The Gazans Doing Swimmingly Well

Old and busted: When Israel sneezes, the media reports about it.

New hotness: When the palestinian Arabs do something that will cause sneezing, the media reports about it.

Cold is a word never in the vocabulary of winter swimming lovers. Despite freezing weather hitting the Palestinian territories, dozens of residents in the Gaza Strip rushed to the sea of Beit Lahia town in the north of the coastal enclave to participate in a swimming event.

The event, launched by a local group dubbed “Swimming lovers in Gaza,” aims to encourage more Gazans to swim in winter.

Mahmoud Mohra, one of the organizers and also a swimming coach, told Xinhua that there are up to 50 Gazans joining the winter swimming event every day.

The 40-year-old coach recalled that in the beginning, people refused to swim in the winter for fear of catching the flu, a typical illness in this season.

Nevertheless, the situation has changed as people learned the health benefits of winter swimming, such as stimulating blood circulation, strengthening the immune system, and emptying negative energy, Mohra said.

Mohammed Hmaid, a man from Gaza City, believes that people should pay more attention to the positive side of the region instead of the stereotype of its suffering, pain and poverty.

“People get used to hearing about our suffering, but do not bother to know our hobbies we keep practising despite all bad conditions we live in,” the 45-year-old father of nine told Xinhua, adding he is happy to be a member of this swimming group.

People get used to hearing about your suffering because that is what you feed to the media. You even just complained people are fixated on your suffering and then could not help yourself but end with a kvetch (“despite all bad conditions we live in”!) It is highly unfair to suggest people “do not bother” to know your hobbies. Although I do admit to being one person who does try to show them to the wider public, whether they be good, bad or just plain unexpected.

But at the end of the day, I cannot argue with this:

“…it is time to invest their time in useful things,” they concluded.

Although I do suspect at least some of these Gazans are learning swimming so they can flee from Hamas.

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David Lange

A law school graduate, David Lange transitioned from work in the oil and hi-tech industries into fulltime Israel advocacy. He is a respected commentator and Middle East analyst who has often been cited by the mainstream media