IMG_0253 November 27

Gaza Dispatch: Leaving

I always feel a sort of melancholy at the end of a long trip. But tonight, my last in Gaza, feels different than those other last nights. This is because leaving Gaza is a privilege afforded to very few. For all the anxiety of crossing Erez back and forth – the gathering of permits and […]

IMG_0301 November 23

Gaza Dispatch: Dinner

Middle East travel tip: If a local – especially a local woman – asks you what you know about the indigenous cuisine, plead ignorance. This almost always leads to an invitation for dinner. About a week ago, one of the poets I had the honour of meeting here in Gazan, Donia Amal Ismail, asked me […]

IMG_0058 November 11

Gaza Dispatch: The Reliable Mediterranean

Last week, writer Mona Abu Sharekh toured me through the Shati Refugee Camp, or ‘Beach Camp,’ in Gaza City. “I can’t imagine how anyone can live away from the sea,” Mona said as we walked along the road edging the shoreline. For Gazans, the sea provides the only glimpse of a horizon. Hemmed in by […]

IMG_0205 November 01

Gaza Dispatch: “Maybe your legs. Maybe your heart.”

Last week I traveled to Shujaia to meet farmer Abdusalam al-Manasrah. His family has owned land near Gaza’s eastern border since Ottoman times. “Every speck of soil is mixed with my sweat and the sweat of my father, my grandfather and my grandmother,” he told me. The family tended olive trees on the land for […]

IMG_0171 October 24

Gaza Dispatch: Post-war cooking in Khan Younis

Earlier this week I traveled south from Gaza City to Khan Younis to see how families displaced by last year’s war are feeding themselves. A group of ladies, a mother with an assemblage of daughters and daughters-in-law, invited me into their temporary “caravan” and showed me their remarkable kitchen. One fridge, a pair of gas […]

inpresenceofabsence-web October 12

“Cities are smells”

A few pretty lines from Mahmoud Darwish’s In the Presence of Absence. He was writing about exile here, but reading these words in my East Jerusalem hotel room remind me of travel in general, and of the smell of fresh guava in the markets this week. Cities are smells: Acre is the smell of iodine […]

Dispatch from Jerusalem

My arrival in Jerusalem four days ago coincided with a wave of attacks and and violent clashes in Israel and Palestine. People have been shot and killed. Soldiers, teenagers, and elderly women have been stabbed – some with a screwdriver, another with a vegetable peeler. A pregnant woman died alongside her four year-old daughter. Rockets […]


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