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.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

Abbott Says "We Are All Israeli"

The opposition leader of Australia, Tony Abbott, recently said in a speech to members of the Jewish Australian community that Australians are "all Israeli".

Tony Abbott on the far left. ('Far left'...irony).

Dear Mr Abbott, 

Firstly, congratulations on doing a great job at ostracising Australian Arab and Muslim communities.

Secondly, thanks for spitting in the face of human rights.

And thirdly, you may consider yourself Israeli. And by Israeli, I'm sure you mean Zionist. Israel supporters may consider themselves Israeli. Other racists and supremacists may consider themselves Israeli. But the rest of us are Palestinian. Especially those of us who have faced some form of discrimination and oppression. 

We are all Palestinian.

Here is my take on an article that appeared on about Abbott's speech.
FEDERAL Opposition Leader Tony Abbott gave a strong endorsement of Israel’s right to defend itself during a speech at the Central Synagogue last Friday night.
Ah, the myth that Israel is 'defending' itself. This was expected. 

Israel is the occupier. Palestinians are the occupied. Palestine was invaded and dispossessed, and continues to be dispossessed, by Israel. Palestinians are the dispossessees - exiled, homes demolished, land stolen, stateless. Palestinians have no sovereignty and no military. Palestinians are the ones lining up at checkpoints, not Israelis. Israel expropriates Palestinian natural resources, controls Palestinians, builds colonies on Palestinian land, blockades Palestinians, massacres Palestinians, restricts Palestinian freedom of movement, and denies Palestinians their rights and freedoms, including the right to return.

And you dare to say that Israel is 'defending' itself?
When Palestinians defend themselves against military occupation, it's 'terrorism'. When Israel does what it normally does - colonises and occupies - it's 'defending' itself.  
“In so many ways, [Israel is] a country so much like Australia, a liberal, pluralist democracy,” he said, “A beacon of freedom and hope in a part of the world which has so little freedom and hope.” 
Abbott is right about Israel and Australia sharing several similarities. Israel ethnically cleanses, colonises, occupies, oppresses and massacres Palestinians, just as Australia did to Aboriginal Australians. Palestine was invaded, just as Aboriginal Australia was invaded. Israel steals Palestinian land just as Australians stole Aboriginal land. He's wrong about everything else. Israel is an apartheid state. It is an ethnocracy, not a democracy. It distinctly privileges Jews over non-Jews. See above.
He added that Australians “can hardly begin to comprehend” the existential threat Israelis live under.  
Take a look at this map and tell me who is facing an existential threat - the Palestinians or the Israelis?

“It is so easy for us in Australia to get moral qualms, if you like, when we read about Israeli actions in – on the West Bank for instance – or Israeli involvement in Lebanon.”  
Abbott is essentially saying that he is aware (as well as Australians) of Israel's crimes against humanity and international law violations, but because it's Israel, they can get away with it. 
"I don't, like, get, why Australians, would feel, like, uneasy about Palestinian homes being, like, demolished? And illegal settlements, which, like the UN tried passing a resolution to condemn, keep being built? And like, what is up with Australians being, like, all upset and shit when Israel attacked and bombed Lebanon? Totes beats me." 
“And yet, we are not threatened in the way Israel was and is, and if we were threatened in the way Israel was and is, I am sure that we would take actions just as strong in our own defence.  
Yes! We would also massacre human rights activists bringing aid, medicine and building supplies to the blockaded, besieged and malnourished Gaza!  
“When Israel is fighting for its very life, well, as far as I’m concerned, Australians are Israelis. We are all Israelis in those circumstances.” 
Again, Mr Abbott, Palestinians are fighting for their lives. They are resisting. And we are all Palestinian.  
He was also full of praise for the Central Synagogue congregation and the wider Jewish community. “I am immensely encouraged to see the strength and the vigour of Jewish culture and Jewish faith here in Australia.” 
The modern Zionist movement is an affront to Judaism and Jewish people.

Palestinian Pick Up Lines

If someone who fancies your eye just told you that they were Palestinian, what do you say? Have you ever wanted to woo a Palestinian? Have you desperately tried to make a Palestinian fall in love with you, but dismally failed? Maybe you turned off a Palestinian by endorsing the two-state solution or referring to the conflict as a 'war'. Fear not - just brush up on a few pick up lines, clean up your knowledge and politics and you'll win a Palestinian heart over in moments.

Palestinians will be all over you.