When I left the developed world of Israel at the Erez border crossing, I instantly entered the Third World—a crowded, tense and anxious Gaza Strip. What was surprising, however, was discovering that in this “hot house” crisis environment, one of the ways Gaza residents are coping is by spending their afternoons watching Dr. Phil and Oprah Winfrey.
I was also surprised to learn that the much-feared kidnappings, although usually motivated by the desire to inflict terror, to achieve calculated revenge, or to win profit, are sometimes acts of dare and challenge by bored young people.
“We have no place to go, we have too much free time and we have nothing to do,” said Mohammed Ismail, 22, an unemployed English major who aspires to better things—a graduate degree, for one—but acknowledges that being young and having grand visions in Gaza is frustrating at best, embittering at worst.
Chris Herlinger, former senior writer for Church World Service, is a contributing writer for National Catholic Reporter’s Global Sisters Report. He is the coauthor, with Paul Jeffrey, of books on Haiti and Darfur, published by Seabury. A third book, Food Fight: Struggling for Justice in a Hungry World, has just been released.