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.