A Haunting Image

Today, watching the news. A report about children deaths in Gaza. A family lost 4 children while playing on the beach. Another family lost 3 children while playing on the roof of their house.

Could this be a nightmare?

And then there was that image.

People huddled around a hospital bed on which another child was receiving medical treatment, or perhaps was being announced dead. By the bedside stood a man holding a little girl, couldn’t be more than 2 or 3 years old, her face was smeared with blood, dotted with wounds. Her expression drooped with cluelessness. Her head swayed back and forth, her eyes were closing as if she couldn’t stay awake any longer. Was it pain or was it exhaustion? Or was she too exhausted from the pain?

Cut to the next scene. More dead children.

Perhaps she went to sleep. Perhaps she didn’t.

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Gaza Monologues

 

Captivating, touching, funny at times, heart wrenching at others but mostly and most importantly: eye-opeing.

 

That’s how I would describe Gaza Monologues, a theatre performance by a group of young and talented boys and girls. The monologues were written by boys and girls in Gaza about their experience with war and how it affected their lives and their personalities.

 

They talked about all kinds of things, even things you wouldn’t even think of. One boy talked about how he thought he was the reason behind the war in Gaza because one day prior to the war he saw in his sleep that his house was bombed, and his dreams always come true. Another boy talked about his brother that was killed by the Israeli Offence forces, and a girl also talked about her best friend being killed when a missile hit nearby.

 

They all talked about their memories when the first missile hit Gaza. One girl talked about how they tried so hard to convince her father to move out of the house into her sister’s place, but ended up discovering that during war no place in Gaza is safe. She even went on to say one of the best lines in the play:

 

“How ironic are Gaza’s dreams! We dream of a good death, instead of dreaming of a good life”

 

يا سلام على غزة وأحلام غزة، صرنا نحلم نموت موتة حلوة بدل ما نحلم نعيش عيشة حلوة

All in all, I think this was a great idea because it points out a very important fact: The people of Gaza, after all, are human beings. They are not super heroes who can endure what we can’t; they just have to endure it while wishing for things to get better so that they may live a normal life in a peaceful society.

Of a War and a Child

Yesterday I was listening to a poem by Tamim Al-Barghouthi about Gaza and a good part of it was dedicated to the children of Gaza, depicting their suffering and the atrocities inflicted upon them by the Zionists. He talked about children pulled from under the rubble of destroyed houses, children scattered in a hospital’s hallway, covered with a woolen blanket stained with blood. But perhaps the line that got to me the most was that at the end of the poem, which says, adressing the  murderes of children:

                                                                                                                  

أدري بأنك لا تخاف الطفل حياً… إنما أدعوك صدقاً أن تخاف من الصغار الميتين

 

 

I’m not big of translating poetry lest the esthetics and the meanings get lost in translation, but this roughly means:

 

YOU MIGHT NOT BE AFRAID OF THE CHILDREN WHO ARE ALIVE

BUT DO BE AFRAID OF THE ONES WHO ARE DEAD

 

As I heard those lines my eyes shifted to my little niece who was sound asleep in her bed. I imagined her in the place of those children. I imagined her afraid of the shelling and the falling bricks, not knowing what is happening or why. And just by imagining that, my blood started to boil. Then I thought of those children who are actually going through all this. They too have parents and family who love them and would be torn apart if they got hurt. And I remembered an incident that happened earlier when we were out and my niece was running happily until she heard the noise of fire crackers, she immediately panicked and clutched me by the clothes, not wanting to let go.

 

But those were only fire crackers. How does a child feel when a war craft tears the air above their house, or dropping a bomb on the house next door.

 

This also brought back this to my mind

 

I saw this picture a while ago hanging on the wall of a restaurant in Amman. I was with an Iraqi friend who had had her own share of war-related casualties. As soon as she saw this picture she said: “This picture sums up everything about fear”

 

Don’t you think?

A Day in Histroy

On 31-5-2010 at 4 am in the morning, Israeli military forces attacked a fleet of aid-carrying ships heading to Gaza, dubbed the Freedom Flotilla, aiming to break the siege that Israel has been imposing on the Strip since June 2007. The attack resulted in killing at least 20 people, injuring dozens of others and the mass arrest of the passengers. The Flotialla was attacked in international waters, 150 kilometers from Israels’ territorial waters.

Despite the unproportional response, the international community was in shock; for attacking a convoy of civil ships whose passengers consisted of unarmed peace and humanitarian activists was out of the question, for no matter how low Israel has been known to sink, few seemed to expect it to stoop that low. It was undoubtedly a slap in the face of freedom and justice which both seem to be the least of Israel’s concern.

Naturally, Israelis tried to rationalize their way out of it, even daring to claim that their forces were attacked by Flotilla passengers which they called a “bunch of terrorists”. Well, it’s hard to buy such a pretext considering the world hasn’t known too many unarmed, humanitarian supplies carrying terrorists, not to mention Israel’s notorious history of lying and their well-earned reputation for victimizing themselves. Of course Israel’s warplanes and live ammunition could only further validate the argument.

Piracy, state terrorism, war crime, massacre, you name it. There’s almost no criminal description that wouldn’t fit this atrocity. Israel has always been known to be a country that’s above the law. Whenever you think there are no lines left for them to cross they’ll surprise you by crossing lines you didn’t even think can be crossed, and by attacking Flotilla Israel did just that. For years Israel has terrorized and massacred hundreds of thousands of innocent people in cold blood, and somehow they managed to get away with it by some lame pretext and a few buzzwords, and even get international support. Yet, what Israel did this time was unprecedented, because they were blatantly criss-crossing international laws and throwing them to the wind, openly challenging all that is humane and morally acceptable. Israel’s arrogance and slef-righteousness have exceeded all limits.

The day went on to be known as Freedom Day as a tribute to the brave men and women who came from all over the world to challenge the siege and bring justice to the people of Gaza and those of them who lost their lives in the action, and as I write this now I can’t help but feel that this is a day that will be a milestone in history. It’s the kind of day that changes the course of history, and if not, at least we can hope it changes something inside each one of us who were witnesses to this injustice that left a scar in the face of humanity, and a hole in our hearts.

How Not to Be “Indifferent”

How Not to Be “Indifferent” Monday, January 26, 2009

During the few last weeks, everyone was  following the updates of the war on Gaza closely, following the news, writing and reading articles on the net and in the different newspapers,  donating blood, collecting donations, boycotting,  demonstrating, signing petitions and trying to show solidarity in any possible way for the people in Gaza.

All in all, it was impressive to see how strongly everyone felt about this, and how that aggrevating situation brought out the best in many people. It proved that everyone has something to give, and most importantly, it showed that no matter who they are, what they think or how they look; everyone has a bigger cause that they believe in and care about.

But, once a ceasefire was announced, we found ourselves slowing down and going back to our normal lives. I’m not saying we shouldn’t, what I’m saying is that this sense of duty and commitment  to a bigger cause should actually be a part of our normal life. We shouldn’t wait for a catastrophe to drive us to action. It should be a part of our daily routine to think of those people who struggle with siege and security threats every day, not only when their homes are demolished and kids are killed or orphaned.

They may not be demonstrations or charity drives every day, but certainly there are many possible ways through which you can stay connected to the Cause and reminded of it every day, and here are a few suggestions:

– Stay informed and up-to-date, follow the news on TV, radio, on the net or any other means you have to keep you aware of what’s going on.

– Spread the truth, let the world know what’s actually happening and who’s terrorist and who’s not, especially those of you who live abroad where people are sheltered by a CNN-kind-of-mdia.

– Read history, learn more about the history of Palestine and the conflict, because history is power, history is legitimacy, which is why the Zionists have been known to forge it and throw it in the world’s face, crying wolf whenever they get the chance.

– Keep donating whenever and whatever you could through trusted organizations and committees, and don’t forget that there are thousands of refugees in refugee camps everywhere, not only in Palestine, who could use this help that we owe to them.

– Be a constant reminder for the people around you, and find ways to work together to support the Cause.

– If you’re a writer, and artist or have any other talent that you could use to shed light on the Cause and introduce it to more people then, by all means, do! Be that by writing articles, holding themed art exhibitions, fund raisers, making movies and what not.

-Take a stand and boycott any companies and organizations known to support Israel. Don’t say it will not affect them because even if that’s true, you can still take a stand and not take part in supporting those who are killing your people.

– Finally and most importantly, keep the faith. That may mean different things to different people. In general, it means believe in your Cause, don’t fall for any propaganda trying to convince you that Palestine was sold by its people or any such blatant lies. On the other hand, as  a Muslim, I believe that the most important thing first and foremost is for us to stay connected to God, and I don’t mean only Muslims but all people, because that’s our source of power, that’s what made the people in Gaza survive all the losses and all the agony. Read history and you’ll find that whenever people were connected to God, Palestine and its people were free, and whenever they drifted away from their faith, Palestine was under some gruesome occupation. That’s how Saladdin claimed Jerusalem back to its people, by faith, he was not blood thirsty, he didn’t act on fanaticism, he didn’t massacre his enemies, but  he was a man who believed he had a fair cause, and was connected to God at all times.

Happy Ceasefire

Happy Ceasefire Sunday, January 18, 2009

So, after 22 days of war, an over-due ceasefire is finally on the table.

Well, it’s not thaty hard to think up something to say here. Of course, a thank-you-Israel-for-stopping-the-blind-and-cold-blooded-slaughter-of-innocent-people would be fairly bizarre. In fact, there’s so much to say, so let me just start with this: It’s about time.

Well over 1200 civilians were killed, and over 1500 injured, all in the hope that people in Gaza will die silently and continue to live under the brutal siege imposed on them by Israel, and with the attacks launched against them by the Israeli artillery, without any sign of resistance of any kind.

So once again the myth of the “invincible state” Israel had been rubbing in our ears for as long as anyone could remember was proven wrong. If anything is invincible, it’s the faith and certainty of the great people of Gaza. Those people who stood loss after loss, the people who gave up their lives but refused to give up their freedom, their cause or their dignity. The people who rose high, disgracing the name of the so-called state of Israel, and putting it in mud. So, give up, Zion, no matter how much you kill of these great people, you will never crush their spirits, and they will never give up. God willing one day you will be crushed by those same people you failed to suppress over and over again.

The war may have stopped, but the blood of all these people will not go to waste. The panic and agonies the people of Gaza were put through will only breed more hatred and more resistance for the Zionists and their phony state. Violence breeds violence, so brace yourselves for what’s coming, and blame it only on yourselves.

It’s nowhere near over.

What Do You Know About Gaza?

What Do You Know About Gaza?

Saturday, January 10, 2009

By RASHID KHALIDI
Published: January 7, 2009

NEARLY everything you’ve been led to believe about Gaza is wrong. Below are a few essential points that seem to be missing from the conversation, much of which has taken place in the press, about Israel’s attack on the Gaza Strip.

THE GAZANS Most of the people living in Gaza are not there by choice. The majority of the 1.5 million people crammed into the roughly 140 square miles of the Gaza Strip belong to families that came from towns and villages outside Gaza like Ashkelon and Beersheba. They were driven to Gaza by the Israeli Army in 1948.

THE OCCUPATION The Gazans have lived under Israeli occupation since the Six-Day War in 1967. Israel is still widely considered to be an occupying power, even though it removed its troops and settlers from the strip in 2005. Israel still controls access to the area, imports and exports, and the movement of people in and out. Israel has control over Gaza’s air space and sea coast, and its forces enter the area at will. As the occupying power, Israel has the responsibility under the Fourth Geneva Convention to see to the welfare of the civilian population of the Gaza Strip.

THE BLOCKADE Israel’s blockade of the strip, with the support of the United States and the European Union, has grown increasingly stringent since Hamas won the Palestinian Legislative Council elections in January 2006. Fuel, electricity, imports, exports and the movement of people in and out of the Strip have been slowly choked off, leading to life-threatening problems of sanitation, health, water supply and transportation.

The blockade has subjected many to unemployment, penury and malnutrition. This amounts to the collective punishment — with the tacit support of the United States — of a civilian population for exercising its democratic rights.

THE CEASE-FIRE Lifting the blockade, along with a cessation of rocket fire, was one of the key terms of the June cease-fire between Israel and Hamas. This accord led to a reduction in rockets fired from Gaza from hundreds in May and June to a total of less than 20 in the subsequent four months (according to Israeli government figures). The cease-fire broke down when Israeli forces launched major air and ground attacks in early November; six Hamas operatives were reported killed.

WAR CRIMESThe targeting of civilians, whether by Hamas or by Israel, is potentially a war crime. Every human life is precious. But the numbers speak for themselves: Nearly 700 Palestinians, most of them civilians, have been killed since the conflict broke out at the end of last year. In contrast, there have been around a dozen Israelis killed, many of them soldiers. Negotiation is a much more effective way to deal with rockets and other forms of violence. This might have been able to happen had Israel fulfilled the terms of the June cease-fire and lifted its blockade of the Gaza Strip.

This war on the people of Gaza isn’t really about rockets. Nor is it about “restoring Israel’s deterrence,” as the Israeli press might have you believe. Far more revealing are the words of Moshe Yaalon, then the Israeli Defense Forces chief of staff, in 2002: “The Palestinians must be made to understand in the deepest recesses of their consciousness that they are a defeated people.”

Rashid Khalidi, a professor of Arab studies at Columbia, is the author of the forthcoming “Sowing Crisis: The Cold War and American Dominance in the Middle East.”

Happy Crappy New Year

Have a Crappy New Year…

Thursday, January 01, 2009

To some people, so far 2009 may not seem so promising. The more optimistic lot might argue that things could change, which some cynics would agree with, only that they’d assume it could take a turn to the worse, as hard to imagine as that could be to the former group.

No matter what prospects and dreams you may have for the coming year, which we’re entering as I type these words, I think all of us agree that New Year’s Day is anything but Happy this year. Some of us might take offense in the greeting itself. “Happy New Year”, like, seriously?

Well, despite the morbidity of the situation, I think we can still hope for a better year to come. In the meantime, while New Year’s celebrations in Jordan were cancelled, I think it’s only fair that we share Gazans their celebrations of the New Year!

Yes! It could be one hell of a Happy New Year in Gaza. Happy New Year if a bomb is dropped just few meters away from your house. It might scare you half to death but still, you’re alive.

It’s a Happy New Year if you are injured and they find enough blood supply that fits your blood type to save your life.

It’s a Happy New Year if your child is being tended to at hospital, despite the lack of qualified medical staff and medical equipments, you’ll be happy that he, unlike many others, is alive.

It’s a Happy New Year if you have enough candles and electric torches at home to last you during the power outage in the darkness of the night. Not that you have much to do, but it’s definitely less scary when you listen to the sound of roaring war crafts and the deafening bombardment with some light on.

It’s a Happy New Year if you’re still alive, have a roof to sleep under and clean water to drink. It’s a Happy New Year if you’re not attending your little brother’s funeral, or trying to identify the remainings of one of your parents.

So, yes, if “Happy” means all that, then New Year should be celebrated all right, and Gaza must be the place.

Happy New Year Gaza, as crappy as it must be.

While we were sleeping…

Yesterday, while you were waiting for your child to come home from school,  someone’s child never made it home from school, because as he was leaving school eager to finish his homework to go out and play with the other kids, he was killed by a bomb that was dropped over him out of nowhere.

Last night, as you complained about your headache and couldn’t wait to go to bed and have a good night’s sleep, some woman in Gaza couldn’t sleep as she spent the night beside her husband and children at the hospital, waiting for them to wake up, knowing that they might never do. Thousands of others couldn’t sleep too as they waited for another shelling any moment, and their fears came true at a number of occasions.

As you watched the news and then switched the channel, or maybe turned the TV off and went to sleep, those people you saw, that crying kid and that unconscious girl, they couldn’t turn it off or just wish it all was a dream. You might think of them as super beings who can bear whatever atrocities they are faced with, but the truth is those are people like me and you. They may not have a higher pain threshold than you, yet you can’t imagine yourself going through have what they’re going through now. They might be dead, but thousands of others are waiting for the unknown, maybe the same destiny and maybe worse.

Originally posted on Sunday, December 28, 2008 http://oeliwat.jeeran.com/archive/2008/12/762592.html

On April 18…

On 18 April 1996, during Operation Grapes of Wrath, a Fijian UNIFIL compound in the village of Qana was shelled by Israeli artillery, killing 106 civilians and injuring around 116 others who had taken refuge there to escape the fighting. Now, 12 years later, Qana Massacre is to be remembered. 10 years later, it became known as the First Qana Massacre, after being encored on July 30th. Truely, history doesn’t repeat itself, it just rhymes. The same village, the same atrocity, the same criminals, the same silence by the international community, only different, new more victims.
This is a video with facts and pictures from both massacres…
Originally Posted on April 18, 2008 on http://oeliwat.jeeran.com/archive/2008/4/539322.html