Monday, June 30, 2008

June blooms

My garden isn't as nice as it has been in previous years. It got too hot this spring, and water has been a problem. And to tell you the truth, I have been neglecting it on purpose for the last year and a half or so because we were talking about moving. When the wall went up and they made a checkpoint on the only way out of our little area, my husband started talking about moving. My kids all thought it was a great idea, especially the older ones, so they wouldn't have to cross the checkpoint every day to go to school. My first reaction was to panic. I didn't want to leave my garden! I mourned my garden as if I had already lost it, planned which plants I would dig up and take with me if our new place had a yard, and which ones I could grow in pots if it didn't. I got used to the idea, I got comfortable with it, and then my husband decided we would stay. He decided we should stay right when I decided I wanted to go. My life feels very confined these days. I hate that checkpoint, I hate that wall. I only leave our little enclave once or twice a month. Anyway, I didn't plant any annuals this year, but there are still some perennials hanging on. There are hollyhocks all over. They are hard to get rid of actually. They self-seed themselves, and they have a foot long taproot that is hard to pull up. They are beautiful, but I wish they would stop growing in weird places like in the crack between my front steps and the sidewalk. I love how the light makes the petals glow.The oleander bushes bloom prolificly. The flowers are large and showy.Even the mess they make on the sidewalk is kind of pretty.
We have several varieties of geraniums.
If (or rather when) they don't get enough water they lose their bottom leaves, but if I cut them back they grow right back.
I love this purple one. We add a leaf from it to freshly made lemonade. It gives it a wonderful taste.
These pretty bells are blooming now too, although this picture is from a couple years back. I have no idea what they are called, but the plant is a succulent and tolerates a dry soil.
I have exactly one carnation blooming now. They are not at all happy to tolerate the lack of water this year. That's an old picture again.
The only wild flowers that bloom at this time are thorny and dangerous looking.That one is pretty weird, isn't it?How did he get in here? This cat follows me all over the yard while I am taking pictures. But he is hard to get a clear picture of, since he is always moving.

10 things I hope for meme

Princess Najeeba tagged me for 2 memes, the six word memoir which I have already done, and the "10 things I hope for" meme. I will do the second one, but I am not going to tag anyone, since a lot of the blogs I read have already done them.
The Rules
1. On your blog, post the Rules & Write your own six word memoir
2. Post it on your blog
3. Link to the person that tagged you in your post
4. Post 10 things you have HOPE for in your life.
5. Tag six more blogs with links
6. And don’t forget to leave a comment on the tagged blogs with an invitation to tag others!
I stuck to personal stuff for my 10 hopes. I wouldn't have thought that I was a very hopeful person at this point in my life, but once I started writing these, I thought of a million.

  • I hope for Allah's mercy, and to enter Jennah and avoid hell fire and the punishment of the grave. I don't deserve any of that, but I try to never lose hope.
  • I hope my children will be good Muslims.
  • I hope everyone I have hurt in any way will forgive me.
  • I hope I will see my mother again. I miss her so badly it hurts.
  • I hope my family will come to understand Islam, and embrace it. There is nothing more important, more real, in my life than my faith, but I have done a lousy job of conveying that message to my family. May Allah forgive me and bless them.
  • I hope my younger daughter will get a good result for her tawjihi exams. (Those are the exams that students here take at the end of high school. It will determine what college she can go to and what majors she will be able to apply for.) She took the last test this morning.
  • I hope that I will one day have an easier, closer relationship with that daughter. I love her as much as my other children, but we have that whole teenage attitude thing going on. Her attitude drives me nuts some times, and I say waspish, unhelpful things that hurt her feelings. It is a vicious cycle I hope we can break soon.
  • I hope I can get through my older daughter's upcoming wedding without hurting her feelings or making a fool of my self. I wept uncontrollably through most of her engagement party, and still feel humiliated by the memory.
  • I hope I will be a good mother-in-law.
  • I hope each of my children will find good wives and husbands who will make them happy and help them be good Muslims. (NO HURRY, THOUGH!)

Any body else want to do this meme? If so, you're tagged!

Sunday, June 29, 2008

ongoing ethnic cleansing in Jerusalem

Please read the story of Mona, a Palestinian from Jerusalem, who recently lost her residency permit to live in the city she and her ancestors were born in.

Saturday, June 28, 2008

June trees and vines

Our house is surrounded by fruit and olive trees and grape vines. I mark the seasons by when they bloom and produce fruit. The askadinia of May are finished now.
At the beginning of June the plums began to ripen.Remember the blossoms in March?Now all the plums are ripe and almost gone. They are delicious.
The pomegranates are getting fat, but it will be a while before they are ripe.
These figs were small at the beginning of the month. I need to walk down to the tree to see how they are now.But what we have the most of is grape vines. (Those are olive trees in the back ground.)Lots of grapes.Lots and lots of grapes!They aren't ripe yet, but soon. My daughter likes to pick them like this and eat them with salt. Some people pickle them.I am still picking loads of leaves for stuffing.
I get tired of making stuffed grape leaves, because my hands are too slow, but I don't get tired of looking at the leaves and the way the light reflects and filters through them.And it is nice to be under the leaves because the sun is too hot lately.My daughter took this last picture a couple years ago.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

West Bank poverty makes boys work

I saw this article from the Philadelphia Enquirer posted on Annie's Letters.

West Bank poverty makes boys work

RAMALLAH, West Bank - Deep in the mechanic's pit, 12-year-old Jihad Robin found refuge, secretly smoking cigarettes on a break from his job in a car-repair shop.

He left school at age 9 when teachers told him that because he couldn't read, he would have to fall back two grades. His parents, unable to make ends meet, forced him to go to work.

The West Bank has high unemployment, with the Palestinian economy still struggling from fighting with Israel and restrictions on travel because of security checkpoints that Israel says are needed to stop suicide bombers.

So stories like Jihad's are common. Palestinian government regulations set the minimum working age at 15, but the law is not enforced. The most recent available figures show that about 35,000 children ages 15 or younger worked full time in 2006, up from 18,000 in 2004, said Mamoun Eid, an official in the Palestinian Labor Ministry.

Still, West Bankers say the problem is less acute than in some poor countries, because Palestinian parents put a high premium on keeping their children in school.

Jihad works nine hours a day, six days a week at the garage outside the city of Ramallah. He lifts batteries and heavy parts, and sometimes fixes electrical systems.

"I prefer the younger ones," said the boss, who would give his name only as Abu Nidal in case the publicity provoked a crackdown on hiring minors. "They are smarter, and they learn most quickly. And they cost less." Jihad's daily wage of $9 is a third of what his adult coworkers make.

In a nearby workshop, blacksmith Tayseer Qayem employs 15-year-old Mansour Farhat, who left school in third grade. Qayem, 29, said that he opposed child labor in principle and that he hired Mansour to keep him off the streets and out of trouble.

Like many of the children who work in the garages, Jihad hopes one day to own his own.

That's what his employer did, starting work at age 10 and working his way up.

Jihad's bigger dream is to become a pilot and "fly to New York," he says. "Sometimes I get so tired - it's so hot and the stuff I carry is so heavy."

He steals or mooches cigarettes for his breaks, trying not to be seen. "If they catch me, they will take me to my father who will beat me for smoking," he said. After work, he goes home to play hide-and-seek with neighborhood friends.

Other children in the Ramallah area work collecting scrap metal, scavenging through garbage, delivering groceries to homes, and peddling gum, tissues and pens to motorists at intersections.

In another Ramallah auto shop, 16-year-old Awwad Awwad fixed the wheels of an orange Daewoo. He has had the job for two years. His face smeared with grease, he says the job exhausts him, but adds proudly: "I feel like a man, not like a child."

more about the destruction of Beit Hanina's olive groves

This is the only other mention I found online of the destruction yesterday in Beit Hanina. I wish there were more pictures, but the article says that the Israelis have declared it a closed military zone to keep people out.

[ 23/06/2008 - 05:04 PM ]

OCCUPIED JERUSALEM, (PIC)-- Israeli occupation authority's bulldozers on Monday morning started destroying thousands of dunums of Palestinian lands in Beit Hanina village in occupied Jerusalem.

Saleh Da'ajna, head of the village's municipal council, said that the IOA bulldozers were paving the lands for construction of the separation wall.

He pointed out in a statement to the PIC reporter that the destruction was going on in the southern area of the village.

Da'ajna said that the Israeli occupation forces were blocking village inhabitants from approaching their lands in the area after it was declared a closed military zone.

The municipal council announced that the separation wall seized 2,000 dunums of village lands in the first phase and the new construction would confiscate 5,500 dunums more.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Israeli army uproots 500-year-old olive grove in Beit Hanina near Jerusalem

Olive Harvest, Tell, Palestine

Source Uploaded by Steph PS on 7 Jun 07, 2.10PM PDT.

A friend called me a couple days ago and told me that the Israelis were going to cut down or remove some groves of olive trees in Beit Hanina to make way for the wall. Some of the trees were her father's. I bought oil from them just last fall. We talked about going over there to take some pictures and I looked around online to see if there was anything about a protest. Unfortunately I just read that they already cut them down this morning. Imagine killing 500 year old trees to put up that horrible wall. Here is the article from Ma'an News Agency.

Jerusalem – Ma'an - Israeli army bulldozers uprooted more than two hundred olive trees in Beit Hanina north of Jerusalem on Monday morning amid resistance by Fatah activists and other national forces.

Spokesman for the leadership of the Fatah movement in the territory of Jerusalem Dimitri Diliani said that Israeli soldiers went into the valley in the southern town of Beit Hanina and razed the 500-year-old olive grove.

He added that Fatah activists in cooperation with other national forces tried to stop them.

He said that the Israeli authorities aim is to confiscate the lands surrounding Beit Hanina as part of their policy to pressure the Arab community of Jerusalem and its surroundings.

Diliani added that a sit in will be staged in Beit Hanina on Monday afternoon in protest at the land confiscation. A peaceful protest is also due to take place on Friday to demonstrate against Israeli practices against the residents of the town.

The secretary of the Fatah movement in Beit Hanina, Muhammad Hamed Matur, said that Israeli forces have used excessive force against citizens who are defending their land.

Hatem Gharably, a member of the Fatah movement, pointed out that the Israeli aithorities have confiscated two-thirds of the town's land and are now trying to take over the remainder.

Gharably added that the townspeople are determined to oppose such Israeli practices. He appealed to the international community to take on its responsibilities in the defense of the citizens and their property.

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

gas prices!

You think prices are high where you live? Laila from Raising Yousuf wrote today about the price of gasoline in Gaza being about $35US per gallon, 600 Shekels per 20 liters! That is if you can get it at all. Shameful, shameful, shameful. How can people live their comfortable lives and support Israel unconditionally while they strangle life in Gaza. The BBC is reporting this morning that Israel and Hamas have agreed to a cease fire starting Thursday. Let's pray it works.

Tuesday, June 17, 2008


I went to visit my sister-in-law a few days ago, and snapped a few pix I wanted to share. She has a pretty view of the local mosque from her front yard.
Behind the house there is a field where they had just harvested grain. I don't know if it was barley or wheat, but I know they grow both in this area. My husband brought me a sack of freshly ground barley last week, which I have been adding to my bread recipe. It makes the bread a bit heavy, brown and flavorful. I wish I could have taken better pictures, but when you are visiting someone, it's not nice to wonder off taking pictures of the neighborhood. If you look carefully, you can see some sheep in the field, eating what was left. The bags are full of grain. There were a couple of horses wandering around too, and even a camel, but they left before I could excuse my self to go take the pictures.
The biggest problem was that it was almost maghrib (sunset) and the area I wanted to shoot was due west.
Maybe I will invite my self over one morning to get a better picture.
The farmer drove his car around after the sun went behind the hill, gathering the grain.
A few days before, I had visited a friend that lives in a neighborhood that has been cut up by the wall.
Can you see the truck with the furniture below? He is selling the furniture as he drives through the neighborhood, calling out over a loudspeaker as he drives along. I don't know who buys their furniture off of the back of a truck. They are often the gaudiest kinds. Some places they sell vegetables that way, and there are trucks that go around picking up empty gas cylinders to refill. There even used to be a man in our neighborhood who sold carpets in the street, but he carried them on his shoulders and walked up and down the hills with them. Now that is a tough job.

Monday, June 16, 2008

a common caper

The first time I ever saw these flowers was when we moved into the house we live in now. They grow wild in a couple places against the walls of the house, and along the driveway. They have vicious, curved thorns like tiny cat's claws, that grab on to your clothes and skin if you brush too close to them. The thorns are so sharp they will even go through a leather glove. But the plant it self is beautiful, with purple stems and neat green leaves. The flowers are spectacular. My husband and in-laws were always asking me why I didn't cut them down, but most of the time I let them grow because they are so beautiful. And because every time I did try to cut them down I got stabbed a few times. There is one bush that is so big that it practically takes over one section of the walkway at the back of our house, so I have to cut it down occasionally so that people can get past it without getting snagged. Last fall, after I cut it back and got a few thorns in my hands, I decided to kill that one. Fat chance! I poured a couple tea pots full of boiling water into the crack where it's roots grow between the house and the sidewalk. This spring it came back as if nothing had happened! They are tough plants. No matter how many times I cut them to the ground, they just come back. And they seem to only grow next to rocks. I don't think I have ever seen one growing in open soil, they are always up against or between rocks and walls. There is even one growing out of a wall beside my front door. I think it has its roots into the well that is under the front veranda. I have been trying to get rid of that thing for nearly 10 years. A few months ago I downloaded the PDF version of The Subjective Atlas of Palestine, and finally learned its name. It is called a Common Caper! This is the plant whose buds are pickled and sold in jars. I have never had capers before. You can read all about them on Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages or this page. And if you like to cook, especially if you sometimes learn recipes with the names in languages other than English, you should check out Gernot Katzer's Spice Pages and bookmark it. He has a page for every herb or spice I have ever heard of plus lots I never heard of, and each one has a detailed description, pictures of the plant and the name in many languages. And you can search according to a phonetic spelling of the Arabic name.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Elderly couple beaten by settlers

Today the BBC website had an article about an elderly Palestinian couple and their nephew from the village of Susiya south of Hebron being beaten by settlers. Accompanying the article is a bit of video showing the beginning of the attack. It is not a great video, but it is shocking to see strong young men, faces covered and wielding bats, base enough to beat a 70 year old man and a 68 year old woman. They were attacked for grazing their goats too close to an Israeli settlement. It is a shame that the BBC didn't mention that the family has papers to show they own the land or that they are living in tents because their homes have been bulldozed repeatedly, according to joy_in_palestine's account.

Friday, June 6, 2008

Kaffiyehs, caps and inadequate coverage

I get sick of people trying to tell me what "my" symbols and choices "really mean." First you have all these people telling me that my hijab is a symbol of oppression, when I not only willingly chose it but had to fight for the right to wear it. Now someone is trying to convince the world that everyone that wears a keffiyeh is showing support for terrorism. I have been amazed this week to see all the coverage in the media and blogs about Rachael Ray wearing a fake keffiyeh in a Dunkin Donuts ad, and their subsequent pulling of the ad.

Personally, I feel a little sorry for Dunkin Donuts. The last thing any company would want to do is make a political statement that will adversely affect their sales. They had to decide whom they stood to lose more from, the radical Christian Zionists or the pro-Palestinian people. It's a lose-lose situation for them. It's the people like Michelle Malkin et al who offend me, for trying to equate every expression of Palestinian nationalism as a threat to world peace. But as much as I would have loved DD to have stood against the pressure and resist this stupidity, I am not surprised they decided to try to cut and run.

Now there is a plan to boycott Dunkin Donuts. I understand the desire to "teach them a lesson" with the boycott, but it is more like an attempt to punish rather than an attempt to teach. And people usually resent those who try to punish them for their unintentional mistakes. IMHO I think more would have been accomplished by publishing some fact sheets about Palestinian culture and history, and mailing them to members of the DD board and executives and handing them to the DD employees while buying some donuts! How do you expect people to respect and sympathize with you when you are busy threatening their livelihood? We are never going to be able to beat the world into submission, but we can show them reality and appeal to their consciences.

The kafiyya has been used as a symbol of Palestinian national pride and resistance for years, but what I find most ironic is that these days in Palestine, it seems to be becoming a symbol of Fatah. My son used to wear one when the winter was cold, but this year he refused to because people on campus see it as a sign of support for Fatah and Mahmood Abbas against Hamas. You know, the guys American and Israel see as the "good Palestinians" the "partners in peace." The ones that were supposed to win the election. (My son, like DD, would prefer not to make any political statements with his clothes. I think he hates all the politicians equally.) Actually, I commented to my family that when I was in Ramallah one cold day last winter, I thought there was a lot less men with kafiyyas around. It used to be that all the older men wore them when it was cold. They weren't amazed by my brilliant powers of observation, but whatever.

You know the folks the US and Israel consider the big, bad, boogie men terrorists? Yes, the Hamas followers. Do you ever see those guys wearing keffiyehs at their rallys? No, those guys wear green baseball caps.Even the women sometimes wear green baseball caps.
They look just like the John Deere hat my Gran'pap used to wear sometimes. Wait! You don't think he was secretly a Hamas supporter?
And these kids, what other reason could they have for wearing green hats in a Saint Patty's day parade?
Uploaded by P.J.S. on 5 Aug 07, 3.20PM PDT.
And the Okland A's better change their away uniform caps before Michelle Malkin decides they are secretly supporting Hamas.
(Hey, John Deere folks, don't be mad at me. I am actually thinking of getting the game in the picture above for my son who loves every sim and tycoon type game.)

Actually the thing that pisses me off the most about this whole business is how much publicity it is getting. Have you heard of the situation of the Hebron orphanages and schools that Israel is trying to shut down? No? Because it is getting very little press, but it is much more serious. There is an Islamic charity in Hebron (al Khalil) that was founded before Hamas, but the Israelis say it is a "Hamas charity." This charity runs 2 orphanages, 3 schools, a library and it has commercial properties to support the schools and charities including a couple bakeries and a dairy. The Israeli authorities say they don't want Palestinians to be "grateful" to Hamas for providing these important services, so they have issued orders to close them down and evict all the people and businesses. To top it all off, they say they have a right to confiscate all of the property! They have shut down the bakeries and some of the businesses, who rented from the
charity. They raided the sewing workshop connected to the girls' orphanage at 1 AM, and stole the sewing machines, fabric and supplies. They cut up the tables to get them out the door. They even took the silverware from the kitchen! Some members of the Christian Peacemakers Team in Hebron have been staying in the orphanage and they filmed the raid. They are trying to prevent the orphans from being thrown out on the street. Seriously, how do the Israelis think this will make them more secure? Won't the kids who go through this trauma be **more likely** to be pushed into violent resistance?

The only place I have seen this covered in the mainstream media is one report on a BBC domestic radio station. There is nothing about it in print on their website that I saw or on the World Service (the international radio). You can hear the report here or go to for more info.

Isn't this the sort of thing that we should all be blogging about????

It's a sad world. Innocent kids are going hungry in Gaza, sitting without lights and being denied health care. Orphans in Hebron are at risk of losing the roof over their heads and the food on their tables. But everyone is in an uproar about Rachael Ray's paisley scarf.