Archive for Right of Return

Bye Bye 2011

Posted in about the blog, Culture, Me, Palestine, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 30/12/2011 by arabrhizome

I thought I’ll write my post saying good bye to 2011 tonight, as I don’t know if I’ll be able to write more than a few words tomorrow. I thought that I would very creatively write a review of 2011. I know no one is blogging about that. I’m the only person in the world who’s ever thought of reviewing the year that’s just passed. Being serious for a second, I thought I’d write about my perspective on the year, with a mixture of personal and not so personal stories that made this year what it was for me. So, let’s start at the beginning.

The year started in a bad place for me. I had just gotten out of a long relationship and wasn’t feeling very good about myself. I had very little self esteem and was not able to get much work done. I felt slightly lost and was not sure what to do to get out of the hole I felt I was in. It was a difficult time and in many ways I’m still dealing with the aftermath of that. I am much happier today, not only because I’m able to be friends with my ex, which is brilliant, but also because I’ve moved on and I’m able to work again, which was another big problem this year.

That was another feature of the year. The clear lack of work. I kept trying and sometimes wrote some stuff, but it was never good enough. It wasn’t even slightly acceptable. However the more common occurrence was me spending most of the year sitting in front of my laptop trying to write but not being able to concentrate. This spell was broken at the end of November and the beginning of December. I was able to write a work in progress which went down very well. That gave me a great boost in confidence in the work department. But the year wasn’t all bad.

To remain within the personal for a bit this year also involved me discovering comic books and Dungeons and Dragons. Well if you’re a regular reader of this blog you’ll know all about Dungeons and Dragons. I’ve met some great people through it and I’m enjoying the great adventure that Andy our Dungeon Master has thought of for us. I’ve also met some new friends who are really brilliant through Remi’s poetry reading. I hope that I’ll get to see more of them  in the coming year. Nothing like meeting some great activist, feminist, pro-Palestine, vegan, anti-capitalists. I can’t wait to hang out with them soon. That also speaks to the other great thing that happened in my world this year. I became a vegan. I have to say that I still feel like this was the best things I’ve ever done. But I’ve written a whole post about that, you can read it if you want to know more.

Another highlight of the year was the wedding of two of my friends. I am not a fan of marriage but if there ever were two people who can make the institution work it’s those two. It was a wonderful wedding, with lots of emotion and many laughs. I met some very interesting people and enjoyed their company. Hopefully I’ll get to see more of them this year. Congratulations again to Mike and Becky. It was a beautiful wedding and I wish them all the happiness in the world. That was definitely a great day.

But how can we talk about 2011 and not talk about the great upheaval that shook the entire world starting in a village in Tunisia in 2010 when a fruit seller set himself on fire out of desperation and in so doing started a movement in the arab world that we are still living through. First it was Tunisia, then Egypt, Libya, Yemen, Bahrain, and Syria. We’ve also seen protests in Kuwait, Saudi, Algeria, Morocco, and Jordan. Dictators fell others are still clinging to power, either through the help of Western imperial powers and their Arab lackeys, or through brute military force. We’ve seen what the West’s intervention in Libya has done, and so even though I fully support the Syrian revolution, I’m not happy to see it repeated in Syria.

The revolutions also moved to Europe, North America, South America, and parts of Asia. The occupy movement made a difference, apart from Occupy Wall Street’s refusal to show solidarity with Palestinians because of some zionist pressure. I point this out because it is important. There can’t be no justice without solidarity between all oppressed people. Occupy Wall Street’s refusal to show solidarity is a stain on their record and needs to be rectified. The rest of the movements showed a lot more solidarity, including occupy Boston, LA, Oakland, Chicago, and others. We also saw how much the US’s political system is sold to corporations. The incredible brutality with which the police responded to those protests, which was reminiscent of some of the worst dictatorships in the world, showed that at the end of the day Corporations mattered more to the US political system than the people.

There was also the riots of the summer in the UK. I saw many people who call themselves leftists, when faced with the actual raw reality of class warfare and the real anger caused by police brutality and economic pain, turned to fascist language about the rioters. I was shocked, but not surprised, to see how many arm chair activists are happy to abandon all of their supposed beliefs when the poor stand up, however clumsily, and are ready to adopt rightwing narratives. The riots showed that a large section of the British society are disenfranchised and feel completely disconnected from their communities. What we saw, in my opinion, is the result of Thatcherism and Reganomics combined with the clear police brutality felt by the youths of deprived areas in Britain.

Then there was Palestine. This year so much in the struggle for justice in Palestine. I can’t cover all of it, however, I’ll write about a few events that marked me. First there were the protests on Nakba. For the first time, Palestinian refugees from neighbouring countries walked to the borders of Palestine demanding their internationally recognised right of return. Israel responded the only way it knows how, with brutality and without any regards for civilian life or international law. They fired across international borders killing and injuring dozens. This year the BDS movement kept growing and becoming more and more mainstream. There was also much unnecessary death and destruction. Palestinian human life is still too cheap in the eyes of israelis and the world.

However, I am feeling optimistic. I believe that public opinion is changing. The world thanks to the incredible work of many activists who work very hard to bring the truth about the Apartheid state of israel and the brutal racist policies of the zionist state to the world. I trust that when people see and understand the deep injustice in Palestine they can’t but find themselves in the anti-zionist camp. What we also saw was that israeli propaganda and intimidation tactics aren’t working as well as they used to. As many have said, the truth is that the facts are anti-zionist. On this note, I hope you all had a very good year. It certainly was an interesting one. Stay safe everyone. Live long and prosper.

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There Are No Words

Posted in Palestine, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 10/12/2011 by arabrhizome

It’s very hard for me to write a coherent post today. I am angry and sad. Today Mustafa Tamimi, one of the many Palestinian Gandhis that liberal spineless orientalist westerners and their house arab lackeys keep asking for while simultaneously ignoring, has died as a result of the injuries he suffered yesterday. He is one of the many brave Palestinians who for years now have been staging peaceful weekly protests in West Bank villages affected by settlement activity and the Apartheid wall stealing their land, water supply, and cutting them off from their crops. He was shot in the face by a high velocity tear gas canister fired at close range from an armoured israeli military jeep.

Mustafa Tamimi was 28 years old. A life snuffed by the brutal military occupation force of the apartheid regime. That in itself, unfortunately, is not a remarkable event in the eyes of the world it would seem. We have grown accustomed to Palestinian deaths. They are numbers and statistics. Casualties of what is often represented as an intractable conflict that has plagued the land for centuries. Of course this analysis is flawed on several levels. The conflict is around 60 years old and is very simple. A native population is colonised and being ethnically cleansed at varying speeds since 1948 by a brutal racist ideology, zionism.

What happened today is not remarkable because for too long Palestinian deaths have been reduced to numbers or shorthand words that dehumanise the murdered. The dead are referred to as militants, protesters, rock throwing youths. Make no mistake all these terms are designed to obscure and hide the fact that these are human beings with stories, families, experiences, and histories. They are not just nameless statistics, or faceless numbers. They are human beings like Mustafa Tamimi with friends and families who will never be able to see them again. Who have to continue to live under a brutal military racist occupation. We must never lose sight of that.

The story however is even more disgusting than that. Mustafa’s sister was not allowed to get to her brother’s body after he was deliberately shot in the face with a high velocity American made tear gas canister at close range from an armoured military jeep. Medical services were deliberately delayed and were not allowed to tend to him straight away. Occupation soldiers laughed in the face of the other protesters as they cried because a young man, their friend, neighbour, and family member, was laying with a broken face on the floor unattended. The soldiers showed no remorse because they have been raised within a racist system that teaches them that they are the chosen people and that Palestinians are not human beings.

Mustafa’s father, and other members of his family, were not allowed to visit him in hospital. Eventually he died as a result of the injuries he sustained after being deliberately shot in the face with high velocity American made tear gas canister fired from a rifle at close range from an armoured military jeep. I hope that me repeating this fact bothers you and makes you uncomfortable because it should. These words should never be a sentence. These words however are the actual description of what happened. This is what the israeli army does to the Palestinian Gandhis. Remember that the next time you hear a liberal say something stupid like “where are the Palestinian Gandhis?” Remember Mustafa Tamimi’s name and deliberately shoot it in their face. Tell them this is where they are! Why don’t you open your eyes and see them?

I am angry. Mustafa is not the first to die, he won’t be the last. In fact, many have died this week in Gaza because of fighter jets bombing the besieged territory. There are no words to express how I feel. I am aware that no matter how angry or sad or outraged I might feel, it is nothing compared to how the families and friends of those who are being killed everyday must feel. I know that my anger, being righteous or not, is nothing. I did not know Mustafa Tamimi, now I never will. I recommend you read this article which articulates the anger that is felt today better than I ever could. I also recommend you read this article about the disgusting and stomach churning IDF attempts at justifying the murder of Mustafa Tamimi on twitter. And for those who think that this post is not balanced, please tell me what justification do you have for the deliberate shooting in the face of an unarmed 28 years old Palestinian named Mustafa Tamimi in the face with a high velocity American made tear gas canister fired from a rifle by an occupation soldier from an armoured military jeep?

A Sad Anniversary

Posted in Me, Palestine, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 16/09/2011 by arabrhizome

Today is a very sad anniversary. 29 years ago today one of the bloodiest, but not the only one sadly, massacres in the history of the Palestinian struggle began and continued for three consecutive days. After having invaded Lebanon in 1982 the israeli army surrounded the refugee camp of Sabra and Shatila in Beirut and unleashed their fascist Lebanese allies of the Lebanese forces and Phalanges onto the civilian population. For three days the fanatic christian militias went through the camp killing, maiming, and raping the civilian population. The israeli army gave them it’s full tactical support and shelled the camp. The most conservative estimate, which is completely unrealistic, is that 800 Palestinian civilians were murdered during those three days of frenzy. More serious estimates put the number of deaths over 3000. The added tragedy that many of the dead will remain faceless and nameless is very disturbing.

Interestingly, the military leader responsible for that massacre, Ariel Sharon, went on to become the prime minister of israel. Clearly, the supervision of the murder of thousands of civilians and the invasion and subsequent 22 year occupation of a sovereign country are political capital in israel. He is now in a coma having never faced justice for his crimes, of which there are many, both in Lebanon and the occupied territories. The lack of accountability for israeli war criminals isn’t anything new. Many war criminals like Olmert and Levni are still honoured guests of western dignitaries and campuses. They are paid a great amount of money to give talks that whitewash their crimes and the crimes of their Apartheid state.

One of the Lebanese leaders responsible for the massacre, Elie Houbaika, was murdered in a car bomb shortly before he was going to give evidence on the massacre. Obviously this crime, which was clearly orchestrated, if not executed, by israel was not investigated. Something that might implicate israel doesn’t deserve the attention of the international community it seems. I do not like Elie Houbaika, in fact I despise him. He was a war criminal, a fascist, a fanatic, and a corrupt and disgusting little shit. He is a murderer and a warlord. However, his testimony would have been invaluable. Now, we will never know what he had to say about one of the bloodiest massacres of the Lebanese civil war.

It is a painful day for anyone who cares about Palestine and about international law and human rights. On this day 29 years ago a great atrocity has taken place, yet very few media outlets remember it. The names of the dead are not read out, one reason is that many of them were too disfigured to be recognised. Another reason is that entire families were murdered and no one was left to remember them and their names. The ceremonies remembering them were not beamed all across the world. Great selling bands didn’t play in a memorial service for them. No justice is given to the families and the survivours of the horrors of those three days of a bloody murderous frenzy. When it comes to Palestinians, and Palestinian refugees in particular, international law and the international community seem to be blind, deaf, and completely uninterested.

However, today we have a great strategy on our side. A strategy that is already starting to have incredible results. That strategy is BDS (Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions) against israeli products, physical, intellectual and artistic, and against the companies that profit from and promote the Apartheid policies of the israeli regime. Already a company that was deeply invested into the occupation and the Apartheid regime has gone into liquidation, agresco, and Veolia has lost many multi-million contracts all around the world. The TUC here in Britain has voted for cutting ties with israeli racist trade unions. Any event that tries to whitewash Apartheid is disrupted and not permitted to go ahead without an incident, just like the wonderful disruptions of the israeli philharmonic orchestra’s appearance on the BBC Proms. Also, israeli companies have been finding that their products aren’t selling as well as they used to. It is clear that BDS has achieved in 6 years a lot more than the oslo accords have in 20. So on this day, while I feel pain and I remember the dead, the wounded, and the traumatised, I also feel hopeful. We are getting closer to justice for all Palestinians, that means not only those living in Gaza and the West Bank, but also the Palestinian residents of israel and the Palestinian refugees and in the diaspora. We need to escalate our BDS and we need to keep educating people and getting them to join the movement. Soon Palestine will stop being an Apartheid state and we will achieve equality and a one-person one-vote system from the river to the sea in a single undivided country.

Gaza

Posted in Palestine, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 18/08/2011 by arabrhizome

So for the past month, more or less, israel has been looking for a fight. The israeli army entered Lebanese territory a few days ago and there was an exchange of fire. There has been an intensification of the daily raids and kidnappings in the West Bank, including members of the freedom theatre in Jenin. There have been a series of bombings and shootings in Gaza resulting in a few deaths. Yesterday a disabled boy was shot to death repeatedly because he was too close to the border fence in Gaza. The night before a man was run over by a military jeep and killed in Jerusalem while making his way to work.

Those are a few examples of what israel has been doing for the past few weeks. They have been doing this for the last 63 years but there has been a clear intensification of actions in the past few weeks. The reason for that is very clear for anyone who follows politics in the region. There have been some protests in israel about the cost of living. I haven’t written about the protests because they have been, from my perspective, completely uninteresting. My main problem with them has been the absolute refusal of the protestors to recognise their own privilege and that this privilege is predicated on occupation and apartheid. Everytime the occupation or the status of Palestinian citizens of israel is brought up people would say that it is too political and that these protests are about social justice.

In fact, I’ve seen some terrible racism and zionist nationalism directed at anyone who dares criticise their silence on the Palestinian plight. The point though is that the protests have eroded the popularity of the far right government of israel. A proven and guaranteed way for an israeli government to gain popularity is to wage a war. You can look at the history of israel and see that whenever israel wages a war the government gets very popular. This government by intensifying its harassment tactics, as I explained above, has been poking potential targets expecting a retaliation and then using that retaliation as an excuse to wage war.

Anyway, today it seems they got just that. I woke up, very late but that’s irrelevant, to the news that there was an attack in the south of israel in the region of Eliat. The news wasn’t very clear, it’s still not completely clear. The IDF spokes person on twitter tweeted first that 5 soldiers were killed and a number of others injured. Then they changed their story saying the dead and injured were civilians. Although it is now, at least it seems to me, accepted that the 6 or 7 people who were killed were in fact soldiers. Now let us be clear, I do not advocate violent acts, but if someone is engaged in a situation of militant resistance than soldiers are fair game. It is wrong to say that an attack on soldiers is a terrorist attack, it isn’t. Soldiers are legitimate targets in a state of war.

Anyway, as I said the details of the attack are still not very clear. People said that the assailants might have entered israel form the Sinai in Egypt. We are also unclear about who is behind the action. Although israel was very quick to accuse Gazan groups of carrying the attacks. Everyone so far in Gaza denied involvement, and if there is something we know about Palestinian militant resistance factions is that they will always claim responsibility for such attacks. It is increasingly obvious that Gaza had probably nothing to do with it. However the israeli response was as hysterical as anyone familiar with the region would expect.

Israel accused Gaza and started a large scale operation of arial bombing of the Gaza strip killing at least 6 people including a 9 year old child. It seems that the attacks have calmed down for now. it is yet unclear if this is going to be the beginning of a large scale operation like Cast Lead, which led to the death of over 1400 Palestinians the absolute majority of whom were civilians, or if it’s going to be used in order to justify the continuation of the constant daily harassment of Gazans. When I say harassment, people might think it isn’t that bad, but we are talking about bombings and shootings that lead to death and injury, mainly for a civilian population that is already under an inhumane and illegal siege.

Anyway, today was awful I spent all day following the news, and will probably spend the rest of the night doing so. I feel angry and frustrated because the media have been completely silent about all the deaths before today and only spoke of the region when israel was attacked. The deaths of the Palestinians are clearly seen as unimportant. Clearly to the editorial teams of the BBC, Sky News, CNN, and others israeli lives are a lot more precious and important than Palestinian lives. If you are disgusted by this and if you feel like you want to help than please join the BDS campaign and boycott israeli products, write to your representative and ask them to defend the rights of Palestinians, Write to your local supermarket and ask them to stock Palestinian products and boycott israeli ones, join marches of solidarity, get involved. The people of Palestine need us to be their voice. We must not let them down.

Letter to Steve Jobs

Posted in about the blog, Palestine, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on 23/06/2011 by arabrhizome

Very late last night we got the news that the Apple had caved to pressure from the israeli government to remove from the App Store an App called ThirdIntifada. I’m not going to go into the details of the pressure here you can read all about it in this article from the Guardian. The article itself is problematic as it says “Intifada is the Arabic term for two violent uprisings against Israel over the past two decades.” That in itself is wrong. Intifada is an arabic word that finds its root in the verb  Intafada which means shook off. So Intifada literally means shaking off. It is in a passive form thus connoting a certain natural essence of the process, a certain uncontrollable and uncontrolled force. The term refers to popular rebellions or uprisings, particularly by the Palestinians against the israeli brutal military occupation.

Historically in Palestine there have been two intifadas since the establishment of israel in Palestine in 1948 and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza strip in 1967. The first of these intifadas was a popular uprising in 1987 and was largely non-violent. The images of this particular intifada inhabit the collective consciousness of all arabs and some of these images are seen by many, including myself, as the images that shaped our political outlook. Particularly the image of a child throwing a rock at an israeli tank. The second uprising started much like the first one in 2000 when Ariel Sharon, who was in the opposition at the time, along with a Likud delegation and hundreds of riot police visited the Al Aqsa mosque, the third holiest muslim site. This was viewed by Palestinians as a further humiliation and provocation and led to wide spread unrest. The second intifada had both the non-violent tactics of the first intifada but also included the use of force by military wings of Palestinian factions. Around 6500 Palestinians died, mostly civilians, and 1100 israelis, also mostly civilians althoughin a smaller proportion than Palestinians during the uprising. There was also massive destruction in the occupied territories due to the extreme violence used by the israeli military.

Since the start of what has come to be known as the Arab Spring, the series of pro-democracy protests and revolutions sweeping the region, there have been calls for a similar sort of protest against israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and its refusal to conform to international law, including the recognition of the Palestinian right of return. We saw what these protests might look like during the Nakba and Naksa protests. Basically the protests were peaceful non-violent marches to demand an end to occupation and discrimination as well as the internationally recognised right of return. If there is to be a third intifada it is going to be modeled on the first intifada and the peaceful pro-democracy protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and others.

The foreign minister of israel called the Application an anti-zionist and an anti-israel application. That might be the case. But as far as I know there is nothing wrong with that. This is a political position against an ideology and a state that practices discrimination and is in violation of international law. The application gathers news resources, including news articles, videos and images that relate to Palestine and the ongoing occupation there. These are not grounds to remove the application. Apple cannot remove a political application, otherwise it has to remove all political applications because politics by its nature is about the clash of ideas. Some applications are offensive to me, however I understand that they represent a certain point of view. I do not want them to be banned unless they call for hate and violence. Being anti-zionist and anti-israel is not the same as being anti-semitic and anti-Jewish. I would be calling for the removal of such hateful apps along with homophobic, islamophobic, xenophobic, sexist, misogynistic, and racist apps.

I believe that we need to pressure Apple to reverse their decision has come. I therefore propose that we email Steve Jobs and ask him to reverse that decision. I will include the email I’m about to send him, it can be used as a template. But first let me tell you what I think should be included in that email, in no particular order. First if you use and enjoy Apple’s products like me then tell him that. Second, talk about the role that these products have played as tools in helping to organise the pro-democracy Arab uprisings. Third, include an explanation of what Intifada means and what it describes. Finally, explain that a political app is necessarily going to be offensive to a large number of people since politics is by it’s nature about the clash of ideas and that it is thus impossible to pick and choose what to remove and what to keep. Here is my email:

“To: sjobs@apple.com

Subject: The Removal of the ThirdIntifada App

Dear Steve Jobs,

I have enjoyed and used the products and services provided by your company for many years. I have found them to be superior to their competition. I have also found that the customer service provided by Apple and the Mac Store to be some of the best around. It is because of this that I feel the need to email you.

Your products have played an important role in helping to organise the wave of protests we have seen around the Arab world. Many of the protesters were able to organise and keep the world informed of what is happening through the use of you smartphone technology. By connecting to the internet using your iphones and laptops people were able to share images and videos, as well as blogs and opinions, carry out debates, and provide information that was outside the control of the tyrannical and dictatorial regimes they were fighting. Thanks to these products images that would have otherwise been censored by the state media were able to enjoy widespread distribution over the internet.

This is why it comes as a shock to many of us that your company would remove an application from the App Store which helps the users share and gather information about the situation in Palestine. I am referring to the decision to remove the ThirdIntifada App from the App store. The reason given by Apple spokesman Tom Neumayr
was that “it violates the developer guidelines by being offensive to large groups of people.” This reason is not satisfactory. Any political app or app that deals with politics will be offensive to large groups of people. Politics is by its nature about the clash of ideas. Some ideas will be seen as offensive to people who hold opposing views. If you start removing one side of the political divide then there is no justification to keep applications from the other side. As long as there is no hate speech then it is impossible to justify removing one side of the political discussion and not the other(s).

The Israeli minister of public affairs Yuli Edelstein sent you an email in which he described the Application as  “an anti-Israeli and anti-Zionist application that (…) calls for an uprising against Israel”. The Simon Wiesenthal Centre said of the Application that it “contains anti-Israel content – articles, photographs of ‘martyrs’ and stories – and updates its users on further incitements to protest and violence.” However, they do not provide any evidence for their claims. The application provides resources about the ongoing occupation and colonisation of the West Bank in violation of international law and the continued siege of Gaza, again in violation of international law. They claim that the app incites violence, there is no evidence of that. It does, by its name, refer to an uprising, however as we have seen over the past few months uprisings don’t have to be violent.

The truth of the matter is that Palestinians are living under occupation and they have many of their basic human rights and rights under international law denied by the israeli occupation. This app provides information and is a useful tool to resist against this occupation non-violently. Removing it is tantamount to supporting the occupation.

The reason for its removal might come from a misunderstanding of the meaning of the word intifada. Intifada is an arabic word that finds its root in the verb  Intafada which means shook off. So Intifada literally means shaking off. It is in a passive form thus connoting a certain natural essence of the process, a certain uncontrollable and uncontrolled force. The term refers to popular rebellions or uprisings, particularly by the Palestinians against the israeli brutal military occupation.

Historically in Palestine there have been two intifadas since the establishment of israel in Palestine in 1948 and the occupation of the West Bank and Gaza strip in 1967. The first of these intifadas was a popular uprising in 1987 and was largely non-violent. The images of this particular intifada inhabit the collective consciousness of all arabs and some of these images are seen by many, including myself, as the images that shaped our political outlook. Particularly the image of a child throwing a rock at an israeli tank. The second uprising started much like the first one in 2000 when Ariel Sharon, who was in the opposition at the time, along with a Likud delegation and hundreds of riot police visited the Al Aqsa mosque, the third holiest muslim site. This was viewed by Palestinians as a further humiliation and provocation and led to wide spread unrest. The second intifada had both the non-violent tactics of the first intifada but also included the use of force by military wings of Palestinian factions. Around 6500 Palestinians died, mostly civilians, and 1100 israelis, also mostly civilians althoughin a smaller proportion than Palestinians during the uprising. There was also massive destruction in the occupied territories due to the extreme violence used by the israeli military.

Since the start of what has come to be known as the Arab Spring, the series of pro-democracy protests and revolutions sweeping the region, there have been calls for a similar sort of protest against israel’s continued occupation of the West Bank and Gaza and its refusal to conform to international law, including the recognition of the Palestinian right of return. We saw what these protests might look like during the Nakba and Naksa protests. Basically the protests were peaceful non-violent marches to demand an end to occupation and discrimination as well as the internationally recognised right of return. If there is to be a third intifada it is going to be modeled on the first intifada and the peaceful pro-democracy protests in Tunisia, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, and others.

I hope that you reconsider the decision to remove the ThirdIntifada App from your App Store. It is an important resource and there is no justified or justifiable reason for removing it.

Sincerely,”

Anyway, that’s my email. If anyone wants to use it as is go ahead. If you want to use it and tweak it go ahead. Or write your own email in your won words. The point is it is important to email Steve Jobs and put pressure on Apple not to bow to pressure by the israeli government and pro-israel lobby. It is important that we make our voices heard and start lobbying companies and political institutions on behalf of the Palestinians. As always, stay safe. Love you bye.

Podcast

Posted in Culture, Me, Palestine, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 20/05/2011 by arabrhizome

This will be a shortish post, just so you know from the start. So a couple of days after the Nakba day protests I was contacted by a tweep (that’s twitter speak it’s the singular form of tweeps which is a portmanteau word that combines twitter and peeps, basically it means peeps from twitter. See if you keep reading this blog you learn stuff) called The Angry Indian. He asked me if I was interested in being interviewed via skype for his podcast. I was very flattered to be asked and was very happy to do it. We exchanged skype names and got together after that and had a lovely meandering conversation about Palestine, the Nakba, the BDS movement, and many other things.

You can get the podcast here. Make sure to check out the fantastic work that he does reporting news relevant to and from the perspective of aboriginal people and generally oppressed people. I have to say that I really enjoyed our conversation. It was fun and thought provoking. It wasn’t exactly an interview. We just basically talked. Nothing was prepared and because we just kept talking we didn’t cover everything we thought we would. I have to admit though that listening to it was a little painful. I know that everyone hates hearing their taped voice and I am no exception. I find my voice whiny and annoying. Also, because I was thinking about what to say and I wanted to phrase things well, because I’m weird like that, I kept pausing. That’s what bothered me the most. I kept pausing and pausing.

Anyway, I’m not going to moan about it, it’s just an observation. But I did pause way too much. Anyway, the whole experience was great and it made me feel that I might want to be involved in similar projects. I am very busy at the moment, what with having to write a PhD and all, but I would love to be involved in a political/informative/subversive podcast. I don’t know if that means that I need to look at writing some opinion articles and get them published. It’s an interesting thought that would have to wait though, because I am otherwise engaged with my thesis right now. In the mean time, please listen to that podcast, as well as the others they’re very good, and let me know what you think. Stay safe. Love you bye.

Obama Making Sure the USA is Completely Irrelevant in the MENA Region

Posted in Culture, Palestine, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 19/05/2011 by arabrhizome

So today Obama gave his “much anticipated” speech on the situation in the Middle East and North Africa region. I put scare quotes around the words much anticipated because it was only so in the world of pundits. In the real world, especially in the MENA region, no one was expecting much. In fact, as most correspondents were reporting on Al Jazeera English many people in the region didn’t even know he was going to speak. That’s not to say that the people of the region are uninformed, just that the USA and its president have lost all credibility and are seen as counter-revolutionary and their opinions irrelevant.

The speech came and it was even worse than the most pessimistic observers expected. Obama talked about human rights, and freedom, and the respect of peaceful protests. He talked about the revolutions in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria, and mentioned very awkwardly Bahrain and Yemen, but completely ignored the violence against Palestinians, more on that later in the post. His speech was filled with hypocrisy and condescension. Clearly the events in the MENA region have completely been misunderstood by this president and his administration. He doesn’t seem to understand that the time of empty speeches is finished. The people who are not afraid of the bullets of their tyrants aren’t going to be hoodwinked by rhetoric.

The hypocrisy was apparent in the way he was speaking about the Egyptian revolution. We all remember that the US has propped the Egyptian regime and continued to protect it and back it until the eleventh hour. Now he’s trying to buy the revolutionaries with some debt reduction. He doesn’t understand that the people remember the made in USA weapons that were used against them. They remember the statements by Clinton, Gates, and Biden that supported Mubarak. But more importantly they clearly see themselves as part of the MENA region as a whole, and will not let double standards pass.

Clearly, Obama’s policy on dealing with the revolutions is confused at best. Depending on the friendliness of the dictators the US would react differently. Gaddafi gets bombs but the Khalifas in Bahrain get barely a mention for some of the worst oppression we’ve seen. Obama did mention bahrain and Yemen, but clearly he put caveats and showed much less vehemence in his critique than he did about Syria and Libya for example. Then came the inevitable Iran bashing. Which was interesting as Iran has absolutely nothing to do with these protests and is one of the countries that is seen as irrelevant to the revolutions. Obama unironically accused the Iranians of hypocrisy in their support for some of the revolutions, seemingly completely unaware of the hypocrisy of his own administration.

I didn’t mention this but within 5 minutes of the start of the speech Obama of course mentioned the death of Osamma Bin Laden. It was almost comical to see him wedge this irrelevant event to the revolutions in. But it allowed him to keep banging on about terrorism and the need to move away from it for the arabs. This again showed how completely out of touch with the realities of the region he and his administration are. He kept mentioning that peaceful non-violent protests achieved in a few months what terrorism didn’t in years. What is interesting is that the non-violent peaceful protests of the Palestinians for decades were not included in that.

This brings us to the last, and probably the most disingenuous and damaging, part of his speech. He finally got to the Palestinian issue, or the peace process as he still likes to portray it. Obama showed the true colours of the administration in this part of the speech, so that if anyone still had doubts they were completely answered. He expressed his vision for what a Palestinian and an israeli state would look like. And that vision is incredibly disturbing. Basically he reiterated Netanyahu’s vision of a demilitarised Palestinian state, in other words a bentustan. This state would be based on the 1967 borders but with land swaps.

He then went on to explain that the Palestinians need to understand that delegitimisation of israel, the zionist code word for the BDS movement and the attempt to hold israel responsible for its actions by the standards of international law and human rights, isn’t going to work. He also explained that the unilateral move to declare an independent Palestinian state along the 1967 borders at the UN in September isn’t going to work, thus flipping a giant v sign at the PA. He also talked about his fears of the reconciliation between Fatah and Hamas. In a hint at the events of the Nakba day protests, he said that violating the borders of israel was unacceptable. O f course forgetting that no border was breached by the peaceful Palestinian protesters and that even if it was, these are people who have been denied the right to return to their homes for 63 years, even though that right is enshrined in international law. He then gave a very mild caution to israel, after what felt like a ten minute (although it probably was only one or two minutes) love declaration for israel. He explained that the US and israel are the greatest of friends and that the US is commited to israel, blah blah blah, we’ve all heard it before.

There was also this moment in the speech that probably made every arab enraged. He explained that israelis suffered the fear of being blown up in busses, and having rockets fall on them, and most terribly (he said) knowing that the Palestinians were teaching their children to hate them. He then said the Palestinians suffered humiliation and statelessness. This is one of the most disgustingly inaccurate portrayals of the situation I have ever heard. What about the Palestinians living in fear of having white phosphorous dropped on them? Their homes, schools and hospitals destroyed? Their families dying on their way to hospital because a sadistic IDF soldier decided that he wouldn’t let them through a check point? Being taken in the middle of the night to be held incommunicado by israeli intelligence?

All in all Obama showed that the US’s position hasn’t changed at all. It’s foreign policy is still the same. Saudi Arabia and it’s disgusting role in repressing the Bahraini protests as well as supporting all the dictators that are being forced out, didn’t get a single mention. Israel, which regularly shoots at peaceful protesters and on Sunday acted exactly like all the arab regimes got 28 mentions, all of them supportive. Basically the US’s policy is still israel and oil. Obama’s speech, which was supposed to clarify his administration’s position did just that. The problem is that he thought he could hoodwink us and make us think that this was a change for the better. Unfortunately for him, Arabs aren’t stupid, no matter what people around him tell him. What this speech has done is that it has made sure that no one will take the US seriously in the region anymore. When the dust of revolution settles and the new MENA emerges the US will be completely and utterly irrelevant. There is much more to say but it would just make me angry and I need to sleep.