On The New York Times editorial page today, the Gray Lady touted a multi-author blog called Day to Day in Iraq. Simply put, the blog is written by regular Iraqis about daily life. Most of the authors are young men in their twenties. The entry that struck me the most was from Hassan Khuraffa about the daily life of his six-year-old sister.
I was immediately reminded of stories about a family friend, Ramzi, who spent the first few years of his life in Beirut in the early 1980s, the worst years of Lebanon’s brutal "civil" war. [I put civil in quotes, since two of the major players, Israel and the PLO, were external actors]. Those stories about Ramzi were the catalyst that sparked my interest in the Middle East.
I also couldn’t help but realize that Nigel Parry’s plan in 1997 had finally come to fruition, just in Iraq, rather than Palestine. Nigel wanted to create the single source of raw, unfiltered news about day-to-day life in Palestine by equiping one Palestinian student in each major Palestinian city with a laptop, an internet connection, a camera and a slide/negative scanner [digital photography was in its infancy]. He modeled this web site on his own online journal, "A Personal Diary of the Israeli-Palestinian Conflict" and a pilot project called "On the Ground in Ramallah" that he ran with several students to document the shooting war that erupted in the fall of 1996.
The site never got off the ground, and when Nigel’s house was demolished in May 1998, he left Palestine and the project fell to the wayside.