Monthly Archives: August 2013

War is Coming…Again

War is coming to us again it seems and in Gaza it is not a matter of ‘if’ but of ‘when’. The Israeli army has been shelling the coast with more frequency the past couple of days and this week has murdered 4 people in the West Bank. Every week I see more and more injustices here and every week I think ‘this will be the last straw, surely the world will wake up now and defend us’ but every week I am disappointed.
Israel is handing out gas masks to its citizens and deploying more air defense systems to the north, US is sending another battle ship… and what are we doing in Gaza? Living like we do any other day. The reality is this: we have no way to defend ourselves. We don’t have air defense- heck- we are not even allowed to have radar systems to track in-coming air strikes! Citizens here don’t have bunkers-they are reserved for Hamas of course. The only thing we can do is pray for peace and keep moving forward.
I have read posts from so many people who side with the US and want them to attack Syria. My guess is these people have never lived through air strikes and war. The situation is Syria is dire but there is so much at play. It is naive to think an attack from the US will magically fix the problem.
I hope with all my heart that US does not strike Syria and finds a way to help them rather than hurt them. It is time for negotiations and talks of peace- not for hypocritical threats about red-lines. Violence begets violence- after all of these years of war- have we not learned this simple lesson yet?

Gaza: A Life in Contrast

One of the first things that grabbed my attention when I moved to Gaza was the utter contradictions everywhere I looked. The natural beauty of the land and people contrasts sharply with the ravages of war. The open sky with stars so bright marred by an Israeli F-16 shooting across. Sounds of the ocean waves broken by the tat-tat-tat of an M-16 from the Occupation Navy. Children laughing and playing football in the street and the ground trembling from an air strike. Here are a few of my observations in pictures:

Bombed press building Nov 2012 on Jundi Street and row of closed shops on a rainy day also Jundi Street

Bombed press building Nov 2012 on Jundi Street and row of closed shops on a rainy day also Jundi Street

Destroyed building in Shujiya area and blooming tree in Sirat refugee camp

Destroyed building in Shujiya area and blooming tree in Sirat refugee camp

Adandonded house near Al Mina Sayadeen and a citrus grove in central Gaza

Adandonded house near Al Mina Sayadeen and a citrus grove in central Gaza

Alley in Sirat Refugee Camp and horses being washed in the sea

Alley in Sirat Refugee Camp and horses being washed in the sea

Abandoned building in North Gaza and yellow sunset over the Gaza Seaport

Abandoned building in North Gaza and yellow sunset over the Gaza Seaport

Israeli jet trails in our sky and the vast blue sky of Sawardha village

Israeli jet trails in our sky and the vast blue sky of Sawardha village

Rows of buildings in a North Gaza refugee camp and the beach in central Gaza

Rows of buildings in a North Gaza refugee camp and the beach in central Gaza

Refugee house in Shati Refugee Camp and a new mosque in North Gaza

Refugee house in Shati Refugee Camp and a new mosque in North Gaza

Bombed ministry building in Saraya and a orange-red sunset

Bombed ministry building in Saraya and a orange-red sunset

Houses on the outskirts of Sirat Refugee Camp and fishermen with their boat

Houses on the outskirts of Sirat Refugee Camp and fishermen with their boat

Racial Purity in Upper Nazareth: Profile of An Israeli Mayor

I started this post as an overview of racism and segregation in Israel but as I browsed through my files one name kept staring back at me: Shimon Gapso. So I will tackle the bigger issue of racism in a later post and right now I will focus on this one man.
Who is Gapso?
To start with he is mayor of Upper Nazareth- which is adjacent to the ancient town of Nazareth….as in ‘Jesus of Nazareth’-THAT Nazareth. Gapso is well known for banning Christmas trees from schools and public spaces even though there are a number of Arab Christians who live in ‘his’ city. Yes you read that correctly, he banned seemingly innocuous Christmas trees. We are not talking about separation of church and state here don’t forget- Jewish religious symbols are allowed- just not non-Jewish.
Let’s move on from Gaspo’s religious rants and look at what really defines him: bigotry and apartheid.
Gaspo has openly stated his desire to cleanse Arabs from Upper Nazareth and ship them to Gaza.

“If it was in my hands, I would evacuate from this city its residents the haters of Israel whose rightful place is in Gaza.”
(Written by Gapso dated 16.11.12 and addressed to The Minister of Interior, Mr. Eli Yishai, with the subject listed as: Declaring “Nazareth” as a hostile city to the State of Israel)

It seems common for Israeli government officials to ship the ‘undesirables’ here to Gaza- after all that is what they do with prisoners. If a prisoner goes on hunger-strike in an Israeli prison it is en vogue to send them to the maximum security prison they have made of Gaza.

Gapso declared himself in 2010 to be

“all for a democratic Upper Nazareth, but first of all a Jewish one… Just as Ben-Gurion and Peres said in the 1950s that the Galilee must be Jewish, we say the same about Nazareth Illit. The primary goal is to put the brakes on the demographic deterioration.”

Isn’t it nice he refers to population growth of Arabs to be a deterioration?

It seems Gapso is just warming up with his racist rants and policies. Last year he made local headlines when he refused to allow an Arab school to be built in Upper Nazareth. (Yes- schools ARE segregated- Jewish and Arab-but it’s not apartheid right?) Of the 52,000 residents of Upper Nazareth approximately 1/5th are Arab. Because there is no Arab school, 1,900 Arab children travel outside of the city to go to school. Can we take a minute to reflect on that? Arab children are NOT allowed to go to school in Upper Nazareth because there are no Arab schools. They must leave their town in order to be educated. If you are not stunned by this I beg you to research Brown v. Board of Education. It was THE landmark case on education segregation in America and was brought to court in 1953.
Name a SINGLE ‘democratic’ country that does that. Or better yet- name a single ‘best-friends forever with the US’ country other than Israel that gets $6.5 MILLION in aid each day. But I bet you didn’t see this on the CBS Evening News did you?

Just when you think Gapso has reached the bottom he comes out with an article in Haaretz – Israel’s daily newspaper- entitled “If you think I’m a racist, then Israel is a racist state”. In the article he mocks the claims of racism against him with *gems* like this:

“The racist Ben-Gurion announced the establishment of the Jewish State in the Land of Israel, and during the War of Independence even made sure to bring in hundreds of thousands of Jews and drive out hundreds of thousands of Arabs who had been living here — all to enable it to be founded with the desired racist character.”

Later on in the article he waxes poetic at the ethnic cleansing of over 700,000 Palestinians in 1948 and praises ‘racial purity’.

” racially pure kibbutzim without a single Arab member and an army that protects a certain racial strain have been established, as have political parties that proudly bear racist names such as “Habayit Hayehudi” — “the Jewish home.” Even our racist national anthem ignores the existence of the Arab minority — in other words, the people Ben-Gurion did not manage to expel in the 1948 war.”

So is Gapso a religious extremist, a racist or just a nut-job? Well considering he admits to not keeping the Torah Commandments except for one- I would say two out of three. “I do not keep the 613 Mitzvot (Torah commandments), but there is one mitzvah I fulfill with all of my strength, this is the mitzvah to settle the Land.” (Source: Upper Nazareth Newsletter).

A Beach Like No Other

Small Gaza fishing boat

Small Gaza fishing boat

Horses and camels strolling by on the beach.

Horses and camels strolling by on the beach.

Destroyed former resort and restaurant in North Gaza

Destroyed former resort and restaurant in North Gaza

Cafe by the beach where you can get a table and sit all day - Khan Younis

Cafe by the beach where you can get a table and sit all day – Khan Younis

Famous flute player on the beach. He has been doing this for years. Nuseirat Gaza

Famous flute player on the beach. He has been doing this for years. Nuseirat Gaza

Bedouin man playing with his children

Bedouin man playing with his children

Bombed and abandoned building North Gaza beach

Bombed and abandoned building North Gaza beach

Amazing sunset in central Gaza

Amazing sunset in central Gaza

Waiting in Gaza

Waiting for life-saving medicine to be delivered from the tunnels
Waiting for the morning sonic booms from the F-16’s to rattle my shutters

Waiting for the constant buzz of the drones to end
Waiting for the tat-tat-tat of M-16’s as they shoot at unarmed fishermen

Waiting for the leaflet telling me to evacuate
Waiting for the ground to shake from another deadly air strike

Waiting for the next death notice and funeral
Waiting for Israel to recognise we too are humans

Perspective: Gaza ‘Rockets’ Versus Israeli Air Strikes

Everyday on Twitter I hear the same ‘argument’ from Israel supporters. It is always the same-they blame from the 65 year conflict is put on the Gaza rockets which started only 12 years ago. Logical right? I don’t support the rockets or any violence for that matter BUT I want to put things into perspective.
Below are images of Gaza rockets:

Gaza Rocket Pics: IDF Blog

Gaza Rocket Pics: IDF Blog

Between the years 2004 and 2013 there have been a grand total of 24 fatalities from Gaza ‘rockets’. Keep in mind that during Cast Lead offensive 1300 people in Gaza were murdered by Israel and Cast Lead lasted a mere three weeks.

Most Israel supporters also fail to mention the bombings and air strikes in Gaza and the West Bank in 2000, a year PRIOR to the 1st Gaza ‘rocket’.

Account of air strikes on Palestine before 1st rocket

Account of air strikes on Palestine before 1st rocket

Now please look at the pictures of the Gaza ‘rockets’ again and compare them to the following pictures I took in the aftermath of Operation Pillar of Defense – November 2012.

Ministry Building Saraya Area

Ministry Building Saraya Area

Shujaya Police Station

Shujaya Police Station


Press Building Jundi Street- main shopping area

Press Building Jundi Street- main shopping area

Police Building Near Shifa Hospital

Police Building Near Shifa Hospital

Now I ask you: WHICH is the real threat? The so-called Gaza ‘rockets’ or the very real and destructive Israeli air strikes?

Violent & Deadly Week in Palestine & It’s Only Tuesday

palestine under attack
The Israeli Occupation Army and the illegal squatters have been busy this week terrorising Palestine.Here are a few of the attacks on Palestinian civilians:

SATURDAY

Three swimmers were arrested off the coast of Gaza- IOF said they were ‘ too near’ the border.

IOF arrested 2 brothers in Hebron who work as shepherds.

SUNDAY
Sunday IOF arrested one and summonsed 2 on ‘security related matters’ south of Bethlehem.

Group of illegal squatters attacked a shepherd and stabbed several animals.

Photo" Ma'an News Agency

Photo: Ma’an News Agency

MONDAY

IOF ethnically cleansed Kanan Bedouin village in the Jerusalem neighbourhood of Beit Hanina -home to 53 residents- who were originally cleansed and displaced in 1948.

Photo: Ma'an News Agency

Photo: Ma’an News Agency

TUESDAY
IOF raided Jenin in the early morning murdering a young father by gunshot to the chest and injuring three.

Photo: Ma'an News Agency

Photo: Ma’an News Agency

Early morning (2am) IOF navy opened fire at the Gaza shore. No injuries reported.

IOF opened fire at fishermen off North Gaza.

IOF destroyed part of a Palestinian home in Silwan and uprooted olive trees.

IOF destroyed 10 Palestinian buildings in the Jordan Valley near the West Bank villages of Furush Beit Dajan and al-Jiftlik

Wiping Palestine Off the Map and Out of Mind

Israel supporters are all aflutter over a map of Palestine from Arab Bank which they claim is trying to wipe Israel off the map. This is the ‘offensive’ poster on ‘Pal Watch’ homepage:

Pal Media Watch Homepage

Pal Media Watch Homepage

Oddly enough, Pal Watch (notorious for their anti-Palestine rhetoric) is silent over the Go Israel Ministry of Tourism website’s maps of Israel that does not include Palestine with even so much as 1967 borders. The Israeli news source Haaretz even ran a story on the issue in 2010 but the map is still unchanged.

Israel Ministry of Tourism Map without Palestine

Israel Ministry of Tourism Map without Palestine

Unfortunately this goes well beyond a misrepresentation on a map. A study by Nurit Peled-Elhanan details how Israel is in fact wiping Palestine off the map not vice versa.
He explains:

‘Palestinians, both citizens and those who live under occupation, are never presented as modern, industrious individuals but always stereotypically, in racist vocabulary and racist visuals, as terrorists, as a demographic problem or as third-world ‘Oxfam Images’ of primitive farmers (Hicks 1980), namely as a developmental burden. Their “inferiority” is presented as a natural condition or their ‘lot’ and their misfortunes are either a “tragedy”, an act of fate, or their own doing.Their tradition is made to signify “backwardness”, and their discrimination is represented as a national necessity.’

    Let that sink in: ‘their discrimination is represented as a national necessity’.

Many times, perhaps even daily, I have debates with Israel-supporters who refer to non-Jews in Israel by using the generic hyperonym ‘Arabs’! Many refuse to acknowledge we are many ethnicities and religions i.e, Muslims, Christians, Druze, Bedouins and Cirkassians, This has been dubbed by Van Leeuwen (1996:46) as genericisation and along with impersonalisation are characteristics of racist discourse. Sadly I think this makes it easier for Israel-supporters to justify the atrocities we have endured for 65 years.

Van Dijk elaborates by stating “Dominance, differentiation, diffusion, diversion, impersonalisation , destruction, and daily discrimination […] serve in various ways to legitimate and enact the distinction of the “other” […] by dominating the minority groups, by excluding them from social activities and even by destroying and murdering them”(Quoted in: RW 2001: 21).”

    So I ask: who is really being wiped off the map?

Selling Sweet Potatoes by the Sea in Gaza

Sweet potato vendor on the beach in North Gaza

Sweet potato vendor on the beach in North Gaza

Eating hot wood-oven baked sweet potatoes is perhaps one of the best things about going to the beach in Gaza in my opinion. The smell is intoxicating and wafts down the beach along with the seller’s yell “Batata hilwa shawee shawee shawee, batata hilwa” (Sweet potato grilled grilled grilled, sweet potato). As the sun sets and the air cools you can make out the flames burning in the small ovens precariously perched on horse drawn carts. A trip to the beach is not complete until you have had one of these delicious baked bundles of goodness served plain and wrapped in a makeshift napkin consisting of a few pages from an old school primer.

The Myth of the Hamas Wedding of 450 Little Girls

Those of you who follow me on Twitter know I do not support Hamas. My disdain for them is multifaceted and later posts will explain some of those reasons but this post is not one of them. I might not support Hamas but I certainly will not lie about them. When I see dishonesty and fabrications I will call out the people responsible.
This video has made its rounds on the Anti-Islam sites. It shows a mass wedding here in Gaza which is hosted by Hamas. The problem is they have cut the video to portray the wedding as a mass wedding for child brides.

It is easy to see the girls in the video are flower girls. We have the same system as the West-little girls (usually related to the bride or groom) wear white dresses and they dance and have fun at the reception. I have been to a hundred plus weddings here and danced with my nieces dressed as flower girls and I have been to a hundred plus weddings in the US and done the same. I have yet to see a single wedding video in the West that has been accused of using child brides as this video in Gaza has. I guess people sharing this video don’t think of that point. Logical reasoning gets turned off when it comes to this it seems.
Am I saying there is no such thing as child brides? Certainly not! Sadly it is a cultural problem that exists in many corners of the Earth. Girls Not Brides is a great resource to learn about this. Yes some people in Gaza get married at a younger age than in the West. The legal minimum age for marriage in Palestine is 16 accompanied by parental consent- the same as many Western countries such as Scotland and even the US state of Hawaii.
Many sites have debunked the ‘child brides of Gaza’ accusations. A simple Google search yields photos of the actual brides at that wedding posing with the flower girls.

Those who want to know the truth can find it- unfortunately many want to demonize Palestine in any way they can. I pose a question to you regarding this:
IF we are as bad and ‘savage’ as Israel-supporters claim, why do they need to resort to lies and fabrications to ‘support’ their side? Wouldn’t the truth be proof enough?
Here is a look at some of the Tweets that share this video:

Examples from Twitter

Examples from Twitter