Saturday, January 29, 2011

This Revolution is Being Televised

Al Jazeera English: Live Stream - Watch Now - Al Jazeera English

We are witnessing history. It is only a matter of time before Mubarak steps down. Ydoom ilsha3b ilmasri!
USA are all in a dither since Egypt is a key ally (read: protector of Israel) in the region. It receives 1.3 billion dollars in military aid from the US annually, and shares the special border with Gaza. We can't help the grins on our faces. Yemen and Jordan (against the government, not the monarchy, but baby steps Jordanians) seem to be following suit. Oh, this is so on!

Meanwhile, enjoy these few translated pages from the "Egyptian Activist's Action Plan" brochure that were distributed on Friday
The 5th day of events here, and enjoy the pics, courtesy of Al Jazeera.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

All Hail the Despot

Hung up around the Manara is this gem.

"Our position is consistent
A Palestinian state
With Jerusalem as its capital
And the Right of Return for refugees.

May Al Jazeera and those who stand behind it be crushed."


But seriously, this is expected since it goes by the name of propaganda, but I cannot believe the people in Ramallah and the rest of the West Bank have not yet properly reacted. Hm, maybe a spontaneous protest after Friday prayers? Or something along those lines?

If the people are still willing to blame Al Jazeera for exposing what went on behind the cosy scenes of fraudulent negotiations (I believe it is called shooting the messenger) and accusing it of trying to stir up fitna and division among the Palestinians, then we're a pretty dumb bunch.

The PA were willing to sell out Palestinians and the Palestine cause in return for nothing. Simple as that. Not a big surprise, but there you are. Now let's MOVE.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Watan 3a Watar Act

Watan 3a Watar, performed at the Ramallah Cultural Palace last year. This particular acts sums it all: Palestine is the rather odd green pumpkin, sliced into two parts-1948 Palestine and the West Bank and Gaza Strip areas. 1948 Palestine is put to one side, forgotten about. The West Bank is divided from Jerusalem, which in turn is divided up into West and East Jerusalem, which is further divided up into tiny littered pieces of settlements and resettled by European Jewish settlers of Palestinian neighborhoods, etc. The West Bank is sliced into bantustans, with different cities cut off from each other directly, strewn with more settlements and settler only roads. Gaza is isolated from the world because the wrong political party is ruling it. So what's left of Palestine?

Nothing but good old hearty laughs with a look of unmistakable smugness.

Satire serves the purpose of bringing about reform in society, but we suppose the people in attendance were too star struck to notice, because having major quislings among them in the same room is a tale to be told to their grandchildren.

New Benches

Birzeit University has around 8000 students, and yet there are only about 10 benches scattered throughout campus, which means that the majority of students spend their four years of education sitting on the ground, the steps of buildings, and on pavements. This semester we noticed at least ten more shiny new benches sprouting up here and there. About time, we thought. The university milks us dry and suddenly they start acting more considerate. A closer look at the benches however, show that they are presents from various Palestinian companies, such as Jawwal, Trust Insurance, and Abbasshole's son's company Wataniya.
The benches are all green. That means Hamas is involved somehow. And you'd think that that's sarcasm, but the Fateh supporters honestly do believe that anything associated with the color green is automatically Hamas.

Sometimes we worry about graduating with a drastically low number of brain cells than when we first reluctantly enrolled.

We just had to get away from the Palestine Papers, even if that meant a trivial post. Quick summary-  Erekat describing the Right of Return as a "bargaining chip" ignoring the millions of refugees in inhumane camps in Jordan and Lebanon. Robert Fisk spells out the obvious in this article, and its all been about a power struggle, or total wipe out of one party to be king of vaporous domination. There's been zero reaction from the student council, whether to accuse Al Jazeera of a smear campaign undermining the ruling power of the PA (honk!) or to ostentatiously offer up their blood for the long preserving life of Abbasshole, God save the despot.

The Hamas student party haven't organized anything either. We're relieved, because then they would have just pointed out vociferously and needlessly the PA's collaborative agenda and how they mercilessly were willing to sell out their own people, who they claim to represent yada yada. And then the Fateh party would have jumped in, and after a screaming match of "TRAITOR! AGENT! YAHOODI!" both sides would have taken the good ole route of fisticuffs, resulting in 12 students of the Hamas party being arrested and thrown in PA jail cells indefinitely, and several serious injuries on the Fateh students' part. Instead of working to dispose of the salata, the two rival factions, who everyone is sick to death of, resort to the thing they do best: pointing fingers at each other, while the Palestinians continue to suffer the seemingly irrevocable mistakes of their unrepresentatives.

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

PA Buss Supporters While Egypt Comes to Life

The government ministries closed an hour earlier so that their employees could congregate in Ramallah to protest the apparent witch-hunt Al Jazeera TV is unwittingly implementing against the PA. The Palestine Papers? What Palestine Papers? Al Jazeera is Zionist! That's all that matters.

The PA also bussed in the tailandeen from the northern parts of the West Bank, as is their custom whenever they are in dire need of supporters. I hurried through Ramallah today, already late for a workshop, but I didn't need to look twice to see what was going on. Traffic was horrific; the incompetent policemen had closed off a road or two and ignored traffic lights completely, waving their arms to signal the movement of vehicles. The Muqata'a was busy as Abbasshole made his fighting speech to the masses, namely that the Papers were forgeries and that he has nothing to hide. Around the Manara, a sparse crowd milled about, while some idiot shouted threats to Al Jazeera next to boy, no more than nine years old, holding up this poster:

The bigger crowd were in front of the City Center building, where Al Jazeera's offices are located and had already been broken into and vandalized. I walked on, torn between derisive amusement and irritation. Al Jazeera are no saints. In fact, some of their motives and tactics are questionable. But this is NOT about Al Jazeera, nor is it about the British newspaper The Guardian. This is about the full documentation of years and years of failed collusive negotiations between Israel and the PA. This is about bringing into light what many people have suspected about the PA, from happily offering unprecedented concessions, to killing Palestinians in order to maintain "order", to having previous knowledge-at least 6 months prior-to Operation Cast Lead, to employing their American-trained, Egyptian funded, Jordanian based "security forces" to crack down on any political dissent, etc etc. So for people to come out in support of the PA is an action befitting a gormless ogre. For people to defend the PA is unreasonable and irrational. The stage is set, the dominoes are quivering.

Speaking of which, tens of thousands of Egyptians marched through the streets today demanding the end of Hosni Mubarak's 28 year reign. It is toted as the biggest demonstration in a generation.

"We have never seen anything like this before – it is the first day of the Egyptian revolution," said Karim Rizk, one of those who joined multiple rallies in the capital. Apparently taken by surprise at the size of protests, police initially stood back and allowed demonstrators to occupy public squares and march through the streets, an unprecedented move in a country where political gatherings are strictly outlawed and demonstrations are normally quickly shut down by security forces. "We have taken back our streets today from the regime and they won't recover from the blow," claimed Rizk.

Shouting "down with the regime" and "Mubarak, your plane is waiting," protesters demanded the end of President Hosni Mubarak's 30-year dictatorship and said they were fighting back against decades of poverty, oppression and police torture. The protests had been declared illegal by the authorities and were met with a fierce police response, as tear gas and water cannon were fired into the crowd and rocks were hurled into the air by both demonstrators and security forces.

Central Cairo

Monday, January 24, 2011

Ramallah Tunisia Solidarity Rally Sabotaged by PA

On Wednesday the 19th, at four pm, a rally was supposed to kick off at the Manara square in Ramallah. It was a rally showing solidarity with Tunisia, organized by university students with no political affiliations and who were simply impressed by the Tunisian people's revolution. The event was synchronized to start in other cities such as Nablus, Jenin, Gaza City, Jerusalem, and Yafa. Generally, we hold rallies and 'protests' in Ramallah in a belittling view, as the turn out is always disappointing and plainclothes police are sauntering everywhere-which ensures the democratic PA regime is watching. However, since this was a solidarity event, we decided, sure why the hell not. As we started walking toward the Manara, we could tell that something was wrong. We expected to find a small sea of red flags, and instead the vile yellow Fateh flags were fluttering everywhere. We rolled our eyes. Another rally despotically overridden by Fateh for the childish reason of reminding everyone just who is in charge around here, if by being in charge means under the thumb of Israel and moonlighting as their lapdogs. We pushed our way through the crowd and found out that in fact, this was no Solidarity-With-Tunisia-Cum-Display-of-Fateh-Masculinity. There was not a single Tunisian flag to be seen, no banners or posters or anything related to Tunisia. Instead, there were posters of the prisoner Haytham Salhia, whose assassination attempt in the Israeli Eshel prison failed and resulted in his paralysis (some say 'critical condition', not wanting to give the deets away).

It wasn't too hard to figure out what just happened. Those who had initially arrived for the Solidarity rally were huddled off at one side, while others were just standing among the Fateh supporters with a nonplussed expression on their faces. Apparently, the poor bitty PA is scared. For all of its brutal crackdowns and suppression of the freedom of speech, it still lives in fear that the West Bank will rise up and swallow them whole. Anyone who shows admiration for the Jasmine Revolution becomes a dissenter, and we all know what happens to that kind. Abbashole is on the unpopular side of Ben Ali, and he fears the people on the streets. Therefore, no Tunisian rally. No expression of solidarity. One man who unfurled his Tunisian flag promptly had it confiscated from him.  Fateh Fateh Fateh, all the way bitches!

A Statement by a Group of Palestinian Youths

Palestinian security forces sabotaged an event that was organized to celebrate the Jasmine revolution and express solidarity with the Tunisian people. Their excuse for shutting down the event was: “We are the authority here, we are the government, and we decide the laws around here.”

In organizing the event we followed all the legal procedures in accordance with the right to freedomof assembly. We were within the confines of Palestine’s Basic Law and Law 12 of 1998, which outlines the procedures for planning a public event. We informed the authorities more than 48 hoursin advance so that Ramallah’s governor’s office could have ample time to coordinate with the policeand other security forces to ensure our safety and redirect traffic. More than 24 hours after we submitted the request we were informed that a decision was made by the leadership of thePalestinian Authority to ban public events that celebrate or stand in solidarity with Tunisia. We were threatened by the authorities and were told that the police would oppose and prevent any such gathering and arrest those who defied their orders. However, we refused to yield to their threats, and insisted on assembling to celebrate and support the Tunisian people’s victory over tyranny.

We decided to have the crowd convened for the Tunisia solidarity event stand in support of Haytham, given the urgency of his case. At the gathering we planned to announce that we were postponing the Tunisian solidarity assembly for another day. We planned to inform the crowd that we were giving priority to the case of the poisoned political prisoner. We explained to those organizing the rally for the political prisoner the situation at-hand. We also asked the police and those working with the Palestinian Authority’s offices to allow us to announce to the crowd that the Tunisia event was postponed and ask that the crowd congregate near the prisoner’s family to provide them with moral support. We felt compelled to make this announcement to avoid any confusion in the crowd, especially since significant numbers of police and undercover intelligence forces were deliberately waiting to punish anyone who attempted to celebrate the Tunisian revolution.

The police and governmental officials at the event refused to give us the opportunity to make our announcement, and began to intimidate and threaten our participants to silence us. When a member of the assembly took out his Tunisian flag, the police forces quickly seized him and confiscated his flag. A policeman then threateningly declared: “We are the Authority here, we are the government,and we decide the laws around here.”The Palestinian Basic Law, which serves as our de facto constitution, grants us freedom of assembly.We believe that our future Palestinian state must be built on the firm grounds of civil and political liberties. We planned this public event for the sole purpose of standing in solidarity with the Tunisian people who have also stood by us in our time of need. The Tunisian people have consistently expressed solidarity with Palestine, both after and during our revolts against Israeli oppression. This event was not planned to protest the difficult internal conditions that currently inflict the Palestinian people, although we should have the right to openly protest, regardless of the issues or opinions being expressed.

We categorically refuse to submit to these threats. We will never surrender our right to freedom of expression and assembly.

Regardless of the threats used against us and the rejection we have received from the Palestinian Authority’s governmental and security institutions, we are determined to have our event. As Palestinian youth we understand that the future of the Palestinian people depends on us. We know where we must focus our energies to bring about positive change to ensure that our people will one day celebrate their freedom.

The time and place of our event will be announced soon, and the event will occur during this week.We invite you all to join us to celebrate the Tunisian people’s revolution against oppression.

Al Jazeera Reveals Failure of Negotiations

At the time of this writing, Saeb Erekat is sweating his tiny balls off on the Arabic Al Jazeera channel, gulping down water and yelling unnecessarily so and accusing the anchors of being unfairly quoted. For over one thousand and six hundred documents have been revealed throughout the twenty year course of "peace negotiations" between Israel and the self-appointed Palestinian negotiators. Only an idiot needs to be convinced by all these documents; the so called peace process, proposed initially at the Madrid conference in 1991, has been a laughing stock from the beginning, full of glaring holes of US-backed Israeli propositions of land for Israel's security (and not peace) and unrequited gaping concessions made by the Palestinian team. The negotiations themselves have been going on about ten years prior to Madrid.

First things first. Who the hell appointed the Palestinian Negotiating Team? What an abrasive autocratic clique of unabashed collaborators. Stand up Ahmad Qurei, Yaser Abdrabo, Mohammad Dahalan (all sequestered to bugger off somewhere else) Salam Fayyad and reigning chief negotiator, Saeb Erekat. In no way at all do they represent the Palestinian people, and by Palestinian we include those in the Gaza Strip and 1948 Palestine, not just the bantustan riddled West Bank. Claiming to speak and act on behalf of the Palestinians is such a grievous insult. In fact, it's purely criminal.

Al-Quds/Jerusalem. The Holy City which the Israelis see as their rightful capital, even if it means evicting every non-Jewish member, demolishing historic neighborhoods, and impudently building illegal settlements with the zealousness and manic energy of the tasmanian devil. It is one of the most sensitive and thorniest issue for those who resolutely insist on hammering along the so-called peace process. The original Jerusalem residents, Muslim, Christian, and Armenian (we'll leave out 'Jewish' since they obviously got the better deal), are under threat of losing their homes, their identity, and their livelihoods by the on-going Judaizing process. Most have. Oh, and then there's all this bother about a third temple for the Jews built beneath the Al-Aqsa mosque, the third holiest site in Islam, which in order to be discovered must entail the excavation of the mosque. The old city is part of the occupied Palestinian territories (since 1967) which clearly means that the excavations, the closing down of Arab-owned stores, and the eviction and subsequent replacement of Palestinians with immigrant Jews is illegal.

Enter sweaty Erekat. Back in 2009, he proposed a "creative" solution for the problem of the old city of Jerusalem. Israel gets control of the Jewish quarter and part of the Armenian quarter, which implicitly brings Israel right up to the Haram al Sharif's western compound wall. In other words, the Armistice Line is redrawn 600 meters closer to the very borders of the Haram al Sharif. The Palestinians get control of the Christian and Muslim quarters. And the Haram al Sharif itself can be overseen by an international committee. That's not all folks! The year before, Ahmad Qurei and Erekat offered to concede almost all of East Jerusalem-for nothing in return. This means legalizing all the settlements, except for Jabal Abu Ghneim, and giving up the Arab neighborhoods.

Erekat on al Jazeera, as if to justify himself, shouted that even though this it what was offered to Israel, Tzipi Livni (part of the negotiators back then) adamantly refused to accept. We suppose he's trying to bring up the point of Israel's graciousness, and not the obvious correct reason for its refusal:


So. Does Erekat think that by conceding East Jerusalem for nothing in return will put him in the history books as the most shrewd and calculating negotiator of all time? Or will be be busy papering his bathroom tiles with benjamins?

And you know what, it's not surprising at all. This whole story is only natural, with a few douchebags happily giving away the homeland of Palestinians without second thought and fulfilling their farcical role in...negotiations.

Lastly, this gem of a quote from Shitface: "The only thing I cannot do is convert to Zionism."


Saturday, January 22, 2011

Israel Destroys Araqib Village for the Ninth Time

El Araqib is situated in the Naqab (Negev) desert, close to Bi'r Sabi' (Beersheba). Last week it was once again razed to the ground, homes tents and all, for the ninth consecutive time. Those who tried to resist were subjected to being shot at with tear gas and rubber coated bullets. Around 5 youths were injured. After every demolition, the village was rebuilt by its inhabitants, but this time the Israeli bulldozers remained on the land to make sure this won't happen, all to satisfy the Jewish attendees who visited the area on Thursday for their Jewish Arbor holiday. They were invited by the Jewish National Fund to plant trees on the confiscated plowed land of El Araqib to plant trees. How humane. Ah, to enjoy the privilege of planting trees over the demolished houses of hundreds of Palestinians. The occupation forces have cleared the debris to ensure that at the very least, rebuilding the village will take longer this time around for the Palestinian inhabitants.  

During the 7th demolition of the village, back in November
Israel refuses to recognize the village, claiming it was built upon government land. The residents of El Araqib have deeds showing that the land was inherited from their grandparents.

We can't imagine the psychological state of the children, forcefully and violently thrown off their land over and over again.

The things we take for advantage in this world.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Conflagration is Not the Way, Apparently

Well. Self-immolation certainly does not have the same desired effect in other countries.

Egypt witnessed a man igniting himself to expostulate the lack of rights he suffers at the hands of the government.

Algeria has as many as four people setting fire to themselves.

Mauritania had one man attempting death by burning as a means of protesting his tribe's mistreatment at the hands of the government. 

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Mabrook Tunisia!

Ousted Autocrat: Zein ilAbedine Ben Ali. In power for 23 years. Dyes his hair black, wears a permanent smug look, and puts up huge airbrushed posters of himself around the country. Who's the man? You da the man!

Cause: The Jasmine Revolution. The Tunisians have had enough of the soaring food prices, the crippling unemployment rates, the ostentatious extravagant lives the tiny ruling family enjoy, and the constant fear/censorship of any political dialogue. They want a democracy and for 29 days of peaceful protests, they have succeeded in making Ben Ali run for his life.

Special Mention: On December 17th, Mohamed Bouazizi, the 26 year old from rural Sidi Bouzid, who couldn't take any more of his unbearably shitty life, set fire to himself after authorities once again confiscated his vegetable stall on the grounds that he was not licensed. The police insulted and slapped him around a bit as well, getting their fill of fun for the day. Bouazizi had a university degree but unable to find a job, supported his family by selling vegetables. His sacrifice served as the catalyst to the Tunisian protests/intifada.

Ben Ali's wife: Leila Trabelsi, she of the "wooden smile" and parasitical mafia family. Most of her extended family have huge businesses run by state funds, and they get their way because It's Trabelsi dude. If the name won't send you vomiting up five 'democratic' terms of Ben Ali's regime, here's what they've been doing while the rest of the population wallow in misery.

  • Freight ice cream from St Tropez for a dinner party
  • Feed four chickens a day to a caged tiger in one of their homes
  • Own a large stash of fancy expensive cars
  • Own a string of ostentatious villas
  • Get away with murder and other crimes, because corruption is a sport
  • Swim in molten gold
Tunisians barely concealed their immense hatred of the first lady and small wonder. 

On the run: Ben Ali's plane first headed toward the Arabian Gulf countries before it changed course and made way for Paris, France. Sarkozy gave them the finger so the plane moved on to Sardinia, where it wasn't given permission to land. After circling around and non applicable diplomatic calls, the plane landed in Saudi Arabia, the camel jockey haven of murderers and mad men. Duh!

Reaction of  the West: The imperial powers that be have been gob-smacked by the rapidity and success of this intifada, and wasted no time in assuring the world that the Tunisian people have a right to democracy and that they have been neutral during this historical achievement etc. Then they can cosy up to the newly elected President and presumably go about their business by attempting to pull his strings.

One positive thing (in the long run) about an uptight controlling authoritarian police state is that opposition political parties are banned. This sounds very undemocratic and all, but this intifada lasted for TWENTY NINE DAYS and has already achieved what it had set out to gain. The people were all united under one main cause and they never lost sight of that because they had no other political affiliation to concern themselves with or to promote this party or that. One thing we've been thinking about...if a man set himself on fire in one of the villages surrounding Ramallah because the Palestinian Authority's security forces have once again after three arrests accused him of causing 'political dissent', what would the Palestinians do? Would they rage and riot, stage peaceful protests until the PA is dissolved, or simply shake their heads, mutter something about the man's insanity, and move on? The sad thing is, we honestly believe people will go with the third option. Maybe it's because they have to wait for old man Abbass to be in power for 23 years before they decide to take any action. 

Khubiz, hurriyeh, karama watania. Bread, freedom, national dignity.

Tunisia, please don't eff this up. We don't want to hear reports in two months' time of a new autocratic government and people still finding difficulty buying food or getting a job.

Will Egypt be the next regime to fall in the domino line? Or is this just wishful thinking?

Vanessa Paradis Boycotts Israel

We're confused. We don't know how to deal with our feelings right now. It's not enough that French singer Vanessa Paradis still has her unclenching fists on our man Johnny Depp, but that she has the nerve to procreate two children from him? Our hearts are bleeding, and have been for some time. And now, a new complication. She has cancelled her gig in Israel for "professional reasons" i.e. she has heeded the BDS call but doesn't want to be accused of anti-Semitism so she won't come right out with a statement beginning with "Due to Israel's ongoing illegal occupation of the Palestinians and their blatant disregard for international law capitalized upon by for example attacks on peace activists as was the case on the Turkish humanitarian aid ship the Mavi Marmara, I won't be performing my concert in Israel due to the Palestinian civil society call for the boycott of etc etc..."

So even though she's afraid to jeopardize her career by not admitting straight up the reason for her cancelled gig-unlike Gill Scott-Heron and Elvis Costello- we grudgingly respect her for pulling out anyhow.

It was so painful typing that.

Around 30 activists gathered in front of the theater Conflans-Sainte-Honorine calling on Paradis to boycott Israel and to distribute leaflets to spectators, and as trolls would tell you it's either peer pressure (probable) or anti-Semitism (definitely) that finally swayed her mind. She was supposed to perform February 10th accompanied by luscious man Johnny, and if that actually went through we would have never lived sanely again.


Apparently we don't know how to take flash-free pictures

The Palestine Writing Workshop (if you don't officially Like them on facebook, then you're a loser) once again presented a Poetry of Palestine night at the ambrosial Cafe La Vie. Poets for tonight were Dalia Taha, a Birzeit University graduate with a degree in Architecture who contributes often to literary journals in the West Bank; Asmaa' Azaizeh, who has been featured previously on POP nights; and hailing from Bil'in, Anas Abu Rahmeh, who is a fellow Birzeit University student earning a degree in Arabic literature.
                                                                                                                                                             Asmaa' Azaizeh
Again and again poetry nights have been exceeding our lofty expectations and tonight’s was no less then pure entertainment, imagination and a tad bit of reminiscence. Dalia Taha started off the event pleasantly enough as more and more people squeezed their way in. We counted five rows of standing people behind us. Asmaa' followed next, and her tone, her powerful voice, and her words once again put us under her spell, which took us on a journey to the mountain of Carmel and the inner streets of the faded heavily ethnically cleansed city of Haifa. There's something magical about the classical Arabic language which in itself seems to be so rich in dulcet images and euphonious metaphors. Anas was the last to perform before the open mic session commenced, and a few of his poems amused us for the simple popular cultural catchphrases utilized in a way to describe political and apolitical experiences. He reminded us of our childhood block party games: Palestinians Vs Israelis, and Arabic proverbs such as fostook faddi. In addition, he had us somewhat oddly puzzled with a few of his poems which we cannot even began to explain but encompassed the theme of...pissing.

Four people made up the participants for the open mic session but the real star was the fourth novice- 6th grader Fadi Arafeh who opened up his performance with peerless confidence and a couple of nationalistic poems. A break soon followed, and then a viewing of Nasri Hajjaj's film "As the Poet Said" was shown. Donations were also collected-the Palestine Writing Workshop needs the moolah! But only to give back to the community in priceless ways of course.

We really hope POP night becomes a monthly event-the turnout is always good, people generally have a good time, and it's a nice change from the routine life to listen to talented voices.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Ken Loach Comes to Ramallah

In coordination with each other, Yabous Productions and Philistine Films worked hard to get renowned British film maker Ken Loach to Palestine.

Ken Loach is awesome. He refused an OBE long before we were born (1977) citing:
"It's all the things I think are despicable: patronage, deferring to the monarchy and the name of the British Empire, which is a monument of exploitation and conquest."

His movies reflect his socialist views such as homelessness, worker's rights, oppressed citizens, etc. He is a strong supporter of the BDS campaign and has called for the boycott of Israeli cultural institutions. He has boycotted the Melbourne Film Festival as well as the Edinburgh International Film Festival, which lead to the organizers of the latter to return the three hundred pounds grant it received from the Israeli Embassy to fund an Israeli director's visit. Loach saw his actions as morally compatible:
“The massacres and state terrorism in Gaza make this money unacceptable. With regret, I must urge all who might consider visiting the festival to show their support for the Palestinian nation and stay away.”

Loach, along with long time collaborators producer Rebecca O'Brien and screenwriter Paul Laverty arrived at the Ramallah Cultural Palace after 6pm on Tuesday, owing their delay to their travelling from the Allenby Bridge the same day. After their introductions were briefly made, Haider Eid of PACBI from Gaza welcomed them via pre-recorded message. Anne Marie Jacir of Philistine Films then took to the stage heaping praise on the three stooges and explaining her endeavor to get them to Palestine for the first time ever. The three went on stage and Ken Loach succinctly described their first few hours in the West Bank, and their shock at the first sight of the Apartheid Wall, at its immensity and glaring illegality.

Without further ado, the crowd settled down to watch "The Wind That Shakes The Barley", a film about Irish independence and the subsequent civil fighting in the early 1920's. I love Ireland for its history, which so strongly parallels Palestine's, for its dialect, and for its hot men. Had to get superficial there. Even though Cillian Murphy scares the crap out of me because of his strongly innocent face (curses upon you, Red Eye), I loved his hair. He's a foine actor that's for sure. Anyway, not wanting this to sound like a movie review but more of an account, Damien O'Donovan (Cillian) is a doctor headed to London in 1920, but after witnessing the Black and Tans brutal beating of a railway guard and the train driver, he heads back to join his brother's ad hoc unit of the IRA. They fight against the British, whom they recognize as viewing Ireland only as a tiny dollop in the overall British empire. After 'independence' is gained (a permanent ceasefire between the British forces and the IRA), the Peace Treaty is then put forth, and this had the same effect on the Palestinians when the Oslo Accords were signed. First of all, the people, the citizens, were not included in the decision-making. Their opinion and their assent were completely disregarded. Secondly, the Peace Treaty gave the Republic of Ireland the status of a self-governing dominion that would be part of the British empire. This divided the IRA members. Some, like Teddy (Damien's brother) accepted the treaty as a foreground in which later gains would be accessed through negotiations. Others opposed it on the basis that they fought this long and hard for a completely independent Irish state, and nothing less would do. These people would certainly not swear allegiance to the English king.That's like saying we can have our own Palestinian state but must take the Jewish Loyalty Oath. I watched Liam Neeson's "Michael Collins" a couple of times, so my background information was adequate, and although I could certainly understand Collin's perspective, I was also sympathetic to the anti-Treaty IRA cause. I was forcibly reminded of Arafat's complacent decision, whose motives were purely monetary, to rule a pseudo Palestinian state under the control of the Israeli occupation. What good has come out of that? It's been mentioned before on this blog, but what the Oslo Accords did was to legalize Israel as a state and its occupation. The civil war between the Irish was not unlike that between Hamas and Fateh back in 2006, where even brothers were turned against each other. I'm not going to give away the ending, but it's depressing as hell.

L-R: Laverty, Loach, Barghouti, and O'Brien

After the movie ended, 15 minutes were allotted for questions by the audience and answers by Loach, Laverty, and O'Brien, who were joined by BDS co-founder Omar Barghouti. Loach emphasized the importance of unity, and pointed to the experience of Ireland, where if you are divided, you fail. Women also had a huge role to play in the Irish War of Independence, as they provided support and intelligence, among other things. While Laverty was doing his research for the movie, he came upon a quote from some British officer in 1920: "We will not be able to defeat the Irish. We must get the Irish to defeat the Irish." Who else but the US and Israel are profiting from the schism between Fateh and Hamas? Who was it that trained and financed the Fateh members to use what they learned against their brothers? It's unnerving to see the stark comparison between Palestine and Ireland, proving once again that history does repeat itself. Did you know that Lloyd George and his government, who put forth the Peace Treaty, were the same government that issued and backed the Balfour Declaration?

Imperialism sucks.

Second Semester (Oh No!)

Tuesday was the first day back-let the semester thus commence. However, keeping with our timeless tradition, we'll actually drag ourselves to the university the week after this one (add and drop week).

This break went by pretty fast, and our eyes fill with tears-a la freshman year- as we think of the dreaded Birzeit University. If the uni had memorabilia to sell, such as mugs and sweatshirts, we wouldn't buy them, not even for memory's sake. There's something awful being associated with a university neither of us can find in ourselves to embrace willingly or not. It just seems like an obstacle most days, something that blocks our impetus for what we really want to do, mainly just making a damn difference on whatever level. And being surrounded by masses of airheads and blockheads gets pretty annoying. As well as dealing with under qualified teachers. And the snotty administration. It's all so bureaucratic, you know?

Ok, that was bleak. And while we do harbor these sentiments, we're usually way more adept at hiding them and enjoying the positives, as hard as that may seem. Providing that there are no strikes this semester, then last day of classes are on May 5th. New countdown!

Disastrously transitioning on to the subject of new identity, we (Arabiat ) decided to not exactly split, but allow for one of us to use her own name to post, mainly because she's in desperate need of character building and suffers from an unhealthy dose of insecurity. That, and the fact that she's more in the know-how seat, and has a lot to write about.

To the rest of the students everywhere but here, enjoy your last weeks of holiday. Or we'll enjoy them for you.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

Gaza Youth Breaks Out

When we first read the manifesto almost two weeks ago, our initial reaction was nothing short of being delighted. Nothing grabs our attention as forcefully as some serious case of fuck-ficking.

"Fuck Israel. Fuck Hamas. Fuck Fatah. Fuck UN. Fuck UNWRA. Fuck USA! We, the youth in Gaza, are so fed up with Israel, Hamas, the occupation, the violations of human rights and the indifference of the international community!"

Brilliant. Those first few lines adequately captured the boiling sentiment that we feel our generation ought to be experiencing, had fifty percent actually cared. We read on, thoroughly engrossed. Mainstream media has the tendency of portraying the people in Gaza as Hamas fanatics. That's about as true as saying the Palestinians in the West Bank are ardent supporters of Fateh. The manifesto expressed serious disapproval and sneering hostility toward Hamas, as GYBO described them as mentally incarcerating those in Gaza and imposing an authoritarian regime in telling people how to think, behave, live etc. They then went on to describe their miserable lives fraught with hope and happiness and at the end asked for three things: Freedom, Normal Lives (the ability of living in such a way), and Peace. The full proclamation can be read here.

Well. We were certainly enthralled! And our joyous mood further increased upon learning that this anonymous group of university students, with all their frustrations about a life cruelly restricted by the hawkish totalitarian eyes of Hamas, the strangulation of the siege, and the dominant destructive occupying force of Israel on a tiny immensely overcrowded strip of land, has attracted overwhelming support in such a short time period. Finally, we thought, a voice has spoken up, determined to shed light on the reality of what they go through in a way news reporters and journalists can never quite capture. After the years of passive silence on behalf of our generation, one small corner have let rip with exactly how they feel. We dreamed of drafting a similar mandate..."We, the youth in the West Bank, are so fed up with Israel, Fateh, the occupation, the violation of human rights, and the indifference of the international community!"

But then...something seemed a bit off. It was a small niggling feeling, but it was there nonetheless. This extraordinary piece of work has amassed thousands of supporters in such a brief amount of time...its popularity is unprecedented owing to the fact of being the first of its kind, yet more than one comment began to surface that this manifesto was in reality the clever work of Zionists. That these kids were commissioned and being pulled along their strings by the slick and manipulative gross hands of the so called professed enemy-Israel. That the enemy was in fact Hamas, and that these words were written to garner even more disgust and 'liberating operations' to effectively get rid of their ruling power. That even if the integrity of the manifesto was true, the Zionists would pounce upon it and seize it to further their own interests by their used methods of fabrication, slander, and lies. We held our breath, disappointment and resentment trickling in our hearts. Were we that naive to so readily champion the manifesto?

And then we got slapped in the face with THIS.

Lord, we feel so much at ease now. Quick excerpts:

"Many activists reject our movement and consider us as some Zionist machinery because in the manifesto, we’ve been denouncing Hamas – among others."

"Our followers, readers, and those who are not supporting us yet must keep in mind THIS message: we have ONE enemy which is the Zionist Occupier."

"What we want is UNITY, and NO MORE DIVISION, because it makes Israeli terrorism’s impact on our lives even worse."

"Our call is a call for SOLIDARITY, a call for PEACEFUL ACTION; we are holding out our hands & waiting for you to complete the bond. Make sure this is read, help us work for a better solution, HELP US MAKE IT!"

Our tiny doubt must have risen from the initial poorly worded manifesto, and we're not blaming them-English isn't their first language and they can be afforded some slack. We're now burning with curiosity as to what their next move will be, what their plan of action is, what it is they have in mind, how they will act, how they will counter act against censorship and possible infiltration and arrests. The first step is gathering support, then what? How do they expect to work with their supporters in accomplishing or at least working out a solution for the present injustices they (and we) endure on a daily basis if they committed to maintaining their identities a secret?

We honestly hope that this does become successful and a preclude to chapters forming in West Bank cities soon, and not just one of those We came We saw We conquered and now We sleep. Palestine desperately lacks university activism. Fingers crossed that will change.

Fuck Israel!

Because we couldn't resist. Shit, no pun intended.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Jawaher Abu Rahmeh First to be Killed This Year

Part of being such sickly cynicals is to pooh-pooh away commercialized thoughts and actions. Just because it's a new year doesn't mean or change anything, and the Israeli army aptly demonstrated that by the killing of Jawaher Abu Rahmeh-toted as the first martyr of 2011.

During the weekly protest in Bil'in against the Apartheid wall, Israeli soldiers fired numerous tear gas canisters at the protesters. Jawaher inhaled a huge amount of tear gas, and was immediately taken to Ramallah Hospital in her unconscious state. Doctors tried all that was in their hands (Ramallah Hospital is notorious for mistakingly killing off their patients through neglect or incorrect diagnosis-but we won't get into that here) yet it was too late and the next day, Jawaher died from asphyxiation. She was the sister of activist Basem Abu Rahmeh, who died almost immediately in April 2009 after a high velocity tear gas canister was shot at him from close range.

Feel free to ignore the vile Fateh flags the couple of dimwits are carrying.

We now present the second martyr of the year- Ahmed Mohammed Maslamani from the village of Toubas. Ahmed's outrageous crime was to pass through the Bekaot checkpoint east of Nablus on his way to Jericho City where he worked. Soldiers opened fire at his unarmed body mercilessly after apparently being threatened by the Coke bottle in his hand. We're a bit worried about the lack of imagination on behalf of the IOF's spokesperson. Couldn't he/she concoct some far-fetched contrivance about how the man was a raging lunatic who was spitting sharp little deadly needles from his mouth at uncontrollable speed while simultaneously wiggling his nose in a most intimidating way?

We'll say this, however, even at the danger of sounding like hopeful ignoramuses. 2011 will witness change in the realities on the ground for the better.