Gaza On My Mind is a personal, often very funny, and sometimes shocking account of life in Gaza as a child under occupation, as an aspiring entrepreneur during the First Intifada, and then as a member of Yasser Arafat’s new Palestinian Authority administration in the Ministry of Culture.
It is also a book about exile. When Aser (the author’s brother-in-law) moved to London in 1998 the Yasser Arafat International Airport in Gaza was nearing completion.
Bill Clinton was the guest of honour for the grand opening that December. But it took nearly ten years for Aser to get back to Gaza, and it wasn’t on a direct flight to Gaza’s own international airport, but by the usual nightmare route via Cairo, a taxi across the Sinai Desert, and then a long wait at the Rafah border crossing. By that time the airport and the peace process were both in ruins, and the border guards belonged to the new Hamas authority.
Phil Collins probably didn’t have exiled Palestinians in mind when he wrote his hit song If Leaving Me Is Easy (Coming Back Is Harder), but that’s how it has been for Gazans, like Aser, who have left. But for those that remain, nothing has been easy, least of all leaving. Gaza On My Mind also includes conversations with members of Aser’s family in Gaza, who are still there living under what they call ‘the siege’, and readying themselves for whatever other injustice might come their way as the Americans prepare to relaunch the peace process with their ‘Deal of the Century’.