Ezra Nawi and Free Gaza

I was working on a post today about weddings in Palestine and my sincere dislike of them. Today seems too politically important to write about that. It's almost done, I will save it for tomorrow or the day after.

Today, though, two important things are happening. Israeli activist Ezra Nawi is facing sentencing for a crime he most likely did not commit and the 8th journey of the Free Gaza boats is underway.

Since I don't know Ezra besides being in the same room as him and meeting him very briefly a few weeks ago, there are better people to handle this topic. Ezra himself wrote about the experience and his work with Ta'ayush here. Also, one of my favorite Twitter people ibnezra wrote about Ezra here.

He is being sentenced today in Jerusalem at 15:00. If you are around and free, please go! If not, please sign the letter to the Israeli Counsulate here. It's not to late.

The Free Gaza boats were scheduled to leave Cyprus last week, on the 25th. They were, however, asked by Cypriot authorities for lots of papers they've never been asked for before and were asked to sign waivers stating that they will not hold Cyprus accountable for their safety. They felt that these actions were taken under pressure from the Israeli government. The Israeli government also sent notices, specifically mentioning the boats to the American Embassy in Tel Aviv. The White House has said that Israel should allow medical supplies and concrete to enter Gaza and these boats were scheduled to carry those things.

The boats finally departed last night and about now about 2 hours away from the coast of Gaza. The transferred from Cypriot waters, to international waters, and will go directly into Gazan waters. They will not enter Israeli territorial waters. They are unarmed and pose no threat to the Israeli Navy. However, while in international waters, they have been blockaded, stalked, had their radios/GPS jammed and were threatened by the Isreali Navy.

In December, the Israeli Navy rammed one of the boats and threatened to shoot them. They turned back another boat in January. This time, the passengers and crew have said that they will not turn back until the reach Gaza.

Please support these brave people in their attempts to achieve what governments are unwilling to. You can do this today by calling representatives of the Israeli government and Navy, listed here (scroll down to bright red).

Check back later this week for less political things and thanks for your help and support with these important efforts.


Where was your green avitar in 2006?

It has been truely inspiring to see the world rise up in the name of justice this week. The internet has been painted green as people all over the Western world (and Israel) tweet and blog about freedom, democracy, rights of assembly and free speech, liberty and justice for all.


My mood quickly turned bitter as I instantly saw the hypocracy in this. I find it disheartening that so many Israelis and Americans are backing the Iranian protestors while simultaneously defending Israel. Even President Obama came out and called on Iran to, "stop all violent and unjust actions against its own people". He also said something about how when Americans see these sorts of reactions, they must disagree/speak up...something like that. I can't find it, but he basically spoke out against the Iranian government's actions on behalf of Americans.

Prime Minister Netanyahu had the gall, the audacity even, to go on NBC's Meet the Press and say about the situation:

"It is a regime whose real nature has been unmasked, and it's been unmasked by incredible acts of courage by Iranian citizens. They go into the streets, they face bullets and, I tell you, as somebody who believes deeply in democracy, that you see the lack of Iranian democracy at work, and I think this better explains and best explains to the entire world what this regime is truely about"

He continues by juxtaposing how Iran is dealing with its demonstrators (violently, aparently) to how Israel deals with demonstrations against it's policies: "Well, democracies act differently. They don't send armed agents of the regime to brutally mow down the demonstrators."

REALLY!?! Mr. Netanyahu, this is EXACTLY what the Israeli government, the Israeli army, do every single week...nah, virtually every single day!

Every single week Palestinians, Israelis, and international activists come out to demonstrate for their freedoms, their democratic and universal human rights, their right to livelihood, their right to movement, their right to freedom of speech and assembly. All the things that everyone is so excited about in Iran. How does Israel respond? With batons, late night invasions of university dorms (and homes, for that matter), kidnappings, tear gas (often shot directly at people, sometimes killing/severely injuring them), and sound bombs, various forms of "less-lethal" (though still often lethal) ammunition, and with live ammunition. Israel has killed at least 19 people in anti-wall demonstrations since 2004 and injured thousands. In fact, Israel has used force against Americans, yet you have never once heard for the President (or any other leader, for that matter) call for an end to Israeli violence against demonstrators. As I write this, an American man lies in a Tel Aviv hospital. He has been there for more than three months and will likely be there quite awhile longer. What happened? He was shot by an Israeli soldier in the head with a tear gas canister while demonstrating for Palestinian rights.

Beyond this, let's look at what happens when Palestinians decide to use democracy. In 2006 they held parliamentary elections in the West Bank (including Jerusalem) and the Gaza Strip. Hamas won the most seats (and, therefore, the privilege to form the government) in areas throughout Palestine (not just Gaza!). Within days, the international community (bullied by the US and Israel) took the results into thier own hands (contrast this to Iranians taking their own vote into their hands). There was an international boycott of the new government and a probable US-backed Fatah coup in Ramallah. The story you hear of Hamas "hi-jacking" or "taking over" or "kidnapping" Gaza is not true. Yes, there were a few people associated with Hamas who made stupid videos in those few days, but the reality is that they were elected. Democratically. In a free and fair election. Arguably one of the most open and honest elections the Middle East has ever seen. There was no international outcry for Palestinian's voices to be heard. There was no questioning, "where is their vote?". It was obvious where their vote was and it was international powers who stole their election.

Now, I don't know what will happen in Iran. I honestly don't think Mousavi is all that much different from Ahmedinejad. We forget quickly that Mousavi played a key role in starting Iran's nuclear program. Granted, I think Iran has a right to nuclear power, but that's beside the point. Also, Mousavi is a still a product (and supporter) of the Islamic revolution, so that's not going to change, either. Again, I tend to believe most Iranians are happy under their basic system of government...it's foreign media and activists who are calling for the end of Islamic rule in Iran and for "booze and boobs", if you will, to flow freely. Iranians don't want what so many of their "supporters" assume they want. This is fine. Iranians should protest for whatever they actually do want...but this right should be universal.

People in the west (and Israel) who are unquestioningly in support of the Iranian demonstrators should take a cold, hard, self-critical glance in the direction of Palestine and see the similarities and, indeed, their own hypocracy.


The Latest Generous Offer

This is my response to Netanyahu's speech last night. The full English transcript can be found here or you can watch it in English here.

If Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu proved anything last night, it was that he has no idea what the definition of the word, "state" is. Generally accepted features of a modern state, include: a permanent population living in a definted territory and excercising sovereignty within and control over own borders and having the ability to enter into agreements with other states and recognition by other recognized states. If you don't believe me, look it up. These are pretty universally accepted requirements to be a state.

Bibi's conditions for the future Palesitnian state include: demilitarization, no control of borders, no sovereignty over water and other natural resources (many of which have been strategically confiscated underneath the settlements), a closed airspace, inability to enter into military pacts, no control over any part of Jerusalem (the national consensus-based capital of Palestine), and a glaring lack of any sort of territorial contiguity.

Now, I can see why Israel believes it needs a demilitarized state, but Israel would never accept this for themselves. Palestinians have, for more than 60 years, "suffered pogroms, blood libels, and massacres" which have culminated in ethnic cleansing and 1000s of deaths. Cannot Bibi recognize that Palestinians, too, "need a sovereign power of self-defense"? This, though, is not the real issue with this speech.

The real issue is that for about the millionth time in history, Palestinians are being asked to take all the first steps, with no guarentee from anyone or anywhere that Israel will ever live up to her "generous" promises. Yet again, the blame for the conflict and the responsibility to move forward are placed on the occupied population. Bibi references the withdrawl from Gaza as an example of when Israel took the first move, only to be "hailed" on by missiles. Let's take a closer look at this. Yes, Israel removed settlers from Gaza (and payed them copious amounts of money to take up new residency in the West Bank). However, Israel has yet to allow Palestinians to control their own borders, to move and trade freely. Israel has yet to grant full access to Gaza to foreign institutions, including those who want to invest there. Israel has yet to end military operations, provoked or not, in Gaza. Israel has, since 2005, maintained a prison-like grip on Gaza with frequent and devastating military incursions, the worst (but not most recent) of which was its 28-day-long massacre there between December 2008 to January 2009. There has not been a single day that Israel had "withdrawn" completely from the Gaza Strip and it has never even pretended to do so from the West Bank.

Another issue I have is that Bibi insists that the "final status issues" (which, according to anyone who knows anything about Palestine are: water, borders, Jerusalem, refugees, and settlements) will only be discussed after Palestinians agree to his totally unagreeable terms. What he really means is that the one issue he is willing to talk about is the border and what he means by that is that it WILL NOT be the internationally recognized 1949 armistice (or pre-1967) line. The other "final status issues" he's already made decisions about. Water is to be controlled (vis-a-vis the settlements) by Israel. Jerusalem will be the undivided capital of Israel and Palestinians may or may not have the right to go there, live there, work there, or worship there based on how well-behaved they are percieved by the Israelis to be on any given day. The refugees have no right of return: end of story. Settlements will remain. He may be willing to concede some small settlements or outposts, but it is a given that at least the majority (the "settlement blocs") will be annexed to Israel, thus creating unavoidable cantonization of the West Bank and probably creating a "need" to keep at least some Israeli-contolled checkpoints within the Palestinian "state". Not to mention that all these settlers will need to travel, so there will be a network of roads and walls (mostly in place already) to connect them with each other and with Israel that weave through and futher disects the Palestinian "state"

This is not a plan. He knows this. His plan was, as is always the case with Israel, to propose something that sounds understandable to people who don't understand and sit back while the Palestinians yet again "refuse his generous offer"! Each of these 'generous' offers has been far less 'generous' than the last and they have all been unacceptable.

The one thing that Bibi said that I agree with is that the problems in Palestine started, "fifty years before a single Israeli soldier ever set foot in Judea and Samaria". What Israelis forget is that even if they were to retreat to the pre-1967 border and abandon their precious settlement project and move their stupid wall to the officially recognized line and even if they only let refugees return to either the West Bank or the Gaza Strip: they still own, control, have sovereignty over 78% of Palestine! Bibi references the "Arab" refusal of the 1947 partition plan. In 1947 the Jewish population made up less than 20% of the population and Jews owned just 6% of the land. The rest of the land (94%) was owned by Palestinians and the other 80% of the population was Palestininian. The UN which, (by admission of people who sat on the committee) had no idea of the real sisuation and never stepped foot on this ground, proposed to GIVE to the Jews 52% of the land. If you owned 94% of something and I told you you had to give me 52% of it for no good reason, you'd reject my offer, too. If you say otherwise, you are a liar. This, my friends, is why Palestinians who are willing to live on the 22% of their land that makes up the (unimpeded) West Bank and Gaza (which, as discussed, is not even on the table), are the ones who are generous! Israelis really should be thankful that they can find a single Palestinian willing to accept that, let alone what seems to be a majority.

Other terms Bibi should probably look up: sovereignty, pioneer, rule of law (re: Israeli lack of it), tiny (keeping in mind their military and economic ratings on a global scale), homeland (since he seems to think this land means this only to Israelis), withdrawal, trade, justice.



I feel like I should write something political after yesterday's post. More strongly, though, I feel I need to clear something up. Please forgive me for dealing with such a topic in my first real post, but this issue has made up a huge percentage of my experience here.

I think I may have been a bit disingenuous and too optimistic yesterday. Some days I really hate living here. This frustration is sometimes not caused by the actions of the Israeli army or even the settlers. Sometimes it has nothing to do with the wall, the forced familial separation, or even the control of Palestine's borders. Some days it has ntohing to do with the occupation at all...at least not directly.

I believe that when "internationals" (the common name for foreigners in Palestine, never to be used in quotes again) come here for the first time, for only a short time, or eve over the course of many years for only short periods each time, they are able to maintan a honeymoon feeling of complete love of Palestinian culture. Palestinians are, in my somewhat broad experience, hands-down the most hospitable and welcoming people on earth. This is always the first thing people love and often the first thing their stomach's hate. If you plan to visit a Palestinian family in its home, you can expect to consume the following, without debate: tea, coffee, cookie, juice, a huge meal (if there are 10 people, they'll cook for 20), coffee, a beautiful selection of seasonal fruits, tea, cookies, coffee, tea, cola, popcorn, coffee, tea. Yes, I did mean to write coffee four times. I hope you are hungry and have a high tolerance for caffeine.

This process still succeeds in both amazing and pleasing me very mcuh. I can eat quite a bit and I love the lazy afternoons that merge into evening and into dark while people sit talking as the world goes on outside. The especially warm thing about them are Palestinians' openness during these times. They will quickly open up to you and tell you about their sons in Israeli prisons, their stolen land, their favorite foods, their murdered farm animals (and family members), how they look forward to the coming summer fruits, their own time spent in prison, thier opinion of Obama, where their mother was born inside " '48", and how thier sons like to bring home stray cats and give them baths.

The longer you are here, the less endearing and more almost torturous this all is and the less frequently it happens. I've now been here for almost two years. I am usually only reminded of this feeling when I go visit my husband's family (where it still is amazing) or go somehwere with other internationals and then it often seems a bit superficial.

The reason I can tell you that those things will be served it because they are always served. No matter what day of the week it is, what time of the year it is, what city you are in, how rich or poor the family is, the experience is constantly repeated. Palestinian society is very much a monoculture. Yes, there are Muslims and Christians, but socially they differ very little. I came to realize very quickly that no matter how long I stay here, I will always be an outsider. Politically, this is fine: I know the imporantace of Palestinians leading their own struggle and thier own destiny. Socially, it is a much harder thing to deal with.

I am isolated for the obvious reasons, but I feel that many Palestinians are isolated even within their own culture, if they don't fit a certain mold. Ash is from a very small, conservative village and often doesn't enjoy visiting because other people in the village (with the exception of his immediate family) feel put-off, offended even, by how he has chosen to live his life. This was true long before he met me and has only been enhanced by my presence. When we returned from a visit to the states last year, many people made uninformed comments to him about what life is like in American, though he had just been there and they've maybe seen American movies, maybe not. His response to this was usually a somewhat bitter, "Honestly, I'd rather be a Muslim there than here."

For me, the most annoying and constantly painful experience of isolation is my walk home from work. I walk past the same faces and the same places every day. These people see me, too, and must know that I've been here for some time. They've seen me with my husband. Yet they never cease to stare, to comment, to whisper. In a multi-cultural society I can usually chalk this up to either actually looking really cute that day or the guy simply being a jerk. Here, it is a constant reminder to me that no matter how long I stay, no matter how well I speak Arabic, no matter how I dress or walk, I will never belong.

This is further disempowering because when I am with Ash, this hardly ever happens. The result is a total feeling of dependency , something I would never accept for myself somewhere else.



Hi and welcome to my new space. It only seems natural to do an introduction and statement of purpose post, no?

I used to blog. I blogged for probably four or five years on three different blogs. I started when I was still in high school, circa 2001. My first blog was entitled, "The Inner Workings" and was basically a ramble of my thoughts, my angsty teenage life, etc. This lasted me into my second year of university. Congruent to that blog, I maintained one where I would post a news article every day and offer my thoughts, analyses, and critiques. In the fall of 2005, I studied abroad in Egypt. I set up a third blog about my time there and ended up abandoning the other two. The Egypt blog died before I returned home in January '06.

My vision for this space is a combination of my previous three: life, marriage, kitty motherhood, politics, news, activism, travel, expatriotism, photography, and food. I chose the title, "Transplanted to Palestine" because I feel that is exactly what happened to me. I had roots in America: family, history, friends, and community. I got my first taste of Palestine in the summer of 2006. I fell in love with the place and the people almost instantly and felt I could really flourish here. There was one person in particular who would end up being my reason for returning: Ash (much more on him later, I promise!).

I finished school and made the Big Move in August of 2007. Almost two years later, I feel I have grown new roots here in Palestine: love, friends, family, experience, pain (physical and emotional), and longing.

I look forward to sharing more of my history in Palestine as well as new discoveries. I envision this as somewhat of a shared space. If people have questions they want answers to (or at least my opinions of), I want them to ask. I also hope that maybe my husband, my friends, or other people I encounter will want to chime in here now and then.

Thanks for coming and I hope to see you again soon!