Bloggin’ Banat

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Palestinian Reality in Atlanta? June 16, 2009

Block PartyNo, definitely not.  In an absurd move, CBS has walled off an entire neighborhood in Atlanta to force the neighbors to spend time with each other.  It’s all for a new reality show tentatively called “Block Party.”

The image of the wall built for this show looks very similar to Israel’s apartheid wall in the West Bank.  Of course, life in Palestine, particularly in areas like, Gaza, Ni’lin and the Aida Refugee Camp is anything but a block party.

The details on the specifics of this show are not clear except that the families “will be trapped inside the 20′ maximum security-looking wall for about three weeks for a cash prize.”

I find it insulting to have an entertainment show with a premise built around a crippling and devastating reality faced by an entire population of Palestinians.  While these contestants will be confined behind this wall for three weeks and possibly end up with money for the sake of entertainment, Palestinians have been confined for years within Israel’s illegal wall with no end in sight.

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Palestinians Getting High May 10, 2009

marijuana-leafLiving under occupation is no doubt stressful.  So, it’s not really a surprise that some Palestinians would want to get high.  But I would think people would try to be a little discreet about it.  Apparently not.

Palestinian police recently found marijuana plants growing “near the main crossroads” of the village of Turmus ‘Ayya according to Maan News Agency.  Yep, right out in the open.  Sadly, the residents there said they thought they were just regular plants.  I’m almost certain there were those who knew what those plants were but kept it on the down low so as to maybe get some of the end product.  Police also found over 1,000 poppy plants and seeds in the gardens of nine residents in a village near Nablus.

I wonder if there’s any correlation between the drugs and the areas in which they’re grown.  My theory is that life in the Ramallah area isn’t so bad.  Therefore, weed is sufficient in relieving any stress. However, people in and around Nablus have it much worse due to the constant raids from the IDF and the like.  Therefore, a more hardcore drug like heroin is necessary to deal with the adversity.  But if that’s the case, what would the people in Gaza use to escape the hard knock life?  That’s a frightening thought.

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Technology Can Be A Bitch April 9, 2009

text-messagingThe popular and expanding use of text messaging, Facebook and Twitter definitely have their advantages. They have become great tools in dispersing information widely and quickly.  However, if you happen to be on the receiving end of bad news or the subject of unflattering information from such messages then it may not be so great for you.

A couple of days ago a Gazan mother and journalist, Laila El-Haddad, was detained at the Cairo airport with her two young children.  El-Haddad was attempting to visit her family by going through the Rafah crossing.  Through her Twitter and blog updates, via the free Wi-Fi at the airport, El-Haddad has been documenting about her detention and treatment.  Apparently, the Egyptian authorities at the airport told her they cannot allow Palestinians into Egypt if the Rafah crossing is closed.  According to her latest tweet, she’s been informed she’ll be deported back to the US via the UK. Thanks to this technology, El-Haddad’s story has been picked up by several online media outlets and the whole world knows of her ordeal and treatment in Cairo.  I wonder if Egyptian authorities will decide to discontinue the Wi-Fi at the airport after this?

In another story, a Saudi man decided to divorce his wife via text message.  He followed up the text with a couple of phone calls to relatives to inform them of his decision. The man wrote the text from Iraq where he was on jihad, as he describes it.  If you’re wondering if divorce via text is legit, it apparently is in Saudi Arabia. A court in Jeddah finalized the whole thing.  Under Sharia law, a man can divorce his wife by saying “I divorce you” three times but I always thought that one must say that in person.  I don’t know.  It’s probably best his wife, or ex-wife now, didn’t see him.  I hope this way of getting a divorce doesn’t catch on though.  It’ll be a cop out, particularly for men with no backbone.

The access to instant information is great but it can be a bitch too depending on the circumstances.

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Israel’s Senseless Acts Of Brutality April 3, 2009

This week’s death of an Israeli teenager allegedly by an ax wielding Palestinian was reprehensible. Killing children can never be justified.  What I have a problem with is how Israel is going about finding who committed this act. First, let’s look at the facts. This attack took place in an Israeli settlement, Bat Ayin, which is illegal and shouldn’t exist in the first place.  Second, one of the settlers who fought with the assailant managed to take the ax away from him.  So, not only did he get a good look at the guy but the authorities also have evidence.idf1

How did Israel respond? Well, the IDF surrounded the nearby Palestinian village of Safa, where the attacker supposedly ran to, and closed off all the roads with bulldozers. Then they placed a 24 hour curfew on the residents. They took over the homes of three Palestinian families in the village and declared them military posts.  And they detained over 28 people and have taken them to an undisclosed location.  Basically, an entire community is locked down, not for its own safety, but to give the IDF full reign in interrogating residents and raiding their homes and destroying property in the process.  Obviously, this form of investigating, if you can even call it that, doesn’t do any good.  It’s collective punishment and it’s wrong.

You know, when a crime is committed in the States, within Israel and pretty much anywhere else in the civilized world, the proper authorities look any evidence available and follow leads.  If they have a piece of evidence, they look for fingerprints and check it with their database for possible matches.  If their leads take them to a particular area then they go around and ask people what they may know. And then eventually, if there is enough evidence piled up on a particular suspect, an arrest is made and a trial takes place where the evidence is brought forth and the defendant is given the opportunity to defend himself.  Unfortunately, that’s not  how Israel rolls when it deals with the Palestinian population it occupies.  With Palestinians, the army detains as much Palestinians as it sees fit. Holds them, many times indefinitely, without charging them with anything and usually without providing access to a lawyer.  Then they hold a military trial, issue the sentences and the case is closed.

Although Israel likes to portray itself as a beacon of democracy in the Middle East with a moral army, it surely is not.  Israel is an occupying power that only knows to deal with Palestinians through force.  And because Israel is an occupying power, it has thousands of troops throughout the West Bank for the sole purpose of protecting the illegal settlements and the settlers who live there.  Not only that, but as we all know, there are hundreds of checkpoints placed all over the West Bank along with Jewish only roads.  The Israeli government spokesperson, Mark Regev, has the nerve to put out a statement saying he expects a “zero tolerance policy” from the Palestinian Authority regarding such attacks. I’m sorry, but you can never prevent attacks from happening 100 % of the time.  And if all the measures that I’ve stated that Israel has in place in the West Bank for the sole purpose of protecting its settlers can’t stop this type of incident from happening then the Palestinian Authority, which has no real authority to begin with, sure as hell can’t either.

Regev called this incident a “senseless act of brutality against innocents.”  Sure, it was an immoral act. But it was committed by an extremist individual.  I’d like to remind Regev that collective punishment, destruction of property and the bombing of the Palestinians in Gaza are also senseless acts of brutality on innocents committed by the State of Israel with its over 40 year occupation of Palestinian lands.

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Palestinian Institute Wins Children’s Literature Prize March 24, 2009

The Tamer Institute For Community Education has been awarded the 2009 Astrid Lindgren Memorial Award which is the world’s largest prize for children’s literature.  The award is named after the Swedish author of “Pippi Longstocking” and the cash prize is a little over $600,000.  On the their website, the Ramallah based institute states that its focus is “principally on the rights to education, identity, freedom of expression, and access to information, Tamer works across the West Bank and Gaza Strip, primarily targeting children and young people and developing alternatives and supplements to formal education.”  The institute publishes children’s books and educational material as part of its program.


The organizers of the award said in a statement that “With perseverance, audacity and resourcefulness, the Tamer Institute has, for two decades, stimulated Palestinian children’s and young adults’ love of reading and their creativity…Under difficult circumstances, the institute carries out reading promotion of an unusual breadth and versatility.”  A program director for the institute, Ruba Toha, said that the prize is dedicated to the children of Palestine.

Kudos to the Tamer Institute for supplying educational services and providing inspiration to young Palestinian children in the West Bank and Gaza through reading.  Their work in providing educational material to children without access to formal education, who cannot go to school due to the obstacles of the Israeli occupation, is particularly commendable.  It’s just great to see a Palestinian organization get the recognition it deserves for such a worthy cause.

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Alice Walker Tours Gaza March 11, 2009

alice-walkerAlice Walker, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of “The Color Purple”, toured Gaza this week. She was part of a delegation from Codepink, a women-initiated grassroots peace and social justice movement. Walker said in an interview yesterday that she wanted to be with the victims and “bear witness to what is happening” there. Due to the recent death of a sister, Walker says she felt connected to the people of Gaza who’ve lost their loved ones in the latest assault.  She hopes to make President Obama more aware of the plight of Palestinians in Gaza. The truth is though, Obama is aware of what’s happening. However, in spite of that and Israel’s illegal actions, he’s decided not to cut the $30 billion dollars in aid promised to Israel over the next 10 years. That’s so not cool, dude. Not cool at all.

I do think Alice Walker can make people more aware, however, by writing about her experience and what she’s seen in Gaza when she comes back to the States. Better yet, why not approach Oprah and Steven Spielberg? (insert rolling of the eyes) Both participated in the movie based on her novel and both have a lot of influence, right?  Surely, Oprah will listen.  I must admit, I dislike (and I’m being kind here) Oprah. Of all the shows she’s done on crises, disasters and injustices taking place in the world, she has never spoken about the plight of Palestinians and the Israeli occupation. Correct me if I’m wrong on that, but I’m pretty sure that’s the case. And that makes Oprah a huge hypocrite. Maybe Walker can convince Spielberg to produce a documentary on the human toll the death and destruction of Israel’s assault has had on Gazans.  Lest you’ve forgotten, Spielberg is the man who lobbied President Bush to posthumously pardon a man who violated US laws by supplying Jewish forces with planes during the Nakba in 1948.  The documentary should be titled “Catastrophe in Gaza:  Death and Destruction by the Hands of the Zionist Entity.”

Who am I kidding?  That’s so not going to happen.

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Hip Hop Track For Gaza Keeps It Real March 9, 2009

A British rapper (he’s also a  poet, playwright, and political activist) who goes by the name Lowkey has released a single called “Tears To Laughter.”  The single is about the tragedy in Gaza.  It’s available for download on iTunes today and all the proceeds will go to the Disasters Emergency Committee; the same organization whose appeal the BBC shamefully refused to air in January. This single is the censored version of “Long Live Palestine.”  The digital media download companies won’t allow the uncensored version in their library.  Maybe it’s because Lowkey keeps it real. His uncensored lyrics are brutally honest. That shouldn’t hold you back from downloading “Tears to Laughter” though.  It’s still a great track and it’s for a good cause.

“Tears To Laughter”

“Long Live Palestine” (uncensored version)

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