Monday, December 19, 2011

Realizing how badly America has Americanized me

It started by checking my balance with Sallie Mae as I had a late night video conversation with a friend. I was checking as we spoke, worried about payment deadlines, and if I would make it without having them bombard my inbox and send their polite threats. Many like myself, US graduates with degrees from accredited universities, have been forced to flee abroad as the job market shriveled upon our graduation. And so I thought a return to the homeland would be a pleasant time to catch up with my history.

I did not tell my friend what I was doing online, and the conversation continued as usual. Jokes, laughter, the typical check in. And then--my face contorted in the way it typically does when I am upset, my eyes got huge and damp, and before my friend was able to ask what was wrong with my face, I was already making a long distance call.

Prisoner release: The number game of Israel

Yesterday marked the so called completion of the prisoner swap agreement, which commenced on October 18, 2011, when Gilad Shalit was released for a total of 1,027 Palestinians to be released from Israeli prisons in two separate waves. Yet it must be noted that the numbers do not change any of the ideology or tactics employed by the occupying Israeli entity that continues to suffocate Palestinian security and livelihood.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

We aren't stupid whores, Majdalani

Bassem Zakarneh
Bassem  Zakarneh, a former student of mine and head of the Palestinian workers' union, is a family man as I am sure Ahmad Majdalani, the Minister of Labor is also a family man. Zakarneh would practice his English language vigorously, and during breaks the students would ask him questions about their rights as laborers under the collapsing Palestinian Authority. They asked about their rights as employees, not only in the private sector, but also within the ministries of Abu Mazen, a main source for employment. 

Once Zakarneh joked how his daughter is more fluent in English and helps him study, and she attended one of my classes sitting next to her father, brightly smiling and answering proudly while my adult students tried to get the thick of English off their tongues. 

Monday, November 28, 2011

The bubble will burst …Economic hit men in Ramallah

Last year at the prestigious (and imperialist) Herzliya conference in Israel, Ben Bernanke, the chief of the federal reserve, concluded that the talks and peace process itself resulted in 3% growth of the economy.

We should note here that he said the process, not the actual settlement, but the perpetual talks have lead to this growth. The economic occupation that is penetrating the occupied Palestinian territories like a deadly plague is difficult to imagine, and what even more difficult is to come up with solutions to counter this economic bubble that will defiantly burst.

Friday, November 18, 2011

United Colors of Benetton assumes hate

The United Colors of Benetton announced a campaign just a few days ago to reverse hate by "contrasting the culture of hatred and promoting closeness" through the action of "the kiss, the most universal symbol of love, between world political and religious leaders." 

The UCB's media campaign has already been regarded as controversial, perhaps for the action of two men kissing in homosexual fashion,  or perhaps the controversy is due in part to the figureheads featured and the assumed followings or meanings these individuals possess. 

The less obvious and more offensive nature of the campaign series is that The UCB assumes that hatred is the governing feature between the two parties presented. By showcasing the pope with an imam, it is assumed some institutionalized, religious hatred exists between these two religious institutions. Or by showcasing Mahmood Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu The UCB is assuming that hate is the ultimate feature that is causing tensions between occupied Palestinians and militant Israelis. Thus The UCB's corporate scheme sets out to "undo" the hate.

I too exist

In the film "Life in  a Day" the celebration and tragedy of mankind's actions are all documented in a YouTube production highlighting July 24, 2010. Released in late January of this year, the movie covers the facts of life that we tend to take for granted, from our first morning footsteps to the change we carry in our pockets. While the movie hints at certain pinnacle issues relevant to the time the movie was created, it overwhelmingly humanizes life as simply the will to survive. 

"I want people to know that I'm here. 
I don't want to cease to exist."

This blog isn't just about Palestine.  It  is how badly I too want to exist somehow, to be relevant, and in more ways than one, I find someone blotting my face out in red ink, or striking me from the narrative, or erasing whatever mark I may have left. When I say "I," I mean you, we, us, humanity. Multiple labels and identities and affiliations strike us, cancel us out, elevate us, deny us--only if we continue to let them.

In the absence of one, humanity ceases to be.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Yasser Arafat's wife makes an appearance

"He was wedded to the cause," she says in some documentary called The Price of Kings.

It seems that the documentary focuses on 12 different world leaders, their lives, and their sacrifices in 12 different segments. Watching the short clips about Arafat, I am reminded about how the leader is different than Mahmood Abbas. Arafat had character. Abbas looks like the world just farted in his face.

A technique of story telling, most commonly employed by Zionists

Sometimes when testifying, people feel compelled to add certain elements to their stories so that they are attention grabbers. Watch "The World Series Defense" of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia to study Zionist story telling tactics.

"Pour Out A Little Liquor" for Salam Fayyad

According to YNET news "Palestinian Prime Minister Salam Fayyad said that it was time to implement the Palestinian unity agreement and stressed that fulfilling the 'Palestinian dream' would not be possible until a solution is found" between Hamas and Fatah.

 If one recalls during the sad divorce of Hamas from West Bank politics, the elected Prime Minister, Ismail Haniya was replaced by Salam Fayyad as decreed by the almighty Abu Mazen. While Mahmood Abbas continues to take a Suge Knight role in the political monopoly of Palestinian governance, new reports seems to reveal that Fayyad may have been sidelined in what may just be a controversial split between the dictator and the technocrat. 

The Douche Bag Ramallah landlord

First thing anybody does when they are making a commitment to Palestine is they sign up to be added to the Ramallah Ramallah Yahoo group and they frequently check out EnglishPal to get situated in Ramallah. They are great resources for those who really have no  connections here, and so their English language becomes their only vessel to navigate. Of course, the first thing a person wants to do when they come from abroad is they want to know where they are living in a region already unsafe to live in. 

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Why Ramallah women are publicly smoking

I had a friend once. She was a terrible friend mind you but that is another story of gossip and Egyptian fashioned drama. She was the type who chased after people, had a loud shrieking laugh, changed her accent to Lebanese when she spoke to guys. Her heart was good but she gave it away to popularity too many times. Once we were standing outside of work, both of us California expats struggling to somehow make it. The winters here remind me of sitting in my father's convenience store cooler. It is colder indoors than it is outdoors, and we stood waiting for a taxi as it lightly drizzled. We were miserable

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

To the wife of Yasser Arafat

This song is dedicated to the wife of Yasser Arafat, who abandoned the good men of her country and is now residing in plush luxury. Except I doubt the ending of the video reflects what she is feeling. Who knows...

The fishbowl

The circus mirror reasoned with me today
It told me, This is you
Swollen eyes, guppy faced

I was placed here, in this bowl of tears
Lapping life in eclipses of filtered oxygen sighs 
To eat clouds of floating flakes of fed emotion 

Belly side up 
The world looks much the same
As the carcass of our mother floats 
Into the giant machine that feeds me
The world is an upside down 
Hideous rotting green

As her bones rain in white snow flaked doom

Palestine is not Rosa Parks

Who are the Freedom Riders | Palestine is definitely not equal to Rosa Parks, but utilizing the symbolism of her historic presence can be beneficial and also risky to the Palestinian cause. Thus usage of her likeness and other popular figures of solidarity struggles should be used respectfully. Meanwhile Palestinians should be insisting upon the empowerment of their own leaders who qualify to stand on their own two feet without having to be likened to anyone.

Monday, November 14, 2011

To Linah Al Saafin, Al Bireh critic

[this is not a satire]

In what was supposedly a brave attempt at satire, Linah Al Saafin seemed to have landed herself into some drama as locals and those in diaspora read her blogpost about the natives of Al Bireh, herself being one too. As commentary became limited, and reactions seemed to rage in Al Bireh this summer, the notion or the intention of the blogpost will always be left unknown. After all, in literary or critical analysis, it is not typically the intention of the writer that academics seek to understand, but the structure and tools employed that lead us to perceive these intentions. Ignoring the slanderous attack on people from Al Bireh, the most offensive thing about Al Saafin's writing is that it simply does not reflect the true nature of what "satire" means, manipulating a form of writing for mere self defense. This weakness makes her article, and backlash at those who found it offensive, flimsy. It would have been applauded if, when reacting, she had tried to be consistent with the notion of satire. But her defensiveness gave way to her emotions.

Friday, November 4, 2011

The Deterioration of Being

Foreigners are a validation point for Palestinians. While their presence and support is completely welcomed, and has helped strengthen the cause of humanity, there is something within me that shivers with discomfort. I am not a nationalist, nor one for isolation. I do not parade the Palestinian flag on my back, because to me, the Levant was home to a shared culture. Celebrating the scarring borders imperialists placed around us, and celebrating this as my identity, is self defeating to me. While I accept the label of "Palestinian," I find more in common with those foreigners who defend Palestinian rights because of their language and ideals. Yet at the same time, in an odd phenomenon that I continue to experience, I find it just as isolating from what Palestinian identity means and constitutes.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Palestine Fashion Alert: Tilda Swinton

I fell in love with the film Burn After Reading, and took a liking in actress Tilda Swinton. I did not delve too deeply into her acting career, as is characteristic of me. I wait for things to sink in before I become obsessive in my pursuit to find out more about people, places, and events. But I felt that, in her various films and her peculiar style, that she wasn't typical. Typical in the sense, oblivious or prone to fab and fame in the most ignorant sense of what fame can mean for so many.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Of Sirens

"Of Sirens" is a short story I wrote about a commute I took from Ramallah to Nablus, as the men headed out early that morning to their jobs and obligations, the sighs and empty glances filled the bus as news of another bombing of Gaza was announced on radio. Just weaving through the Israeli settlements that litter the ancient road, we were slicing the identity of Palestine over the rumble of an old engine just about ready to give out.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Palestinians: Stop Watching Turkish Soap Operas

Erdogan shaking hands with Ariel Sharon

Turning to Israel, Erdogan said: 'It is out of the question for Turkey to normalise ties with Israel" unless it apologises for last year's deadly flotilla raid, pays compensation and lifts a blockade imposed on Gaza. 'Israel sees itself above the law,' he said, and accused the Jewish state of 'turning a deaf ear' to Turkey's demands.--Ahram Online

Erdogan marches into the Arab League ready to tell the Arabs who were once subjects to his homelands colonization over a century ago. He tells them what they need to do together, and that he supports their endeavors. He seasons his call for a Palestinian state with typical nationalist imagery of raised Palestinian flags in a shared declaration of statehood before the UN. He is the hero of desperates.

The Arabs applauded. They have nothing else to applaud after doing so every time they look in the mirror.

Thursday, September 8, 2011

Sharek Youth Forum: teaching youth to abide by USAID

If you visit the home page of Sharek, an NGO based in Ramallah, you will find an add campaign running that says, Sharek (or partnership) is not allowed in Gaza, as Hamas continues to block NGO presence in the Gaza Strip

Throughout the NGO community, Sharek is known to be vicious and competitive. They often host a variety of events and trainings and in my opinion, ranks in the top 5 most influential NGOs in the West Bank. What is interesting is that it seems to exploit the voice of youth to comment on Gaza's particular attention to what NGOs are able to function as, without addressing what caused the need for such NGOs in the first place: Israel.

Saturday, September 3, 2011

The geography of Arab unrest

Did you buy those just to burn them?!

How do you boycott that which feeds you, Mr. Fayyad?

Palestinian Centre for Peace and Democracy fires woman for being ill

All over a bid for some aid from the EU, a young Palestinian woman was fired when she called  her employer, Palestinian Center for Peace and Democracy, early this morning to inform them that she was ill and would not be able to work.

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

"Mahmood, stop embarrassing us in front of God..."

Write the caption in the comments, winner will have their name as the title of the post. This one can get interesting. Lets see what everyone comes up with.


First time in my life: I want parking tickets

Didn't the PA score some million dollar aid grant to address traffic and parking?  I remember during the second intifada our first streetlights were crushed by Israeli tanks. But now Ramallah has even got these cool parking machines installed everywhere.

 They're not even a year old and are already busted.

Sunday, August 28, 2011

Saeb Erekat: The biggest fail of recent Palestinian history - Discussing the Arab Peace Initiative

Bitterlemons-org - Discussing the Arab Peace Initiative

Check out my article discussing the Price Tag Campaign that has impacted many Palestinians throughout the West Bank, and even recently, the bombarded Gaza Strip.

Reza Aslan, propose a solution to NGOization of Palestine

Al Arabiya news came out with this interesting article listing why Hamas in the Gaza Strip is regulating NGOs closely unlike the West Bank where NGOs seem to be thriving without any exit plan. This comes following Hamas' obstruction of an Amideast student from Gaza to fulfill a scholarship opportunity in the US.

The media is really milking the obstruction of NGO intervention in the Gaza Strip, which is highly touchy for even me to attempt to define for the outside reader. But perhaps my personal experience in grant writing, NGOs, and foreign relations can shed some light as to why Gaza is not easily willing to allow NGOs into the small, narrow, bombarded strip. For the outsider trying to bring aid to Palestine, like Reza Aslan, Hamas seems to be exactly what the media portrays it as: arrogant, stubborn, and not doing enough for the sake of its people.

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Hold on mister, just a few days left of Ramadan

I advised them to sell out!

Is it just me, or is the dude taking it personal because he led a bunch of failures... This is what pissed him off. Read more to figure out why Francis Boyl is taking critique of a UN bid by the Palestinian Authority a bit too personal.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Athletic support for Palestine

As underdogs, we get really happy when just about anyone takes our case and supports it. But then there are those few that do what ignorant celebrities do when they support Israel, without even knowing why, and support Palestine out of pure ignorance. Depends on the person you ask whether they'll tell you its a cheap stunt or symbolic enough to have fans start questioning alongside their idols.

Will the UN Admit its Economic Responsibility?

In a report published by the UN, the obvious factors are listed as threatening a stable future economy for Gaza and the West Bank. These range from import costs, to unstable job opportunities, a weak and untrained workforce, food insecurity, and the famous separation barrier. But the UN conveniently leaves itself and NGOs out of the picture, a convenience many will not even notice since the UN is paraded around as a Mother Taresa for brown folks.

September UN Bid: An Initiative to Transfer Our Representation

‎An initiative to transfer the Palestinians' representation from the PLO to a state will terminate the legal status held by the PLO in the UN since 1975 that it is the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian people, according to the document. --Maan News

I don't know if the refugees are cool with this, let alone the people who remain in what is left of the West Bank or Gaza. Let's not forget the question of those still in 1948 lands.