Sanaa Kamal: A Voice from Gaza | E196

Guest Episode Sanaa Kamal_mixdown

[00:00:00] Jacob Shapiro: Hello listeners, welcome to another episode of Cognitive Dissidence. As usual, I’m your host. I’m Jacob Shapiro. I’m a partner and the director of geopolitical analysis at Cognitive Investments. Joining me on the podcast today is maybe the most impressive guest we’ve had thus far in the entire podcast series.

Her name is Sana Kamal. She was a journalist in the Gaza Strip. She is currently in Cairo, in Egypt, working to get, she’s gotten some of her family out of Gaza. She is working to get the rest of her family out of the Gaza Strip. If you’ve been with me for a while now, you know that when the October 7th Hamas attacks on Israel began, we put out a lot of content.

We got a lot of different perspectives, Israeli perspectives, Egyptian perspectives from all sorts of people in the region and analysts everywhere, but I could not find a Palestinian voice to come on the podcast. Either people were unwilling to come on because they didn’t know who I was and they.

They had a understandable suspicion of going on a podcast with a guy whose name is Jacob Shapiro. Or internet did not, was not reliable. When the Israeli government, as it continues to attack the Gaza Strip, but as it was attacking the Gaza Strip, it was almost impossible to get to people via the internet or even via cell phones.

So it was really impossible. I had a couple of recordings set up here and there that just totally fell through the cracks. But Sana finally made it to Cairo and she reached out and said she was safe there and that we could do a recording. And I was so proud to welcome her on. There’s no political valence here.

I just wanted Sana to be able to tell her story. Her family is also in pretty dire straits. We’re going to put a link to the GoFundMe that is there so that she can try and get the rest of her brothers and their children out of the Gaza Strip. If you would like to donate some money to that after listening to this, feel free.

I’m going to donate myself. But the thing that struck me the most about this conversation, number one, it’s an authentic Palestinian voice. This is somebody who has lived in the Gaza Strip her entire life, who is proud of being from the Gaza Strip. And I was struck Sana and her family have been through so much, their homes destroyed, lost all of their physical possessions luckily, I mean it seems like nobody has been seriously hurt or wounded, but some of their family still in harm’s way there.

And yet, she still believes in the possibility of peace. And she still condemns both Hamas and the Israeli government for the things that they are doing to each other and the way that they are hurting innocent people. She says on the podcast about how she has no problem with the Israeli people. She has problems with the Israeli government.

And she reiterated that to me, even after we stopped recording and for all the things that we think are wrong in the world and all the problems that all of us have, that somebody who is in Sanaa’s position still has the resilience and the faith that people are ultimately good, that her people are good, that Israeli people are good, that Christians and Jews and non believers and all these other people are good and that the problem are governments and people who are using those people to their ends.

Just a remarkable display of resilience and optimism. And I hope clear sighted thinking about what is possible in the future, because if Sana’a has not given up hope none of us should give up hope either. Sanna, thank you for taking the time. Thank you for allowing us to listen to your story. Listeners, this is a little bit different than what we normally do here, but I haven’t found a more authentic, more true voice about what’s going on from a Palestinian perspective than Sana’s and I was happy to give her the platform and let her talk about her story here.

We will continue to bring more perspectives and more things from this war as it unfortunately continues because it’s here. It’s April 2024 and what began last year in October continues on and it doesn’t seem like there is an end in sight. So enough preamble for me. I want this to mostly be about Sana.

So thank you for listening. Take care of the people you love cheers and see you out there.

Sana, it’s I’m sorry that we have to get together under these circumstances, but I wanted to use the platform such as I have it to allow you to tell your story. Why don’t we start at the beginning? How has your life changed since October 7th? Where were you on October 7th and how have things changed since then for you?

[00:03:47] Sanaa Kamal: Yeah, actually, thank you for your opportunity to let me let me tell my story. Telling my story for your audience that I am sure that I’m respecting all of them, mainly the humans that collect all of us around the world. Either we are Arabs, Europeans, Muslims, Christians, or even Jewish people.

Actually, before October 7th I’m a Palestinian journalist who lives inside inside Gaza. I live my life as well as any other independent woman who has her own life mainly because I’m a famous journalist at least in my country and in my area. And I like my life because it was simple, easy, and has a lot of details that I really loved loved things.

Starting from my morning and the morning when I start my talking. And then drive my car throw them the beach or the beach road until going to my office and spend there about at least eight, eight hours every day in my journal 30. And then when I back to my home and eating my lunch and.

My family it’s everyday I have my own routines, but after the observer students, all my life has changed, really. Mainly when I remember that when we heard the heavy explosions and the heavy rockets that launched from Gaza. At Israel, at the first moment, we didn’t realize what happened around us.

We only talked, and we only were afraid about what was happening, and what was happening around our aid, because it was around my house. Later, I know that the rockets were around all the Brazilian houses, from all the Gaza Strip. But to be honest, at the short moment, I think and I believe that we will be punished, heavily punished by Israel because it was the first time that we had such amount of rockets at the Israel, merely as we didn’t even know that we were about such about such rockets that would launch from Gaza.

Since then, I declared the emergency of my life because I know, as a journalist, that Israel will not stay or keep silence. It will definitely attack Gaza. Mainly, it will definitely attack all people. The buildings may be belonging to Hamas, to the government in Gaza, but I didn’t know that Israel will attack also the civilians buildings and residential houses and even the towers over the heads of the people.

I stayed at my house just for four days until the Israeli army ordered all our neighborhood to evacuate the area to attack the Islamic University. By the way, I lived inside the Islamic in the same area of the Islamic University, but later, the next day, when we come back to our area, My, my brother and I were shocked from the amount of the destruction that lived in our area.

Our area completely was destroyed. Completely. We talked about hundreds of residential buildings, hundreds of houses private houses, hundreds of shops. of the of supermarkets, and of of everything. Suddenly, we lost everything in our area. And then the Israeli army ordered us to evacuate the Gaza city and to go to the southern part of Gaza city.

To be honest, our trip, the displaced trip, we didn’t know what to do. What will happen? All the time, my mom, by the way, she’s an elderly woman, asked me, Stella, what will happen? I told her, I don’t know my mom, but I hope that we will back soon. We will back after one day or two days. All the time, I told my mother that we will back to our house maybe after a few days, maybe after the next week, the next month, and et cetera, until now.

I don’t know. I don’t know if we will back together someday or not either. I’m, I was putting in the corner. I don’t know what should I do really. Mainly when I hear that my brothers, the five of my brothers after one week, the first one lost his house and the second one after that, etc. Until we lost all our houses.

Six houses, including my bro, brother, he grew he was a groom. He lost everything in his new house. And all of us then I moved to the southern part of of Gaza. We lived we rented a house there by 1, 000 monthly. And, yeah, and we don’t have a lot of money, but I was forced to do that just to keep my family inside house and not let them to stay or to live inside a tent because the situation would be catastrophic for my mom.

She cannot do that and she will not such situation for me. All the time she cried about her situation and about her sons and also about her daughters. But I decided to take the matter by my own hand and to leave my family, all my family. Maybe because I’m a journalist and have some relations inside Gaza and even because I was the only one for my mom.

I don’t know. who is still working and who can get some money that would help my family and my brothers also to get some food. We stayed in the displacement in Dharavara for two months until the owner of the house told us that he needed, because his brother lost his house and he needed food.

Later then we moved to Rappa also. And Rappa, we lived for a month in another house, rented house. But I built there $1,500 a month after that there Israeli, the army attack the house near us which partially destroyed the house that we lived there, and my mom wanted during that attack.

Then we decided. We tried to find another house, but we didn’t find because the Rafah became the only house, it became housing about 1 million and 500, 000 people. So then we decided to live inside a tent. And really, living inside a tent, like living in the hell.

Because even you don’t have any privacy there. Sorry to say that, but when you would like to use the toilet, you can not do that because you, all the time you, you feel all afraid that maybe the people will hurt you inside the toilet. And another thing I would like to mention is that for five, seven, seven months in a row, we have never take our shower in clean water.

For the seven months I soaked my shower with wet water and unheated water. As an emergency in my life that I adopted during the war inside Gaza, that I have to decrease the meals, my daily meals. I only ate once a day. Only one meal a day I can eat. Because I don’t like to use toilet. In addition, I don’t have a lot of food and we have children, so we prefer to let our children to eat instead of us, as as all the parents.

In addition in the latest two months, or four months, the latest four months, we have never find any food, really. Even if we would like to have some parent food, we have to pay. A lot of money. For each meal, we have to pay about 60 each meal. And I remember that the first time that we found seafood, fish, and chicken to eat, I had paid about 500 just to make maklouba.

It’s a traditional Palestinian Palestinian food. Yes, we had, we made about Can you imagine such amount of money? No, I can’t. To be honest, we have been left alone inside this war. We don’t know what, what was happening for us and how we can manage our catastrophic situation. And even we don’t know the time of the ending of the war.

I’m talking now, not as a journalist only, but also as a woman who lives inside Gaza under the Israeli Assad, or under the Israeli Hamas law to be honest, to be accurate in our definition. It’s Hamas and Israel’s law.

[00:14:42] Jacob Shapiro: And now you’ve, you at least yourself personally have made it to Cairo. How did you get to Cairo?

How difficult was that process?

[00:14:50] Sanaa Kamal: Oh, it’s a complicated process. Starting from the amount of money that I had to pay for a company that is in Cairo. I had to pay 20, 000 for this. Somebody just let four people, four persons, my mother, my brother, sister, and I to leave Gaza. Such amount I, to be honest, I sold my purse and my gold gold accessories.

This is the only thing that I had inside Gaza to collect the money and to can cross the road and come here to Egypt. In addition, when I came here to Egypt, for, I don’t know, until now, every night, in my dreams, I can’t see the nightmares. I’m still seeing nightmares here in Egypt, and all the time I feel that I’m still inside Gaza.

I’m grateful. A lot of executions around me and around my family and like that. The situation is very difficult. In any case, we really get hurt. Our names reverted to our fathers from Gaza to Egypt. We have waited. We waited about 30, 33 days. But can you imagine? When you Here, the explosions, or here the Israeli attacks around you, and you are waiting your land to come back from Gaza, to leave Gaza, all the time.

You are thinking about the dish, only about the dish, and you will never leave Gaza. All the time you put yourself under the pressure that you will never leave Gaza, and you would have died There are several thousands of people who live inside Gaza. And when we, when I saw some names who were registered the names to, to travel from Gaza and being killed inside Gaza by Israeli army you I was under the pressure and I was very afraid, not because of myself, because I’m alone, but really because I was about my family and if they will haven’t any strong person or or a person who has some relationships with outside of Gaza that can help them to evacuate Gaza.

To be honest, I decided to evacuate my family from Gaza when I saw all the other girls here now. When I saw that all the negotiations between Hamas and Israel were failed. And none of them, neither Hamas nor Israel would like to have a ceasefire soon. Or none of them, both of them are lecturing about the civilians inside Gaza.

And both of them are not about the future of the civilians who are suffering all the time. They only would like to win their war without having any solutions for the civilians. And as you can see, without separating, merely Israel doesn’t separate between civilians and between militants. It only attacks all of, all the Virginians.

And this is The most dangerous situation inside Gaza, that even if you are innocent people, you don’t have any guarantee to not being attacked by Israel. Landon my, our nephew, asked me, my aunt, why we should stay here in Gaza? Why we should live here? I would like to continue my education. So we understand, these were Hurt me a lot and I cried because I felt that I’m a weak woman and don’t have anything in right to hold my family inside, gather maybe my career or afford me to stay each other, but my family, I cannot, and I haven’t the right to hold them with me hearing that I have to do and to get, to start my therapy, check to evaluate all of them.


[00:19:30] Sanaa Kamal: I decided this only a month ago, or after, yeah, a month ago, maybe 35 days before I left Ghana. So the situation there was very terrible, and I think that our children, our people, should get to live, not to live under such bloody walls.

[00:19:56] Jacob Shapiro: What is your status in Egypt and your family when you get them out of Gaza? And I hope you get them all out. What is your status? Do you worry about getting forced to go back to Gaza? Has Egypt recognized you as a refugee or is there some sort of asylum process? Is that another stage of the nightmare?

Or at least once you get to Egypt, can you think about trying to rebuild?

[00:20:19] Sanaa Kamal: Yeah I believe that Egypt is my safest place to go to see and safe place. This is the only thing that I’m thinking about right now. But remember, Egypt is done now. It will not recognize about of us as refugees. Maybe later, or my second step that I, maybe I can help my brothers, mainly those who have many children, to migrate to European countries, to other Arab countries, that would recognize them as refugees.

Because, here in Egypt, the situation is not very good for the Palestinians. Work to gain some money and to make, and to have a source of income. Mainly, as most of the Egyptians, people really are suffering from the low incomes here. But on the other hand, I think that if Egypt would I think we will stay here.

Egypt is a beautiful country, and it’s a big country for Palestinians. We live in an area, a small area, a very crowded area, that hasn’t exceeded 360 kilometers squared. Here in Egypt only the roads you can walk, when you walk on them, you will find the road maybe longer than Gaza Strip.

Like that. And actually, but the basic thing, and the most important thing for me here in Egypt, is because I’m talking with other people, my fellow seniors.

So when I talk with people here in Egypt and they ask me, are you from Gaza? I told them yes, they hugged me, a lot of people hugged me, and some people really cried over our situation in Gaza, and this, and such such people It really hurts me to cry, because it’s not easy for you to be as a poor person, and as a weak person, and someone who needs the help.

It’s not easy for you. Maybe when you have your own stability situation, and when I came to Egypt before the war, when I made the military journeys to Egypt all the time, I tried or really I am, I exported the the image of my country that we are strong people, that we are educating people, that we are rich people, not like the media who saw know all the time we talk about.

Our poverty, about our bad situation, about that, all the time, I put myself as an ambassador of the Golden Visitor of my country. It’s when someone hugs you, and tries to console you, I feel very bad, because I don’t like to do this. To appear on such situation? No, I would like to say as journal or the ambassador of her country and of her city it’s, no, I can’t say that everything here in Egypt is mixed.

You cannot imagine what would happen. The only thing, as I told you that now I’m thinking about is how. to bring my family and to bring my father in a safer place. Only this. But after the Israeli war and the war between Israel and Hamas ends in Gaza, I can’t decide. But definitely my family will not go back to Gaza.

Because at least we will have 10 years just to remove the, from Gaza. And we have children. They have To join a

[00:24:39] Jacob Shapiro: better education life, I think. Any hope for peace between Israel and Palestine after this? Do you think it’s Yeah,

[00:25:00] Sanaa Kamal: I would like that. Really, I would like that. Because Palestinians, Palestinian people are not loving the war.

They really, people, they are people who like the peace, and who like to live in peace. You’re overkill. I hope that we can have someday a peace with Israel, because for me, as a Palestinian, and also as a journalist, it’s better for Palestinians to have a peace with Israel rather than, and to have normalization, or they

have to

[00:25:38] Sanaa Kamal: normalize their relationship with Israel rather than Turkey, or any other country, because we live inside Israel.

In any case, as a Croatian, we know and it’s all the world knows that Israel is an occupation country. As an occupation country, it’s better for us as Palestinians to live with them. Not only to live all the time with the wars between us and between them. I know that we have many people inside Israel, to be honest, also.

I’m letting all people inside, people who can’t hear us, Who doesn’t who don’t accept what the Israeli government is doing now. And they against Netanyahu. Because as we have some people who are against the radical men or the radical persons in Hamas, we have another persons in Israel who are against Netanyahu as a radical mass.

If we put the two people, Israel and the Palestinians, I think they will have a peace. And both of them, they will respect themselves as a human. At least as a human. I don’t like the politicians. So I think, yeah, I hope so. I hope to find, or to reach that time that would have peace between Israel and between Gaza.

Palestine, not Gaza, Palestine.

[00:27:16] Jacob Shapiro: Yeah, that’s an incredible answer considering everything that you’ve gone through. What is your perspective on Hamas? Was Hamas? Do you feel that Hamas is split into different wings and that some want the war and some don’t? Do you feel like Hamas is an obstacle to peace?

Do you feel like Hamas is defending Palestine? I’m just curious how do you feel about Hamas and how did you feel maybe before October 7th, and has that changed at all now?

[00:27:42] Sanaa Kamal: To be honest, before October.

A lot of good news and a lot of people who have who have a great mind, really. And most of them, they have they are educated persons and have high certificates high degrees of certifications. But really, who took the decision to start the war, for sure. I’m against him because he plays even with his fighters inside Hamas.

As a Slovenian, I would like and I would prefer to enlist in such people to rebuild or to building our country economically in Australia. Everything that would have a good future for our people, not the death and not the war and not the suffering. But the person who decides to launch this war for truth, I’m not with him.

Even if he, as Hamas says, that Israel who pushed or forced the JLM to do that because it hasn’t left its blockade against our people. I’m going with it. I I believe we live from time to time, but if we put the negative consequences of the world beside the positive consequences of the world, then we will find only we have negative consequences.

This is as a Palestinian.

[00:29:37] Jacob Shapiro: As a journalist, do you think there is any external pressure that can be placed on both Israel on this Israeli government and on Hamas to stop the fighting? Or is that just hopeless?

[00:29:48] Sanaa Kamal: Yes. As a journalist, I think so, because Hamas now has external pressure from the Venezuelan people just to to relieve to ease its It’s the conditions of the negotiations with Israel.

On the other hand, the pressure is often to think about the people, the innocent people in Gaza. And meanwhile I believe that Israel is me, Merlin Netanyahu now is living under the pressure, and they’re gonna appreciate a problem. The Israeli people who asked him all the time to have or to accept the swap deal with Hamas and now to release the hostage.

By the way, all the time, even in the United States, when they talk, when they speak about the situation in Gaza, they only speak about the hostage. The, who remains now in who remain now still now inside Gaza, I think 130. About out of them, there are 70, at least 70, were killed during the Israeli attack.

But none of the European countries are registered. Really hits us as Palestinian people. None of them are thinking and caring about the 2 million, or more than 2 million Palestinian Hussein’s inside Gaza. All of these people are people and they are innocent people and they are, they have never involved in any military activity.

Jacob, when you come to Gaza, you will find that because I worked with dozens. of the foreigners foreign journalists who came to Gaza. Really, once the journalists came to Gaza and meet me, and then when I let him or her to meet our people inside Gaza, the only word that I heard for many years, Oh, Shana, the people, the Afghan people here are so kind.

They are innocent people. They are loving their life. They are generous. They are, they have a lot of good things and manner inside your country. You are lucky there because you live in this area of gaga, these things. None of the European people know that because they only. Here, about us as the as American people who have, who carry the weapon and just would like to kill the Jews or the Israeli people, it’s totally not the truth.

Totally. The truth inside Gaza that most, we are, I’m talking about 95 percent of Gazan people would like to live in this country. And they don’t like to involve in any other wars with Israel. Even after this war, and when this war ends, the people really, I swear, I did dozens of hundreds of interviews during this war.

The only words that the people, my people, and I’m so proud to say my people, the only words of my people, were that What was told to us, we will manage our life and we don’t want any other world. Would kill our our children or would destroy our life once

[00:33:25] Jacob Shapiro: again. Yeah, I will invite you to bring, and I will

[00:33:35] Sanaa Kamal: invite you to English at our place because we have a drink.

And the most beautiful beach in the world. I know that because, to be honest, Jakob, all my foreign colleagues who came and who visited our Gaza, they told me, you have a great beach. I really miss it. As well as I miss my destroyed house, but I miss my beach because, just to make our sea inside Gaza, you will take care.

fresh air and when you breathe it inside your body you feel that you own all the world. Really like that. It’s not only just like a place. No. I don’t know but the people who live and who grow up on the beach and on the coast coastal areas, only we can recognize and we can about how I can, how can I, um, abandon our feet.

You don’t know how, but I swear, when you’re visiting Gaza, I will invite you to Masruba and Mansa. We like food, really.

[00:34:55] Jacob Shapiro: I know. Sana, you’ve been so generous with your time. Is there anything else you want to say to the listeners before we say goodbye?

[00:35:03] Sanaa Kamal: I said I would like to tell the people around the world that the Palestinian people are not fighters and they are not criminal people.

They’re only innocent people who would like to have their own peace life. And all the time, we are struggling against all these The bad situation just to build our future based on our our conditions and our private conditions. But we will. We Braves would like to have a piece

[00:35:46] Jacob Shapiro: that would allow us to rebuild our life inside Gaza once again.

so much for listening to the Cognitive Dissidence podcast brought to you by Cognitive Investments. If you are interested in learning more about cognitive investments, you can check us out online at cognitive dot investments. That’s cognitive dot investments. You can also write to me directly if you want at jacob at cognitive dot investments.

Cheers and we’ll see you out there. The views expressed in this commentary are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This podcast may contain certain statements that may be deemed forward looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance, and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.

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