Monthly Archives: May 2011

It is Still 1948

“The old will die, and the young will forget.” – David Ben Gurion

A lot has happened in 63 years. Empires have come and gone, new states have come into being, while others have faded or dissolved into the annals of history. While the latter is what Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben Gurion had in mind for the generations of Palestinians born during and in the years following the 1947-48 Nakba (“catastrophe”) when the state of Israel was created and thousands of Palestinians were expelled from the land of Palestine; on the 63rd anniversary of the Nakba this is far from what has happened. Although global Zionist forces and their patrons and sponsors have conspired and connived to wipe that fateful event from the collective minds and memories of its victims and global consciousness, generations of Palestinians have fought and struggled to hold onto the memory of their forced expulsion.

Do not make the mistake of separating Israeli policy of today and that of pre-1948. They are very much connected, and if anything, have grown more pernicious over the years. Israel’s closure regime, Separation Wall, land annexations, house demolitions, cultural colonization and theft, and population expulsions need to be viewed in the wider context of the Nakba if one wishes to understand the reality on the ground today, which not only affects the Palestinian victims, but millions of Arabs across the world who have suffered in consequence of Israel’s racist and bellicose policies; for the Nakba continues to this very day. Be not deluded, it is alive and kicking. Every day that Palestinians are denied their internationally sanctioned right to return home, every day the blockade continues in Gaza, every day that demolitions and land appropriations continue in Area C of the West Bank, every day that the Separation Wall continues its construction route, every day that settlement activity continues and increases, and every day that Israel has the might and control to alter, dictate, and commandeer the collective destiny of the Palestinian people through a matrix of occupation grounded in Apartheid and ethnic cleansing, the Nakba is resurrected. It was not a single exclusive event, but rather the beginning of an era of oppression, racism and subjugation of an entire people at the whim of another.

However… Although our Zionist antagonizers have been trying to erase and rewrite our narrative, they have inadvertently done something quite marvelous in the process.

Through their ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian population, passing of racist laws such as the Loyalty Oath and Nakba Law, oppressing of any form of peaceful resistance, killing of unarmed local and international peace activists, and their absolute and total choking of the lives of every Palestinian man, woman and child, the Zionists have actually ensured the one thing they have tried so maliciously to destroy. They have ensured through their evil machinations and genocidal maneuverings that no one will ever forget the Palestinian Nakba – certainly not the old, and definitely not the young. Their invasive, pervasive and all-encompassing efforts at the eradication of the Palestinian people has been, for 63 years, met with a ceaseless fight on part of Palestinians; a fight which has shown the world that Palestine will not die, and the increasing of oppression by Israel will only strengthen the memory and presence of the constancy inherent in the Palestinian plight for self determination.

It has not been 63 years since 1948.

Don’t let the math mislead you. For Palestinians, it is still 1948 and the horrors of those events continue to this day. To Ben Gurion’s famous quote, our response is: We Shall Not Forget, and We Will Not Die. In our understanding of the depth of our history, the richness of our culture, the splendor of our lands and their fruits, the strength of our hearts and the wildness of our spirits, We vow to outlive your guns and bombs with the sanctity of our right to be better, more beautiful, and more Right.

Forever, and always, we will go on.

– Change in a Box & Love in a Box

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The Institutionalization of Insecurity: Soullessness and Immigration In The Middle East

I’ll start off simply and attempt to keep it that way: We have some pretty tiring immigration laws in the Middle East, and they make the entire ordeal of trying to feel a sense of belonging really difficult. The problem is that when you feel you dont belong, you never really invest your soul into the place in which you live, and since the Gulf countries of the region are actually comprised of a majority of expats, the land is cloaked by a heavy air of emptiness despite the glitz and glam which makes up its developing economy. More importantly, if you dont belong, you never quite feel secure, and if you come to the Gulf for a better life from homelands or native origins which are already relatively insecure, then you’re carrying your internal voids with you into a land of baggage.

First I have to give credit where its due to keep things balanced. Many are grateful and should be eternally more so for the chances provided to them by the labor demand in the Gulf Arab region, and for the opportunities, both financial and career related, made available to them vis a vie petro dollars.  This gratefulness however poses quite a paradox, because although one feels like a better life is waiting in the Gulf, upon arrival, there are direct reminders that the struggle has only begun. Visa’s are a hassle to get for various reasons, all of which stem from the home government’s need to control its demographics in order to ensure the safety of its minority of citizens. Its understandable. What’s not understandable is the shortage of foresight on part of leaders across the region as to the ways in which they can improve security by allocating resources to equalize economic gain and create an economy based on less depravity and more cooperative gain.

There seems to be a profit in renting labor, and a profit from home governments in sending labor abroad. Think about what the means for a second – it means that insecurity is profitable.

But what does one do with more money and no home?

Continuous consumerism has its perks for sure – but will the soul ever flourish if it doesnt land?

Enough on this for now.

– Love in a Box

Al 3ishq Al Mamnoo3: Mahmoud and Khaled

A series of secret rendezvous… A rumored reunion… A raging “partner” threatening revenge… And then finally, the moment all had been waiting for… Reconciliation and retribution…

While the above could be a perfect description of the recent finale of the popular Turkish soap opera, Al-3ishq Al-Mamnoo3 (Forbidden Love), dubbed in Arabic on the Saudi-owned satellite channel, MBC 4, there was yet another finale that came to a dramatic end, or so we hope, on the same day that the star-crossed lovers of Al-3ishq Al-Mamnoo3, Samar and Muhannad, met their doomed fate…

Mahmoud Abbas, the Palestinian president, and Khaled Meshaal, the leader of Hamas, finally signed a reconciliation pact after 4 years of estrangement. The agreement, signed in Cairo, promises a national unity government and an end to “the black page of division”. The agreement provides for a caretaker government before Palestinian-wide elections are to be held one year from the signing. With only a minor glitch, the important point over whether or not Meshaal should sit on the podium with Abbas when they make the announcement, the agreement was signed without a hitch… Phew!

And to think all it took was a signature, massive protests and upheavals around the region, a defunct “peace process”, embarrassing revelations in the form of the Palestine Papers, a siege, a blockade, and an exhausted and asphyxiated populace sick and tired of their leaders meandering and empty rhetoric. Oh yeah, and the overthrow of one party’s patron in a popular uprising, while the other party’s guy is currently busy quelling and delaying his own ousting…

But wait… There is yet a twist… As any good soap opera would have…

While thousands of Palestinians celebrated jubilantly across the Palestinian Territories and refugee camps of Lebanon, another character in this drama shouted expletives and threw a tantrum condemning the reconciliation. Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu called the accord “a tremendous blow to peace and a great victory for terrorism”. The Israelis, who have acted as co-overlord of the Abbas regime alongside the now defunct Mubarak regime, have been busy lobbying the EU and US to cut aid to the Palestinian Authority if Hamas joins any new government. They have also taken some self-initiative in their smear campaign and have held up an US$89 million cash transfer to the Palestinian Authority (PA). The subtle fact that this cash is in fact the PA’s cash and not Israel’s is of no consequence, as they only collect tax from the Palestinians and then re-distribute it to the PA – another wonderful souvenir from the Oslo Accords.

What really has Israel’s panties in a twist is the fact that their role is slowly becoming negligible in the wider Middle Eastern socio-political sphere. The recent and continuing Arab upheavals have been arguably a bigger worry to the Israelis than to the local dictators and despots who inspired them. As the cadence and tone of the Arab street, specifically the Cairene street, starts to take on a pan-Arab and pro-Palestinian rhythm, the Israeli government is slowly losing its regional grip. Even their American sponsors have been decidedly ambiguous and external to the recent agreement, aside from the smattering of congressmen pushing for the cutting of US aid to the PA. Furthermore, the Israeli strategy in the region of divide and conquer will only continue to fray as upcoming events, rumored and otherwise, slowly take shape – i.e. the opening of Rafah and the possible unilateral declaration of a Palestinian statehood in September at the UN.

With the Great Egyptian Comeback on the horizon and the new regional paradigm taking shape, Israel is going to have to start getting used to this once ‘3ishq Mamnoo3’ (Forbidden Love).

Lets hope Mahmoud and Khaled do better than their Turkish counterparts, Samar and Muhannad, did.

– Change in a Box