Sunday, September 28, 2008
Jerusalem is now
Al-Ahram Weekly Dr. Mustafa Barghouthi MP
26 September 2008
One doesn’t need to be an expert in the so-called "peace process" to know that Israel’s aim for the past 40 years has been to deny the Palestinians their rights. Having failed to break the backbone of the Palestinians and end their resolve to resist, Israel resorted to delay tactics. When not postponing urgent issues, it tried to empty from them all meaning. Thus the idea of an independent and sovereign Palestinian state was diluted into that of creating a self-rule entity, shorn of any real authority, over fragmented patches of land.
This is what the Oslo process managed to produce over the past 15 years or so. The number of settlers in the occupied territories has doubled. A wall of racial segregation has been erected. The West Bank has been cut off from Gaza. And Jerusalem is now surrounded on all sides and stranded, with little or no connection to other Palestinian areas. When negotiations resumed, Israel tried to impart legitimacy on its major settlements, refusing to discuss the matter of the refugees and insisting on postponing any decision on Jerusalem. Meanwhile, the Israelis tirelessly tried to change the face of Jerusalem, building settlements inside and around it, altering and Judaising it by the day.
Israel is now suggesting a Palestinian state with "interim borders". In return, it wants the Palestinians to give up, effective immediately, the right of return of the refugees. Israel also wants the Palestinians to cede claims to large swathes of their land — land that has been gulped up by settlements, land surrounding the Dead Sea, land in the Latrun villages (Imwas, Yalu, and Beit Nuba), etc. Israel is not in a mood to discuss Jerusalem right now. But it is in a good mind to build more settlements inside and around it.
Israel may be changing its rhetoric, but not its tactics. Instead of opposing a Palestinian state, it is willing to accept a state that has no sovereignty to mention. Instead of keeping every single settlement it has created on Palestinian land, it is willing to pull out 3,000 settlers, leaving 450,000 in place.
Everything Olmert and Barak have said so far suggests that they want to transform Jerusalem beyond recognition. The Jerusalem we all know is not the one they have in mind. The Jerusalem of Al-Aqsa Mosque, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, the Mount of Olives, Salwan, Al-Issawia, and other parts of the old town, is about to look very much like the neighbourhoods that have sprouted all around it: Izariya, Abu Dies and perhaps Beit Hanina.
Every time Palestinian negotiators give an inch, Israel takes a mile; the Oslo Accords are but a case in point. It is fine to negotiate, but not when negotiations undermine the very basis of international resolutions and norms. UN resolutions — backed by rulings from the International Court of Justice — state that all the land Israel grabbed since the morning of 5 June 1967 are occupied territories. This goes for the old city of Jerusalem and its surroundings, the West Bank, Gaza, the Latrun villages, the Golan, and even the Shebaa Farms.
Egypt insisted on taking back every inch of Sinai, just as Syria is holding out for every inch of the Golan. The Palestinians cannot accept less. We must insist on Israel’s withdrawal from all the occupied land, instead of being talked into a risky land exchange. It is bad enough that Israel took in 1948 half of the land the 1947 UN partition plan gave to the Palestinians. We don’t need to make things worse.
And what exactly is going on in negotiations? It’s all kept under a tight lid, except for the randomly leaked piece of info suggesting that the issue of Jerusalem would be postponed, yet again. The Palestinian people are left in the dark about what’s really going on. Given the bitter experience of Oslo, when a done deal was hatched behind the back of official negotiators, this doesn’t augur well.
Everyone knows that giving up Arab Jerusalem, or any part of it, is not an option acceptable to the Palestinian people. Also, any interim solutions, especially those postponing discussion of Jerusalem, are highly risky if not an outright sign of capitulation.
The last thing we need is another deal that undermines our rights and weakens our people. Those negotiating on behalf of the Palestinians bear a huge responsibility in this moment. Anything they do can have long-term consequences for us all.
She was wondering how so many people managed to get there despite all the checkpoints. Plenty of people who wanted to go, didn't make it. A friend of my son's from university tried to get into Jerusalem for Jummah and Taraweeh, but he is young and has a West Bank ID, so he tried to sneak through. He got caught, held for a few hours and roughed up a little. Then the forced him to sign a paper, ostensibly to promise he won't try it again, and then released.
Thursday, September 25, 2008
The guy on the left is selling sunglasses, and the girls in the red and pink hijabs are my daughters. I guess the good thing about blurry photos is that you don't have to worry about invading someone's privacy putting the pictures online.
Wednesday, September 24, 2008
Today it was cloudy and on the cool side, but these pretty yellow flowers we beginning to get wilted looking. (I took the pictures a few days ago.) The orange ones have almost finished for lack of water. I am trying to train them to grow over the ugly chain link fence.So I decided to go out and water the garden. Before I got even half way finished, the water stopped. It's empty. We have got about a month before there is a chance of any substantial rain. And then this evening, the water containers on the roof ran out. So no baths tonight, no toilet flushing. I PRAY the water will come on tomorrow, inshaAllah.
Monday, September 22, 2008
Well, Miss Shop 'Till She Drops is getting married in less than a month. And oh my goodness there is a lot of shopping involved in getting married. In this culture, the groom pays for almost everything. Not only does he have to buy the wedding dress and gold jewelry, but he also has to buy his bride a new wardrobe. Some of everything. Suitcases full of new clothes. Then he has to buy furniture and rent a hall, and feed the guests. He pays for it, but she usually goes shopping with her mother and future mother-in-law. We went and chose the dress the week before Ramadan. It was too hot, but it was almost fun to see my daughter trying on wedding dresses. She looked so happy. And lovely. And I am pleased to report that I didn't cry even once. In public at least.
After the dress was chosen, well, that's when my enthusiasm ran out. Sure I want to see my daughter get all the pretty stuff she wants, but I would rather not have to walk all over creation to do it. Luckily, I got out of my motherly duty after only one day because they decided to shop in Jerusalem and I don't pass the checkpoint. So they finished it without me. I am sure I should be sad, or at least guilty, but I am not.
I always thought people here were to into the gold jewelry, but my daughters are not. Neither of them likes wearing gold much, but my older daughter loves the bling bling stuff. Which is fine, since the bride is supposed to get one of these rhinestone-y sets to wear with the wedding dress before they give her the gold. I am usually content to go along with whatever local customs are if they are important to other people, but there is one custom I just cannot tolerate. A lot of the weddings I go to have one part where the bride sort of sashays around the stage to the beat of a drum holding a Qur'an in a weird, fuzzy white cover. I have no idea why they do this. I don't think it is a custom for all Palestinian families, maybe it's only the Khalilis who do it. (Khalili = someone from the city of Hebron, which is called al-Khalil in Arabic. My husband's family is originally from there, although my husband was born in Jerusalem.) Anyway, I always found this custom inappropriate., and told my daughter that I do not want her to do it. We saw these examples in Ramallah. It looks like they are not whole Qur'ans but just 2 pages on a base that looks like a book. But look carefully at them. They have glitter hearts glued *on top of* the page, on the writing! A'uthu billah! Who thinks this is appropriate? These*will*not*be*at*my*daughter's*wedding! My biggest headache now is that I have to get a dress. No, I have to get at least 2 fancy outfits. My daughter will not let me wear my plain old black jilbab. Unfortunately I am a little on the big side. OK, not a little. And I am also taller than the average Palestinian woman, although I wouldn't be considered tall in the US. My sisters-in-law mostly come up to my shoulder. So finding clothes for me is a headache. I was hoping to get a nice conservative suit, or a plain dress with a pretty jacket. No luck. We went to the shop where I bought a dress for the engagement party last winter. That time, I got a rather simple brown dress with brown sequins on it. We went to several shops that had fancy falahi (village) and Khaliji (gulf) style dresses. My daughter insists that I choose something fancy, and glittery.I like the traditional embroidered dresses, but no one in my husband's family wears them. It's a falahi thing it seems, and his family are "city folks." But I would love to have one of the cross stitched dresses anyway. Many of the women in the village I live in wear just gorgeous hand made dresses as a regular thing. I fell in love with the machine embroidered green one below, but they didn't have my size. I don't think my daughter would have thought it was fancy enough for her wedding anyway.
I love-loved this faux calligraphy embroidery abaya we saw, but of course that wasn't fancy enough either.This dress fit, just. She didn't seem to think it was fancy enough. Everything that fit and I thought was comfortable looking wasn't fancy enough.I kind of like these two. They were a little snug, but the lady in the store said they could be let out. I wish the burgundy one didn't have those big gold jewels. The fabric is kind of shiny although that doesn't show in the picture, and it is supposed to be wrinkly like that. I hated the pink one, but the brownish might be ok.
The problem is that I like looking at this stuff, but I really want to buy it and hang it on the wall to look at, not wear! I wish my big sister could come and wear them a few times so I could decide, lol.
We also looked at fabric. I can't understand why fabric stores here are so small and have such a limited selection. I miss shopping in the US. The problem is I am not too confident about trying to make a fancy dress for my self. I am an ok seamstress when I have a pattern, but I don't have a pattern for a nice jacket. And I would be nervous cutting into an expensive piece of fabric. The dots on the fabric in the picture below are all glittery, but it didn't show in the picture, so I "photoshopped" some glitter into it.We spent the day shopping, and I still have no idea what I will wear. I didn't spend this much time on MY wedding clothes.
Something I noticed about the wedding dresses here. None of them have sleeves. They are all strapless or have narrow straps. You can buy little bolero type jackets to go over them for mixed weddings, but the weddings in our family are segregated. The bride wears a long hooded cape over her dress when entering and leaving, and during the short part of the party when the not closely related men will come in to congratulate the couple. The ladies all show up in their abayas and jilbabs, but they shed those during the women only part of the party so they can dance, dance, dance. My in-laws love to dance.
My mother actually picked out my wedding dress. It was off white had long sheer sleeves and a high neckline. It was sort of Victorian looking and I wore an antique brooch at my throat. It suited me perfectly, and was much more modest that anything I saw in the shops here.
I got married in the US, and when we came here, my in-laws wanted to make us a Palestinian style wedding. I said "thanks, but no thanks." (Unlike Ms. Palin, we didn't take the money anyway. Can I get through a post without mentioning something political? Probably not.) I am just not into all this hooplah and fancy clothes and dancing. Ya Allah! And they are going to expect me to dance too! I forgot I have that to worry about too.
This last picture was taken out of a window in one of the buildings we were shopping in. It is looking north from the center of Ramallah. As you can see, Ramallah really isn't a big city. Before you get to the hills in the back you will see farms, not city. Actually, I think you can find fields of olive trees less than a 15 minute walk from the center of Ramallah. And I have seen a horse drawn cart going through the center of town and passing the Palestinian Legislative Council's building many times, although I never manage to get a picture of it. And it is not there for tourists or something, just regular use hauling stuff.
Sunday, September 21, 2008
Ok, I confess to being a little fixated on this topic. Anne Paq's blog has 2 posts of pictures from the Bethlehem checkpoint into Jerusalem, here and here. Her website is full of moving, emotional pictures of Palestine too. The active stills site is also excellent. I hope they will forgive me for posting 2 of my favorites from last week. I love the way she caught the shadows in this one. I want to take pictures like this.
Saturday, September 20, 2008
West Bank Palestinians wait to be granted access through the Israeli checkpoint at Kalandia so they can attend Friday prayers in the al-Aqsa mosque in Israeli-occupied East Jerusalem(Photograph: Kevin Frayer/AP)
Friday, September 19, 2008
Am I the only blogger out there that sometimes thinks of other bloggers?Oh dear! If it is not "right" and "OK," then I am really in trouble because I am always wondering about the other bloggers I read. So L_Oman tagged me. She wants each of us to list 5 other bloggers that we think about.
Have I lost it? Gone over the edge? Is it right? Is it ok?
Post at least five blogs that you read and tell us what you wonder about with them!So I have been pondering this for a couple days now, and I have no idea how to choose just 5. If you look at my blog roll, you will see that I have way too many blogs I try to keep up with. LOL, my Google reader has twice that many.
Beth used to have a blog called "Indiana Beth," but she recently moved to Jordan and now it's called The United States of Jordania. She hasn't posted a lot lately, and I am wondering how she is adjusting to the big changes and how is her Ramadan going? And Molly from The Confessions of a Multicultural Muslimah just moved to Egypt and Izzy Mo just moved to Dubai, so I am wondering how all three of them are doing.
Najiya from Prairie Heart of Damascus doesn't update very often, but I often wonder what is going on in her world. She teaches English in Syria, and she has written a novel. Cool, huh?
Saha has recently returned from Yemen where she was studying, and I have been reading about her trip and some life changing experiences she had in Yemen Journey. The Cairo Gyro is by a sister who is studying Arabic in Egypt, and Damascus dreams was studying Arabic in Syria, although she has not updated in nearly a year. I always want to hear more about their travels and studies. I wonder what it is like. To be honest, I am kind of jealous of their chance to concentrate on their own education, although I don't think I would have been up to what Saha went through.
I always make Southern Muslimah one of the first blogs I check if she has posted. I am jealous of her too, because she has been involved in this wonderful project to assemble packages of food to distribute this Ramadan, and before that they made up backpacks full of supplies for poor kids going back to school. I wonder how she got all that organized and wish I was doing something as good as that too.
In addition to L_Oman's blog Culture Shocked I always read Stranger in this Dunya and Susie's big adventure but they both have been tagged already. I would love to have them over for tea along with AlienBea from Underwater Light , KhadijaTeri and mamamona, so I could hear more about their kids and lives.
Amy from Ibnat al-Hidayah: Daughter of Guidance sounds really interesting. She is about my daughter's age and I wonder how her school work is coming along and how she is coping. I wish I had had a friend like her when I was in college.
I also wonder about a wayfarer's journey... and Outlines since they are both pregnant, may Allah give them safe deliveries and healthy babies, inshaAllah. And I wonder when JD is going to post more baby pictures at Dunner's. What a darling, mashaAllah, mashaAllah!
There are a bunch of Palestinian bloggers that I wonder about, but they don't have the kind of blogs where they play games like tag. I always read Joy in Palestine's blog I Saw it in Palestine. She is a member of the Christian Peacemakers Team and she was living in a very small village called Tuwani south of Hebron where the people are often subject to attacks from settlers. Joy has gone back to the US now, temporarily I think, but her friend Jessica is there writing Ordinary People. Orphans Under Threat is all about the schools and orphages run by an Islamic charity in Hebron that the Israelis are planning not only to close, but to confiscate so no one can use them. That blog is maintained by another CPT member. Then there is Hannah in Palestine and Nora in Palestine. I used the signature "Carol in Palestine" for years and years, but I guess that was not so original, lol. Neither is alajnabiya. I have run across 4 other variations of the name ajnabiya online since I started using that name. :-( Back to my topic, Body on the Line is an American woman teaching at an Najah University in Nablus. I always wonder how all these people ended up in the West Bank. And there is UN-Truth and Our life in Jerusalem, who are westerners in Jerusalem.
From Gaza, with Love, tabula gaza, Contemplating from Gaza and Gaza Gardens: The Save Gaza Blog are all by people living in Gaza. How do they manage? May Allah give them strength and change their situation for the better. Is the Gaza gardens project still going, I wonder? They gave seeds and chickens to people and helped them to be a little more self reliant.
There are 2 more pro Palestinian bloggers that I wish I knew more about, Lawrence of Cyberia and bruised earth, but they both have serious, not chatty blogs. I assumed that Lawrence of Cyberia was a guy, but apparently he's a she. There is a link to a facebook profile on the page, and I have almost been tempted to join facebook just so I can read more about the author of this excellent blog.
I have resisted joining facebook, because I already spend way too much time online, can't you tell?????
Who you telln' to get a life? hmm...... Was I supposed to choose 5?
Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The site is called Overseas Vote Foundation and here is a video explaining it all.
Monday, September 15, 2008
I finished the 16th juz in the English translation of the meaning of the Qur'an this evening, so I'm doing ok there. Today's reading finished Surah al Kahf, which is my absolute favorite surah. The story of Musa (Moses) (alahi salaam) and Khidr (alahi salaam) makes life make sense to me. We think that things we don't like are tragedies, but sometimes they are blessings. Sometimes disasters like hurricanes are opportunities for so much good. They can bring communities together, give us opportunities to be charitable, remind us of how impermanent material things are and how valuable our families are. They should remind us to be grateful for what we have and warn us that it may all be taken away. And they hopefully teach us to practice sabr (patience). When the last hurricane was heading for New Orleans, I read some right wing Christian Zionist's blog who claimed that the hurricane was God's punishment because Condoleezza Rice had been here trying to force Israel to divide Jerusalem to make peace with the Palestinians. Not only does that man's arrogance astound me, thinking that he can speak for God's intentions, but I am always amazed that people think that one event has only one reason and one meaning. If Allah sends a hurricane to blow down my whole neighborhood, perhaps he is punishing some people, testing others' gratitude, removing some evil from others and forcing others to make changes in their lives that they would have been too afraid to try otherwise. We look at all the complexity of the natural ecological systems that brought a hurricane into being and say "God did that," but then refuse to see the complexity of WHY He may have done that. Perhaps I am not explaining my meaning well, because it is late. Ya Rabbi, please help me to benefit from the tests You send me!
My third goal was to memorize al Zilzal and al 'Adiyat, inshaAllah. I have pretty much got al 'Adiyat down, though I still make mistakes. But I haven't even learned to read Zilzal properly yet. It takes me a long time to convince my tongue to pronounce the Arabic correctly.
The last goal was to avoid all the over eating and sweets that are so often part of Ramadan. The sweets have been pretty easy to avoid, since my husband wants qatayyif almost every day, and I don't like it much. I ate one so far. But today I made banana bread, and ate 2 big chunks of it. That's much more tempting to me. But don't worry, the temptation is gone, since my kids gobbled it up as fast as they could. Other than that, I think I have done well.
I missed suhoor twice so far, both times I am sure that I set my alarm but when I woke up it was off and I don't remember turning it off. The first time I woke in time to pray fajr, but the last time I missed it. So I ought to head to bed now so that that doesn't happen again, inshaAllah. I hope everyone else is doing well this Ramadan and meeting their goals.
Saturday, September 6, 2008
For more pictures, Visual Dhikr has a wonderful 360 degree panoramic view of the inside of the al Aqsa Mosque (not to be confused with the Dome of the Rock with it's gold dome and blue tiles).
Malek's Page on Bayt Al-Maqdis has more pictures of the whole al Aqsa compound, and and explanations and descriptions of the different buildings.
Friends of al Aqsa has a page that describes all of the little buildings around the al Aqsa compound. I used to sit with my friends under the "Dome of the lovers of the prophets" to study Qur'an together, while our little kids ran around and played in the gardens. (They are college students now.) This site used to have a very nice interactive guide, but it doesn't seem to be working for me now. InshaAllah it will be back.
Tuesday, September 2, 2008
It's Ramadan already and I survived the first day. I hope averyone who is reading this and who celebrates/observes the fast of Ramadan will have a successful and rewarding month. The only thing I really did to prepare for Ramadan this year was to cut out most of my caffeine consumption for the last 2 weeks. It's usually caffeine withdrawal that gives me headaches the first few days of Ramadan, so I tamed that addiction ahead of time so that my first day of fasting was blissfully headache free, alhamdulillah. I was really worried about not being able to drink water during the day since the weather has been so hot lately, but as usual it wasn't as hard as I had anticipated, alhamdulillah. I always fear Ramadan, worried that I will struggle, but Allah makes it easier for me when the time comes, alhamdulillah again. It always amazes me that I have such a hard time sticking to a diet all year long, but fasting comes so easy. The thing I struggle with the most is just the lack of sleep. I hate to sleep during the day, but the night just isn't long enough!
The first year I fasted Ramadan was in 1983, technically before I had embraced Islam. I was sort of trying things out that year. I hadn't read the Qur'an yet or leared to pray, but there was something special about Ramadan and the fasting that drew me to Islam. That year Ramadan started toward the end of May, and I think it included the longest day of the year in June too. MashaAllah I feel I was so much younger and stronger then and nothing seemed hard. Now I am worried about the upcoming Ramadans and the long hot days. I miss air conditioning!
Last year I was so prepared for Ramadan. I was already reading Qur'an daily and memorizing. In the last few months I have been doing a lot of backsliding, so my goals this year are to get back to making as many prayers and reading and memorizing like I was last year. So these are my goals for the month:
1. No television! The TV stations in the Arab world seem to think that Ramadan is the month for TV. They put on all sorts of dramatic series and special shows. But I don't want to waste my time on TV. I got this banner from the blog Deja Vu, via Global Voices Online.2. Read the whole translation of the meaning of the Qur'an in English again. I use Muhammad Farooq-i-Azam Malik's translation of the meaning. It was a gift from a dear friend 2 years ago (May Allah reward you dear sister!) and I love it. Last night I finished the first juz, and this aya reminded me of a post I had read on the blog UN-TRUTH called "You know it's Ramadan when...." about the restrictions placed on Palestinians from the West Bank attending Friday prayers in al Aqsa Mosque.
Who is more unjust than the one who prevents people from the Masãjid (place of worship) of Allah , forbids the mention of His name therein, and strives to ruin them ? It is not proper for such people to enter in them except with His fear. For them there is disgrace in this world and grievous punishment in the Hereafter. 2:114
- Married men between the ages 45-50 and married women between the ages of 30-45 who have received permission from the Civil Administration.
- Men over the age of 50 and women over the age of 45 will be allowed to enter freely.
3. Memorize al Zilzal and al 'Adiyat. That will give me almost 6 whole pages memorized, plus a few other ayat. Memorizing has never been my stong suit.
4. My final goal is to avoid the endless deserts and rich foods everyone serves during Ramadan. Just because I fasted all day does not mean that I ought to over indulge at night.
Saturday, August 23, 2008
I used to mostly use the cistern's water for my garden and cleaning outside, but this year I have let a lot of the garden die. Last year the cistern ran dry before the summer was over, and I can't afford to have that happen again. Much as I love flowers, flushing the toilets is a higher priority.
| By Wyre Davies |
BBC News, Jerusalem
The former United Nations Secretary General, Boutros Ghali, may not have been right when he said in the 1990s that the next major war in the Middle East would be about water, not politics.
His statement, though, accurately reflected the strategic and political importance of water in the region.
For Israelis and Palestinians the control of water is almost as important as the control of land.
This year, much lower than average rainfall has led to drought conditions.
In Israel it is only just beginning to have an impact, but just a few miles away in the occupied West Bank, the crisis is much more acute for the Palestinians living there.
Rabab Zorab lives just outside Bethlehem. Her husband has a good job and they have a comfortable home.
But, playing with her one-year-old daughter Justina, Rabab said it was humiliating having to wash at the homes of family members, or to go days without clean clothes because they have no water.
Like every other family in this apartment block they have "back-up" tanks on the roof.
The tanks, though, are nearly empty despite the family's careful attempts not to use much of the precious water.
Abir Suqar lives in the same apartment block. She also has young children, two small boys, and has nowhere near enough water to do her daily chores.
"There's no water to have a bath or shower," says Abir.
The young mother looks almost embarrassed as she says she is having to buy the boys new clothes because she cannot wash the ones they have.
In some areas of the West Bank, Palestinians only have one-third of the minimum daily amount of water recommended by the World Health Organisation.
Official figures show that per capita water consumption is three times less than in Israel, even though Israelis and Palestinians theoretically share many of the same water supplies.
It is all about control.
Agriculture is an important industry in Israel and the country has developed some of the world's most efficient irrigation systems.
Human rights groups accuse Israel of using its occupation of the Palestinian territories to control the supply of water from vast underground aquifers.
Uri Shani, the Director of Israel's Water Authority, says the problem is more fundamental.
"The population of this region - Lebanon, Israel, Syria and Jordan - has grown by more than 20 million in the last century", said Mr Shani.
"All of these people use, consume and drink water."
One of the West Bank Palestinians' greatest grievances is that while they struggle with irregular or unpredictable water supplies, nearby Jewish settlements enjoy the benefits of regular access to running water.
The settlements, considered illegal under international law, are highly controversial and, like water, are seen as one of the biggest obstacles to peace.
The Israeli government insists that all communities in the West Bank - Jewish or Palestinian - have the same access to resources.
The Head of the Palestinian Water Authority is Shaddad Attili.
With a shrug of the shoulders, he says that because of the Israeli occupation he is utterly disempowered to do anything about the chronic shortage of water.
On a map of the West Bank he shows that the Mountain Aquifer lies largely under Palestinian territory, but says his department is prevented by Israel from sinking wells to extract water.
"All I do is crisis management. I can't even put two ends of a pipe together without Israel's permission", he says, somewhat sarcastically.
Israel insists that it is supplying the Palestinians with more than their agreed share of water, under interim agreements.
In the meantime Israel is helping to ease the pressure on traditional supplies by developing alternative sources of fresh water, especially desalination plants on the coast.
But with more than two million Palestinians in the West Bank not connected to a running water supply, there are concerns that the current drought may lead to an even more unfair distribution of this precious resource.
Published: 2008/08/20 10:47:39 GMT
Friday, August 22, 2008
When my husband told me they Israelis were removing the checkpoint between where we live and Ramallah yesterday, I thought he was joking, but they really did it. Honestly, I would not be surprised if they put it back later, but I hope it stays gone at least until after Ramadan. When was the last time it was possible to get from Bir Nabala to Ramallah without passing a checkpoint? Years and years. Before they put up the wall and this new checkpoint, we used to go to Ramallah through the Qalandia checkpoint. That checkpoint has been there since the mid 90's, although at first it was not always manned. Of course we still can't get to Jerusalem or even upper Beit Haninah without passing Qalandia. But at least I can get to the town of Ram without passing a checkpoint, which I used to be a 25 minute walk. It still will be a much longer trip, but you have no idea what a relief it will be to not have to go through that checkpoint. And, a certain friend of mine has refused to visit me for months because the last time she came here, her car was damaged by the way the checkpoint forced the Ramallah bound traffic to swerve around rocks and drop off the pavement at the checkpoint. So I expect a visit now M!
BIR NABALA, West Bank (Reuters) - Israel, under international pressure to ease restrictions on Palestinians, removed a checkpoint in the occupied West Bank on Thursday that had curbed movement outside a main Palestinian city.
The move came ahead of a planned visit by Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice next week to continue to push Israelis and Palestinians to pursue talks Washington has hoped could lead to a peace deal by early next year.
An Israeli military spokesman said soldiers had been instructed to remove concrete blocks and a checkpoint where soldiers inspected traffic leading to Bir Nabala, a town near Ramallah, where the Palestinian government sits.
It was the third such checkpoint Israel has removed this month, meeting requests from the U.S. and Middle East envoy Tony Blair to help peace moves and to bolster Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas's Western-backed government.
Tawfiq Nabali, head of the Bir Nabala village council, said the checkpoint that was lifted had restricted movement for more than 50,000 Palestinians living in 15 villages near Ramallah.
"We welcome any step in which the Israeli occupation leaves us alone, living in dignity without checkpoints and racism," Nabali told Reuters.
Palestinians say hundreds of Israeli roadblocks erected in the past eight years in occupied territory stifle their economy and amount to collective punishment.
Israel, which placed most of the barriers after a Palestinian uprising erupted in 2000 when peace talks failed, says the measures are necessary to prevent suicide bombers from reaching its cities.
(Additional reporting By Mohammed Assadi in Ramallah)
(Reporting by Ammar Awad, Writing by Avida Landau and Allyn Fisher-Ilan, Editing by Michael Winfrey)
Wednesday, July 30, 2008
Here is al Jazeera's report on the little boy shot in Na'alin yesterday
Another video of the house in Beit Haninah being blown up. I couldn't find anything on al Jazeera about it.
Here is an al Jazeera report on the court ruling ordering the wall in the village of Jeyyous to be moved, giving the village back some, but far from all, of their agricultural land.
This is an episode of an al Jazeera series called "Street Food." It talks about food in Jerusalem, for both Israelis and Palestinians. It was interesting, but I have to admit that the part I liked best was the video of the markets in the Old City.
Tuesday, July 29, 2008
The first is the raw footage of the explosion that brought the house down. LiveLeak reported that,
The city said that the four-story construction was "one of the most severe" building violations ever carried out in Jerusalem, and was in blatant violation of court-orders.However in the second video former Palestinian Legislative Council member Hatem Abdul Qadr said that the house was destroyed because the owners had only "added a few meters" to the legal building.
Five families lost their homes.
Monday, July 28, 2008
Times up. My tea is ready and I have to get to work. Wish me luck.
Friday, July 25, 2008
And this video is also about the same area, and the children who have a daily struggle just to get to school.
Monday, July 21, 2008
As frustrating as these water shortages are, it pales in comparison to what people in Gaza are going through. Read Contemplating From Gaza's account of a weekend with no water, no electricity, no gas for the stove and no gasoline for the car. And then to top it off, she gets comments from trolls who feel the need to imply that it is her fault that there are rockets fired from Gaza and call her filthy names. Personally, I have my comments moderated, and I won't let anything abusive be published here, but perhaps letting the morons have their say proves a point.
I don't want to see any innocent civilians suffer, not Palestinians nor Israelis.
An Israeli human rights group has just released graphic video footage obtained during clashes between Israeli troops and demonstrators protesting against the separation barrier on the West Bank. The video has sparked outrage, as it shows what appears to be an Israeli soldier shooting a Palestinian at close range. Al Jazeera's Emma Hayward reports.
Sunday, July 20, 2008
The only place so far I have seen this mentioned: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1003717.html
La Hawla Wala Quwata Illah Billah
There is no strength nor power except Allah
Saturday, July 19, 2008
My younger daughter got a 91.7! SubhanAllah walhamdulillah! She was in the sciences track. They have to choose arts or sciences in 10th grade. She was actually in tears when she got the result, because she had hoped to do better, but I am very pleased and proud of her. This is such a hard system, it is way more stressful than taking the SAT or ACT in the US. The tests are only offered once a year. I think if you fail one, you can take it again the same year, and if you fail more than one you can take them again the next year. But that is it, no more chances.
She took Islamic studies, Arabic, English, math, physics, chemistry, life science and "Industry and Agriculture." She got the highest grade in the West Bank in "Industry and Agriculture," although there might have been others with the same score. Funny thing is, I always thought she hated that class. And while I am bragging, and it is a mother's prerogative to brag, I must point out that all of the tests are in Arabic except the English exam, and the day she started kindergarten she barely knew any Arabic at all. We still mostly speak English in the home.
And there is more good news. Today they announced the first batch of students accepted into Bir Zeit University, and she was accepted into the Sciences department. I think she intends to major in chemistry, although I think her best tawjihi grade was in math.
The tawjihi results were announced at 10 AM on Friday on the local TV station and radio. They also publish all the names and scores of the students who passed in a special addition of the newspaper. I feel so badly for the ones who failed or had a poor result, and everyone knows it. How humiliating. By 11 AM we started to hear fireworks. Many people celebrate by setting off fireworks, real ones, but my husband and I are in complete agreement that we have no intention to celebrate by risking one of our kids' hands or eyes. It was fun to watch other people's fireworks, but I hope it didn't make my daughter jealous. I downloaded a fireworks screen saver, but it wasn't quite the same. Next weekend we will have a big party for her, inshaAllah.
I am so glad that this is all over, but the year after next it will be Number Two Son's turn.
Tawjihi exam a pillar of Palestinian society; results announced Friday
Bethlehem – Ma'an – The results for the university entrance exam, written by Palestinian students in the West Bank, Gaza and East Jerusalem, were announced Friday at 10am.
The entrance exam, called the Tawjihi, determines not only whether a student will be permitted to enroll in university, but will also limit their selection of majors and classes.
On average, about half of the students sitting the exam pass, this year the number was 55.4%. A passing grade is 51%, and according to the Ministry of Education and Higher Education the median grade for the exam this year was 52%.
The tests are written over the period of twenty days in June, by 77,047 students, including 32,800 in the Gaza Strip and 44,247 in the West Bank. The majority of those writing have just finished their last year of high school, though those who do not pass the first time can write up to nine more exams to try and pass.
The exams are administered once a year, and comprise tests in a large variety of different subjects, including English, Arabic, Science, Math, Religion (students can choose from Islam or Christianity), Palestinian History, Geography, Biology, Physics, Industry and Agriculture.
Students choose the exams they are to take depending on their intended course of studies following high school. If the student fails one exam, then they do not pass the Tawjihi and cannot enroll in university.
The pass/fail results of the tests are announced nationwide over the radio, internet and television. Students are asked to report to their schools for the detailed breakdown of marks.
Following the announcement cities and towns erupt with fireworks and parades of celebrating students driving down main streets.
The Tawjihi has been part of the Palestinian schooling system for years. In the West Bank the exams started when the area was under Jordanian administration, and in Gaza students began taking the tests in the 1990s when the Palestinian Authority took over administration of the area from Egypt.
Up until 2006 the tests were based on the Jordanian curriculum books, but now anything published in the textbooks authorized by the Palestinian Authority is fair game for the test.
The long tradition of the exams, its high stakes for so many students, and the public nature of the results announcements, have together made sure that the tests are a staple of modern Palestinian society.
The Tawjihi is also one of the elements of Palestinian life common to Gazans, East Jerusalemites and West Bankers. When the Ministry of Education and Higher Education announced that the results for Gaza and the West Bank would be announced separately, students protested and asked that they could wait until all results could be announced together.
Even Palestinians in Israeli prisons were permitted to write the exams this year, although their results have not yet been released.
So far this year the highest grade was awarded to a Gazan student, who had an average on the tests of 99.3%
In years past there have been accusations that Israeli troops and road closures have been strategically planned to prevent students from getting to school to take the tests.
Saturday, July 5, 2008
Read Tunisianbelle's post Muslim While Flying, for her upsetting experience. This is the first time I have seen her blog, which I found via Global Voices.
Thursday, July 3, 2008
10-year-old subjected to torture by Israeli soldiers
A 10-year-old boy was subjected to physical abuse amounting to torture for 2.5 hours by Israeli soldiers who stormed his family’s shop on 11 June, seeking information on the location of a handgun. The boy was repeatedly beaten, slapped and punched in the head and stomach, forced to hold a stress position for half and hour, and threatened. He was deeply shocked and lost two molar teeth as a result of the assault.
On Wednesday 11 June 2008, at around 10:30am, 10-year-old Ezzat, his brother Makkawi (7) and sister Lara (8) were in their father’s shop selling animal feed and eggs in the village of Sanniriya, near the West Bank city of Qalqiliya. The children were suddenly startled to see two Israeli soldiers storm in to the shop.
Interrogation and abuse in the shop
One soldier wearing a black T-shirt started shouting in a loud, menacing voice in Arabic, “your father sent us to you to collect his gun”. A terrified Ezzat responded, “My father does not own a gun”. The soldier responded by slapping Ezzat hard across the right cheek and his brother Makawi across his face. The soldier then ordered Makkawi and Lara to leave the shop. Once the younger children had left the soldier demanded once again that Ezzat hand over his father’s gun. Although Ezzat repeated that his father did not own a gun the soldier ordered him to search for it in the sacks containing the animal feed. Ezzat kept insisting that there was no gun in the shop so the soldier slapped him once again, this time across his left cheek.
One of Ezzat’s friends, realising that something was wrong, tried to enter the shop but was kicked by the soldier standing at the door and prevented from entering. Soon a group of local people had gathered outside the shop. Some of the people in the group also tried to enter the shop but were prevented from doing so by the soldier at the door.
The soldier in the black T-shirt asked him once again to produce the gun. Ezzat answered, “We do not have anything”. The soldier responded by punching him hard in the stomach causing Ezzat to fall over on to empty egg boxes. Ezzat started screaming and crying out from pain and fear. The soldier in the black T-shirt started making fun of Ezzat and imitated him crying. Ezzat remained in the shop alone with the soldiers for a further 15 minutes when the soldier in black abruptly grabbed him by his T-shirt and dragged him out of the shop. Ezzat asked the soldier if he could lock up his father’s shop but the soldier said he wanted it to remain open so that it could be robbed. The soldier also threatened to put Ezzat in his jeep and take him away.
Once they were out of the shop, Ezzat was ordered to walk in front of the soldiers to his house, whilst a gun was pointed at his back. The soldiers hit him several times on the nape along the way. On approaching his house Ezzat saw many Israeli military officials surrounding the house and a number of green military vehicles parked outside. One of the olive coloured jeeps had the word “police” written on it.
Interrogation and abuse in the home
After arriving at the family’s home the soldier in the black T-shirt stood Ezzat in the yard and ordered him to search the flower basin for the gun. Before Ezzat had a chance to respond the soldier slapped him so violently that Ezzat fell down face first into the basin. Without giving him the chance to stand up the soldier grabbed him by his T-shirt and lifted him up roughly. He was then instructed in Arabic by another soldier to head to the guestroom.
On approaching the guestroom Ezzat could see his father standing by the door. The soldier slapped him on the neck and Ezzat fell to the ground. As Ezzat stood up the soldier slapped him a second time making him fall to the ground once again. All this happened in front of his father. He then grabbed Ezzat by his T-shirt and lifted him in to the air. The soldier told Ezzat’s father that he was going to take his son to prison. He also threatened to take Ezzat’s 19-year-old sister to prison. Ezzat was then pushed forcibly in to the guest room where his mother and four of his other siblings including his sisters Diana (19), Raghda (18), (Aya) 15 and brother Jihad (3), were being held. His mother was crying. Ezzat was also crying and when asked by his mother why he was crying, he said it was because he had been hit by the soldiers. His mother asked the soldiers to stop beating her son and to beat her instead.
After several minutes Ezzat was taken out of the guestroom and slapped several times by the soldier in black, once so hard that he fell to the ground. After being moved to several locations in the house Ezzat was told to stay in the boys’ bedroom. The same soldier then left the room but would return every five minutes to slap Ezzat and also to punch him several times in the stomach. Each time this took place Ezzat would shout and scream out in pain and burst in to tears. The soldier would then imitate him and make fun of him. The soldier hit him around six times.
Destruction of property and use of stress positions
A short time later, five soldiers entered the room and proceeded to destroy the family’s property using hammers. In all, the soldiers destroyed wooden ventilation panels in the attic, a small refrigerator in the bedroom and it contents, damage to the kitchen, a fan and the fireplace.
Ezzat spent one hour in the bedroom alone with the soldiers. In that hour he was ordered by the same soldier to stand on one foot for half an hour, with his back against the wall and with both his hands lifted up in the air (see picture). Ezzat was exhausted by this but was too scared to put his foot down on the ground. Eventually he was told by one of the other soldiers that he could put his foot down. He was then asked to sit down in a squat position. He managed to remain in this position for two minutes and then had to stand up. A female soldier then walked in to the room and asked him to sit on the refrigerator box.
Shortly after the soldier in the black T-shirt returned accompanied by Ezzat’s older sister Diana. He proceeded to ask Ezzat whether he cared for his sister to which Ezzat responded, “Yes I do”. The soldier then asked him to tell him where the gun was hidden and that if he told him where it was hidden that he would not tell Ezzat’s father. The soldier left the room with Ezzat’s sister. He then returned to the room on his own and hit Ezzat all over his body. He left the room once again and after a while came back offering Ezzat 10 Shekels in return for telling him where the gun was. Ezzat responded that he did not care about money. This made the soldier extremely angry and he took off his helmet and started throwing it at Ezzat from two metres away. Ezzat was in extreme pain. The soldier continued to hit him with the helmet and then left the room once again returning to slap him across his face and on his stomach. This continued for some time with the soldier leaving the room and returning to hit Ezzat and to question him over the gun.
Interrogation of family
Ezzat then witnessed the soldier in the black T-shirt and the female soldier leading his sisters and mother to one of the rooms close to the boys’ bedroom. They closed the door of the room but Ezzat could hear the soldiers shouting at them. He overheard the soldier telling the female soldier to hit his mother because she was refusing to take her clothes off to be searched. After the incident was over Ezzat’s sister informed him that they were all strip searched by the female soldier, while the male soldier waited outside.
Meanwhile, a soldier wearing black sunglasses entered the bedroom in which Ezzat was being held. He walked in pointing a rifle, a few centimetres away from Ezzat’s head. Ezzat was so terrified that he began to shiver. The soldier laughed and made fun of him. He asked Ezzat to tell him where the gun was and threatened to shoot him if he didn’t. Ezzat continued to maintain that there was no weapon hidden away. The soldier, getting agitated shouted at Ezzat, “for the last time, tell me where the gun is before I shoot you". Ezzat repeated that he did not have a gun. Hearing this, the soldier lowered his rifle and left the room. After about five minutes the soldier in the black T-shirt entered the room along with four other soldiers and said that they were leaving but would return.
The soldiers spent two and half hours in the house in total. After the incident Ezzat spent the night at his uncle’s house because he was too scared to sleep in his home. As a result of the physical assault Ezzat lost two of his molar teeth and is deeply shocked by the incident.
DCI/PS is appalled that Israeli authorities would subject a 10-year-old child to beatings, position abuse and threats over the course of several hours. The treatment of Ezzat falls within the definition of torture and other acts of cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment as defined in the UN Convention Against Torture, to which Israel is a State Party. The treatment of Ezzat also infringes numerous other international conventions to which Israel is bound1, as well as Israeli military and domestic law2.
DCI/PS again calls on Israel to immediately ensure its compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture and to thoroughly and impartially investigate the allegations of torture and abuse of Ezzat and bring those found responsible for such abuse to justice.
DCI/PS also calls on the EU to make the upgrade of EU-Israel bilateral relations conditional upon measurable and confirmed progress by Israel to uphold the EU human rights standards in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
1. Universal Declaration of Human Rights (1948) – article 5; Fourth Geneva Convention (1949) – articles 27 and 31 International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (1966) – article 7; and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (1989) – articles 2(2), 3, 16 and 37(a).
2. Israeli military law establishes the specific offence of “ill treatment” which prohibits the beating or other abuse of any person in a soldier’s custody: see Military Adjudication Law, 5715-1955, Article 65. See also articles 378-382 of the Israeli penal code.
** Take Action **
Please send appeals in English, Arabic, Hebrew or your own language to Israel and/or the EU:
- Urging Israeli authorities to comply with the UN Convention Against Torture and thoroughly investigate the allegations of torture and abuse of Ezzat and other Palestinian detainees and bring those responsible for such abuse to justice.
President of the State of Israel
Shimon Peres, President of the State of Israel
Office of the President
3 Hanassi St., 92188
Tel: +972 2 6707211
Fax: +972 2 5610033
Salutation: Dear President
Prime Minister of the State of Israel
Ehud Olmert, Prime Minister
Telephone: +972 2 6753277
Telephone2: +972 2 6753547
Saluation: Dear Prime Minister
Israeli Minister of Foreign Affairs
Ms. Tzipi Livni, MK
9 Yitzhak Rabin Blvd., Kiryat Ben-Gurion, Jerusalem 91035
Fax: + 972 2 5303367
Salutation: Dear Foreign Affairs Minister
- Urging the EU to pressure Israel to immediately ensure its compliance with the UN Convention Against Torture and thoroughly investigate the allegations of torture and abuse of Ezzat and other Palestinian detainees and bring those responsible for such abuse to justice.
- Urging the EU to make the upgrade of EU-Israel bilateral relations conditional upon measurable and confirmed progress by Israel to uphold EU human rights standards in the occupied Palestinian territory.
- Making the EU aware of the recent inclusion of Palestine/Israel as a priority conflict for the implementation of the EU Guidelines on Children and Armed Conflict, and of the subsequent reporting tasks on child rights violations incumbent upon EU diplomatic missions and EU institutions in the field.
Mr. Bernard Kouchner, Ministre des Affaires Etrangères
Ministère des Affaires Etrangères français
37, quai d’Orsay, 75 007 Paris, France
Personal Representative for Human Rights (CFSP) of the EU Secretary General/
High Representative Javier Solana
Ms. Riina Kionka
175 Rue de la Loi BE 1048 Brussels, Belgium
Fax. : +32 2 281 61 90
Email : email@example.com
The Commissioner for External Affairs and European Neighbourhood Policy
HE Ms. Benita Ferrero- Waldner