Archive for August, 2008

In Remembrance

As Ramadan draws near, I am reminded more of the the daily struggles of a people needlessly suffering, needlessly dying, in what seems like a world away despite its proximity to my heart. I read this and I remember to appreciate the life I have here, but more importantly I remember to spread this information. I can’t accept that people don’t care.
I think people don’t know.
We’ve become complacent in our comfort. I once gave up too; accepted the world as imperfect and moved on. I am ashamed of that.
I post this to remind you, just as it reminded me, to always take steps towards changing the world from (to quote a great orator) “the world as it is,” to “the world as it should be.”


Areej—the Scent of Youth and Death
By Dr. Hanan Ashrawi

“In memory of Areej Al-Jabali, 18 –years- old, assassinated in Hebron by the Israeli army on January 5, 2001”.

Your name still wafts through
Alleys and centuries of stone with
Which old Hebron—Khalil the Compassionate—
Wraps itself.
No mercy there
Only settlers strutting
Gloating in the knowledge that the siege,
Barbed wire and curfew,
Encircle only you
And yours
For theirs is the space
Erased from the law
A blank page stained with
Spilled blood and scribbles of insanity
While yours is the youth and blood spilled—what
Wanton abandon—seeping
Almost, almost unnoticed, into crevices
Where memory almost sleeps.
(In Hebron, an 18-year-old woman died, caught in the crossfire)

You almost finished high school, with
Your unwritten certificate, a pass—
Safe passage through a different siege, instead,
A bland testimonial of blind death groping—obscene
Bullets, how many, penetrating virgin flesh
Untouched, violated now unseen,
The evil of anonymous listings, Areej, shall not
Rob you of that which is yours: the thick<
Long lashes, ruddy cheeks, lips full of unkissed
Promises (You should be happy, child, your
Mother said, no need for blush, mascara
Or fake vanities). I saw you,
Face made up, wrapped in your coffin, not my
(Or your mother’s) arms.
Artificial death. Its ugliness left no mark,
(Your hair a glossy main—no head wounds Discerned
The neighbor’s boy was smitten. Averting your
Eyes, Areej, you sensed his urgent
Need, modesty prevailed,
The promise postponed,
Blessed are the pure.
The soldier boy obsessed with the kill
(Have you become an etched x on the nozzle of his gun?) Perhaps his first?
Daughter, heir, of ancient Abraham, your Hebron
Dowry is heavy, pregnant with history and horror.
What exchange of fire caught you? Trapped, you cast a
Glance of anger, perhaps a look of contempt
(Disdain does not become you)
He fired back a bullet, and you’re
Eighteen forever,
Frozen, your moment of immortality
Captured, as you, caught by surprise,
Wondered, for an unrepentant second, is this all?
Is this it?
And he, an instant murderer, let out a breath—
This is it.
Unrepentant, forever branded,
His nameless victim eternally engraved
Within what makes him what he is,
What he will always be.
Although your eyes had never met, he wears
The stench of death, and you—the
Scent of youth.
Areej, the fragrance of wild flowers
Wafting through the hills of Hebron, yours
Is no abstract death
And mine is no impersonal sorrow.
Your Mother has granted me the right to share
Her grief—a mother too—
In the heart of bereaved Jerusalem.
No, no wedding ululations,
False courage before cowardly death,
Forging endings way before
Time, and your breasts, have ripened.
You will not learn, Areej, the full
Fact of your death,
Nor he.
But we do, and shall.
Forgive me for not letting it pass
Unnoticed, hovering in numbers,
Headlines, and withering wreaths.
Forgive me for letting it
Come to pass, unwittingly, like a sidelined
Chorus of fate in the face of tragic choice.
(It was not mine to make, nor yours,
But years ago, someone signed a pact that sealed your
Fate, and made the choice for both).
Have you found your peace, Areej?
One chance after the last chance
Found you unprepared, unadorned,
Your guilt—an unforgivable innocence
Immersed in hope, freedom within your grasp.
Is yours the ultimate iniquity of natural
Life before unnatural death? Of daring?
Humming a tune to yourself while hanging
Laundry on the roof to dry? The sharp
Pain of a loose clothespin drawing a drop of blood?
The gaze cast over rooftops, a daydream
Of college or the boy next door?
Too early, too late, daughter of Palestine,
Time cast you into misplaced peace
Into a realm of almost
And the sin of unfinished
As magnificently mundane
As the flag that enfolded you.
As ritualistic as a mother’s incantation,
A prayer for the innocents: Lead us not into
Heroism for the pain of a child,
The death of a child, is anguish beyond
It is done. It is undone. It is not done.

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Sarah Palin???!

I can’t even begin to express the utter shock I felt once I found out Sarah Palin was joining McCain on the Republican Presidential Ballot. Really? I mean, REALLY??
Four things stick out the most.
1) She’s a woman, and obviously McCain’s trying to get the disenfranchised Hillary supporters. If people were only voting for Hillary because she was a woman, and not because of the values Hillary represented (Hillary’s Pro-Choice, Palin’s Pro-Life – HELLO) then this VP pick is meaningless. If, however, McCain receives any of the female vote directly because Palin is his running mate, then the American public has stooped to an even dumber level than when they re-elected Bush in 2004.
2) She’s 44 years old!! Let’s be realistic here. McCain’s 72 years old and he very well may not last throughout office. I’m not talking about death. Even just health problems where Palin would have to step in temporarily. Granted, Obama doesn’t have much experience either, but at least he’s served in Washington as a Senator of a state with a population greater than one million people, and in the State Legislature of that same state. Palin? She has two years experience as Alaskan Governor and before that she was mayor of Wasila, Alaska: Population? 7,738. Population of Alaska? 670,753. And, if elected, She will be 2nd ranked in power to govern the USA. Population? 301,139,947. Really? I mean, REALLY?
3) As Governor of Alaska, Chair of the Interstate Oil and Gas Compact Commission, and a former Chair of the Alaska Oil and Gas Conservation Commission. She’s knee deep in oil. Granted it’s domestic oil. And she taxed the crap outta them and they probably want her to leave Alaska because of it. Ok fine, this is actually a positive thing about her. Anyway we need to focus on OTHER sources of energy like wind and solar!
4) She’s pretty hot. What? She is! I’m just saying…

I should be relieved. I should be relieved to see her as McCain’s VP. This election should be a no-brainer now. A shoe-in. We shouldn’t have to bother even going through with it, and just give it to Obama/Biden. But the voters of the US make me nervous. And the voting machines in the US make me nervous. What happens if McCain DOES win. What happens then? Oh. My. God. What happens then??!? The possibility seems so ludicrous!! That can’t happen!! It just CAN’T.


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Let’s give Israel a cookie!

Said al-Atabeh, the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner in Israeli custody, gestures upon his release at the Beitunya checkpoint outside the West Bank city of Ramallah August 25 , 2008.  REUTERS/Baz Ratner (WEST BANK)

Said al-Atabeh, the longest-serving Palestinian prisoner in Israeli custody, gestures upon his release at the Beitunya checkpoint outside the West Bank city of Ramallah August 25 , 2008. REUTERS/Baz Ratner (WEST BANK)

Today marked the momentous occasion that was Israel’s release of 199 Palestinian prisoners as a gesture of goodwill to President Mahmoud Abbas and a kindling of stalled peace talks.
Of the 199 prisoners most media outlets were quick to point out two with “blood on their hands.” So I decided to take a closer look at these bloodthirsty animals.

Prisoner number one? Said al Ataba (pictured). The longest serving Palestinian prisoner, sentenced to life imprisonment in 1977 after being convicted of an involvement with a bombing that killed an Israeli woman and wounded dozens. After serving 32 years, I can see how freeing this 57 year old man is one of the most dangerous things Israel can do. God forbid, he might apply for his social security checks early! The horror!

Prisoner number two? Mohamed Abu Ali Yatta imprisoned for shooting a Jewish student in 1980 or, as one media source describes it, “left his two toddlers and pregnant wife for a mission he saw as a national duty: to shoot dead a young Jewish religious student.” (thank you Carolynne Wheeler of the UK Telograph)
His wife, however has a different story.
“[A] simple man working day and night to secure a living. From an early age he was forced to work to support his family…and then opened a shop selling household appliances…he did not belong to any faction…he was too busy working from day and night to support everyone. One day an Israeli soldier was harassing one of the town’s elderly and spat on him and insulted him. That soldier was captured and killed. About nine months after that the army stormed my family’s house and took Abu Ali to prison.”
So I’m to believe this family man with no political ties, who needs to work all day to support his wife and kids, is going to up and kill a Jewish religious student? Riiiiight.

Other prisoners included in the deal are Jaber Zeid who was arrested in 2001 and sentenced to 15 years for attempted murder, Alawna Jamil arrested in 2003 and sentenced to 15 years for possession of explosives and intent to murder, Aghbariya Maher who was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to 15 years for perpetrating shooting attacks, trading in weapons and planting explosives, Khaled Dares who was arrested in 2003 and sentenced to 13 years for membership in an illegal organization and perpetrating shooting attacks, Alias Alam arrested in 2003 and sentenced to ten years for attempted murder, and Mohammed Jihad Katlo who was arrested in 2002 and sentenced to ten years for attempted murder. (

And the rest of the 199?

“Most of the prisoners are in jail for relatively minor offenses, usually criminal in nature, and many were due for release in several months regardless of the cabinet’s decision to release them.” (

I see.

So what else does the media report? Well, Israel, always the peace advocate, released 429 Palestinian prisoners last December after the Annapolis conference. And yet there’s still over 9,000 Palestinian prisoners, some of whom are women and children, in Israeli jails (Some say it’s as high as 11,000, but who’s counting?). Why’s the number so high? Could it be because 443 prisoners were taken in just July and August this year? ( Could the release be happening only to free up space in overcrowded Israeli prisons? Personally, I don’t think so, mainly because I don’t believe Israel cares about cramming Palestinians into crowded prison cells. But I wouldn’t say that’s out of question.

Meanwhile, settlements in the West Bank continue to grow (Illegal under international law), The Separation Wall (also illegal under international law) still continues to destroy Palestinian families and economic prosperity.
And Likud Party Chairman and former israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is irate: “Instead of taking a position of attacking terror, the government is freeing terrorists with blood on their hands, in exchange for nothing, while Gilad Shalit continues to rot in captivity.”
In case you forgot, Gilad Shalit was the Israeli soldier captured by Hamas in Gaza in 2006 (Yes, CAPTURED. He was not abducted. He’s a freakin’ SOLDIER, unlike the thousands of Palestinians who are kidnapped, or as Israeli calls it “arrested”).

So, in yet another masterful display, Israel manages to come out as the appeaser again. When, in reality, it has done nothing at all. So, where’s the cookie?


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Canada Beheading

Human beings have this habit of blocking out the more horrifying things we do to each other day in and day out. It’s what keeps us from living in a perpetual state of depression.
There are days when I remember how much we’ve accomplished as a species: Art, Love, Compassion. Then there are days like yesterday.
It was yesterday that I was reminded once again of what the (self described) highest form of intelligence on Earth is truly capable of. How random acts of violence are just that: random. Death can come when you least expect it. Even in so-called “civil society.” As if it occurring here is any more atrocious than when it happens in Somalia, or Iraq, because “it’s not supposed to happen here.” Death can come at any moment. Remember that. God help the family and friends of Tim McLean, and others who are forced to experience such awful loss.


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