The trials and tribulations of a Madonna fan in Palestine.

On May 29 the Queen of Pop, Madonna, held a ‘Concert for Peace’ in a Tel Aviv stadium for a crowd of 30,000 Israelis. Despite the plea of many Israelis, Palestinians and international solidarity activists to heed Palestinian civil society’s call for the cultural and academic boycott of the State of Israel, Madonna went ahead with her ‘Concert for Peace’ and handed out roughly 600 tickets to members of ‘Israeli and Palestinian peace camps.’

I was ready to write a long post highlighting all that is wrong with Madonna’s trip to Israel and emphasizing the strategic role BDS plays in resisting Israeli oppression. However, I came across a video that does all that and so much more. In the video two brothers from the Palestinian village of Ni’lin get tickets to Madonna’s concert and try to go. Watch and get a unique perspective into the everyday life of a Palestinian.

Zionist Discrimination Beyond Palestine

Israel and the racist ideology of Zionism on which it was founded and continues to operate on till this day, has created a system of first class and second class citizens as well as non-citizens in historic Palestine. The implications of this discriminatory system, however, extend far beyond Palestine and bleeds into much of the Middle East.

In light of the ongoing Arab Awakening throughout the Middle East, the limitations on the rights of the non-Jewish populations outside of Israel become obvious. Concern for maintaining Israel’s hegemony over the region is dressed up as a desire for ‘stability’. Stability, as western power elites refer to it, means nothing more than maintaining Israel’s military, technological and economic superiority over its neighbors.

Taking the example of the Egyptian revolution, the discussion in the mainstream media is often 2 pronged. The immediate concern is ‘What will become of Egypt’s peace treaty with Israel?’ Virtually no mind is paid to the fact that this ‘peace treaty’ was forced upon the Egyptian people against their will. Moreover,  the treaty disproportionately limits Egyptian sovereignty over its own territory and is overwhelmingly in Israel’s favor. Western powers often seen boasting of their love for democracy and desire to see a democratic Middle East are suspiciously negligent of the undemocratic means by which this ‘peace treaty’ came about. But, of course, it brought stability to the region, making Israel and it’s allies (the only parties whose input counts) happy.

Second, there is a huge scare over the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. In a democratic society where it’s one-person one vote, the citizenry has the right to select whomever they please to lead them. Of course, this includes the right to voice dissent and to also decide whom the populace does not want to lead them. Many of the arguments against the Muslim Brotherhood are valid and resonate with many Egyptians. However, this rhetoric becomes dangerous and undemocratic when it comes from outside Egypt. From individuals who are not members of Egypt’s citizenry and therefore have no say in who should lead Egypt. Many times we find this ‘concern’ oversteps its boundaries and transforms into dictating to the Egyptian public who they should or shouldn’t vote for. Furthermore, much of the ruckus surrounding the Muslim Brotherhood is not regarding how they would treat the Egyptian people, but rather how they will view and interact with Israel. “Will the Muslim Brotherhood view Israel as an enemy? Will they go to war with Israel? Will they remove the Israeli Embassy in Egypt?” These are the questions that boggle the mind of the international community as Egyptians continue their revolution for freedom and dignity.

In a true democracy the views of the people are respected. The government elected by the people strives to represent their constituency to the best of their abilities. Or at the very least, the society is structured on a vision of such a system. It is no ones place to tell the people how to vote or what to support. But this has never been the case in the Middle East.

Arab regimes have worked to silence dissent amongst the masses and, to a large extent until recently, have succeeded in building an obedient society. The main beneficiary of such oppression is Israel, a state founded on the destruction of Palestine and the continued oppression of the Palestinian people for the entirety of its existence. Israel has been able to do so with much credit due to the cover it receives from these Arab regimes. Hosni Mubarak is a prime example of an Arab leader who went against the wishes of his people and worked to fulfill the desires of the Zionist state.

It is vital to recognize that much of the friction the Arab Awakening is facing today is a result of the hierarchy in the Middle East introduced by the ideology of Zionism. Arabs can’t have fair representation, because they may not be aligned with the Zionist agenda. God forbid the Arab people experience freedom or else Israel’s blank check of oppression might bounce.

The Arab people have proven themselves to be true believers in the principles of democracy. Millions of Arab men, women and children have put their lives on the line and paid the ultimate price in the pursuit of a free and democratic society. For us in the western world, we often take living in a democracy for granted. All it takes it a brief glance at the Arab world to see what democracy is really worth.

Palestinian Girls Win 4th Place at Largest Science Fair in the World

Last week at the Intel International Science and Engineering Fair in Pittsburgh, PA a project from Hebron, Palestine took the 4th place award in the category of Plant Sciences.

Intel International Science and Engineering Fair (ISEF) is the premiere science competition in the world. ISEF brings together more than 1500 high school scientists from 65 countries to present their research and compete for over $3 million in prizes and scholarships. Finalists are selected from more than 7 million students who participated in science fairs around the world.

Students Asil Shehadeh and Rawan Skafi from Hebron, Palestine won fourth place in Plant Sciences for their project “The Crying Plant” where Asil and Rawan designed an irrigation system that keeps soil moist during carbon measurement.

Asil and Rawan competed against students from all over the world including the United States, China, India, Russia, Brazil and 60 other countries. Their triumph is a testament to the resilience, determination and sumood of the Palestinian people. Regardless of the lack of facilities, mentors and experience these students remained steadfast in their research and refused to allow any disadvantages they had hold them back from shooting for the top prizes. To that end, Rawan and Asil were very successful.

Having been in the audience when the award was announced, it is hard to put into words the excitement and pride I felt watching as Asil and Rawan walked up on stage with a Kuffiyeh around their necks, head held high raising their medals. I couldn’t help but think that this, Rawan and Asils contribution to science as Palestinians from Palestine, was the greatest form of resistance. It served as a reminder to the world that not only are Palestinians still around, but we are  educated, articulate and capable of making major contributions to the world.

I want to say to Rawan and Asil and all the Palestinian students at ISEF, on behalf of all Palestinians- Thank you. Thank you for surpassing the obstacles that challenge you on a day to day basis and putting Palestine’s name on the map. Thank you for using science to resist the oppression you face. Thank you for embodying Palestinian sumood and reminding the world that Palestine is destined for success.

Below you can find a few videos taken of the ingenious students presenting their projects:

Mahmoud Iriqat from Abu Dis, Jerusalem, Palestine

Woroud Alrimawi from Beit Rima, Ramallah, Palestine

Palestinian Activists Seal Off Ma’ale Adumim Settlement in Occupied West Bank

 

[Video] Walk Out and Protest on Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s Speech at GWU

I was honored to take part in a walk out and protest on Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren at the George Washington University. I am currently swamped with work for school, but expect a more detailed write up within the next week. In the meantime check out this awesome video documenting the walk out and the protest!

‘We Have The Same Desire For Freedom’ – Palestinian Christians Respond to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren

The Institute for Middle East Understanding (IMEU) captures the responses of Palestinian Christians to Israeli Ambassador Michael Oren’s claim that the main source of duress in the Palestinian Christian community stems from Islamic oppression. This is, of course, entirely unsubstantiated and false. This type of rhetoric has long run its course and highlights the drastic lengths the Israeli propaganda machine will go to try and save face. Unfortunately for them, the truth always prevails. As one of the Palestinian Christians interviewed in this video puts it:

‘If you come to my hometown, the only time you will know the difference between a Muslim or a Christian is if you come in on a Sunday or a Friday and see where we go to pray. That’s the only difference. Otherwise, we have the same culture, we have the same attitude and the same desire for freedom. To be liberated from Israeli Occupation and Israeli ethnic cleansing policies.”

Pro-Palestine Activists Physically Attacked by Israel Alliance Members at UNM [VIDEO]

Footage just released moments ago captures an awful physical attack by members of the University of New Mexico’s Israel Alliance on pro-Palestine activists. From the video it appears that the attackers were predominately older white males while the victims of the attacked were mostly young college age girls. The victims are viciously pulled and shoved to the ground. The perpetrators of the attack make clear attempts to reach and grab the victims personal property while those who couldn’t get their hands on the students, yelled out obscenities and cursed the students. Some confused members of the audience began chanting “U.S.A!”

You can watch footage of the attack here:

The students were protesting an Israel Alliance event tonight hosting Nonie Darwish. Nonie Darwish is an Egyptian-American anti-Arab/Muslim activist, and founder of Arabs for Israel. Nonie Darwish exploits Islamophobia for every penny its worth and capitalizes on ignorance in order to further her own name at the expense of 1.5 billion people. She authored the book Now They Call Me Infidel: Why I Renounced Jihad for America, Israel, and the War on Terror. Penguin Books published it under its Sentinel imprint which is its special line of conservative titles. In her book, Darwish uses blurbs from the usual gang: Daniel Pipes, David Horowitz, Robert Spencer, Bat Ye’Or, former Senator Rick Santorum, Representative Tom “Nuke Mecca” Tancredo, and General Paul Vallely (an advocate for the final ethnic cleansing of all Palestinian citizens of Israel).

Having been born and raised in New Mexico, I consider myself an honorary Lobo. As such I can’t help but feel proud of the young men and women who spoke up for the voiceless in the face of ignorance and bigotry with unlimited courage and resilience.

The ‘mic check’ carried out by (Un)Occupy Albuquerque tonight is not a form of protest foreign to Palestinian Activism. In fact, it is part of a larger wave of protests taking place on university campus’s all over the country serving to expose to lies perpetrated by the likes of Nonie Darwish and others.  And now, thanks to UNM’s Israel Alliance, they are only going to be amplified.

#PalestiniansLikeMe: A Tribute to Khader Adnan

Within 15 minutes, the hashtag was the top trend world wide.

 

**URGENT CALL TO ACTION**PLEASE SHARE**

WHAT: Peaceful Silent Demonstration in solidarity with political prisoner Khader Adnan who has been on Huger Strike in Israeli Prison for 53 days. http://bit.ly/w5qjBf
WHEN: Tomorrow February 8, 2012 at 5:00 PM
WHERE: Dupont Circle, meeting by the fountain
WHY: Stand in solidarity with Khader and all political prisoners in a peaceful demonstration tomorrow
WHAT TO BRING: Wear Black and Bring a Blindfold

The GWU Hatchet Used As Platform to Spew Racism and Hatred…Again

On Thursday September 29, 2011 the GW Hatchet published an advertisement paid for by the David Horowitz Freedom Center entitled “The Palestinians’ Case Against Israel is Based on a Genocidal Lie.”

For those of you who don’t know him, David Horowitz is a Marxist turned Conservative. Most of his work is directed at preventing alleged leftist indoctrination from taking place in American academic institutions. Moreover, he is known for his hateful and broad generalizations of Muslims, Arabs and African Americans. He has accused the Muslim Students’ Association (MSA) of having links to the Muslim Brotherhood, Al Qaeda and Hamas. In May 2008, Horowitz, speaking at UCSB, accused the Muslim Students’ Association of supporting “a second Holocaust of the Jews”.

In his most recent ad in The Hatchet, Horowitz presented such egregious historical fallacies that his advertisement in my opinion does not merit a response. Claims such as the suffering of the Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza is due solely to “Arab aggression”, Israel does not occupy Palestine, Palestine is Turkish and not Arab, labeling criticism of Israel as “Jew hate” only to mention a few. However, if you are interested in debunking Horowitz’s claims, a trip to the U.N.’s website and reading up on U.N. Security Council Resolution 242 would be a quick remedy. It goes without saying that Horowitz is oblivious to the realities of history and is blinded by his own hatred and personal agenda. It should be noted that Horowitz has never been to Israel or Palestine.

As an American I am all for freedom of speech in all of it shapes and forms. I also recognize a newspapers right to publish any advertisement it wishes. However, at the same time, with such great freedom comes even greater responsibility. Why would The Hatchet make the conscious decision to publish such a racist, discriminatory and inaccurate ad? Would the Hatchet have agreed to publish it if the words Arab/Palestinian were replaced with “Black”, “Homosexual” or even “Jew”? There is a clear double standard here when it comes to the Palestinian cause. And to be fair this is not just limited to the Hatchet by any means, quite the contrary. This double standard allowing for wide open Arab bashing exists throughout all levels of mainstream media in this country. But that is no justification or excuse for The Hatchet further contributing to the marginalization of the Palestinian people and their noble cause for freedom and justice. Moreover, such actions marginalize all subjugated people. Attacking one group based on such a baseless and historically impaired view is a threat to all those who have long suffered under the steel boot of occupation and imperialism.

This is not the first time The Hatchet has gotten heat for publishing one of Horowitz ads. On April 14, 2008 Horowitz purchased a half page ad on the second page of The Hatchet that made entirely false allegations against the Muslim Student Association here on our very own campus. The ad claimed that the Muslim Student Association is “a radical political group that was founded by members of the Muslim Brotherhood, the godfather of al Qaeda and Hamas, to bring the jihad into the heart of American higher education.” On April 21st, 2008 The Hatchet issued a response saying, “The Hatchet does not stand behind this message. It is slightly ludicrous to even ponder the idea that the MSA is a radical group in Foggy Bottom.” The same article went on to promise that the Hatchet is “…now working on a revamped policy which will provide more stringent guidelines for advertisements. Horowitz’s advertisement was inflammatory and, on second review, may not have passed our test of decency.”

It is clear that no such revamping of The Hatchet took place, as Horowitz was successful in using The Hatchet as a platform to spew his hate speech and historical fallacies for a second time. The Hatchet has the moral duty not to let their power and influence be used to enable unsubstantiated racism and bigotry. To this end, The Hatchet has shown a tremendous lack of professionalism.

According to the David Horowitz Freedom Center, the advertisement was sent out to at least 65 different college newspapers for publication. Over 50 of the schools refused to publish it. Even considering the history The Hatchet has with Horowitz’s ads and the huge fiasco it led to in the past, The Hatchet was one of the 15 colleges newspapers that irresponsibly carried the ad. I hope that this time, the uproar cause by Horowtiz’s ad in the Hatchet will help guide future Hatchet editors on advertising policy.