Today the World is focused on the historic inauguration of a new president in America.
But for the last three weeks the worlds attention has been focused on Gaza. It has become a synonym of Palestinian suffering with their conflict with Israel.
One of the things that can happen to a person living here in this region is that you can become acute to history. And what one can discover is that we are witnessing today what has also happened repeatedly in the past.
Gaza's history is too long and complicated to cover in this blog, but like Damascus in Syria, it is one of the world's oldest living cities.
Underneath Gaza today lie the destructions and constructions of the Pharaohs of Egypt, the Persians, the Greeks, the Romans, the Crusaders, the Turks, the British and many others have all left their marks on Gaza.
Layers of civilization – a heritage almost entirely overlooked. I say almost because I know personally some of the dedicated men who have for decades dug in the dunes of Gaza seeking to expose and preserve it's rich history and culture. I was speaking with one the other night.
Because Gaza lay on the coast at the doorstep to the vast Sinai Peninsula it has been a gateway for 3,500 years on the route linking North Africa with the greener lands to the northern Mediterranean.
Gaza was the port at the end of the massive trade route that connected the Arabian Peninsula with the Mediterranean world. It hosted huge markets for spices, fish, and slaves.
For those who came to fight and conquer – this port location made Gaza strategically significant – and subject to constant sieges, battles, and occupations. Through time it has been a focal point of major military campaigns as people the world over have sought to rule it.
Another irony is that the road along the coast that has been cratered with bombs is arguementively one of the oldest highways in the world. Even Napoleon traveled it.
Civilization after civilization have seen their chariots and cavalry on this route.
And hard to believe as it may be – Gaza itself had a reputation as a place of learning and scholarly impact at the time that Alexandria's library was in it's glory just down the coastline.
So I guess I am trying to reveal a reoccurring pattern of invasion and conquest, long periods of occupation by foreign armies, and their eventual withdrawal.
And perhaps in the past few years I have witnessed one more page of history turned in that historic cycle.
Another reminder that for thousands of years, armies have come and armies have gone… battering and bombing ancient Gaza… and it has endured.
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