Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Knocking on Jerusalem Door

In the last Friday of Ramadan, an Independent Palestinian group named "Olive Revolution" called for a protest at the gates of Jerusalem; the wall gates at Bidu, Sho'afat, Bethlehem and Qalandia were the targets. Unfortunately, all of the protest were canceled last minute, except for a small gathering at Qalandia.

The protest was supposed to start at 10 AM, as announced on the facebook event.  But, off course Arabs are always late, even when they revolt. The people who were standing by the checkpoint were either waiting to be allowed to pass qalandia checkpoint or were already denied, but were still waiting for a wonder to get in after all. Most of the people in the lines at qalandia had no clue about the protest that was announced earlier and many of the denied men left to nearby mosques to pray.

Meanwhile at the other side of the checkpoint, a crowd of women was waiting to enter; many of these women were already denied and out of frustration they started chanting against the Israeli occupation, which banned them from entering Jerusalem. They chanted for a while, even before the protest organizers had arrived. Finally the Friday prayer was announced and people started gathering for prayer at the gate of the checkpoint. It was announced that the protest would start directly after the Friday prayers with the ultimate aim to enter Jerusalem. The soldiers at the checkpoint were already geared up; they had started the gearing as soon as the women had started to chant.

The call for prayers was announced, women and men, used pieces of cartoon to sit on while listening to the Imam's lecture. Meanwhile the internationals and Israeli activists stood in the back watching. The Imam spoke about AlQuds, and the right of every Muslims to reach and pray at its holy places. -I couldn't keep myself from pointing the Irony of this speech to the photographer standing next to me, though-

As soon as the prayer ended the protesters walked 2 meters towards the barrier that separated them from the Israeli soldiers. The protesters started chanting; they chanted loud against occupation, racism, settlements, and demanded their rights to enter Jerusalem. In the middle of this mess -I was informed about this later- 1 young men from Bilin actually tried to reach Jerusalem and walked over a lower part of the wall through the checkpoint, he was arrested and released later that day.

20 minutes after the protest started, the organizers announced the end of it; calling the participants to leave the place of the protest. However, many of the young participants refused, stayed, and continued chanting. While the protest was continued, some soldiers positioned in the tower which overlooked the protest were spitting at the protesters who stood below it. The protesters below the tower were provoked and soon one of them threw a stone at the tower; the soldiers got their excuse.

As soon as the soldier saw the stone flying, they start throwing teargas and concussion grenades; the protest ended at that point, some of the youth threw stones, but the whole confrontation ended within a few minutes.

In the end, I realized how weak the Palestinian independent movement is, and how long it's going to take before it will become capable of moving the people. In other words, I think the Palestinians with their long history of revolution, find themselves now in a similar place as the Egyptians found themselves in 2004.

Wish us luck, we need it in this long run towards revolution and decolonization!


Saturday, August 27, 2011

Life log 05

In April 2002 the Israeli Army invaded the cities of the West Bank, they started with Ramallah and Baitlahem leaving Nablus and Jenin to the second week. The operation Definitive shield marked Nablus’s bloodiest battles since the 1967 occupation. 90 people were killed some were active combatants, most of them were civilians as many houses were uprooted with bulldozers and jet fighters. After 2 weeks the Israeli Army announce a full control over the old city of Nablus(the city major battle field).

An Israeli soldier in the old city of Nablus

After another 2 weeks the Israeli army left Nablus center to relocate its troops on the city entrances, the army will return once for one week, before they return a month later to stay for more than 90 days.

Soldiers stopping a Palestinian medic in Nablus

In September 2002, I moved to a public school called Qadri Touqan, the school was build next to Joseph tomb, near Balata refugee camp in the east side of the city, while I lived in the west side of Nablus, to be more accurate, in the far west. The trip normally would take 30 minutes “for a city like Nablus, this is pretty long”, yet in the only time I went to this school, the trip took me 3 hours.

It’s started at 6:30 when I woke up, I changed into my school gray uniform, and left to catch a bus or a taxi to the city center, me and some friends walked for 20 minutes before realizing that the Israel army is blocking the main street, car were not allowed to pass through, so, we walked towered the tank and the 2 armored carriers parking next to it. We passed with no delays, yet, one of us were detained and released few hours later.

 Armored soldiers carrier in the street of Nablus

I found a car to take me to downtown, where I took the bus to school, but the bus can only take you to what we called then “Tora Bora”. No I am not talking about Afghanistan, I am talking about the streets in front of the  governmental compound, The street were turned into a deep hole, with a huge dirt barrier after it, leaving one street open with at least 3 tanks and soldiers carriers standing guards, checking the people IDs, allowing no one to pass, so I did what everyone else did, climbed up and walked from behind the destroyed compound, and walked away from the Army.

Finally I had no more opsticals between me and school, accept the fact it was 2 kilometers away, I looked for a car to take me to it, soon, I realized that I had to walk. I walked for at least 30 minutes, before I reach the schools, went to the principle office to check in my papers, by the time I reached my class the student were going for the lunch break. It was the last time in this school, next day I moved to another school closer to my home.
An Israeli soldier in a house in the old city 

I can hardly describe Nablus in 2002, but I hope this post drew an image of how Nablus looked like in September 2002, the following picture from Nablus serve well as visual aid. 

 Blowing up residential building in Nablus 

 Soldiers patrolling the old city of Nablus  

 Placing explosive in the walls, to pass to the other side

Israeli soldier in house in Nablus searching it.


Friday, August 19, 2011

Sinking in their Blood

 Watching the news and people feeds about Eilat attacks, and later the Israeli reactions by Air striking  Gaza, made me think about why those people carried guns and went on shooting other peoples, I felt rage inside me, how you can open fire on civilians, I didn't had to think long, remembering one incident brought it all back

When I was a freshman in the university we had a class called Palestinian studies, the class was about the History of the Palestinian cause since the raise of the anti-Semitism in Europe, until the beginning of the second intifada, The class was fun. -well, at least that what I thought-.

In the last 2 weeks of classes we started discussing the first and second intifada, we were all from the same generation, born in the first intifadas, and lived the second one. One day we brought suicide attack, and violent resistance as a mean the Palestinian uses to end the occupation.

While the discussion was heating up, a girl setting in the corner said “I dream about the day when I see TelAvive sinking in its own blood.” She was looking down into her notebook when she said so. The teacher replies “why too much hate? ”.

The girl looked at him, and started to explain from where all this hate came from, “I was only 8 when they brought my 19 years old brother back home, without his head.” She continued with the story “He was in jail for months, in the day of his release a Jeep took him blindfolded and dropped him somewhere in the west bank, not knowing where he was he wondered around, before he stumble upon a group of soldiers, next thing we know was the military commander knocking on our door at 1AM, he  told my father they are going to give him the body, but he have until 3Am to bury him, they brought him from Abu Kbeer without his head!”

After she finished, the whole classes fall in silent, we couldn’t think of anything to say, we were shocked. In the middle of this silence a young man said “They shall pay. One day, they will pay”.

I didn’t see this girl again, it was her final year, I don’t know where is she from(Guess a village near Tulkarem, from the accent), or even her name, she left my life as she entered it, anonymous.

THINK! Is she the only one?, how many others have lost family and loved ones? How many think the same as this young man? Believe many do, so please before you start talking about love and peace, listen to this people, and try to understand them.


Monday, August 15, 2011

Just a hashtag, get over it

I might be late to write about the controversial hashtag, ‘WeladElkalb’, that Egyptian activist came up with  to refer to the Israeli protests calling for ‘social justice’. I heard a lot of people calling the hashtag anti-Semitic, while many others defended it.

Many Arabs said the hashtag didn’t  represent them and some even wrote on how much they hated it. The Israeli also used it especially the ‘right wingers” saying “see, Arabs hate us all… want to throw us to the sea.”

This hashtag is for sure insulting, as it was established to insult; it served its purpose. Finally, most of the tweets were mainly designed to mock the Egyptian regime during the revolution and thus didn’t really confront Israel or its calls for ‘revolution’., Thus other than the WeladElkalb part, the hashtag is just fine.

This bring the question is the name of the hashtag, i.e. WeladElkalb, Anti-Semitic? I mean seriously, what is not anti-Semitic these days? Its ridiculous. These days if you “God forbid” said you don’t like Woody Allen movies, You are already called a Nazi. How dare you, you anti-Semitic pig.
PS: having “Arabs to the gas chambers” is not anti-Semitic  

This brings me to my point, this hashtag is insulting and I won’t like to be called (reolace by translation of WeladElkalb ), and I understand the feeling of many Israeli who got offended by it. Yet, I think calling it anti-Semitic is stupid and an unnecessary overreaction, from an over sensitive nation and people.

A nation demanding respect and love from the Arab nations, though they failed to provide for reasons to deserve it. Arabs will only show respect to the one who deserves to receive it; if you want their respect, earn it before demanding it.

When the Danish cartoonist drew prophet Muhamad (PBUH), many people got offended and protested against it. The Danish response: “it’s freedom of speech”, and thus the Danish government protected its people’s right to express their thoughts.
Back then the only thing I could think of was  “It’s just a cartoon get over it”.

So as for now, it’s just a hashtag, “Israel” get over it.


Monday, August 8, 2011

#J14 Failing in The Palestinian Eyes

As a Palestinian I observed the Israeli protest in Tel Aviv. With more than 300,000 people marching last Saturday for social justice, decent living and cheaper housing, the protest grows faster than the Israeli government had ever expected. The movement got a huge support among the Israeli public;  the latest poll shows that  90% of the Israeli public stand by the protesters.  Yet I can’t help but seeing the whole #J14 (the name used to refer to the protest movement on twitter) fail from Palestinian perspective. 

I am going to keep my list short, find below my 3 major reasons why the movement is likely to fail in Palestinian eyes
Picture source Activestills flicker account.

1- Israel is a democracy that has an elected government; unlike the regimes in Syria and Egypt, the Israeli people chose their parliament, their prime minister, and their local representatives. In other words, the government represents the people,  and so whatever the government believes in or the ideologies it holds,  it reflects the people who elected it.(do I need to explain more!?) So, as long as those protesters will keep going to the street pointing their fingers to the government with no attempts to make ideological and social reforms among the people themselves, they will probably end up on the streets again in 5 years after a similar government has been elected.
      2- The Demands are very general, one of them being ‘social justice’. But social justice for whom? The protesters call for social justice for the people of Israel, better health care, free education starting from the age of 3…etc. Yet, the protesters tend to ignore the demands of the Arab population of Israel. I doubt anyone demanded a better democratic system, more services to the Arab towns and cities. So if you live in Jaffa, Led, Or Arakeeb, don’t even think about getting a building permit, you are not Israeli enough. Read more about the demands here.
      3- No Politics; not addressing the occupation nor the Settlements; This is the core issue that worries me as a Palestinian. The protest organizers decided to plot a “Revolution”, “to overthrow the Government” without talking “Politics”. And no this is not a joke. Because obviously to keep the movement popular among the Israelis, the occupation will not be addressed(so what does this tell you about the Israeli Jews?).  In other words, the Israeli government approves the building of 900 housing units in Jerusalem in the settlement of HarHoma, while I am writing this post.

Those are my main three reasons why I think The Israeli #J14 movement is going to fail. And maybe someone will comment on this post asking me ‘why does this #J14 concerns the Arab?”. Well, dear, they occupy me, so I have a right to be concerned about it.  

Finally, as long as this movement is not addressing the critical issues, they will end up as a major failure. And remember the Egyptian didn’t start in 2011, they started protesting in 2004 demanding Mubarak to step down, 7 years later he is in a cage. It’s no shame if you demanded 100% of your rights with 20% of the people supporting you, but it’s a great shame if you brought 90% of the people’s support, while demanding only 20% of the people’s rights.

I wish I am wrong, but I don’t think I am. But this could be the beginning for more social reforms in the Future, until then good luck. And see you at the checkpoints! .


Saturday, August 6, 2011

Gandhi Project

The Palestinian started to struggle against the Israeli separation wall ever since Israel started building it. At first people started in the North with small protests in the villages near the Palestinian city of Jenin, those protest were, however, soon crushed and finally stopped. 

Less than a year later, the Israeli wall reached the village of Bilin. The residents of Bilin decided to take faith in their own hands and started protesting against  the wall. These small protests later evolved to become a full blown movement, from which the popular resistance committee saw the light.  In a few years, there were protests in Nilin, Bilin, Ma’asra, Eraq bourin and Nabisaleh. 

Most of those villages  adopted the principle of nonviolence as a method to resist the Israeli occupation and colonization of the west bank; claiming one needed to  adopt the same methodologies as were used during the Indian revolution lead by Mahatma Gandhi. 

Soon the term nonviolence was started to be used everywhere. People -mainly the elite- started to talk about how a nonviolent revolution would solve what the Palestinian people failed to solve in the past 63 years by using armed resistance -they didn’t do it right anyway-.

The European union picked up the movement and started sending indulgences -EU considering them Human rights activist- to everyone they thought fitted the profile. Off course this didn’t mean that anyone of them would  receive any kind of immunity from the Israelis. A nicely dressed white guy  in the court room whenever they would be send you to jail for six month for collecting used teargas grenades would probably be all that could be expected from those EU representatives. The main problem I find in people who talk about nonviolence is the fact that the are often detached from reality and the people in streets, they talk about Gandhi and India revolutions -which, by the way used armed resistance, Tamil Nadu, Maharasta, Bengal and Bihar are just few names of many armed resistance groups in India.- to people who know nothing about Gandhi nor India.

Secondly, most of the Palestinian nonviolent resistance advocates fail to recognize the uniqueness of the Zionist colonization of Palestine, and the objectives they are seeking.
The Zionist colonialism unlike the classical colonialism tends to spoil the country they colonize with resources, yet they don’t need the native for cheap labor. At the contrary since the beginning of the Jewish immigration to Palestine they always called for supporting Jewish labor., They complained many times to the company’s business owners and even the state about the lack of Jewish employees.

Third, those preaching for nonviolence seem to know so little about the countries and their struggles they use to advertise  nonviolent resistance to the Palestinian population. They talk about Gandhi and Ignore Jatiandranath Mukherjee; they talk about Nelson Mandela, yet they ignore the fact that he was send to jail for using armed resistance; they talk about the civil rights movement in America while ignoring the black power movement and Black panthers for self defense. How can you take someone seriously, when they know nothing about the example he has been using to prove his point of view.

Fourth, and this is a dangerous one, many of those nonviolent preachers criminalize the popular resistance. What I mean here is that, some of those nonviolent activists tend to criminalize the actions that some Palestinians  have adopted as part of the popular struggle, such as the throwing of stones at armored jeeps and soldiers. Which in all respect is a major flaw that requires such groups to reconstruct their ideology.

In the end, the Palestinian maintains the right to resist the Zionist colonialism using any mean necessary to achieve their purposes. nevertheless, the Palestinian is also obligated to resist with the approval of the West, even if they would rather chose the violent path. Cause after all they will miss the nicely dressed white person in their trials!

PS: I wrote an earlier post regarding this topic, but I felt obligated to talk about it again.


Thursday, August 4, 2011

Life log 04

My first time in Jail.

In December 1995 the Israeli military administration "AKA. the Israeli military occupation" left the city of Nablus, as was incorporated in Oslo agreements.

The Israelis left the city 4 days earlier than scheduled. As soon as the last soldier left the city around midnight, people stormed on to the streets, to watch the Israeli caravans as they were leaving the city. Successively the people began storming into the building the IDF used to control, they entered the offices, where previously had spend days for simple papers work to be done"unless it was a passport then you are done in seconds", they set foots into the rooms where they were interrogated by the Shabak, and finally they rushed into the cells where they had spend many nights. 

I must admit, I was a sleep when the Israelis left the city, but as soon as I woke up, a total different world had come to light. Dad was still having his coffee in the living room with mom as usual, but this time there was way too much commotion outside, and all the sounds coming from the streets nearby, sounded way different. 

My cousins came later, they were holding posters of Arafat(the head of the PLO, and later the first president of the PA.) I seized one of the posters and joined them, as they drove towered Jnaid jail. (Jnaid was originally designed as an eye hospital. After the 1967 war, however the Israeli had turned Jnaid into a jail, and thus the building became a symbol for the years of horror and torture the Israelis has reflected on the Palestinian in Nablus, specifically on the political prisoners that were viciously kept in Jnaid. Now, Jnaid is still used as a jail, however this time under the control of the PA).

The car drove through Rafidiah street, I never knew their is a world, with land, sky and people after the dark end of the street, I was seriously astonished, we reach the huge building that looked exactly like the one in the east side of the city. This was the first time I had ever seen Jenaid in my whole life. 

We walked down the towards the building and found too many people had already reached the place. Many came to take their first look, many brought their kids to show them, where they spend their youth, and to remember all comrades. 
we walked down the narrow orange colored corridors, everything smelled bad, the cells and it's gray walls, the small windows, the iron doors, the chains...I later used these mental image to imagine the French Bastille. I tried to read what was written on the walls, I failed in most of my attempts. Meanwhile people kept pushing me forward, until finally I was pushed out of the building. This was my first and last time i would have seen this place from inside. But from that moment on I had become aware of the existence of places like these, a truth that terrorized my thoughts until this days.

The French Bastille

Although I grew up to oppose the Oslo accords, yet I can't deny the magnificence of that moment for many Palestinian in the West bank and Gaza. 


Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Life log 03

A friend of mine, blogged this and tagged me into it,(click here) I found it a good chance to post another episodes of my life log, I know it's just some basic Information, but hope this will help serving the purpose of my life log posts. 

My name is Ahmad
But people call me Nimer, Tiger
I am 25  years old
If I was the king everybody should do the job he like, because they like it, as no one will get paid for what he do
My favorite subject in school: History, and biology
My least favorite subject in school: Math and Physics
In my free time I like to read, watch movies, and very long walks
My favorite color: Black
My favorite animal: Cats and dogs
My favorite sport: Swimming
My favorite actor/actress: Al pacino, Robert Di Nero, Morgan freeman  
My favorite singer/band: Sameeh Shoqair, wast al balad, alshare3, mashro’o laila
The best book I have read: Whretched of the Earth.  Black skin white masks, and dying colonisem, also Palestinian without identity, men under the sun…..etc etc “and many USSR communist literature”
The best movie I have seen: Shawshank Redemption, American History X, 1984, I would need a whole post to name all of my best movies
I really don’t like moderates, you make no difference when you are not taking side as a start
I really like love, peace and understanding…….”I really like those jokes”
I would like to travel to Africa and india..
I dream about beats me, I never remembered any of my dreams.. and if I did it usually look and sound like a very bad sci-fi movie
When I grow up I would like to be a full time photojournalist