Saturday, July 23, 2011


There are Palestinians living in Palestine who are using Twitter not just to tell the world what they had for breakfast, but also for the potential to disseminate information that could as Joseph Dana said, cut through the lies and narrative control of the western media.

Today's meeting was hatched from the brains of two fellow tweeps, who wanted a space where everyone can finally meet face to face, translating a virtual network into a solid one. I was at the beginning a bit skeptical (did we really have to meet? what if we work better alone than together?) but that was my rays of optimism at work as usual.

In the build-up to the meeting, there was a lot of excitement. We were going to Skype with our brethren in Gaza, and since it's been so long since we've last seen a Gazan we were breathless with anticipation. Would they look like us? Have normal human features? Would they be malnourished and exceedingly thin? Would their accents be as bad as the Yankee twang?

An hour before the scheduled time, I reminded my mother where I was going. She looked at me in disbelief, then accused me of not telling her before. We argued for a bit-apparently after I'd graduated I've been going out way too many times-before she finally asked what we were going to do. I casually mentioned Joseph Dana's name and she shook her head, saying "Whenever a foreigner comes to talk you all get excited, that's what's wrong with this activism thing. They laugh at you and you all lap it up. God I can't wait until your dad is finally allowed back in here."
I should've mentioned to her that Joseph is an American-Israeli. I would have loved to hear her thoughts on that. I was also slightly miffed. She calls me a ghooleh then laments my supposed naivete. Just because I'm the whitest thing in Palestine doesn't mean...

Anyway, I was left with one last chore to do before I finally headed out. When I arrived at Bazinga I was struck by the colorful beanbags on the floor, and tried to mentally match up faces with Twitter names. Someone did the right thing and just asked out loud our names. The next 15 minutes or so were spent trying to connect with the aliens in Gaza, and even then the audio-video quality was choppy.

"Hello can you hear us?"
"Yes habibi. Can you see us?"
"Yep, can you see us?"
"No not really..looks like you're all too far away."

They were sitting at a table in Delice cafe. We were spread out across a room, slouched onto beanbags. They looked eerily just like us. In fact, one of them could challenge me for the whitest thing in Palestine title. We didn't know whether to be relieved or disappointed.

Finally, a stable enough connection was established. We began doing the introduction rounds. Mine was terribly boring, completely forgot to mention I was also from Gaza and had trained an army of cousins there to do my bidding last time I was there. Then that infiltrator Joseph Dana got up to talk about his flotilla experience on the American ship The Audacity of Hope:
  • Basically the flotilla was successful on the level that showed how important a role social media can play.
  • He was surrounded by old mostly Jewish women on the boat-not to belittle their endeavors or anything but to highlight the hilarity of Israel's hysterical hyperbole of the boat being part of a major security threat to Israel
  • A complaint was filed, later known to be from an Israeli legal center in Athens about the boat not being sea-worthy
  • His opinion is that they should have sailed within the same hour they got wind of the complaint
  • The crew and passengers were sitting in their hotel rooms talking incessantly of when they were going to set sail
  • When they finally did, it was a demonstration of "hippie language on steroids" on the deck, a lot of hugging, excess emotion that got annoying for a while
Then the discussion fell about as to how to use Twitter wisely. A lot of strategic thinking needs to go into how to use Twitter because ultimately it's all about getting the best message through to most people. So we must reign in our moral righteousness and reserve using terms like "Apartheid" or "IOF" when talking about Israel as we would be largely written off as jihadists, peace-hating Ayrabs, terrorists, etc. Less is more. If we use simple neutral words to describe Israel in the same sentence that mention house evictions in Sheikh Jarrah or the invisible ethnic cleansing taking place in the Jordan Valley, the discrepancy will be all the more obvious.

Then it was the Gaza tweeps to offer us something. Unfortunately they were too shy to sing GYBO's latest song The Mystery/اللغز but they did propose to lip-sync along while the link played. The organizers of this tweet-up got in touch with Bilal Tamimi, one of the main documenters in the village, and asked him if he could make a compilation video of the protests in Nabi Saleh. As the familiar faces of the villagers flickered across the screen I felt so honored to know them personally, for them to have taken me in so readily, as their own sister and daughter and friend. It was set to the soundtrack of my childhood, يا نبض الضفة which along with the song Onadikom never fails to get me at least a little emotional. The first song has the story of Lina Nabulsi, the 14 year old schoolgirl who was shot back in 1976 as one of its refrain, and my nine year old egotistical self in a weird twisted way believed that song was made in my honor.

The audio-video connection became more shaky, and in the middle of discussing the need for an independent news website (later to be turned romantically into a newspaper) the connection was lost, most likely because the electricity went out in Gaza. I would have loved for those tweeps to have pitched in with their ideas and opinions but plans are already being made for next time to accomplish some proper and much needed interaction and conversations. Here in Ramallah, we are wondering why in Gaza the youth don't criticize Hamas more, either viciously or in matter of fact way.

Anyway, everyone agreed that the idea of a representative media forum is imperative, especially since Palestinian media is rubbish and to put it quite nicely, we have serious reservations about Ma'an News Agency, both English and Arabic. The brainstorming began: correspondences from the West Bank, Gaza, '48 areas, the diaspora ("sorry for the divisions!"), the issue of internet security, the whole not-everyone-who-blogs-can-write-newsworthy-pieces colloquy, the content, the web design, etc.

Overall, it was simply refreshing to be in the presence of honest, smart, intelligent people with no political affiliations whatsoever (except for that infiltrator). It wasn't enough to just talk but also to share suggestions, plan productively, all for the hopes of breaking the stagnated work of Palestinian youths under occupation.

Mainstream Nabi Saleh

What happens when a popular protest becomes the next big crowd-pleasing thing to do?

This morning after a communal breakfast in Nabi Saleh, a friend and solid protester asked me if I saw any changes in the weekly demonstrations. I was enveloped in grogginess from the suffocating heat and the couple hours of sleep I had, so I waited for her to continue speaking.

Her mouth settled in a tiny pout and her eyebrows narrowed. "I hope to God Nabi Saleh doesn't become like Bil'in, that would be a disaster."

My brain cells were activated. Her blond Dutch self was full of annoyance and a little bit of anger. She pointed toward the other people in the room with her chin-a Palestinian trait picked up no doubt-and hissed, "There are too many foreigners here!"

I looked around. It was true, and the next sentence spelled out my niggling thoughts exactly.

"That's great, whatever, but in order for a popular protest and a third intifada to be sustainable, Palestinians themselves must be involved actively, not the ajanib!"

Mairav Zonszein wrote an important article adequately titled, "Where are the Palestinians?" It touched upon the fact that the Palestinian narrative was being distorted or swallowed up by the media in terms of the foreigners' experiences thus silencing the thoughts and opinions of the Palestinians, which leads to headlines only when a foreigner is affected or attacked by Israel's racist policies. I have never been one to dismiss the presence of foreigners. They are important in relaying their experiences and the reality of what Palestinians go through back in their own countries. In the taxi ride to Nabi Saleh a couple weeks ago, one Palestinian asked a French photographer how long she's been in Palestine. When the photographer replied "Eight years" the Palestinian smiled and said, "Oh so you are Palestinian!"

I was forced to come to terms with little things I had observed but consciously ignored or dismissed as small time semblances. I don't hang around foreign activists a lot (not because of anything or an invisible segregation line), we may make wry small talk here and there like, "Bloody fascists, awful temper tantrums they have" but with new faces that come only for one week, it's hard not to think of their motives. Some arrive at Nabi Saleh because they've heard so much about the weekly protests from their friends, others are simply curious to see how this "new" resistance looks like in the face of an army, and still others want to come to later boast to their family and friends about what a glorious activist they make, complete with stories filled with half-truths and over-stretched imaginative wonders.

Those who only make one appearance in Nabi Saleh don't automatically fall in the third group. They might be concerned about their safety, they might think that they can do more to help without taking part in the protests, they might have a little black dot next to their names courtesy of the Israeli Occupation Forces, they might care about being deported, they might not like the experience at all, they might be on a limited schedule, etc.

My friend steam-rolled on.

"There are a lot of foreigners who used to go to Bil'in who act like they're at a party or a photo shoot. Last time I was there, I actually heard one telling his friends to take a picture of him not just yet, but when the tear gas gets fired. It's sickening."

I looked around. "How many here do you think will make it past ten minutes in the protest?" I asked quietly.

She rolled her eyes. "I don't understand why they come at all if they want to barricade themselves inside the houses for eight hours. Like, what the hell do they do to pass the time?"

"Do you think Nabi Saleh is becoming like Bil'in in this sense?"

"Yeah, it's starting to go down that path."

We both mulled this over. I thought of the extra-excited one day activists who make their presence known with their loud talking and southern belle cries of exuberance over any trivial thing, and then as soon as the first tear gas canister hits the ground they go scurrying off to the nearest abode and remain there until the IOF leave. There's a danger that the Nabi Saleh protests will become just that, a hollow act without any context at all.

People who come to Nabi Saleh should know the reason why these protests occur at all. It didn't just start with the settlers taking over the village's main water supply of Al-Kaws Spring a year and a half ago, but way before that, back in 1977 when the settlement Halamish itself was built on the village's expropriated land. It's not like Bil'in or Nil'in in that the apartheid Wall isn't their main target, it's the whole Israeli occupation that manifests itself in the most harshest ways possible on such a tiny village. Child arrests? Been there done that. Curfew hours? A staple. Terrorism? Yawn. Soldiers barge in houses full of children and families, point their Uzi sub-machine guns, and take whoever they want forcefully and illegally. Extensions of houses are under threat of demolitions, furniture destroyed by the skunk sprayed in the rooms, windows broken and subsequent suffocation caused by tear gas thrown at the houses, fathers are detained based on coerced confessions from tortured teenagers, etc.

My friend looked at me with pained eyes. "I couldn't stand the celebrations in Bil'in when Israel finally decided to move a part of the wall from their land-"

"Especially when in the same week an extension of the Wall was being planned on the land of the Walaja village," I murmured.

"-as if the whole protest was solely based on having part of the Wall on their land, and not the dismantling of the whole thing, or the fact that occupation is still on-going-"

"Alive and kicking."

"A lot of the people from Bil'in itself have stopped demonstrating and yes there are foreigners who care and then there are others who go to Bil'in because it's the cool thing to do."

"Nabi Saleh..."

"It's going down that path, I'm telling you."

We looked at each other bleakly.

I don't see myself as an activist. When my Palestinian friends from the US tell me how proud they are of my 'activism' I get a little hot and bothered. It shouldn't be "activism" to stand in solidarity with your own oppressed people. It's a duty, it's an obligation. I initially went to Nabi Saleh because I couldn't stand how the city of Ramallah had become. All those restaurants and pubs and OHMYGOD WE'VE GOT THE MOVENPICK HOTEL all seem to me like they were opened/built because of a severe western inferiority complex. It's just another perpetuation of the illusion that everything here in the Occupied Territories is all fine and dandy because as long as people get to enjoy the night life, that deters them from the real issue at hand which is that the occupation is still 'alive and kicking'. It fosters up attitudes like, "Fuck Israel, I want to enjoy my life" and "Oh so we have to be miserable just because we are occupied?"

Those people don't realize that their priorities are seriously mangled. It goes without saying that working progressively in order to be liberated from colonization and apartheid rule is imperative in order to secure a better and brighter future, but Ramallah needs a bit of reminding. It's simply disgusting the way people act, living the 'good life' and content on passing through checkpoints and being treated as sub-human beings.

But I've digressed. The March 15 youth movement have been crucial in recruiting other Palestinians from around the West Bank to Nabi Saleh, but as was apparent yesterday it just wasn't enough. We pondered this over.

"They're very nice people-"
"Yes they are" I heartily agreed.
"-But..their organization.."
"They lack a clear line of strategic planning-"
"Yes, they need to.."
"Mobilize the masses. It wouldn't be a youth movement if it didn't do that. They've organized a lot of seminars, lectures, conferences which is simply great because a third intifada definitely needs education and awareness and not rash behavior, but at the same time-" I stopped.

I realized "It wouldn't be a youth movement if it didn't do that" sounded extreme. Of course it's a youth movement, and they have been active on a lot of fronts. They mirror the BNC (Boycott Natonal Committee) in the sense that they are there, ready and available, but encourage others to start initiatives which they'll contribute to with their support and backing.

Before the actual protest started yesterday, the soldiers fired tear gas canisters to where we were coming down the dirt road after we had sat in the tent erected for foreigners who slept over on Thursday night. I looked behind me and saw a few Italians absolutely sprinting back up to Nariman and Bassem Tamimi's house, where they stayed until after 8pm. One of the village girls bounded up to me with a wide grin, yelling out "I thought I saw your sister, I'm glad you're here!" as a way of greeting. She stood next to me, watching the Italians run.
"Why are they dressed like that?" she scoffed. "Sandals are really appropriate. Their legs would have been scratched up and bleeding in those short leggings had they actually climbed a hill before."

I went home later that night as usual with my thoughts swirling. I thought of my Dutch friend's agony and how she yelled at the soldiers for arresting (later released) Wisam Tamimi from the village's only supermarket, how she turned to me and said, "I hate myself for not holding on to him [Wisam] more strongly. They just barged in and took him!"
I thought of my sister's friends who came for the first time to Nabi Saleh, fawning over everything, taking a lot of pictures and videos and asking, "What are your thoughts on this? What are your thoughts on that?" to a sixteen year old boy from the village who had his ego positively inflated.
I thought of the medics surreptitiously passing on their IDs to me to hide in my bag, before one of them got arrested.
I thought of Nariman instructing her 10 year old daughter not to run away but to hold her camera and stand her ground in the face of intimidation acts by the IOF.
I thought of Abu Hussam leaning against a wall conversing in Hebrew with one of the soldiers, trying to educate the soldier and point him in the direction of humanity in between sarcastic remarks like "It's forbidden for you all to stay in the shade, you must endure the sun if you want to shoot at us."
I though of what seasoned protesters kept reiterating over and over again, how the army in Nabi Saleh were the most brutal sadistic bunch they had ever come across, a lot worse than the ones in Nil'in and Bil'in.

If only Nabi Saleh can attract as much Palestinians as it does foreigners, those who are committed and sincere and those who can't wait to upload a new profile picture of themselves with the white smoke of tear gas as a backdrop.

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Nariam Tamimi Interview

Originally published by Electronic Intifada.

The first time I went to Nabi Saleh someone pointed out Nariman Tamimi to me. I had already figured out she was the imprisoned grassroots activist Bassem Tamimi’s wife, and as we politely exchanged greetings I blurted out, “Your face is so familiar, like I know I’ve seen you before.”

“Probably at one of the protests in Ramallah or Qalandiya, I’m always demonstating,” came the nonchalant reply.

Along with his cousin Naji Tamimi, also in prison, Bassem has been a leader of the Nabi Saleh Popular Struggle Committee and before his arrest was at the forefront of the weekly demonstrations confronting the Israeli army. The protests were kick-started a year and a half ago after settlers from the adjacent settlement of Halamish further expropriated the village’s main water supply, the spring of al-Kaws.

Bassem has been jailed in Ofer prison in the occupied West Bank since his arrest on 6 March on the basis of “incitement” and “organizing unlawful protests,” a claim which he defiantly rejected. The army’s evidence against Tamimi is a confession made by two village children who were abducted from their homes in the middle of the night, subjected to torture and denied legal counsel. The European Union representative to the UN Human Rights Council has expressed concern over the arrest of Tamimi and other human rights defenders (“European Union Expresses Concern Over Persecution of Bassem Tamimi,” Popular Struggle Coordination Committee, 16 June 2011).

Tamimi was arrested eleven times prior without ever being convicted of an offense. With the start of the weekly protests in Nabi Saleh his wife Nariman and their children have been targeted by the army, with Nariman spending time behind bars and the two oldest sons suffering injuries from tear gas canisters.

There’s a running joke in the village that Nariman unofficially adopts female activists as her daughters. Now as we sit at her kitchen table, chatting like old friends, it’s clear that she must not be characterized as just Bassem’s wife. She’s a mother of four studying international law and she’s been instrumental in documenting every Friday protest.

At one point during the interview, Nariman looks straight at me with her clear blue eyes and declares, “I, Nariman Tamimi, was injured, arrested, had my son injured, a demolition order placed on my house and my husband arrested. But despite all of that I believe that having inculcated peace in my children, the kind that stems from the inside, it will give away to fruitful results. I can’t shout that I’m for peace while holding up a gun.”

Linah Alsaafin: What is your role during the weekly protests?

Nariman Tamimi: I initially joined the protests as a medic, since I knew basic first aid and took courses with the Medical Relief agency. My role is to film and document the violations committed by the Israeli army against the protesters and the villagers. I also deliver first aid to those who need it. I work with B’Tselem, the Israeli human rights organization.

LA: How hard do you find it not to join in the protests while documenting?

NT: It’s difficult to film and at the same time join the protest — especially because of my belief that these protests are legitimate and peaceful, and we are asking for our rights. But of course I’m aware that I could be endangering myself if I do participate, and that the army will prevent me from filming. They already try to stop me from filming even when I don’t participate. Every journalist or cameraperson or any documentarian must be objective and not get caught up with the protesters chanting, but for me this is hard to do and I had already warned B’Tselem about this.

LA: As we know, the village is not united on the protests because of Israel’s repressive response affecting the entire village. What do you think of this and how has that affected your relationship with the opposition?

NT: Everywhere you go you’ll always find the positives and the negatives, the supporters and the opposition. But I think that if you find yourself on the positive side then the negative factors will only serve as more encouragement for you to continue on, because the bullet that doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.

LA: How have your children coped with the arrest of their father?

NT: My kids went through a more traumatic experience, and that was my detainment. The arrest of a father is unfortunately a widespread phenomenon in Palestinian society, but for children to have their own mother arrested is unquestionably harder to cope with than the arrest of a father. The mother can act the role of two parents and be there for her children in the way a father can’t. Of course, Bassem’s arrest distressed them, but my children are strong and know better than to let it affect them negatively. The effects of the future on them all comes down to how we raise our children. We instill in them love of their country, the sacrifices needed to secure our rights, et cetera.

LA: What is your opinion of the term “nonviolent resistance?”

NT: What is nonviolent resistance? Is it when a soldier shoots at me and I thank him? I think that in order to protest nonviolently one must be convinced from within, where there isn’t any malice or hatred and the hearts communicate with each other, so this internal goodness and peacefulness must broaden out externally. But nonviolent resistance doesn’t mean that a soldier can enter my house, violate my woman and I remain passive. On the contrary, I’ll respond back. Nonviolent resistance is mostly verbal; we respond back with words, but if a stone was the response or comeback then that doesn’t mean it is a weapon. It is more of a message than a weapon.

After being subjected to enormous pressure from the violent tactics of the army for hours and having the soldiers firing tear gas non-stop and then barging into houses, throwing rocks at the soldiers is more of a retaliatory symbolic message.

Our war from the onset is against the media and that is what was missing from the previous protests in our history. The Israelis made did a report about Nabi Saleh on their Channel 2, and they named it “The Deadly Play,” because according to them, when a child stands in front of the army jeep, the cold-hearted villagers make sure to document that without caring about the safety of the child.

LA: Naji Tamimi has already been tried and convicted [and sentenced to a year in prison and a 10,000 shekel fine]. Bassem’s trial is once again postponed to 27 August. The evidence against your husband is the coerced confessions extracted from two youths from the village. How hopeful are you about his case in light of the European Union’s concern over his persecution and arrest?

NT: [Since] the EU paid lip service to Bassem as a defender of human rights, and the fact that Bassem didn’t do anything wrong, then the way I see it, the EU must work to secure his release. That’s the way I understand it. Naji — my maternal uncle — agreed to the deal put forward by the court, the prosecutor and the lawyer because of his refusal to recognize the legitimacy of the court itself. If he gets jailed for two and a half years, what will that be for?

The deal at least gave him a year and a fine; it will be a lighter load on him even if it meant confessing to the charges brought against him. But the court, if you confess or if you don’t confess, has the power to sentence you in any way its likes. Bassem, on the other hand, went in the complete opposite direction. He didn’t agree to sign the deal even though it means that he’ll get a prison sentence of two and a half years, based on a confession from a 14-year-old boy whom the Israelis beat up — even the judge went crazy when he saw the [recording of the] interrogation.

If Bassem does get that sentence because of the coerced confession from a youth, then I believe that with a deal his presence with us here is more advantageous than his time in the Israeli prisons because of his contacts and the movements he works with. Israel believed that in arresting Bassem and Naji, they had finally caught the organizers of the protest. What the Israelis don’t realize is that there is no central organizer here in Nabi Saleh — even a child can decide what to do and what not to do, and so the Israelis believed that in arresting the “two leaders” they can effectively kill off the protests, but that hasn’t been the case at all. We have more people joining in, the protests continue to take place and develop week after week, and our momentum hasn’t been stopped at all.

LA: Tell me a little about your arrests.

NT: The protests started in December 2009. The first week I didn’t participate. The second week I got injured. The third week I was arrested for a day after the soldiers viciously beat up me and the other villagers. They cursed us and used appalling words. The fourth week I was arrested for the second time and I was held for ten days, but I honestly feel that that my detention did not affect me detrimentally at all.

My spirits were kept high and that particular experience only reinforced me to carry on because Israel tried to silence our words of truth. B’Tselem had observed that I was in vantage points where there was a lack of camera presence and approached me after I was released from my second arrest as a sort of protection for my suspended sentence of three years. However that in no way grants me immunity from the unpredictable actions of the Israeli soldiers, as they took my [card showing that I work for B’Tselem], beat me up again and threw it away. There is no such thing as immunity in Israeli discourse.

LA: Have the protests been centered on primarily raising awareness, and do you see this kind of resistance spreading across the West Bank?

NT: Definitely, the protests have caused a lot of awareness and the evidence is that we have Palestinian youth coming from different districts in the West Bank who are committed to going to Nabi Saleh every week. Activists from Israel and the international community are part of the popular resistance that is key to forming the awareness that leads others to denounce Israel as an occupying force and a military state, which is why our war is against the media.

It is a good sign to see more and more people getting convinced and exposing Israel’s crimes and atrocities in a way in which the world can understand them. This current resistance is inclusive of all the members of society, much like the first intifada, which was a true popular uprising, and I do believe that the current protests will spread because of their result of undermining the state of Israel and attracting international responses. The more that increases, the better it is for us.

LA: Do you believe that being so heavily involved in the protests, you have changed as a person or have had your line of thinking altered?

NT: At the start of the protests, I used to see Israel solely embodied as an armed soldier, the army, the interrogator, the female soldier who killed Imm Nizar [editor’s note: Bassem’s sister and the mother of Nizar Tamimi who was arrested in 1993 and is currently serving a life sentence. She was killed after a female soldier accosted her and hit her on the head when she came to Nizar’s court hearing in 1993].

As the popular resistance continued week after week, I began to realize the humanity in the Israeli activists, like [Israeli activist] Jonathan [Pollack], for example. I started to think more humanely about Israel; after all, didn’t Jesus Christ say “love thy enemy?”

That is why I am convinced that peace in sync with harmony must be internalized as well as being a vital part of your internal being. I used to feel incredulous whenever I heard the philosophical words of loving your enemy because I didn’t know what that meant, but I do now.

This love that comes from deep inside your soul is effervescent and has the energy to spread and affect the enemy in a favorable way. I’m sure psychology can explain this type of communication. I’m at peace with myself and I’m happy that my children, despite being put through such acts of violence, are able to grasp and accept the idea of loving a non-Zionist, non-occupying Israel.

Friday, July 15, 2011

Life After University

When does one stop becoming a university student? Right after they take their last exam, or after the graduation ceremony?

People of the world, July 14th will always be remembered by me as the day I finished my fugly years at Birzeit, or Birzift University. In a fitting manner, my last exam was permeated by classical music sounding out from the teacher's cell phone, in order to soothe our nerves, before Mozart gave way to a Nancy Ajram song. In my mind's eye, as I skipped down the steps and out of the gate, behind me campus resembled an Alice Cooper stage set, fireworks fireworks and more fireworks.

I had dreamed of this day since my first week back when I was a sanfoora. My parents and older cousins would always tell me that I would regret my attitude toward university, as these years would be "the best years of your life." To each their own but they were in fact the worst years in my life owing to a number of factors.

  • A sense of humor is not celebrated nor advocated
  • The uppity faculty members who won't look you in the eye because your name doesn't start with Sir/Lady
  • The students. The goddamn students
  • The academic atmosphere which is encouraged to stay conventional

Graduation for those who finish after a summer semester is usually in August. That's what I keep telling everyone, and I'm slightly worried because their reaction has been the same: Are you sure?
Even if it wasn't, it's no biggie because graduation ceremonies are the gayest things since Tim Gunn came out. Which is fine if you're all for sappiness and smart dressing, but I'm not too bothered about attending or not.

Due to my increasingly dormant partner in crime Hebz, I've been too scared to find out the answer to whether a new blog must be made if I wanted to change the name of it. Hebz has another semester left, so I can always write here using that as an excuse. Oh I've just been struck by a sudden light of inspiration: from now on I'll include my memories of Birzeit, in addition to the increasingly non-related university shtick I post. And believe me I have a lot of pensive recollections.

By starting this blog, the bitterness and hatred of studying at BZU eventually ameliorated into good-natured humor. Well as good-natured as the circumstances would allow anyway. Whenever something pissed us off we wouldn't sit, cross our arms, and glare ferociously at the world like we used to back in our first year. I'd whip out a notebook and we'd start brainstorming for a post to put together on the blog. Sometimes we reverted back to our sanafer stances but that wasn't our fault at all. So yes, WRITING HAS BEEN THERAPEUTIC.

For me, [cliche warning ahead] it's time to step out into the real world. For my family, it's time for me to gain back the weight I've lost during the past three years, to develop a more positive and relaxed psychological state because as my mama keeps telling me, it's the only way I'll ever regain the thickness of my hair again.

Real World: find a job. There are some students are start working during their last semester. I'm not one of those students. I used to be in such a rush to finish just so I could work and bring home the moolah, but I've forgotten how good it feels to sleep at 5am and wake up at 2pm the next day, something I haven't done since I graduated from high school. Eh, I'll start looking next week. Or after Ramadan. Ok fine, next week.

Job Prospects
NGOs pay good money. I fucking hate NGOs and their policies. Plus I've heard that they are laying off a lot of people because they're scared that come September, all that USAid cash will stop flowing in.

Teaching is a massive no-no in my book. That's all.

I suck at translating. I also don't enjoy it.

I wish I was a waitress back when I studied. That sounds so wrong and so promiscuous in the context of Palestinian Arab culture. Efft.

I think I should just work on publishing my first book. It'll take years out of me, and I'll end up living in a sewage garret at one point, but then my book will explode on the scene and shake the world. J K Rowling used to be my role model. She's richer than the Queen now.

Family: My aunts like to point out that wink wink nudge nudge, watch out for a 3rees/suitor to come any day now for you! Suitors are also up there with teaching, another massive no-n0. I can't tell that to my aunts though; they'll think I'm deranged. So it's all about tight smiles bordering on grimaces and a few inshallahs to placate them.

Even though once again in our Palestinian Arab culture, I'm running out of excuses. Hey, you graduated from high school, that's good enough for the geezer generation. Hey, you graduated from university, that's good enough for the parents. Hey, you started working, you'll be doomed to a life of singledom and celibacy now. You can take the Arab out of the fob, but you can't take the fob from the Arab.

One thing I'll be doing soon--and hold your laughter I'm still quite sensitive about this topic--is learning how to drive. Whenever I'm in the driver's seat, the parent/uncle next to me suffers from a serious case of frozen Petrifying syndrome. What, can't help it if I've got the Schumacher genes in me.

For now, it's definitely onwards for me. Using Gaddafi's catchphrase, ILAL AMAM!

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Ramallah's Revolting Resistance

This can only elicit three reactions.

One: Speechlessness.

Two: Rage. Raaaage. RAAAAGE. A lot of cursing. A lot of fuck-ficking. A lot of angry fists aimed at the screen, followed by a series of drop kicks to anything moving within 50 feet.

Three: Hollow screaming, to the point where the parents run into your room, yell louder than you to find out if you're dying or not, and then deliver a good slap around the head for disturbing their precious Al Jazeera TV time.

I don't drink, but who the hell would want to get drunk from a couple rounds of a Kheibar? Or a Kassam? The pretentious bourgeoisie are at it again, after all didn't that class invent the sex-on-a-beach cocktail?

My eyes. My bleeding Lasik-modified eyes.

It's disgusting, it's belittling, it's completely cheap.

You know those silly little sell-out events that claim to be all about peace thus there's no question of NOT attending because if you don't then obviously you're one for violence and total annihilation of white people? The Dance for Peace festival. Rap for Freedom night. Real Palestinian Food [read what the peasants eat] Resistance Week, let's show the world who hummus and falafel really belong to.

But it's all good, because those Palestinians just want to live their lives dammit, they are so sick of being under occupation when there's barely anything outside that let's them escape that fact, so why can't they just drink a few shots of Gilad, swirl up a kuffiyeh cocktail, and party away instead of working constructively to rid themselves of their present situation?

There are a lot of question marks in this post. WHY Andareen WHY.


Saturday, July 9, 2011

7th Anniversary of ICJ Ruling

June 12 2002 marked the first day building the wall but it took the International Court of Justice another two years before they "legally" recognized the Wall as a violation of human rights, disrupting every aspect of Palestinian life such as separating farmers from their lands, families from each other, children from their schools, stores from their customers-in short an effective tactic to divide Palestinian land into little bantustans.

Continuing on with its hysterical overdrive in suppressing activists from getting anywhere lest God forbid the true face of apartheid Israel is finally shown to the outside world, once again the Israeli Occupation Forces established flying checkpoints across the West Bank sealed off roads leading to Nabi Saleh as more than 200 protesters succeeded in reaching the village's spring. I say 'once again' because yesterday after the taxi I was in made it past Atara checkpoint, all other cars and taxis were refused passage through. The next taxi carried more activists bound for Nabi Saleh, and after one arrest (thankfully later released) the other activists were made to sit outside in the sweltering sun for six hours. The village itself was under siege until 8 pm, which definitely wasn't going to help my case with my parents since I got home late.

To show solidarity with the second flotilla, the villagers along with volunteers stayed up late on Thursday night to finish a model of a ship, which they named "The Popular Resistance Flotilla"/ اسطول المقاومة الشعبية. It was made up of a few wooden planks cobbled together but, adorned with a huge Palestine flag on its mast and sporting flags of other countries it looked beautiful. After noon prayers, the procession made its way down the street with the IOF watching them from below and as soon as they got within one hundred meters the soldiers fired tear gas straight at the crowd. It seems like every week the tear gas gets more toxic, its effects made to last longer.

A new campaign has started in Palestine to embargo arms sales in Israel, with the UK government continuing to sell arms to Israel in violation of its own arms export policy.
Israel in return "battle-tests" some of military equipment against the Palestinians, the lab rats.

Last Friday in Bilin the village celebrated and partied as after seven years of demonstrating, part of the Apartheid Wall was finally going to be dismantled. The village would regain 275 acres out of the 600 acres annexed to the Wall and the neighboring settlement. Bilin I Love You by French photographer Anne Paq is a must read, as she captures the festive victorious atmosphere after the village had sacrificed so much to reach this point. And yet, that is certainly no precursor to the Wall's beginning of the end demise, in case anyone thought that was so. Wafa News and Info Agency reports that in the village of Walaja, north-east of Bethlehem, Israeli forces marked the land to raze and uproot olive trees where a new path of the Apartheid Wall is to be constructed. This new path will take over 500 dunums and isolate a further 1958 dunums.

Today was another day for activism, but it wasn't publicized because the organizers wanted to catch the Israeli army by surprise. Hundreds of activists made their way to Nabi Saleh after they spent a couple of hours in Bilin. They however were met with a hundred soldiers. After reaching the spring, Tamimi Press reports that it was named Emily Spring by the activists in homage to the Jewish American student Emily Henochowicz who lost an eye after protesting at Qalandiya checkpoint the outrageous Israeli attack on the flotilla last year.

The IOF then responded with the typical tear gas, which lead to a number of people suffocating. One canister hit Ahed, Bassem and Nariam Tamimi's oldest son in the leg, where it burned the skin. Wa'd had suffered from a similar injury just a few weeks ago. Nariman and her brother in law Bilal were briefly detained before being released. What exactly can the IOF do to two people working with B'tsalem, the Israeli human rights organization? I remembered Wa'd sleeping on the floor in the open living room yesterday, as we sat down for the communal breakfast Nariman made for us, in between getting her youngest son dressed and combing her daughter's hair. Watch her below, screaming at the soldiers who shot Wa'd.

For some reason, the Israeli media/hasbarists thought that those foreigners at Bilin and Nabi Saleh were part of the Air Flotilla/Flytilla crew. Joseph Dana exposes their fallacy as just another case of false and lazy journalism. Because as soon as it gets published in The Jerusalem Post, that gives the other news outlets to do the same.
According to media reports carried by all major news outlets in Israel, four ‘air flotilla’ passengers have been arrested/detained in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh during an unarmed demonstration this morning. Haartez, in its headline story, is citing reports by Channel 10 (Heb), that four ‘air flotilla’ activists have been taken for questioning after they had been arrested in the demonstration. The Jerusalem Post, citing unnamed ‘organizers’, claims that air flotilla passengers are clashing with security forces in Nabi Saleh. The paper does not cite the name of the organizations that the ‘organizers’ are representatives of. Ynet is reporting that activists might be involved in demonstrations in Nabi Saleh and Qalandiya but they provide nothing to substantiate their claims. None of these reports seem to based on facts on the ground in Nabi Saleh.
Kobi Snitz, an Israeli activist with the Anarchists Against the Wall, told me by telephone from Nabi Saleh that he has not seen any ‘air flotilla’ passenger in the course of the day. He told me that four people were indeed arrested, but they were all Israeli Jews from Tel Aviv. In fact, the Israeli activists are being charged with assaulting soldiers despite clear video footage to the contrary according to Snitz.
The activists then climbed into buses and made their way to Qalandiya checkpoint, where an earlier demonstration in the morning had taken place. They managed to cut part of the fences around the checkpoint, but decided not to go through because their numbers had drastically reduced.

It seems silly and unnecessary to write, but sometimes living under occupation hits you hard and in the most unexpected times. Following the events unfolding on Twitter, I stopped breathing for a few seconds, my hands raised over the keyboard as I thought, damn. Look at the brutality of the soldiers in the video. This is no exception, they act like that all the time. A Martian would think it safe to assume that their reaction is justified because the assailants (the activists on the ground getting slugged and verbally abused) are packing some serious heat or something.

Silly Israel, everything you are doing only strengthens my will, my resolve, my sumud to go on, keep protesting, fight for my rights and my land until liberation is achieved.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Hundreds of Foreigners Plan to Visit Palestine

They answered the call of 15 Palestinian civil society organizations where they will take part in a week full of activism. Unfortunately, the only Palestine they'll be able to see is the West Bank. And this is such a hard thing for us to write, because what do you call a Palestine that was taken over by Zionists with the full backing of a superpower and used violent methods to systematically ethnically cleanse, or drive over half of the indigenous population to mostly neighboring countries which created more problems which then culminated in a huge diaspora problem, and that "move" was so sudden and expected at least on that indigenous population's side to last no more than a few months, which meant that the homes and villages and towns of these people, complete with furniture and clothes and assorted knick-knacks were either readily taken over by Jewish immigrants or razed to the ground for commercial reasons (shame on ANY Palestinian, especially those who get all giddy about finally acquiring the special permit to visit Jerusalem and then buy overpriced clothes from the Canyon Mall, which is built on the demolished site of the Malha village), and so with the complicit nature of the international committee a new astonishingly racist state, fodder for the white man in the west, came into being and then other complications were mixed in such as that new state's absolute right to every inch of Palestine plus a part of Egypt plus Jordan plus Syria plus Lebanon plus Iraq based on messianic revelations in an ancient text ET CETERA ET CETERA. The five hundred+ villages and eleven urban neighborhoods that were wiped out of any traces of the Palestinians exist in this new state as national parks, christened settlements, or "historic" sites of Israel. The two state solution is dead and buried under mounds and mounds of mockery, subcontracted occupation, and yellow negotiations, so jumping ahead to the optimistic future a bit, what will this one state be called? Israel/Palestine? Palestine/Israel? Did Gaddafi have it right when he proposed to name the country "Israfil?" Israel is a reality of course, but that doesn't make it any easier to call villages and cities and towns in their Judaized names (Yafa>Yafo, Akka>Akko, Aelia/Beit Salem/Al-Quds>Yorshaylim..) or refer to our grandparents' homes as part of Israeli territory. Listen here to Invincible's song 'People Not Places.' It's all about legitimacy.

Nevertheless, these foreigners who also go by the dangerous incriminating name of pro-Palestinian activists, number between 700 to 1500, and are due to arrive with peaceful intentions this Friday July 8th at the Ben Gurion airport, where they will clearly inform the Israeli authorities that they are here solely to visit the Palestinian territories and will stress on the part that the only means through to them is via this airport since Israel controls all border crossings and restricts the freedom of movement for Palestinians and other solidarity activists.

The reaction from Israel has been hilarious and unsurprising. Netanyahu wasted absolutely no time in growling out that these activists (he was just a breath short of calling them terrorists or terrorist sympathizers) are a threat to Israel and undermine Israel's right to exist. His responses to anything pro-Palestine are boring; is there anything in his book that doesn't undermine Israel's right to exist? The flotilla must be stopped because they will give Khamas nuclear warheads to annihilate Israel. Yawn. Couldn't he have livened up his statement by adding a creative twist, something about how these activists are disguised as peace-loving humanitarians but are in reality a special elite force of the Shinossad (Shin Bet + Mossad), planning to infiltrate the Palestinian territories in order to take down whatever germinating popular resistance against Israel? And then, let your imagination run wild in planning out different scenarios for why the Shinossad are to be met with such hostility.

Despite the activists stating their peaceful intentions, they are still treated by Israeli security forces as bomb strapped hooligans. Apparently, being a pro-Palestinian activist automatically means that one must be a raving, violent lunatic with murderous intentions, a bit like a watered down version of Baruch Goldstein. All the activists are interested in is going through the passport control room, stating "We are here to visit the Palestinian territories" and then proceed out of the airport, into their buses and taxis, and off to said Palestinian territories. But no, everyone is in hysterics, Israeli public security will establish a special operations room in the airport in honor of those provocative terrorist sympathizers, with "representatives from the Foreign Ministry, the Aviation Authority, the Internal Security Ministry, police representatives, Prime Minister's Office officials and others" to officially monitor, hassle, interrogate, and deport said wannabe camel-jockeys.

Israel, in a major breakthrough, identified more than 300 of those activists and put little black circles next to their names. Which then led to deceased security in the airport, because the Israeli Transportation Ministry twisted the arms of the countries the activists are flying out from who barred them from flying to Israel.

Point is, the democratic state of Israel is shaking. After one pillar gets knocked down, the others will follow. And not because of a 99.9% unlikely Iranian war or the Khamas tinpot homemade rockets, but because of its own increasingly desperate self-destructive attempts to save its image and reputation of a Jewish-made land of milk and honey with beautiful liberal minded people and fine upholding standards on every societal level. It seems that it's obvious to everyone except neo-cons and crazies that this tactic is in fact achieving the opposite effect and is polarizing Israel even more. The international community is slowly rousing from its bogged down silence and are engaging in more solidarity and awareness events to showcase Israel's impunity and atrocities.

We don't think that the hundreds of activists will be allowed through. Maybe a hundred, a couple hundred. Maybe fifty. What are the chances for this flytilla to succeed more than the second flotilla? We don't know. We do know that Israel needs to get with the program, cease its occupation and apartheid policies, stop its fascist methods to discredit anything that doesn't come with a WE LOVE ISRAEL hard-on, and to breathe.

Is peace still on the table, anyone?

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Shakira Ya Hakira

Back when Al-Jazeera dropped the bomb on the Palestine Papers in January, we realized what absolute tools we had for Facebook friends. They had changed their profile pictures to a big red smoking ban ring on Al-Jazeera's logo, and statuses were were of slander toward the channel. The PA organized protests in Ramallah with one huge banner reading "Al-Jazeera = Sahyouniyeh/Zionism". It was pretty hilarious, but nothing compared to the catchy chants started up by the goons: Ya Jazeera Ya Haqira.

Haqir: /hackir/ noun, adjective; singular masculine form. A bastard, a lowlife, a scoundrel. Singular feminine form is haqira.

*The /h/ is the Arabic pharyngeal 'h' sound, not the English fricative. The /i/ is a long 'ee'. We may be showing our major here a bit too much.

Anyway, we've fallen behind on posting BDS successes or their targeted campaigns at the next entertainer to perform in the only democracy in the Middle East. Shakira, she of Columbian and Lebanese descent, ignored all the letters and attempts to educate her fluffy mainstream cougar head about Israeli occupation and Apartheid, and horribly splintered the hearts of millions of Arab men with THIS:

Grosssssss. And Pique, your hotness level definitely plummeted too. Thank goodness for Xavi and Dahhvid Villa.

In her speech, Shakira went on to spout some nonsensical blather about Israel being the mother of all cultures, apparently ignorant of the fact that Israel is only 63 years old.

Award winning actress and writer Najla Said penned a letter to the diva, which sums up everything we're too lazy to properly express:
Dear Shakira,
Since your trip to Israel this week was ostensibly one of “good will” and humanity, and since in your speech to the Israeli Presidential Conference you stated that you are “convinced…that investing in education is the best strategy for peace and global stability,” I am going to give you an education. In humanity and solidarity. 
Let me start by saying that I was a fan of yours before your mainstream American commercial success. I loved your Spanish albums, and I loved you for seeming like a rebellious little punk who dyed her hair funny colors and sang melodiously along to crunchy “rock ‘n’ roll” guitar riffs about how messed up you were over a boy. You reminded me of the Spanish Alanis Morrissette. When you released your first English language album, I was a little sad that the whole world would know about you, but I was also excited for them to, because you loved to talk about being Lebanese. So even though your English lyrics were laughable and you dyed your hair blonde and became a Britney Spears clone like they all do, you were still you, shaking your hips and banging your drums and telling the world that belly dancing was in your blood, because you are Lebanese. And when Wyclef Jean said, “Let me see you move like you come from Colombia,” as you did your famous hip gyrations, a few of us who are also Lebanese cringed, but we got over it because we were proud of you. 
Don’t get me wrong, Shaki, I don’t want you to go back to being your younger self. I am glad that you, like Alanis, grew up and discovered love, peace and happiness, but you might have thought a bit about what it means to be educated before you spoke publicly about how important it is. I don’t expect you to be “political.” I know you are an entertainer and it’s not your job to “be political.” But you made yourself political from day one by showing off your Lebanese-ness. 
Here is the thing about being Lebanese or Arab; you kind of have to love us for who we are and what we feel as much as you love us for our hummus and our belly dancing because for the first time in a long time we are proud of where we are from and are able to speak out about injustices that have been committed against us and our loved ones for decades. And here you are, making us feel shitty and hurt. You weren’t an Orientalist before because you seemed to be one of us, but now, my love, you are. 
The modern state of Israel shares geography, but nothing more, with the “Abrahamic” religions that may have originated there.
As a UN goodwill ambassador, you maybe should have thought about the hundred or so (give or take) UN resolutions that the State of Israel has defied before hugging their President, Shimon Peres. You might have thought of visiting Gaza instead of one of the rare schools in Israel proper, where Israeli and Arab children, who are fortunate enough to be allowed citizenship, learn together. In 2006, you spoke out against the Israeli war on Lebanon, and called for an end to the fighting. In your statement, you said, “We do not need leaders who create dispute, anger and hate, but rather leaders who care about the people and their needs.” Well, your lips lied on that one, honey. Again, I need only to point to your ridiculous love fest with Peres at the Israeli Presidential Conference yesterday to prove my point. People who actually believe in peace and goodwill do not ignore half the people in the equation when they set out to perform acts of peace and good will. They don’t hug former military leaders (even ones who have a Nobel Peace Prize), and they don’t say things like this: 
“I am very happy to be in Israel, because I believe this is the perfect place to talk about how urgent it is to make education a priority. Israel has been a great melting pot of cultures for so many centuries. It will continue to be. In my song ‘Waka Waka,’ I sang how we are all Africa. Today I want to say that as part of western civilization we are all the inheritors of an Abrahamic culture and a soul that has been forged here; therefore, we are all Israel, too.” 
We are not all Israel, Shakira, and that’s the point. The modern State of Israel shares geography, but nothing more, with the “Abrahamic” religions that may have originated there. Some of us are Palestinian and cannot be Israeli. Some of us are from Gaza and cannot even go to Israel. Some of us are Lebanese and have been bombed by Israel. Some of us are Jewish and don’t believe in what Israel says and does. That doesn’t mean it has no right to exist; it does, but so do we. 
And since you spoke of children and education, I’d like to leave you with something that Alice Walker said the other day about her decision to ride on the Freedom Flotilla to Gaza. It sums up everything I am trying to say much more beautifully than I ever could:
“I see children, all children, as humanity’s most precious resource, because it will be to them that the care of the planet will always be left. One child must never be set above another, even in casual conversation, not to mention in speeches that circle the globe. 
As adults, we must affirm, constantly, that the Arab child, the Muslim child, the Palestinian child, the African child, the Jewish child, the Christian child, the American child, the Chinese child, the Israeli child, the Native American child, etc., is equal to all others on the planet. We must do everything in our power to cease the behavior that makes children everywhere feel afraid.” 
Thank you for your time, Miss Mubarak (Hey, come to think of it, are you related to the dude who ran Egypt for a really long time? Because that would explain EVERYTHING!).

PS What in the name of flying fudgecrackers is up with her latest music video? We felt like 16 again when we used to get that nascent guilty feeling of watching something that starts with DO NOT WATCH IF NOT 18 OR OVER. Crap, no not porn dammit.

And now we move on to Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine. We're not even going to pretend to know who this is but a quick Wikipedia search tells us that he's an American singer, spoken word artist and leading figure of the Green Party. He's also an anarchist, supports various political causes, and advocates direct cause and pranksterism in the name of said political causes. Great, so where does that fit into his awareness about Israeli occupation and Apartheid? Oh, it doesn't. But the pressure was so great on him and his band. A petition was signed by thousands. His Facebook page turned into a spam-fest of Zionist trolling (and religious warfare by the "proper" Muslims) after activists appealed to him not to play in Tel Aviv citing reasons and resources and overwhelming evidence. He finally pulled out, and wrote the most wet blanket letter we've ever read:
Dear Friends,
Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine are not going through with the July 2 date in Tel Aviv. This does not mean I or anyone else in the band are endorsing or joining lockstep with the boycott of all things Israel.

I am going to Israel and Palestine to check things out myself and may yet conclude that playing for people in the belly of the beast was the right thing to do in the first place.

The toll and stress on the band members and myself has been huge, both logistically and as a matter of conscience. I can't drag anyone any further into rough waters without being better prepared than some of us thought we were. A responsible leader does not go, 'Hey, check out the storm at the top of Mount Everest. Let's go up anyway just in case we don't die.' Some members are angry with me for this decision, let alone how long it took me. I don't blame them.

It would have been so easy to quietly pass on the gig out of fear someone might get upset, and no one would have been the wiser. We could have flown under the radar, left the date off our tour postings and not bothered with a statement, but how honest is that?

Our intention in going was that we thought we could do some good , speaking truth to power, fans and impressionable young minds in a way that most bands don't. What about the people on the same side of the human rights fence we are who now don't get to see us play? Should they be boycotted too? What about the even larger atrocities of the Bush regime and by extension Obama? Should we turn off our mouths of anger and boycott our own country too?

We tried again and came close to landing a Ramallah show, but again, we needed to be better prepared. How fair is it to the organizers to demand a full-on rock show on a few days' notice with a type of music they may not be familiar with? More importantly, how much are we really doing for Palestinian rights if people there don't seem interested in our kind of music at all?

I've been doing this long enough to know better than buy into hardline absolutes such as playing in Israel automatically supports apartheid or Israel's government. That threat is ridiculous. I know far more about this issue than some people think I do, and I am not a poodle for Hasbara, Peace Now, BDS or anyone else.

The first people contacting us went out of their way to be diplomatic and communicate how they felt. Then our Facebook page went from eye-opening and educational to a childish bickerfest between a handful of people, to the point where we had to try something else just to reclaim our own Facebook page.

As the gloves came off, unfortunately so did some of the masks. Calling anyone speaking up for Palestinian rights a 'terrorist' is dumb. So are the blanket condemnations of everyone who happens to be Israeli that seem to be coming from the 'drive all the Jews into the sea' crowd. I also even got an invitation from a self-proclaimed fan to 'come meet the Israeli right' and see the settlements through their eyes, complete with a wine-tasting party. Whew!

Whoever started now admits it was aimed solely at one person - me. It is obvious that not everyone signing the petition has any idea who I am, or knows anything about punk, possibly the majority. The last time I looked I could only find three names of people I actually knew. Some made it clear that I will be on their bad list no matter what I do because I dared to even think of playing in Israel.

I can't back anyone whose real goal or fantasy is a country ethnically cleansed of Jews or anyone else. Where people who think for themselves or talk to the wrong person are automatically a sell out. Speaking personally, I currently favor two democratic states in the admittedly naive hope that in our lifetime they can somehow evolve into one. Where race or religion does not matter because people have learned to work with each other.

I think back to last year when JBGSM played in Serbia. The locals we spent time with were not monsters, and filled me in on how they risked their necks for years opposing and demonstrating against Milosevic and were not down with ethnic cleansing at all. But they weren't too happy about being bombed by NATO for over 2 months straight either, and showed the ruined buildings to prove it.

I also heard comments like, 'The Croats killed my grandfather in World War II. I can't forget that...' and 'There's another war coming soon. I can feel it.' The most I could do from the stage is say that I do not know what I would do if the Croats or Serbs killed my grandfather, or a suicide bomber or occupying army killed my child. But I would hope I would be one of those people who could somehow say, 'Can't we have some peace?' The audience seemed to appreciate that.

The next day I laid out my thoughts and emotions to the person giving me a ride in Slovenia. She turned ice cold and said, 'Maybe next time you should play in Bosnia.' Good point. The nightmare continues.

Rise Above,

Jello Biafra

There is so much to criticize here. If he performed in Ramallah that makes it ok for him to play in Tel Aviv?


So the point missed him completely. Of course, he couldn't have followed the meek path of those performers who cancelled their gigs in Israel, citing "professional reasons" or something of the other. Nope, he had to be honest to his fans. It will be interesting to see what his impressions are after checking out 'Palestine/Israel' for himself.

Nora Barrows-Friedman, staff writer and editor for The Electronic Intifada, rolled her eyes at Jello's letter too:
Biafra’s decision to cancel the Tel Aviv gig is the right one, but he still seems under the impression that the boycott is a fringe movement that he has the right to ignore.

In his statement, Biafra also concludes quite naively that if he had also booked a gig in Ramallah, in the occupied West Bank, it would have put the entire debate to rest — as though playing a show in Tel Aviv and playing a show in Ramallah would have been an equitable move. However he doesn’t understand that playing a show in Tel Aviv in the first place is a direct violation of the Palestinian-led boycott call, no matter wherever else one happens to play. If an artist performs for money in Tel Aviv, he is crossing the boycott line. And Palestinians leading the BDS call will not be placated or amused by a token gig in a ghetto bantustan in the West Bank.

Read the rest of her article here.

And next time, we won't wait a week to finally type this up.