We have a new BZU president, a Dr Khalil Hindi who replaced Dr Nabil Qassis. This Dr Hindi is trying a new tack-to facilitate some kind of ceremonious bonding with the students. Therefore an assigned day was given to meet up with students from different majors. It's an interactive meeting, with students voicing their concerns and problems and listening to what the Important People had to offer. Here are some of the student complaints, because we're such a whiny group.
The university is seen as being more and more under the rotten PA control, and this is manifested through the university's silent stance against students who get arrested by the PA and face up to months in jail for their involvement in non-Fate7 (read Hamas) university related activities. Protect the students dammit! They have a right to education!
The political atmosphere on campus is strictly restricted to allegiances to either Fate7 or Hamas. This is unfair to the rest of the students who are completely indifferent, and instead want the university to put more pressure on the students to realize the political nature and developments/stagnations/decline or happenings in Palestinian society without fear of censorship/arrest. *This of course, can only come to fruition by the participation of students themselves.
The university should offer programs or lectures that will educate the students more about their plight, occupation, and normalization.
For those who have classes at 8 am there are not enough taxis to go around, which results in a large number of tardiness.
Those who get high grades on their exams but a low average on the basis of being late to their lectures a few times, well that's just plain unfair.
Honor students do not get enough prestige.
Failure of certain departments to provide MA scholarships to their students.
Surveillance cameras everywhere! Hello, welcome to London.
The classes on the basement floor of the Science building are unfit as an academic environment, with reeking bathroom smells permeating and such.
The President and the other three cronies with him (one was the dean, the other a vice-president we assume...oh hang on, it says on the uni's official page that there are FOUR vice-presidents) all answered thus:
(a) That's unfortunate.
(b) We'll see what we can do.
(c) We'll try our best to fix this.
BZU has a loooooong way to go before it can be compared to 'normal' universities in Europe and America. We feel like we should add "other parts of the Middle East" but we won't. If the administration really cared about bridging the gap between itself and the students, then it should fire most of its faculty and staff. Mostly its faculty- we have never encountered such boorish stuck-up rude creatures. And it should only accept certain students, as there are a good number who are extremely immature, brain-fluffed, and see uni as a chance to snare a good match for a spouse.
Yep, it was as stupid as the title suggests. We do wonder though, why students care and get their groove on for the silliest trivial things ever. Seems like most of them are living an extension of their decadent high school days. Oh and...return of winter? This weather? This burning sweltering weather that has parched our skin dry and afflicted us with heatstroke? Winter, Lord.
The poster does claim to be, for the first time, a cultural national entertaining festival for the students. Dabka performances and a couple of singers provided the entertainment part. We vaguely remember something of this sort, under a different name, last year. Wait the memories are becoming sharper...yes we can remember how we scurried into the nearest building to take refuge from the onslaught of male student belly dancers. They were just out there, shaking their bits with apparently no self-respect and complete disregard to their shocked and amused audience.
Anyhoo, we made our way past the stage that was set up near the administration building, where students were all congregated. We couldn't actually see the dabka troupe performing, but we did see about 7 guys forming their own dabka line, so that was a nice relief. That was it for us, because we're such hardcore revolutionaries and care about the Top Secret Important Stuff (that's TSIS to you) and so we made our way to er..base.
At the end of the day, we heard from reliable eye-witnesses that the festival turned into a freak show, as once again hordes of male students took it upon themselves to showcase their inner Shakira. Last year we went through the phases of WTF to anger (the great stone-throwing youth of Palestine!) to we'resomentallyscarredwejustwannadieforeverandever. It has taken us intensive therapy sessions to finally close our minds to unwanted and unnecessary idiocy. So when the eye-witnesses proceeded to inform us that the festival then changed course and became a crazy Fate7 carnival, we smiled and inquired about their favorite ice cream flavor. That's "national" for you folks.
We're a bit late on this not so breaking news anymore-blame miscommunication and faulty internet servers, but here we are.
Finally we can rejoice in hearing about the Viva Palestina “smashing” the blockade and making it through into Gaza. Three cheers for Viva Palestina…hip hip hurray, hip hip hurray, hip hip hurray! Alrighty then back to the informative details. This convoy of approximately 150 vehicles, 370 people from 30 different countries and $5 million of aid has been recognized to be the biggest convoy ever to break the siege of Gaza. This epic journey took four weeks and five days from its starting point in London and traveled through France, Italy, Greece, Turkey and Syria. What a trip huh? Wait! it’s not over yet. In Syria the convoy was delayed for eighteen days because of ongoing negotiations with the Egyptian authority. Since Viva Palestina wanted nothing to do with the Israel border and didn’t want to hand the convoy’s aid to Israeli authorities they turned to the Egyptian border and the Egyptian authorities to allow their entrance into Gaza. When the final negotiations were reached, Egypt allowed the passage of all the convoys with the exclusion of 17 members including George Galloway from entering Gaza. We can take an educated guess about why that is and say that it might be because they’re “security threats” who oppose this “security” barrier, and do nothing but incite hatred and intolerance. When the sea journey came to an end at the Egyptian port of Al Arish a new journey on land began. The Convoy then drove the 40Km to the Egyptian/Gaza border at Rafah where they entered the Gaza Strip.
Effective, to say the least. Who else got eerie goosebumps?
Students from University of Michigan, salute. And to think, here in the West Bank, Al-Quds University (Abu Dis) still won't sever academic relations with Israel. For shame.
PS The two IDF soldiers are part of an Israeli hasbara organization called StandWithUs:
"Through brochures, speakers, programs, conferences, missions to Israel, and Internet resources, we strive to ensure that Israel's side of the story is told on university campuses and in communities, the media, libraries, and churches around the world."
Having just completed one of the most intensive week of the semester so far, we can finally kick back and relax in a pool of bubbling Perrier water, while our menservants tend to our every whim and need. Thank God we have Saturday off-hurray for three day weekends!
So. We're at that middle station of the semester. Eight more weeks to go. Things that have caught our attention:
We really miss Palestine as a four season country. Come on, it's almost November and temperatures this week reached 98 degrees. We wanna wear our cute boots and beanies!
Our embittered selves have been dormant; we smile more often and thanks to the degenerate mob we hang out with, have a repertoire of filthy jokes.
Since we've reached that gritty stage where its mostly concentrated on taking major classes, our department has gotten a lot more familiar and friendlier.
We still wish students to be more active and give a damn about the political situation. Negotiations, evictions, settlements, bulldozing a Muslim cemetery in Jerusalem to make way for a Jewish theme park? Cool, I'll pick you up at 7 and we'll go to Tche Tche's.
We're mostly ok with our teachers, no faults there!
We're finding that we use a lot of multi-syllable words in every day conversations. Is that a reflection of our major getting to us or are we being general asses, showing off philosophically?
For some reason, this semester feels like its going to be more enjoyable then the second. Positive thoughts everyone!
We're on a roll here. More community hours, whoot whoot! And this time, we weren't so dramatic about being woken up early on a weekend! We are maturing! And a little too hyper! What a fabulous bone-breaking day!
At 8:30, we were to meet up with fellow volunteers in Birzeit the village, in front of some building we passed about 3 times. We were ready! We had our frozen water, sun block smeared onto our faces like a second skin, caps, sunglasses, ipods, wet wipes, cameras, etc. When we first went to sign up a couple of days ago at the student affairs office, the list was long. However, there was only a few people straggling around. Yeah, that piece of information wasn't important or interesting, sorry. Anyhoo, we piled into the cars of the farmers and other volunteers, and we were taken to a stretch of land that had 40 olive trees. The family owning the land were hard at work already. Since we're so friendly looking, we made quick friends with the daughters and sons, who informed us that during this time of the year, they're up at 4 am and return home only once the sun has set, for four consecutive days. Some have to take a few days off from school or their universities, and apparently, our university faculty aren't so lenient or understanding about that. Shame, considering all the sanctimonious crap they spew out, with us being the representatives of a wonderfully cultured traditional land, and how olives are the symbol of symbolism, and how it is our job, nay our duty to follow through with the correct representation of yada yada yada.
We got to work immediately, dividing ourselves roughly into two groups working on two trees. It was fun, and for a while the only sound heard was the plopping of the olives as they rained down on the canvas sheets spread underneath and around the trees. The first hour and half went by pretty quickly--it's true what they say: the most work gets done in the early morning. As we got to know the family more (a father, three daughters, and two sons), we truly began to appreciate what they do. Picking olives is HARD. It starts off as being fun, hanging around the outskirts of the trees, but then you cannot move on to another tree until every singly olive has been picked. This is no exaggeration either, EVERY SINGLE OLIVE must be picked. We amused ourselves by climbing onto ladders then going more primordial by scaling the upper tree branches, but lordy the sun was fierce and we felt dizzy and heavy-headed and with all the sweat dust and dirt clinging to us, suddenly the hours seemed long and distant. Getting attacked by freaking giant mutant grasshoppers broke the monotony a bit. We feel proud that we didn't dance around screaming like our heads were on fire. Cool as ice baby.
The family were as generous and as hospitable as you could imagine; at around 11 we all sat down to eat a late breakfast that consisted of humus, bread, salads, cake, omelettes, and sardines. After that, the father went off to pray the Friday prayers, and his offspring pretended to laze around, all the while cracking us up as they demonstrated their dynamic relationships between each other and their making fun of some random man who we initially thought was part of their family. Turns out that said random man was there out of his own goodwill, but he couldn't keep his trap shut, bossing everyone around and acting like he had much more experience than everyone else. He'd go around beating the branches with a stick so that in a matter of seconds, we were all under a haze of shimmering dust, coughing and simultaneously glaring at his pretentious self. The father and the other guys came back from prayer, and went on working with us. We loved the father, who is now 3mo to us. Such a sweet kind gentle soul-we'd pick olives for him next year for nothing. The sun by now was heavy and close and burning a hole right through our brains, so our initial enthusiasm turned into lethargy, to the point where we just sat on the canvas and started throwing olives into a bucket after de-twigging them, all the while not minding the thousand and one white spiders having a field day around us.
Our wisecracker. No need to mention the Tapuzina bottle thank you very much.
We have such renewed enormous respect and appreciation for those families who work tirelessly and without so much of a murmur of complaint for very long hours. We have friends whose families own land who hate this time of the year precisely because it's such hard work, but as long as the company and atmosphere are great, we really don't mind. Sure, taking a nap under one of the shaded trees was what we fantasized during our lethargic state, but there's something special about picking olives. We didn't mind the fact that our hands and arms were stained reddish brown streaked with the oil of a few crushed olives, or that each tree took as many as three hours to be completely stripped. Internationals/ajnabiyeen, some independently others in coordination with NGO's love helping out too. Cut off from the sound of cars and streets, being rooted in land made of red earth so carefully cultivated and cared for, making new friends and chatting companionably away, we felt more love and pride for our country. Not to regurgitate all the wasted symbolism of olive trees land and country to nationalism, we felt intense love and pride for who we are.
Sunday October 10, 2010 was proclaimed to be Forgiveness Day in Palestine, but having to wake up at 8:00am on this cherished day off from the university didn’t seem all that forgiving! Having no idea what our friend signed us up for , we horse-backed to the Manara (in Ramallah) groggy brained and still very much asleep. You see, for this task, we'd get more community hours, and since graduation doesn't seem that far off any more, we figured the smart thing to do was to get a move on.
Having reached the meeting tent, Bedouin style, we found ourselves attacked and bombarded with questions, information, fliers and stickers. “What’s your name?”, “Are you here for community service?”, “Here pass these out…and these”, and “If anyone asks you what this is for say____” and this is the part where we zoned out…I mean can you blame us? We're not exactly early risers. Moving on, we did as we were told and found ourselves finished just in time to head back home into our feathered beds, or so we thought. Our happiness dissolved under a cloud of tragedy…Forgiveness Day had not yet begun. Our next duty was to walk from the Manara to the Legislative Council building where we would stand and wait for the one and only pompous 'man of the people' Salam Fayyad to come out and share with us and the media words of love, care and encouragement.
While trudging, the forgiveness mob howled 1 through 10 in Arabic followed up by English…we would of never guessed we had phenomenal bilinguals in Palestine.
While standing, waiting for his collaborative self to greet us, we were handed white balloons and flowers which were to be flown and thrown in the air once the speech was completed and 1 through 10 counted for the last time.
Finally the idiot arrived, and what can we say about the speech that was given? Well, nothing of interest really. Only that Sir Fayyad made a vow to officially proclaim 10/10 as Forgiveness Day in Palestine the next time he was chillin with his buddies at Stars and Bucks!
We're that melodramatic when working on weekends. Stop the eye rolling!
And no, it has not passed our notice that this idiotic proclamation of Forgiveness Day 'coincided' with Israel's new law of the loyalty oath. Israel is busy making life more difficult for Palestinians, while the quisling regime is actively diverting the Palestinians' attention from important political and apartheid decisions made against them. Forgive your neighbors, and your insolent children for not becoming the famous doctors you wanted them to be. No need to be so exclusive, forgive Israel for occupying your land for 60 plus years. In fact, just forget about them, and the house demolitions, and the evictions, and the settlement building, and the checkpoints, and all the psychological trauma that comes with being gun-controlled, and all of their racist apartheid laws. Salam Fayyad, we eagerly await your promised 2011 Palestinian state. Wait, we mean the 2011 Collaborator state.
Lightening will strike all famous monuments in the world! Cupid's arrows will be flying everywhere! Rainbow fish are frying themselves!
It's ten ten ten. And that makes for such cute wedding anniversaries. Like three years ago when it was seven seven seven, the amount of couples getting married on that day actually made the news. Anyhow, since weddings are overrated, let's see what REAL news we have for today.
Today in Ramallah, it was announced that henceforth from now, every tenth of October will be Palestinian Forgiveness Day. What utter bullshit, how about we focus on erm ridding ourselves from the occupiers first? Well doesn't that sound grand.
Israel has passed a new law to illustrate just how thoughtfully democratic it really is. Israeli non-Jewish citizens must take an oath of Jewish loyalty to the state. Well, that's not going to sit down too well with the '48 Palestinians in 'Israel', who make up 20 percent of the population. But how dare we be so presumptuous as to enlighten the racist Zionuts what democracy is! Take this from Bibi: "No one can preach democracy or enlightenment to us.There is no other democracy in the Middle East."
France's new law of banning the oppressive, suppressive, patriarchal, uncouth, subordinate, uncivilised, confining, choking burka is a topic of controversial debate etc etc. Our opinions? While we don't agree with the burka/niqab, and see it as a cultural rather than religious dress (tell that to the Islamophobiacs!), who the hell is any government to dictate to people what they should and shouldn't wear? Those who utilize their brains are definitely not fooled by the pathetic excuse given to justify the law: WE MUST LIBERATE THOSE POOR SOULLESS MUSLIM WOMEN who, for God's sake, can't refuse their husbands sex! And they cannot leave their houses without permission! We're a REPUBLIC, dammit, not some Arabian land where fundamentalists enjoy ruling from the top tier! We must EDUCATE these poor women about their RIGHTS! Convert them to Governmental Christianity! As a bonus, we have indoor plumbing and wall to wall carpeting in our residential areas. Lift the cursed fabric from thy faces! Embrace the world! Breathe in the air! Just remember to say No! Defy your patriarchal society! Life is good without the burka!
We give you this video below. It is amazing in its iconoclastic attitude. The two French women have used a marvellously unorthodox way to voice what they think of the French law:
"We were not looking to attack or degrade the image of Muslim fundamentalists – each to their own – but rather to question politicians who voted for this law that we consider clearly unconstitutional," they said. "To dictate what we wear appears to have become the role of the state."
As we lumbered to our first class of the morning, we noticed for the first time this sheet of paper taped to the classroom door.
The obvious reaction was, WTF? Henning Mankell? Raja Shehadeh? Since when? God, why doesn't this INCOMPETENT university EVER advertise these things! Then we shifted into a reverie, where suddenly we remembered Palfest coming to this university in May. And oh how we laughed. After all, with Birzeit's students, what sheet of paper lasts for almost 6 months on a door? Don't the walls get painted every 6 months? Anyway, just a momentary shake-up before we reverted back to our stupor.
Most moral army in the world who employs fresh out of high school greens to keep the brown insolent Palestinians under control. Here we have one Palestinian woman, handcuffed and blindfolded, huddling next to a wall, while a hilarious soldier dances around her.
"They began beating me with rifle butts and legs. One of the soldiers hit my head against the metal of the military jeep until I fainted. Then I found myself in front of a female doctor wearing military uniform. After examining me they moved me to the interrogation center where my journey of torture and humiliation started.
"The officer’s name who began to interrogate me was Beran. He threatened to demolish my family home and arrest my siblings, the interrogation lasted for two hours. After that I was transferred with my eyes blindfolded to another interrogation center, I think it was the Russian compound, where there were three interrogators.
"Soon after I came in they began insulting and cursing using words I do not want to say. One of the interrogators was pulling me from my hair. I was handcuffed the whole time. The interrogation lasted until 11 at night, then they transferred me to Hasharon prison where they accused me of trying to stab someone, and of affiliation with the Islamic Jihad. Lawyers from the prisoners' society defended me and I was sentenced to 22 months in prison. I was released on 6 September 2009."