Sunday, May 13, 2012

"I told the Israelis please please please..."

In an article published by the New York Times Mahmood Abbas has outdone himself again in altitude achieved as he brown nosed Israel.  The article states,
“If they help me to get weapons, I’m helping them because I’m promoting security,” Mr. Abbas said of the Israelis. “We want security to stop terrorism. We have a need for these legal weapons. I have complaints from the security apparatus: ‘We don’t have guns and bullets.’ ”
New York Times writer Jodi Ruderen went on to describe what seemed to be grovelling by Mahmood Abbas, contradicting his loud speech last year at the UN for an independent and recognized Palestinian nation.

Mahmood Abbas "told the Israelis: 'Please, please please" to recognize the demands of hunger striking prisoners else chaos would break loose and be "bad for us."

Just this week video was released from a solidarity tent in Al Bireh for hunger striking prisoners. Abbas' security were shoving individuals aside as those in solidarity chanted for Mahmoud Abbas to be more accountable to the plight of Palestinian prisoners. Instead the Palestinian Authority chairman and top collaborator with Israel mumbled a few words as he passed through the crowd of mothers holding portraits of their imprisoned sons.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

On the prospects of exile

It began with the thought that this may be it. Yesterday morning I rolled out of bed, put on my boots, and hoped that I would be scarred by the day's trip. That a branch would rip through my skin, that I would grate my knees upon rocks, that some insect would sting me. I wanted something permanent to take with me when I would leave Palestine in a few weeks.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Expulsion and Prayer : Visa Run into Jordan

My first visa run to Jordan was a trip into the unknown. No one in my family has been to Jordan. Since my family lost their Palestinian IDs, we always came here as tourists to our own homeland. But now that I was living here, it became very difficult to maintain "legal" residency. One way people try to extend their visas is by doing a "visa run" to Jordan, leaving Palestine and reentering on a new visa. Here is how my first experience went, originally written and published in March 2010.
Part 1:
march 15 2010

It was an emergency trip I had no time to contemplate over. I had no time to reflect what outfits would be appropriate. If I had remembered to bring extra toothbrushes or enough hair clips was beyond me. I came home from work frantic and already with little sleep, packing my bag to head to Jordan. I took what was most important to me. Those gifts from special friends I keep as reminders of memories and futures. Those W-2 forms because I had not yet filled out my taxes. Books I cherished, narratives I knew would keep me company. I had never been to Jordan in my life, and although a great chunk of its population is Palestinian, my family never had the impulse to go. I had several aunts there, some passed before I got to meet them. And I had random cousins, dozens of them, who shared the same blood as me--yet remained but names and blank faces in my mind.

Dogs and Students, Teachers and Dogs: Education in Aid Dependent Palestine

Originally published:  September 16, 2010

I want to try to explore what education is, what it can constitute, and what it can obstruct as well. Yes, the thing we call education can be just as much a liberator as it can be an oppressor. I wish I blogged more about my experience in Watts and Compton and the Los Angeles area in general about educational inequalities. Alas, I was busy being a student myself.

Now I am at the other end in another world. And now that I have nearly a year of surveying what education is in the Occupied Territories, perhaps I can draw some parallels and throw in some research.

I include the above picture because it blatantly contrasts groups or ideologies or even approaches. We can call this pedagogy, any fancy word really. Here you see one of nine civil rights activists, a black woman walking with books in hand. You see angry white women. You see men meant to enforce law or protection or order in the backdrop, along with other civilian men.

A message to Netanyahu: Saturday’s attack on bicyclists is nothing new for the Israeli military

On Saturday April 14th, a peaceful bike ride surveying the springtime beauty of the Jordan Valley was met with the ugly presence of the Israeli military, which resorted violence against bike riders who attempted to continue their casual journey up Route 90 in an act to challenge the apartheid policy Israel enforces in the Jordan Valley, and for that matter, the rest of the occupied West Bank.

The policy by which Israel treats the Jordan Valley is in fact parallel to the disregard and brute violence witnessed on Saturday, which left one Palestinian woman and two international activists from Denmark and Holland injured after being struck in the head with an M-16 rifle. While international press is requesting the name and details of the internationals harmed, it seems as though the Palestinian woman injured is left as a mere afterthought of Israel’s smearing handprint on the dignity and rights of Palestinians. The treatment of Palestinians at the whim of Israel cannot go ignored, and humanization is only true when it is upheld across the board. 

Monday, March 19, 2012

Cedar Tree

As I read old poetry I scribbled years ago, I stumble upon one that I actually used to perform in spoken word performances. I am beginning to realize the rhythm of it, but it may not be obvious to the reader. 

Another poem about a massacre. October 25 2006.


On this anniversary of the Iraq Invasion by the United States, I began to think of younger years as the war continued and more innocent people died. I remember telling my high school friends, when we graduate university, we will still be somehow involved with this war. And here we are today.

The following poem is one I wrote following the events in Haditha. That this was written nearly 6 years ago and millions of graves away--truly saddens me. What a travesty the US has committed, and will only continue to commit, so long as it views the world as strictly its own. 

Anyways, here is what I wrote when I was 18. I was in a phase of religious renewal, and very much (and still) disappointed with the Muslim nations. Sadly, little has changed.

Friday, March 16, 2012

When writing about death

In my various roles and jobs here, I become the framer of pain. I am the one who packages it into a report, or a web story, or a presentation. I create media campaigns to create awareness. I take the life of a human being, snip at it according to my narrow understandings and experiences, and make it into something presentable.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

A message to Eva Longoria: Modeling for ethnic cleansing is not activism

 The show "Desperate Housewives" has won the comedic and dramatic actress, Eva Longoria, much acclaim across the US and the world, as her image glows from the box families spend much time facing. And this week, as Western media continued to ignore Israel's gross attack on Gazan civilians, Longoria was off to model something much more older and dull than a Buick. Played by Eva Longoria, Gaby, one of the desperate housewives, has to take up an embarrassing job as a car show model at the mall to make ends meet in an episode that aired during the first season. This week Longoria seemed to be playing a similar role in Israel's misleading peace loving PR campaign, while Israel sent missile kisses to Gaza, exploding in blushes of innocent blood as the actress posed for the cameras. 

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

I sit upon these steps and wait

Originally published October 25 2010

The difference between nature and the human mind is that so long as the mind functions, all things can stay alive. Those flowers died on that step, blew into the wind, and disappeared.

And perhaps that is nature's way of moving on. Nature does not know emotion.  It continuously adapts. A new flower emerges, much like the one before it. 

Yet a single memory makes it near impossible to replace a great man or woman. The mind deeply roots memories, discriminating and deciding what is relevant to life. And they live. Even the ones that haunt us.

I remember this day, when I stumbled down from my home only days after my arrival, picking the flowers of winter, and placing them on this step--a step I climbed in my childhood and into adulthood. The first time I ever came to this distant place, I begged my mother to take me to the fields and pick flowers with me to dry them. I remember a blood red flower, and I stuck it between pages of childhood illustrations. 

The last stone

Written March 11 2011

This is the final stone I cast into the dark, sky waters of faith.
Waves ripple the stars with the yearnings of a destitute soul
And land at the pillar where Satan made his appearance:
in my mind.

Monday, March 12, 2012

Braving the storm

The "naive ones" confront the storm. They brace themselves for its dark clouds and feel the sting of its first drops in luck. The gust of wind that pushes against them without sight of an ending to ominous clouds of abuse, the lack of no one to hold onto as they endure, is the survival of the soul battling the cage that usurps its free spirit.

Because they dared to challenge it.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Poisoned Date Palms

"Over there is like here, neither better nor worse. But I am from here, just as the date palm standing in the courtyard of our house has grown in our house and not in anyone else’s. The fact that they came to our land, I know not why, does that mean we should poison our present and future?"

Friday, March 2, 2012

One of the coldest seasons in the last 20 years

And yet, Palestine is ever so beautiful despite horrid Zionist Occupation:

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Returning to Palestine: Dismantling the caged identity

My grandfather, buried
in Northern California

I am the oldest of four children, and so I became the carrier of hopes and aspirations my parents seemed unable to reach. While my father immigrated to the US when he was 15, with only his early childhood and teenage years in Palestine, they  are the bulk of his memories. It was these he related to me: the warm bread his mother made, the cold of winter, the water wells, his father’s visits from the US, his ignorance to how poor they were but the reality of their humble happiness.

My grandmother,
buried in Al Bireh, Palestine
And as a result of these stories, it became my own determination to bring forth the years we spent in diaspora, to hopefully return to live in Palestine. My first visit was when I was five, just shortly after the conclusion of the first intifada. I ran back to the US to relate to my kindergarten teacher the destitution I had seen, wearing a shirt with a Palestinian  flag on it that my parents had dressed me in. It was the apparel of someone baptized by the struggle. With my wild hair in my face, I jumped in front of my teacher to tell her where I had went, the soldiers I had seen, the taste of Rukab and kanafe and barbeque. I had lived in my father’s childhood. I saw those who were left, his uncles, the elders that entertained the stories I had heard my father once speak. The narrative of my father was still alive in my childhood, I lived it for two months, and you would hear them all, all the adults, laugh well into the night.

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Hamas shopping cart full as Israel empties Al Aqsa

In a speech last week given at Al Azhar, Ismail Haniya rallied worshipers during the Friday congregational prayers in light of  the plight of Palestinian, Muslim worshipers in Jerusalem, who were being violently put down by Israeli forces. While the screen split between the reality of Al Aqsa under the Judiazation of Jerusalem and Haniya's speech, one side of the screen shows suffering while the other shows lobbying done for an interest outside of Jerusalem. Haniya was loading his shopping cart with Egyptian cries of support, televised into propaganda,  after cutting ties with Bashar al Assad. Leading the chanting and later being seen paraded in the street, Haniya decried Iran, Hezbollah, and Bashar al Assad in Egypt's capital and heart of its own uprisings. 

Today's Arab Nationalism

Cartoon by Omar Abdelat

Sunday, February 26, 2012

Victim of the number game: Hana Al Shalabi re-arrested

The number game Israel plays as it arrests Palestinians is nothing but a mere smudging of numbers to satisfy the agenda of Zionists. Within the period of the first wave of the prisoner swap deal, an equivalent amount of Palestinians were arrested as those released. 309 still remain in administrative detention today, voiceless and still without charge that would justify their arrest.

The preemptive nature of colonization is nothing about security, but is a means of collective punishment. And sadly, some of those released during the prisoner swap deals have only found themselves in Israeli prisons once again. As Israeli continously violates the human rights of Palestinians, and continues to arrest Palestinians without charges and imprisoning them, the mechanism of Israeli military remains unchallenged despite the prisoner swap deal. While numbers of prisoners exchanged, there was certainly no will for Israel to change its policy as it continues to oppress Palestinians.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

I was trying to reach the rainbow

Frustrated by the news of Friday's clashes in Jerusalem and violence in Al Khalil (Hebron) I attempted to go to Qalandia checkpoint amid news that clashes had broken out there. I weaved through the mess of Kufr Akkab, which is disenfranchised by the Palestinian Authority and Israel and literally sits in filth, potholes, and busted water pipes.

Finally I turned onto the main road where the UN Boys School is located, only to find that traffic was so backed up that cars were driving along the gutter, going against traffic. I slowed down, unable to see the actual checkpoint. It was obvious it was shut down. Cars were coming at  me from the wrong direction, including an ambulance. That is when I spotted this rainbow

Whether or not it was the young martyr, Talat Ramia, who was on that ambulance will always be on my mind. I turned around and ran against traffic just like the others. I followed the ambulance back home, as I live next door to the hospital where martyrs die. I saw the ambulance head back to the checkpoint for more. I got out of the car, went inside, had lunch.

The noise of sirens does not bother me anymore.

Black Hebrew or Israel House Slave

These Israeli Zionists religiously believe their Jewish God has chosen them to replace the outdated European colonialism with a new form of colonialism, so well disguised that it will enable them to deceive the African masses into submitting willingly to their "divine" authority and guidance, without the African masses being aware that they are still colonized. 
- Malcolm X, Egyptian Gazette, September 17, 1964
How can one really liberate oneself when their identity has to be reconstructed from the shards of violent, American slave trade? While Malcolm X grew up in a Christian household, he became a Muslim and yet he always remained a victim of the American experience no matter how free he felt in his identity. 

If the Christian gospel was not attractive, and Muslims were seen as something foreign to the American narrative, what else could an African American identify with when their very identity itself had been manipulated and erased by American and European colonists?

Friday, February 24, 2012

Occupy Movements take a word of colonization

Of all the words to choose, when language is one of the building blocks of oppression, they had to choose occupy? Minorities talk about how offensive the word is while certain people talk about ownership, space, control, and essentially use the same terminology of the oppressor to justify their movement for "justice." Like one of the speakers says, it is amazing how capitalism is ingrained that branding seems like a necessity.

Don't occupy. Liberate. And coming from Palestine, the word occupy can never become a good thing. It is a word where you take space. This should not be about taking. By using these words it will easily flip into more oppression. Words have that much power. Liberate your minds first, then talk about space.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

From California to Palestine: Prisoner dignity is human dignity

The common struggle is often overlooked and complicated with nationalism or other forms of sectarianism. Solidarity is communicated often but sometimes supporters do not immediately decipher the relationship between these struggles, overlooking human dignity as the main relation between all struggles of justice. The conditions of prisons in various societies are indicators of that society's values. And when it comes to those locations where who you are can be enough to get you into prison, the identity of the oppressor whether American, British, or Israeli  is merely the same, just dressed up a little differently in each location. The accent may be different, but prisons in most societies speak the language of dehumanization.

Muslims remain silent as Palestinians cry for help in Jerusalem

While Khader Adnan dies silently, Jerusalem also slowly dies under Zionist oppression:

Friday, February 3, 2012

Donor Opium: The impact of international aid to Palestine

For twenty years now the international donor community has financially supported Palestinian institution-building, infrastructure development, the economy, public employees' salaries, health and education, social welfare, the police, electricity production, private credit guarantees, and the bigger part of the civil society organizations with regards to democracy promotion, human rights, tolerance, women rights etc.

Peace and the establishment of a Palestinian state have been the declared goals of all the support. But actual results are the fragmentation and pacification of the Palestinian people.

This documentary film, directed by Mariam Shahin and George Azar, and funded by the Rosa Luxemburg Foundation, features Palestinian criticism of this externally funded "development".

Thursday, February 2, 2012

Till Oum Kulthoum Sings

Let us live in the eyes of the night

Where the children spring from broken mattresses
Into graveyards and underpasses 
Where they still huddle together to listen to radios

All one thousand and one nights
They have eyes in the carnage of Cairo

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

In Photos: Washing Ramallah Clean

15 minutes outside and you will drown in the tears of Ramallah. She is glowing with confusion and smeared with the pollution of politics. Lost in her emotions we shiver and warm our hearts with heat artificially replacing what once was tradition. As Ramallah cries, less people frequent her. They run from her. They go back to their villages and talk about how cold she was.

Click here for more images
But what about us who have to stay here? What do we call home except the roads repaved so diplomats have a more comfortable ride, the spots where old houses now have four stories built atop , and all the English scarring the face of abused Arabs?

We know Ramallah because she is inside of us, and we cry with her and wander in her streets trying to set her free. We walk through one memory best known by constant recitation, turning the corner where the son has inherited his father's shop, and we look for our grandmothers and grandfathers now in a place overcome with the paintbrush of foreign taste and normalization between vendors of coffee and spices.

Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Palestine Fashion Alert: Thobe made "Sexy"

Make it sexy, wear it with stockings, or add red heels? 

Looks like these people are trying to make a few bucks by Westernizing a traditional Palestinian dress. It does not stray too far from Forever 21's attempt at "ethnic" and "tribal"  clothing in the name of style. Just recently Palestinians found their traditional scarf being manufactured by name brands, while the only factory to produce the authentic keffiya scarf, located in Hebron, still struggles to remain open.

Say no to knock off culture. 

If you are Palestinian and told your grandmother to wear her thobe sexy, she would proudly tell you she is sexy just the way she is.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Real Madrid really standing in solidarity with Palestine?

According to the Palestine News and Info Agency, Wafa, the popular football club Real Madrid is taking initiative to support Palestinians despite some shady photographs of the team players with Israeli war criminals.

In a partnership with UNRWA, Real Madrid's support will apparently help 10,000 Palestinian refugee children. As the Real Madrid Foundation and UNRWA unite they outlined the following benefits to their endeavor as "a goal for peace:"