gaza surf club

My high school senior thesis was on the Israeli-Palestinian dispute, and I went on to minor in Jewish Studies while I was at UNC. In that five-year time frame, I consumed a large quantity of Jewish [auto]biographies from the middle ages through modern times, as well historical accounts from antiquity onward. Since then, I haven’t kept up very closely with the politics or geography of the situation, but I have remained interested in the stories of the people on either side … and the ones of those caught in the middle.

Over the weekend, I was looking for a surf film or documentary to add to my collection and stumbled upon this gem.

GazaSurfClub2

Aside from being aesthetically amazing and very well produced, it was refreshing to see a surf film that sits in an awkward tension similar in some ways to what Adriano de Souza has faced on his journey to becoming a world champion. There’s something particularly frustrating about having some access to something you are good at, having the vision and even the skill to achieve something, but having far more obstacles to overcome than other people in the same sphere. This film features a few classic, lens-flare + slow motion surf scenes, but also depicts the reality of living in the war-torn Gaza strip. It’s stark in contrast to other surf films that are purposefully isolated from the reality of every day life, or otherwise appeal to the esteemed bachelor-esque, obligation-free lifestyle that has become common among established surf lineages.

Aside from the excitment of following Ibrahim’s journey to Hawaii [spoiler. ha.], I loved seeing the story of the 15-year old female surfer, Sabah, and the way that her father encouraged her passion for water-sports in a society in which she is no longer allowed to openly play in the sea due to her age.

This film left me unexpectedly feeling very privileged to have grown up in the United States, and even to be an English speaker. I hardly consider how much more difficult it would be to get out of difficult places and situtations without having some command of the English language. In one of my favorite exchanges, Ibrahim apologizes to one of the hosts in Hawaii for his poor english, and the Hawaiian apologizes for his poor Arabic… you could see in their faces the mutual respect and alleviation of some of Ibrahim’s insecurities.

Enyhoo, SO WELL DONE.

gazasurfclub_01

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