Monday, April 28, 2008

Does this picture make you hungry?

Does this picture make you hungry?
Stuffed grape leaves seem to be everyone's favorite around here. I love them too, but making them for a family of 7 takes me all day. I do enjoy spending an hour or so picking the leaves in the morning. They are so fresh and green in the spring. This picture is from about a week ago, when they were still way over my head.
Spring ended fast this year. It was in the upper 90's Fahrenheit (36C) a few days ago. Most of the pretty wildflowers have finished.
When I lived in Pennsylvania, I remember Queen Anne's Lace blooming in the late summer, but here it blooms early, because it may not rain again until fall. If it does, it will only be a little. I already miss the rain.

Palestinian Harlem

What happens to a dream deferred?

Does it dry up
like a raisin in the sun?
Or fester like a sore—
And then run?
Does it stink like rotten meat?
Or crust and sugar over—
like a syrupy sweet?

Maybe it just sags
like a heavy load.

Or does it explode?

"Harlem" by Langston Hughes

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

American-Arab Anti Discrimination Committee Action Alert

Here is another post I hope everyone will read, by joy_in_palestine.

Today, April 22, 2008, the House of Representatives will consider H.Con.Res 322 , a resolution celebrating the 60th Anniversary of the founding of Israel and reaffirming the friendship and cooperation between the United States and Israel. A vote is expected before 7:00 PM this evening. The resolution is sponsored by Majority Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) and has over 200 cosponsors. It is expected to attain the 2/3 vote need to pass under suspension of the rules.

The American-Arab Anti-Discrimination Committee (ADC) is urging everyone to contact the House of Representatives and ask your Member of Congress to oppose this resolution because it fails to present the reality of the consequences of the birth of the State of Israel (And because the resolution is meaninglessly provocative and just plain stupid. But that's my opinion, not the ADC's).

I just wrote the following letter to my congressional representatives, using the ADC's nifty sender-thingy which made it alarmingly easy. I would encourage you all to do the same!

read the full post here

IMPORTANT: Conspiring against Wikipedia

Za3tar has a post today about an attempt to change Wikipedia articles to reflect Zionist opinions. There appears to be documented proof of this, although it is really not too hard to believe. Please do take the time to read the article and spread the news.

IMPORTANT: Conspiring against Wikipedia

Friday, April 18, 2008

Three blind women at a checkpoint

I read this story on Window into Palestine. It's so sad the way normal human compassion is dying a painful death on both sides.

Three blind women at a checkpoint, notes by
Rana Qumsiyeh, April 13, 2008
[While reading this remember that a) all here are
the lucky 0.1% of the population of Bethlehem who
have a "permit" to get to Jerusalem and b) that this
is the mild forms, many died at checkpoints while
refused to get to medical facilities and many are starving
because their lands and jobs are on the other side of the
Apartheid wall. Mazin Q]

Yesterday was not the first time I see those three blind
women at the checkpoint. They are familiar to many who
cross the Bethlehem checkpoint on daily basis to get to
Jerusalem. Two middle-aged Palestinian women and
one elderly woman who seems to be a foreigner; could
be German, as I have heard them talk to each other
in German at times. I have always wondered how they
manage to make their way through this maze, being
blind, when most people with perfect eye sight struggle
to find their way through, when crossing this checkpoint
for the first time, and have to ask for directions.

So, yesterday, despite that it was a Saturday, there was a
long line forming when those three blind women walked
in, and it was taking too long for the door to open and let
people in one by one. As usual, they were let through
ahead of everyone because of their situation. A few
minutes later, they got inside and it seems two of them got
through the metal-detector door and the third one “beeped”.
The female soldier on duty screamed at her in Hebrew to
take her shoes off. This female soldier is known to all of us,
the crowds who go through everyday, we call her the
screamer. We know she is on duty before we even get
into the terminal, because her yelling reaches outside the
Wall! Of course, standing in line outside, we barely can see
anything of what is happening inside, we just hear and try
to understand what is going on. Thus, we assumed that the
blind woman took off her shoes and passed again and she
still “beeped”, the soldier screamed again, now louder, in
Hebrew, ordering her to take her jacket off. One more time,
we hear beeping, then we hear crying. Apparently, the blind
woman started to cry at that point. The soldier screamed
louder, and this time, I didn’t understand what she was

Half an hour had passed since I got in line and I was still there,
and the line was not moving. People started complaining,
calling, so a male soldier’s voice came through the loud speaker
saying “You have to wait, we have ‘problems’ inside”. We heard
more beeping and then a loud laugh from the “screamer”.

Eventually, they opened the door and I got to the ID and
permit inspection point, there were the two other blind
women, apparently still waiting for their companion, who
had been forced into one of the “further investigation”
rooms. I went outside and got on the bus, and soon after
the three women followed. The third one was very stressed
out and in tears. It turns out; her skirt zipper was the
problem. I am not sure if she was forced to take her skirt
off in that closed 'cell', no one dared ask. As the bus drove
off, I watched her cry all the way from the checkpoint to
Now I need to pray and look at pictures of flowers again. I have had as much news as I can take.

citrus blossoms

If you have never smelled orange blossoms, you are really missing something. They have the most wonderful sent, and it perfumed the night air all around our yard last week.You could smell the tree from a distance, and you could also hear it, because it was covered with bees.The lemon trees have also started to bloom.
They get flowers even though they still have lots of ripe fruits on them.
You have to be careful picking them though, since the tree has some pretty sharp thorns.

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Crystal Mosque, Malaysia

Crystal Mosque, Malaysia, originally uploaded by Azmi Bogart.

This post has nothing to do with Palestine, obviously. I just saw some pictures of the Crystal Mosque in Malaysia, and now I have a new place on my list of places I want to visit some day. This masjid looks amazing! Look at this slide show of pictures of it on Flickr. MashaAllah wa subhanAllah!

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

from the belly of the whale

I popped my camera in my purse when I went shopping for groceries yesterday, but as I walked I thought about how little around me would make a nice picture. It was too hot and the dry wind blew bits of garbage around. There are plenty of ugly things to look at, and if that is what you choose to see, then that is all you will see. But if you look for good things, you can almost always find them. Not everything I noticed on my walk would have made a nice picture, but there were still things that made me smile. I walked past a school, and heard at least a dozen children children reciting Qur'an at the top of their lungs. At the store, my total was 51 shekels. I handed the shopkeeper a hundred, and fished around in my wallet for a one, but he gave me 50 change and wouldn't take the one I handed him. I know it's not a big thing, but how many places do the shopkeepers refuse to take as much money as you hand them? The thing I like about it is that it is common, not strange. I have had taxi drivers refuse to take money from me when I only needed to go a short distance.

I did take one quick picture, of a herd of goats wandering across the road, with no shepherd in sight.
They were safe. The road they were walking on used to be very busy. It was the main road into our village, and when my older kids were little I wouldn't let them cross it because there was too much traffic. The road now ends abruptly just a few hundred meters from this point, where Israel's apartheid Wall cuts us off from the next town. I posted pictures of it in The End of the Road. I noticed that I already have two posts titled "The End of the Road," which is pathetic, but most of our roads come to a dead end. The Wall is all around us.

The bridge in the picture is for an Israelis-only highway. There are high walls all along it as it passes through our neighborhood. Here is what some of those roads look like on the inside of the walls. I don't know if the one through our neighborhood has anything pretty painted on it, because I have never been on the road that goes right past my home.

The sign on the middle of the bridge has a du'a from the Qur'an on it. (Sorry it is not clear.) I wouldn't have thought it was a good place to put Qur'an, because it is below the cars, but there it is. It is the prayer of the prophet Yunus (Jonah, alahi salaam) when he was in the belly of the whale. "There is no deity except You; exalted are You. Indeed, I have been of the wrongdoers."

Surah al Anbiya', 21:87

Sometimes looking at all the walls and restricted roads and checkpoints, it feels like our lives are being swallowed whole by some great beast. In the next aya Allah says what means "So We responded to him and saved him from the distress. And thus do We save the believers." Ya rabbana, please accept our repentance and rescue us too.

Monday, April 14, 2008

wild gladiolas and daisies

I found this wild field gladiola in my front yard this morning. Every year one or two survive being plowed. I put my hand in the picture to give and idea how big they are. I wish there was some way I could coax more of them to grow, but every one I tried to transplant died, and didn't come back the next year.
The wild daisies in the picture below are easier to propagate. For the last few years I carefully pulled up all the plants when they finished blooming to save the seeds. My landlord found the box in the store room last summer, and threw it away, but alhamdulillah some of them still came back, but not as many as if I had been able to spread all those seeds around last fall.
Ah! My kids just came home from school, so no more time for descriptions.

Friday, April 11, 2008

Deir Yassin Remembered

I am, as usual, a couple days late. April 9th was the 60th anniversary of the massacre at Deir Yassin, a village that was ethnically cleansed in order to help establish the State of Israel. You can read about the massacre at Deir Yassin Remembered. In short, over 100 of the 750 residents of the village were killed that day, half of whom were women and children. The site has accounts of the events from both Palestinian and Israeli sources. I was shocked to read one account that said that the members of the group that perpetrated the attack at Deir Yassin had considered Beit Hanina as a possible target instead. Very close to home, that sent an extra shiver of horror down my spine. And Israeli Historian Benny Morris's justification of the whole policy of transfer was horrifying.

The video below is worth the half an hour it takes to watch:

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

six word memoir meme

I got tagged by Umm Ibrahim of Stranger in this Dunya for the 6 word memoir meme. I think I can manage this one, if it is only 6 words, inshaAllah. Here are the rules:

1. Write your own six word memoir
2. Post it on your blog and include a visual illustration if you’d like
3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post
4. Tag six more blogs with links
5. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to play!

Struggling prayerfully for patience and hope.

I tag:

Umm Farouq
Susie of Arabia
Kadija Teri
Multicultural Muslimah (Molly)

Is it possible that no one has tagged Umm Zaid yet?

Geeez, the tagging was harder than the meme.

Wednesday, April 2, 2008

I want my ball back!


"I saw it in Palestine"

I saw it in Palestine is a blog by a member of the Christian Peacemakers Team based in a small village near Hebron/el Kalil in the West Bank. Please go read today's post, it's short, and breaks my heart.
"Momma, when I'm older will I go to jail like Daddy?"
Here is the author's video introduction:

Tuesday, April 1, 2008

just trying to live

Quick question: which would you choose, your dignity and self respect, or your eye? Can you imagine having to make that choice?

Time has an article about how Israel's intelligence agents try to force Gazans needing medical treatment to spy for Israel in order to get permits to cross the boarder. According to the Israeli group Physicians for Human Rights, at least 30 Palestinians have been denied permission to leave Gaza for urgent medical care because the have refused to collaborate. The article tells the story of Bassam al Wahedi, who was trying to leave Gaza via the Erez crossing for surgery to restore the sight in one of his eyes. He describes the treatment he recieved at Erez on his way to a scheduled surgery:

Next, says al Wahedi, three plainclothed Israelis with pistols and walkie-talkies led him past cages with growling dogs to a room where he was strip searched and interrogated by a man who identified himself as a captain in Shin Bet, the Israeli domestic intelligence agency. Al-Wahedi claims that his interrogator told him in fluent Arabic: "We want you to work for us." When al-Wahedi protested, saying he had nothing to do with the militants, the Shin Bet officer allegedly replied: "We issue the [medical] permits and we can cancel them. If you don't get operated on, you'll lose your sight. What good will you be?"

"I told him that we would talk after my operation, when I crossed back through Erez," recounts al-Wahedi. Nothing doing, replied the intelligence officer, who, according to al-Wahedi, handed him an Israeli cellphone SIM card and a phone number. "He wanted me to go back to Gaza and collaborate with them for two weeks, and if they liked what I did, I could come to Israel and have my eye operation with the best doctor in Tel Aviv."

It looks like he chose his dignity and honor over his eye. (HT The Black Iris)

In a Ha'aretz article called Blaming the Victim, Gideon Levy describes another case of a Palestinian just trying to live his daily life and having things go horribly wrong. It's the story of a man from Hebron who saved up to buy a washing machine for his family of 7. He lives in the part of Hebron where Palestinians are not allowed to drive cars, so he was carrying the new washer in a box on his head through a checkpoint. When a soldier threatened to break the new machine, the man pushed the soldier's hand away and the man got a severe beating in front of his wife and kids for it. But the story gets worse, and he ends up in court charged with trying to assault the soldier and take his weapon. With a washing machine on his head....

Most Palestinians are just trying to live their lives, and get through the day with their dignity. I will leave you with two videos. The first is of a pregnant Palestinian woman being turned back at a checkpoint when her husband begs the soldiers to let her through to get to the doctor.

The next shows the harassment of young girls passing through a checkpoint near Bethlehem. And the soldiers are bragging about it!