Saturday, April 29, 2006
Sunday, April 16, 2006
as for jerusalem, the instance i walk into the old city, i feel a strange sense of belonging and familiarity which i cant quite describe or articulate fully. i do know that i love the old city, it feels like home, but i also know that the social aspects of life there leave much to be desired...the racism that exists towards palestinians is intolerable, and the israelis enjoy legal liberties that aren't granted to its palestinian-israeli citizens. the raw beauty of jerusalem is to be rivalled and i wish that it was not crowded with its various man-made problems from the occupation.
last week, when volunteering with the girls from the refugee camp, i brought in my i-pod and played 'somewhere over the rainbow' for them. i had typed up the lyrics leaving some of the words missing so they could fill in the blanks. they were so funny, when they first heard the song they kept shouting "we can't understand anything!! i dont know ANY of the words!" so i sang along and after a few minutes, they were singing along with me. i would truly love if these girls could go as many places as possible because opportunities for travel, even within their own land, come once in a bluemoon. i want to take them to jerusalem because many of them have never been and i know that once they reach the age of 16, they will not be allowed to go. it's a nice little law that the state of israel has imposed on the palestinian people--jerusalem is illegal territory for palestinians unless you have an israeli i.d. card which very few possess. so im crossing my fingers that something can work out-i know that it'd be a really great trip for all of us. i'm pretty sure that most of those girls will never have the chance or means to travel outside the west bank or even the refugee camp. kinda like the inner-city and poor neighborhoods in the US...
Tuesday, April 04, 2006
not once have i read an article concerning palestine/israel that is wholly accurate and impartial--whether from the bbc, nytimes, aljazeera, etc. it's interesting to be here, on-the-ground, then read the news, knowing that what is being reported is simply not true or completely obscured. right now, the western powers are threatening to halt aid to the palestinians on account of hamas and its stance on the use of violence against the state of israel. ironic, because i never once heard a western power threatening to discontinue its billions of dollars in aid to israel on account of the violence used daily against palestinians. palestine/israel is a land full of contradictions. i feel as though you cannot live your life here without being blatantly hypocritical i.e. i do not and choose not to support the state of israel, but i purchase israeli products (palestinians are almost entirely dependent on israel economically) thus helping israel's economy, thus also contributing to its military state.
another thing i've noticed here is the much more intimate relationship people here have with life and death. the relationship between life and death is symbiotic...the value of life is heightened maybe as a result of the abnormal number of deaths in this narrow strip of land.
people teem with life; everything feels much more alive and rich with emotion. the unusual death rate, however, cannot account for this intimate relationship because that would not give the palestinian culture itself enough credit. without the occupation, without the number of deaths, without any problems here, the culture still breathes life and energy into every aspect of society. the family and community are the centerpieces of life and people celebrate birth as if it's a sacred gift, bringing another human form into the world. but given the current situation, life perhaps is celebrated more because there is not much else that can bring such joy and happiness. you do begin to appreciate the essence of living and what it means to be alive, because often, that breath is stolen and extinguished from the individual, and stolen arbitrarily. you come to know what it is that you will or would lose if the right to breathe were taken from you.
people have to face loss and grief far too often; to meet a palestinian who has not lost a good friend or family member would be quite odd. moreover, to meet a palestinian who has not been imprisoned, tortured, beaten, or harassed by the israeli military would be unheard of.
people are forced to feel deeply and regularly...you would think that such a wealth, even overwhelming amount, of emotion would drive the population mad. i know from my experience that in my first month here, i did feel as though i was going a bit insane from all of the anger and frustration at the orwellian layers of occupation. amazingly though, you are able to adjust and cope, but still, the emotions remain. i admire and am continually impressed by the resilience of the palestinian people.
Wednesday, March 22, 2006
speaking of my love, hip-hop, i'm going to start interviewing the kids here who are either into hip-hop or are hip-hop artists. i appreciate how hip-hop is an art medium that has wide support and participation from many oppressed peoples in the world a.k.a. cuba, north africans in europe, south africans, west africans, palestinians, etc. etc.
ok, and this whole exaggeration about the election of hamas really has to stop. first of all, you (you being israel and especially the US) cannot implement and demand democratic elections and then punish the people for whom they have elected. second of all, WHY do you think hamas was elected? maybe because the opposition party[fatah] was completely corrupt and feeding into the hands of both israel and the u.s. moreover, did the 'peace process' even work when fatah was in power? no. one more thing, hamas provided extensive social services to the palestinian people (e.g. healthcare, education), and of course the people are going to respond positively to someone who's attempting to help them; interesting how that little tidbit of information went completely ignored in almost all western media outlets... not that i'm bitter or anything.
bueno article on the vote for hamas: http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article4571.shtml
Sunday, March 19, 2006
all the refugee camps here are extremeley depressed, with, on average, 60-80% unemployment rates and sub-par living conditions--they look much like what i would imagine a shantytown to be: stacked, cramped houses that havent been renovated or improved since they've been established i.e. in 1948. these camps were supposed to be temporary refuge for those who were kicked out of their homes in '48 and '67; however, they are very much permanent and unimproved.
yet, the people still keep smiles on their faces and meet us with such kindness and warmth that i feel badly and slightly guilty, knowing that they have virtually no escape from their daily realities of occupation, while i come from a 'western, developed' country and can come and go without a problem. borders will never solve any of our problems...
everyone here is saying that they only think the situation here will get worse after the israeli raid of the palestinian prison in ariha...i hope thats not the case because i don't know how much worse the israeli government can make it for the palestinians at this point. people in gaza right now are starving because the israeli military refuses to open up the gazan border to allow food through. seriously, if that is not a crime against humanity, i dont know what is. maybe that the international community stands by in silence.
The Wall...doesnt really look like a fence.
"Dov Weisglass, the Israeli prime ministerial adviser, recently described the Israeli sanctions policy after Hamas's January election victory as one in which Palestinians would be 'put on a diet', but not starved to death." such a comforting statement.
Wednesday, March 15, 2006
i've been meaning to write in this daily, but everytime i sit down in front of my computer, i have far too much to say to articulate myself coherently. so, i feel at a loss for words because my emotions takeover... umm, welcome to life under occupation, right?
anyway, the recent attack on the prison in ariha by the israelis has set-off a number of protests and kidnappings in palestine. yesterday was a little tense, but things have calmed down here in ramallah. i'm just beginning to see how life operates under a military state. life here for the palestinians is nothing short of impossible in many ways. the economy, and political and social life are permanently and continuously penetrated by the practices of the israeli government, military, and its citizens, namely the settlers on the west bank. yet the people are really the onl y thing that gives me hope here; if not for their resilience and unbelievably strong will, palestinians wouldn't exist at all. honestly, i have never met such warm, generous, and strong people in my life. you'd think that after having to endure such loss and bear witness to such suffering, the people would be harsh, bitter, and unkind, but on the contrary. often i'm the one who has the forlorn expression in my eyes--only because i feel helpless as an outsider.