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To Vik: Gaza Will Stay Human

Upon reading the updates from facebook friends in my news feed this morning that Vittorio Arrigoni, the kidnapped Italian journalist and beloved ISM worker, was found dead, my heart leapt! “Leapt” might not be the perfect word as it implies excitement and happiness but I truly felt it leaping!

When I realized it was true and everyone was linking Vittorio’s name to “R.I.P.”, I was so shocked that I could hardly contain my feelings – let alone identify them. Yet after reflecting on the news for few more minutes, my thoughts on the subject crystallized.

This is how I understood it: Vittorio was Gaza’s and Palestine’s latest “Shaheed”. He was brutally murdered by a bunch of lunatic criminals who are not in any way even remotely related to Palestine and what Palestinians feel for Vittorio.

Vik, as friends called him, was kidnapped yesterday by a Salafist Islamic group that, in a film on YouTube, threatened to kill him if within 30 hours, starting from 11:00 local time, the Hamas government did not liberate some Salafi detainees.

My conscious thinking kept telling me not to worry and that Vik will be released to safety soon; that I can start worrying on exceeding the 20-hours mark. My rationalization was fundamentally wrong; monsters who allow themselves to abduct such a hero are not governed by any sense of reason. Vittorio was killed without even half the time that the kidnappers stated as the limit having passed.

Vittorio was assassinated. We lost him.

The big, strong and handsome Italian man was a volunteer with the International solidarity movement and served as a human shield while working with the Palestinian Red Crescent ambulances during the Israeli attack on Gaza strip. He was especially known for accompanying the fishermen as they tried to ply their trade despite almost daily shootings at them from the Israeli navy, who confined them to the fished-out, sewage-filled waters near the Gaza coast.

Vik received Palestinian citizenship and a passport when he sailed into Gaza port in August, 2008 and on his facebook page is written: “lives in Gaza”. That citizenship was a richly earned one; Vik was a dedicated Palestinian who shared the people of Gaza the three-week aggression on the Strip as he shared them the too-sweet tea, traditional dishes and Shisha!

In his book, Gaza: Stay Human, Vittorio documents his experiences among the people of Gaza during Israel’s attack in 2008-2009 and gives his first hand account of the inhuman actions the Gaza strip witnessed at that time.

Vittorio,

Human you wanted Gaza to stay and in Gaza you were inhumanely murdered. 

For you, Rachel, Tristan, Tom and Juliano

Gaza will stay human and Palestine will be free… 

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Yes for a no-fly zone over Gaza! (via GAZA DIARIES OF PEACE AND WAR)

Salute to my friend Mohammed Suliman!

On his blog GAZA DIARIES OF PEACE AND WAR Mohammed describes some aspects of his personal experience as a Gazan living under continuous surveillance by Israeli drones. The blog will help you understand to what extent it bugs us having to cope with the uncontrollable and impairment-inducing intrusion of every daily function by these warships.

This is the post to read in case you want to understand how our life style is all messed up with the drones hovering day and night above our heads.

I, for one, hate to study with company. It’s 3:05am. I’ll be tested on American literature at 11:00am. Less than eight hours separate me from the exam, and yet I have plenty to cram into my mind but… As usual, I got company. Company that is like no company. Company that I can’t even think of ridding myself of. Bullying company. Though American-made, they don’t seem to have the same interest to study American Literature. Indispensable company. Fuc … Read More

via GAZA DIARIES OF PEACE AND WAR

We can all be heroes!

A heroic effort is a collective effort. It’s imperfect, it’s not very glamorous, and it doesn’t suddenly start and suddenly end. It’s an ongoing presence your whole life. And, most importantly, it’s voluntary. As long as we’re teaching our kids that heroism starts when someone scratches a mark on your forehead or someone tells you that you’re part of a prophesy, you’re missing the most important characteristic of leadership: that it comes from within, it’s about following your own dreams—uninvited—and working with others to make those dreams come true.

By Dave Meslin.

On my way back home about a week ago, there was a mother I sat next to in the taxi. With her was her seven-year-old-looking kid. She gave him the money to pay for the driver and made him set next to her instead of on her lap as many do to pay half the cost. Then leaned and kept teaching him how to multiply fractions. She showed him respect and gave him space. She encouraged his individuality. That was a passing thing, but that mother is a hero.

Haneen, my friend’s sister is a talented artist. She insisted on studying arts, a not so popular choice for young Palestinians in Gaza’s traditional society. Where art is a luxury, she transformed the suffering of her people into masterpieces that are being appreciated by people of art and people of life. Today I heard of her latest winning of yet another prize. Haneen is a hero.

The very friendly 28-year-old man at the small shop of the European Gaza Hospital where I do my training is not as smart as the doctors to whom he sells juice and sandwiches; sometimes tomatoes and cucumbers too! But he spends the whole of his day working to get enough money to support his family. On nights that I had night shifts, I came across him more than once as he closed the shop and laid a mattress on the 2 square meter floor to sleep after a long day. That man is a hero.

My sisters; all six are heroes. My one and only brother is a hero. They give me strength. One smile can heal my deepest wounds and unidirectionally change the polarity of my mood. Some called me “Mama” when were young and here they are; growing as impressively promising and caring people. They will be way better than I am. I feel proud of every and each one of them.

My father is a hero. My mother is a hero. I will dare not try to explain to you why or how. I can never describe how much I owe them. I simply can’t.

You can be a hero. Look around and you will realize that, for someone in this world, you are a hero.

Be a hero to yourself.

We can all be heroes!

 

Night Train to Lisbon

The 31st of this year’s January was a memorable day for me. On that special day I started reading the novel Night Train to Lisbon by Pascal Mercier. It was a present from a dear friend who wanted me to enjoy a kind of reading that is relatively devoid of focus on wars and conflicts as, for instance, it is the case in The Kite Runner.

I am writing this post to tell that friend and tell you all that I found Night Train to Lisbon a compulsive reading. The sentences had such a hypnotic power on me that once I started reading, this novel was very hard to put down. Pascal Mercier has captured the essence, both good and bad, strong and weak, of the human nature. I have read it and re-read many of its chapters and can think of no other novel for the last couple of years, that has so much moved me or stimulated in me so much reflection on the human soul.

The next is one of my favourite notes written by Amadeu de Prado, the Portuguese doctor whose words inspire the fascinating journey to Lisbon.

O INTERIOR DO EXTERIOR DO INTERIOR

” …. Is the same with others: that they don’t recognize themselves in their outside? That the reflection seems like a stage set full of crass distortion? That, with fear, they note a gap between the perception others have of them and the way they experience themselves? That the familiarity of inside and the familiarity of outside can be so far apart that they can hardly be considered familiarity with the same thing?

The distance from others, where this awareness moves us, becomes even greater when we realize that our outside form doesn’t appeare to others as to our own eyes. Humans are not seen like houses, trees and stars. They are seen with the expectation of being able to encounter them in a specific way and thus making them a part of our own inside. Imagination trims them to suit our own wishes and hopes, but also to confirm our own fears and prejudices. We don’t even get safely and impartially to the outside contours of another. On the way, the eye is diverted and blurred by all the wishes and fantasies that make us the special, unmistakable human beings we are. Even the outside world of an inside world is still a piece of our inside world, not to mention the thoughts we make about the inside world of strangers and that are so uncertain and unstable that they say more about oursleves than about others…we are doubly strangers, for between us there is not only the deceptive outside world, but also the delusion that exists of it in every inside world.

Is it an evil, this strangeness and distance? Would a painter have to portoray us with outstreched arms, desperate in the vain attempt to reach the other? Or should a picture show us in a pose expressing relief that there is this double barrier that is also a protective wall? Should we be grateful for the protection that guards us from the stangeness of one another? And for the freedom it makes possible? How would it be if we confronted each other unprotected by the double refration represented by the interpreted body? If, because nothing separating and adulterating stood between us, we tumbled into each other?”

End.

The protagonist in Night Train to Lisbon is Raimund Gregorius, a teacher of ancient languages in Switzerland. Gregorius has mostly spent a life of solitary routine, but a chance encounter with a Portuguese woman intrigues him about her language. He stops in a secondhand bookstore and finds an old book by Amadeu Prado, a Portuguese doctor. The shop owner translates the first pages for him and Gregorius is so taken by the book that he quits his job and takes the night train to Lisbon. When he arrives in Lisbon, he finds that Prado is dead. Gregorius tracks down every piece of information and contact he can find about Prado, coming to believe that Prado led a life that Gregorius wishes he had led. In researching Prado’s life, he also helps bring resolution to those who had known and loved him.

Pascal Mercier is a professor of philosophy who writes under a pen name. His real name is Peter Bieri and, obviously, a person of intelligence and erudition, qualities that are evident throughout this novel.

Pascal Mercier’s novel has received positive reviews with the San Diego Union-Tribune saying, “But while Night Train to Lisbon does require active reading (even thinking), it rewards readers with the generous gift of beautiful writing and some unforgettable images: the burned, shaking hands of a torture survivor, the specific blue of Prado’s house, the unbearable weight of new eyeglasses, the rattle and hum of an overnight train through an unfamiliar country. The reader is transported and, like Gregorius, better for having taken the journey.”

For those who want a good, intelligent read that’s an excellent analysis of character and personality and poses some fascinating questions about life and love, you won’t go wrong with Night Train To Lisbon.

Nature can not be gamed!

The problem is that nature is much larger that anything we can devise. It is not possible to harness the forces of nature.

Quote: “It is human to think we can trick nature, or do it one better. It is human to think a tsunami would never knock out a nuclear plant, a hurricane would never bury a city and a deepwater oil drill would never poison a huge body of water. In the gods of technology we trust.

Until they fail. And then, we feel helpless and small and wonder what they — or we — were thinking.”

 

As Chris Hedges concludes in this article: ” Technology, which has obliterated the constraints of time and space, has turned our global village into a global death trap.”

Will mankind ever overcome these primitively installed thoughts of capability and selfishness and learn that globalization is sabotaging  the home of the next generations? That making Hollywood’s most catastrophic scenarios of mother nature’s revenge a reality is not on the wish list of the one billion hungry humans that don’t get to watch 3D films?!  Will we ever understand that mother nature can not be gamed!

How Was Rachel Corrie Murdered?

The through account of Joseph Smith, a peace activist from Kansas who accompanied Rachel to Rafah, was widely available on the Internet and could have easily been consulted by anyone interested in understanding the nature of her tragic death:

One bulldozer, serial number 949623, began to work near the house of a physician who is a friend of ours, and in whose house Rachel and other activists often stayed. While we occupied the other structures directly west (the closest was less than 5 meters away and the furthest was less than 25 meters away), Rachel sat down in the pathway of the bulldozer. I was elevated about 2 meters above the ground, and had a clear view of the action happening about 20 meters away. Still wearing her fluorescent jacket, she sat down at least 15 meters in front of the bulldozer, and began waving her arms and shouting just as activists had successfully done dozens of times that day.

The bulldozer continued driving forward headed straight for Rachel. When it got so close that it was moving the earth beneath her, she climbed onto the pile of rubble being pushed by the bulldozer. She got so high onto it that she was at eye-level with the cab of the bulldozer. Her head and upper torso were above the bulldozer’s blade, and the bulldozer driver and co-operator could clearly see her. Despite this, he continued forward, which pulled her legs into the pile of rubble, and pulled her down out of view of the driver. If he’d stopped at this point, he may have only broken her legs, but he continued forward, which pulled her underneath the bulldozer. We ran towards him, and waved our arms and shouted, one activist with a megaphone. But the bulldozer driver continued forward, until Rachel was underneath the cab of the bulldozer. At this point, it was more than clear that she was nowhere but underneath the bulldozer, there was simply nowhere else she could have been, as she had not appeared on either side of the bulldozer, and could not have stayed in front of it that long without being crushed.

Despite the obviousness of her position, the bulldozer began to reverse, without lifting its blade, and dragged the blade over her body again. He continued to reverse until he was on the border strip, about 100 meters away, and left her crushed body in the sand. Three activists ran to her and began administering first-response medical treatment. Her body was in a mangled position, her face was very bloody, and her skin was turning blue. She said, “My back is broken!” but nothing else. The three activists took care to keep her neck straight, and turned her to her side in case of vomit or blood from the mouth.

She was showing signs of brain hemorrhaging (I found out later from the British medical activist), so they elevated her head in order to allow it to drain blood, as this injury was more serious than simply a spinal injury. They continued to talk to her in attempts to keep her conscious. The other bulldozer, which had been working about 3o meters to the west, abandoned work and withdrew to the border strip, and parked about 10 meters to the west of the murderous bulldozer. The tank came over to see what had happened, and I shouted that they had run over our friend, and that she may die. The soldiers in the tank never spoke to us, nor did they ask us any questions or offer us any help.

Joseph Smith, ” Rachel Corrie: Detailed Eyewitness Account, Remembrance, and Thoughts about the Future, Electronic Intifada (March 21, 2003)

Prayers for Japan

 


Japanese woman carrying the body of a child killed in the recent earthquake and Tsunami

Thoughts and prayers with all those effected by the disastrous Tsunami… Let’s keep praying for them all.

Each victim carried a world of wishes, hopes, aspirations, love, and dreams in her or his soul. Each has family and friends who are mourning their loss, and will carry the memory of their lost ones in their hearts. Each was a human being.

The Wind That Shakes the Barley

The Wind That Shakes the Barley is a 2006 Irish war drama film directed by Ken Loach and written by Paul Laverty. The events set during the Irish War of Independence (1919–1921) and the Irish Civil War (1922–1923). Widely praised, the film won the Palme d’Or at the 2006 Cannes Film Festival.

The Wind That Shakes The Barley

The film was particularly appealing to me as it seemed an opportunity to gain a better understanding of the components and workings of the seemingly intractable problem of the Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland.

My work in advocacy gave me the chance to meet Palestinian and international intellectuals and activists and many used to say that Palestinians can learn a great deal of lessons from the South African and Irish experiences. I could understand the similarity with the South African struggle for equality and against racism and discrimination but the analogy with the Irish problem has always been vague and mysterious and unanswered questions loomed large. I usually judge my knowledge regarding a certain issue by how much I read about it. Thus, I guess I can attribute my poor knowledge of the Irish to the lack of books and articles narrating the history of that part of the world that I was exposed to in my recent years.

When I knew about the intention of the Gazan organizers of Israeli Apartheid Week to present the film “The Wind that Shakes the Barley” and hold a discussion afterwards to comment on key similarities between our own struggle and theirs, I got possessed by curiosity and intense appetite. Watching a film featuring that period of time was the best way to start my pursuit of a better knowledge of Ireland and the correlations with Palestine. Read more…

Video: Road Map to Apartheid

On the first day of Israeli Apartheid Week in Gaza City I was there to enjoy three hours of fascinating discussions about Israel and the apartheid analogy. For twenty minutes, we watched several short films about the BDS movement and the Israeli apartheid regimen. The video linked below was one of the videos presented.

Stop the Wall and itisapartheid.org collaborated to create the Israeli Apartheid Video Contest.Out of the submissions, the top 10 films were selected to be featured on itisapartheid.org. Out of those 10 films, three were chosen for higher honours. Read more…

Israeli Apartheid Week

Yesterday evening as Israeli drones were hovering over Jabalia and sounds of explosions were keeping the population awake, I was checking the inbox of one of my e-mail addresses, the one dedicated to Facebook and other subscriptions, when I noticed an e-mail inviting me to attend “Israeli Apartheid Week” in Gaza City.

It is not uncommon the comparison of Israel’s practices against Palestinians to South Africa’s apartheid era. Israel has been accused of committing the crime of apartheid by Jimmy Carter, Desmund Tutu, United Nations investigators, human rights groups and critics of Israeli policy who are often labeled by Israel as “Anti-Semitic”.

The 2002 Rome Statute of the International Criminal Court defines Apartheid as a crime against humanity “committed in the context of an institutionalized regime of systematic oppression and domination by one racial group over any other racial group or groups and committed with the intention of maintaining that regime.”

The very nature of the Israeli occupation is about denying the existence of the Palestinians, dealing with them through a set of military laws issued by the “State of Israel” and rejecting the rules set by the international community that define the relationship between occupier and occupied. As the occupying power, Israel has the responsibility under the Fourth Geneva Convention to see to the welfare of the civilian population of the occupied territories, which is obviously contrary to practices on the ground. Read more…