Thursday, April 28, 2011

Hamas and Fateh: A Tale of Two Expletives

Try them out. It's rewarding in a childish way.
"Fateh off Netanyahu!"
"I will kick the living Hamas out of you."
"You stupid motherFateh, get off the road!"
"What a Hamasface."
"Your mother is a dirty Fatehsucking bish."
 "I don't give a flying Hamas."

Once upon a time, Palestine held its first transparent democratic election. Some Palestinians were prevented from voting as Israel sprung up flying checkpoints here and there, thus stalling them until it was too late. Nevertheless, the average turnout was around 74%. The parties running for elections numbered six, but it was essentially a two horse race between Fateh and Hamas. Long story short, Hamas won the majority of the seats in the Palestinian Legislative Council (74 to Fateh's 45). Sugar Daddy Bush Jr did not like the outcome at all. Many were thrown by surprise at the result. And thus, the USA nodded its head sagaciously as it completely undermined the whole election on the basis that Arabs still don't know how democracy works, and implemented that theory by causing internal strife/civil war/political separation of two territories after an attempted US backed coup backfired/installing American trained and supplied security forces whose job is to crush dissent in the West Bank/ and finally, giving its blessing to an imposed siege on the Gaza strip. Don't forget the three billion dollars annual military aid that enforces Israel's security, i.e. occupation!

White America, do you see why we blame you for our misery?

The Fateh led PA's sole concern was to continue funneling in those millions of dollars in foreign aid, promoting an illusion of a feasible state complete with a booming industry, while arresting anyone who had wet dreams/nightmares about Hamas.

Hamas' sole concern was to revel in its new "emirate", painting Gaza green in the midst of international ostracism while it continued to promote the facade of resistance by firing shoddy tinpots at nearby settlements, which culminated in an internationally complicit massacre in December 08/January 09.

Fateh disallowed demonstrations that has anything to do with Hamas, securing its grip on a newly formed police state. All traces of green flags disappeared, replaced by the desperate gaudiness of the yellow Fateh flags.

In Gaza, Hamas flaunted its corrupted demeanor and autocratic nature as it too suppressed any dissenting voices. We are not aware of the atmosphere in the universities there but it requires little imagination.

At Birzeit University, students affiliated with Hamas were promptly arrested and in some cases tortured, while the PA turned a blind eye and the university administration proved its deadly incompetence yet again. The student party affiliated with Fateh never missed a chance to publicly diss Hamas and spread its vile propaganda. Hamas withdrew from student elections for two years, in protest at the treatment and continued imprisonment of its party members at the hands of other students.

Israel and her supporters congratulated themselves over glasses filled with Gazan children's blood to what they saw as a win-win situation for them. Hamas "Destroyer of Israel" were effectively isolated and under siege (the other 1.5 million population were viewed as collateral damage) and Fateh "Negotiations Evermore" were their sniveling lapdogs, eagerly pushing for Israeli land takeovers in return for money. The real losers, the average Palestinian, witnessed with anguish as the Palestinian cause and self-determination were essentially shelved somewhere among history's back pages. Calls for unity fell on deaf ears.

Fateh, the instant collaborator of Israel. Hamas, a ruthless regime. One thing they have in common is their despotic self-interests at the cost of the Palestinians, their tyrannical incumbency.

Yesterday the two sides signed reconciliatory papers. Our sarcastic demands for them to kiss and make up were finally heeded. Brokered by a new Egypt, Hamas and Fateh seemingly put an end to five years of malicious discontent and animosity. How well was this news received? The Guardian has the best sub-heading: Celebration in Gaza City is dispersed by police wielding batons, while Ramallah seems more concerned with Champions League.

Ain't that the truth.

People shouldn't be heralding this as a new era for Palestinian unity that would now commonly advocate the Palestinian cause and seek repercussions from Israel for its continued apartheid and occupation polices, etc. Why did Hamas and Fateh sign an agreement yesterday? Why now? What gives?

Fateh's response to the Arab Spring revolutions was to pay lip service to change in the political system for fear of having the serfs revolting. It lost a major ally in Mubarak's Egypt, and found itself being propelled by one less puppet string. Likewise, Hamas is trying to steer away from any ties to the Syrian regime, that funder of annihilative cache of weapons, as Dr Bashar al Assad's penchant for killing protesters did not go by unnoticed.

How in the world can these two ideologies be married into an agreement? How will the PA operate when the international community shuns it thus forgoing any financial aid? What sort of interim government will this joint effort be like? Where does Israel fit in this equation? In fact, a lot of our questions mirror  Ali Abunimeh's, whose perspective on this so-called progressive step forward is a must read.
If there is an agreement on a joint “government” how can it possibly function without Israeli approval? Will Israel allow Hamas ministers be able to operate freely in the occupied West Bank? Will PA officials be able to move freely between the West Bank and Gaza? Israel is effectively at peace with the current Abbas wing of the Palestinian Authority and at war with Hamas. Impossible to see how such a government can operate under Israeli occupation. If anything this proves the impossibility of democracy and normal governance under Israeli military occupation.
Netanyahu made a somber appearance on TV. He said that the PA must chose either peace with Israel, or peace with Hamas. This takes us back to the conceptual meaning of Peace in Israelispeak. We're tempted to shout back, "Bring it on suckers!" but who are we kidding.

The whole point of unity should be "unity of goals for the Palestinian people" and not unity of factions. Factional unity, is it really in our best interests? Considering the agendas and actions of Fateh and Hamas in recent years and how that has affected the Palestinians, it's really a non-question.

Honestly, when we heard the news we were waiting for further explication. "And then what?" Our noses crumpled in disdain because there's gotta be some kind of ulterior motive. Whatever happened to Fayyad's 2011 Palestinian state, one that excludes Gaza?

On the bright side, maybe the hunger strikers can find a new hobby now.

Today on campus we saw a sickening sight. In front of the student council building, celebratory-like, the loudspeakers were out once again, a small mast had Fateh, Hamas, and PFLP flags, and students took turns eulogizing "O unity, thou honorable thing" shit into the microphone. The same students that not too long ago made it their favorite pastime to denounce Hamas and exalt Fateh on every occasion. We kept walking.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

PalFest This Year

PalFest generally is something we all look forward to, but a number of things made the event when it came to Birzeit University this year anti-climatic. At least for us. First of all, there was barely anything done to herald the coming of PalFest on campus. Last year we were involved within a large group of volunteers who acted as each writer's personal guide/barnacle as we lead them here and there. We spent the week leading up stapling PalFest posters in every building all around campus, breaking nails as we battled with rusty tacks and stiff boards. On the actual day classes were suspended for the students majoring in English as it was mandatory to sign up for and participate in a workshop. This year, not many students were aware of when PalFest was actually going to take place, and when Monday the 18th rolled around everyone went to their classes/loitered in the cafeterias as usual, thus missing out on the plenary held in the Kamal Nassar building. For those who had classes at 11 am, they were surprised to see a foreigner sitting at the teacher's desk. So in a way, students were forced to attend workshops they didn't sign up for because a) they knew nothing about the whole thing, and b) lack of organizational and advertising skills, which is what point (a) is about but we felt we had to compensate for our blunder by sounding insipidly smart.

Initially we had signed up for two separate workshops with Bidisha, because her name is cool and her lack of a surname appeals to us, in a way that Madonna did for damaged hair broken housewives back in the 1930's. Also, in Arabic "bideesh" means "I don't want to", and we are a couple of very easily amused nut cases. Sadly, as it transpired, we didn't actually have a choice in attending the workshop.

Our Shakespeare class was occupied by the kindly Anne Chisholm, a journalist and critic who wrote four biographies about surely fascinating people. The class/workshop was spent by students asking her questions about biography-writing, how does a person feel when they know that someone else is writing a book about their life, and simply, "Is it fun?" Anne enjoys the experience and said that the best part for her was doing all the research prior to the actual writing. Yes, we'd like to research every tidbit of Johnny Depp's life and entitle the book as Johnny Depp, the Freedom Fighter That Never Was. That is such a best-seller title right there. Then we all did a little exercise, where everyone had to pick a person to write about and mention four reasons  for doing so. Heba chose her dad, Linah picked Vittorio Arrigoni.

And that, for us, was that. Compared to what happened last year (appealing to God to stop making Remi Kanazi such a douchebag, which turned out to be everyone's first impression of  him ["Hi, I'm famous, google me and you'll see"] but who is actually such a down to earth humorous guy, to expanding with love in the presence of Adam Foulds and Nathalie Handal's sweet, sweet natures) this year we have no memorable anecdotes. So we enlisted  the help of two fellow students, who shared with us their account of what went down from their perspective.

Fawziah AbuAllan didn't know what to expect in a workshop with John McCarthy:
For the fourth consecutive year, BZU took a day to host the Palestaine Festival for literature. Many poets, authors, and other literary figures from abroad were invited so that they could share with us their experience through the workshops that were held.

I was lucky for having this chance to meet one of the authors in person, John McCarthy, who wrote about his trauma after being captured in Lebanon and held as a hostage for five years in Beirut, a prisoner in Lebanon.
 After John introduced himself, he asked us to write about our own traumas, and how we felt about them. I wrote about my brother's death. I couldn't finish reading it because I couldn't help myself but to cry. It was really emotional for all of us because we shared personal information we didn't know about each other. We had something in common; all of us have this kind of memory which makes us fall apart whenever we remembered or talked about it. After he heard our stories, he was impressed or in his own words, " amazed". I remember him saying, "I'm sorry, I'm just a journalist and you are the real poets!" We were happy to hear this, because his words were just sublime, exactly what we needed to hear whenever we felt tired and frustrated by life under occupation. He gave us the motive to write and to continue writing what we began because Palestinians are the only ones who can write about what is considered as "The Real Story", away from the banal media coverage.
This unforgettable experience will be always in my heart and mind because I took something precious from it: his words, advice, and motivation.

Alice Yousef accomplished one of her dreams by meeting her role model:
Palfest, the Palestine Festival of Literature is one event that I wait for every year as it graces Palestine with its presence in April. I have been passionately waiting for Palfest this year, as I had an amazing experience with Palfest last year. It happened that this year Palfest turned out to be more than rewarding, starting from my experience with two workshops at Birzeit University and ending on the ground at Al-Sakakini Cultural Center. On Monday, Palfest gave amazing workshops for the BZU English majors.. it was very much a gratifying experience as we got to share our writings with famous authors who in turn shared their experience, writings and books with us. This year attending the workshops at university was different, because sadly there was no reading. The workshops however were a natural flow or creativity. Yet with no reading at university I craved for good literature. Having heard of a reading at Al-Sakakini Cultural Center, I decided not to miss it and was glad I didn’t. The reading opened in a small room, crowded with faces, some familiar..others not so much. Hearing the writers and intellectuals speak was an experience by itself, empowering and inspiring for an emerging writer/poet as . It was much later that I could take it all in, as I am still over the clouds for the chance that was handed to me: talking to one of my role-models in writing Alice Walker, who was very down to earth and executes passion for life and writing . Being there at Palfest still leaves a mark on my life, that’s why I’ll still wait for Palfest next year.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

No Fly Zone Over Palestine

Head on over to GazaTV News for more

Dear international community,

No we do not have vast oil resources, but Gaza especially is home to some exotic and beautiful flowers that used to be a major export before the calamitous siege, which is entering its fifth year. Also, Gaza grows its own strawberries, which the Palestinians in the West Bank are in desperate need of since the only strawberries they can get are the Israeli produced and excessively hormone-sprayed ones. They look large and ripe, but taste of absolutely nothing. They may also have cancerous substances. The war planes, F-16 missiles and Apache helicopters mostly frequent the Gaza Strip, which is where we are asking you primarily to focus the imposition of a no fly zone. You see, it is a heavily populated area-4,110 people per square kilometer, which in total encompasses 365 kilometer squares-and when Israel starts its bombing, there's no question of civilians not being killed in the process. Oh, and keep a look out for our grandparents' villages they were ethnically cleansed from-they're still Palestinian territory to us.

Oil is eventually going to run out, but flowers and strawberries aren't. Remember that.

Palestinian Children

Monday, April 25, 2011

Easter For Palestinians

There are almost 160,000 Palestinian Christians. On Sunday, many of them were denied by Israeli police to attend the Church of Holy Sepulcher in Jerusalem.

From PressTV:

Tens of of thousands of Christian pilgrims from around the world annually flood the city of al-Quds during Holy Week (the week preceding Easter,) to pray at the Church of the Holy Sepulcher, an ancient structure built over the spot Christians believe to be the tomb of Jesus Christ and one of the most sacred spots in Christendom.

This year, however, a heavy Israeli police presence has prevented the vast majority of Christian pilgrims, including West Bank-based Palestinian Christians, from reaching the church to pray and attend the ceremonies within, a Press TV correspondent reported on Saturday.

Palestinian Christians from the West Bank rarely make the pilgrimage to al-Quds because Israel does not allow them into the holy city.

Christian pilgrims anxious to reach the Church of the Holy Sepulcher were met instead by a phalanx of Israeli police check points -- both at the gates of the Old City, and inside.

The Israeli checkpoints, manned by at least a thousand Israeli policemen, imposed even more restrictions than usual on the crowds of worshippers, preventing many of them from attending the ceremonies.

Israel has denied free access to holy places of worship to both Christians and Muslims, on several important occasions.

Holy Saturday follows Good Friday and precedes Easter Sunday. According to mainstream Christian beliefs, Holy Saturday commemorates the day when the body of Jesus was laid in the tomb, after his crucification and death on the preceding day, which is known as Good Friday. They maintain he was resurrected on Easter Sunday.

The Holy Saturday vigil culminates with the lighting of a taper kindled by the sacred fire -- an eternal flame, which burns over an altar in the Church of the Holy Sepulcher. The priest's taper is then used to light the thousands of individual candles held by the worshippers. The lighting of the taper symbolizes the resurrection of Jesus Christ. The light from the sacred fire is then sent to Amman, Damascus, Beirut and capitals throughout Europe.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Obama's Peace Plan

It seems like forever since we wrote about something that actually has to do with university. Last Saturday there was something called Open Day where each department stages a show or fundraising event just for the fun of it all. Yeah we didn't attend. Now we're on Easter break, which is supposed to feel good but the papers and research projects our professors love to cram in last minute are entrenched in our minds, especially since we have no particular desire to work on them. Oh and next Wednesday there might be a strike from the faculty, who are demanding an increase in their wages since they receive their salaries in Jordanian dinars and its currency rate dropped. Other than that, we're having a hard time finding some new Fashion Fugs. Seriously, why has everyone started to dress normally? How are we going to keep ourselves entertained? What are we supposed to snark about now?

Why, Obama's peace plan of course. When it comes to Palestine, there should be a new term for peace since that word has been dragged through the mud for so long now to the point where it has lost all value and sense. Everyone wants to see peace between Israel and Palestine, even the Zionists. And peace, according to some mainstream urbanized folklore dictionary, is defined as thus:

    • Peace /pi:s/; noun: a conceptualization designated by close collaboration of one outside power and one domestic power to bring about the total legitimization of a militarily and financially backed said domestic power/racial group's subjugation, control, and authority (i.e. one that calls all the shots) over a weakened, dispossessed. and fragmented-usually indigenous- racial group, for the purpose of normalizing the state of oppression the latter group lives under, under the pretense of two states, one viable the other a mere bantustan, to end all hostilities on one side and furthering the right to security for the other, at whatever cost.
Just call it apartheid. No, that's not quite right...the concept fits but not the context. Ah, yes. American foreign policy.

This peace plan is yet another regurgitation of Western foreign policy. Forgive us for asking, but shouldn't the population suffering under the Middle East's oldest dictatorship be included in the calls for peace? Shouldn't the BDS' (which represent more than 170 Palestinian civil society groups) three edicts be taken into consideration? If it weren't for politics then the three demands shouldn't have to be taken into consideration but rather be implemented at once, since it is a matter of human rights and justice.

Anyhoo, just to put off our term papers and projects even more, let's see what Obama's conditions are.
          • No Right of Return 
          • Maybe a Palestinian state on the 1967 borders
          • Israel must maintain its security
          • Negotiations back on the table, for another 20 years at least
We like our current position better actually. Change is so god damned hard. We can't imagine a state with half of its people, refugees all over the world, forbidden from entering. We can't imagine living under a corrupt authority that has been engaging with the enemy in negotiations for decades. We can't imagine Israel maintaining its security in a trigger-happy way whereas Palestinians are offered no such security. We can't imagine a "viable" state on the '67 borders with settlements riddling the area like slabs of litter. So we're opting to live under our present conditions, which are drastically different from Obama's offers, until we grow up a little and take control of a true Palestinian representative to engage in plans for peace in Palestine. Because we won't accept someone else dictating our own destinies. Because we can't keep on waiting for a true Palestinian leadership. Because our grandparents' generations lost the land, our parents' generation fucked the land over, and now our generation is transitioning to take matters into our own hands. (Apart from the hunger strikers, God knows what they're still doing in that measly tent of theirs.)


Thursday, April 21, 2011

Palestinian Prisoners Boost the Morale of Israeli Guards

Between 1967 and present time more than 700,000 Palestinians have been detained by the Israeli Occupation Forces. That means that every Palestinian family had or has a member in Israeli prisons. We can certainly testify to that since, as we comfortably type this up on beds with the best mattresses in the country, hardcore revolutionary blood is part of our DNA. The 17th of April is commemorated as Prisoner Day, but the families and friends of the 7000 plus prisoners in Israeli jails and penitentiaries do not think of them once a year, but every single day in all waking moments of their lives. The inhumane conditions of the prisoners must be given more coverage, as most are denied medical access, family visits, subject to torture and humiliation, administrative detentions (the longest being Ayed Dudeen), and held indefinitely without any charge. The facilities are poor; overcrowding is a major problem, and many cells are infested with insects and mice that feast upon the skin of prisoners. If we hear another hypocrite scream "Gilad Shalit"...

Here in Ramallah the demonstration lead to as usual Ofer Prison, which is located just on the outskirts. Before that, one woman was extremely upset that the big poster hung around Manara Square did not have her son's picture on it, and as people tried to calm her down she yelled, "They give the priority to put pictures of the sons of those who work in the PA, they are not better than my son!" We're not going to comment on that but this provides an opening for us to snark at the Palestinian "leadership's" casual throwing away of the cause, conveniently forgetting the prisoners, martyrs, and everyone else who has sacrificed their life in face of oppression and terrorism. The Palestine Papers still ring loudly in our ears.

Women brought their framed pictures of their husbands, fathers, sons, nephews, uncles, grandsons, and chanted against the occupation. Israeli soldiers came up to them behind the fence and told them to get out of here, this is not a lawful protest. This inspired rigorous chants of "The occupation is not lawful!" The soldiers warned them a final time, threatening to shoot tear gas at them, but the crowd remained. Firas Badr, whose father is a martyr and his mother a prisoner, was dragged away by the IOF after a slight confrontation when the soldiers starting spraying mace directly into the eyes of the protesters. A small protest was held for him a couple of days ago yet he remains incarcerated in Ofer.

Recently as Israel continues with its dignified policy of collective punishment, hundreds of women was arrested from the village of Awarta on suspicion of harboring any information regarding the murder of the settler family in the very well protected colony of Itmar. A six year old got kicked in the process, but life told her to suck it up because she's a Palestinian. They were forced to sign documents in Hebrew, a language they don't know. But it's all democratic, y'know?

Prisoners are subjected to surprise raids by Israeli forces, usually carried out on the pretext of looking for illegal objects kept in cells (a razor? marijuana? an atomic bomb?) but of course it is meant as another kind of trauma inflicted upon the prisoners.

Here's one such raid, a few years ago.

Who: Israeli Masada combat unit
What: Operation Early Wake-up Call
Where: Ktziot Prison
Why: To boost the morales of the Israeli guards
When: 2007

Turn on the subtitles by clicking on CC at the bottom right.

Ammo was not specified other than it being "not meant to kill". Kind of like how the white phosphorus wasn't meant to burn the skin and bone of Gazan civilians, but used as a smokescreen.

Shlomi Cohen grades the operation a ten out of ten. Mohammad Ashqar died from a head wound in that operation. Excellent work guards, are you all pumped up and renewed with motivation?

"The tougher conditions will remain because this is the only way we can keep you inside." For serial killers, rapists, and psychotics, sure. But show us an unbiased legal trial and sentence and we'll show you a cow that farts rainbows.


Monday, April 18, 2011

Gaza Pays Tribute to Vittorio

Honestly I just can't stop thinking about Vittorio. His pipe, workman's cap, "muqawama" (resistance) tattoo...all capture his passionate nature, his humanity. It's too late, but I fell in love with him.

"He survived so much, he was so strong and robust and this large, life-filled, hard living, sensitive, open man. He was all about staying human."

Solidarity statements in his honor.

What his mother wrote.
" we are closer than ever, with his living presence magnified at every passing hour, like a wind from Gaza, from his beloved Mediterranean, blowing fierily to deliver the message of his hope and of his love for those without a voice, for the weak and the oppressed, passing the baton."

Untitled from Mohammed Al Majdalawi on Vimeo.

Sunday, April 17, 2011


Inspire and be inspired. That's what it is ultimately about.

A good friend of mine put me in contact with the event's organizer, Ramzi Jaber. We exchanged emails, and he asked if I would like to be on the blogging team, to post on the TedxRamallah website during or after each session. I leaped at the chance-hello, graduating soon, must build up résumé- after informing my teacher to pretty please postpone my exam on Saturday. I admit I might have told her that the whole event rested on my shoulders and that it was imperative for me to go.

Heba was supposed to attend with me but she backed out at the last minute. Instead, it was just me and the mother. We got up at 6am, something we both haven't done in the longest time, and I busied myself with trying to find an economical way to dry my newly washed jeans. The iron wasn't working, neither was the hair straightener, the blow dryer would wake up the whole building...I considered just putting them on wet where they would sap my body heat, but in the end I turned on the soba and steamed them.

Even though the event is called TedxRamallah, it was actually held all the way in Bethlehem because the venue in Ramallah wasn't ready yet. We hurried through downtown and as we came into the parking lot where the buses were scheduled to be, we saw them slowly rumbling down past us. Shoot. Cue Mama griping how it was all my fault being late. Luckily, there was one micro-bus due to arrive shortly, and we climbed in with the other late arrivals gratefully. The hour and a half twisty turning trip began.

What is TED? It stands for Technology, Entertainment, and Design. The little x means that it is an independently organized TED event. From their website:
TED is a nonprofit organization devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. Started as a four-day conference in California 25 years ago, TED has grown to support those world-changing ideas with multiple initiatives. The annual TED Conference invites the world’s leading thinkers and doers to speak for 18 minutes. Their talks are then made available, free, at TED speakers have included Bill Gates, Al Gore, Jane Goodall, Elizabeth Gilbert, Sir Richard Branson, Nandan Nilekani,Philippe Starck, Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, Isabel Allende and UK Prime Minister Gordon Brown. The annual TED Conference takes place in Long Beach, California, with simulcast in Palm Springs; TEDGlobal is held each year in Oxford, UK. TED’s media initiatives include, where new TEDTalks are posted daily, and the Open Translation Project, which provides subtitles and interactive transcripts as well as the ability for any TEDTalk to be translated by volunteers worldwide.

TED has established the annual TED Prize, where exceptional individuals with a wish to change the world are given the opportunity to put their wishes into action; TEDx, which offers individuals or groups a way to host local, self-organized events around the world, and the TEDFellows program, helping world-changing innovators from around the globe to become part of the TED community and, with its help, amplify the impact of their remarkable projects and activities.
The remarkable speaker line-up include Huwaida Arraf, who co-founded the International Solidarity Campaign, Steve Sosebee, the founder and CEO of the Palestine Children Relief Fund, Raja Shehadeh author of award winning Palestine Walks, Alice Walker the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize, Suad Amiry architect and founder of Riwaq as well as the author of hilarious novel Sharon and My Mother in-Law, and many more. Providing the entertainment were Nazareth songbird Rim al Banna, hip hop group DAM, and-be still my fluttering heart- all round philanthropist, spoken word artist, and wager of beauty Mark Gonzales.

We arrived at the Convention Palace, and stood in the huge line to get our badges. After that I went inside with the other bloggers who were already firing up their laptops and ready to go. There wasn't a room or whatever to accommodate us so we had to sit in the last two rows on one side. I peered into my bag and grimaced. I decided to get it over with.

"My laptop is ancient so don't make fun of it. And the battery lasts for half an hour so I need to be near the socket."

To which the rest of the team replied:

"Hey, my battery lasts that long too."
"Yeah mine doesn't last that long either, we'll take it in turns to plug in."
"Or some of us could share a laptop since we all won't be writing at the same time."

Awesome, they weren't those annoying 'look-at-me! Ive-got-a-Mac-and-I-just-like-swiping-my-fingers-here-and-there-and-windows-will-magically-appear' types I half expected them to be. We settled down, and watched hundreds and hundreds of people file past us, going down the stairs and taking their seats.

The event was to be live-streamed to Beirut and Amman, with 17 other cities watching. The hosts Jameel Abu-Warda and Huwaida Arraf kicked things off with Raja Shehadeh being the first speaker. Some speakers couldn't make it to Behtlehem/Palestine in general because of their visas. Wael Attili was one of these victims and he spoke to us via Amman. He's the co-founder of the Kharabeesh network, where story-telling takes place through cartoons. Kharabeesh means "scribbles" in Arabic and Wael shared the story of how one day his little daughter proudly told her class that her dad works for Kharabeesh and went home crying because they all laughed at her.

I'm not going to describe each speaker since there are hundreds of thousands of tweets that already did that, but I'll just pick the stand-out talks I really enjoyed. Huwaida Arraf managed to get all us teary-eyed as she talked about Vittorio Arrigoni, a man she personally knew, and described him as a beautiful soul who was more Palestinian than other Palestinians. It really is depressing to lose such a monumental activist, a man who had a larger than life personality and was simply passionate about Palestine. Activists don't come like that every day.
Fadi Ghandour, the CEO for Aramex and founder of Ruwwad for Development shared his experiences with his attempts to better the community of Jabal al-Nathief located in Amman. There are 75,000 people living there and only 62 trash cans. Jabal al-Nathief (Mountain of Clean) is filthy. That means 1209 people for every one trash can. So the first thing Ruwwad did was to instill more trash cans. However there was a dire lack of facilities and institutions. There wasn't even a police station. And so Ruwwad got to work, opening up a library that kids voluntarily choose to enter, an IT lab that gives free lessons to all, improved classrooms, a project to get children to read for 6 minutes every day-after some UN organization concluded that the average Arab child reads for 6 minutes a year. Handicapped people weren't left out either; they made use of their hands and learned how to make pottery, recently putting on an exhibition for the first time. But it wasn't all easy sail as Fadi faced a lot of prolonged delays and uncooperative behavior from the thousand and one Jordanian ministries who like to hoard money and now and then sprinkle out a few coins to the plebeians.
Mohamed El Dahshan is a writer and economist who blogged up the revolution in Egypt from the very first day. He earnestly relayed to us how the impressive aerial shots of Tahrir Square failed to capture the true essence of the revolution: the up close and central lives of the partaking people. As Mohamed said, "I think we had the funnest revolution ever."
Julia Bacha, the Brazilian filmmaker also made an absorbing speech at which point I was loudly but internally cursing my laptop, myself, and the whole Internet nation since the two pieces I had written so far disappeared into oblivion, which meant I missed much of Julia's talk about how cognitive dissonance brings about change.
Munir Fasheh, a professor at BZU had us all in stitches as he eloquently and entertainingly made his argument. The education system here in Palestine simply stunts the intellectual growth of students, and yet it is so institutionalized that any improving factor from the outside is considered detrimental and unacceptable.
Mark Gonzales equals amazing, end of. Mama enjoyed his performance a lot more than she did for DAM's, whom she called "imsak3een". Well their last song (I'm In Love With a Jew) was pretty terrible.
Khaled Sabawi, the president of MENA Geothermal (green energy) delivered a highly informative presentation. Basically, Palestinians pay the highest prices for energy in the entire region; 97 percent of the energy they consume is exported; in a few years Palestinians will be living through congested smog worse than Mexico's, but fear not! When there's a will there's a way. Enter geothermal energy. The earth consumes 50 percent of the sun's rays, and two meters below ground the temperature year round stays at 17 degrees Celsius. Pipes underground could be used to extract temperature via a cooling process in summer and a heating process in winter. The Israeli Interior minister wrote Khaled, "We could learn a lot from you." So as a result he was barred from entering Palestine three times, an engineer his company had worked on training was arrested and held in solitary confinement for 2 months on no charges, all for the sake of ensuing that the quality of Palestinian life remains miserable and backward.
Alice Walker stood on the stage and told the audience how she ended up speaking to the Israeli soldier who was interrogating her at the Allenby border crossing like she would to her son: "Do you know what you are doing? This [occupation] isn't good for you." The soldier was pulling up everything she had ever said about Israel and said, "Look, it says here you boycott Israel, that you would never come and visit it" to which she smoothly replied, "I'm not visiting Israel, I'm here for Palestine." She asked him if he thought that peace could ever be possible between the Israelis and Palestinians, and he answered honestly, "No. There's too much hatred on both sides."

After the event was over, Mama went up on-stage to talk to some of the speakers while I was wistfully thinking of food and fighting the urge to hoist my jeans up which had magically turned three sizes bigger. She had already talked to Khaled and Sam Bahour, both family friends, as well as Mounir Fasheh. She set her eyes on Alice and managed to get through the hungry fans. She then proceeded to tell Alice her life story, the whole ugly narrative of my family's displacement because we all don't have the correct Israeli issued IDs, how as a result my dad can't come in and is living in a different country. "So hating the Israelis for what they did to me and my family is something I can't help, you know?" Alice had an expression of pain on her face. She put her hand on Mama's shoulder and said, "I know. I know. Believe me I do. I'm from the deep South, where they had all kinds of apartheid laws there, and for a while I hated the whites too. But I got really sick. And I don't want that to happen to you, I don't want you to hate until you get physically sick." Then she was bombarded by the event's volunteer kids and disappeared for a moment. She then called out, "Hold on, I want to hug you. I would really like to give you a hug." And so they embraced. Women. So proud to be one.

We walked out, and brought a couple of books-Vittorio's Stay Human about Operation Cast Lead which he had witnessed from the ground, and Ben White's Israeli Apartheid. I went into a frenzy seeing all the books as usual, but contented myself with the knowledge that Ghada Karmi's books had to be in at least one of the three libraries on campus, unlike Edward Said's The Question of Palestine which they conveniently "lost". I asked Mama what she thought of TedxRamallah.
"It's nice, really enjoyed myself. Most of the speakers had really good speeches. Maybe next year I can be one of them?"

We climbed into one of the coaches, and I popped in my headphones, unbelievably tired. Mama was still enjoying herself as she was conversing with the other people around us. I turned off my iPod and listened to them talk. There's Maysar, sitting two seats down, who is a genius. He showed us all on his phone the gamma robot he had designed and invented, and told us how most of his professors at his university (Al-Quds/Abu Dis) discouraged him and were totally unappreciative of his project, despite him being the smartest sophomore in his department. They didn't like how he had used 'unconventional' methods to build the robot, and how his calculations weren't written down but were done mentally. This brought us back to Mounir Fasheh's speech, and how the method of intellectual stumping was all too glaring. We all encouraged Maysar, telling him to forget his teachers and to continue building/inventing more robots because sooner than later someone will recognize him and he will go on to achieve greater things. If only those idiotic professors of his realized what a truly talented student they have on their hands and to do nurture him instead of shooting him down because he dared to think outside the box. As we rumbled past Qalandia checkpoint, Maysar passed his notebook around and we all wrote supportive messages.

Inspire, and be inspired. Roll on next year!

Friday, April 15, 2011

Vittorio Arrigoni, Rest in Peace

Thanks to Carlos Latuff for this gem.

Words cannot express our rage and horror at this brutal murder of Palestinian Italian activist. Yes, he was a Palestinian, so passionate was he about exposing Israel's occupation and helping the other Palestinians in Gaza.

Rest in Peace Vik. Gazans certainly knew your worth. Unfortunately, so did the "Salafi Israelis".

Refaat Alareer describes how these Salafis are manipulated by Mossad/CIA websites, acting out their orders. This may sound extreme to a person with a sprinkling knowledge of the whole conflict and who will no doubt accuse Alareer of being one of those conspiracy theorists, but that doesn't make it less true.

Mohammed Suliman, who has an excellent blog, writes his thoughts on the debacle.

We can't form our own words, so we're resorting to linking to other expressive posts.

A few days ago we bitterly noticed how Ramallah held a silent protest for Juliano Mer Khamis's murder while there was barely a whisper of anger about the nineteen people killed in Gaza. Salam Fayyad stuck his nose in this matter, publicly condemning Juliano's murder while remaining mum about the killings of civilians in Gaza. The spotlight only shines on internationally known activists whereas Palestinians are lumped together as a numerical monolith.

We realize now that this is a nuanced subject. Juliano and Vittorio are granted media (social or not) coverage and recognition not only because of the work that they did, but because they were representative of the non-representative Palestinians themselves. Their voices were heard. And for that, they had to be silenced.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Hamza Obeid and Bashar Arouri Released

My friend Lama had posted on her Facebook page that her brother and his friend were arrested by the IDF last week on Friday and sent to Ofer Prison after taking part in peaceful demonstrations in Nabi Saleh.

My brother Hamza Obeid and his friend Bashar Arouri were arrested in peaceful protests in Al-Nabi Saleh on April, 8th, 2011. Bashar was arrested for defending a lady the soldiers were going to arrest, and Hamza was arrested for defending Bashar. In court Bashar's crime was "interfering with IDF soldier's work" and Hamza's crime was "throwing rocks" even though he did not throw any rocks at them. Thankfully, the lawyer had the videos that proved that. And they were let out with a bail on Sunday, and they had to sign papers that they would no go to the Nabi Saleh or any other "military" places such as Bil'in and Nil'in for six months.

Monday, April 11, 2011

Gazan Lives Are Worth Nothing

Where has the outrage been concerning the murder of 19 Palestinians in Gaza, among them children and elderly? What a shame that these victims do not carry the surname "Fogel", otherwise they would have enjoyed their mugs splashed on the front page covers of the mainstream papers. This is just sickening. It is absolutely despicable, that the Palestinians as the brown "other" are continually dehumanized in msm outlets by not giving them their proper due and coverage.

Hamas firing rockets is such a stupid tactic. They just don't learn; it has brought more harm than good to the rest of the civilian population in Gaza, which remains under siege (Egypt, sort this out.) Granted, the rockets are shoddy tinpots that barely kill anyone, but the fact that they are fired blindly targeting whoever into the surrounding settlements is such an idiotic move and fuels the braying hasbara machine of Hamas' bloodthirsty nature, as opposed to the IDF's upstanding morality.

Israel on the other hand have the latest technologically developed weapons and deliberately pick off their victims. Those boys playing football? Huge security threat. Tzipi Livni called for another Operation Cast Lead. Did anyone bat an eye? Pure craziness that just serves to showcase once again the innate hypocrisy of Israel.

If Hamas ceased to stop firing rockets, their form of lackadaisical resistance, the reality is still not going change. Israel will still murder farmers and passersby in the ridiculous 300 meter buffer zone-which keeps getting extended-, the strip will still remain under siege, and Israeli air strikes definitely won't stop. This collective punishment which has reduced the 1.5 million civilians, over half of them under the age of 18, to just mere numbers is definitely unacceptable.

The impotent Arab League asked for a no-fly zone over Gaza to be implemented. Well. Let's see what comes out of this even though I won't hold my breath. Who am I kidding of course it won't be enforced. After all, Israel has a right to defend itself and the thousands of women, children, elderly, and non-combatant men (who always get left out in this equation) who paid the price with their blood are just collateral damage. As you were.

Amy Goodman from Democracy Now talks to Omar Barghouti about Gaza, BDS, PA's tactics regarding BDS and solidarity protests, and Juliano Mer Khamis.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Egypt Still Moving

The revolution in Egypt was simply amazing. That's such an understatement but the fact is that it's too overloaded with potent emotions that render it just indescribable. It is also a one-off revolution. Until Yemen in the future (Saleh, some self-dignity please!) might contradict that statement, we will continue to bask in the glow of the power of the millions of people who showed to the whole world what democracy truly looks like.

The Egyptians are a smart bunch. They knew that with the ousting of Mubarak-who for the first time since sent out a public sniveling-the revolution was just beginning. They have taken to Tahrir Square again and again to demand continued reformations, the prosecution of key figures from the Mubarak regime, and exercised extraordinary restraint not to pummel the military who are getting more autocratic.

The people took to protesting in front of the Israeli embassy in Cairo, shouting that they will not leave until the Israeli flag is replaced with the Palestinian flag. Seems odd that that embassy is still there. We suppose the threat of a likely impending theocratic country was just some propaganda tool to showcase that Arabs are definitely not ready for democracy and that they should continue to be passive under regimes that promote first and foremost stability and...what? Oh.

We're looking for anyone to denounce this act as anti-Semitic (Arabs/Semites attacking themselves?) and the beginning of a dangerous journey to wipe out all Jews etc etc.
Just remember what the Israeli embassy stands for-cough-fascism. 

Here's an excellent slideshow of the "thrilling, tech-savvy tide" who were the reason for us breathing the TV for eighteen days.

Because we just can't get enough.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

April 9th-Seminar and Remembrance

Today was my seminar. The fruits of a full semester's work condensed in a 20 minutes presentation. I have freaked out, found solace in retail therapy, practiced for hours, and got the unwelcome dark circles under my eyes. But I was ready. I had finished the rough draft of my paper, some 22 pages full of gloriousness, and I was happy with my powerpoint. I was ready to ROLL.

Seminars in BZU are a huge deal, especially in the business/tijara building. The guy dressed in his new suit comes out of his presentation riding on someone's shoulders waving his hands regally and blowing air kisses to the minions below. His friends start singing and a drum/tableh is procured out of thin air. A whole zaffeh starts, with the guy's mother/grandmother/aunt ululating like there's no tomorrow. The zaffeh travel around campus before making its way to the main cafeteria where everybody who feels like it joins in, all cheering and clapping. It always brings a manic grin to our faces because the whole atmosphere is just so infectious. Naturally this leads to a discussion between me and Heba, where we plan our own seminars, what outfits we'd wear (red, white and striped all over), and what sort of people will lead our very own zaffeh (belly dancers and old men).

The girl's seminar is different from the guy in that she spends more time on her clothes and make-up than the presenting time, and afterwards there is no zaffeh or matriarchal ululations. Pictures are taken, bouquets are received, and the customary dinner with friends at some restaurant seems to be the routine, all of which I did today.

I remember my older brother's seminar three years ago. The whole family came, and while my brother was presenting a snoozefest about something to do with finance, my father kept us all in stitches by causing a silent disruption as he kept moving all around the room taking pictures. Chocolate and candy were passed out afterward, and then we went home while my brother stayed with his friends.

When it came to my turn, at first I was adamant that no family should be present. I didn't see the whole seminar day as a big deal, especially since I wouldn't be graduating in May but sometime in August (I have to take a summer semester). The real reason was because my dad couldn't be there on my big day, and I didn't want to see any other family for fear of getting the waterworks started again.

My dad currently lives in Amman, Jordan because he doesn't have the correct Israeli military issued identification papers. He holds a Gaza ID because he had the audacity to be born in Khan Younis. The rest of my siblings (apart from my older brother) have a West Bank ID since we were registered under my mother's ID. The whole drama is documented here. My dad places a heavy stress on the importance of education, and I knew how much this day meant for him. Needless to say, he sent me a text very early in the morning, called me twice before my presentation, twice after, and I'm expecting a lovely email from him soon. He told on the phone, "We'll all be together on your graduation day, I'm very optimistic" but I just said inshallah and changed the subject.

I envy those students who treat their seminar days as they would any other day; after all it is just a 20 minute presentation. They don't bother with bringing any family because they are reserved for the day of graduation, and they don't let the hype get to their head. My family...well we're a pretty close-knit bunch. You can't even go through puberty without some interference. That was a joke. Anyway, instead of three weeks left I've still got the whole month of June, so it's better for me to keep my head down until then. When people asked me, "So how does it feel to be done?!" I replied with the customary "Amazing. Really happy!" but the smile wouldn't reach my eyes. I enjoyed all the lavish attention by my friends and honestly did feel a sense of accomplishment when done. In the middle of my presentation, when the door opened and my mother walked in--carrying with her a potted plant because apparently the flower store she went to didn't have any bouquets--I stuttered and mumbled a bit, before regaining control and finishing the whole thing off. Because somehow during the presentation, with my younger brother (who came especially from Amman where he's studying, in place of my dad) and my sister sitting there, I dismissed all emotionality that is typically associated with a seminar and treated the whole thing as a normal day. No waterworks.

Gosh, imagine what I'd be writing on my graduation day.

I went home after my outing with friends and the house was packed with the extended family. A huge feast adorned the dining room table, kabseh and dawali and salads, all thrown in celebration of my mother finally getting her West Bank ID and me finishing my seminar day. For some reason, I suddenly remembered that today was the 63rd anniversary of the Deir Yassin massacre, where 254 women, children, and men were slaughtered in 1948, causing the residents of other villages and towns to flee in case they too would suffer the same fate.

Way to ruin a party.

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

RIP Juliano Mer Khamis

Juliano Mer Khamis was killed after unknown assailants fired 5 bullets in his body on April 4th in front of the Freedom Theater in Jenin, which he founded back in 2006. He was in his car, next to his two year old son. [His wife is pregnant with twins.]

His documentary Arna's Children won the Tribeca Film Festival award. An interview published posthumously is found here.

Born to a Jewish mother and a Palestinian father, he proudly described himself as the impossible: one hundred percent Jewish, one hundred percent Palestinian.

Ramallah staged a demonstration for Juliano, pictures here.

Nathalie Handal wrote a beautiful, touching poignant tribute.

To Juliano Mer Khamis

This is to you
who came to us with the thirst of a river
This is to you
who delivered wings, then praise,
then a thousand hands on a stage
This is to you
who deafened conflict
like a wall of whispers
building a different nation
you lined them up—Fatima, Mohammad, Yasir, Sahar
said, departure starts the first place you create
the word has a way
the way a sign
the sign a heart
the heart a place
a place that places parts
into what can’t be disturbed
This is to you
who held a village on a whisper
whispers in a butterfly
your mother in a rose
your father everywhere trees grow
don’t follow the stray souls
don’t follow death
you’ve rehearsed it enough
all the plays that lie in between
here you gathered wounds and made a stage
gathered curtains and made a museum
here you took the distance away from eyes
the hard beating of drums away from ears
and you forced fire to burn elsewhere
This is to you
This is to your son
who will never forget the sound of 5 bullets
or the blood drowning the seat
but who will remember first how you played
This is to you who told us
to ask death questions
This is to you
This is to you
This is to you
who created freedom on a stage

Avi Dichter, Egg on Your Face?

WALTHAM, MA -- Members of Brandeis Students for Justice in Palestine (BSJP) disrupted a panel discussion of six Members of the Israeli Knesset tonight at Brandeis University.
The action targeted MK Avi Dicther, an international war criminal wanted for crimes against humanity and violations of the Geneva Convention. Dichter ordered the tortures of detained Palestinians while he served as head of Shabak, the Israeli Intelligence Services. In July 2002, Dichter ordered the assassination of a Hamas commander by dropping a one-ton bomb on his home in a residential area, causing the deaths of 15 people, including 9 children, and injuring dozens more.
When Dicther spoke, a dozen Brandeis students stood and demanded that he turn himself in to authorities, distributing warrants for his arrest. In English and in Hebrew, the students listed charges against Dichter, including torture and the bombing of civilians. They ended their disruption by chanting in Hebrew "Don't worry Avi Dicther, we'll meet you in the Hague."
The action aimed to alert the Brandeis community to the presence of a war criminal on campus. "We believe that Avi Dichter must be put to trial for his crimes against humanity," said participant Liza Behrendt.
Participant Paraska Tolan stated, "War criminals have a right to speak on our campus, but students also have the right to hold them publicly accountable for their crimes. This serves as a message that Dichter should not feel welcome, even at Brandeis University."
Lisa Hanania, a Palestinian student at Brandeis, said that she was extremely disturbed by the racist comments from some of the MKs. "MK Tzipi Hotovely claimed that 'Arabs have a different D.N.A that lacks humanity'. As a citizen of state, I am concerned that Israel is sliding into an openly racist ethnocracy."
Noam Lekach, a first-year from Israel, stated, "Brandeis claims to promote social justice, but today they invited legislators who openly espouse racist attitudes towards Palestinians."
The students emphasize that, although they targeted Dichter specifically, all MKs should be held accountable for recent racist legislation such as the "Loyalty Oath," the criminalization of Nakba commemoration, and the institutionalization of residential discrimination.

This is amazing to see, and refurbishes our belief that ten years from now, things will be much, much brighter. Good Jews, we really do admire you guys, for seeing the truth and working for justice even in the situation of being brought up your whole lives heavily (or moderately) indoctrinated by family and friends about the necessity of having a Jewish homeland supported by military occupation.

Too bad the same thing can't be said about Israeli Jews here, who are flying off the fascism mark. Support the IDF, revoke Palestinian citizens of Israel rights, don't forget to hoist that proud flag of democracy. Muppets.

Monday, April 4, 2011

Israel Takes Pivotal Step Toward Peace!!

In light of Goldstone's backtracking of his discoveries in the fact-finding report filed after the Gaza war in 08/09 in which he accused Israel and Hamas of committing war crimes and for a full investigation by either sides on the issue, Israel initially accepted Goldstone's remarks and gloated to the international community that it was unshakable in its faith of being a peace-loving country with the most moral army in the world.

This morning however, Prime Minister Netanyahu addressed the Knesset in a rousing speech in which he condemned Goldstone's wavering of the mind, calling it one of the "calamities strongly driven to besmirch Israel's name through something equivalent to Alan Horowitz 's inciting perorations" and vowed to personally appoint a human rights investigative team to rebuke Goldstone's weak and contradictory op-ed in The Washington Post. His comments were received by shock and outrage, with foreign minister Avigdor Lieberman attributing Netanyahu's abnormal parley as a result of the convening of thuggish Palestinian infiltrators with menacing demeanors on Netanyahu's house. Lieberman did not bother to explicate further, as he kept up Israel's salutary tradition to blame Palestinians for any of their misfortunes without procuring the necessary evidence.

In true Ben Ali/Mubarak/Saleh fashion, Netanyahu then dismissed his whole cabinet and promised to instate a more secular rational government in its place no later than Wednesday, as he recognized that the current--now former--cabinet was not intent on peace. Verging on despotism, Netanyahu overruled the Jerusalem city council's decision to construct a thousand more homes in East Jerusalem for settlers, called for the dismantling of 50 percent of the settlements in the West Bank and Jordan Valley, and announced that he will dedicate his life to foster a breaking down of impressions between Israelis and Palestinians, which he hoped, will "lead to a just and peaceful bi-national state called Israfil." Saeb Erekat objected to this proposition, and demanded that the state be called "Falasrael".

Netanyahu's statements fired the fear in many of Israel's citizens, as protests starting from Har Homa and later escalating in all parts of the country called for the hanging of the prime minister. UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon was left bemused at his press conference in front of a mock-up Sderot-like bomb shelter in New York, and called this a "dangerous state of discourse" for Israel. The PA's Abbashole was reportedly witnessed driving a stake through his heart, after wailing in front of a life sized portrait of Netanyahu for much of the afternoon. Palestinian and Israeli leftist youth met at Qalandia checkpoint, with Rami Essa whipping the crowd into a positive frenzy in an Egyptian rendition of "Kumbaya".

And that, folks, is what we call Tell a Lie Day.

Friday, April 1, 2011

Student Elections are for LOSERS

No Green Flags

No to Division, covered with factional flags harhar

Hello. It's that time of year again. Instead of sounding like mechanical robots and not wanting to repeat everything, we direct you to here and here.

Monday we walk in to Birzeit the Circus Fair Campus, where flags filled every square inch on the ground, the sky, the trees, the buildings, etc. The posters this year were absolutely huge, humongous coverings that almost wrapped entire buildings. How many thousands of shekels are spent on one poster? Imagine using that money for more useful means, such as paying the tuitions for those who can't afford it. Or using it to create some academic activity that the nerds will love. Or to blackmail the cafeterias into lowering their food prices. Or to invest in some high tech surveillance system to be put in the deans' offices. But no, these posters are more important. Put them up, next day take them down, store them away, never to be used again. Because the next year, there will be even larger and shinier posters.

Tuesday the Circus Fair Campus left town, with only a few flags out of reach on the trees remained. The big debate, or munathara, between the various parties and groups was set at 11am, and we edged through the crowd to the taxis without looking up once. Usually the place-the parking lot once inside the main gates- is so packed we have to squeeze through. This time the sea of students parted for us and we paid the price for turning a blind eye to the surroundings when this lovely video showed us that later on there was only a meager crowd. How glorious!

Imagine that on fire. Wowzers.
Wednesday was Election Day. Thing is, not everyone was voting. Desperate, the Fateh group ash-Shabiba hounded students into voting but that only succeeded in putting the other students off. We were pressed with papers and leaflets and booklets wherever we went and this time we threw them in the trash cans or crumpled them up right in front of their eyes, as opposed to passively accepting them and then emptying out our bags once we got home. A different group from ash-Shabiba, all guys wearing their precious kuffiyeh draped on their shoulders, made their way into building after building, singing, chanting, braying. Outside, their leader stood tall and yelled, "Those who haven't voted, this is a serious offense. Those who don't want to vote, that is haram." We snorted with laughter, and we weren't the only ones either.

This year a campaign to boycott the elections was put to use, since the elections are politicized and the student council does not represent students. God, what is it with Palestinians and representations? PA, Hamas, etc all filter down to even university elections. This delightful little video below expresses the demands and needs of the students themselves, and what they would like to see the student council undertake in representing them. Although that cute little remark at the end "I want to graduate" is out of place. Sorry, we're a bit sour because through sheer nepotism or via middleman there are students who can get away with murder just because someone in the higher position is looking out for them. Failing your class? No worries, your end of the semester average will be an 80.

101 Knowledge
Yellow flags=ash-Shabiba/Fateh
Red flags= qutb iil-tulabi/PFLP
Green flags= il-kutla il-islamiya/Hamas, who the for the second year running are not involved/welcome in the student body.

This makes elections even more stupid, since the rivalry is always between ash-Shabiba and il-il-kutla il-Islamiyah. Disregard all the other groups who participate, the election is essentially between these two power horses. And since il-kutla il-Islamiyah is out, then obviously it is ash-Shabiba's to win. A one party election, befit of true Arab countries (pre-revolutionary times).

So why all the posturing? Why all the desperate attempts by ash-Shabiba who heckle students into voting? We'll tell you why. You see, students have become disillusioned with the whole concept of "student elections" since it clearly serves the political party's needs and ignores the students'. ash-Shabiba can wallow around in their little building, smoking themselves to an early death, playing cards, skipping classes, exploiting "favoritism", and once in a while get out the expensive loudspeakers to hurl abuse on Hamas or whatever. This time around, with the boycott campaign, they are clinging at straws. Because if less than half of the student population vote, then the student council will be dissolved for the year and instead the deanship of student affairs will take over. The bad side to this is that things will get more bureaucratic.

Results came in Wednesday night, and of course ash-Shabiba came in with the majority vote (1784) which wins in 29 seats. il-Qutb al-tulabi had 652 votes and 10 seats, blah blah blah. But the good news is, only 49 percent of the student population voted, which means that the elections are annulled! So why, in the name of all things good and holy, did the goons of ash-Shabiba take to their cars at night causing a ruckus with their honking and screaming? Perhaps they do not quite get that there is no need for celebration, since their "win" technically does not count. That didn't stop them from going to the Manara square, beat up the poor hunger strikers, and attempt to pull down their tent. WTF? Excess XL? Impenetrable thick skulls? IDF soldiers masquerading as BZU students? (Just kidding about the last one, duh.)