Friday, March 31, 2006
The Lebanese singer Nancy Ajram defends herself and says that nude pictures circulating on mobile phones are doctored and not hers. The pictures were supposedly taken stealthily and show a naked Ajram in a health club doing some "feminine business."
She is probably telling the truth, but that is not the issue.
Obviously, this doctored porn is seen by those who are consuming it as an extension of the softer porn of some of the video clips. In both cases, the audience is voyeuristicly consuming the singer's body. Many of the video clips invite the audience into the private world of the woman: so we see her in her bedroom and bathroom (Ajram's Enta Eh" clip is an example). Beds and shower scenes are almost cliches in many of the clips. And more recently the "call girl" motif, as represented by the woman in limo (see Nadina and Hayfa). So for some it's a logical conclusion to want to spy on the singer in her most intimate moments: they've been invited to do that before.
What I find funny is the formal Arabic language in which this article is written: I doubt that Nancy would understand half the things she'd supposedly said.
The Jewish wife, the Palestinian husband, and the wall.
The couple, Jasmine and Ossama, are unable to live together because she's not allowed in Ramallah and he is not allowed in Jerusalem, according to laws of the Israeli state. The Palestinians have no say in the matter, absolutely none, so let no one try to spin this as "cultural clash" or "Romeo and Juliet." It's actually more like Kafka's The Trial.
See here for complete story.
For me this is one more proof that Palestinians are the foremost victims of these guns. They make for dramatic television shots and martyrs posters. They are also killing us.
Reporting the news, the Palestinan daily Al Ayyam superflously reminds its readers that the Aqsa Brigades belong to Fateh. Really? Did any of the readers of that newspaper need a reminder of this fact? Or maybe it's the paper's way of making sure that credit is given where credit is due. One Fateh; Zero Hamas.
But again maybe now we have new readers who need to be enlightened in the far corners of Asia and Africa thanks to Mahmoud al Zahhar's adventures.
The Lebanese president himself threatened his Minister of Interior, whose name happened to be Ahmad Fatfat, that he's going to "fatfetu", which translates into "break him up into little pieces" or smashes him into smithereens. You cas say with a name like that, Mr. Fatfat had asked for it.
But, wait, that was a study of prayer by strangers.
Now, they will conduct another expensive study to show the effect, if any, personal prayer has on health.
Then, later, we will need a study to show the effect of paryer by friends and family.
And after that we must conduct a study on the effect of payer by ex-spouses and ex-in-laws.
Come to think of it, the possibilities for this kind of research are endless. I think I'm changing fields.
By the way, these studies are not conducted in Iran. They are American studies by American researchers spending American money on American prayer.
Thursday, March 30, 2006
For a change, some good news out of Iraq. Jill Carroll, kidnapped American free lance journalist, was released today. I'm happy she's safe. One wishes that the same attention her case got will be given to all who are kidnapped in Iraq--both Iraqis and foreigners. But that is called idealism--I know.
The New York Times is always fashion conscious, which is why they feel it is important to inform the reader right at the top of their article on Carroll's release that she was "wearing gray Arab robes and headdress." But according to The Washington Post, Carroll was : "Clad in traditional Muslim women's garb, a light gray and blue abaya and headscarf." So was it "gray" or "light gray and blue"?
Many are from An Najah University in Nablus and the Islamic University in Gaza. In the not so long ago days of secular nationalism, Birzeit University supplied the majority of leaders.
The minister of women's Affairs, Maryam Saleh, has a PhD in Islamic Shree'a from Umm al Quara University in Saudi Arabia.
Wednesday, March 29, 2006
He also threatened discovering South America and the remotest parts of Asia.
You can say what you want about the new Hamas government, but one thing you can't accuse this foreign minister of being is provincial.
This is really no news. The news is the response of Al Arabeya's readers. They freaked out. (in Arabic)
Tuesday, March 28, 2006
Marcel Khaliefeh, the Lebanese singer, on Mahmoud Darwish's poetry:
لشعر محمود درويش مذاق خاص، فهو مرتبط بذلك العالم المسور بالدمار وأمل القيامة الأخضر وفي شعره دعوة منعشة إلى الحياة. قصائد درويش بشوشة وفرحة كالنهار الذي ننتظر قدومه ومليئة بالأمل كالساعة التي لم نعشها بعد.
والحزن الواضح النبرة أحياناً خلق صلة بشرية حميمة وتعاطفاً إنسانياً بالأشياء والرموز. مع شعر محمود درويش تعرفت على نفسي كفرد لي أهوائي ونوازعي ووساوسي وحاجاتي الملحة للحرية وللخبز وللورد ولقول الأنا دون خجل.
محمود درويش يحفر الصخر بأظافره حتى الوجع الوحشي كي يجد القصيدة الطازجة دائماً.
He goes on to say that "Darwish's poetry was written so I can sing it." We will let this narcissitic moment pass since some of Marcel's most beautiful songs are poems written by Darwish. "Ommi," "Rita," "Yusuf" (which landed him in Lebanese court for blasphemy" and "Promises from the Storm" are among the most well known.
I don't listen to Marcel often these days: some of his songs have painful associations and also I think I overdosed on him growing up in the West Bank. There was a time when I only listened to him and Fairuz. I mean only and always. He was everywhere I went: street, bus, university cafeteria, hairdresser, and rallies. But never on TV or Radio. He was the ever absent present.
I got a few chances to see him in concert in the US: these were awsome events, when we came alive for a couple of hours. I also attended his "Jadal" concert, when he only played Oud and wanted the audience to sit and listen quietly and politely. We sat and listened and were quiet and polite. It was a different kind of event, and emotionally the earlier rowdy concerts were more memorable. Marcel is a good teacher: I translated for him when he gave a talk to Music students at Boston. He also has a good sense of humor.
Monday, March 27, 2006
"The most significant and dramatic consequences of the new Hamas government are internal. Hamas is an offshoot of the Muslim Brotherhood movement that usually prioritizes the need to change the mentality, ideology, way of thinking and way of life of individuals, communities and society at large. Hamas has always believed that the successful pursuit of national aspirations can only be undertaken once a "real Islamic society" is in place.
For those many Palestinians who are ideologically secular and/or politically in favor of a solution based on two states in accordance with international legality, the political consequences of the Hamas government are not the main problem. An anti-peace process government in Israel has been firmly in place for the past several years, so there is nothing to lose on that front. What is at stake is the shape and direction of Palestinian society.
That fear is only magnified by the fact that all non-Palestinian anti-Hamas forces are concerned primarily with the security issue. This in turn gives Hamas the leverage to make a trade-off whereby it gives concessions on security and politics in order to have free reign on the social agenda."
But I think al Khatib's language reveals another, yet related, problem: note how he opposes the "political" to the "social." The Islamists are the only ones who seem to think of the "political" in a comprehensive way. For them, the woman's question or the kind of education you have or TV shows you make are political questions and they do give them the priority they deserve. Other groups define the "political" more narrowly; it's what relates to "governing." They relegate issues like women's rights, "mentalities," and life style to the "social" and therefore, less pressing. As a consequence, the Islamists have a free reign to talk "cultural politics" because the others are busy with "politics" as usual.
Here is a different film about the wall. I posted it on an earlier version of this blog. Here it is again.
Speaking of Elissa, her new CD is predictable: she still wants to be the Queen of Romance. As a result the songs sound very similar. I wish she has more of a sense of humor to mix things up. I do like two though: "Kermalak" (For You) is one and "Ta3a" (Come) is another.
She was fired. And she just lost her law suit.
Sunday, March 26, 2006
So, sorry, I won't be attending this funeral today. Instead, I'll finish reading my students' papers then drive my son to his Arabic lesson.
Feminism will only die when gender justice has been achieved. Even then we won't go to any funerals. We'll go dancing instead. I look forward to that.
Morcus says: "I'm a woman, I'm a feminist, I am lesbian AND I am against the occupation and for non violence resistance". Peace is possible only when everybody has basic human rights, when there is no racism, homophobia, abuse or rape of children and women.... War is an extreme extension of violence against children, women, people who are “different”.... We only have peace when all suspression stops."
The members are Palestinian women in Israel and in the West Bank and Gaza.
Felipa de Souza was a 16th century Brizilian woman who was tortured under the inquisition for admitting her love for another woman.
I'm not sure that Palestinian lesbians need official "visibility" at this point, since such visibility without laying the ground for it may lead to prosecution rather than empowerment. I feel in the West Bank and Gaza at least, Palestinian lesbians should also work through the existing women's groups since those groups can provide them some cover. I realize that these groups themeselves can be homophobic, but they are more likely to be accepting than the general public. I do hear from friends that there is a lesbian "community" in Ramallah these days. I'm assuming it's low profile.
Saturday, March 25, 2006
I'm really glad to see that Egypt has overcome all its problems and is now focusing on the enemy within, represented by Enas al Deghedi, Yusra, Haifa, and Jad Shweiri.
While I find some of the stuff being produced these days silly, vulgar, tasteless, and mysogynistic, I'm more alarmed by the anti-nudity crusaders who want to play moral police. No thanks. I take Dana and Marwa and Najla, and good old Jad any time of the day over these aspiring Ayatollahs. I reserve the right to satirize them but not to criminalize them.
And while we are on this topic, I have an announcement to make:
Dana has struck again! With the help of her first director Jad Sawaya (who has mastered all visual soft pron cliches on the market, even including a nurse outfit. Wow!) I must confess that I may have been too dismissive of her: in addition to her talents as a silicon free singer, dancer, stripper, I have to add "writer": she wrote the words to this song. Need I say more?
One of the darkest books I've read recently is Bitter Fruit, a South African novel by Achmat Dangor. It centers on the rape of the main female character by a white policeman during apartheid. The incident continues to haunt her in the post apartheid era and eventually leads to the disintegration of the whole family. Rape in the book, in light of the statistics about rape now and the use of rape during apartheid, is certainly more than a metaphor for the violence of the past era.
The preferred genre is, of course, the "life narrative": western readers, it seems, are more curious than curious George to peep behind the veil (or the Burka, or Abaya, or Jilbab, or Niqab...same thing) to catch a glimpse of Muslim women in their natural habitat. It's a form of porn, mascarading as "interest" in other people's cultures. And just like with the interest in "amature" porn trends these days, the less professional the Muslim performer, the better. Any Muslim woman publishing in the West risks entering this Islamic-focused porn industry.
Writers don't all have the same attitude: there are those who relish being porn stars and perform their scripted roles to the hilt (the infamous Norma Khouri is a good example of this type). And there are those who are aware of the risks and put up a fight to preserve their dignity. I just read an essay by a Muslim friend of mine who is publishing a novel and who is rightly worried about what will happen to her novel once it comes out. She details in the essay her battles with the agent and the publisher who wanted to frame and manipulate the book to fit in the audience desire for Muslim sex and cultural gore. She kicked and screamed; she consulted her lawyer; she threatened. Still, she had limited control.
I have a feeling tht Masuda Sultan (who I don't know) is trying to do something similar in publicizing her book. But note how the New York Times article frames her book: the first three paragraphs are typical of this kind of writing. Regardless of what Sultan wrote about, the reviewer, blurbers, interviewers etc. will highlight certain things about her book (in this case it seems to be arranged marriage), isolate them, repeat them often, and ignore the context in which they are said. At the end of the day, Masuada will have a hard time recognizing the book she wrote. Her book will end up being about a Muslim woman victimized by arranged marriage, no matter how hard she will protest that she, actually, is in favor of arranged marriage. Readers will forget that she's a Harvard graduate and will remember her as a victim of Islam.
Anyway, I co-edited a whole book about this politics of reception called Going Global: The Transnational Reception of Third World Women Writers. I have a feeling a second volume is in order. This is a short piece I wrote in the past century about the subject.
This article makes no mention of the thousands of Palestinians who have been suffering from this State policy for decades: we grew up hearing about the family re-unification nightmares. But because it happened that the protaginists in this case are more "politicogenic" we are invited to sympathesize with them: she is Jewish; he is an apolitical Palestinian. Both would rather live in a bubble if they could, but the State of Israel wouldn't let them. Hence, the drama.
Yet, the story does highlight the Kafkaesque side of the State of Israel.
"Palestinians, that's right PALESTINIANS, have hit the hip-hop scene en-masse; even coming to the screen with a soon-to-be-released documentary entitled "Slingshot Hip Hop". In light of this fact, a "Free the P" mixtape was put together by rap group the Philistines, including artists from New York to the Gaza Strip putting down track after track of hard-hitting lyricism, whether through spoken word or rhymes a la rap."
Listen to tracks from "Free the P" here.
View trailer for "Slingshot Hip Hop" here.
Friday, March 24, 2006
The poll found that more than two-thirds of Jews would refuse to live in the same building as an Arab. Nearly half would not allow an Arab in their home and 41% want segregation of entertainment facilities.
The survey also found 40% of Israel's Jews believe "the state needs to support the emigration of Arab citizens", a policy advocated by some far-right parties in the run-up to next week's general election."
What a name!! What were her parents thinking? A prideful name. Defiant. Tough. I wonder if her name killed her. Maybe if they called her something else, somethign lighter (like Samar, Farah, even Hana) she would be still alive today. I wonder.
A lullaby for Akaber.
But she lost.
I posted on Shabina's case earlier and I have to admit that I still don't have much sympathy with her. The school seems to have offered a reasonable uniform that apparently accommodates most Muslim students at the school. But it wasn't good enough for Shabina, who preferred to lose two years of schooling rather than compromise. Foolish girl. I wish she'd use her fighting spirits for a worthier cause.
Al Bardaweel, a witty guy, went on to tell the following story: "The bus stopped in the middle of the road to lift a fat woman, whose flesh was bursting out of her tight clothes in all directions and her aggressive hair was poking the faces of other women like feathers of a ???" (what is "Nees" in English?)
I guess this is what Hamas means by "guiding" women towards "wholesomeness": use our media to dehumanize unveiled women, violate their bodies with words, make fun of them till they are "guided" to the right way.
I'm glad that this woman, Feryal Salem, chose to fight back.
ولم يقف الامر عند هذا الحد بل تجاوز البردويل هذا الموقف ليتناول اموراً شخصية في مقالته بعنوان "المرأة... من هي" في صحيف.
انه يقول "كانت الحافلة قد توقفت في منتصف الطريق لتحمل امرأة بدينة تكاد البدانة تخرج من ملابسها المطاطة في كل اتجاه ويكاد شعرها المتحفز ان ينطلق في وجوه النساء كريش النيص".
Sahar Khalifeh's novel Al Mirath has been translated into English by Aida Bamyeh and is now available as The Inheritance. First published in 1997, it is Khalifeh's disillusioned take on post-Oslo Palestine. I've written on the novel in my essay "Between Complicity and Subversion: Body Politics in Palestinian National Narrative." (SAQ 102:4, Fall 2003). Here's an excerpt:
"Khalifeh here is less optimistic about the
redemptive powers of nationalism than she was in Bab el-Saha.
Set at the end of the intifada and during the early years of the Palestinian National Authority, the novel is crowded with defeated,embittered, and disillusioned men and women.
Prominent among them is Mazen, the one-time revolutionary fighter and leader in Lebanon. Here he is a pathetically narcissistic figure, full of self-pity, living on his memories of the glorious past in Beirut, and crying over his lost love for Salma, the woman-as-revolution. Alongwith these psychological scars, he is physically scarred: a bomb exploded and left him with a limp....
Fitna is the much younger second wife of a dying patriarch. Since her husband has only one daughter and no sons, and since she could not get pregnant during their marriage, she devises a plan to have a male son who will inherit his father’s property and money. Fitna gets pregnant through artificial insemination done at Hadasa, an Israeli hospital in Jerusalem.The Jewish doctor assures her that she will have a boy...
While Fitna is not a particularly sympathetic character, we understand her predicament. She, too, Khalifeh shows, is a victim of a patriarchal society that values women for their abilities to reproduce men.
The novel offers a sharp feminist critique of the patriarchal Palestinian society that idealizes hollow men like Mazen and pushes women like Fitna to extreme measures to get a male child. But this critique ... is contained by a nationalist ideology that views victory and defeat in terms of men’s and women’s bodies.What Khalifeh does in Al-Mirath in 1997 is what Kanafani did in Men in the Sun in 1962—that is, figuring Palestinian defeat through sexuality. Khalifeh’s men in the novel are either sexually impotent, physically repulsive, or, like Mazen, symbolically castrated. The women’s bodies are sexually frustrated, exploited, or, in the case of Fitna, penetrated by the enemy."
Friday, March 17, 2006
"Hamas leader and Palestinian prime minister-designate Ismail Haniyeh told a U.S. television station Thursday that he has never personally ordered a terrorist action against Israel and that he hopes to ultimately reach a peace deal with Israel.
`I`ve never sent anyone on a suicide mission,` he told CBS News. `If one of my sons came to me and asked me that, I wouldn`t even consider giving him my blessing.`"
Even if they were criminals and collaborators, it's still the occupier's shame.
Why not get the whole package? Move south and occupy Mexico.
Thursday, March 16, 2006
Not true. See this poll.
He tries to alley fears about Hamas's attitude to women:
"For example, we believe that all women have rights in terms of education, work, choice in marriage and political participation. These are guaranteed by preserving the status of women and their privacy, and not allowing them to be exploited or harmed. We do not seek forcefully to restrict women to a certain dress code, but instead try and guide them to that which would preserve their wholesomeness."
"preserving the status of women and their privacy" is code for there are certain jobs and academic fields more "suited" to women. It also means that jobs that encourage mixing of the sexes will be discouraged because that would be a violation of women's privacy.
"Not allowing them to be exploited or harmed": who decides what is exploitative and harmful for women? Women do not need "protection"; they demand "rights" as full and autonomous citizens of the state. They are not children that need to be "protected" from what someone decide is harmful for them.
No dress code will be imposed, but women will be "guided." Again, as if they are not agents in their own right. What are "wholesome" women anyway? Vegetarians? Virgins? And who are the "unwholesome" women exactly? Or is this another example of Hamas's "constructive ambiguity"?
Interesting that he doesn't mention "inheritance" in his list of "rights."
The vision presented above differs only from Taliban's view of women. And except for the part about "political participation," and not forcing the veil (for now) it hardly jars with the Wahhabi perspective. Is this the best that the Palestinian Islamists have to offer?
Well, not good enough.
It doesn't shame Palestinian mothers, wives, and daughters to see their men stripped naked in front of Israeli guns pointed at their chests.
It does'nt shame Palestinian children to see their daddies, big brothers, and neighbors stripped naked among the rubble of their destroyed prison.
There is no shame in being freightened. No shame in bodies, young and old, exposing their fragility. No shame in wanting to live.
There is no shame in not having a military uniform on. The man pointing the gun in your face and asking you to "strip or die" is wearing a military uniform. What good has that done him?
But there is shame in the accusing words: "they should have fought!" "they should have died!" "they should have not been there!" "how dare those naked men shame us!"
There is shame in the gaze of an indifferent world.
There is shame in the sigh of relief the Israeli man and woman breathed.
There is shame, so much shame, in the words "strip or die" yelled through megaphones at besieged men.
When the Israeli occupation degrades the Palestinians, the Palestinians should blush, for shame, at what man has done to man.
They need to make up their mind: were these binding agreements or weren't they? This inconsistency shows that not only the PA is trapped, but all Palestinian groups. Why can't they just see that and stop lashing at each other? Hamas, too, is trapped: all its leaders could do is denouce and call on the Arabs and the UN to interfer. Sounds familiar, no? (Arabic)
This is from the New York Times editorial, an editorial that rightly blames the British and Americans for pulling out the monitors the way they did.
According to the Palestinian daily Al Ayyam, the monitors said they were going to fix their car when they left.
Well, for some it's open season on the PA, accusing Abbas of knowing and of lying. I disagree. If the PA is guilty of something, it's the usual thing: being too weak and too ineffective. The PA is always several steps behind the Israelis. We can fault them for not seeing that the threat from the monitors to withdraw was more real this time than before and for not giving the issue high priority. What seems to have happened is that they thought this is another letter of complaint that they need to talk to the monitors about. The letter said "We will withdraw IF these complaints are not addressed." But they were given no time to address them, which shows that the letter is a mere fig leaf ...The PA loses no matter what. This is why some Fateh members are calling on Abbas to dissolve the PA. (in Arabic)
There is an Arab proverb that says: "Shu elli jabrak 3al murr? Elli amar mennu" [I'm not good at translation proverbs, but here's an approximation: What forces you to put up with /swallow this bitterness? That which is even more bitter."
Suheir Hammad, Poetry, 20 March 2003
On the brink of
tears, sanity and war,
I feel powerless, hope
less and less than alive.
What do we tell young
people? How do we say, "...your
voice means nothing to those
who think life is about power
over others and greed?" And where
is it safe to think for yourself and try
real hard to not want to hurt nobody?
I don't want to hurt nobody, God knows.
In Iraq, children are looking towards
the night sky with fear, as though
there were no stars, only bombs in the cosmos.
And they are afraid of the earth because
they can count the cancers in their
hoods now, where once there were none.
And how do I tell American youth
that popular culture means nothing to
justice and everything to keeping them
numb to the world? And how do I
scream when I have no voice left?
And who will answer these questions for me?
Not Rachel Corrie. She is dead.
And no matter what any army says,
I have seen the photos
and that woman was wearing orange,
bright and alive one minute and dying
under rubble the next. Even I, it seems, have
developed a callousness to the deaths of
Palestinians, because the murder of this white
girl from Olympia, Washington has
my heart breaking and my blood faint.
Something like ten Palestinians have been killed since
yesterday, when a Caterpillar bulldozer driven
by a man demolished the home that was her body.
If anyone knows her family, please relay
to them my grief and my sorrow.
You can still find her phone number
on the Internet for meetings and organizing. You
can still read her accounts of being in Palestine.
She was a good writer.
There are people who are writing,
"She should not have been there in the first place"
Now she is dead.
Now she is dead.
Now she is dead.
What do I tell young people about non-violence when they can see
how even orange bright and megaphone loud
and cameras and US citizenship will
not stop your murder?
I recall the days black boys were lynched
and dismembered for looking at white women,
now tax dollars are crushing dissent
wherever it blooms.
Human shields for human targets.
There are words I am taking back. I reclaim them
and will no longer allow anyone to dictate my language.
There is no "right wing" a wing is of nature, and murder
may be human, but it is not natural,
even if animals eat each other,
is that what we are then, animals?
If so, claim it, motherfucker.
There is no "mother of all bombs".
Blair, Sharon, Bush, all have
mothers and no matter what they do, there is
something they love.
White power, oil, the need to be God's
only chosen, whatever, but they love something, because
their mothers loved them.
A bomb loves nothing, has no mother and
is not about life.
There is no mother of all bombs,
only more mankind self-destruction.
There is no safety in being a bully. I know
because I have been bullied and I know now,
with my first grey hair and all, that authentic
power is not about others but about self.
This is not a poem. This is not a threat.
This is a promise.
God has a better imagination
than all of us combined and I do not
know what form retribution will take, but
I have seen karma happen and it will
again, and when it does I will chant
the names of the innocent and I will stand
with those who have kept their hands clean of blood
and their hearts clear of hate.
It is hard not to hate right now. But I
have been loved, I have loved and I know
that those who de-humanize their enemy are
only doing so to themselves.
Peace work is justice work is God's work.
Rachel Corrie wrote,
"Nevertheless, I think about the fact that no
amount of reading, attendance at conferences,
documentary viewing and word of mouth could have
prepared me for the reality of the situation here.
You just can't imagine it unless you see it, and even
then you are always well aware that your experience
is not at all the reality: what with the difficulties the
Israeli Army would face if they shot an unarmed US
citizen, and with the fact that I have money to buy water
when the army destroys wells, and, of course, the fact
that I have the option of leaving. Nobody in my family
has been shot, driving in their car, by a rocket launcher
from a tower at the end of a major street in my hometown.
I have a home. I am allowed to go see the ocean."
She is dead now. And the ocean
will miss her gaze. Palestine will miss
her heart, but mostly her family will
miss her breath.
And the president of the United States of America
(when did that happen again?) has all
but declared war on Iraq, and so more deaths are
What do I tell young people about any thing?
Especially humanity and morality.
Slightly a month before her murder Rachel wrote home,
"Many people want their voices to be heard, and I
think we need to use some of our privilege as
internationals to get those voices heard directly in
the US, rather than through the filter of well-meaning
internationals such as myself. I am just beginning to
learn, from what I expect to be a very intense tutelage,
about the ability of people to organize against all odds,
and to resist against all odds."
More words I reclaim: Hero, Brave, Soldier.
This young woman did the un-thinkable,
she did not blink, did not half-step, did not back
down in the face of death. What greater odds than
one lone female frame against a destructive
What greater story to tell?
On the brink of war, may our power
come from the people Rachel Corrie was murdered
defending. On the brink of war, may our hope
come from one another. On the
brink of -- wait -- this is not a war.
On the brink of whatever new-fangled
imperialist project this is, may Rachel Corrie
live in our resistance, in our pursuit
of justice, and in the spirit of sisterhood.
On the brink of war, may we remember how divine
human beings can be.
-- Suheir Hammad
Suheir Hammad is a Palestinian-American poet living in New York City.
From the Electronic Intifada
Three years ago this day, March 16th, Rachel Corrie was crushed to death by an Israeli bulldozer. Since then she's been silenced by those who refuse to give her justice and by those who censor her words because they are either too spineless, indifferent, or heartless to take a stand.
All over the world today, people will be reading Rachel's words. This is a grassroots effort to remember someone who showed us all what it means to have a conscience.
For more information, see here.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
Nonetheless, the group distributed leaflets that showed that documented cases of violence against women (excluding Israeli violence) between May 2004 and July 2005 are as follows:
"honor killing" 25 cases, murder attempt 21 cases, rape 12 cases, attempted rape 20, sexual harrassment 101, suicide and attempted suicide 129 cases, domestic violence 7 cases.
They mentioned that non of those committed "honor killings" spent time in jail and asked for new laws that consider "honor killing" pre-meditated murder.
In most cases the killers in the "honor killing" cases were male relatives (father, brother, uncle). All were released on bail within three days and so far no one was convicted.
I hate the expression "honor killing". There must be a better term. Think with me.
وافاد المنتدى في تقريره ان مجموع حالات العنف الموثقة في وزارة شؤون المرأة في الفترة ما بين شهري ايار 2004 وتموز 2005 في الضفة وغزة جاءت على النحو التالي:
قتل النساء على خلفية ما يسمى "الشرف" 25 حالة منها 16 في الضفة و9 في غزة، الشروع بالقتل 21 حالة منها 13 في الضفة و8 في غزة، اغتصاب 12 حالة منها 5 في الضفة و7 في غزة، الشروع بالاغتصاب 20 حالة منها 3 في الضفة و17 في غزة، التحرش الجنسي 101 حالة منها 90 في الضفة و11 حالة في غزة، انتحار ومحاولة انتحار 129 حالة منها 62 حالة في الضفة و67 حالة في غزة، عنف عائلي 7
حالات في غزة فق
كما تبين من خلال البحث ان معظم مرتكبي جرائم قتل النساء هم من اقاربهن الذكور (الاب، الاخ، العم) ولم يصدر حكم بالسجن على اي من مرتكبي جرائم القتل بل ان العديد منهم تم الافراج عنهم بكفالة خلال مدة لا تتجاوز ثلاثة ايام من الاعتقال ولم تصدر اية احكام بحقهم لغاية الآ
One of the readers of this blog pointed out that the apples I was denouncing in my pervious post were actually Syrian apples, not Israeli. That's correct. I fell for the way the Ha'aretz article presented the story: according to the article, Israeli apples were being exported from the Golan to the Gulf via Syria, in coordination of various Israeli ministries and in the hope of achieving more "normalization" in the Middle East. That ticked me off!
The producers of these apples, the Arab residents of the Golan who are under Israeli occupation, do not recognize these apples as Israeli. And it is almost certain that they don't have the same "normalizing" agenda the Israelis have. In fact, these apples were produced despite the Israelis and as a form of resistance to attempts to normalize the Israeli occupation. Here's what the Ha'artez article left out:
"The cultivation of fruit trees remained, although it too was impacted by the occupation, since the Israeli authorities had transformed part of the land to minefields and military routes. Cultivating fruit trees became a good source of income, especially apple trees, and the inhabitants of the Golan have continued to do so, resisting Israeli products until this day. These thrived in the field due to the suitable climate and nearby natural water springs which the Israeli authorities had not been able to confiscate. Several artesian wells had been dug alongside these springs by the Israeli Authorities and the settlers, reducing its amplitude. The good working spirit of the farmers was also an important contributor to their success in this area, as they constantly sensed the danger of losing their lands.
The cultivation of apples is not only a key source of income, it increases the relationship between the farmer and the land and stands in the way of it being confiscated, since it is rooted with trees. In response to Israel's siege and land confiscation policies, the inhabitants transformed the largest part of their un-irrigated land to cultivated land and planted it with fruit trees by investing substantial amounts of money in it. This was not very profitable from a pure economic perspective, and it was rather costly for the residents. However, it was the only possible way to maintain the land. Unfortunately, the cultivation of fruit trees requires water for irrigation, and Israeli authorities tried to deprive the farmers of the necessary water by confiscating most of the surface and ground water resources."
Finally, you can order apples from Majdal Shams here.
This is why the campaign to boycott Danish products, which was inititated in the Gulf, is bogus.
But to be fair to the ordinary citizens of these countires, I have to ask: do they knowingly consume these apples or are they oblivious and deceived?
Next time you see Palestinian produce destroyed at closed choking points, don't worry. There will be no shortage: Israeli produce is always available and always fresh. I actually heard that their apples are bright red and dripping!
Tuesday, March 14, 2006
|Majda al Roumi sang this poem by Mahmoud Darwish about the siege of Beirut. But one siege recalls another...|
(Give it a few seconds to download)
The Mask has Fallen (Saqata Al Qinaa)
Lyrics: Mahmoud Darwish
Composer: Elie Shouweiri
كلمات: محمود درويش
ألحان: إيلي شويري
|The mask has fallen, from over the mask|
From over the mask,
The mask’s fallen
I might lose life… Yes
But now I say No!
It is the last of bullets, No!
It is all that is left from the air on earth,
It is all that is left from the pieces of my soul,
Lay your siege,
No other choice
Hit your enemy,
No other choice
Your arm has fallen, so pick it up
I have fallen by your side, so pick me up
And hit your enemy with me,
For you are now free...
You dead and wounded are the strength
So, with them, hit your enemy
For you are now free...
Lay your siege with madness
Those you loved are gone now
So it is either to be
Or not to be.
|سقط القناع عن القناع... عن القنا|
قد أخسر الدنيا ... نعم
لكني أقول الآن... لا
يا آخر الطلقات... لا
يا ما تبقى من هواء الأرض... لا.
يا ما تبقى من حطام الروح... لا.
حاصر حصارك لا مفرٌ... إضرب عدوك لا مفرٌ
سقطت ذراعك فإلتقطها
وسقطت قربك فإلتقطني
وإضرب عدوك بي
فأنت الآن، حرٌ وحرٌ وحرٌ
قتلاك أو جرحاك فيك ذخيرة
فإضرب بها عدوك
فأنت الآن، حرٌ وحرٌ وحرٌ
حاصر حصارك بالجنون... بالجنون
ذهب الذين تحبهم... آه ذهبوا
فإما أن تكون أو لا تكون
Earth is pressing against us, trapping us in the final passage.
To pass through, we pull off our limbs.
Earth is squeezing us. If only we were its wheat, we might die and yet live.
If only it were our mother so that she might temper us with mercy.
If only we were pictures of rocks held in our dreams like mirrors.
We glimpse faces in their final battle for the soul, of those who will be killed
by the last living among us. We mourn their children's feast.
We saw the faces of those who would throw our children out of the windows
of this last space. A star to burnish our mirrors.
Where should we go after the last border? Where should birds fly after the last sky?
Where should plants sleep after the last breath of air?
We write our names with crimson mist!
We end the hymn with our flesh.
Here we will die. Here, in the final passage.
Here or there, our blood will plant olive trees.
For the Palestinians, the siege today brings up memories of other sieges: Tel Al Zaatar, Beirut, Sabra and Shatilla, Jenin, Balata, Ramallah, Nablus's Old City and others. It is never experienced simply as a single event unfolding at a particular time and place. But rather as a new event that we lived through before. We've been there. We have been killed before like this. Yet, the familiarity doesn't numb the pain; it actually hurts like hell. We even know the outcome. Palestinians lose at the end of such siege: more people killed, more space lost, more air confiscated. "Where should birds fly after the last sky?" Yet,...
The Israelis do not win. Perhaps this is why they keep coming back at us angrier than before. For policy makers and ordinary Israelis, the problem is that the Palestinians do not seem to go away even when they go away. "Those damned Palestinians, who do not exist, they are still here/there no matter what we do to them."
The American media (ABC and the News Hour) reported the news from the Israeli point of view. The reason for the attack, we were told, is that Hamas won and Israel was worried about them releasing the prisoners. The mentioned (with a scowel on the faces of both announcers) that the prisoners refused to surrender. They didn't mention that they were unarmed, that 2 Palestinians were murdered, that 40 were injured. Details. But they did show the Palestinian men in their underwear: "a standard Israeli security measure," they called it. Is it standard measure to prodcast photos of naked prisoners too?
What the news didn't mention is the most dangerous thing: that today Israel ran over international argreements with bulldozers and tanks and in front of the world's cameras and with the world turning the other way (even if that). They don't give a damn because Hamas won. Of course they got some help from some good friends. What options are they leaving the PA but to dissolve itself?
The lowest point for me was provided courtesy of Mohammad Nazzal, the Hamas representative in Damscus. He wins the opportunist of the day award. From far away, he chastized the PA for not providing the security guards in the prison with heavy weapons so they could defend themselves. Luckily, the PA has no heavy weapons (but maybe Nazzal knows about some Palestinian tanks and bulldozers that no one else knows of). But had the beseiged Palestinians fired one shot in the directions of the Israelis, Israel would have slaughtered them live. That would have made great TV for Nazzal and his elks; he could even make a video clip for recruitment. Then he attacked Abbas for not cutting short his trip. Shouldn't someone tell this guy that the elections are over and maybe on occasions like this a bit of decency is not too much to ask?
All the foreigners that were "kidnapped" by the Palestinians were released. I didn't worry about them for a second because I knew they will be fine. The PFLP is not al Qa'eda. The American professor who was detained by gunmen said that he wasn't hurt and that he understands why they did it. He even said that he sympathized. He understood the only meaning that act has: frustration of the weak.
One of the saddest things I heard today was from some one called Abu Nawras, the head of the Jericho security "battalion". He was on the phone with al Jazeerah correspondent describing how the Israeli bulldozer was knocking the walls of the room he's in, getting closer and closer, saying it's only 10 meters away when suddenly he started thanking the world media for showing up to cover the event. I couldn't believe my ears! How low our expectations have fallen that now we thank the world for coming to witness our execution. "Thank you for coming to my massacre, world."
But he was dignified to the last minute. So was Ahmad Saadat. Their act of resistance was simple and as all simple acts of resistance it was immense: "come and get us; we won't come to you." They didn't kneel. Israel didn't win, again.
Monday, March 13, 2006
I watched an interview this morning on Al Jazeera with Ismail Haniyeh, the new head of government. In response to the question "What is Hamas planning to do in response to Israel's unilateral plans?" he responded by saying that he's just finished discussing that with Abu Mazen and they decided that Abu Mazen will make diplomatic contacts to present the Palestinian perspective. Then he added, and we are going to do that as well.
So diplomacy is, after all, the answer?
This was the most specific thing he had to say. The rest was broad and ambiguous.
If they only could come up with a way for women to deliver their babies through the mouth!
Far from being courageous, she's a coward. It is very easy to bash Muslims in this country; Muslim bashing is in fact a cottage industry, a national sport, and a definite career choice, for both men and women. If you combine that with Arab bashing then you have arrived. It will get you book deals and TV appearances. You will be placed on a moral pedestal. This country loves nothing better than one of "them" giving legitimacy to racist, bigoted, idiotic statements about Muslims and Islam.
There have been Muslims criticizing their religion and those that abuse their religion and they have been risking their lives and liberty to do so. They weren't profiled in the New York Times and they won't be invited to speak in Israel. They weren't rewarded the way Wafa Sultan is being rewarded. Just to give one recent example, Tareq Ramadan, a Muslim intellectual whose project is to reform Islam, had his visa revoked and was denied entry to the US. Real reformers of Islam are not liked by the groups that are promoting Wafa Sultan's rubbish. Those critical of Islam from a secular position, such as the late Iqbal Ahmad and Edward Said, are not liked either because their criticism is linked with their overall project of secularization and anti imperial politics.
Wafa Sultan's statement about the Jews not reacting in violence to the crimes of the holocaust shows an idiocy beyond measure. When Hitler was engineering the holocaust, there were Jews who resisted and fought back. This resistance stopped when Hitler was defeated. Jews conducted terrorist attacks on the British in Palestine. That's the analogy that she needs to make, not her false one singling out Muslim violence. She also seems to forget that the State of Israel was an act of violence against the Palestinians and the terrible tragedy of the holocaust has been used over and over and over again to transform this violence--to hide it, to gloss over it, and to perpetuate it every day.
But even if what she says is "true," it is false. It is not what she says as much as why she's saying it and to whom that actually determine the "true" meaning of her words. Her initial remarks on Al Jazeera TV may have been intended for an Arab audience and to counter a smug extremist. But her "translated" remarks, now disseminated and framed by American media, Zionist organizations, and Arab and Muslim bashers in the blogosphere are "false." And she's playing the new role they devised for her: she supplied the "life story" to authenticate herself as really one of "them", and she is offering her self as a " lone voice in the wilderness" to separate herself from all the others who speak out against injustice and for reform. She's used and she is relishing it!!
For those of us, religious and secular, who are critical of our societies, traditions, and "religions," and who are against terrorism, Wafa Sultan is another reminder of how hard it is for us to speak. We always speak up fearing not death threats from Muslim extremists, but "integrity threats" from CNN, Fox, and New York Times. When we speak, we worry what will happen to our words, dreading that they will be used to justify carpet bombings (to liberate the women of Afghanistan) or Palestinian bashing (to defend against so-called honor crimes). With every entry I post on this blog, with every conference paper I give or article I write, I have that fear in mind.
People like Wafa Sultan make our job harder and the "integrity threat" scarier.
Al Jazeera TV always annoyed me with its way of framing the debates: the likes of Wafa Sultan who give secularism and reform a dirty name vs. the benighted Islamists. Well, I reject both sides. Both are benighted and ignorant. The only difference between them is that one is the darling of mainstream America and the other is their enemy. At least for now. Let us not forget that Bin Laden was once praised by the then President of the United States Ronald Reagan as a "freedom fighter." Where was Wafa Sultan then? Other secularists and reformists spoke up against that then and were called "professors of terror" and "anti Americans."
As a Palestinian, as a secular woman, and as a human being, I'm offended by the stupidity and cowardice of this woman's statements.
Sunday, March 12, 2006
Jamal Abdel Nasser made education free and compulsory. It still is. But the punishment for a parent that denies his child education is a fine of $ 1.60.
"darker blues may indicate a woman is a widower, especially in the Hebron region, and more embroidery indicates a higher class. ... Jerusalem embroidery was always more eclectic because of the inflow of pilgrims and officials; Ramallah was primarily red silk patterns on white, using motifs such as geometry, cypress trees and tall palms. Bethlehem, Beit Jala and Beit Sahour used a lot of silver and gold satin and silk threads. And Hebron produced the most intricate and colorful designs covering more of the outfits. Beersheba, Gaza and the Negev Beduin areas were also embroidery centers. With the influx of internationals passing through Palestinian cities during the Ottoman period, Palestinians in some areas incorporated foreign elements from international and Turkish trends. Red remains a favorite thread color today across the West Bank and Gaza, symbolizing passion and heritage or brotherhood."
The rest of this article is lots of condescending rubish on Palestinian Muslim village women being taught by Palestinian city women and learning from American women (taught what and learning what? embroidery?). And, yes, there is a dose of mumbo jumbo about peace and communication and empowerment.
The article will never tell you how EXPLOITED the village women are. They are paid pittance for wonderful, demanding work so that these shops and NGOs can make a buck and feel good about being Palestinian. It makes me so mad.
I grew up being told that "embroidery" is a woman's thing. At school, that was the major (ok, only) art form we learned. As a budding feminist, I resisted learning and would take my piece of cloth home and have my mother do it for me. I got As in my art class. Yes, I cheated. I prefer to see it as an act of feminist subversion.
Then at some point the national movement decided to fetishize Palestinian embroidery. I didn't care much for that either, because I hated seeing condescending upper class women who actually looked down on peasant women strutting around in Palestinian embroidered dresses on national occasions. It felt like a circus. This is why I never owned any embroidered dresses although it became quite fashionable to do so.
I did love my mother's dresses. She wasn't play acting. She wasn't showing off or making a political point. She was just who she was.
Then when the Islamists started substituting their colorless uniform for my blue jeans and my mother's dress, I embraced the practicality of the former and the beauty of the latter. I've been looking for a pair of embroidered jeans. Any idea where I can get some?
Saturday, March 11, 2006
There were no differences between the responses of the educated or the uneducated.
More depressing news:
% 36.2 approve of so called "honor killings" and % 63.8 disapprove. More approval occurs among those living with extended families (%100).
تعريف مفهوم الشرف
وأظهرت نتائج الدراسات فيما يتعلق بمفهوم الشرف أن 99% من أفراد العينة يرون أنه كل ما يتعلق بالأخلاق الحميدة فيما اعتبر 98% منهم أن ذلك مرتبط بالالتزام بتعاليم الدين فيما ذكر 91% منهم أنه حب الوطن والانتماء له وأعرب 84% من أفراد العينة أن مفهوم الشرف هو عبارة عن قيمة اجتماعية مرتبطة بجسد المرأة وعفتها وذكر 81% منهم أنه الالتزام بالتصرفات الاجتماعية المقبولة لدى المجتمع.
الحساسية الاجتماعية لمفهوم الش
قتل الفتاة على خلفية ما يسمى بالشرف
وتبين من خلال التحليل وجود فروق ذات دلالة إحصائية بين المؤيدين والمعارضين لقتل الفتاة على خلفية ما يسمى شرف العائلة حسب الفئة العمرية حيث أن نسبة المؤيدين لقتل الفتاة على خلفية الشرف بلغت 36,2% ونسبة المعارضة 63,8% حيث تبين أيضا أن الأفراد الذين تتراوح اعمارهم بين 35 ـ 40 عاما تأييدهم لذلك وكان بنسبة 46,5% وهذا يدل على أنه كلما زاد العمر زاد تأثير الثقافة الأسرية على الفرد والعكس صحيح.
كما تبين وجود فروق جوهرية ذات دلالة إحصائية بين المؤيدين والمعارضين بالنسبة لنوع العائلة ولوحظ أن الأفراد الذين يسكنون في العائلة الممتدة مع الحمولة هم أكثر الناس مؤيدين لقتل الفتاة وبلغت نسبتهم 100% يليه الذين يسكنون في العائلة النووية مع الممتدة بنسبة 44,2% وهذا يؤكد مدى تشدد وتمسك العائلة الممتدة مع الحمولة خاصة في الأمور التي تتعلق بالنساء وما يسمى بشرف العائلةر
A group of Iranian women unsuccessfully tried to go watch a soccer match at the stadium between the Iranian national team and a visiting team. Although there is no explicit rule preventing women from attending soccer matches, there has been a de facto prohibition. This picture of a soldier kicking one of the women wrapped in an Iranian flag has been circulating on the internet.
Men may sometimes wrap women in the national flag to great applause, but when a woman claims the national flag for herself, to demand her rights as a citizen of the nation, she is more likely to receive kicks, not applause.
Had these Muslim creative geniuses lived today, Al Qaradawi and his elk would have called their inventions "Bed3as" and acts of transgression. Had they lived now, they are more likely to be either in jail or in exile. Lucky for them and us they lived then.
Friday, March 10, 2006
Wafa bin Laden made it! Osama Bin Laden's niece has finally got what she was hoping for--a reality show on American TV. The aspiring singer has been whining about how her career wasn't taking off because of her infamous uncle. She took off her clothes for GQ back in December and that must have helped boost her singing career, for some women seem to think that they sing better with less clothes (though scientifically this relation has not been proved). Now we will actually see a show about her "struggles."
I can't wait (to chuck my TV out, that is).
But this interest in Wafa bin Laden has a serious dimension to it. I'm reminded of those porn postcards (see above right) that the French made of Algerian women. In both cases, a supposed "Arab woman" is being exposed to the consumption of the western male gaze. If we can't defeat bin Laden, some may think, we can at least have his niece pose half naked for us.
Thinking about it, describing marital sex as "perfomance of marital duties" is alone a turn off.