My Commitment to Gaza and to Supporting the People I Love

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My interest in Palestine goes back to 1994 when I went with my sociology colleagues after the first intifada had ended the prior year. I was reluctant to join the study they were hoping to do because I was busy with other areas of study, and the Middle East had not been on my radar. But my colleagues seduced me with a free trip to consult on the project design. And that was it. I got hooked and I’ve been involved ever since. I’m the only team member who has stayed with the study.

In 1994 and 1995, our team completed an extensive survey of 5,000 ninth graders and parents in the West Bank to investigate how the young people were fairing given the extended period of disruption that the intifada brought to their lives. We actually found that they were doing surprisingly well, contrary to what psychological theory suggested.

I extended the survey to Gaza to include an additional 2,000 young people and their parents. Again, the results showed that they were doing surprisingly well. These results intrigued me and made me want to learn more and better understand Palestinians as people. Beginning in 1996, I started living in refugee camps in Gaza for months at a time, totaling 18 months over the next four years. I saw how families were coping, not alone from the intifada experience but with the ever-declining political, economic, and health conditions since then. I’ve returned to Gaza for weeks at a time two to three times per year since. I was last there in March 2020 when the COVID took hold. I’ll return as soon as possible.

Currently, I’m writing a narrative nonfiction book chronicling the lives of three Gazan men who I met in 1995 when they were 20 years old. The book narrates their intifada experience through their completion of college and graduate degrees, marriage, having children, and their employment experiences – all the while enduring the ever-hardening oppression, bombardments, serious dwindling of basic resources, and constraints on going in and out of Gaza.

In this photo, I (third from left)) am meeting with a family in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City.

Why I support Anera

During my many trips to the region, I came to know Anera through a friendship with Bill Corcoran, Anera’s former president, and now with Sean Carroll. I know I can trust Anera to do good work, so I donate whatever funds I can to the organization to support the place and people that I love.



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