Palestine to Lebanon: So close, yet so far away

As I play back what I have seen and heard today in Ramallah, Tel Aviv-Jaffa, and Lebanon, and as I see the Israelis unaffected and showing no mercy for the immorality of their state’s action, I can’t help think about what all this means.  Is it Lebanon’s fate to be the sacrifical lamb of the Middle East as the rest of the Arab leaders remain traitorous masters of rhetoric?  In all honesty, Syria, Iran, Jordan and Egypt should open their fronts.  But they won’t because they aren’t worth the dignity they claim as Arab.  If anything good comes out of this it is that no one should ever question the Arab identity of Lebanon.  

When will Israel learn? (2/2)

In this crazy game, one is not sure whether it is better or worse that the main two political players behind this invasion are insecure amateurs. Neither Israeli Prime Minister Olmert nor his Defense Minister Peretz have any experience in warfare, which is very seldom for Israel, used to being ruled by experienced military generals who have proved themselves in the handful of wars that Israel has fought. Beside their obvious inadequate military background, both leaders are politically confused to boot. Their political discourse is weak and contradictory and they face severe criticism from their opponents, friends and allies alike for their poor performance in handling the current crisis. 

Gaza, repeated, ad infinitum

We woke up this morning to the footage. No less than six hours after we watched, live, the Israeli bombing of a Gaza building last night, the same rogue military turned its jets north to Lebanon to inflict the same. Forty-seven people — yes, 47 — have been killed in Lebanon already as i write this. No doubt this is just the beginning. The footage: a man, covered in chalky soot from the Israeli leveling of a home, carried in his arms the limp body of a toddler. Her arms dangling heavy in his arms, her mop of hair covering her face. 

"Summer Rains are a Good Blessing"

“Summer rains are a good blessing” — this is the title for a lesson in the second-grade grammar book of Palestinian children in Gaza. And while it is true that rains are a good blessing, the current “Operation Summer Rains” being carried out by Israel is anything but a blessing. Now, with summer rains being dropped artificially by humans from war planes and tanks, these school children have learned the hard lesson that ‘summer rains’ are neither good, nor a blessing. 2006’s unique summer rains in Gaza have shown themselves to be a curse, not a blessing — not because they have fallen in summer, but rather because they are human-made. 

When will Israel learn? (1/2)

When I first heard about the Israeli soldier who was “kidnapped” by Palestinians and heard the appeal of Abu Mazen to the Palestinian factions, followed by many other Arab and foreign leaders, calling for his release, I thought that the soldier was kidnapped from a coffee shop in Tel Aviv. This feeling was emphasised when I heard the Israeli army spokesman talking to Al-Jazeera, calling upon the kidnappers to save his life and send him back to his family and parents. The BBC called him “the missing man.” Calling him a “man” and not a “soldier”, however, confused me a bit. I learned that this soldier/man (not to upset the BBC) was kidnapped in a battle at a military checkpoint inside the green line. 

How Israel is tearing families apart

There are many thousands of Palestinians, or their spouses and members of their families, who hold foreign passports. The Israeli authorities, of course, know their numbers exactly. Many were denied obtaining ‘Palestinian’ IDs which are actually issued by the Israeli Occupation authorities. These IDs control birth, death, marriage, visits, visas, permits and all personal and civil matters in the Occupied Territories, even in Gaza after the ‘disengagement.’ 

From Palestine: Generation After Generation

A chance encounter with the well known Palestinian filmmaker Michel Khleifi at the offices of the Qattan Foundation in Ramallah says it all: “No, one should not get depressed about the current situation,” says Khleifi. “In fact, this is the best time for us to work seriously on the Palestinian as a human being.” There is indeed quite a lot to be depressed about. Palestinian factions are busy fighting each other while Israel pursues its own criminal designs with the complicit approval of the international community. 

The case against torture: A personal account

“While I lived in Palestine for three years, I had many conversations with both Israelis and Palestinians about the issue of torture. The conversations always varied and they never became dull. I heard from many Palestinians who had been tortured. I also heard from some Israelis and Palestinians who felt that certain forms of torture are useful. But every time I got into one of these conversations, I would think back to a certain time in my life that deeply affected my view on the subject.” Christopher Brown ponders Israel’s torture of Palestinians out of his own torture experiences at the hands of the apartheid government of South Africa. 

Portraits of Palestinian Resistance: The Wounded

Sa’ed Jamal Al Taleb (26) of Al-Jalazone refugee Camp (originally from Um Al Zainat close to Haifa) was the last of the scores of wounded to be discharged from Al Ri’aya Hospital in Ramallah. When the events of May 24 took place, he had been on his way home from the Arab-Amman Bank, where he worked as a messenger (he had worked for five years in Jordan and Saudi Arabia before returning home). Sa’ed was hit in the leg, as he ran towards Al Manarah to see what was going on. 

Portraits of Palestinian Resistance: Aysar Kamal Abu 'Arra

With Aysar’s death during the May 24 Israeli raid in Ramallah, Kamal Jamil Qasem (49) of Aqqaba near Jenin buried his second child. The first to die was Fadi, who, at 19, fought with Abu Jandal of Islamic Jihad during the nine-day Israeli attack on Jenin Refugee Camp in April of 2002. He fought against bulldozers, apache helicopters, tanks and heavy machine guns. Aysar, a member of the PA national security forces, was stationed in Ramallah, because he was having trouble getting to Hebron, his original post, as a result of the Israeli check points.