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Controversy in Gaza over sale of Banksy’s painting “Bomb Damage”

Jehan Alfarra

Rabie Darduna, the 33-year old owner of the door on which Banksy painted an art piece he called “bomb damage” during his visit to Gaza earlier this year, claimed to have been tricked into selling his door for 700 NIS ($175) to Belal Khaled, a Palestinian graffiti artist and Banksy-fan.

The door was the only thing left standing of Darduna’s home, one of an estimated 20,000 Gaza homes reduced to rubble during Israel’s military campaign against the Strip last summer, and it is estimated to be worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.

On his facebook page, Khaled denounced the media coverage of the sale describing him as a conman, and stated that his intention for buying the door was to preserve it in case the house was to be rebuilt and the door was to be destroyed or misplaced in the process. Khaled also said that he wants the painting to tour world galleries in order to raise awareness about the Palestinian Cause and the Israeli offensive against the Gaza Strip, claiming he has contacted Banksy about this.

Legally speaking, Belal Khaled has done nothing wrong. The sale was completely legal and the owner signed off on the contract. And given the current state Gaza is in after the war and the lack of attention by official cultural bodies, the painting might indeed be better preserved in the hands of the artist. Though regardless of his intentions, Khaled did keep the real value of the painting from the owner and convinced him that this was a good deal. The ethics of the sale are rightfully questionable for taking advantage of the family’s homelessness and dire need for money, as well as their ignorance of the real value of Banksy’s artwork.

The sale has understandably sparked heated debate in Gaza. While many people found the sale outrageous, accusing the buyer of fraud, others claimed the door would have been damaged or stolen anyway had it not been bought and preserved. One fact remains though; Banksy’s paintings were intended for the people of Gaza, and not for Rabie Darduna or Belal Khaled. As such, “Bomb Damage” should ultimately be preserved as the property of the Palestinians of Gaza.

The painting on the door depicts the Greek mythological Goddess, Niobe, who turned into stone while weeping over her murdered children, and it is one of four art pieces that the anonymous British street artist, Banksy, created during recent trip to Gaza.

Banksy's art piece "Bomb Damage", Gaza

Banksy’s art piece “Bomb Damage” depicting Greek methological Goddess Niobe, Gaza

"Bomb Damage" no more

Oxford Brookes Scholar fighting for his life in Gaza

First published on the Middle East Monitor with edits
By: Jehan Alfarra

00008Hassan Alhallaq, the third recipient of the annual Gaza Oxford Brookes Scholarship scheme founded following Operation Cast Lead, is at Al Shifa Hospital fighting for his life after an Israeli airstrike killed his 8 months pregnant wife, his 2 little kids, his mother, and his sister.

Having left his home in Karama due to the intensity of the Israeli bombardment in the area, Hassan took his family to Sheja`eya to stay with relatives. As the Israeli ground troops carried out an intensive operation in Sheja`eya neighboured on July 19 as part of their ground invasion, Hassan had to evacuate once again and headed to his sister’s flat in Rimal, in the centre of Gaza City. Without any prior warning, an Israeli airstrike targeted the Alhalaq family flat on July 20 killing Hassan’s mother, So`ad, his 29-year-old pregnant wife, Samar Yaaqoubi, and his two sons Kenan, 6, and Saji, 4. Hassan’s sister Hala was also killed along with her husband, Hani, and their baby son. Hassan’s father survived the attack, while he sustained serious injuries and was immediately transferred to the ICU at Shifa hospital. Read the rest of this page »

When you find your missing son being murdered in a viral video

Jehan Alfarra

While tweeting about a friend who lost his entire family yesterday, I saw repeated and persistent tweets sent by a dear friend, Mohammed Alqattawi, to Joe Catron, asking him to respond as a matter of urgency.

Feeling restless and uneasy, I asked Mohammed in a private message what was so urgent and if there was anything I could do, but he only asked for Joe’s number. I gave him the phone number. “We’ve been looking for my cousin from Sheja`yea for 2 days now,” Mohammed messaged me back a few minutes later. “We just watched a video that Joe tweeted of an injured Palestinian shot by an Israeli sniper while searching for his family. It is my cousin.”

Having watched that video earlier in the day, hearing that just took it to a whole new level for me. The nameless, wounded, innocent soul taken so outrageously by an Israeli sniper on camera, in front of the rescue team, and during the hours of a humanitarian ceasefire, belongs to my friend’s cousin. “I clicked on the link to watch the video, and his mom and sister swiftly recognised him by his voice,” Mohammed continued, “and his dad came running and watched his son get shot and say the shehada.”

My body went numb as I read these lines. Already up though the night mourning a friend of mine, now I am mourning another. Salem Shamaly and his family got split while evacuating Shejai`yea neighbourhood in light of Israel’s latest massacre in the area. And ever since the rest of the family made it to Mohammed’s home, him and his uncle have been looking for Salem everywhere. They spent all of yesterday searching Al Shefa hospital and asking around, but to no avail.

Senseless loss, however, is not a strange notion to Gaza and its people. Submerged in grief, Mohammed’s uncle got up to pray and read some Quran, hoping God will grant him some sort of sublime patience he needs in order to calm his wailing daughters. Salem was only 20 years old, the only son to his father and the only brother to his 7 sisters. To the international community in general and the western world in particular, which seems to be overlooking Israeli war crimes and violations of the International Humanitarian Law over and over again, Salem is but another number added to an already overflowing toll of Palestinian deaths. To his friends and family, Salem will always be the precious gem he has always been.

I missed my graduation ceremony, how cool is that?

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!

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A Reflection…

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. Read the rest of this page »

Motor for My Valentine..

*When sorrows [In our case; MASAYEB] come, they come not single spies, but in battalions* Hamlet

My week!
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 »

Why I am saving up for a punching bag

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 »

Blackout. Are They Testing For A New Assault?

Jehan AlfarraThe setting
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 »

The straw that broke the camel’s back, an iPod

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.

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When humanity fails: The Rafah Border

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’!!

Jehan Alfarra

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.

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Elaboration on the Opening of Rafah Border

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

No Fly Zone Over Palestine

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


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Vittorio, Jihad, and So Many Question Marks!

Photos from Gaza. Mourning the loss of our Brother Vittorio, and protests condemning his murder.

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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

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From Gaza, With Love. (RIP Vittorio Arrigoni)

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To my beloved Palestine, I am sorry. I love you.

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.

Dear Palestine,

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.
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Gaza to Cairo

By: Jehan Alfarra

IT In Gaza, and Expo-Tech

AID? Why Not TRADE?

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!

Terrorist or Pianist?

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?!

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23 days of my life

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.

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Gaza Children celebrate the UDHR

By: Jehan Alfarra

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Lost my voice, caught the flu, missed a class, yet it was most definitely worth every bit of effort!

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.

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Dorky Smile

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!
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“Army of Roses”

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)
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Freedom Waves

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
[Ramallah] Two civilian boats, the Canadian Tahrir (Liberation), and the Irish Saoirse (Freedom), carrying 27 people from nine countries (including journalists and crew), are currently in international waters making their way to the beleaguered Gaza Strip to challenge Israel’s ongoing criminal blockade of the territory. A Palestinian youth activist from Haifa has joined this renewed international mission to challenge Israel’s unrelenting stranglehold on Gaza via the sea. The message they carry is one of unity, defiance, and hope, in spite of Israel’s policies that have physically separated Palestinians from each other. The “Freedom Waves to Gaza” organizers chose not to publicize the effort in advance given Israel’s efforts to block and sabotage Freedom Flotilla II last July. The boats, which set sail from Fethiye, Turkey, are expected to arrive in Gaza on Friday afternoon, sailing from international waters straight into Gaza’s territorial waters without entering Israel’s waters. The boats carry symbolic cargo – $30,000 in medicines, along with a diverse group of passengers, all committed to nonviolent defense of the flotilla and Palestinian human rights.
“Israel has caged Palestinians in Gaza and the West Bank, prohibiting physical contact between us. We want to break the siege Israel has imposed on our people,” said Majd Kayyal, a Palestinian philosophy student from Haifa on board the Tahrir. Kayyal added, “The fact that we’re in international waters is already a victory for the movement. Israel’s siege of Gaza is untenable and it’s a moral responsibility to put an end to this injustice.”
Meanwhile, a statement signed by Palestinian youth urged the international community and the U.N. in particular “to take urgent action to protect this mission as well as to end its compliance with Israel’s criminal blockade of Gaza.” They condemned the U.N. Secretary General’s previous declarations calling for aid to Gaza to go through “legitimate crossings and established channels,” despite the U.N.’s own admission that Israel’s failure to own up to its responsibilities has created an unprecedented crisis of human dignity.
Throughout the week Palestinian activists in the West Bank and inside Israel are organizing solidarity actions with the Freedom Waves mission, including a presence outside the UN compound (Tokyo Street, Ramallah) and rallies across West Bank towns.
This is the 11th attempt to break the siege of Gaza via the sea, with five missions arriving safely in Gaza between August and December 2008 and the remaining violently intercepted by Israel. On May 2010, Israel attacked passengers of the Freedom Flotilla in international waters, killing nine civilians and injuring over 50. Israel’s actions were widely condemned and led to protests around the world. Efforts to bring a second flotilla to Gaza were foiled by the government of Greece last July following pressure by Israel and Western governments, as well as by acts of Israeli sabotage.
Israel has intensified in the past days its aerial bombardments on Gaza, underlining the need for international initiatives of deterrence similar to this one.
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For more information contact:
Note to editors:
For up to the minute information on the Freedom Waves flotilla: http://witnessgaza.com/
Twitter: @PalWaves #FreedomWaves

Conflicting emotions in Gaza over prisoner exchange

First published by the IMEU
By: Jehan Alfarra

Photo: 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.”

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Gaza Think Tank- The PA’s UN Palestinian Statehood Bid

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.

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Is Gaza Occupied?

So a journalist sends me a few questions for an article she is writing, those are the questions and  my quick answers.

1. In your opinion, is Gaza “occupied” by Israel?
2. What do you want Americans to know about the situation in Palestine?
3. What do you want Americans to know about the Arab or Muslim world?
4. Any additional comments

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A Channel for Bloggers? Ya Ret!

Jehan Alfarra, The Stream

Jehan Alfarra, The Stream

Tuesday night (May, 10) marks my first appearance ever on Aljazeera English. I joined the discussion of opening the Rafah Border on ‘The Stream’- live. The camera quality was crap I looked like a ghost, the connection was beyond terrible (especially in the second part) I struggled to hear and understand what they were saying and was trying to at least pick up some words (it turns out I sorta misunderstood one of the questions towards the end haha), and I was nervous and stuttered a lot; however, it was a fine experience!

What struck me the most is that although the whole episode was only about 30 minutes and discussed two different topics, and although I did not speak for more than 5 minutes throughout the whole thing, and said nothing but common sense, I was swarmed with tweets, blog hits, and e-mails of support! So I cannot but think, “Hmm what it if the world got the chance to hear more bloggers here in Gaza and everywhere where there is conflict, and to hear them speak for more than 5 minutes, wouldn’t that be great?”

‘The Stream’ is great, different, and beautiful in its idea, and a step on the right path. I salute them. Nonetheless, I would love to see a show more dedicated and focused, and lasts for longer than 30 minutes. Perhaps even a channel of its own dedicated to the same sort of effort? 🙂 It would be freaking LOVELY to have a channel exclusive for activists and bloggers; a channel that would give voice to the voiceless.

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The Opening of the Rafah Border

Today on The Stream, a social media community with its own daily television programme on Al Jazeera English, I will be joining the discussion of the opening of the Rafah Crossing. I will also be talking about the necessity of trade rather than aid (or not! lol).

The show starts at 19:30 GMT (10:30 pm Gaza time) on AlJazeera English. Or you can watch it live on http://stream.aljazeera.com/

Superman Renounces US Citizenship! :D

In Defense of Superman

By: Tallha Abdulrazaq

I never thought I’d be trying to save Superman, and least of all from some of his own “fans” in the United States. Superman’s latest story has caused surprising controversy, and even more surprising is the fact that people who don’t ordinarily read comics are even trying to wade into Clark Kent.

Action Comics #900, part written by famed Batman screenwriter David Goyer, has Superman fly to Iran’s capital of Tehran in a show of solidarity and in order to protect the Iranian population who are protesting against the Iranian government. The usually brutal, black-turbaned Ayatollah controlled and repressive Iranian government promises a harsh military response if protesters do not cease their demonstrations and go home.
Humanitarian that he is, Superman decides that he can’t just stand (or levitate) back and allow the Iranian people to be mauled by their government. Equally, he so abhors violence and views it as a last resort so much so that he decides that he won’t harm the Iranian military. Superman instead decides to act as a human (read: Kryptonian) shield and allows himself to be attacked, abused, and also showered with petrol bombs and roses alike. Obviously, the Man of Steel is impervious to such weak weapons, including roses, and after staying for 24 hours and saving the day, he flies off in a ponderous mood. Cleary, the Iranian Army should have invested in just ONE Kryptonite bullet; I’m certain Lex Luthor would have been more than willing to oblige them.

Burning Conscience: IDF Soldiers Speak Out

It is morning already, and I am finding myself once again unable to sleep. Israeli air force has spent all of yesterday pounding Gaza leaving at least 5 dead and 40 wounded, including a child, a journalist and a medic (as shells hit an ambulance), and the damn drones have been buzzing in my head all night long as usual. I am unable to study for my midterms, being relatively distracted by all of this talk about ‘Scorching Summer Operation’ although I do know for a fact that Israel will not truly go ahead with a full scale offensive like that one of 2008-2009 just yet. Israel does not have the habit of announcing it when it comes to such military operations, so that is a relief for the time being. This is just a psychological operation I believe whose goal  is to leave us all mentally and emotionally disturbed, or perhaps a test for New Egypt’s reaction as Israeli shells have in fact landed in Egyptian land last night. Whatever it is for, it is just messing with my concentration level. And feeling all of this pain drilling right through my heart as I watch Israel’s viciousness inflicting suffering on innocent Palestinians is definitely not helping.

As I passed the time on Twitter covering what was going on, I was dismayed yet again at the complete deficiency in mainstream media when it comes to Israel’s patent, unreserved inhumanity and hypocrisy, and all of a sudden remembered a couple of videos I had seen some time ago of IDF soldiers speaking out and revealing the sadistic, callous reality of the Israeli ‘Defense’ Forces and the system as a whole. It is people like these that I consider true human beings. You can just speculate what it would take for one to go against their own society and military and risk speaking in public.

Maybe now people might start to believe us.

Those are refuseniks, and other IDF soldiers speaking out:

450 “patriots with record” refusing to serve in the military anymore

 

And those are “Breaking the Silence” group<<<<<<< MUST WATCH

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March 15th Movement Statement

Regarding Attempts to Co-opt March 15th Protests

The mass protests planned by Palestinian youth groups for March 15th are gaining momentum and extended media coverage. We, the youth groups organizing and mobilizing for this movement, find it necessary to clarify the following points:

These protests are being organized under the banner of national unity and reconciliation. However, we emphasize that resolving the predicament of Palestinian disunity must be based on principles and values agreed upon by the Palestinian people regardless of their political affiliation. The first of these principles is the illegitimacy of imprisoning people based on their political beliefs. Consequently, we demand the release of all political prisoners held by the government in Gaza and the Palestinian Authority in the West Bank.
Our demands for change go beyond ending Palestinian disunity and partial tweaks to the status quo. We insist on full democratic representation for Palestinians all over the world. Consequently our movement stipulates:

Democratic Palestinian National Council (PNC) elections based on a one-person one-vote electoral system that guarantees equal representation for all Palestinians around the world (Gaza Strip, West Bank, 48 territories, refugee camps, and in the Diaspora). This necessitates a complete overhaul of the PNC’s structures and the establishment of new electoral procedures.

Attempts to Co-opt March 15th Mass protests
Palestinian political parties, Hamas’ government in Gaza, Fayyad’s government in the West Bank, and a plethora of nongovernmental organizations are seeking to co-opt this movement to serve their narrow interests. Moreover, they are attempting to legitimize themselves by falsely stating that they are the main organizers behind this event. We open-heartedly welcome the participation of party members and NGO employees, who are an essential and inseparable part of our societal fabric. We do not welcome attempts by their leaders to redirect our efforts.

We affirm that the March 15th movement is by the people for the people, and is independent of any political party or institutional backing. It is being organized by non-partisan youth groups who dream of a better future for their people.

We invite all Palestinians, and particularly Palestinian youth, to come down to the street on March 15th. We will only carry Palestinian flags, and chant and sing for freedom, unity, and justice. March 15th shall be the day we stand in unity to demand democratic representation for all Palestinians as an affirmative step in our struggle for Freedom from Israeli Apartheid.

How about MARCH, 14th? :D

Why Palestinians will protest on 15 March

By: Jehan Alfarra

So beautifully they marched, with one voice they shouted “End the division!”. Tomorrow is the day… ‘March, 15’… Feels too far! Why not today! Today? Yes today!
So spontaneously, Palestinian youth of all ages, guys and girls, went out to the streets calling for a Palestinian Unity. We went to Remal, to the unknown soldier square. Some were distributing pamphlets, and others visiting shop keepers telling them to close their shops tomorrow and asking them to join the demonstration.

I observed the police members around us, by the legislative council right across the street. I watched them as we walked and sang! Some smiling, and others going back and forth not knowing what to do. Later, I heard them  in mosques encouraging the protest! Helping with the organization, even! I don’t know what to expect… Only tomorrow has the answer…

These are the photos I managed to take with my humble phone camera before the battery died:


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فلسطيني أنا اسمي فلسطيني

By: Jehan Alfarra

ها أنا ذا جالسة أمام شاشة اللاب توب قبيل الفجر كعادتي، ولكن الدموع تملأ عيناي المحمرتين هذه الليلة والقــهر قد وجد طريقه إلى قلبي. لا أعرف كيف لي أن أصف مشاعري في هذه اللحظة، فلا أشعر بشيء إلا بكتــل من القـــهر ممزوجة بغضــب وحـــزن وألـــم وكبـريــاء تغلب على نفسي فأرهقها. كتبــي وأوراقي مبعثرة على السرير من حولي ومحاولاتي الجاهدة بأن أنهي فروضي الجامعية اللا منتهية قد باءت بالفشل جميعها. رغم قدم هذا المقطـع إلا أنه لا يكف عن إشعــال نــار في داخلي لا أعرف سبيلاً لإخمادها. أستطيع أن ألمس تلك الحرقة في عينيها، في كلماتها التي أحرقت قلبي. أشعر برغبة جامحة لأن أصرخ بأعلى صوتي كفى! لطالما كان اندفاعي بالتوجه إلى الغرب في مناصرتي لقضيتي، فكما يقولون درء المفاسد أولى من جلب المصالح، ولطالما كان كشف الحقيقة للكثيرين ممن غفلوا عنها من أول أولوياتي، إلا أنني أشعر بضرورة التوجه إلى شعبي الذي وقع في فخ نصبه عدو خبيث وإلى أمتي التي طال نومها. ما بالنا منشغلين عن كبريائنا وحريتنا وتقدمنا واستقلاليتنا؟؟؟؟
ذهبت لمشاهدة مسرحية أمريكية البارحة مع زميلاتي في قسم الآداب كمشروع للجامعة. كانت المسرحية تعرض سباق الفضاء بين الولايات المتحدة والاتحاد السوفييتي. يعملون وينجزون. وأين العقول العربية من هذا كله؟ جالسة بين صفوف الجماهير لمشاهدة المسرحية تصفق عند انتهائها. أين كنا وأين صرنا؟ لم نعد نهتم إلا بالمغاني والمطاعم. حمداً لله بأن فئات من الأمة أفاقت من سباتها و بلشت بالثورة.  ولكن ماذا بعد ذلك؟ هل سنعود يوما أمة واحدة؟ هل سنستطيع تخطي الحدود الجغرافية بيننا والتي حدت تفكيرنا وحبنا و وحدتنا وإيماننا؟ متى سيثور المصري لأخيه الفلسطيني؟ والسعودي لأخيه العراقي؟ والقطري لأخيه الأفغاني؟ ألسنا كلنا واحد؟ تمزقت الأمة وتمزقت الشعوب.

لقد أفاق شبابنا الفلسطيني للشرخ الذي أزهق دمه رخيصاً وهو مستعد الآن لفعل أي شيء لإنهاء هذا الوضع المشين، وأنا أتطلع أكثر من أي وقت مضى ل15 مارس، لالتئام جرح طال وطالت آهاته… فهل سنستطيع فعلاً العودة ليوم كنا به يداً واحدة ضد عدو واحد نقاتل ببسالة ونقدم الغالي والرخيص لفلسطيننا ولكرامتنا؟؟؟ غزة جزء من فلسطين، ولكني لا أشعر بفلسطين… إخوتي وأخواتي في رام الله وجنبن ونابلس وطولكرم، أمهاتي وآبائي في حيفا ويافا والناصرة وصفد وبئر السبع، متى ىسأشعر بأننا كلنا واحد؟؟؟؟

أحبك يا فلسطينأحبك جداً

 

ها هو المقطع

 

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Egyptian/International March to Gaza

Egyptian/International March to Gaza

Time
Friday, March 4 · 10:00am – 1:00pm

Location
Egypt to Gaza, Palestine

More Info
Egyptians still feel the shame of the Mubarak era Egyptian blockade of Gaza and have declared their intent to see that blockade shattered once and for all. The main groups that lead the Egyptian revolution are involved in this march and together we intend to erect a Tahrir Square style campsite next to Rafah Crossing until the blockade is over. Together we intend to make this happen sooner rather than later. 

STAFF:

PUBLIC AFFAIRS DIRECTOR FOR GAZA – KEN O’KEEFE
ken.okeefe@alohapalestine.com

PUBLIC AFFAIRS DIRECTOR FOR EGYPT – AHMED R. ELASSY
ahmed.elassy@gmail.com
Skype: ahmed.r.elassy

CHERYL ABDUL/ FINANCIAL SERVICES COORDINATOR
http://www.facebook.com/RidetoGaza
cheryl@ridetogaza.com
facebook.com/cheryl.abdul
twitter – @cherylabdul

TRANSPORTATION ISSUES IN EGYPT
ahmed.elassy@gmail.com
Skype: ahmed.r.elassy

To join the March to Gaza click here

What A Trip!

By: Jehan Alfarra

My Trip to Cairo was more than I had ever expected!! I am content, however 🙂 I arrived to Cairo on the 19th of January. On the 25th, it all started- the Egyptians finally erupted. I am proud to say I have witnessed one of the greatest revolutions of our time!
This is my documentation of events up until Feb, 3. The rest is yet to be uploaded.

 

Passion is jumping out of the eyes and mouths of the anti-mubarak demonstrations. The pro-mubarak demonstrations were so much for a joke lol

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Happy Valentine <3

By: Jehan Alfarra

Yeah, am not exactly the poet kind of person, but I try lol. HAPPY VALENTINE ! ^_^


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عظَمة على عظَمة يا ريس

By: Jehan Alfarra

رح اكتب هاي البوستة بالعربي لإنو انا أوفيشالي متنرفزة بهاليوم الي حالف يمين ما يعدي على خير، وأهو نوع من التغيير بردو، لنمشي على خطى الثوار. البلد عايمة وناس بتقتل وناس بتنقتل وكلٌ يغني على ليلاه. واحد الله أعلم شو ملته كان بيلفلف اليوم وبيوزع منشورات، قلت هاتي يا بنت نشوف شو الحكاية.. مسكت الورقة وقريت اول كم سطر، وفكّى خبط بالارض. ما عرفت واللهي أضحك ولا أضحك! شوفو بنفسكو

إسرائيل الي طلع فيها نتياهو ينادي إنو الحكومة  الجديدة لازم تحترم اتفاقية السلام مع إسرائيل، واسرائيل الي أعلنت إنها سـ” تغض الطرف ” عن الدبابات “المصرية” الي دخلت حدود محظورة ، راح تحتل مصر؟؟؟ يعني احكولي ديري بالك العالم كلو ملتهي بمصر يمكن إسرائيل تستغل هالوقت وتروح تتسلى بغزة شوية، مهوا مين شايف؟ هاي ممكن أبلعها، بس تيجي على مصر قدام العالم كلو؟؟ هيهيهي

ماشي، إسرائيل وفوتناها، هلأ غزة وحماس “الشيعية” الي تدخلت وقفلت المعبر أول ما انسحبت القوات المصرية من رفح، والي مانعة احتجاجات ضد مبارك بغزة، بدها تيجي تحتل العريش!!؟؟ بفففف!!! يا إمي الحئيــــني ههههه
لا وشو، سكان غزة 3 مليون، يعني العالم كلو قرف من كتر ما بنعيد وبنزيد غزة الي فيها مليون ونص.. يعني اوكي، سوقو شوية هبل على هالعالم، بس بلا مؤاخزة يا باشا!! هيك بزيادة 2 كيلو
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