Saturday, April 30, 2011

Nawal El Saadawi: Egypt's radical feminist

"For me feminism includes everything," she says. "It is social justice, political justice, sexual justice . . . It is the link between medicine, literature, politics, economics, psychology and history. Feminism is all that. You cannot understand the oppression of women without this."

79 year old Egyptian Writer Nawal El Saadawi continues to inspire and amaze:

Read the full article in the Guardian

El Saadawi already seems to have lived more lives than most. She trained as a doctor, then worked as a psychiatrist and university lecturer, and has published almost 50 novels, plays and collections of short stories. Her work, which tackles the problems women face in Egypt and across the world, has always attracted outrage, but she never seems to have balked at this; she has continued to address controversial issues such as prostitution, domestic violence and religious fundamentalism in her writing.

This has come at considerable cost. In 1972, her non-fiction book Women and Sex (which included criticism of female genital mutilation) led to her losing her job as director general of public health for the Egyptian ministry of health. In 1981, her outspoken political views led to her being charged with crimes against the state and jailed for three months – she used the time to write Memoirs From The Women's Prison on a roll of toilet paper, with an eyebrow pencil smuggled in by a fellow prisoner. In 1993 she fled to the US after death threats were issued against her by religious groups.

Her work continues to be explosive. Her play, God Resigns in the Summit Meeting – in which God is questioned by Jewish, Muslim and Christian prophets and finally quits – proved so controversial that, she says, her Arabic publishers destroyed it under police duress. And recently her criticism of religion, primarily on the basis that it oppresses women, has prompted a flurry of court cases, including unsuccessful legal attempts both to strip her of her nationality and to forcibly dissolve her marriage.

As El Saadawi prepares to talk about her life at a PEN literary festival on Friday, she is unrepentant. "It's all worth it," she assures me. "If I went back I would do it all again. That is what I have learned from my experiences, that I was on the right track." Her energy, she insists, comes from the 10 to 15 letters she receives every day from people who say their lives have been changed by her writing. "A young man came to me in Cairo with his new bride. He said, I want to introduce my wife to you and thank you. Your books have made me a better man. Because of them I wanted to marry not a slave, but a free woman."

Girl Geek Camp--Summer 2011

Any of our readers in Lebanon? Got a daughter or sister the right age? This sounds so amazing.

From Nasawiyah.

Are you a girl who loves technology? Interested in computers? Want to spend an amazing week this summer learning all about useful digital skills? Then join our summer Girl Geek Camp!

What Is It?

Take Back the Tech are organizing a geek camp for 25 girls this July 11-17, 2011 in Lebanon. You will learn from experienced young women how to:

Create a blog, write and express yourself, and do citizen journalism

Use social networks like Facebook and Twitter to spread useful information

Film a video on your camera or mobile phone, edit it, and upload it to YouTube

Take great photographs

Do research online

Pick a university major related to technology

Browse and use the internet securely

+ all about computer languages, open-source, creative commons, and lots more!

Who Is It For?

The camp is open to all girls who are:
Between 15 and 18 years old
Have some basic experience in using computers and the Internet
Interested in gaining more technology skills

When and Where?

We will leave Beirut in a bus on Monday, July 11 at 8am and return to Beirut on Sunday, July 17 at 6pm. We will be camping in the beautiful EcoLodge in Taanayel and the program will include lots of sports, games, social activities as well as – of course – the technology training sessions.

How Much Does It Cost?

As much as you can pay! We are raising funds to cover the camp expenses, so you can pay anything between $10 and $200 to cover your costs, whatever you can afford.

How Do I Apply?

That’s all you need to apply! If you’re interested, please fill in this application form and you can also email or call 03-487051 for more information. Applications close on May 20, 2011!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Pakistani eunuchs to have distinct gender classification

Um. What kind of "social reason" promotes castration at a young age? Just curious, you know? This is good news, though- it shows a growing tolerance for gender diversity

From the BBC:
Pakistan's Supreme Court says eunuchs must be allowed to identify themselves as a distinct gender in order to ensure their rights.

The eunuchs, known as "hijras" in Pakistan, are men castrated at an early age for medical or social reasons.

The court said they should be issued with national identity cards showing their distinct gender.

The government has also been ordered to take steps to ensure they are entitled to inherit property.

There are estimated to be about 300,000 hijras in Pakistan and they are generally shunned by the largely Muslim conservative society.

They tend to live together in slum communities, surviving through begging and by dancing at weddings and carnivals.

A hijra association has welcomed the order, saying it is "a major step giving respect and identity in society".

Indian authorities last month agreed to list eunuchs and transgender people by using the term "others", distinct from males and females, on electoral rolls and voter identity cards, after a long-running campaign by the members of the community.

First Muslim Poses for Playboy. Is this real liberation?

"Girls, we don't have to live according to the rules imposed upon us...For years I subordinated myself to various societal constraints. The Playboy photo shoot was a total act of liberation." German/Turkish actress and model Sila Sahin declared, defending her recent 12 page spread in Playboy.

Her parents are horrified and Sahin's mother has cut off contact. Sila Sahin, the 25-year-old star the German soap opera "Good Times, Bad Times," has been called a "whore" and a "western slut" on Islamic web message boards, claiming Sahin was "shaming Muslim womanhood" and "prostituting herself for money," while others warned that she "needs to be very careful." Another commenter simply said, "She must pay," according to the UK's Sun newspaper.

From a German paper
"Muslims are absolutely not allowed to do something like that", said Furkan, the owner of a small kebab restaurant in Bonn.

Asked what he would do if Sahin were his sister or daughter, Furkan was unequivocal.

"I would kill her. If I were to see pictures like that, I would kill her. I really mean that. That's not something for me, not for my culture. I was raised differently. That doesn't fit with my culture."

For Sila, however, this was an act of rebellion akin to Che Guevera.

I have mixed feelings about this. Yes, its empowering after years, no, after generations of oppression to take control of your own body. But is this really the way?

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Arab Journalist condemns Arab regimes.

Faisal Al Qasim, a Syrian journalist based in Doha writes: Zionist crimes pale in comparison with the manner in which some Arab regimes have cracked down on their own people for merely seeking change

The Arab media has, for over half a century or so, strongly condemned Zionist crimes against the Palestinians and other Arab peoples. It has in actual fact provided a hell of a lot of satire on Zionist brutality, which is fair enough. But is the Arab media still able to satirise Israeli barbarism with the same vigour after it has witnessed what Arab dictators have done to their own people? Isn't it a bit silly to bombard the Israelis with criticism and keep quiet about savagery against unarmed demonstrators?"

He's writting this in the Gulf News, btw.

"When Israel killed about 1,400 Palestinians during Operation Cast Lead against Gaza, the Arab media raised its voice, and thankfully drew world attention to Israeli atrocities. But when we compare the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza with the number of Arabs being killed these days by Arab dictators, we will be horribly surprised.

In fact, the Sudanese regime killed hundreds of thousands of its own people in Darfur. The so-called Janjaweed gangs in Sudan used to annihilate the people of Darfur like flies simply because the latter clamoured for their basic rights. An Arab satirist once commented that an Arab dictator would not accept the number of Palestinians killed in Gaza even as an appetiser!

Recently there were reports that deposed Tunisian president Zine Al Abidine Bin Ali ordered his air force to bombard a civilian area in the Al Qasrain region because the people there demonstrated against his regime. Thankfully, the army refused to carry out his order.

The ongoing Arab intifadas have shown that some Arab rulers can beat the Israelis at their own game. An Arab website recently carried an opinion poll asking readers: ‘Who will be a killioneer?' Sure enough, Muammar Gaddafi of Libya won the day. Not only did he kill a lot of his own people but also almost flattened many Libyan cities. It brought to mind western cities flattened by Hitler's forces during the Second World War.

Take Ali Abdullah Saleh of Yemen. WikiLeaks has revealed that his ‘chairmanship' gave the green light to American aircraft to bombard civilian areas to quell a local revolt. Add to this, of course, his brutal handling of the Yemeni revolution.

Other Arab despots are reported to have asked their security forces to aim their guns at protesters' heads. Have you ever seen an Israeli officer torturing a Palestinian civilian to death in the street for everybody to see? Definitely not. Many of us have seen that in some Arab towns lately."

Its worth reading the whole article

"It is true that Israel is forcing an embargo on Gaza, but I do not think that the Israelis are preventing the Palestinians from getting their daily bread, whereas the security services in some Arab countries stopped cars carrying food from entering certain areas. Nor are the Israelis cutting off electricity, telephone and other communication services from houses, hospitals and schools.

It has been reported that the security services stopped nurses and doctors from treating the injured during certain Arab demonstrations as a punishment for rising against the ruling regime. The thugs contracted by the police to help quell protests went even further. They shot at ambulances.

Unlike in some Arab countries, Arabs living inside Israel can organise sit-ins very comfortably. And when the Israeli police intervenes, they never beat demonstrators to death. And if we compare how Israel treats Shaikh Raed Salah with the way some Arab dictators treat their opponents, we will be horribly surprised, as the Israelis are very much less brutal.

It is true that Israel used internationally prohibited ammunition during Operation Cast Lead, but some Arab despots used some chemical stuff to disperse demonstrators.

Israel can always claim it is facing an enemy, whereas Arab dictators are facing their own people"

Now excuse me for a minute while I look out my window for flying pigs

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Arab and Arab American Feminisms

Ok, I'm curious. I am trying to go this evening. I hope its a real feminist talk- not just a "Oh, we'll deal with honor killings, domestic violence and forced marriages to our first cousins after we run the Zionist entity into the sea" type talk.

Arab and Arab American Feminisms
Modern Times Bookstore 888 Valencia st., San Francisco.

A celebration of the new book “Arab and Arab American Feminisms: Gender, Violence, and Belonging,” edited by Rabab Abdulhadi ,Evelyn Alsultany, Nadine Naber.

In this collection, Arab and Arab American feminists enlist their intimate experiences to challenge simplistic and long-held assumptions about gender, sexuality, and commitments to feminism and justice-centered struggles. Contributors hail from multiple geographical sites, spiritualities, occupations, sexualities, class backgrounds, and generations. Poets, creative writers, artists, scholars, and activists employ a mix of genres to express feminist issues and highlight how Arab and Arab American feminist perspectives simultaneously inhabit multiple, overlapping, and intersecting spaces: within families and communities; in anticolonial and antiracist struggles; in debates over spirituality and the divine; within radical, feminist, and queer spaces; in academia and on the street; and between each other.

Contributors explore themes as diverse as the intersections between gender, sexuality, Orientalism, racism, Islamophobia, and Zionism, and the restoration of Arab Jews to Arab American histories. This book asks how members of diasporic communities navigate their sense of belonging when the country in which they live wages wars in the lands of their ancestors. Arab and Arab American Feminisms opens up new possibilities for placing grounded Arab and Arab American feminist perspectives at the center of gender studies, Middle East studies, American studies, and ethnic studies.

Be paid to propagandize!

Summer, 2011 Internship opportunities to benefit the Palestinian solidarity movement in the United States. Get paid to write op eds! Get paid to spam social media! For some of you, this is a dream job!

Job Announcements from Hatem's organization American Muslims for Palestine
Position 1: Data mining (Two interns needed)

• Should have good experience in using Microsoft Word, Excel, Google docs

• Should have good experience in using the internet, especially extensive and detailed searches

• Should have a facebook and twitter account. Other social media accounts are a plus

• Should be interested in reading articles, research papers, etc.

• Search the internet for a specific topic that will be assigned on the first day of employment

Position 2: E-activism (Two interns needed)

• Should have a blog

• Should have a facebook and twitter account. Other social media accounts are a plus

• Should be a good writer

• Being able to make short videos is a plus

• Utilize media web sites to respond to editorials

• Utilize social media web sites to spread information about Palestine

• Write articles and op-eds for local and national newspapers

Summary of position 3: BDS research (Two interns needed)

• Should be able to do extensive research

• Must be able to write summaries on research papers, articles and books

• Research corporational, organizational, state and governmental investments

• Research into how investments from said corporational, organizational, state and governmental investments effects Palestinians

• Research into number of deaths, home demolitions, settlements, etc. were cause by said investments

Friday, April 22, 2011

In Egypt, Protests Against Christian Politician. In Israel, Christians Walk in the Streets for Good Friday.

On April 14, Essam Sharaf named eighteen governors in Egypt, and one of them was a Coptic Christian named Emad Mikhael. Today, in Egypt, protesters hit the streets to chant slogans like “Oh freedom where are you ... Mikhael is standing between us and you.”

What's wrong with Governor Mikhael? Well, apparently he had some connections to Mubarak's regime (I bet the other governors do too.) But the main problem is that he's a Christian. And that is something that conservative Islamists in Qena, the city he comes from, are not going to put up with.

Meanwhile, in Jerusalem, Christians from all over the world met to share the experience of Good Friday, the Friday before Easter, in the city where Jesus taught his followers.

Oh peace, where are you?

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Acting Out Against Domestic Violence

A draft law on domestic abuse was endorsed by the Cabinet in April 2010 but is yet to be approved by Parliament.

That really says everything, doesn't it?

Interactive theater helps women explore taboos of domestic violence

April 06, 2011 12:00 AM (Last updated: April 06, 2011 08:43 AM)
By Marie Dhumières
The Daily Star

BEIRUT: Ten Palestinian and Lebanese women who took part in a course on interactive theater techniques to address domestic violence were given their diplomas during a graduation ceremony at the UNESCO Palace Tuesday.

The course, sponsored by Italy and implemented by the Forum of Palestinian Women, is part of the two-year project, “Prevention of violence against women in Palestinian refugee camps.” It aims to tackle issues of domestic violence, gender discrimination and sexual abuses through short plays during which members of the audience are invited to participate and share their personal experiences.

Leila al-Ali, executive director of Najdeh Assocation, which works with Palestinian refugees, and a founding member of the Forum of Palestinian Women, described this “new technique” as a way to reach larger audiences than workshops do and to “address taboo issues” in society.

The graduates, who underwent six months of training, have already staged plays in Beirut, Tripoli, Tyre and the Bekaa and are planning to perform for communities across the country.

“Women have a right in society to defend themselves,” said Sheba Morabito – the wife of Italy’s ambassador to Lebanon, Guiseppe Morabito – who handed the women their diplomas.

“Projects like this one make people aware that it’s time to speak out in public [to help] achieve gender equality” in the private sphere, she said, adding that domestic violence is “a problem that is often hidden.”

Before receiving their certificates, the graduates performed a play in front of an audience of 200 which tells the story of a child who is sexually abused by a shop owner and is scared to tell his parents.

After the performance, the actors began the play again, this time asking a receptive audience to participate. Audience members volunteered to take on the roles of the father, the mother, and the child, and improvised the script, while the audience cheered and yelled advice to the actors.

“In our society, no one talks about problems directly. There are a lot of children who live this story but don’t talk about it,” said Salam al-Sayyed, a 25-year-old graduate of the program who hoped it would “help people talk about their problems.”

Interactive theater, she added, addresses the “problems of society in a language people understand.”

Abu Younes, another graduate, agreed. “The theater is a great solution because we can explain and discuss problems that we don’t tackle in reality,” she said.

The 50-year-old, who played the part of the mother in the performance, said she joined the training program “to send a message to women and men … to stop violence and for women to be free to make their own decisions.”

A draft law on domestic abuse was endorsed by the Cabinet in April 2010 but is yet to be approved by Parliament.

The United Nations estimates that one in three Lebanese women will be subjected to harassment or physical and psychological harm at some point in their lives.

Monday, April 18, 2011

A Little Bit About Me

Marhaba!! Hello, world!! My name is Salwa Haddad and I am really, really honored that Fatima has asked me to contribute to this blog. She asked me to introduce myself you, so here goes. I'm a first-generation Lebanese American lesbian from Pennsylvania. I came to Berkeley for undergrad (go Bears!) and never went home. I tell everyone it's because the winters are so mild, but I love everything about the Bay Area. I met my girlfriend here, and I hope to finish my graduate degree and raise a family in Berkeley.

Fafa (Fatima) has been working on this blog for as long as I've known her. Every time I run into her, she's found something new she wants to write about, and she's boiling over with excitement about it, telling me facts and figures she found about it. We talk about politics almost as much as we talk about our families. (Lots, in other words.) She's asked me several times to contribute, and I finally decided that I had to make the time for this, because it's important to me.

I'm excited about ALAH, because as an Arab woman, the ignorance about the Middle East in this country, and even in our so-called progressive Bay Area offends me big-time. As a Muslim American woman I see all this crazy right-winger anti-Muslim stuff going on across the country, and that's frightening to look at. But in my own community, I see just as much hate and confusion going on when people try to talk about the Middle East. Most people don't know any of the history of the region, or much about it, but they do have a lot of hate toward Israel and Israelis. A lot of what they say isn't true--Fafa has taken apart a lot of it on this blog already--but it's like they have no critical thinking skills when it comes to the Middle East.

WTF? I don't want to buy into hate. I don't hate people because of their country, or their religion or their race. That's not what we were put here on this earth to do.

So here I am on Fafa's blog, to bring a little bit of perspective from a Lebanese lesbian chick with a lot of love for everyone out there who understands about cucumbers and labneh for breakfast.

Hello, readers!!

Queers Against Israel Apartheid withdraws from Toronto Pride parade

Yeah! The Canadian equivilent of "Turkeys for Thansgiving" , Queers Against Israeli Apartheid said it will not participate in the Toronto Pride Parade this year.

Toronto mayor Rob Ford said that the city should withhold the funds (the parade received received $123,807 from the city last year.) until after the parade to ensure that Queers Against Israeli Apartheid does not actually march. Ford has said he would withhold city funding from the parade if the group participates.

From the Star:
Queers Against Israeli Apartheid exists to push the provocative — and flatly wrong — idea that Israel’s policies toward Palestinians are equivalent to those of South Africa’s racist apartheid regime. By forcing itself into the parade it had become a divisive element in an event meant as an expression of gay solidarity. Many Jewish gays understandably felt offended rather than included.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

I get by with a little help from my friends

This blog was supposed to be a group effort. Note the "plural" in the title. Sadly, many of the people who expressed interest in the beginning haven't stepped up to the plate. And over the course of time, its gone from a feminist, lesbian blog to one critiquing the current rhetoric of the crisis in the middle East. (because it needs a critical eye, thats why!)
Thats not necessarily where I want it to be.
Enter Salwa. She's a friend from school, and she'll help us get back on track. So Welcome to ALAH my dear friend Salwa.

Palm Sunday in Jerusalem

These beautiful ladies are in Jerusalem for Palm Sunday. I don't know if they are nuns or something, or just dressed formally for the holiday. The expressions on their faces are really calm and full of spirituality, aren't they?

This article in The Daily Star says that Palm Sunday is the start of Holy Week, which means that next Sunday will be Easter. This year the Orthodox Christians, the Catholics and the Protestants are all celebrating Easter on the same day, so this is a special week for all our Christian sisters and brothers in the world. (This doesn't always happen. Sometimes different groups celebrate different weeks because of the calenders they use.)

Jerusalem is so important to so many faiths! Let's pray for peace there, and in the world. (And hug a Christian for Holy Week! I'm going to hug my girlfriend's mother!)

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Differences in child casualty rates in the Israel/ Palestine Conflict

A child practicing non violent resistance in Dheisheh

I've been called to task about the differences in the casualty rates in the Palestine/Israeli conflict. Doesn't this prove , I'm asked, that the Israelis are the aggressors?

Look at the World War II casualty figures. (these are military figures, btw) Japan lost over 2,000,000 soldiers. American lost 400,000. Does this indicate that Japan was the the victim? Does this indicate that the US used disproportionate force? Look at the German figures. Germany lost over 5 million soldiers. Are the Nazis the victims of WWII?

Ok, lets look at the civilian figures. Germany lost 3 million civilians. Japan lost a half million civilians during the war. The US lost a bit over a thousand. Surely that proves the US was the aggressor? Doesn't it?

There is more to right and wrong than the number of dead.

Other factors explaining the difference in the rate of deaths
1. I can't remember the last time I saw an 11 year old Israeli child throwing a molotov cocktail. Can you? Palestinian boys engage in dangerous militant activities resulting in injuries and death. They are used as soldiers and as human shields.
2. Israel protects its citizens better than the Palestinians do. They built bomb shelters in Sderot, for example, to protect their people.
3. Martyrdom is not promoted by Israel
4. Palestinian children are frequently around munitions, bomb factories, and rocket-firing sites
5. Israel has state of the art medical facilities. Though many Israelis are injured, many lives are also saved
6. Statistics lie. Very often, the statistics are for "Israelis" killed- neglecting to include such foreigners as Americans Marla Bennett, or Daniel Wultz, or Ecuadorian Carlos Chavez killed in acts of terror on Israeli soil. By the same token, a Palestinian killed by the misfiring of a Qassam is still counted as a Palestinian casulty.

The death of any child is a tragedy. But we need to remember hold the Palestinian government complicit in the deaths of boys used as soldiers and as shields.

An Israeli conspiracy that never existed

An interesting commentary by Abdulateef Al-Mulhim, Commodore (Retd.), Royal Saudi Navy.
An Israeli conspiracy that never existed

I have, since childhood, been hearing about an invisible thing called the Israeli conspiracy.

It is always said that Israel did this and Israel did that. What is worse is when I hear that Israel is planning to do that. So, if we already know what Israel is planning to do, then why not either stop it or avoid it. The biggest conspiracy I heard regarding the Arabs and the Israelis is the humiliating defeat of June 1967. The Egyptians blamed everybody but themselves for the defeat. They insisted on speaking about why some planes came from the north and not from the east. They insisted that they were American Navy planes attacking Egypt. Did not the military analysts hear about evasive maneuvers, or did they expect the air force to fly like commercial airlines by taking the shortest and direct routes.

It turned out that the Egyptian forces were commanded by Gamal Abdel Nasser who only held the rank of major. Hours before the Israeli attack, all air defense sites were told to be on hold because Field Marshal Abdulhakim Amer’s plane was in the air. So, it was not an Israeli conspiracy that defeated the Egyptians, it was the poor planning and having a tired army coming back from Yemen tasked to go to a war that even Nasser did not know how to manage.

That was Egypt in 1967, but what about the Egyptian uprising of 2011? Was it the Egyptians or outside forces? The Egyptian leadership used to call Al Jazeera the match box. The channel’s media center in Qatar is so small that people used to wonder why regional leaders were worried about such a small media building, one that is small as a match box. It turned out that the Egyptian authorities had Al Jazeera on the top list of places to close. There was also no Israeli media center and Israel has no interest in seeing an unstable Egypt. Thomas Friedman once said that Al Jazeera should have been established in Egypt, not Qatar.

Egypt is a country whose media should have been at the front of providing information. However, Egyptians living inside the country and abroad are glued to foreign news outlets. Let us not doubt the Egyptians in their sincere request for change. We cannot accuse 80 million Egyptians of being toys in foreign hands.

To this day, I see Arabs blaming Israelis for young Arab drug addicts, their poor education, the Iraqi invasion of Kuwait, bad roads, corruption, lack of democracy, unemployment, 9/11, the division of Sudan, the upheaval in Tunisia and the unrest in Egypt. If Israel can do all these things, then the Israelis are either super humans or we simply enjoy blaming others for our failings.

The books of history indicate that the Arabs would have been able to get back the Golan Heights, Sinai, the West Bank and all the 1967 boundaries if Gamal Abdel Nasser made just one phone call to Israel and admitted defeat two days after the June 1967 war. And fewer Palestinians would have been scattered all over. But, we the Arabs never admit defeat.

The Arab world is in a state of unrest nowadays. Egypt is the largest country in the Arab world with 82 million people. If it shakes, then the whole Arab world will shake. It is not time to point fingers at either the West or Israel. Each country has an agenda to benefit its people. Arabs must think what is best for their people, not their leaders. Israel did not open a European bank account for Zine El-Abidine Ben Ali. He did, and where did the money come from? Israel did not hide the billions of dollars in Iraq used by Saddam Hussein while the Iraqis were starving. Saddam did.

You can agree or disagree, Israel is a country that has the best education system in the Middle East and a per capita income of more than $28,000.

The Arabs and Muslims must get rid of the notion that the whole world is conspiring to destroy them. The Arab world is rich in raw materials, rivers, fertile land, wealth and educated people. We must concentrate on education, health care, infrastructure, transparency and open channels between the rulers and the ruled. It is very sad to see Iraq, one of the richest countries in mineral resources, water and educated people, having millions struggle like refugees. It is also sad to see Yemen wasting 40 percent of its water resources to grow qat, just as it is sad to see a country like Lebanon that has the potential to be an attractive tourist spot being fractured because of vested interests, not national interests. Why have we failed to solve the flood problem in Jeddah with all the time and money our government has allocated for the city?

Linda Heard wrote an article in Arab News on Nov. 8, 2010, titled “Israel is digging its own grave.” Yes, the Israelis are digging a grave. But for whom is the grave being dug for? I am sure it is not for the Israelis.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Vittorio Arrigoni, ISM Volunteer killed in Gaza. No, it wasn't Israel

From the Facebook page of Vittorio Arrigoni, killed by extremists in Gaza. "We do not Receive Dogs or Israelies ". Just charming.

No, I'm not going to call him a "peace activist". The International Solidarity Movement volunteers tend to irritate everyone- the drinking, the smoking, the drugs, the occasional dalliances with local girls....(strangely enough, when ISM girls hang out with Palestinian guys, no one says a word. ) I guess infidels are for practice.

From the JPost

Security officials found the body of an Italian man who had been abducted in the Gaza Strip in an abandoned house overnight Thursday, a Hamas security official said.

Two men were arrested and others were being sought.

Arrigoni, an Italian pacifist and blogger, has lived in the Gaza Strip for some time. He was shown blindfolded with blood around his right eye and a hand can be seen pulling his head up by his hair to face the camera.

A spokesman for the Hamas interior ministry in Gaza City said it was investigating the abduction.

The Arabic text that accompanied the footage of Arrigoni also said "the Italian hostage entered our land only to spread corruption" and it described Italy as "the infidel state".

As of today, also from the JPost:

Radical Islamic terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip distanced themselves from the kidnapping and murder of Italian activist Vittorio Arrigoni, who was found dead early Friday morning in the Strip.

Among the groups who disclaimed the attack was Tawhid wal-Jihad, the al-Qaida-linked group that had initially said it was holding the Italian national and said they would only release him if their own leader, recently arrested by Hamas, was released, Gaza-based newspaper Palestine Today reported.

No, Vittorio wasn't a peace activist, any more than Rachel Corrie was.

If they were peace activists they'd be organizing soccer matches between Israelis and Palestinians. They'd be organizing art clasess and scout troops and they'd be teaching that we are all one. They wouldn't be teaching intolerance, and violence.

But its irrelevant now, and they are both gone, and they leave behind people who loved them. To their memory I offer this poem, penned by Sheikh Muslihu'd-Din, better known as Saadi, descended from Ali, the son-in-law of the Prophet

All Adam's race are members of one frame;
Since all, at first, from the same essence came.
When by hard fortune one limb is oppressed,
The other members lose their wonted rest:
If thou feel'st not for others' misery,
A son of Adam is no name for thee.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

15 % Obesity rate in the Palestinian territories

Some old lady on campus handed me a brochure on the starving children of Gaza last Friday. Why do some people think that making up facts is the road to peace?

I see no scholarly evidence ANYWHERE that children are "starving" in Gaza. Rather, there is much evidence to the contrary. Three minutes at the National Library of Health Website yielded a document that discusses an "alarming" obesity rate for Palestinian school children. And no, its not from some "Zionist" publication- its from the Lancet.

Nutritional Status in Palestinian Schoolchildren living in West Bank and Gaza : a cross Sectional Survey funded by the World Food programe, published online July 2, 2010. 15% Obesity rate in the territories. Thats the same as Canada.

The article goes on to state "The high proportions of overweight and obesity might be attributable to children's poor eating habits (well, duh!) and consumption of unhealthy food and snacks. " Thats NOT Israel's fault.

This article, Associations of Overweight and of Weight dissatisfaction among Palestinian Adolescents: findings from the national study of Palestinian schoolchildren claims " 16.5% of the adolescents were overweight". Its from a Belgian Journal on Human Nutrition, again, not some "Zionist" rag.

Time to get real, people.

Thanks, Yasmeen, for sending this chart on worldwide obesity from the Economist. Its a bit dated, but still, if under Israel's brutal and genocidal occupation obesity was so widespread, how can you wonder if its not some dastardly zionist plot to, uh, uh....oh, I don't know, but its clearly some dastarly Zionist plot.

Thanks to an anonymous poster, we have even more up to date info on Gaza obesity rates, with range from 30- 40% and higher

This is from a June 2010 article : "Hyperglycaemia, hypertension and their risk factors among Palestine refugees served by UNRWA"

Friday, April 8, 2011

Students for Justice in Palestine: UC Berkeley's own foreign policy wing

I received an email announcement from SJP- Students for Justice in Palestine this week (They are jokingly called "Students for Just Us in Palestine" by nearly everyone on campus, though never to their face) Their list of endorsements for Student governmnet was interesting, in that not a single issue of relevance to campus was mentioned. (Student fee increase? Nah, who cares. Tuition hikes? Irrelevant. Two year wait lists for some pre-requisites? Humbug. System wide layoffs? Just not important. What an SJP student bases his or her vote on is Divestment from Israel.

The Student for Justice Divestment slate follows:
The international attention garnered by last year's divestment campaign would not have been possible without like-minded allies in the student government. We encourage all our members to vote in this year's ASUC elections (


This year, SJP member Nairi Shirinian #136 is running as an independent candidate for ASUC senate. She is a staunch ally of SJP, was a pivotal force behind divestment last year, and has been on SJP board for the past two years. She is being endorsed by the following pro-divestment student leaders:

Margaret Zhou - Board Member, Students for Justice in Palestine*

Waseem Salahi - ASUC Senator, 2010-present*

J.P. Shami - Former ASUC Senator, 2009-2010*

Jonathan Gaurano - Former ASUC Senator, 2009-2010*

Emily Carlton, Former ASUC Senator, 2009-2010; Squelch Party Chair*

Raymond Hajduk - Former President, 2010, Internal Vice President, 2009, Queer Community Development Manager, 2008, of the Queer Alliance Resource Center, No On 8 Volunteer Campaign Coordinator 2008, Yes On Equality Campus Director 2009-present, Youth Outreach Counselor 2009-Present*

Voting in ASUC senate elections is done by ranked-choice voting (you assign 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc. preferences to the candidates). Other candidates for senate include Sahar Pirzada (#129) and Shahryar Abbasi (#174), both prominent members of the Middle Eastern community.

In addition, the Calserve party, which is currently running a whole slate of senators, officially supports divestment.


President: Stefan Montouth, Independent (current CalServe senator)
External Affairs Vice President: Ratha Lai, Independent and BRIDGES multicultural center organizing director

The strategy of loading the deck is nothing new- it was carefully explained to those attending the Al Awda conference last years.

Its easy to see why so many students are cynical about student government at UC Berkeley.

Go Bears, and please, make the right choices

Monday, April 4, 2011

More Tales from Bi'lin

The press release follows
Israeli occupation forces stormed Bil'in

At 01 am 04.04.2011, the army and police entered Bil’in and entered the house of Ali Ibrahim Burnat. They searched his house thoroughly inside and outside for about 40 minutes. According to witnesses they were looking for internationals who they assumed were living in Burnat’s house. After finishing the raid they moved on to the “Friends of Freedom and Justice” office located nearby Burnat’s house, and were searching the area around. It is not known what they were looking for there. The army and police then retreated and exited through the gate in the Wall. Nobody was injured or arrested.

After half an hour the same forces entered the village again, and this time they went to Khamis Abu Rahma’s house. When the owner saw army and police outside his house he went to open the door to avoid having his door broken – which normally is the routine if the door is not open. Abu Rahma was then body searched and his ID was taken, then he was questioned about who was residing in his house. Again they were interested in internationals, although they could not find any. The army and police then searched the house and the garden, including the garbage and inside cars located nearby. The second raid lasted for about 30 minutes, and did also not result in any arrests.

Iyad Burnat
Bil'in Popular committee

Well, everyone knows the ISM volunteers always stay at the Hamde's home. Where were they? Who knows? Maybe destroying trees and blaming it on settlers.

Check out the video. Storming is defined as a violent, sudden attack on a fortified place. This looks like a walk through to me.

Friday, April 1, 2011

What would you do? Arabs/Muslims in Israel

This gave me goosebumps. I wonder what would happen if the situation were reversed?