Lora Gordon

Taking you home: "Palestinian Walks"

Accounts by Western travelers coming to the “Holy Land,” later used by Zionists to justify their colonization, also compelled Raja Shehadeh to provide a counter-narrative, in Palestinian Walks: Forays into a Vanishing Landscape. “The accounts I have read do not describe a land familiar to me,” Shehadeh writes, “but rather a land of these travelers’ imaginations. Palestine has been constantly reinvented, with devastating consequences to its original inhabitants.” Lora Gordon reviews for The Electronic Intifada. 

Book review: "On the Hills of God"

As the first English-language fictionalized account of the nakba (catastrophe), which befell the Palestinian nation as the state of Israel was declared on the land of historic Palestine, Ibrahim Fawal’s celebrated novel On the Hills of God is an important achievement. But despite its relevant timing, its impressive Pen Oakland award, and its tomelike 446 pages, Fawal’s book only barely manages to surmount its faults. The story takes place in 1947-48, in the fictional village of Ardallah, literally “the land of God,” an everyvillage of sorts. 

The geography of dissent: New Orleans and Palestine

“I’m still in New Orleans. It’s so much like Palestine it’s eerie. It’s a different kind of devastation than right after the storm. Some of the worst wreckage has been cleaned up — there are no longer throngs of people camping out on the I-10 Causeway or waterlogged bodies lining the streets. Now it’s the emptiness that is most striking. Some parts of the city are like a ghost town.” Writing from New Orleans, EI contributor Lora Gordan finds parallels between the struggle for justice in New Orleans and that in Palestine. 

Hands full of empty words in Chicago

If I could stop time I would, stop everything from moving forward, not for long, just for a few moments, just long enough to let out the scream that is growing in my lungs making it difficult to breathe. Here I am in Chicago on the hottest day of the year so far, an overcast day where the air is like a swimming pool, where the humidity is so thick you can smell it, feel it wrap around your skin as soon as you step outside. This morning I walked outside into the humid air and thought, immediately: Beirut. 

Getting the hell into Gaza

Following the suicide bombing at Erez Crossing that left four Israeli soldiers dead and several Palestinian workers injured, Erez (at the north of the Gaza Strip), and Maabar (the other way in and out of the Gaza Strip, on the border of Egypt), have been under tight closure, with crowds of people waiting for days to be let through. Here are excerpts from a letter home from one of the delegation as they were attempting to enter. They are an excellent description of the great extremes the Israeli is going to in order to keep out international eyes. Laura Gordon introduces the trials of one group trying to get into occupied Gaza. 

And the world sleeps

Oh goodness, I went to the souq (“market”) today with Mahmood’s mother. She woke me up at 8:30am instead of 6:00am while I lay in bed for two hours imagining the day to be later than it was, floating between nightmares and day dreams. So I got dressed and we walked out, Saturday morning 9:00am, sunshine painting the streets and the asbestos roofs and the mothers like sun-dried raisins elbowing their way to this or that stand to haggle over prices. She stopped me here at this jilbab or that jacket, announcing the prices so proud of a certain bargain you would think she herself was selling the goods this morning. 

When boredom feels like slow death, what is left to lose?

Young men and women out of high school have one of two options: pursue their degree, or get married. For men there is a third option — be lucky enough to connect your way to someone who is high up enough in one of the Palestinian factions to be bribed to find you one of the few jobs that exist, and magically you will be transported into the 15% of people who have found work here. This is the zahag. “Zahag”, an Arabic word for this long, heavy boredom that feels like a slow death. Laura Gordon writes from Rafah. 

Broken Crystal

There are no prayer mats to be found in this empty border apartment, only years of sand accumulated on the empty floors. A chandelier’s broken crystals spread in wide sunrays in the salon from the underground explosion some few meters away a few weeks ago — the army blowing up the imagined tunnels of its dream, those phantoms. Everyone knows they don’t exist on this street, which has meticulously rid itself of armed resistance and smugglers. Still, the army blow up dirt meters below the ground many times a week just next to the border homes, shattering their windows and shaking their foundations. Laura Gordon writes from Rafah. 

Redemption in Gaza

I’ve become enthralled with births and weddings — the creation of family — redemption from the ache of a war that systematically removes the most beloved burdens of a person’s full hands. A house, a brother, a mother. I count the marriages and the births like a high school student crosses off the squares of a calendar, measuring the distance between the dredgery of institutionalized education and the open arms of vacation. Every marriage is a triumph of construction in the face of this violent waste. Every birth is red ‘X’ on the calandar of the Occupation. 

Tension and depression

The plot of Abu Jameel’s life unfolds like a tragic drama. His street, Abu Jameel Street, named after his grandfather, once the richest man in the area whose grandson used to scorn farmers, walk through the street as one known by face only, the untouchable man in the suit. Abu Jameel inherited the riches of his family and built a row of forty stores and several apartments with his two cousins and married a beautiful Egyptian woman who bore him a son and a daughter. These days fade to memories in black and white. Laura Gordon writes from Rafah.