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Surf girls of Gaza

14:50 18th October 2010 by Alex Dick-Read
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Here’s a link out to a moving little piece in the current issue of Atlantic Monthly magazine written by Sarah Topol. Here at TSP we’ve covered surfing in Gaza a couple of times and the recent film “And God Went Surfing with The Devil” drew attention to the small but dedicated surf crews in Palestinian areas of the the Med coast. Anyone wanting to surf in this part of the world faces at least two major problems – Israeli control of the shoreline which is often randomly violent, restrictive and discriminatory; and the paranoid power of Hamas, whose rule in Gaza brings a whole other level of medieval insanity, especially if you’re a chick with a stick.

‘AT DUSK, THE BEACH outside Gaza City is packed. Thousands of bodies cram the narrow Mediterranean shoreline, while bellowing touts ply candied apples, cotton candy, and baked yams. Rawand Abu Ghanem and I are sitting by the water.

The 13-year-old looks up at me from where she has been tracing patterns in the sand. “What do you wear when you swim in America?” she asks. I hesitate before replying, “Not much.”

Rawand nods sagely. “When you surf in America, do people stare at you?”

“No,” I answer.

“They do here,” she sighs.

Rawand is one of four girls learning to ride the waves of the Gaza Strip. They are the newest members of the Gaza Surf Club, a community of two dozen surfers in the Palestinian coastal enclave of 1.5 million. We were supposed to surf together tonight, but Rawand took one look at the crowded beach and decided against it. “Too many people,” she declared.

Sitting in her family’s living room later, Rawand tries to explain: “It’s a great feeling when I surf, but I won’t surf when there are a lot of people around. It’s so weird for them to see a girl surfing. It gets crowded, and I just can’t handle everybody looking at me.”’

You can read the full story here: http://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2010/11/gazaand8217s-surfer-girls/8256

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