Monday, February 21, 2011

Israel to Gaddafi's Rescue!

Israel Today Magazine. "You've read the news. Now understand it."

My brain has stopped functioning. I just see gigantic yellow sponges around me. Time to check in again.

Israel’s Channel 2 News last year interviewed two Israeli women of Libyan origin who claimed to be distant relatives of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.
The older of the two interviewees, Guita Brown, said she is Gaddafi’s second cousin (Brown’s grandmother was the sister of Gaddafi’s grandmother). The younger of the two women, Rachel Saada, granddaughter of Brown, explained in more detail:
“The story goes that Gaddafi’s grandmother, herself a Jewess, was married to a Jewish man at first. But he treated her badly, so she ran away and married a Muslim sheikh. Their child was the mother of Gaddafi.”
While Gaddafi’s grandmother converted to Islam when she married the sheikh, according to Jewish religious law (and common sense), she was ethnically still Jewish.
At this point the news anchor stated, “So, the point is that Gaddafi doesn’t just have Jewish relatives, he is Jewish!”
Rumors of Gaddafi’s Jewish background are nothing new. But with the current uprising in Libya that threatens to ultimately overthrow the dictator, as has happened in the neighboring countries of Tunisia and Egypt, Gaddafi may be looking for an exit strategy.
If the story told by Brown and Saada is true, Gaddafi is entitled to immigrate to Israel as a Jew under Israel’s Law of Return. Even if every other country on earth refused him entry, Israel would be obligated by its own laws to take Gaddafi in.
At the time of the interview, the anchor quipped, “I am sure there is some local authority in Israel that would be pleased to have a former president on its staff.”

No need to say emphasis is mine. I think I just drooled on my eyes.

Sunday, February 20, 2011

Fomenting People Power III

Libya's Day of Rage was on the 17th, where protesters in Benghazi, the second largest city, took to the streets. A reported 24 were killed. 5 days into the protests, over 200 have been killed so far.

Fun Facts

  • It is 1,759,540 square kilometers with a population of only 6.5 million
  • Almost half of the population live on 2 dollars a day
  • More than 95% of Libya is desert. Hello Sahara!
  • The flag is boring. It's just green
  • Libya imports 75% of its food due to its arid dry weather
  • There was only one king, Idris or somebody who was overthrown in 1969 by reigning Crackhead

Fun Facts about Crackhead
  • Claims his name is Muammar Gaddafi
  • He's the longest serving ruler in the world, with 42 years under his festering belt
  • Calls himself the king of kings in Africa
  • Official title is Revolutionary Leader
  • Rambles on inanely in UN meetings
  • Has virgin female bodyguards to protect him
  • Proposed once to resolve the Israeli occupation of Palestine by calling the country Isratin('tin' being the last 3 letters in filastin/Palestine)
Call for reform: Dude, he's been in power for 42 years. Plus the whole economic (30% are unemployed) and political limitations and censorship shtick.

Demure response: Gaddafi and his pro-government supporters shared the love publicly on Friday in Tripoli, as shown by state television. Then security forces were sent to Benghazi to crack down on dissenters, shooting them with snipers. 84 were killed and 1000 more injured. Facebook, Twitter, and Al Jazeera are banned, as are foreign correspondents.

The army is on the side of the protesters now, after witnessing the brutal tactics used by mercenaries from Chad and Niger on the peaceful protesters. Anti-aircraft missiles are one means used to kill them. Women and children jumped off the Giuliana Bridge in Benghazi to escape the murderers. They either drowned or were killed by the impact of water. This is definitely the most violent government response to demonstrators calling for reform. Hospitals were running out of supplies before today saw a change of fate as protesters took charge of military barracks and police stations, liberating the city of Benghazi from troops supporting the government and looking forward to liberating more cities in the direction of Tripoli. Protesters numbered in the hundreds of thousands after a 15 were killed during a funeral procession.

Friday, February 18, 2011

Happy Birthday Albi

A year and a day ago, we were both sitting at one of the three computers in the Women's building library summoning up the courage to make this pet of ours work. Incidentally, the three computers are now banned to anyone who is not a graduate student. Anyway, the hard nosed librarian, an extremely fussy prude of a lady, swooped down upon us as we tried to suppress our giggles at the silliest exaggerated welcome note, and  stood guard behind our backs as she breathed severely through her nose. What are we doing? How dare we waste our time on social websites? How come we're on Facebook when its banned on campus? Oh, is that so? This isn't Facebook? Then what are we writing? We patiently explained to her that we were starting a blog, ignoring the fact that she was an insufferable nosy witch. What's a blog? It's a website thingy where we get to write whatever we want. Suddenly, she became less stiff. Really? How interesting! Oh, I see it's called Life on Birzeit Campus. I should very much like to read it!

And with that, she stepped closer to our chairs, her face between our shoulders, squinting at the computer screen. After 5 minutes of us not typing anything, just sitting there trying to communicate via side-along glances, she walked back to her desk, then began walking between the book shelves eying us merrily.

We went home with a sense of mission accomplished. Since then, we haven't looked back. We're immensely proud of our pet, and the sudden disappearance of it for a few weeks at one time almost unhinged us. It's hugely gratifying to finally write down our thoughts-before that we resembled a gooseberry with permanent prickles sunny side up. School work has never come in the way and so we never felt the impending gloominess of shutting it down due to academic tasks. In fact the blog has actually taken first priority over any silly assignments. But we're still model students of course.

We kinda feel we should fire up a compilation of our favorite posts or something, but naturally we're lazy so we'll leave the browsing up to you.

We'll also be celebrating Saturday between 3 and 4pm not at Rukab, that heinous haven that now costs an arm and leg just for booza, but at their frenemies Baladna.

Thanks for reading. And recommend this to others. We can't do all the self-whoring ourselves.


Thursday, February 17, 2011

Fomenting People Power II

Three more people have been killed in Bahrain so far. Onto the next country.

Fun Facts
  • North Yemen got rid of its extension to the Ottoman Empire in 1918, while South Yemen saw the withdrawal of the British in 1967
  • United the north and south territories to form the Yemen of today in 1990
  • Capital city is San'aa
  • 40% of the population live on less than two US dollars a day
  • Qat is a mildly narcotic leaf chewed by Yemenis to while away the time. Getting stoned is better than constant reminder of living in one of the poorest Arab nation.
  • Cultivates mocha
  • Less than a tenth of the roads are paved
Call for reform: President Ali Abdullah Saleh has been in power for 32 years. The government is corrupt. The people want him out understandably. Plus the economy is shit.

Demure response: The President graciously announced that he will not run for presidency again when his term finishes in 2013. Protest all you want Yemenis! He also ruled out his son inheriting power, but protesters naturally don't believe him.

20000 people showed up for the Day of Rage which started the 27th of January.

So far, there's been a lot of clashes between pro-government supporters and anti-government demonstrators. The pro-govs are joined by plainclothes police naturally who use violence to disperse the crowd.

Epicenter Tahrir-style: None. The government closed down public squares (one coincidentally called Tahrir) to prevent media from linking the protests to what went down in Cairo.

Wednesday, February 16, 2011

Interview with Mohammed Hanif

Mohammed Hanif is a Pakistani author who wrote the much acclaimed book A Case of Exploding Mangoes which was published in 2008. The Palestine Writing Workshop hosted him last month as their latest writer in residence, where he taught a workshop "Writing from Life". It took a bit of bribing, but he agreed to a quick interview, showcasing his generous philanthropic self.

*Tell us a little bit about your book, "A Case of Exploding Mangoes"
It has 304 pages. It’s a love story. It is a dictator novel. It contains some jokes and one very tasteful sex scene.

* What influenced you to become a writer?

I tried becoming a farmer, it was difficult and dull at the same time. So I became a writer.

* How has your time in the air force affected your work?

Yes. It has ruined my punctuation.

* Did you always want to write, even during your childhood?

No, I wanted to become a spiritual guru, then an astronaut, then a fighter pilot, then a cricketer, then a rock star but never a writer.

* Going with the stereotype that novelists are usually egotistical, how do you feel about your own work?

As some one said accusing a novelist of having a big ego is like accusing a boxer of having violent tendencies. But trust me the process of writing itself is a very humbling experience.

* What made you want to come to Palestine to give this workshop?

Because they asked me. Because I had visited Palestine a decade ago and wanted to return. And may be as one of the workshop participants pointed out, I just wanted to look cool.

* Who are your favorite authors, and why?

Chekov. Because he turns the very ordinary stuff of life into compelling stories.

Best Year/Age in you life?
Twenty three. First job, own apartment.

Writing or reading?

Coffee or tea?
Coffee when I'm writing, so tea mostly.

All time favorite book:
Chronicle of a Death Foretold.

Your impression of Ramallah in up to five words:
Cafe society. Road works.

Advice to Palestinian youth:

Reading books doesn't turn you into a wimp.

Advice to the young soldiers in the IDF:

Oy, put that gun away and go back to school wherever in Ohio that is.

One state or two state solution?
One state.

Who would win in a fight, Hitler or Netanyahu?
Netanyahu because he has the benefit of hindsight, might have learnt from the other guy's mistakes.

If you could have one superpower, what would it be?
To be able to write without using adverbs.

Who would you like to invite to a dinner party?
Truman Capote and Dr. Aiman Al-Zawahiri.

Finally, tell us a joke.
Jordanian Immigration to me: You name is Mohammed and you can’t speak Arabic?

Israeli Immigration: Can yu really teach people how to write?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Fomenting People Power I

In no particular order-

Fun Facts
  • Bahrain means "two seas". Heard the joke about what the Khalili wore when he went to Bahrain? "Mayohein" i.e. two swimsuits. Hush, it sounds better in Arabic.
  • Capital city is Manama
  • Gained independence in 1971
  • Amalgamation of about 33 islands
  • Smallest Arab country. To give some perspective, Qatar is 16 times bigger.
  • Ruled by the Sunni Khalifa dynasty
  • Majority are Shiites (70%) who suffer tensions and systematic discriminations at the hands of the governing Sunnis
Call for reform: protesters are not seeking to overthrow the monarchy per se, but they do want more power to be transferred to parliament (which celebrated its tenth anniversary yesterday), as well as economic amendments, the release of political prisoners, the end of the use of torture, and greater political freedom.

Demure response: Lest the Bahrainis get any ideas in their heads in light of Tunisia's and Egypt's successes, the magnanimous king Hamad bin Issa Al-Khalifa sought to bribe-sorry kindly donate 1000 dinars to every household.

Talk about an angry violent storm of locusts swarming uh..violently against the peaceful protesters.

Following these 'bullying and barbaric policies" of the security forces, the opposition Shia group Al-Wefaq withdrew its members from parliament. Ali Abdulhadi Mushaima became the first martyr while the second, Fadhel Salman Matrook, was shot dead at Mushaima's funeral this morning. Security forces attempted to disperse the 10000 strong gathering for the funeral with the same tactics used to disperse yesterday's protests-by firing tear gas. Wonder who supplies them.

Epicenter Tahrir Style: the Pearl Roundabout

To be continued..

Singing the Praises of Ayman Mohyeldin

Early on during the Egyptian Revolution, we were enamored with dear Ayman. Julian Assange who? Move over there, it only took us about a month before we found ourselves agreeing with Robert Fisk assessment that Assange was indeed a man who entitled himself to a great deal of self-importance.

Ayman's clear cut analyses and top notch reporting has led us to discuss his physical status and jacket choices, which made our parents permanently switch back to the Al Jazeera Arabic channel instead. Still, it was nice while it lasted, and his being half Palestinian doesn't hurt his case at all.

A couple of interviews we eagerly lapped up before we remembered that the crush had faded:

The Daily Beast talks to him about...stuff.

This New York Magazine query stirred the feathers of a few righteous people because Ayman mentioned their silver fox Anderson Cooper. Somehow they automatically took it to be a diss on Anderson's part. Eh.

Oh, and apparently our knack for putting links here and there isn't going to end anytime soon.

  • We've seen this before on many articles, but this one sums it up pretty nicely. The winners and losers of the Revolution.

Monday, February 14, 2011

A Letter to the Nonexistent Palestinian Representative

Dear ------------

When we went home together in a taxi after classes finished on Saturday, the radio blared out that Saeb "Shalom to you in Israel, we have failed you" Erekat had resigned as Chief Negotiator, a position no one really elected him for. The grins on our faces rivaled that of the Cheshire Cat, as it proved that for all of his flustering and blustering and stammering and overriding defensive statements and accusations of being the subject of the most UNJUST smear campaign in the history of journalism, the Palestine Papers were in fact leaked from his office. Stalled peace talks? Stalled pea stalks.

Then came the news that the PA announced elections to be held in September. Ah, the repercussions of people power in Egypt. Facebook friends have been full of admiration of the Revolution, musing that it was time for Palestine to initiate one. Perhaps we're all caught up in the giddy aftermath and sweet notion of finally being proud of being Arab, but we entertained the idea for about an minute or two before concluding that the odds were overwhelmingly against us because if the PA forces didn't get us then the flying checkpoints hindering people's movement and right to congregate would, not to mention the effervescent mass arrests. Sadly, we don't number 80 million. We don't even number 10 million. Still..elections! A small hope for unity!

But then Hamas quickly dismissed any talks of elections, branding them as illegitimate and that they won't recognize them in the Gaza strip. Talk about being a party pooper. Hamasikins, darling, we fully understand the injustice of not being able to rule after being democratically elected just because the US and Israel objected to this kind of free and fair democracy. And we abhor how the US instigated and backed a Fateh coup that drastically backfired in Gaza, at the expense of brothers and compatriots torturing and killing each other in abominable ways. And to top it all off, a siege was imposed on that tiny strip of land you finally commandeered, thus limiting your ruling power to just 1.5 million people. But your demands of seeking elections after another 4 years in charge properly carried out over the Occupied Territories and Gaza is presumptuous, absurd, and selfish. This is a chance for Unity, a word that has become so hoarse and faded after repeatedly yelled out over and over again by the rationals, and you'd do well not to stand in the face of it. Anyway, you're just as bad as Fateh so there isn't much chance of either of you getting elected again- if the elections are not triggered of course.

If the calls for elections came from Hamas, then no doubt Fateh would have outrightly rejected them, since they are backed by the US which entitles them to look down their noses at their political bad boy Iranian backed rivals. But we are counting on Hamas to show more maturity in this case for THE GREATER COMMON GOOD. Imagine, a united front fighting against the occupation, as we should have been all along.

Fateh-we understand their leaders as corrupted ruthless mercenary quislings who favor "pea stalks" over resistance to the occupation and who have their very own foreign trained and supplied Special Police Force to clamp down on any dissenters. Hamas are just as ruthless and corrupt, which predictably happens to any resistance group that enters the dark soul-selling world of politics. Those pea shooters aimed at surrounding settlements are not gaining them any sympathy or admiration, even though they are technically legal in the sense that hey, they're doing some kind of resisting. Albeit firing blindly on Israeli settler civilians-a human race that make our skin crawl. You don't fight fire with fire, it makes you no better than the enemy. It's becoming all the more obvious that this is really a power struggle between Hamas and Fateh, and for that we hate them both. In fact, if Hamas really somehow did agree to election, it won't be because of their huge hearts and compassionate nature. They have both undermined the Palestine cause, forgetting about the usurper of land and despicable occupier Israel and becoming entrenched in finger pointing and rabid shouting on such Arabic talk shows such as Al-Itijah Al-Mu'akis. In fact, elections would actually pose the perfect opportunity to further and propagandize their own detrimental interests at the expense of the Palestinian people. Plus the finger pointing-we can't forget that!

Yet news of a cabinet reshuffle today on Monday by Prime Minister Salam Fayyad, who was American appointed and parceled if you please, burst through our floating bubbles of national unity. We try so goddamn hard to be positive, yet the negativity one again seeps in destroying our happy outlooks on life complete with fluffy bunnies and daisies. It's all so fishy, carrying with it assumptions that this reshuffling will serve the function of purposefully royally screwing up/complicating elections in September.

Hold up-what elections? Both Fateh and Hamas must agree to them (come ON Hamas, we'll build a Talmud-like institution just for you, a big one!) otherwise they serve no function other than to save Abbashole's hide from the wrath of growing dark muttering from the West Bankians. When we simplify everything all together, if it wasn't so sad it would have been so laughable: The Gaza Emirate, complete with rippling green flags who claim to resist the occupation by enforcing their version of a grossly distorted and mythologized semi-Islamic rule where women can't ride on motorcycles or smoke some good old shisha, and the West Bank Swiss Cheese, who enthusiastically carry out systematic arrests of rival politicians/supporters, complete with on again/off again peace negotiations against a backdrop of everlasting fraternization with the enemy-the same one who skirts around and fashions the cheesy holes by building territorial superior settlements and lovely Palestinian-clean settler only roads that connect like capillaries to the big heart that is Israel.

We must have missed the memo that announced Palestine to be an enclosed Gaza Strip and an obstacle-ridden West Bank. Sorry Haifa, Akka, Yafa, Safad, Majdal, Besan, and the other hundreds of villages turned kibbutz and Jewish only land.

In copycat style from the Egyptian youth leadership, we too have a list of seven demands, if you, oh Representative, would so kindly endorse and adopt:

1) Get rid of Abbashole and the pious Haniyeh. We're not benefiting from either of them.
2) The permanent dissolution of the PA
3) The stepping down of the Hamas government
4) National Unity
5) A caretaker coalition government comprised of respectable individuals and intellectuals with no political affiliations until fair elections are held. We'd gladly nominate a couple of our Cultural Studies professors. And, why not-Mustafa "All Eyez On Me" Barghouti. And Haider Eid.
6) Suspension of any talks and normalization with Israel.
7) Advocating nonviolent resistance including the imminently successful implementation of BDS to get the world on our side.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Ramallah Reaction to Egypt's Awesomeness

After an excess of whoops and cheers and lindy-hopping and spontaneous hugging of whoever was in arm's reach, the family-aunts and cousins included-settled down to watch the reaction from Arab cities. There was a crowd over at the Manara square, and my uncle's wife agreed to take me, my sister and my cousin over there. We were actually dressed for another cousin's joyous occasion, the first in a series of predetermined events before the actual wedding. I swapped heels for my chucks before we left, unlike my uncle's wife who chose to stay on the outer circle around the Manara once we arrived.

The ubiquitous Abu Ali was once again busy working his vocals on somebody's shoulders, and the two big flags of Egypt and Palestine were being enthusiastically waved. Families were there, little kids on their parents' shoulders, a few young women, but the majority of course were the men. At first glance it actually looked as if the photographers and journalists on top of the lions numbered more than the people on the ground. Once again though, not all the people were out there solely to celebrate Egypt's toppling of its dictator; the young men who loiter around Ramallah's streets at night were simply drawn to the crowd. It was these young men who turned the festive mood into something of a mas5ara/مسخرة with the emphasis on خرة. No doubt they must have thought it terribly amusing to sing silicone mess Haifa Wahby's Boos il Wawa (Kiss the booboo) amid celebratory chants of the Egyptian people removal of Mubarak.
Omar Barghouti was holding this up.

I decided it was time to leave. We barely spent 15 minutes there.

The next day at university, the students' reaction was absolutely infuriating. Not all of them, but there's a large number who believe that what happened in Egypt is Egypt's business alone and that we shouldn't be celebrating their cause because that won't help us. One even remarked dryly, "Hey, maybe the gas prices will then lower." They honestly believe that what happened in Egypt will not affect us at all. I HATE their cynicism. I LOATHE their pessimism. Thank god other students acknowledge that the revolution in Masr, Umm il Dunya (Mother of the World) will drastically change the face of the region. Thank god they understand what this means for Gaza-the collective punishment will finally by lifted. Thank god they hope for the best for the Egyptian political landscape.

The hardest part is yet to come for Egypt-refer back to Ali Abunimeh's link on the previous post. I just wish more people here would be positive about this momentous change. I remember a few days after the Tunisian revolution, watching the news with my mother. We both voiced our thoughts at the same time-If only Egypt would move, imagine what would happen to Arabs everywhere! I cynically replied, "Yeah right. They'll be out protesting one day, about three hundred of them, they'd get beaten up by the police, then they'd go home." It feels amazing to lose that cynicism.

PS There are more hilarious links found every day. Check this out! Also, I feel pretty proud to have read this in Arabic.
PPS I've meant to post this a long time ago. My friend from Saudi Arabia lives and studies in Egypt at the MSA University in Cairo and at my request wrote up a brief account (edited slightly by me) of what she went through:

9ra7a.. it was complicated..

let me tell u wut happened...

my friend lives with her bro..

he travelled on the 27th so she asked me to sleep over at her house that night so i can help her pack and so she wouldn't be alone.. my parents said no 1st cause they heard that there r gonna b riots... but my friend's relative said it would be a very calm 1 hour thing.. bs so i woke up on friday morning (28th) and my service kan sos at like 9... 6anasht w nomt... around 11 bardo kan sos... fa i asked my friend... galat hers is sos too... fa we put on the news... and it was ok... bs faj2a it started gettin really bad... and i freaked out cause i couldnt contact my mom and tell her that i won't come home or that im ok and what not... then 2 of my friend's brother's friends.. they came over to check up on us... and i started crying cause there was a curfew and i couldn't go home... fa one of them went to pick up my mom and sisters cause baba w 3bdullah r in jeddah and were home alone... he {the friend} wasnt supposed to go! bs 7mdilla nothing happened.. he brought them to my friend's house.. and i dunno why but his phone only got service but he could only receive calls.. so his bro called from saudi.. and i gave him my dads number... and he was like go home now and get ur passport and as soon as the curfew is over... go to the aiport... fa me and the 2 guys and my friends and mama and my sisters went home around 4 am... kan fe like 4 tanks next to my house fa i freaked out ! anyway we left at about 9... on r way to the airport... we found 3 buildings on fire... bayen ennu from last night theyre still burning bs no1 is puttin them out... w a few police trucks on fire on the side of the road... w tanks every here and there... bs other than that we were ok... the airport was reallllyyy crowded.. we gfot there at 11 and got on a plane around 5... it started gettin bad while we were at the airport... 50000 ppl were at medan al t7reeer... and 7mdilla right after we left.. all the raping and stealin and attacks started and wut not...
 my friend just called me.. she lives in alex... she says its a million times worse than cairo.. all her neighbors r in the streets with guns and knives and sticks and all that

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Egypt I Want to Have Your Babies

Question. Is Husni Mubarak still the president of Egypt?
Haha, got you there.

18 days. Millions upon millions of people. Egypt is reborn. There is absolutely no point in trying to capture the phantasmagoric elations shaking the country all around. Viva la revolution. May the dead rest in peace, those who sacrificed their lives for freedom. The sheer willpower of Egyptians. Their immense love and pride for their country. Their enviable united stance. The world salutes you.

The Guardian has more pics.

LISTEN TO THAT CROWD. That's the sound of millions getting their inalienable rights back.

I fear I've become somewhat incoherent-still caught up in the celebratory mood! I never thought I had it in me-a thousand ear-splitting ululations piercing the next hour and half since the news reached me. I had religiously followed the revolution unfolding in Egypt, cramming an average of ten hours a day of TV, and then a few more reading up articles and first hand accounts and watching videos online. I am desperately sleep deprived, my eyes have never been so googly, and I have completely neglected my university studies these past two weeks. Of course, it's not like Egypt was counting on me for anything or benefiting  from my hawkish obsession with news updates, but it just felt right. So I'm reduced to just posting links about everything and anything, my favorite being the youtube videos of course.

Army's role? This isn't something that should be downplayed or ignored, even if the army promised to oversee the next few months of Egypt while the country sorts itself out.

Tamer Hosni fail. Oh how we all laughed at him. He so resembles the beetles from A Bug's Life.

Rest assured neocons. No Islamist country. But that doesn't mean you can stop shitting yourselves with fear, especially when you realize that 11/2/11 is the 32nd anniversary of the Iranian revolution. I'm pretty sure the Glenn Becks of the world will find the insidious connection.

Please do not fall under corruption again. Learn from the mistakes of other countries.

Wael Ghonim went missing during the early stages of the revolution. He is so emotional. Yet sincere.  His interview on the Arabic Dream channel is better, because it captures the raw moments after his release, where he breaks down a few times, confesses that he had not slept in 48 hours, and reiterates over and over again that the protesters are the true heroes, not him.

Clayton Swisher, dissed as a former CIA agent by Looney Bin Erekat, writes this.

Tariq Ali quotes Nizar Qabbani in his congratulatory article. The prophecy indeed has been partly fulfilled.

Ali Abunimeh: the revolution is far from over.

I've shed a few tears every Friday, just absorbing the sight of millions on TV praying, displaying their covetable faith, and then listening to their uproarious unified chants against Mubarak and his regime. I cried a bit too when I saw this fantastic video-a compilation of the notable videos of this Revolution. One of the best parts was when the woman screaming for the young men to protect Egypt and they all surrounded her and kissed her hand. Dang, tearing up again.

Another amazing video.

Sout Al Huriyeh. The Sound of Freedom.

Egypt, you amazing upholding nation of people power, take a bow.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Offendum on Al Jazeera

Because we adore you.

Egyptian rapper? Faiiil.

Also...rosaries as necklaces. Not big fans of. That's just the superficiality coming out of us though ;)

#Jan 25 Egypt, featuring Offendum, The Narcycist, Amir Suleiman,Ayah, and Freeway.

Since our souls are uncovered right now...we've heard better songs about revolutionary Egypt. Still love you guys though!

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Good Shit-Revolutionary Style*

* Highly subjective of course. In case anyone is experiencing an Egypt burnout, because that jackass still doesn't know how to leave. No dignity dude.

Egyptian hip hop crew Arabian Knightz came out with this spiffy one, called Rebel.Their upcoming album is called Uknighted State of Arabia. UPDATE: Here's the youtube etc

Everyone is harping on about Lupe Fiasco's new song. We loved it. Then we liked it. Then we rejected it after facebook ensured everyone loved it (and after listening to it on repeat for 500 tines). Now we like it again.

Bella and Edward look out! Uprising by Muse. No? Yeah.

How awesome are they? Ska-p with Intifada.

Raaaaaaaaage Against the Machine. Bulls On Parade. We're saving the other song for a post of its own ;)

And it won't do not to have a song by one of our favourties, Abdelhalim Hafez.

And another video we can't get stop singing, especially in that voice. Kullina, eed wa7da, ir7al!

Egyptian Solidarity Rally Worked This Time (sort of)

The last few days of the solid millions of protesting Egyptians got me thinking how Palestinians would react in a similar situation. But the fact of the matter is that we are so segmented from each other, with political party allegiances prioritizing over national ones, that it was hard for me to envisage a true Palestinian people revolution where citizens from all walks of life, young old religious secular rich poor students employees etc, intensely unite against a common adversary (either the PA or the Israeli occupation-take your pick) simply for the reason of wanting a proper representative or their basic freedom, without propagating factional or religious interests.

Expressing solidarity for either Tunisia or Egypt in Ramallah has been met with PA saboteurs, which only allowed a small pro-Mubarak demonstration. PA spokesman Adnan Damiri announced that all protests were illegal and not allowed because "our policy is that we don't intervene in the internal affairs of other countries." However, Saturday was proclaimed to be the International Day in Support of Global Democracy, an event sponsored by a number of civil society organizations and individual artists and that was largely promoted by social networking media. The announcement included "Participation Guidelines" warning that this was a non-violent rally not coordinated by any political party, therefore only Egyptian, Palestinian, and Tunisian flags be brought and not factional signs. I told my friend the minute I see the yellow Fateh flag I would be going home. The rally would be in sync with ones taking place the same day in Jerusalem and Bethlehem at 2 pm. It looked like the PA had given this one the green light to go ahead, perhaps to save face from its undemocratic decision to ban any solidarity protests. Abbas certainly knows how to pick his friends, and is scared shitless lest the Palestinians in the West Bank get afflicted with the revolutionary fever. It's the same in Gaza; any protest unbacked by Hamas immediately got shut down.

I've already spoken about the university's nonchalant reaction toward the unfolding events in Egypt, but today on campus a suspension of classes after noon was declared, and a bus was to collect participants and drop them off at the Manara square in Ramallah. It wasn't clear what time classes would resume, but some of the teachers wanted to take part in the rally. It would be shameful if we didn't put on at least one good demonstration for the heroic Egyptian protesters. I walked past the bus, where students bundled in with rolled up posters. I hoped the turnout would be good, not just from students but from everyone.

The crowd when I arrived at the Manara square was a sizable one, but the chants could only be heard faintly from a smaller inner group of people. After five minutes of standing there, I went to photocopy a book down the road and returned ten minutes later to a bigger crowd, slowly finding their voices. Along with my friend and my sister, I pushed in to get to where the chants were concentrated most, thanking the young man who gave me a tiny flag of Egypt. Abu Ali, an elderly man in a kuffiyeh known for leading chants at demonstrations, was up on someone's shoulders shouting rhymes about despotic Arab leaders, Ramallah hailing Tahrir square, and "Thawra thawra hata nasr! Revolution until we achieve victory!" Suddenly, the ever popular staccato that summed up the Egyptians' protests was given about a dozen rounds: The people deMAND the END of the reGIME! It was simply glorious, everyone in one deafening voice. Then an American flag was burned amidst cheers and whistles of approval, but I thought it was unnecessary and untactful. The USA is the crown of imperialism that backs tyrannical corrupt Arab governments for fear of national independence or pan-Arabism or whatever, but we were protesting in solidarity with Egypt, who in twelve days so far have not burned a single American or Israeli flag.

It looked like everyone was having a good time. The sky was cloudy but had stopped drizzling. Posters with Gamal Abdel-Nasser were held up, Egyptian and Palestinian flags rippled together with one or two Tunisian flags in the distance, and more and more people joined us which added to the buoyant atmosphere. Finally, we were allowed to express our voices, try out the chants the Egyptians made popular, and smile furtively as we chanted them out with other intentions. "The people demand the end of the regime" perhaps wasn't only alluding to Mubarak's...

The students from Birzeit University arrived, and they seemed to be a group on their own. They began moving away from the Manara square into Rukab Street, and many people followed suit. Yet unity was definitely missing here. I heard someone say that the PFLP party was leading the procession with their own chants, while the Fateh party was just behind us, also with their own chants. We were all moving together which made it more cacophonous, not knowing whether to repeat after chants of "Down with Mubarak!" or "Egypt is Palestine, and Palestine is Egypt." Two million people in Cairo shouted together in unison yesterday, whereas a couple of thousand people in Ramallah couldn't remonstrate in consonance. It was fairly disappointing to say the least. I saw a lot of my teachers who I greeted, and remarked to one of them that this was a good turnout. She quietly replied, "This is not a lot of people." The days of more than a few thousand milling around the Manara square were over due to the political crackdown by the PA on anything not pro-sulta, as anything otherwise is conceived as a threat to Abbas's dominion of a few cities sadly riddled with checkpoints and settlements.

We headed back to the Manara, and there were as many as five or six different people intoning all at the same time: national unity, no to division, Ramallah and proud Gaza hail Egypt, the people demand the fall of Erekat, no to negotiations, no to normalization, the people demand the annulment of the Oslo agreement, CIA out of the country, Arab leaders are so shameful, the people demand the end of occupation, etc. Then it sort of fizzled out a bit. Abu Ali was still on the shoulders of a man, but without a loudspeaker no one could hear what he was saying unless he was facing us. Other men were sporadically shouting out slogans but more and more people were just standing there, not knowing again who to repeat after. One guy behind me was discussing the situation is Egypt with his non-Palestinian friend and described Mubarak in delightfully colorful words, my favorite being "He's such a persistent fuck."

My friend decided to go home, and my sister and I found my mother standing outside the railings of the Manara. I sighed and began griping about how people couldn't be united even for this cause when she gave me a look and murmured close to my ear that the plainclothes police were behind us. I stole a look, noting they were weedier and scrawnier than the Egyptian thugs I saw on TV, rolled my eyes and stared back at the crowd from my slightly elevated position, my flag slightly crumpled. All of a sudden I saw a Styrofoam board with "Down with Abbas" written on it in Arabic. I quickly told my sister to snap a picture of it, and sure enough seconds later the board was ripped into pieces and the man holding it up was dragged away. The plainclothes behind me were buzzing, "Keep your eye on him...he's changed his jacket.." One man jumped out of nowhere and began yelling "The people demand the fall of Abbas!" but no one swarmed up on him which obviously meant that he was part of the secret police hoping to instigate others. Some of the crowd, who were onto him, yelled back "The people demand the end of disunity" but the man was joined by two others who were then all hoisted up onto shoulders, still screaming for the end of Abbas. It was such a poor blatant show of instigation, that even the foreign journalists around us were muttering all too knowingly. A couple of scuffles broke out as the plainclothes dragged away a few men, and that was the end of the Egyptian solidarity rally. It seemed inevitable that Abbas's goons would screw this peaceful assemblage over. The same men who had shouted for Abbas' demise were now yelling over and over again "The people. Want. Mahmoud. Abbas!" A few people urged the others to start up one of the popular chants, "Mubarak is a coward, he is America's agent" in an attempt to drown out the insultingly rude men but the mood was broken and the crowd was slowly drifting apart. A yellow Fateh umbrella was unfurled. My mother, sister and I began walking away from the Manara. When I looked back, more Fateh flags had materialized and we could hear the men yelling out pro-Abbas slogans-our rightful president, our role model, etc. They went further though; chants about Al Jazeera being Zionist and not Arab, chants against Hamas, chants for the division of Gaza and the West Bank, and to demonstrate their imbecilic deficient selves, chants against Tehran. In the end, it had to be all about them.

No one could doubt that these Fateh supporters were planted among us for the very glaring purpose of one way or another, turning it into a Fateh celebration. It's completely sickening and frustrating to know that we have reached a stagnant point. Any protest must be infiltrated with dozens of plainclothes police. Anyone daring to speak out against the PA or even have the nerve to publicly advocate national unity is promptly arrested. Those outside the country wrote that the PA has lost any shred of credibility it hung on to as a result of the leaked Palestine Papers, but they were disappointed by the lack of response on behalf of Palestinians who did not take to the streets demanding the dissolution of the PA. The Palestine Papers did not reveal anything we did not know. Saeb Erekat's offer of the biggest Yerushalayim shouldn't have caused an uproar (minor or not) as for years we have seen East Jerusalem disappearing under its Judaized neighborhoods and incessant settlements. Raja Shehadeh wrote of an emerging strong police state in the West Bank which contrasts ironically with the surge of revolutionary change currently taking place in Arab countries. We have a double fight on our hands-overcoming the corrupt PA and instating a new government devoid of Fateh and Hamas representatives (wishful thinking), and resisting against the Israeli occupation, which should have been our only contest.

A couple of days ago, I was embroiled in an online debate with a friend. He had written that none of the Arabs cared about the Palestinians and that we in turn shouldn't care about them. I patiently explained to him that the Arab governments couldn't care less about us because of the nature of their relationships with the USA and Israel who supply them with military aid and business deals, and that they saw us as a tenacious problem, but the average Arab common man were sympathetic to our cause. One thing led to another, and I was spewing out words like "sell-outs", "traitors", "corrupt mercenaries" and he countered back with the childish justifications that the PA learn from their mistakes and were a good force for us all-look at how the number of stolen cars have drastically reduced! I pointed out the failure of negotiations, that ever since 2005 we haven't achieved any small part sovereignty, and that Israel has successfully put up more checkpoints, built more settlements, evicted more Palestinians, expropriated more land-in short, making us more occupied than we ever were. He opened my eyes to the sad truth-one that I refused to believe that likable people could ever be victim to- that there is a large majority who wholeheartedly support the PA and would rise to its defense without thinking. I thought that the only people like that were goons. In today's rally, I saw people who earnestly shouted for the end of the division and for national unity. They didn't give a damn about about any political party/faction or had either become disillusioned with them a long time ago, and wanted the Palestinians to be a unitary population. I fear that we might be a tiny minority. If we weren't, then there would have been protests against the PA. Abbas has been president for six years now, there's only twenty four years left until we could be level with Egypt-more than enough time for a sufficient people's revolution.

Also found over at Mondoweiss.

Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Mubarak Sends Disrupting Camel-Jockeys

Ghazwit Uhud: Down with you infidels!
Around two thirty pm, I received a text from my mother, who texts in both languages: سلمات هجموا البلطجية, the thugs came out. My initial reaction was, Shit. I was in class, and still had an hour left. Mubarak's speech last night was fatuous at best. But it was also ominous. I had a feeling that there was going to be some bloodshed tomorrow, no matter on what scale it was on. After millions of people protesting peacefully with only verbal vitriol aimed at the regime, Mubarak's "I will die on Egypt's soil" rah-rah foreshadowed that events would unfold differently the next day. I was itching to get back home. The university has been completely apathetic to the ongoing changes in Egypt ever since the first Day of Anger. You can't even find students discussing the situation in either surreptitious or enthusiastic groups. The Palestinian Authority backed television (it seems incongruous to say "state" television) has been pretty quiet too, bringing silly soap operas instead of news coverage. I've been coming straight home after classes since last week or so, plopping myself down in front of Al Jazeera, absorbing the inflamed masses with exhilaration, with my laptop on my knees. This position would be kept for hours. I don't think I've opened a book since, because James Joyce and Robert Burns are so trivial, so extraneous.

One shouldn't call those pro-Mubarak supporters demonstrators. They came with one mission and that was to disrupt the peaceful protests, to incite fear and acts of violence, and to disperse the protesters away from Tahrir square. They're to be called thugs, or baltagia in Arabic. The West Bank has its own fair share of thuggery too. Beefy jerks with one track minds who when given the green light, know no mercy whether their victims be women and children or the elderly. It's obvious, from the tactics used, that they were both trained and supplied by the same system-thank you Uncle Sam. In Egypt, there are rumors that these pro-Mubarak supporters were bribed, and that shouldn't surprise anyone. One old lady, shriveled and dressed in black, shouted "Long Live Mubarak!" displaying her one yellow tooth. People like her, conspicuous by their tattered shoes-if they had any- and ragged clothing, most likely came from the Ashwa'iyat areas in Cairo, the most destitute neighborhoods in the country, where those lucky to have houses are furnished with corrugated tin roofs. Seventeen dollars must have felt like a pot of gold at the end of a rainbow for them.

I have no idea who Mubarak is trying to fool. For the first time in Egypt's history, there is a true people's revolution going on. They want the tyrant OUT, and they want a democratic government chosen by the people, for the people. The US can learn a thing or two about this concentrated people power. And that's the beautiful thing about it all, the revolution is comprised from human beings from all walks of life who want to overthrow the despotic system and create a new constitution, a new government that best serves their interests. No more hogging up of power, no to hereditary rule, and no to foreign dabbling. The protests have not witnessed any burning of Israeli or USA flags. Islamists (what a stupid made up word) are not pulling the strings here. A future democratic Egypt has no reason to war with Israel. It might give the Israelis an incentive to war with them, but Israel's known for its barbaric distortions of peace. The siege on Gaza will no longer be, but wait--weapons are being smuggled in! Bibi has thrown his weight behind Mubarak, and small wonder since the Nazi ideologue is apparent here: The brutal repressive and oppressive tyranny over 80 million people in order to secure the lives of the 6 million Israeli Jews, because they're better than everyone else. That the 80 million should even dare to think of protesting is unthinkable, unwanted. That protests have actually gone on in full force is disastrous. The Israeli government has always been the Israelis' worst enemy. They resort to fear-mongering tactics instead of promoting genuine peace with the first neighboring Arab country to recognize its existence.

Back to the thugs aka the secret popo. They came in droves, riding Lawrence of Arabia style on camels and horses, armed with machetes and sticks and knives, yelling out their cries of undying loyalty to Mubarak. They set buildings on fire, and climbed up on the roofs to throw petrol bombs and Molotov cocktails down onto the crowd. Close fighting took place between the thugs and protesters, rocks were raining down. They caused mayhem and chaos, which is Mubarak's way of saying, "I am the stabilizing force. Without me, chaos is only the beginning." No one is falling for that. He needs to change his strategies. Obama needs to come up with new ones.

Protesters have seized police ID's from some of those thugs and presented them to cameras, for the whole world to see. Hundreds are reported wounded, with the make shift clinics around Tahrir square overwhelmed. I'm not sure how many people died, the official number isn't out yet. The peaceful, carnival like atmosphere changed into a war zone for a few hours today. And all of this just to buy Mubarak some time to properly "transition" power to a government that will agree and abide to the US's demands and policies. al Baradei who? I don't trust him at all. He seems like another US puppet waiting in the wings. The opposition groups have already met and agreed to a coalition government.

I don't think I've necessarily said anything new here. Powerful images are seared in my mind, particularly the one with Egyptians wrapped in white burial shrouds, symbolizing their willingness to die for freedom. The chants of the peaceful crowd are tattooed to my brain, yearning to yell them out outside my home. But I can't even do that, thanks to the sulta. Before I launch into the usual harangue about that idiotic failure, enjoy these links.

More from Ahmed Moor about today's events.

Freakin amazing pictures. Here's a teaser:

Palestinian poet Tamim al Barghouthi

Don't you ever make those mistakes...ever!

Twitter Revolution? Oh you fools. Great Interview.

It is not the most amazing video on the internet, but it comes close.

Robert Fisk on the Million(s!) People March

Seems like Hosni Mubarak is determined to leave Egypt humiliated. Today marked the point where it was too late for him to make a gracious humble exit.

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

PA Disperses Egypt Solidarity Rally

Revolutions are dangerous. First Tunisia, then Egypt. Abbasshole doesn't want to the proletariats to start getting any ideas, so his security forces have been menacingly keeping order. At 4 pm on Sunday a solidarity rally was to take place in front of the Egyptian Embassy. Turnout predictably was low,as either the people of Ramallah didn't want to brave the rain or had a better Sunday afternoon activity. We're completely nonplussed. All around the world people in many countries have come out in support of the Egyptian people, and here the reaction is barely worth noting. What's wrong with us?

Anyway, security forces clamped down on this dangerous threat of a more than 5-person congregation:

Demonstrators tried multiple times to argue with police and army officers, invoking democracy and the right to free speech, but to no avail. The answer remained the same, over and over again: ‟It is forbidden to be here. Go home.” As demonstrators were being pushed back, armed men and security forces multiplied and kept pouring onto the street, either from nearby official buildings or from cars driving up to the scene. One car displaying the PA logo with ‘Protection Forces’ written in Arabic and English—even pretended to charge at the demonstrators before screeching to a halt only a couple of meters in front of the crowd. Rifle-carrying men dressed in civilian clothes then came out of the car quickly, as if on some emergency drill.

Some US human rights group has denounced the PA's actions regarding the rally.

Raja Shehadeh wrote that ironically, as people in the Middle East have woken up and are shifting toward change or at least protesting their governments, the West Bank is turning into a vicious police state. Ahmed Moor's riveting account of his experience at the hands of the Egyptian plainclothes police echo the tactics of the Palestinian equivalent, especially during a protest in 2009 in Ramallah about the massacre going on in Gaza at that time.

Maybe people are beyond disillusioned now, since they now realized that they have to ultimately get rid of the collaborative autocratic (in its own rights) PA regime before tackling the Israeli occupation. The intifadas that captured the hearts of millions of Arabs are no longer viewed as a way out, since the 1st resulted in the calamitous PA with the increase of Israeli oppression and occupation, and the 2nd in even more Israeli oppression and occupation. That would explain the unpopularity of protests/rallies at this point. But then, one needs to ask, since foresight isn't that common, what next?

UPDATE: Not wanting to feel left out, Hamas also oppressed Gaza's version of an Egypt solidarity rally.