Since the moment a friend of mine, Bashar Lubbad, informed me of an imminent meeting with the widely-known veteran Palestinian journalist, Laila el-Haddad, I waited anxiously so that I can sit at one table with the woman whose name kept showing up to me each time I came to read some piece on the ongoing situation here in Gaza.
Honestly, when I was first told the guest of our meeting would be Laila el-Haddad, it never crossed my mind that it is the same lady whose interview on the Electronic Intifada I went through time and again, taken aback by the genuineness and profundity and of her speech. It didn’t cross my mind, it is the same lady whose name numerous times topped diverse pieces of news on world-wide websites such as the Haaretz, Al-jazeera, and the Guardian. I wasn’t very familiar with Laila, but I came across her name more than once, and I should have known I was heading toward the Laterna to meet this very Laila el-Haddad.
I arrived at the meeting, and there already had gathered the bloggers who were to take part in the meeting.
Bashar Lubbad, 21. A journalist, a social activist, and a blogger. He is the founder of a prominent social youth initiative in Gaza called Nzra. Bashar has special interest in uniting the blogger’s efforts and getting them more acquainted with social networks. He blogs at http://ibashar.wordpress.com
Ibrahim el-Jabour, 25. A technical engineer and a blogger. His interest lies mainly in promoting e-marketing through widening the Palestinian bloggers’ use of the social networks so as to get more publicity.
Sharif el-Sharif, 26. (He arrived a bit late!) He has one of the finest and prime Arabic blogs in Gaza. Sharif is strikingly sophisticated and seems to be always in a good mood. He blogs at http://Sharifo.jeeran.com
Ola Anan. http://fromghazza.blogspot.com
As the four of us sat listening attentively, Laila apparently unleashed her surprising speech fluency and went on narrating stories of the past and the present. She spoke of things she liked about Gaza and others she extremely abhorred. As far as I could tell, the experience by which Laila seemed to be really influenced was that of farmers and their organic planting strategy while the one she hated—or rather despised— by far was that of their neighbouring supermarket owner’s unpatriotic attitude towards Gaza. As time went by, other issues were being raised such as the inevitable growing usage of generators and the disturbing impact it has on the residents of Gaza, the Palestinian handicraft, the misleading presence of luxurious hotels and other issues related to Gaza…
Very much talking. Laughing. Jesting. Provoking. And Laila still amazed me with her pleasant humble attitude throughout the meeting.
A few minutes later, Laila’s family consisting of her father, her mother, and her cute children arrived at the place. The same session carried on except for one change: Laila was replaced with her mother. And I was impressed.
Laila’s mother, Dr. May el-Farra, just provided the best explanation why Laila turned out to be such a smart, patriotic, well-mannered, and sophisticated person. As humble as her daughter, she communicated to us plenty of her deeply moving experience for fifteen minutes and wrapped it up with some consequential advice of concern, urging us to work for the sake of nothing but this country.
Though I didn’t join in the discussion very often and was content with the role of a listener, I always looked forward to such a meeting but never thought it would be this notably friendly.