So on Wednesday night (June, 27), my friend Lina Al Sharif tweeted me a congratulations for graduating on that day. Funny thing is, her tweet was actually how I found out my graduation ceremony was early on that day. I didn’t know when the ceremony was lol; that’s how messed up my life is at the moment! Oh well, I never planned on going in the first place, but it sill felt weird and funny. Thanks anyway Linz, you’re such a gem :) congrats la all my friends!
Anger? Sorrow? Joy? A combination of the three? A combination of the three. They passed, the last couple of months, so slowly like a snail making its way across the dead sea. Yet so swiftly, they passed, like a scorching fire eating up the remnants of a thin-paper made, abandoned journal. There was all the time in the world to write and to pour onto the paper this limitless drift of emotions, yet very little time. Duties, dreams, anger, stress, LIFE – all melted and merged into a darkening chaos that held sway over me. It was these very things that always pushed me to blog my heart out. This time the high dose of anger, of frustration, and of longing, however, has been paralyzing.
The list of what I wanted to speak of or rant about is swelling already. There is the dreamlike pack of books I received as a gift all the way from the UK from sweet Vicky whom I never even met, there is Diwan Ghazza and so much inspiration and hope, there is the talent show I have been working on, and there is also my unanticipated trip to Malmo, Sweden. Equally, there has been my unprecedented frustration with the Palestinian leadership and desire to quit twitter and stop reading news for some good time, there has been my laptop busting because of electricity instability, and there of course has been the fuel/electricity crisis that stripped us all in Gaza from any feeling of dignity (an article I wrote on the matter) – 12-18 hours of electricity cuts a day that affected every aspect of our living and one that made the sole intention of our days to try and find electricity/fuel/water, or turn on generators, and pass the time. Waking up to no water in the toilet because of no electricity, forcing me to go to a restaurant in order to use the damn bathroom, sure was enough to ruin my mood for an entire day. Hearing this person’s story and that person’s story, thinking about newborn babies dying in hospitals, and struggling to get online, to charge my phone, or to use electricity for anything at all has all struck me forcibly. Overwhelmed with joy when it’s on, and weighed down with anger and irritation whenever it’s out or back during sleep hours. Electricity became everything. It became our dream, and also our worst nightmare. I cannot fathom the considerable transformation of our Palestinian cause, the cause of the land, of the refugees, of Jerusalem into a struggle for basic human rights and a dignified, equal life.
I was happy to take that break and get the chance to leave Gaza and visit Sweden. I did not know it was going to be so painful. Whereas the biggest deal for me was crossing the Rafah border and getting to Cairo without getting deported, I was entirely shaken with what happened at the Cairo International Airport. The humiliation. As it was boarding time, I was sent back to sit in my chair and wait. He did not tell me what to wait for. There was less than an hour left for takeoff. I came back to try again. I was sent back to my chair once more. He did keep my passport. He did say facing the passport with only his eyes staring up at me, “you’re Palestinian”. I asked insistently if something was wrong. I only got “Nothing is wrong. Please wait over there.” for a response. I was later called by some dude who had the creepiest, ugliest, and most tackiest grin on planet earth for questioning and checking my passport and documents. I, then, was told that I am ready to go. Tears jammed up inside my throat as I took my passport and headed back to try to enter the gate again. I did not want to cry in front of them, a Palestinian should never cry in front of them. But I couldn’t; that one boiling hot tear crawled down my face without permission. I spent that whole time on the plane thinking about it. About what you are to face just for being a Palestinian; even from Arabs. I did not know what to feel. I do not know what to feel until now.
Electricity got back two hours earlier than it was supposed to tonight. I should be jumping up and down with joy. But all I feel is sickness – all the photos from today. I am indeed happy with the thousands who took to the streets and headed to the borders today, I am happy with the renewed struggle for the real Palestinian cause and of the occupied resisting the occupier. I am happy with the brave men, women, elderly, and children who put their lives at stake and stood up to the face of tyranny, of occupation. That same occupation that seizes our land, our rights, and has a hold over our lives and how they run. The occupation that looks down upon us as insignificant and unequal.
But I cry for my people. The photos of the utter brutality of the Israeli Occupation Forces make my stomach roll. They whip the tears out of my eyes and squash my heart like that Palestinian demonstrator is squashed under the horse and dirty boots of the occupier.
Depressing post, I know.. Will make it up in upcoming posts, I promise!
*When sorrows [In our case; MASAYEB] come, they come not single spies, but in battalions* Hamlet
1- Cyber attacks and hackings into internet servers in Gaza caused random cyber blackouts. I received 6 messages so far from the internet company apologizing for the disconnection.
2- My laptop screen stops working because of the weak and unstable electricity generated by our retarded power generator.
3- Fuel is not allowed to get into Gaza, causing an electricity crisis. (considering the 8-hour schedule we had since the siege was imposed on Gaza wasn’t a real crisis -_-”)
4- Valentine’s: The power plant shuts down and the 6 hours per day electricity schedule starts. Our power generator stops working. I can’t use my laptop even if it was fully charged (battery lasts for 3 hours) because the screen doesn’t work and I need to connect it to a pc monitor temporarily, which requires electricity.
5- Internet crisis continues, so even during the six hours, internet keeps going on and off.
6- No internet in most internet Cafe’s
7- If I want to go to a restaurant to make use of their electricity and do some work I can’t because the laptop screen doesn’t work and I can’t just take a PC monitor with me!
7- We get a new power generator, but the fuel problem is continuing and I don’t know when we’re going to run out and become unable to turn it on.
8- Water bumps occasionally stop because of the electricity crisis.
9- It’s so fucking hard to take a God damn shower!! It is cold and we need to turn on the water heater for at least 30 minutes before any shower, and because it’s a heavy load on the power generator we can’t turn it on unless there is electricity! Now imagine, 6 hours per day that sometimes come when we’re asleep or when we’re out should be made use of for showers not just for me but also the rest of the family!
10- I had to miss #LoveUnderApartheid! :( but am happy it was trending worldwide on twitter!! Listen to Lina’s story :(, to Tayseer and Lana’s, and to Laila’s..
11- INTERNET IS STILL EFFING ME UP, I’ve been trying to upload this damn video I made quickly as soon as we got electricity back on the 14th for 3 days now! But YouTube uploads aren’t resumable..
12- Am forced to delays tons of crap Read the rest of this page »
By: Jehan Alfarra
Imagine a tumor, a big lump of frustration muddled up with helplessness settling inside your heart and getting pumped through your veins and the entirety of your body, and it has no cure. You only wish you can reach down, thrust your hand into your heart and squash that toxic chunk of aggravation between your wobbly fingers. Eradicating it, though, is a treatment you are denied; the only eradication that you can have is the Israeli termination of your life, and along with it the termination of your despair. You may only resort to immunotherapy, which very much depends on your creativity in enhancing your immune system and endurance levels. It would be safe to say that every Palestinian is, one way or another, inflicted with this malignant cell. Where I live in Palestinian Gaza, people are inflicted with this helplessness and hopelessness , but to make matters worse, there is also a time bomb planted inside of their chests as well, ticking away and ready to detonate any passing moment. Life is a mere existence rather than real living. At times, escapism and absolute indifference are your only means of relative happiness.
In Gaza, men have ‘learnt at a very young age what it was to be angry- angry and helpless’. They are encompassed by a cloud of vulnerability and are impelled to watch their integrity being ripped out at every uncertainty and inability to do and be, but as Gaza men are transported with rage, the defiance and struggle against the nasty tumor knows no break. It is a full time job.
In Gaza, even the most moderate and serene women are intensely preoccupied with a paradoxical desire and passion for ranting, cursing, and at times, simply crying. Watching their lives, and if married the lives of their children and their husbands preordained and constrained by what Israel, coordinating with Egypt, permits. Read the rest of this page »
Place: The balcony of my bedroom.
Time: August, 10, 2011. 3:00 am (Suhoor).
Surrounding environment: A nice breeze, a starry sky, and the noise of neighbouring power generators + Israeli drones.
The characters: Myself, my mind, and Israeli drones.
The mood: Concern and agitation
The props: A mattress, a fluffy pillow, my blue bear, a laptop, a cell phone, a chocolate bar, and a bottle of water.
As I, trying to put my mind to sleep, contemplate the troubling beauty of the lights of not just the stars but also the Israeli warplanes in my sky, it hit me like a ton of bricks. Cast Lead II?
It has been pretty quiet on the whole since this blackout started. I often fear quiet under such circumstances, but the company of my family and the TV screen that I cursed just the other day kept my mind off of things.
It really did not seem to be a big deal at the beginning when I tried to come back on twitter and the connection failed after I had finished my iftar. It happens more often than not due to the random power cuts that causes disruption and messes up the settings of my router. I picked up my phone to text someone only to find that there was no cell phone signal, either! My mom’s phone happened to be on the table in front of me, so I attempted to use hers, though there was no signal whatsoever on that one, too. A couple of hours passed with my mind itching until we all felt that something was not right. We contacted our relatives using the landline, and it turned out the whole strip was experiencing the same thing. Read the rest of this page »
Gratitude seems too heavy a word and a sentiment to me these days, as the swelling list of my losses up until this point has been preoccupying my mind. I have been thinking of myself and myself alone for a while to the point I feel I have become somebody I am not and never wanted to be, yet still getting slapped in the face- hard. Never before have I been selfish, and no one I knew could ever call me selfish. In fact, most people I met have told me that my selfless efforts to help those around me and to advocate something essentially just is what earned me their respect and appreciation, and thus thinking of myself now feels way too awkward for I have never asked for anything specifically for me. I have been contended with the privileges I had, and what God has bestowed me with in general. And I, like most Palestinians, try my bestest to appreciate life whenever I can and live it to the fullest, though from a bleak outlook on it. My pessimism is what made me happy in the first place, and it is what helps Palestinians cope with such life, injustice, and discrimination. It is when you do not expect something good from this world that you appreciate whatever it is you have, and as Swift said, ‘Blessed is he who expects nothing, for he shall never be disappointed.’ But, I have been gradually losing that ability, and it is agitating me. I had accepted life in this part of the world as it is with the good and the bad, though I was blessed with something that turned my life upside down and made me way too happy to be myself, and then life slapped me with my worst fear to the point I can’t but look at everything I have, and everything I don’t, look at everything I do, and everything I don’t, everything I think I deserve, and everything I don’t. I knew there would eventually be a point in my life where I realize that nothing but a mirage is what I have been living, as the days seem too shallow now, too pointless, too painful, and too hard to escape- OVER A POSSIBILITY.
This is absolutely ridiculous! Here is some of the footage we taped complied in a short report:
I am writing this and I am REALLY hating it. It has been a while since I’ve blogged, however it seems as though most of my posts are becoming about the Rafah border and all the claptrap around it, and I am not in the slightest happy about it. Might as well change the title of my blog into ‘Rafah yesterday, today, and tomorrow: stinging sameness’!!
Bravo Israel! The Palestinian Cause in Gaza has become the Rafah crossing, amongst a few other things. The Palestinian cause has become an appeal for basic human rights for Palestinians, such as the freedom of movement, the right to medical treatment, and so on. People have gotten to a certain point where all they think about is an easy life and mere survival. Even on an international level, all the attention has been shifted to the closed crossings of this enclave. The international community are rarely addressing the right of return or the rights of Palestinian detainees nowadays, as Israel has successfully managed to create a crisis they deny on a 360km piece of land that would shift all of the world’s attention away from Israel’s immense crimes and expanding settlements.
Anyhow, I will write about this as it makes me absolutely angry at how ugly the Palestinians here in Gaza are being treated, and how this degradation and humiliation has become the daily life of hundreds of human beings holding a Palestinian passport. I have talked in my previous post about the siege and what opening the border would do or mean, and I have also shown my cynicism over the recent ‘permanent opening by Egypt’ news. On Saturday, (July 2) I went to Rafah myself to see what things are like now and if there is any change. I was feeling very indifferent and wore light purple (a colour I usually very much dislike and wear on bad days). It took us an hour to reach the border, and while in the car we were cracking some jokes and being ironic about Rafah and Egyptian statements in this regard. As we reached there and saw the closed gates, anger started building up inside me, slowly. I kept my cool and smile, and we decided to interview people and see what is going on.
I was asked to elaborate more on the issue of opening the Rafah Crossing in a written post, and so I am writing something brief as I am cramming for exams and uni work this month.
First of all I want to note in short what opening the Rafah Crossing would mean for Gaza. The opening of Rafah will firstly and most importantly allow Gazans to somewhat practice their right for freedom of movement which they have been long deprived of. Scholarship holders would be able to travel with ease, patients would be able to travel for treatment, and families would be able to reunite without the fear of being stuck on either side (in or out of Gaza), and so on.
The second most important thing would be raw construction material being brought back into Gaza to allow reconstruction to take place. And on this note, it is important to mention the hundreds of Gazan workers in the reconstruction sector that have been out of work and who would be finally brought back into work, reducing the unemployment level that Gaza is suffering from.
Equally important would be reviving trade in the Gaza strip and allowing a sufficient amount of decent goods to enter, thus reducing the prices and fortifying the Gazan economy. This has another value which is, hopefully, terminating the existence of smuggling tunnels- that, believe it or not, Gazans hate even more than Israelis as it put the lives of Gazans at risk and indeed caused the death and and injury of hundreds. In addition, it will give Gazans more options and choices, and alternatives to Israeli-made or smuggled products; and this will help Gazans themselves to participate in boycotting Israeli products.
Not to forget the medical insuffeciency and serious lack for the necessary medications and medical equipments that are prevented from entering the strip as well.
On top of all of this, the opening of Rafah at this point will allow Hamas to claim a massive victory against Israeli pressure, and will give new Egypt a stronger stand in Middle-East affairs.
As for Egypt, this move would add patent credit to post-revolution Egyptian policy which has been thus far following the desire of the Egyptian public. Being careful, however, so as not to idealise the new Egyptian government; especially that the Hamas-Fatah unity deal was brokered by Egyptian intelligence rather than the foreign office. As Palestinians, we have learned to expect the worst scenarios and be as realistic as possible, and in this case, we should not be expecting much. I mean until this moment, what has been said about opening the Rafah Border has not been implemented, and as the Egyptian head of the Rafah Crossing, Ayoub Abu Shaar, put it: The number of Palestinians who were denied passage through the Rafah crossing after the Egyptian revolution increased threefold compared to the numbers before the uprising.
So only time will tell.
Personally, What gives me pleasure in all of this is that Israel is pretty confused, and rather pissed! We can see Israeli figures at variance more than ever before haha. You see netanyahu threatening the PA and calling the reconciliation pact between Hamas and Fatah “a tremendous blow to peace”and asking them to choose between Israel and Hamas. On the other hand, you see Perez affirming “President Mahmoud Abbas is still a partner for peace with Israel” and that his decision to reconcile with Hamas “doesn’t free me of the need to talk with him.”
Oh. Click here to see my trip from Gaza to Egypt before the revolution through the Rafah Border
So we did it! Such a beautiful day… A human chain with 250 children of Gaza including the samouni children. Here is the video I made of the event:
“The NO FLY ZONE OVER LIBYA is pure, unadulterated oil stealing hypocrisy posing as ‘humanitarian intervention’. If there were ever anything genuinely humane about Western intervention a NO FLY ZONE OVER PALESTINE would have been implemented decades ago. But the Palestinians have no oil, and they certainly have no air defenses, and so the innocent people of Gaza continue to be bombed with impunity.
How bloody stupid, powerless and hypocritical must we the people have become to allow unhindered bombings of Palestine for decades while doing nothing effective to stop it, meanwhile sitting back to watch a NO FLY ZONE OVER LIBYA be put into place in little more than a week or two?” Ken O’keefe
Photos from Gaza. Mourning the loss of our Brother Vittorio, and protests condemning his murder.
Written By: Jehan Alfarra
Last Friday (April, 8th) was another tribulation in the interminable, life-long list of our tragedies here in Gaza. It wasn’t anything unusual really, but it was still agonizing and I could not help but write something brief about it. This Friday (April, 15th), however, was a tragedy of a different sort. Palestine has lost a jewel. A sparkling, precious jewel and a loved son. All Palestinians have lost a dear brother- Vittorio Arrigoni.
“In my DNA, my blood, there are particles that push me to struggle for freedom and human rights.” Vittorio
By: Jehan Alfarra
My aim is not to narrate what happened on March, 15th; I will leave this to someone else. I will allow myself to be sentimental and emotional. I want to aver my feelings of pain, disgust, disappointment, and anger with this nonsense……. With much anticipation…
Fighting back my tears, I jot down these words.
I remember the day we, Palestinians, were all hand in hand, fighting with every cell of our bodies, with every breath of life, with every memory of death, and with every stone we could lay our hands on. I remember the day we fought tooth and nail to win over an Israeli watch-tower erected on our soil, killing our families and friends, and to climb up and raise a Palestinian flag upon it instead. I remember the day we were (children, men, and women) so proud to say: I am a Palestinian. I am a freedom fighter by birth and will never bow down to tyranny and occupation. I am never giving up one inch of my land, I will never have a rest, and I will always do my utmost best to get back my Palestine… And now, I sit here, too ashamed and too paralyzed, disappointment jamming the air in my lungs, suffocating me as I grasp what Palestinian has come to mean. It has become the trend of the decade. It has become the cursed nationality on my ID card and passport. It has become the Mapkin and the Palestine Papers. It has become international donations and open/closed borders. It has become the tunnels, and the Separation Wall with its graffitis. It has become Gaza or the West Bank. It has become the “three-state solution”. It has become yellow, or green. You detain me, and I detain you. You kill me, and I kill you. And Israel is, well not watching, but enjoying and expanding.
Read the rest of this page »
By: Jehan Alfarra
Think of the IT industry in Gaza. In point of fact, Gaza is as advanced in Information Technology as a place could ever be- not in production due to obvious reasons, but in thought and study, maintenance, software, programming, and networking. Had Gazans been ‘permitted’, and I say the word not lightly at all, a better physical connection with the outside world, investments in this field can do so much. There are innumerable IT centers in Gaza concerned for the most part with advanced IT training, local and web networking, and web-design, i.e. things which the siege cannot solidly have a much negative effect on. Yet, power cuts still make even these locally handled matters fairly difficult. Border closures and the obstruction of trade led Palestinians in Gaza to turn to insecure means to bring into the strip as much of advanced technology as possible- a marked example is the tunnels- and also hindered, and blocked if you may, any viable advancement in production in this field. This suffocating strategy forces some IT experts in Gaza to get the hell out to be able to invest in themselves.
This is an interview with Ahmed Abu-Shaaban, the technical director and manager of UNIT ONE ICT in Gaza:
Gaza holds an EXPOTECH every year- it is not an EXPOTECH as you would think it should be, but hey at least Gaza tries with all its capacities and capabilities!
By: Jehan Alfarra
I remember “the story within a story” from my literature classes, but being in this place, I felt a world within a world. It did not feel by any means that I was in fact in Gaza! Instead of distressing explosions, I heard piano pieces. Instead of the agonizing power generator noise, I heard the zither.
I could not but think, “These children are incredibly fortunate.” Their fingers were dancing so beautifully on the instruments constructing the most striking and lurching tunes.
“How different are those children from the rest of mankind? Or from the talented American children that I met a few years ago?” I was wondering. “They are all learning the same language- music.”
Westerners and Israelis look at Palestinians as though violence was an inherent part of them. What they don’t realize is that the environment in which we live in is what construct and shape our personalities, our identities, and our dreams. Have they never watched Tarazan?!
My first semester at IUG, the Islamic University of Gaza, was quite intense; different life style, freshman zeal, new faces, new troubles, architecture major, and most significantly >> war. My first final exam – Applied Physics – was scheduled to be on the 27th of December. As usual, I was hardly prepared and I was actually wishing they’d postpone it!
Yeah, I ended up regretting that one.
By: Jehan Alfarra
This took me like 10 years back in time. Although I don’t recall such celebrations at my school back then, I could still SO see myself in those children.
I wanna do it again!
On December, 16, 2010, all UNRWA schools in Gaza had an open day in celebration of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. And as a YES alumnus in Gaza, along with two more YES almuni, I took up the responsibility of preparing and organizing one of those celebrations at a UN school. Organizing the entire event, from training the children to cutting the papers and making the crowns, all in a matter of 2 days was a real challenge for us. It was EXHAUSTING, but the enjoyment and excitement was immense :)
It astounds me how children are almost the same everywhere in the world. You get the bully, the popular, the shy, the dumb, the bright, the nerdy, the nice, and the mean. They are all innocent in their own way.
I really love children!! Aren’t they just the cutest, most adorable things?
Their enthusiasm, their smiles and laughs, their reaction and responses to the puppet show, which was by the way the first puppet show I’d ever done, and the mysterious innocent sparkles in their eyes filled my heart with unutterable delight.
By: Jehan Alfarra
Ever had one of those days where you feel like you just want to go home after this long, boring day at uni? And you hastily get in the car and impatiently start cursing the apathetic taxi driver who REALLY takes his time?
Well, check out what happened the other day.
I was so grumpy that a little kid woulda probably ran off crying had he seen that look on my face, especially after this one lecture that I have to attend every freaking time for the sake of the attendance marks which make up 10% of my grade! You really don’t want to get me started on how pointless, stupid, useless, silly, and rediculous that lecture is. This lecturer dude keeps jabbering nonsense torturing my brain cells to the point where I’d rather spend all day long watching two people play chess, or even do yoga!
Anyway, back to what I was saying. So, I got in the taxi so eager to just get home, fill my hungry stomach, lay back in my bed and enjoy a peaceful nap. The car got going, then all of a sudden my eyes glanced this something! “Is it!!??” I gasped. I stuck my head out of the window like some weirdo only to find out that it WAS!
Read the rest of this page »
By: Jehan Alfarra
Muslims in general, and Muslim Palestinian women in particular, have been framed throughout the years by Western writers, and depicted in a way that is almost entirely divergent from reality. Barbara Victor is an example of such writers who trace one particular subject with absolute bias, while claiming objectivity. Choosing “Palestinian Women suicide Bombers” as her main focus, Victor introduces one of the trashiest and most disgusting books ever.
Barbara Victor’s “Army of Roses”, first published in 2003, claims to have thoroughly explored the psychology of “Palestinian Women Suicide Bombers” and their motivations which, according to Victor and her Zionist-reliant sources, have almost nothing to do with the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, but rather the submission to:
a) A male-dominated society, where women are nothing but inferior articles
and b) a religion based on martyrdom, which she states to be “the first pillar of Islam”! (Yes, a grave error; just like the countless factual errors permeating this book)
Read the rest of this page »
Palestinian youth join boats set to challenge Israel’s siege of Gaza
- Irish and Canadian boats in international waters on their way to challenge illegal siege policy
- Palestinian activists call for end to international complicity in Israel’s crimes
- Support actions taking place throughout the West Bank and inside Israel
By: Jehan Alfarra
The recently announced prisoner exchange between Hamas and Israel, and the hunger strike of Gazans acting in solidarity with striking Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails, have elicited overlapping and at times contradictory emotions from Gaza’s residents.
Upon hearing the news of the Egyptian and German-brokered swap, Gaza celebrated with chants of joy in rallies throughout the Strip. Afnan, a girl of twenty and a daughter to Palestinian political prisoner Jalal Saqr, received the news with great disbelief. The tears rolled down her face uncontrollably as she spoke about the anticipation of hugging her father for the first time. “I was a baby when they detained my father. I am married and pregnant now and I still haven’t seen him! I cannot wait to hold him!” she added as her eyes doubled up with tears of joy. The news was not any less overwhelming to Fatima, the wife of political prisoner Salama Mesleh, than it was to Afnan. “I dream day and night of having a child. My husband and I lived together for no more than a year before he was taken. The Israeli soldiers broke into our house, searched it and turned it upside down and then took him. He entered his 19th year in prison last week, but I have always known my patience would pay off.”
By: Jehan Alfarra
I miss the day when my little Barbie toy and my fluffy and soft teddy bear were all that mattered. They were the things I clung to the most and the things I held on to too tightly when I layed down in my tiny little bed, with its white-painted wooden bars around, to sleep. I would squeeze the fuzzy ball between my tiny fingers and close my eyes, without having to worry about a Palestine and a world of prejudice and misplaced integrity.
Though I am no child no more. My voice matters, and whether I liked writing or not is irrelevant. Writing is a duty first and foremost, and a way to let off some steam second. I have been brought up to two doctors, thus my life have been more privileged than ordinary residents of the Gaza Strip, my father originally Gazan, and my mother a refugee. I have been raised on the stories of the Nakba (Palestinian Catastrophe/formation of Israel), and how my mother’s family were thrown out of their houses in 1948 for an Israeli family to live there instead. My mother’s grandpa was shot by the Israeli Hagana gangs, and my grandpa was a kid back then. He is still alive and dreams of going back to their small house and their farm.