brought his Canadian bride through a tunnel.


So, what do I think of the article?


  1. The Unknown Soldier statue was partially destroyed on 12 June 2005 by the Israelis.


In 2007, during the fighting between Hamas and Fatah, an unknown group totally destroyed it.  It might have been Hamas, it might have been Fatah, no one knows, except, it seems, the Times reporter.


  1. Abu Basel was created by the reporter to entertain Times readers.  The park is right in front of the legislative council and is carefully watched by the police.  If Abu Basel did exist, he would be in the police station right now getting a good spanking.


  1.  Gaza is a conservative society.  People don’t use bad words in their daily conversation.   The hero of the article, Mohammed Sawiri, with his foul mouth and foul thoughts, is not the most trustworthy of sources, unless you want to amuse Western readers.
  1. The article depicts Gaza’s underworld, which represents about ten percent of the population.   Most Gazans don’t even go to the park, but prefer the beach, which is a nicer place for courting and smelling fresh air.


  1.  The reporter, Majd  al- Waheidi, comes from a very conservative Bedouin family, best known for exaggerating and making trouble.  She imagines herself to be a “liberated” woman, living a loud American lifestyle, but it’s just her inferiority complex.


In other words, it’s a great article if you like Arabian Nights stories.