Thursday, October 05, 2006

ta7chee min 3yoonha

Been away. And busy. But still trying to right human wrongs. I hope to get a chance to write about my new role in Palestinian civil society soon. Until then...

Friday, September 01, 2006

سرمچار

Nawab Akbar Bugti was extrajudicially assisinated by Pakistani forces last week. Bugti had campaigned for years for the gas-rich province of Baluchistan to be given greater autonomy and a larger share of natural resources.

The beat goes on as sarmachars continue resisting.

Friday, August 18, 2006

Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon forced to resign

Israel's Justice Minister Haim Ramon is handing in his resignation on Sunday after being charged with indecent assault for allegedly having forcibly kissed an 18-year-old female soldier in a government office.

This is the same individual that said the following during Israel's war on Lebanon, "In order to prevent casualties among Israeli soldiers battling Hezbollah militants in southern Lebanon, villages should be flattened by the Israeli air force before ground troops move in", and "all those in south Lebanon are terrorists who are related in some way to Hezbollah." He was obviously unaware of the old and frail, the poor, and those without cars and fuel that were forced to remain in southern Lebanon.

Well, Justice Minister of Israel, that's what you get for thinking with your penis.

Monday, August 14, 2006

Banksy's Guantanamo

Remixing masterpieces from the flea-market

As the dust settles, can we see winners?

Many people are of the opinion that Hizballah came out victorious since the War with Israel began on July 12. They say that:

- Israel's month long campaign did nothing to hamper Hizballah's ability to fire into Israel, which was openly evident yesterday when Hizballah fired 250 rockets;
- Israel spent tremendous military effort into this war - costing it US$1 billion/week for four weeks (a minor blow);
- Israel has lost major political capital in the world's eyes because the world sees in the Qana massacre and the 1,170 dead Lebanese (mostly civilian), the brutality of the Israeli military and government;
- Israel has made more enemies now than it ever had in the Arab and Muslim world and even outside;
- The belief that Israel is the strongest army in the Middle East has been shattered, increasing despair among Israelis, and increasing its neighbours' will to challenge Israeli policy;
- According to certain Jewish lawyers in Tel Aviv, this War will prove to be the beginning of the decline of the State of Israel as we know it. He estimates it won't happen tomorrow, but that this War will be the start of a long decline.

All relevant points, with which I mostly agree. Nevertheless, in this war I don't believe there were winners. There were only losers.

The UN and its Security Council showed their impotence in being unable to act in time; Lebanon lost over a thousand of its people, its infrastructure and economy; Israel lost financially, militarily and in morale; the world has lost because of our society's inability to prevent the madness, death and destruction of war from ruling and defining our lives. Our world's bloody history has failed to teach us that collective good and cooperation is our ultimate goal as human beings. Not ethnic goals. Or religious goals. Or political goals.

As the dust settles, I can see no winners in this War.
Only losers.

Saturday, August 05, 2006

Voces Latinas Radio Interview - 1610 AM Toronto

In 30 minutes I'll be doing a radio interview with Sandra Farias of Voces Latinas AM 1610, a Spanish radio station based in Toronto. We'll mostly be talking about the War in Lebanon.

I'm unsure if we're airing live but tune in to find out when the interview will air.

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Monday, July 31, 2006

Israel's war crimes, massacres and blatant breaches of international law continue unhindered in Lebanon and Gaza

An HRA press release / July 31, 2006

Israel's military assault on Lebanon continues to violate international humanitarian law as Israel pushes forward an agenda awash in unabated violent massacres and war crimes. US diplomacy has only complied with these war crimes through granting Israel impunity, thereby giving Israel the impression that it has permission to continue. Finally, it is plain to see that the international community has failed miserably in its duty – to ensure the protection of innocent civilians during time of war.

Israel's latest assault on Lebanon was Sunday morning's massacre in Qana – which killed 28 civilians (initial reports said 60, but the new numbers are more accurate), the majority of whom were children. With this massacre, Israel's war on Lebanon has entered a new phase. This war crime is also testament to the UN Security Council's failure to impose an immediate ceasefire to ensure the protection of civilians and to halt war actions. Furthermore, if following the massacre all that is made is a verbal condemnation, then Israel can only interpret that as being a green light to assault more civilians and civilian infrastructure.

The massacre in Qana has brought the death toll to over 750 in Lebanon, the majority of who are civilians. In addition, as Israel's crimes of collective punishment in Gaza continue, more than 160 Palestinians, also chiefly civilians, have been killed. The Arab Association for Human Rights (HRA) makes an urgent appeal to the international community to act towards an immediate cessation of violence and for Israel to comply with its obligations to international law.

Lebanon: Since the start of Israel's military assault of Lebanon on July 12, over a third of the casualties in Lebanon have been children. Furthermore, Israel's bombardment of Lebanon has given rise to over 700,000 refugees. Civilian infrastructure and institutions have been deliberate targets of Israel's aerial attacks – airports, ports, power stations, roads and bridges have all been hit. As casualties mount, there is an increasing humanitarian crisis in Lebanon, particularly in the south.

Gaza Strip: In addition to the 160 Palestinians killed since June 25, at least 700 civilians have been wounded by Israeli army gunfire. In addition, Palestinian ministries and educational institutions have been destroyed, as has the plant that supplies nearly 50% of Gaza's electricity. Bridges, roads, dozens of homes, and hundreds of dunams of agricultural land have also been destroyed. Furthermore, 27 elected Palestinian ministers, including eight cabinet ministers have been detained without charge.

The United Nations Security Council is the UN's most powerful body whose chief responsibility is the 'maintenance of international peace and security'. However, despite its numerous meetings following the crisis, it has been unable to enforce a ceasefire, much less condemn Israel's blatant violations of international humanitarian law, including the killing of four UN observers.

The European Union also has a special role to play in the crisis because of the Association Agreements it has signed with Israel and Lebanon. Article 2 of this Agreement contains a human rights clause that states, 'Relations between the parties shall be based on respect for human rights and democratic principles'. Furthermore, the EU-Israel Action Plan clearly stresses 'Common values of democracy, respect for human rights and the rule of law and basic freedoms'. Surely, Israel's targeting of civilians and civilian infrastructure, and its refusal to negotiate do not fall in line with these shared values.

The HRA believes that the failure of the UN Security Council to protect civilians in Lebanon and the Gaza Strip at a time when serious humanitarian crises face the two populations raises serious questions from civil society engaged in promoting international law and human rights principles, about the credibility of institutions and agreements that fail to stop war crimes against civilian populations. The failure of the EU to use existing agreements (Action Plan, Association Agreement) clearly resulted from a lack of political will by certain member states. This failure undermines the EU's credibility and its position in the region.

Through our work in the community, we receive clear signals that the EU and UN's failure to act and to apply agreements to protect civilians during war has been interpreted as having succumbed to the political interests of powerful states. This sends the negative message that these agreements will never be enforced to stop the daily human rights violations and discrimination that our community faces. This is viewed as a step backward, as people will look for alternatives outside the current system, which will only lead to more violence in the region.

The HRA strongly condemns Israel's war crimes and gross violations of international human rights law, international humanitarian law, and the Fourth Geneva Convention. We stress that Israel should not be allowed to stand above international standards and law.

We thereby urgently call on the EU and UN to firstly, take clear positions condemning the current breaches of international law; and second, to activate the existing mechanisms (Article 2 of the EU-Israel Association Agreement, Article 146 of the Fourth Geneva Convention) for an urgent and immediate international ruling to impose a ceasefire and to enable effective transfer of humanitarian aid to the needy. Third, given recent developments it is increasingly urgent that the UN establish an international commission for enquiry into the war crimes committed by Israel since its assault on Lebanon began on July 12.

In this moment, the want for international action is dire; at stake are not only the lives of innocent civilians but also the credibility of humanitarian morals and international values that have been held ransom by the belligerent forces of international politics and war machines.

Sunday, July 30, 2006

Scholar Ghazi Falah free but Lebanon siege continues

The Shin Bet (Israeli General Security Service) and police today released without charges Professor Ghazi Falah, an Israeli-Canadian geographer (of Palestinian descent) detained three weeks ago on suspicion of spying for Hezbollah.

Falah was held for the first 18 days of his detention without permission to consult a lawyer, and was questioned by security sources for more than 12 hours straight without break or sleep.

In the meanwhile, Israel's breaches of international humanitarian law continue with its latest massacre in Qana, Lebanon. Atleast 54 dead, among them 34 children. How much longer?

Friday, July 28, 2006

Israeli Justice Minister Haim Ramon assuming a lot these days

Haim Ramon. Being probed. I'm assuming ofcourse.

Haim Ramon, Israel's Justice Minister, seems to be assuming a lot these days.

Following international talks in Rome on Wednesday about Israel's brutal assault on Lebanon, when the international community stopped short of calling for an immediate truce, Haim Ramon made an assumption. He assumed that Israel had received "a green light from the world... to continue the operation". The US wasn't too pleased.

Back at home, Haim is making other assumptions.. about how certain women wish to get down with him. He is alleged to have forcibly kissed an employee of another government ministry on the mouth about two weeks ago at a party in Tel Aviv. Israel's Minister of Rough Justice is currently being probed by the police.

I'm assuming that it will be a non-invasive probing and will likely result in him receiving a promotion.

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Scholar Ghazi Falah arrested by Israel without charge


Ghazi-Walid Falah is a tenured professor from the Geography and Planning Department at the University of Akron in the US. He was arrested in Israel on Saturday July 8, 2006 and remained detained without charge and without access to legal council until today. On July 17, 2006 the authorities denied his access to a lawyer for a further ten days. Only today has his lawyer, Hussein Abu Hussein, been allowed a meeting with him.

Ghazi was on a visit to see his mother who was facing an operation to remove a brain tumor. During his visit he went to a popular tourist resort at Nahariya (Israel) to take some pictures, presumably for use in the Arab World Geographer, in research articles, or for teaching purposes. However, the Israeli authorities thought he was spying for Hizballah in taking photos of an area repeatedly hit by Katyusha rockets. The Israelis fear that the photos would give Hizballah an idea of how accurate its firing has been. Ghazi is originally from near Nasereh and holds Canadian citizenship. Nayil Falah, his son, says the Canadian government has done nothing to help him.

Since being arrested and until today, Ghazi-Walid was refused access to a lawyer, consulate staff, or other visitors - a blatant violation of his human rights.

Click here to see how you can help.

What is this 'durable ceasefire' they talk about?

US Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice insisted there could not be a return to the "status quo" of political uncertainty and instability in Lebanon and that any ceasefire must be "sustainable."

Really, what does that mean - sustainable/durable ceasefire? Implementation of UN Resolution 1559 that calls on Hezbollah to disarm? Why would they? What have they gotten in return? Has Israel made any concessions that would prompt Hezbollah to disarm?

The whole world is calling for an immediate ceasefire with the exception of the US and UK. 405 Lebanese dead, the majority civilian. And many more buried under the rubble. Over 600,000 refugees. How many to die before this 'sustainable' ceasefire is reached.

Remember, a durable/sustainable ceasefire would also entail answers to the question of Palestine and Palestinian refugees as per UN Resolution 194. The Palestinian Question remains one of the principal reasons that Hezbollah became involved. If you want a durable ceasefire, then you must address this question. However, it hasn't been answered for nearly 60 years. It therefore seems that a cessation of violence will not come about anytime soon.

Thursday, July 20, 2006

Hizballah's Katyushas hit Nazareth

Two Katyushas dropped on Nazareth yesterday at approximately 1400 GMT, directly striking and killing two kids - Mahmood 'Abd il Raheem Taluzeh, 3, and his brother, Rabee' 'Abd il Raheem Taluzeh, 7. Allah yer7amhum.

How much blood needs to be spilled before we approach the negotiating table? Why is Israel so adamant to continue its onslaught of Lebanon, where more than 300 civilians have been killed to date; and why then does it question Hizballah's Katyusha fire?

It is well known that Hizballah was striking an army weapons depot in Nazerat Illit, overshot, and hit Nazareth instead. So contrary to what you would expect, the people here are not turning on Hizballah. Instead, they're blaming Israel and asking how many more casualties before Israel gives diplomacy a chance?

Wednesday, July 19, 2006

Happy Birthday ya wardat al-nasereh

Kill sana wa inti salma 7abibti.

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Over 200 Lebanese civilians dead

As of 1030 GMT, 203 Lebanese civilians and 14 Lebanese army personnel have been killed by Israeli action in Lebanon.

Monday, July 17, 2006

Erasing

Erasing all things Arab.

This is a picture taken in Israel. It speaks of how State discriminatory practice reflects on the people. I know, I live here. There is a lot of animosity towards Palestinians and Arabs and the majority would tell you without batting an eyelid that they would much rather have a pure Jewish State for Jews only.






















Credit farfuglinn on flickr.com

Nazareth Elite and 'Afula hit by Hizballah's Katyushas

Nazareth Elite (Nazerat Illit) and 'Afula, two Israeli towns, were hit last night at approximately 2000GMT by Katyushas fired by Hizballah.

But shhhhh - don't tell anybody. The Israeli army wants to keep it a secret. That's why there has been virtually no coverage following the event.

Why? Well, Knesset (Israeli parliament) Member Zvi Hendel (National Union – NRP) thinks that doing so would "serve the enemy", so he's called on Israel's Chief of Staff Dan Halutz to ban the media from reporting the exact spots of rocket landing.

In addition, Israeli intelligence has also been preventing al-Jazeera's reporters (Elias Karam and others) from doing their job through detentions, questioning, and forced censorship.

Saturday, July 15, 2006

Has Israel forgotten about its kidnapped soldiers?

I think so.

Or if it hasn't, then it really wasn't about Israel's soldiers in the first place.

Ilan Pappe's recent Electronic Intifada article offers some good perspective on what Israel is really about in Lebanon. And Putin two hours ago made comments that hint of having probably read the Pappe article.

Being engaged in 'low intensity warfare' with the Palestinians in the Occupied Territories, even following the intifada in 2000, is extremely frustrating when you're the biggest military power in the Middle East. So they used the Hizballah capture of 2 soldiers to wreak havoc on Lebanese civilians and civilian infrastructre so that Hizballah is blamed; they implicated Syria and Iran because they want nothing more than to fire their toys and see all three aforementioned parties no longer in existence.

I suppose the aim is so that the world no longer mistakes them for a weak ethnicity that was unable to prevent the Holocaust; maybe it's cognitive dissonance after running up a debt of 74 billion dollars of which military spending factors heavily.

Fine. But at what cost?

Lebanon and Israel update

Reuters says Israel killed at least 34 civilians on Saturday (by 1915 GMT), including 15 children, in air strikes meant to punish Lebanon for letting Hizbollah guerrillas menace the Jewish state's northern border.

In the meantime, little Katya has the State on Kidnap. Watch for her.

Hizballah - Representing Resistance or Terrorism?

I’m sorry that innocent Lebanese have to die. But don’t you realise that the despicable, morally bankrupt Israeli army is specifically targeting civilians, civilian infrastructure and Lebanon’s pretty café’s so as to turn the people against Hizballah?

Don’t you realise that in taking out families from major villages in the south (and now also in the north) the Israeli army hopes to turn the civilians against the moqawimeen (resistance)?

Hizballah is representing resistance to Israeli oppression. Oppression against Gazawis, those in the West Bank and to the Palestinian minority citizens of Israel.

I know cause I’m in Israel. Maybe my town will be hit by a long range missile, but if it’s a step towards changing current Israeli policy meted out to the Palestinians and really all Arabs for that matter, then I’ll be okay with it.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006

Kidnap the State

So Ivory Coast lost. And Italy won. Who cares?

The State is on kidnap. As of 1600 GMT, 7 Israeli soldiers dead, 2 kidnapped.


A Lebanese celebrates in Beirut (AP)

Tuesday, June 13, 2006

Lots has happened

...since I last wrote.

The Israelis have a new government but everything is still the same, the Occupation's absolute disregard for the lives of Gazawi civilians has never shown itself as explicitly in recent memory as it did
this past week, as of 11am this morning I officially became an agent, and the World Cup is here and Ivory Coast is going to make some tidal waves (that'll inshallah drown out all the colonisers).

Are you ready?



Monday, March 06, 2006

The Basilica of the Annunciation in my hometown Nazareth attacked

On Friday at around 5pm, the Church of the Basilica in my hometown Nazareth was attacked by 3 Jewish people - Haim Eliahu Habibi, 44, his wife Violet and their daughter Odelia, 20.

I was at the Basilica soon after the bombing happened, and stayed around till approximately 10:30pm when the police finally left Nazareth.

I took some good pictures of the event and the protest march held on Saturday and will upload them soon.

In the meantime, Ehud Olmert's (Israel's acting PM) use of the incident to instigate divide between the Christian and Muslim populations in Nazareth is plain despicable. Nevertheless, this policy of 'divide and conquer' appears to be official governmental policy towards the Arab population here.

To treat Druze as non-Arab, to inflame tensions over the Sha'ab il-Diin square in Nazareth so as to pit Christian against Muslim, to portray Muslims as barbarians and Christians as being more peace-loving; this has always been official policy of the State so as to weaken a popular movement against the State's discriminatory strategies and to lower the voice of a united Arab people. However, no one is fooled.

When we marched on Saturday in protest of the bombing - we marched through the Sha'ab il-Diin square which was previously covered up since it was a source of tension between Christians and Muslims in Nazareth. But marching through the now uncovered area is very symbolic and very indicative of chants that roared through Nazareth the last few days,

Wahideh wahideh wataniya, islamu u masihiyyeh

Friday, March 03, 2006

Is Israel for real?

My colleagues and I were responding to some queries from an Irish solidarity group and we compiled the following information about the Palestinian Arab minority for them.

So I'll share some real facts about the Palestinian minority living in Israel:

Real fact 1: Since 1948 till today, there have been 700 new Jewish communities established, but not a single Arab community, despite the fact that the Palestinian minority has increased by 750 percent (from approximately 160,000 in 1948 to 1,200,000 in 2004).

Real fact 2: Although the Palestinian minority constitutes 18% of the population, they live on only 2.4% of the land. The land given to the Jewish community is 800% more that for the Arab community. In the Galilee, where the Palestinian minority constitutes 72% of the population, they live on only 16% of the lands.

Real fact 3: The Arabs live mainly in three (old) villages and three main Arab cities. The infrastrucure is extremely substandard due to government fund allocations for development being discriminatory. The villages are overcrowded and houses are built without permits (as they are very hard to obtain if you are of Arab ethnicity), and it therefore comes as no surprise that thousands of Arabs have built their houses 'illegally'.

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

"I've no particular biases towards or against Israelis"


For real.

I take serious issue with specific governmental policy within the State, general policy in the Occupied Territories and information policy internationally. But I have no particular bias against Israelis. And I told this to one of the security staff at the Jorden Valley border-crossing during my 6 hour detention - "I've no particular biases towards or against Israelis. But treatment like this is humiliating and insulting, and it steals me of my dignity."

I looked him in his eyes and spoke with unreserved sincerity. He stood for a couple of seconds, nodded, and stepped away. I think he saw what I saw.

In any event - in my show of not being against Israelis / not being an anti-semite, I've decided to post an anti-Semitic cartoon. Relax! These are taken from
boomka and come in response to an Iranian newspaper saying they will launch an anti-semitic cartoon contest after Danish papers posted about the prophet Mohammad (saw). Boomka has therefore launched a new anti-Semitic cartoons contest - this time drawn by Jews themselves! “We’ll show the world we can do the best, sharpest, most offensive Jew hating cartoons ever published!”

Sunday, February 19, 2006

They stole my dignity for 6 hours and criminalised all things Arab

I returned to Israel's Jordan Valley border crossing at 730am this morning. After 2 hours of detention/extensive searching/questioning (in addition to the same that I encountered yesterday for 4 hours), I was grudgingly let through.

Let through after being made to feel inhuman for having affiliations to 'enemy ethnicities/religious inclinations'. Not their words, mine. But if they were to word their discriminatory actions, I suppose it would probably sound like that.

I'm a Canadian; but because of my travel to the Gulf, my Arab background and my work in human rights, I was subjected to treatment I would wish on nobody. It was insulting and it stole my dignity. It made me strip my pants to my knees, walk around the building without shoes and jacket when external temperatures stood at 7 degrees, it went through personal messages and contacts on my cellphone unrelated to 'security', it refused to speak with Canadian Foreign Ministry Officials that I was in contact with, it made fun of Arabs, Muslims and the Middle East, and it made it a crime to speak Arabic.

Shu sawee?

Saturday, February 18, 2006

Denied entry on ethnic grounds

I'm now in Irbid, Jordan because after a 4 hour detention the Israeli authorities decided they wouldn't let me in through the Jordan Valley Border crossing. So they've told me to sleep the night in Jordan and return to the border crossing tomorrow and try again.

Will try to keep the world updated on the blatant religious/ethnic discrimination by the Israeli state, which I have had the displeasure of experiencing for the 4th time in 5 months. This last time has definitely been the worst.

Sunday, February 05, 2006

Dahab was, well, golden

Drove here

Slept here
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I was in Dahab, Egypt's Sinai last week for 5 days.

It was a good break. And the Red Sea is really a sea like no other.


Swam here

The secret wish, in the not too distant future, is to be lost somewhere inbetween.

Monday, January 16, 2006

Black and Blue

My only sin
Is in my skin
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What did I do
To be so black and blue?
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Louis Armstrong's words at a time and a place where I have never felt more racially profiled in my life.

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Ariel Sharon is not feeling well


Jalal al-Rafai, al-Dustour (Jordan)

Friday, January 06, 2006

My date with the kamanche and classical Iranian music

Last month (I've been slow with the posting I know) I met with the Kamanche (کمانچه) and classical Iranian music in Haifa. I could do with a second date right about now.
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The kamanche is the only bowed string instrument in classical Iranian music. That night in December it was played by Mark Eliyahu; also on feature was Amir Shahsar, flutist and vocalist. One of the biggest things I took from the event (put on by Beit Al-Musica) was the tension between these two individuals. They were both tremendous artists in their own right, but it seemed that the stage on that night was just not big enough for the two of them.
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But they managed to tie it together well. And along with the Palestinian artist, Samir Makhoul on oud, some Tajik musicians, and a dancing queen stepping to Sufi rhythms, the sounds produced had my undivided attention.
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I'm willing to share December's date with the rest of you because music like this is too good to be kept to just one person - but I need your assistance: outside of putfile, how else can I do this?
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Mark Eliyahu on Kamanche

Amir Shahsar on flute


Amin Elayev (on Tajik percussion) looking over at Eliyahu doing his thing