In a Middle East overwhelmed by war, politics, destruction, and conflict, it is easy to forget that it is, like any other, just a place where life goes on; people live, people grow, people die. Communities flourish and decline. People come and people go. Mired in the hellfire of media and politics, it is easy to overlook the simple truths about life in the Middle East.
That there was civilization here before the advent of modern politics. Near Petra, Jordan.
There is a long history here: the legacy of the Romans, and its permanence. Outsiders before modern times. Roman Amphitheater, Amman, Jordan.
Even in modern cities, there was something here first. Original Haifa architecture, damaged and dwarfed by pervasive modernization. Wadi Salib, Haifa.
That there are pilgrims who travel from every corner of the world to touch the history in these stones. Old City, Jerusalem.
Those whose communities and families are torn between two warring nations. The Golan Heights.
Those who, despite a life of faith, must always walk behind. Women's Balcony, Western Wall Cave, Jerusalem.
That there are those who would put themselves in harm's way to defend a homeland they know of only from their dreams. Nabi Saleh.
Those for whom modern boundaries mean little. Eastern Jordanian desert, between Amman and Baghdad.
and that fruit still blooms in the desert. Irbid, Jordan.
Those whose playground is composed of ancient alleys. Old City, Jerusalem.
Those children who play in the winds of change. Bar Hai, Carmel, Haifa.
That there are children whose homes are destroyed, victims of politics in which they have no part. Al-Araqib, Naqab.
That soldiers are still children. Israel Train.
and that such childhood is short-lived. Wadi Nisnas, Haifa.
There are those who carry on the craftsmanship of their ancestors. Naqab.
Those who keep alive the music and the culture of their ancestors. Terez Sliman concert, Akka.
That poetry exists even in dark places. Haifa.
That art is hidden in plain sight. Rainbow Street, Amman, Jordan.
There are those who rap in protest, and those who listen in solidarity. DAM Concert, Fattoush, Ben Gurion St., Haifa.
That despite everything, this day is just like any other day. Haifa.
Against a backdrop of never-ending political gaming and war, life goes on as usual. A restaurant kitchen, Haifa.
And that, inevitably, the end comes. Here, a moment of forgotten history. British WWI Cemetary, Haifa.
There is a past, a present, and a future. Old City, Jerusalem.
For years, Palestinian and Israeli “negotiators” have been sitting down for “peace talks,” always with “impartial mediators” alongside. Then, earlier this year, for whatever reason—the Arab Spring, perhaps—the “Palestinians” (I use quotes appropriately because Fatah, let alone Abbas, do not speak for Palestinians as a whole) went to the UN to request recognition of their statehood based on some bizarre notion of feasibility. I am of the opinion they did so knowing it would fail but as a way to take charge in (or overstep) a diplomatic process that has been ****ing them all along. Whether or not they gained anything like, well, a state, they gained some negotiating power back from Goliath. Then, Hamas brokered a deal to release over a thousand of the thousands more Palestinians held in Israeli prisons in exchange for the release of the one and only Israeli (a soldier) imprisoned by Hamas. That’s Palestinians 2 – 0 Israelis. Or it might be 1-0-1. Continue reading →
I love being in Philadelphia. I love everything about it. I love that it smells like pee and beer and dirty city grime. I love that it is so diverse, so proud, so hard-working.
Philadelphia was pretty much everything I think an occupation should be. Sprawling out from the west side of Philadelphia’s majestic city hall is a city of tents, a network of pop-up alleys and fabricated quiet corners. There is a family section, where children are welcome not just to protest during the day but to join in the full-time occupation. There is an arts section that occupies a whole row of benches in the square, and the entire northern end of the square is dedicated to the “cafe”: the 24/7 access to food and drink donated by insiders and outsiders. They’ve located themselves in just such a way so when you emerge from the City Hall subway station, you find yourself smack dab in the middle of the largest people’s movement in this country since the 1960s or ’70s. Continue reading →
I’ve been thinking about OWS in the context of comparisons to Tahrir, and whether or not this is an apt analogy, but it makes me realize something else: whether or not it changes anything in the US, I think it will affect conflicts in the rest of the world and our relationship as individuals and a society to these conflicts.
Think about it: as well-meaning, socially-conscious Americans, we have been so apathetic and unaware of our own issues for so long as we have become wholly concentrated on and invested in conflicts overseas. In Israel/Palestine. In Egypt. In Haiti. In Iraq and Afghanistan. In drug wars in Central and South America. In blood diamonds. In a classist philanthropic charitably-minded society, we have dedicated our free time and our spare change to helping (or interfering with) other people. Continue reading →
The stories of refugee camps are unfathomable. Generation after generation are born into circumstances so hopeless the word “hopeless” itself provides far too much hope. There is no education, no adequate nutrition, and less than no way out. For the small percentage of the nearly 750,000 Somali refugees who are able to leave Dadaab and other massive camps in Africa, they find new homes and new kinds of assistance in their new states. But the vast majority are left to fester. Continue reading →
Anyone who is still under the impression that settlements exist outside the support system of the Israeli government should alleviate themselves of that misconception as soon as possible.
According to Ha’aretz, the IDF is training settlers in order to prepare them to deal with what they see as the inevitable “incidents” following the Palestinian Statehood vote at the UN in September. The IDF suspects September demonstrations will include “mass disorder,” “marches,” or even “more extreme cases like shooting from within the demonstrations or even terrorist incidents.” Continue reading →