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.

BEING PALESTINIAN: MAKING SMALL TALK AWKWARD SINCE 1948.

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 UN...my response to the declaration of a "Palestinian state"...

...and to those waving flags in celebration...to 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.

Wednesday, 29 August 2012

Searching for Jerusalem


This is a creative short story (fictional) I wrote several years ago for high school English. I rediscovered it while cleaning out some of my documents! I thought I'd share the writings of younger me. I like to think my writing has somewhat improved...





“If the olive trees knew the hands that planted them, their oil would become tears,” my grandmother said, whispering the poignant words of a Palestinian poet as we stood beside the olive tree in our backyard. The verse silently resonated in the air. It remained lingering that night, like musical notes dancing around me.

It was dusk. The sapphire sky was stained with a brilliant orange and pink – the sun’s farewell kisses. The smell of summer hung in the evening air and the backyard stood still. A few stars crept out, like lanterns, scattered and distant.

My Teta – my grandmother – lived with us in Australia.

She was granted permanent residency.

The day Teta landed here was harrowing. She cried despairingly, lamenting her loss of Palestine and the land, home and life she had always known.


She shed one tear for

Every

Grain

Of soil that once crumbled beneath her feet in Palestine.


Teta’s loss was first officially declared in 1948. Documented, validated and filed away forever. It was proclaimed once again upon her arrival to Australia, like a bold red stamp across her heart, the ink fusing into her blood and tightening her chest until she could not breathe properly any more.

She would not be able to return home.
She would die here.

After spending days in the spare bedroom staring solemnly out the window into a foreign land, Teta finally joined us. I am happy to be here with my family, she said, with a small hint of reluctance. Still, we responded with a collective sigh of relief that shook date palms in Nazareth.

My father went out and bought an old olive tree from the Saturday bazaar.
To remind her of home, he said.
We helped dig, plant and tend the olive tree – her olive tree – in our backyard.


One day.

Two days.

Three months.

Six months.

Watching.


The olive tree branched out and bore its fruit, and Teta started looking hopeful. Her gaunt face seemed fuller. She spent hours sitting beside the tree, and eventually, after some growth, beneath it. The tree’s scent wafted with the lost secrets of the Old City.

Laughter from inside the house suddenly broke the calm of the backyard. My parents had guests over. They were sipping black coffee, peeling oranges and smoking apple-flavoured tobacco like chimneys.

Ya Allah. Oh god,” Teta exclaimed, “they haven’t left yet? Please habibti, darling, make me a pot of tea.”


***


Outside, Teta and I sat on milk crates under the olive tree. She held her mug tightly.

She sighed. “You know what I don’t understand? I don’t understand why people come here to see a bridge. A bridge! If they are wide-eyed over some old metal…they will faint with awe in Palestine. But here I am…near a famous bridge...away from your grandfather. I was lucky to have found him…you should have seen how much he loved the land he tended. Do you know how fertile the land is back home? It’s not like here. Not like here at all. He looked so rugged working the field! I loved harvesting our olive grove with him. What…? You think finding a person attractive is a modern day thing? Don’t laugh at me! Everyone likes a nice figure. Your grandfather had so many stories too…he would tell us old folktales…his face always animated…his hands, almost dancing…”

She paused, reliving the long-gone days in her mind, searching her memories.

“Did I ever tell you about our wedding night?”

I shook my head, picturing the red and black wedding gown she had told me about many times before. I didn’t mind listening again.

“I wore a long red and black dress woven with the most beautiful threads and sequins. They are much better than the silly white tents women wear. I can hear the loud pounding of the drums now, the strumming of the lute…I can see our family and friends clapping and singing around us, giving us their blessings. I remember the trees being decorated with lanterns, like stars on earth celebrating with us. The people in our town beamed down at us from their balconies as we walked down the narrow cobble stoned streets, behind the jumping drummers. Your grandfather held my hand and kept smiling over at me while we traced the path of Palestine. I was so lucky, habibti. He was handsome, you know? He could have been in films.”

She smiled to herself, but the silence quickly turned solemn.

“They knocked down our home…and they took your grandfather down with it…as if he was a stone brick himself. Not human. How could anyone do that? I don’t understand. I never once thought that they would come for our family like that. You hear the news…the stories…of the occupiers kicking people out of their homes…but you don’t expect it to happen to you. Your grandfather...he stood in front of the house, arms stretched out as long as the cold stream that ran through our town, while I clung onto the deeds of the land…I tried to show them that this home was here before they were born…and I cried out to him to move out of the way…to let them take the house down, to take what was left of our olive and fig trees…but he was stubborn like that…defiant…”

Her throat tightened.

I reached out to hold my grandmother’s hand. She clutched mine back and we listened to the crickets.

***


Teta’s tea suddenly splashed. I'm not sure how long we had been sitting there, reflecting.

After some initial surprise – what was that? – she peered into her mug and burst into laughter. “What an intrusive little thing!” she said, removing an olive that had fallen from the tree. “Here I am sulking and it jumps at me…and there is no breeze either…”

I joked about her being an Isaac Newton reincarnate – returned as poetic, Palestinian and female.

She chuckled some more and studied the olive on her palm. And for the first time, I think, I witnessed a kind of contentment in her eyes.

I looked up and inspected the canopy of leaves. “Maybe it’s a sign.”


Tuesday, 28 August 2012

Rachel Corrie's intentional killing ruled as 'accident' by Israeli court


Standard, unsurprising, but still devastating.

Rachel Corrie, an American activist for the International Solidarity Movement, was crushed by an Israeli Occupation Force bulldozer in 2003 while trying to stop the demolition of a home in Gaza. Corrie was standing - very visibly - in front of the IOF bulldozer on a mound of dirt in a bright orange vest. The driver proceeded to drive over Corrie, killing her, and reversing over her body. This was no accident. This is one of Israel's endless and habitual list of crimes against Palestinians and activists.

The judge, Oded Gershon, claimed Corrie was "protecting terrorists". If shielding a home from illegal demolition is terrorism, what would you call illegally demolishing a family's home? The state of Israel - a rogue state in every sense of the word - has rid itself of any accountability for Corrie's death. Israel can do no wrong, remember? Its aggression stems from taking "security measures" against Palestinians. Israel is merely only protecting itself against people who are protecting themselves against Israel's aggression. This would make a brilliant tragicomedy.

Today, justice was not served for Rachel Corrie, her family or for Palestinians. If it doesn't come tomorrow, it will be pursued the day after. If not the day after, then the day after that. For months to come, for years to come, for decades to come. Whatever it takes. The struggle continues. Vale Rachel Corrie.

DAM, a Palestinian hip hop group, got it right about Israel in their song Meen Erhabe (Who's the Terrorist?): "You're the witness, the lawyer and the judge".

Inevitably, and soon hopefully, Israel will face its own trial. And the Zionists will be held accountable for every single injustice they have committed - from holding up Palestinians at checkpoints to seizing their land, demolishing their homes and attacking their places of refuge with white phosphorous.


Tuesday, 7 August 2012

Local issues vs non-local issues




I have been pondering a thought-provoking comment that was recently posted on Facebook. The gist of it: many people seem to find it easier to address and protest injustices that take place overseas, and are more ready to act on non-local issues rather than issues taking place at home.

As a Palestinian-Australian who is concerned with the 64-year plight of Palestinians (if you couldn't tell by now), I believe that working on local and non-local issues should not be mutually exclusive. We live in a global society, so there is some kind of expectation that people will be engaged in and aware about the world around them and beyond them.

I find that people who are genuinely concerned (I use ‘genuinely’ for a reason – stay tuned) with rights issues beyond their borders (and I can only speak from an Australian/western perspective) are very much involved in, or at least sympathetic, aware about and tuned in with local issues, whether they are indigenous issues, refugee and asylum seeker issues, women, housing and poverty, gay rights and racism. I believe it is fair to say that an Australian who feels strongly about the exploitation of immigrant workers in the Emirates will not be the kind of person who is apathetic about the mistreatment of asylum seekers in Australian detention centres.

It is definitely not easier to campaign injustices that occur in other countries (and I’m being vague here since ‘injustice’ in this context is a terribly broad word) unless you are simply showing support by using oversimplified slogans or by sharing a status, Kony 2012-style. That requires no effort.

Solid campaigning and humanitarian work usually requires a good amount of money, effort, dedication, effort and support.

But it’s not so much about addressing issues ‘here’ or ‘there’ – it’s the reasons behind why people are so passionate about what they are passionate about.

I am unsettled greatly by people who support certain social justice causes for very politicised reasons. People continue to cherry pick what they care about if it suits their politics, their ethnic background, their faith or their religious sect. Their solidarity is not motivated by sincere universal humanitarianism or anti-racism. In the Arab and Muslim community here, for example, some people might only want to see a free Palestine because they are concerned for their ‘Muslim brothers and sisters’. Or they reject Zionist racism against Palestinians, yet have anti-Semitic beliefs or hold racist views against other groups of people. A person might staunchly support Assad’s aggression in Syria because they are Shia, or Al Khalifa’s brutality in Bahrain because they are Sunni. There are people who hardly acknowledge colonialist brutality against Aboriginal Australians – the first people of this land – but are quick to denounce colonisation elsewhere. There are people who believe in full civil rights for all…unless you’re gay.

At first I thought I was giving this sort of attitude too much significance, but this kind of cognitive dissonance is becoming more and more apparent to me.

Saturday, 14 July 2012

Israeli man self-immolates and...


An Israeli man immolated himself during a rally because, according to him: "The state of Israel stole from me and robbed me. It left me helpless."

He blamed the government for humiliating him and for "taking from the poor and giving to the rich."

Do I have to point out the irony in his complaints or can you see it?

It must be so difficult to be an Israeli who enjoys more rights and privileges than Palestinians. Israel, sponsored by the US, takes and takes and takes from Palestinians, subjugates them to cruel apartheid and military occupation...yet this man believes he has legitimate grievances? He, an Israeli, is humiliated? This is as brazen as a man complaining about a paper cut on his finger to an armless man. It is really unfortunate that he has done this to himself, that he felt he need to self-immolate, but he is no Bouazizi either. 

The Israeli J-Street protests have hardly acknowledged justice for Palestinians. Protesters are shaking their fists at the Israeli government, but they are ignoring the Palestinian plight - the elephant in the room.


Wednesday, 6 June 2012

Palestinian Activist (What I Really Do)

Yeah, yeah, I'm late to the meme party, but I haven't seen a Palestinian activist one!


Monday, 23 April 2012

A few reasons to like Bob Brown...

Monday night's episode of Q&A reminded some of us why we like Bob Brown.



1. He has nice facial structure. And he's aged well.
2. The way he looks at his partner, Paul.
3. His unapologetic disapproval of the Murdoch media enterprise.
4. His full name alliterates. One syllable in each name too. Bob to the Brown. It flows well.
5. He declared his love for the world. More than once.
6. He's able to admit he's wrong about something with grace.
7. They way he carries himself with dignity and eloquence. Even in response to the Young Libs in the audience.
8. Did I mention he's got some good cheek definition happening there?

The Suffering of Palestinian Christians

Palestinian Christians
60 minutes in the US covered the plight of Palestinian Christians. It looked at the effects of Israeli military occupation on Palestinian Christians, including the decline of the Palestinian Christian population, the effect of the segregation wall on Palestinian Christian families in the West Bank, and their struggle in maintaining their cultural and religious roots.

The most stand-out quote is from a Palestinian Christian clergyman about the plight of Palestinians.

"The West Bank is becoming more and more like a piece of Swiss cheese, where Israel gets the cheese--that is, the land, the water resources, the archaeological sites, and the Palestinians are pushed in the holes."

A young Palestinian Christian woman from the West Bank was asked if she would leave Palestine because of the occupation. She said no. Her feet stand solidly on the ground.

"We need to stay and struggle and fight."
The religion of Palestinians is irrelevant under occupation and apartheid. For many, they are Palestinian first. They are one people and their struggle is the same.

In the clip, you'll hear Michael Oren, Israeli ambassador to the UN, say  "their inconvenience is our survival". What a surprise. The 'inconveniences' faced by Palestinians are essential to Israel's survival. Israel functions on the suffering of Palestinians. If Palestinians were equal and liberated, Israel could not operate because it would no longer be an ethnocracy sustained by apartheid policies. It's pretty tragic that Oren calls military occupation and settler colonies an 'inconvenience' as though they happen to be just some kind of small disruption and unlucky-brush-it-off mishap.

Zionists also try to project the untruth that Palestinian Christians are leaving the West Bank because of Islamic extremists. They try to play on the idea of East vs West, radicalism, 'creeping sharia' and the so-called war on terror to stir and manipulate the Islamophobic sentiments people hold.

This idea that Palestinian Christians are being persecuted by so-called Islamic extremists is "easy to sell to the public," Zahi Houri, a Palestinian Christian businessman, said. He, like other Palestinian Christians, have never heard of Palestinian Christians fleeing for this reason. They leave - and they are exiled - because of Israel. Not an unusual Palestinian story.

The Kairos Palestine document, written and released by heads of Palestinian churches in 2009, condemns the Israeli occupation and calls for Christians to stand against Israeli apartheid state. Oren, of course, called the document, which advocates for justice, equality, human rights and non-violence, 'anti-Semitic'.

One clergyman said: "They (Zionists) are fearful of this document because they are afraid it might influence the Christian world."

And influence the Christian world it has, and will continue to do. The United Methodist Church in the US will soon vote on an initiative to divest from companies profiting from the Israeli occupation. Read their response to Israel supporters. 

And who can forget the many prominent Palestinian Christian thinkers, activists, politicians and artists who make up the broader Palestinian resistance movement and call for the end to Israel's oppression and the liberation of Palestine? There's Edward Said, George Habash, Hanan Ashrawi and Huwaida Arraf just to list a few prominent figures.

Palestine is Palestinian - faith is insignificant.

Tuesday, 3 April 2012

Remember Jenin


Remember those killed in the Jenin refugee camp ten years ago during the second intifada. Israeli forces invaded and massacred civilians. Like they do. Gaza, Deir Yassin, Sabra and Shatila, Jabalia, Beirut, Dawayma...

I was named after the Palestinian city Jenin. Neither side of my family is from there, but my parents liked the name. Jenin is home of The Freedom Theatre, established by Juliano Mer Khamis in 2008.

The video below was filmed after the destruction and slaughter in Jenin. "Yes, they destroyed everything, but we will rebuild it despite their presence," says a young Palestinian girl in the documentary.


Political Dissent Makes the World Go Round


Mahmoud Abbas - Israel's top stooge - won't have any criticism against him and his party. Israel imprisons and tortures those who speak out and resist against military occupation, and the Palestinian Authority is fast learning a thing or two more on cracking down on dissenters, particularly online. Just recently, a Palestinian woman, Ismat Abdul-Khaleq, was accused of defaming president Abbas on her Facebook profile. She's been detained for two weeks. Activists have said that there's a growing crackdown on writers who criticise the West Bank government. Her crime? Abdul-Khaleq allegedly called him a traitor and demanded he resign. 


Truth hurts...?

Years ago, when I was 14 years old, my history teacher taught us about anti-regime dissidents one lesson. She described how, in some places, people who spoke out against the government were often kidnapped, imprisoned, tortured, and killed, and that their dissent also placed their neighbours, friends and family in harm's way.

I was both horrified and baffled. Horrified that people were being silenced, but baffled for another reason.

Later that day, I had maths class, and I was seated next to a classmate who shared history with me. Before diving into algebra (fun!), we spoke about the previous history lesson and, more specifically, the fate of critics and activists, artists and intellectuals, who lived under an iron fist and were surrounded by oppression. Looking back now, I said one of the most naive things I've ever said in my life so far. "It's stupid," I said to my classmate. "If you know that speaking out against the government is going get you into trouble, possibly killed, why would you say anything? Just keep quiet. Isn't it just better to carry on with your life, family and routine? Instead of getting hurt?"

It was only later - years later - I realised that people who live under oppressive regimes,  people who are controlled, harassed and attacked by the state and authorities, have no way of simply 'carrying on' with their lives and the sort of daily routine we're used to. The oppression becomes normalised. It becomes an accepted reality. People need to speak out. For some, they have no choice but to speak out. Fear drives many people to remain silent, but for those who want to say something, who can't help but say something - more power to them. 

Monday, 2 April 2012

The Lowercase Arab on Facebook


the lowercase arab now has a Facebook page. Take a moment to like it to receive post updates and all sorts of other shenanigans - like cat photos and such. And caricatures of uglyfied Arab politicians. Just because. Just do it.

Why is the lowercase arab capitalised? Because Bookface wouldn't let me keep it lowercased. YOU CAN'T TRUST THE SYSTEM. MAN.