Podcast Episode: “Um Kulthoom Sang Here”

I am very pleased to announce the release of our very first podcast, “Um Kulthoom Sang Here” for AnOther Story. Get ready to be taken on a journey through Nablus’s coffeeshops that attracted artists, including Um Kulthoom, and hakawatyya from all over. In this story, you’ll meet some of Nablus’s locals with the most interesting stories!

I hope you enjoy this story as much as we enjoyed working on it. Thank you to Nicholas TurnerHalima Awad, Mustafa Azizi, Bara’ah Ab, Ramsis, Tahir Baker, Abu Ahmad, Abu Emad, the Kalbouna brothers, Deema, Ghaith, and everyone else who contributed and encourage the story. Below, you can find the links to the podcast in Arabic and English.

ARABIC: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I9QprcZS0SE&feature=youtu.be AND https://soundcloud.com/user-393460129/j2pzljn48v2d

ENGLISH: https://soundcloud.com/user-393460129/um-kulthoom-sang-here and https://youtu.be/CNPnOgV6r0U

Apology Turned Euology: A Poem

 

Reading your name

it took me a few moments to realize

we have met before.

We have spoken months ago.

And I wish I had given you an apology.

I apologize that it has taken us more than the years

you’ve lived to end this occupation.

I wish I had given you an apology

every time you called me khalto 

on the ten-minute drive home

before I wrote you this euology.

 

 

 

 

“What happens when the green is gone?”

Ask many Palestinians not in Palestine if Palestine ever comes up casually, and they’ll probably tell you that, yes, we often mention Palestine in our introductions about ourselves, and somehow, political conversations branch into conversations about Palestine for us. It just does, and we have every right to do so.

Throughout the past few months, I have pulled up this map to “explain” where Palestine is and what is happening to it.

screen-shot-2016-12-03-at-9-27-59-pm

Source: The Map: A Palestinian Nation Thwarted & Speaking Truth to Power http://www.juancole.com/2014/07/palestinian-thwarted-speaking.html

But yesterday, I was asked a question I did not see coming when I was showing the map to a colleague who asked where Palestine was.

“What happens when the green is gone?”She asked.

My heart sank. The green can’t go! I wanted to cheer. I knew she’d ask – or her facial expression would give away her thought – “but how can’t it go?”

“Well…” I started a sentence that I did not know how to finish.

I wanted to say that the world would not allow that to happen. It would not make room for an indigenous population to be displaced from their land. Then, I remember that it has.

I wanted to say that World War 3 would erupt. Then, I remember Syria.

I wanted to say that we, Palestinians, wouldn’t let it happen. We just wouldn’t. I know people that wouldn’t. It’s enough to know people that wouldn’t, right?

But I started the sentence with, “Well…” and I couldn’t finish it because, well…

 

 

 

 

 

 

When You Open Up Your Own Bakery

I always say that when it comes time for me to retire, I’d open a little bakery with an outside seating area.

Well, a friend of mine beat me to it and is running her own bakery. Check out her story here, a piece by myself on Barakabits:

From Unemployed Palestinian Psychology Graduate to owner of Asal Bakery

Birzeit Politics: Wolf packs and flags

Around this time of year, Birzeit University looks like Hogwarts in preparation for the annual game of quidditch. Flags of the different political affiliations and colors (green, yellow, white, red, the occasional Palestinian flag) wave on rooftops, tieds to fences, and even raised to the tips of trees (and here’s where a dear friend comments and says, “They race to see who will hang the flag the highest as if they are racing to free Palestine.”) You also have your students from different parties huddling in groups like wolf packs.

If anything, those colors signal the beginning of election week. Actually, no. What signals that BZU’s student council election week is coming are the university security guards that start asking for your student ID each day from the beginning of the month before you enter the university.

The next day, after the colors go down, is the debate. The university – or whoever – suspends classes for two hours, and students and professors alike stand (or sit) under the sun and listen to six different groups plead their cases.

The debate is usually sponsored by eight things (I’m sure there are more):

  1. Who Can Yell The Loudest Through The Microphone
  2. Who Can Answer The LEAST Amount of Questions Asked By The Moderator
  3. Who Can Bring Out The Biggest Basket of Dirty Laundry For The Other Party
  4. Who Can Make The Most Empty Promises
  5. Who Can Shame The Other Party More
  6. Who Is The First To Go Over 5 Minutes
  7.  Whose “Followers” Can Cheer The Loudest
  8. Ignoring The Smaller Parties

The Islamic Bloc (commonly known as Hamas) debators and the Martyr Yasser Arafat bloc (commonly referred to as Fateh) debators stand at either side of the stage – with the other parties in the middle – and start with the “big” politics of Palestine, mentioning all that goes on in Gaza and the West Bank…and how Gaza will turn into a bed for ISIS and how the West Bank will make room for traitors. They call for the continuing of the “3rd intifada” that seems to have died down. It only escalates from there. Lemons and other fruits are introduced to accompany analogies I couldn’t comprehend. Also, the Martyr Yasser Arafat Bloc’s debator promised 1,000,000 Jordanian Dinars to go as student financial aid for the next 5 years if they win the elections. And if they don’t, where does this 1 million go? No idea if it even exists.

The two blocs stand there and call for unity among the parties. They even hug it out, and they go back to their shaming each other and calling out each other for not answering the questions asked and not making women a part of their parties.

And the students get so hyped! I’m pretty sure the revenue for the koffiyeah factory went up, with all the koffiyeahs, in all its colors, on students’ shoulders. The media gets hyped! It’s rumored that BZU student council elections get more coverage than any other political election in Palestine.

Today was voting day. There are five different spots students vote in according to their student ID numbers, and then, everyone waits for the results. How were the results this year?

The voting turn out was 76% out of the students eligible to vote. The Islamic Bloc won 25 seats compared to a 19 seats won by the other bloc out of a total of 51. Note that the Islamic Bloc won last year, making this a two-in-a-row win for them.

This is my last year attending BZU Student Council elections. What have I learned? People call for change and conformity and unity and division at the same time every damn time.

 

 

 

 

 

Backpacks On The Sidelines

March 11th marked the 2nd anniversary for Saji Darwish’s death, a student from BZU university who was murdered in 2014.

Still, Palestine remains to be going downhill in terms of the political situation. Violence ensues.

Check out my latest article on Fair Observer at http://www.fairobserver.com/region/middle_east_north_africa/palestinian-youth-put-backpacks-protest-32393/

To Vote or Not To Vote

Hey everyone,

Check out my latest article on America’s primary elections and what the voting dilemma is like from the perspective of a Palestinian-American on the Fair Observer.

US Candidates Offer Nothing Different on Palestine

The Day of Anger

I heard my youngest sibling speak to her stuffed animals in her play room, telling them in Arabic, “Today is the day of anger. We need to clean our house.”

I poked my head into the room she was in. “What does that mean? Day of anger?”

“It means there’s going to be a lot of shooting,” she replied and went back to ignoring me and playing with her stuffed animals and Disney princesses.

The Palestinian news channel usually has headlines going on about what day of the week will be the “day of anger.” It’s the day where mass protests against the Israeli occupation are supposed to take place all over Palestine. In short, it’s when heavy shooting of live and rubber bullets and teargas canisters occurs.

Protests have been ongoing since the beginning of October during which close to one hundred Palestinians have been killed, among them children and women. Yet, apparently, there’s a need to call for certain days to be “days of anger.”

Haven’t Palestinians been in a state of anger over the occupation since the day it began to pollute Palestinian soil?

No child should live in fear. No child should be stranded. No child should be ignored. No child should go out on the streets not knowing exactly what he or she is up against. No child should utter the words “It means there’s going to be a lot of shooting.”

“They Left.”

I make a phone call to my mother before I begin walking home from where the service taxi drops me off. I make this phone call each time to make out which road to take as clashes have been ongoing since the beginning of October with the IOF in the settlement close to where I live.

“It’s fine. If you cross anything, just take the neighbor’s back gate,” was the reply this time.

And so, I took the road I usually take.

Right when I arrived the curb, where the little girl yesterday told me to watch out, I saw a young boy standing there looking ahead.

“Anyone there?” I asked him, not being able to make out what lay ahead due to the sandy fog and a new building that has served no good but multiple that-was-close car accidents.
He didn’t answer.
La, la. Fsh eshee,” an elderly women called to me. “No, no. There’s nothing.”

I continued on my way, as a young boy, about my height, walked towards me. His face was covered with a koffeyah, and all I could see were his eyes.
For a split second, our eyes locked, and I couldn’t help but see innocence, sadness, courage and fear all at once. That is what I saw in his eyes: a child. He was a child taking on the role of an adult, and no one else was around him except me, another boy standing on the sidelines, and an elderly woman.

Mrawheen,” I heard him say to the other boy as I walked away. “They left.” I couldn’t help but notice his tone filled with relief.

“They” left, but they always come back. They’ll leave teargas canisters and live bullets for us to photograph and show the world “we’re being attacked!” In the midst of all these clashes and riots, even the children go home and do what they have to do only to come back. Do they know what they’re coming back for?

The Aftermath of “Fe Yahood”

It gets dark quickly in the winter. It feels like although nights are getting longer, the days are swallowing each other…tomorrow gobbling another tomorrow. By the time the masjid calls for Maghrib prayer and if the sun was out during the day, the sky’s color becomes this strange indigo mixed with orange.

I was walking down a steep road on a sunset like this when a little girl called to me from behind her home’s gates.
Ya shatra, fe yahood!” She exclaimed. “Smart girl, there’s soldiers” except yahoo does not literally translate to “soldiers”. It translates to “jews.” I think back to the time I started only referring to them as soldiers or Zionists and not jews. I wonder when she would learn that.
“Are you sure they’re still there?” I asked.
“Not sure,” she shrugged.
Her older sister called her. “Stop bothering people. Come inside!” She scolded.

I continued on my way. There was no one. There were no boys with stones, and there were no soldiers with weapons. There was only the aftermath. There were stones with white splashes scattered on the street, making it hard to walk without stumbling. There were the silver canisters of tear gas that the IOF so openly declared to “gas [the people of Aidah refugee camp in Bethlehem] until [they] die” only a few days before.

As with all battles and riots, it is the aftermath that remians after everyone leaves, going back to the places they came from.

It is the aftermath that is so quiet.