Saturday, 13 April 2013

The Lowercase Arab will now be hosted on Tumblr

Dear one and all,

The Lowercase Arab is now at Tumblr.

This domain will be closed soon. So check the Tumblr site for more updates!

Big love x

VIDEO: The chilling military indoctrination of Israeli children

If there's one video you should watch today, it's the one below. In this clip, Israeli children at the Armored Corps Memorial are able to explain to a reporter how to use grenades, missiles, and high-tech weapons. These children casually talk about how they plan to kill Arabs, how many Arabs they'd like to kill, and which kind of Arabs they want to kill (Palestinians from Gaza? The Lebanese? Syrians? Take your pick). This provides a chilling insight into the military indoctrination of Israeli children and the anti-Palestinian and anti-Arab racism instilled in them at a very young age.

It isn't only what's being said that widens your eyes. It's the casual feel of it all. The children are shown climbing and swinging off tanks at the memorial as if they were in a schoolyard jungle gym. They are having a feel for the weapons. A young girl is shown putting a military helmet on as though she was about to embark on her first tricycle ride.

The video also plays an upbeat children's song in Hebrew and opens up with a child singing "Saturday morning / It's a nice day / Mum drinks a lot of coffee". Yep, just another Saturday teaching children to lust over and fantasise about dead Arabs.

These are children like any other. Children who look restless, some are giggling, some are shy. And they are being raised as killing machines. This is what the state of Israel is creating. It makes armies out of children. They already know what platoons they want to join. One girl wants to be a ground combatant and one boy wants to join the notorious Givati brigade. Instead of thinking about being teachers or doctors or artists or singers - these kids are thinking about what they want to do in the army, first and foremost. To me, they are children soldiers. Perhaps in a different sense of the term. They are  not yet on the frontline, but they are prisoners to militaristic thinking, as is the rest of Israeli society. They are being preened and prepped to carry on military occupation and the suffering of Palestinians.

The exchanges are horrifying. 


An Israeli father is shown telling his kids: "I showed you the guns, right? The rifle, the MAG, the 50 caliber, the machine guns? The mortar and the grenade?"
Interviewer to daughter: "How do you use a hand grenade?"
Daughter: "You take the plug out and you throw it." Her father interjects, correcting plug with pin
Daughter, correcting herself: "You take out the pin and throw it at the enemy".


Interviewer: "What do you imagine when you're in a tank?"
Boy: "I picture a dead Arab and that makes me happy."


Interviewer: "Where would you want to do your army service?" 
Boy A: "My first choice would be Lebanon." 
Boy B: "Gaza."
Interviewer: "But we gave back Lebanon, we aren't fighting with Lebanon."
Boy: "That's okay, we'll be back."
Interviewer: "Do you hope that by the time you're a soldier, we'll be at war with Lebanon again?"
Boy: "Yes."

Tiny killing machines.

Link here.

Friday, 22 February 2013

My open letter to Alicia Keys. Rethink performing in Israel.

Dear Alicia Keys,

Let me preface this letter by saying that I have been a huge fan of you and your music while growing up. During my earlier years, I was (still am) mesmerised by your soulful voice, your knack for playing the piano beautifully, and your amazing hair. I had never wanted braids so badly the way I did after watching you sing Fallin' on MTV when I was around 8-years-old. I finally got around to getting "Alicia hair" when I was 12. I think there's a photo lying around the house somewhere of me beaming into the camera with braided hair while I tightly clutched onto my late cat, Oshkosh. But I digress. 

I'm writing this because I want you to rethink something. You are planning to perform in Tel Aviv later this year. And I'm asking you, and so are many others, to reconsider holding a concert in Israel.

Karma: action that has consequences

I know that many people all over the world enjoy your music. You have fans everywhere. But when an artist or band performs in Israel, they help to normalise Israel's treatment of Palestinians. It says to the Israeli people, the Palestinian people, the Israeli government and to the rest of the world that the current state of affairs, one where Palestinians do not enjoy full rights and have not since their land was colonised in 1948, is okay. Performing in Israel says inequality and discriminatory laws is not that big of a deal – that it can be treated lightly. But it is a big deal. Dark things happen in Palestine/Israel. Palestinians are living under Israeli military occupation today. They are subjected to apartheid laws - laws that discriminate against them based on their ethnicity. There are Jewish-only roads in the West Bank (occupied Palestinian territories) that Palestinians cannot travel on. There are Jewish-only buses that Palestinians cannot board. Racism against Palestinians infiltrates every aspect of Palestinian life, and yes, it's as simple as not being able to sit on the same bus. Palestinians do not even have the opportunity to refuse giving up their seat like the brave Rosa Parks did in 1955. Palestinian homes are demolished and Jewish-only colonies are built on their land. Those living in the blockaded Gaza and the West Bank would not be able to attend your concert because the Israeli occupation does not permit them to. Rethink performing in Israel.

Some people just want it all...
Some people live for the power...

Some people say music and politics shouldn't mix, but when people are mistreated and deprived of their human rights because of a political ideology and regime that dehumanises them and does not recognise their rights, their lives are inherently political. Everything that comes in touch with the people and the land cannot escape the politics, even if it tries to. A concert held in Israel is not performed in some kind of apolitical vacuum. Nokia Arena in Tel Aviv, where you plan to perform later this year, is not positioned inside a bubble or force-field that will magically separate your music or your concert-goers from the social, historical and political realities on the ground. No artist, no song, no lyric, no note, no beat is above or beyond what happens in Palestine.

When a group of people are systematically discriminated against for being born Palestinian, for not being a white Jew (African Jews in Israel are subjected to appalling treatment and racism because of their skin colour and background too), when Palestinians do not have the same access to education, when their water and agricultural and mineral resources are stolen and expropriated and capitalised on for Israel’s benefit, when they live under a crippling blockade in Gaza and have lived (or were unlucky not to live) through massacres these last several years, when they don't know when Israeli drones will strike next, when they don't feel safe in their own homes, schools and hospitals, when they don't have the right to travel freely, when most Palestinians living outside of Palestine do not have the right to return and will never have the chance to see their homeland, when Palestinians are indefinitely imprisoned, when a separation wall is built around them because they are deemed a "security threat", when they are constantly referred to as a "demographic threat" – it is political. 

And music, no matter how loudly played, cannot drown out these realities. But artists have the power to be conscious. Music can make conscious statements. Many great artists were born by questioning social injustices and criticising power and authority. Many movements were led by conscious songs - the background music to their resistance. 

I'm aware that you've travelled to South Africa before - a country stained by decades of apartheid. Many similarities have been drawn between the suffering of black South Africans in apartheid South Africa and Palestinians in apartheid Israel. Many South African activists, including Bishop Desmond Tutu, have said Palestinians have it worse. 

None of this is normal. To live the way Palestinians do - burdened by a relentless military occupation that watches them and controls them and restricts them - is not a normal way to live. It is no way for any person to live. And it should never be treated as though it is normal.

Alicia, stand on the right side of the history and join other artists who have refused to perform in Israel or had initially planned to but later reconsidered upon learning the extent of the injustices faced by Palestinians. Join Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, Cassandra Wilson, Stevie Wonders,  Gil Scott-Heron, Jon Bon Jovi, The Gorillaz, Elvis Costello, Cat Power, The Pixies, The Klaxons, Jason Moran, Natascha Atlas, The Yardbirds and many other musicians and bands who took action by deciding not to perform in apartheid Israel. Join Alice Walker, Arundhati Roy, Dustin Hoffman and many others who have endorsed the artistic and cultural boycott of Israeli apartheid.

You have a big heart, and you’ve openly supported humanitarian causes, so I’m hoping you will find it in your heart – in the name of human rights, human dignity, equality – to withdraw from performing in Israel. And may you one day be able to perform in a Palestine without occupation - a land where Palestinians and Israelis are equals.

Saturday, 19 January 2013


This is a small excerpt from a piece of short prose fiction (non-linear) I wrote a few years ago. It is set in a Palestinian refugee camp during one of the darkest years of the Lebanese Civil War. I would like to go back and rework it - perhaps extend it into a novel one day.

To my brother Jamil Suleiman, 23-08-1982. 
September dawns 
Our mother weeps into the clothes she mends 
The dough she folds 
The mint she washes 
The letters you send 
She is lost without 
Your voice 
Your gait 
Your embraces


Language is limited. Our vocabulary is finite. There is only so much we can say. Many words in other languages simply cannot be translated into English without losing their meaning and vice versa. Expressing yourself - talking - can be difficult when you can't find the right words. I'm a lover of English, a reader of things, a writer of stuff, but sometimes I find it really hard to say what I want or need to say. 

We sometimes find ourselves umm-ing and ahhing and going off on tangents and just being really inarticulate because our mind is scrambling to find the right words. Sure, some words are close enough, but sometimes you need the right words, and 'close enough' won't do. For a while, when friends asked me how I was, I would reply with "I don't know". Not because I didn't know, since deep down I knew how I was (though sometimes I really had no clue), but because words like 'great', 'good', 'fine' or 'not too great' were never entirely accurate. They just did not, and sometimes still don't, express what I'm feeling or what I'm thinking. In fact, they're stunting. I've finally dropped "I don't know" as a reply to "how are you?" because I was (unintentionally) confusing and worrying the hell out of some people. So, what am I meant to say? I feel indescribable. Things are indescribable. Beyond words. Inexpressible. It's incommunicable. I just am. I am.

But it's easier to say "I'm good, thanks".

While I love a good conversation, I love silence even more. Comfortable silence. Actions. Facial expressions. Eye contact. Just basking in someone's presence without the pressure to talk. People often feel the need to talk constantly - to fill the silence - but silence isn't a bad thing. It only becomes awkward if you think it's awkward. Sometimes, the greatest words are the words you never said.

I stumbled upon a blog called The Dictionary of Obscure Sorrows a while ago. It's a dictionary of made-up words for things, feelings and thoughts we experience but don't have words for in English.

It's not extensive at all and whoever runs it only posts every while or so, but I like to go back sometimes and scroll through to read - just to relate to something, to check out if I've felt that way recently, to be like 'yes, exactly!' 

Some of my favourite words from Obscure Sorrows are posted below. Have a look at the site. You might relate to some, or all. Make up some of your own too.

And my own contribution:

n. the state of hesitation and mental blankness when your mind is hopelessly searching itself for the right words - often non-existent - to properly express how you feel.

Thursday, 17 January 2013

A Day Project

I've created a new channel on Youtube - A Day Project Films.

I love filming and cinema, but I've never had the right equipment. I've been trying to save up for a pro camera so I can start shooting (but I haven't gotten very far, being the poor student that I am). However, instead of putting off filming, I decided yesterday to use whatever I have at my disposal. My iPhone 5. 

The purpose of A Day Project is to film, edit and upload short films/movies within the span of a day. It's a challenge I've set up for myself. It allows me to be creative, abstract and to improvise. Below is my first film. Check it out and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, 9 January 2013

Snow in Palestine

Snowing in Palestine. So beautiful. via @mikopeled

via @mikopeled
via Rashid Mashrawi

Making a Palestinian snow man:

It's snowing where my heart's at, but meanwhile in Sydney...!

Heat waves, sun and surf in Sydney

If Iran is merciless, what does that make Murica?

If you were a clergyman high up in the political ranks of the Islamic Republic of Iran – hypothetically speaking, of course – or perhaps even the Supreme Leader himself, would you use the atomic bomb if you had it?

If prominent British human rights barrister Geoffrey Robertson was still hosting the long-gone television series Geoffrey Robertson’s Hypotheticals on ABC today, he would force you into Ayotallah Khamenei’s shoes and robes and probe you about nukes.

The world is closely watching the Cold War-esque war of words between the US, Israel and Iran, and Robertson weighs in on it in his newly published book, Mullahs Without Mercy. The alliterative, catchy and, well, controversial title of the book sums up Robertson’s opinion of the entire fiasco: Iranian mullahs are merciless. He argues that Iran cannot be trusted with nuclear weapons because of its long list of human rights abuses.

I agree that the Islamic regime is not a bastion of human rights, but if Iran can't be trusted, how in the world can the United States and Israel be trusted? 

I haven't yet read the book, but in recent interviews with ABC’s Lateline and the BBC, Robertson sounds almost conspiratorial. He is absolutely sure – fervent head nodding and all – that Iran will acquire an operational nuclear bomb within a year or two, maybe three. He also says that current Israeli Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, will be re-elected this January and will strike Iran in “spring or early summer”. Robertson seems to have prophesised and laid out an itinerary for a looming World War 3. And I can’t help but scrunch my nose up a bit.

At this point, one of his predictions might materialise – the re-election of Netanyahu. Bibi will, without much doubt, serve another term, particularly after Israel's November assault on Gaza, aka “Operation Pillar of Defence” as the Israeli Defence Force calls it, or “Operation Pillar of Racism, Occupation and Bibi To Get Another Term” as I call it.

Robertson’s strong emphasis on Iranian nuclear acquisition downplays the west’s nuclear arsenal and "the empire's" historical relationship with nukes. The US and Israel are culpable of far more crimes against humanity than Iran, which is currently suffering from crippling economic sanctions and embargoes enforced and tightened by the US, the EU and Australia. Ordinary Iranians are bearing the brunt of rising food prices, a 40% drop in the value of the rial and a crumbling pharmaceutical sector, which I posted about earlier.

I’m not vindicating Iran’s stained human rights record and brutalisation of dissenting citizens and political opponents whatsoever. But what irks me is Robertson’s selective internationalism.

Have we forgotten Truman’s mercilessness when he used atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki? Or the many wars and invasions America has waged? Its coups and installations of friendly leaders (otherwise known as ‘spreading democracy’), like, hmm, Shah Pahlavi?

Keep in mind that the US has approximately 5000 nuclear warheads today. It has 900 military bases – and counting – in almost 150 countries. Obama has authorised extrajudicial killings, and has approved predator drone attacks that have left civilians dead in Pakistan, Yemen, Somalia and Libya.

And then there’s Israel, an apartheid state with its own nuclear arsenal that colonises and occupies indigenous Palestinians and Palestinian land and resources. Both Israel and the US are not signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, along with Pakistan, India and North Korea. And Iran’s the overshadowing nuclear threat?

This isn’t to say that Robertson isn’t critical of the west’s hypocrisy; he is a little in this instance – but not enough. Robertson doesn't seem too fussed about America's nuclear arsenal. He seems content enough with Obama’s promise to disarm. He also isn’t exactly disapproving of Britain’s Trident weapon program because, according to him, it’s a “refurbishment of an existing program”. Furthermore, he supports NATO intervention, just as long as international law is not breached. In other words, America can police the world and violate the sovereignty of states as long as its strikes are "surgical". In the case of Iran today, he thinks the US won’t be "surgical" and will hit hard if it leads an invasion, and thus believes that NATO should stay out otherwise we will witness something reminiscent of the invasion of Iraq in 2003. But what he fails to see is that invasions, in general, are never "surgical". I wonder why he thinks there are exceptions.

These sentiments and this kind of selective internationalism is evident in his foreword for the Melbourne University publication A Question of Zion too. He applies moral equivalency to Palestinians and the state of Israel, when it is unarguably an uneven conflict. His foreword is laced with a kind of neutrality that dismisses the occupier/occupied state of affairs. He writes: “Both sides are under a duty to negotiate but neither has been prepared, at least simultaneously, to give peace a chance.” This is extremely biased political rhetoric that is disguised as objectivity. How can Palestinians bargain and negotiate their rights and land with the very entity that is compromising those rights and stealing their land? Why is a human rights barrister overlooking justice?

Robertson also once said that international law is for all and that the International Criminal Court is a court for the whole world, but the reality is that it isn’t. Western powers are above the law and are excluded from accountability. The ICC is a racist institution and has only ever tried African leaders - from Congo to Sudan to Uganda. The west is not subjected to any trials and tribulations for its own crimes.

Scrutiny of Iran is valid, but it is examined with a colonialist slash post-colonialist attitude that the brown man is more trigger-happy and ruthless than the white man. Robertson should be more critical of the west and maybe even pen a book about Congressmen and Members of the Knesset without MercyI will read his book and report back with more. 

Friday, 30 November 2012

Things Palestinians should say to wanky people who say they want to go to Israel

My face.

What do you say or do when a person who, upon finding out that you are Palestinian, replies with: "Oh, I want to go to Israel!"

Similarly, what do you say or do when a person replies with: "Ah, yes, Pakistan! I have a Pakistani friend."

Similarly, what do you say or do when a person replies with: "Where's/what's that?" 

Similarly, what do you say or do when a person replies with awkward silence.


All of the above makes me want to throw a proverbial shoe or two at the person.

But the one that makes me want to aim a pair of ballet flats for real and not just in my mind Iraqi-journalist-style is "Oh, I want to go to Israel!". Someone said it to me this week. This person essentially told me, in a handful of words, that they want to frolic in my dispossessed ancestral homeland currently settled and colonised by the state of Israel. What is it about "Palestinian" that elicits that sort of response? Whatever happened to just saying "oh, cool/right/interesting" and moving along - just like how the rest of us do it?

People have said similar things to me a few times before, and I normally reply with "I want to go to Palestine too" while staring long and deep into their soul (and mentally filing them into my You're A Dick category), but this time, instead of saying something, I just sniggered to myself and let the person crap on. 

So I thought I'd have a few responses handy for myself and other Palestinians who have to put up with this kind of snideness. Things I should've said slash things that I will say next time slash things you should say next time in response to "Oh, I want to go to Israel":

"Mate. Are you aware that you just glorified colonialism and denied my heritage and ancestral homeland by acknowledging an occupying state? You know you just did that, right?"
 "Oh, you want to go to Israel? Isn't it cool how you, this stranger, can enter freely while millions of indigenous Palestinian refugees are denied entry and right of return?"
"Oh, you want to go to Israel? Do you also want to go back to South Africa in 1950?" 
"Oh, you want to go to Israel? Are you doing a case study on apartheid and military occupation? Investigating on the ground I suppose?" 
"Oh, you want to go to Israel? You might get to play 'Who Can Keep Their Eyes Open The Longest Around Tear Gas'! A classic." 
"Oh, you want to go to Israel? Make sure to take photos of those weird looking third-class citizens and upload them on Instagram. Use the hashtag #ActuallyJordanian." 
And one that's simple and straightforward, "Oh, you want to go to Israel? It was nice knowing you."

Palestine is from the river to the sea

My response to Palestine being granted non-member observer status today in the response to the declaration of a "Palestinian state"...

...and to those waving flags in those who are enthused...

...I can't join you.

I'll celebrate when Palestine "from the river to the sea" is restored, not this scrap of bantustan overseen by the collaborative Palestinian Authority. 

I'll celebrate when the right of return is put into action and the refugees return. 

I am happy to see support for Palestine and countries standing on the better side of history - in defiance of US and Israeli aspirations - but I hope that they will realise that these "symbolic gestures" are a sham and a compromise, and move to stand on the right side of history with the refugees for a free and equal Palestine. 

From the Jordan river to the Mediterranean sea.

Until then, I'm holding my breath.

Tuesday, 27 November 2012

Australia's abstention and fear of losing Arab-Australian votes

The Sydney Morning Herald has reported that Julia Gillard has been forced to withdraw support for Israel regarding this week's upcoming UN vote to give Palestine observer status. The majority of Gillard's cabinet, including foreign minister and Israel apologist Bob Carr, pressured her to abstain from voting instead of voting no.

From the article:
"Ms Gillard told the caucus meeting that her personal view was to vote no because she believed the UN vote, which will pass easily with the overwhelming support of UN member states, would hurt the peace process because the US has threatened to withdraw funding for the Palestinian Authority."
Right. If I had a dollar for every time I've read or heard a person say "it will hurt the peace process" - that farce of a process, the non-existent process, the sham of a process, a hollow initiative, an empty gesture, an illusion - I'd be able to buy out the Palestinian Authority from the United States and Israel. 

So, according to the article, where did this pressure come from and why is Australia going to abstain?
  • Former Labor foreign minister Gareth Evans warned Labor MPs that "they would be on the wrong side of history if they stood with the US and Israel against the rest of the world". Perhaps Israel's current siege on Gaza is rustling some jimmies?
  • The pro-Palestinian Labor left want Gillard to vote for the resolution - to stand on the right side of history.
  • Labor right members, surprisingly, support an abstention because it feels that the government is too pro-Israel.
  • MPs in western Sydney are worried about losing their seats - they are coming under a lot of pressure from constituents with Middle Eastern/Arab backgrounds.

How significant is an abstention?

In the large scheme of things (like, you know, apartheid and this thing called occupation), it's not very significant at all. A "yes" vote would have been a step forward for Australia. An abstention is fence-sitting. And neutrality in the face of injustice and remaining silent is complicity. 

However, in saying that, an abstention is still better than an outright no, which the US and Israel were relying on. And given that Australia voted against UNESCO membership for Palestinians this year, this is at least some sort of advancement, particularly since Australia will be abstaining from its newly secured Security Council seat. Australian politicians are slowly recognising and acting on the Australian people's growing support for Palestine and Palestinian self-determination.

Tuesday, 13 November 2012

If there's any kind of magic...

"I believe if there's any kind of god, it wouldn't be in any of us. Not you or me, but just this little space in between. If there's any kind of magic in this world it must be in the attempt of understanding someone, sharing something. I know, it's almost impossible to succeed but...who cares really? The answer must be in the attempt."

I don't normally come across things that strike me, but this quote by Celine in Before Sunrise did. I had to share.

Sunday, 11 November 2012

Rejecting your labels

I watched the documentary Fix ME at the Palestinian Film Festival over the weekend. The director and main subject, Raed Andoni, said something in the film that resonated with me. He reflected on the categorisation and labelling of people. He hates being put into 'frames' as he called it. He despises being defined, pigeonholed, stereotyped and people expecting him to make certain films or do things a certain way. The reason why people put others into 'frames', he explained, is because it helps them understand that person. 

I found myself agreeing as I looked up at Andoni’s troubled face onscreen. It’s not that I’ve ever disagreed with those sentiments, because it seems pretty obvious, right? But it occurred to me just how much categorising bothered me. And it also bothered a close friend who pointed it out right after the film. People see others through One-Dimensional Tinted Glasses and expect them to be predictable and stay predictable for the sake of their own understanding.

We are more than labels and ideas and stereotypes and prejudices slapped onto us by others for themselves  given to us to assist their own understanding of who we are. And if you’re thinking "ha, that's fresh for someone who writes posts about Arab stereotypes", well, fuck you. I mean, if you can't see that they're ironic and satirical and poking fun of stereotypes, then you’re one of the most blunt, corroded and damaged tools in the shed (and you’re not even on any of the shelves of this shed – you’re a rusty pair of pliers in a biodegradable garbage bag sitting in the corner, waiting to be disposed, but the owner of said shed keeps postponing dropping it off at the dump). But I digress.

In regards to categorising and labelling and defining and constructing others, I'm not just speaking about hyphenated-collective-identity-politics or group stereotypes, but interactions on a personal, individual and micro level too. If there’s something that particularly stands out about your character or your interests or what you do, it stays with you because it’s the easiest way for people to understand you. Despite their intentions, our nearest and dearest friends and relatives, our mates and colleagues and neighbours and acquaintances and dentists and those people you once went to high school with or shared that one class with (and less than ten words) last semester all label you and sometimes look at you through One-Dimensional Tinted Glasses

It's not necessarily a terrible thing to label. We need to label things otherwise we'd be spluttering on salty tea a helluva lot. Or snorting lines of baking soda. It's just how we humans are. You know, first impressions and such. Deducing-shit-about-you and all. You live here or went there or dress like this or speak like that therefore you must be like this and this and this. And some of it can and does ring true and is right, but what's frustrating is people who do not – cannot – see beyond it, despite you allowing them to see beyond the set image they have of you. Not that 'the set image' is necessarily bad, just that there's more, and if they manage to get a glimpse into the second or third dimension, they’re taken aback by it.

Take me for example. I'm a Palestinian who strongly believes in Palestinian rights, equality and self-determination. I'm a young woman who strongly believes in women’s rights, equality and self-determination.

I’m those things (not just those things, though) and I feel that way about those things (and other things) and I’m not mysterious about those things if they happen to come up in discussion. So people immediately see me as feisty and bold and that I’m the revolutionary slash Leila Khaled variety. That I'm nationalistic when no, no I'm not. Yeah, sure, I can be feisty and quick-witted and political and defensive, but it doesn't end there. I'm also dainty and bubbly and who knows if I'm introverted or extroverted and does it even matter? I can be clumsy and confused and slow to respond, and I’m soft and sentimental and affectionate, inspired, jaded, motivated and demotivated and I don’t know how to say no when I should sometimes, and I’m not angry at the world, because too much anger is toxic, I'm just disappointed in how some things work (and angry sometimes).

Sometimes I just want to talk about how shit the Palestinian Authority is and how Oslo was a failure, and other times I just want to tell you that my earphones are tangled and could you please be a darl and untangle them for me. Sometimes I’m at rallies, and other times I’m either on the weird part of YouTube or I’m curled up watching Friends re-runs, gushing at Ross, and burning my fingers while trying to rescue a Tim Tam that fell into my cup of coffee (and then realising that I’ve gone through half a packet and telling myself that I don’t care about anything or anyone anymore and why don’t I have my own apartment in Manhattan again?).

And hey, as a side note while I’m at it, because this is my blog and not the New Yorker and I’m allowed to go on incoherent tangents whenever I like – I feel iffy when people I don't know well tell me that they admire my "passion for Palestine", like it’s some kind of sport or hobby and they’re patting me on the back for it. “Wow, I love how passionate you are about it”. You can be passionate about solving a Rubik’s cube and salsa dancing, about history or art, but having an opinion and being concerned about the mistreatment of people and demanding equality for them, whoever they may be, is some kind of display of passion?

That was cathartic. I forgot what I was saying. 

Ah, yeah, labels. I am more than them. You are more than them. Where was I going with this?

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Hands off Iran

Al Jazeera published an op-ed on the unfolding human catastrophe in Iran

"Some statistics are very telling. Tens of thousands of Iranian boys and young men are haemophilic and need certain drugs that must be imported. Many of them may need surgery for a variety of reasons, but in the absence of proper drugs for their haemophilia illness, the surgeries cannot be performed, because the bleeding could not be stopped."

These sanctions are criminal. US foreign policy is a shitty horror film on repeat. And so many of us throughout history have been forced to watch the same old tiring string of events and imperialist catastrophes. The channel can't be changed, we're straitjacketed and our eyes are forced open with clamps a la A Clockwork Orange. 

It's been said a million times, but US/Israeli hypocrisy is stunning. No surprises here, but the trickery and deviousness continues to blow my mind. Israel owns the most nuclear weapons in the region and refuses to be a signatory of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (putting aside the fact that the treaty is a farce like most, since the US persistently violates it anyway). Iran, at least, is a signatory, and allows inspection of its nuclear facilities. The US holds Israel to alternate-world standards. 

Tuesday, 4 September 2012

Mashrou3 Leila won't open for the Red Hot Chili Peppers

After receiving pressure from their fans and BDS activists, particularly online, Lebanese group Mashrou3 Leila has announced that they will no longer be opening for the Red Hot Chili Peppers in Beirut on September 6.

Fist pump!

The Red Hot Chili Peppers are scheduled to perform in Israel on September 10 after performing in Lebanon. RHCP have been asked and petitioned by fans and activists, including Israelis, to respect the BDS call and to cancel the Tel Aviv concert.

If you know me or follow me on Twitter, you'll know that Mashrou3 Leila is among one of my most favourite bands. I gush about them a lot. I was disappointed to know that they accepted opening for RHCP, who have not responded to the call, in the first place.

Mashrou3 Leila has always claimed to support the Arab revolutions - revolutions motivated by the demand for freedom - but Palestine seemed to be the exception. I'm glad that they have corrected their stance and won't succumb to normalising Israeli apartheid. Boycotts, divestments and sanctions are a powerful way to challenge Israeli treatment of Palestinians. Tel Aviv is not the music or cultural hub it tries to project itself as. It is the capital of an apartheid state on stolen Palestine.

When Palestinians are finally liberated from this military occupation and are equals, I hope Palestinians and Israelis can finally enjoy a good concert together.

Shim El Yasmine (Smell the Jasmine) by Mashrou3 Leila:

A brief encounter with a racist

On the way to class yesterday, I bumped into a friend I had not seen in a while. We walked over to campus and stood by a staircase to chat. A man suddenly approached us, boldly looked at my friend and said (paraphrased):

“Do you know about that Imam in Pakistan? The one who framed the eleven-year-old and tried to get her jailed? That was disgusting. Will he be going to jail for that?”

Now let’s get some things about the situation clear. My friend is very visibly Muslim. She wears the headscarf. She’s also ethnically South Asian. We’ll call her K.

K politely said that she had no clue.

But the man, up close and towering over the two of us, insisted that K answer for the Imam.
I interjected. I wasn’t going to let this bold twat walk around bullying people. The exchange went along the lines of this (close, but not ad verbatim):

Me: “Excuse me. Why are you asking her? Do you think because she wears the headscarf she’s some kind of authority on the case or somehow involved?”

Man: “I’m just asking. I want to know if he’s going to get any punishment.”

Me: “Why are you asking her?”

Man: He dodged the question. “I want to know if this Imam is going to go to jail for this.”

Me: “You want to know by approaching a Sri Lankan Muslim stranger in a headscarf? Are you serious? Read the news or ask someone who's a legal expert in the Pakistani criminal system if you’re actually interested in the sort of outcome he’ll face.”

Man: “How? Where am I going to find a legal expert?”

Me: “Um, use the Internet for news? Don’t approach Muslim women and interrogate them about the Imam. Take your racism somewhere else.”

Man: “I beg your pardon?”

Me: “No one has the patience for your racism. Leave us alone.”

Man: “I beg your pardon! I’m not racist! I have more Indian friends than you! What the Imam did was evil!” (This man is so bigoted and devoid of any intellect that anything related to South Asia is presumably Indian).

Me: “You’re racist for insinuating that she is somehow culpable and must explain his actions. Don’t speak to us.”

Man: “I beg your pardon?”

Me: “I said don’t speak to us.” Twat.

His spouse (I assume) appeared suddenly (what the hell where they doing wondering around the law building?) and yelled: “You don’t speak to us!”

They then both hurried out of the building and just before leaving, the spouse turned to K and said: “I wouldn’t want to speak to you anyway!”

K was, understandably, shaken by all this intimidation.

And I was astounded by his audacity to confront a stranger with such a filthy motive. I was also surprised at his own astonishment when I challenged him. Was he used to cornering and intimidating people without getting called out for being an uninspired bigot?

What’s most disturbing is that these views find some kind of legitimacy and validity because Islamophobic, racist, sexist and homophobic leaders and commentators in Australia encourage it. When you have people like Alan Jones on air going on tirades against non-white immigration and, recently, claiming that women politicians are “destroying the joint”, it’s no wonder why this man believes he can just broadcast his bigotry to any stranger.

If I was to go by this man's logic, I should have approached every white stranger and demanded an explanation for the Norwegian judicial system when Anders Breivik was sentenced to 21 years in prison. “Hey, white person. Why is 21 years the max for a mass-murdering terrorist? Will he be getting a longer sentence? I have Swedish friends!”

The fact of the matter is that Muslims are expected to explain, justify and apologise for the actions and wrongdoings of other Muslims, no matter how far removed they are from said person or crime. It's a vicious double standard and it's one that's reserved for all minorities. Unfortunately, it's going to take a lot more than an exchange like this to stamp out racism.