Thursday, November 30, 2006
Tomorrow, December 1st, is World AIDS day.
I dedicate this post to all of the women in the world who are living with violence in their homes and to all of the women in the world who are forced to have unprotected sex with an HIV + male partner because they have no choice, are being raped, need to ensure that they and their families have food and shelter, or fear violent reprisals.
For more information, click here.
Wherever you find violence —whether it's physical, psychological, or sexual —there will be AIDS.
-Violeta Ross Quiroga
You are in my thoughts, my dear sisters.
Tuesday, November 28, 2006
I have been thinking about and dreaming of this trip for such a long time, years in fact. No wonder I am ready to go NOW.
I am a wanderer in every cell of my body and I haven't left the country to go anywhere besides Canada in 4 years. That's centuries for me.
Oh to be surrounded by sounds that take effort to understand, a context to discover, people to find commonalities with despite language and culture. My paradise, the paradise I was introduced to at 5 years old.
I may want to do this after I get back from Lebanon. It would be nice to find some kindred spirits to help me with it. I will work on that.
Hourrah for human creativity! Our efforts do make a difference, if not small at present. The more of us who implement creative solutions in face of injustice, the sooner the day will come when our tax dollars will not be used to support war and death.
Another world is possible.
Monday, November 27, 2006
Sunday, November 26, 2006
I have been very uninspired about work recently which is not like me. I am usually so passionate about what I do. I am so lucky. I get to be a leader in a movement that is making a difference in the world. I should always be passionate. But even people like me have their days of going through the motions. I just work at such a frenetic pace usually that I can really feel it right now.
My counselor reminds me that I just came out of six months where I was undergoing alot of stress culminating with the left side of my face ceasing functioning (Bell's Palsy) and the source of my anxiety disappearing. Now I have nothing to fight against. When this happens people can first feel bewildered and out of sorts as I am feeling now.
To add to all of this, I am embarking on an incredible journey next month where my childhood memories will have new feelings and images pasted on top. It's like the pause that happens before waves that have washed ashore drift slowly back out into the sea.
These are some quick pictures I took on automatic. I am still trying to read through my camera's instruction book. I am feeling a bit overhwelmed.
Saturday, November 25, 2006
I am just as guilty of this. "If the United States would just stop supplying Israel with military aid, or if we just get the majority of the population to realize that the U.S. invaded Iraq for the economic interests of a few, then blame has been assigned and the violence will stop." But is this really true?
I think of the conflicts that I get into. There are times that I can easily assign blame to myself or to someone else but this does not necessarily solve the conflict. There is a point where I have to let go of blame and instead work towards a peaceful alternative that all parties can agree to. Of course this also means that everyone involved wants to see a peaceful alternative and is willing to let go of blame to create it.
What I am saying is that blame does not solve conflict. Those involved in a conflict must care about the greater good of their community or their country and come to a compromise.
An editorial in today's Daily Star about the current situation in Lebanon reminded me of this:
What many of them [internal and external parties expressing their opinion] - especially local leaders - fail to see is that the current crisis is more than just a power struggle over who will get to run the country. It is a crisis about Lebanon's very existence. Those who adamantly cling to their simple remedies are like inept doctors arguing around an operating table while their patient is hemorrhaging. This is not the time for posturing or bickering; we urgently need to stop the country's bleeding.
Lebanon is in the emergency room right now and it is not the time to assign blame. It is time for Lebanon's leaders to find compromise. Once out of crisis, the tribunal can reach conclusions as to who is responsible.
This should also happen in other parts of the world such as Iraq. There should be a true investigation, not the one-sided one where blame was already assigned to Sadam Hussein. No wonder we humans satisfy ourselves with assigning blame! Sometimes it is all that we can do. What are the chances that those who are truly responsible for the war in Iraq will accept responsibility?
Wednesday, November 22, 2006
Pierre Gemayel was assassinated yesterday, the fifth killing that began with Rafik Hariri's killing last year. Gemayel was 34 years old and a cabinet minister. His death has strong symbolic meaning. His father Amin Gemayel was president, as well as his uncle Bashir who was also assassinated. And his grandfather, his namesake, founded the Christian Phalange party.
This assassination had only one purpose: to stir up and increase tensions between groups in Lebanon.
I am taking a deep breathe and hoping, even praying, that this will not happen.
Monday, November 20, 2006
This evening’s worries include a possible lost e-mail that one of Evelyne’s friends sent giving me the name of a hostel type place that I could possibly stay at after Evelyne’s departure. Another is the question, “What am I going to do with myself for three weeks?”
This unknown is exactly what I want to be feeling. I can’t have this trip be entirely planned. I want it to evolve. I also want to go inside myself to those uncomfortable places where I am unsure of my next step. I want to go to those parts of the closet and drawer space where one rarely goes, where memories like personal items are forgotten stuffed and crumpled into corners or eaten away by moths.
What will I find? I have some idea. Thoughts, images, and feelings just won’t be as neatly folded as they are now.
At this time next month, I will be in Lebanon.
Sunday, November 19, 2006
- Arundhati Roy
I live by this more than I live by anything else. More than the Bible, the Koran, Planned Parenthood’s various “We Believe” statements, the local sale at REI. This is my code.
I have this raw idea. That if everyone would just look. Not look away and not forget- violence against other humans committed by any military entity would not be tolerable.
As people look and really feel the pain and suffering and do not divert these feelings into blame or guilt, just purely experience it, they will then not be able to accept anyone undergoing such suffering whether they are Palestinian, Israeli, Iraqi, American, or whatever else.
Pain caused by war and weapons of death is unacceptable, no matter what. Arms will drop to the ground and the majority of U.S. citizens will protest their tax dollars contributing to war machines. The tipping point will have arrived. War will be like tobacco smoking is now.
I believe this is possible. We just can’t look away and we cannot by any means let ourselves forget.
The living room was covered with beadwork, purses, and other woven items. I helped Felipe and Maria put price tags on things in preparation for Fair Trade sales this holiday season. I noticed a weaving that Maria made last year. It hadn't sold. I have always loved it and so I bought it. There it is above. It is on my altar now.
It was really nice to see them. We talked about what we were all doing for Thansgiving and I said if they didn't have plans they were welcome to come over to my place. I love cooking on Thanksgiving and I love being around people that I care about who don't mind coming to my very small but comfortable home to celebrate. Later, I invited my neighbor and her two boys to come over too. It will be a squeeze, but I like spatial puzzles.
The day after Thanksgiving, by the way, is Buy Nothing Day. Even though I can be quite the consumer, I do like refraining from participating in the madness this day and through out the holiday season. I personally try to shop fair trade as much as possible and I also like to give donations in people's names instead of gifts. I like the idea of knowing that we are helping a young girl in Guatemala go to school or a local homeless shelter prepare more meals during these cold months. I think this is much more meaningful than one more gadget someone doesn't need or want.
Friday, November 17, 2006
Dear Ahlam, Pinar, Liz and friends,
I am so sad to inform you that the Israeli security forces in the airport prevented me from participating in the conference on: “Women and Sexual Reproductive Rights” held in Tunis.
The process of humiliation by the Israeli security forces started when we reached the airport at the gate. As you all know I live in the Old City of Jerusalem, and I use transportation from my area. The moment they learned that both the driver and myself live in East Jerusalem, they asked us to park the car on the side, take all our/my luggage and follow them for body and luggage search. A young soldier in a small room in the airport gate searched me, asked me to take off my shoes, took mine and the driver’s mobile phones and asked us to wait for almost 40 minutes until they finished checking the car’s body and engine.
After all this process, I managed to get inside the airport, and there continued the process of humiliation. I was the only one to wait for a long time. I knew that they were doing a security check on my name, address, and other information. A young female soldier tried to help out and started convincing her superior to allow me to pass. It took her a while then she came, asked me to put my luggage in the x-ray machines and pass. Afterward another security agent asked me to bring all my belonging and follow him up for an additional search. Here, something like 3-4 security personnel were checking my one small bag, my computer bag and my carry-on purse.
They, started taking off the cloths from the luggage, my shoes, underwear, make up, medicine, and placed them in such a messy manner on a long counter. I was the only one that was searched. I did not know what to look at or follow up. My reading material was all over the counter, mixed with my cloths and shoes, when young men were emptying my make up kit, spreading my medication, when one took a picture of my girls, and the other security guy pulled my shoes and put it on the picture. My visit cards, my papers, everything was scattered….with all my belonging in such a disrespectful manner. I stood there not knowing what to do, I was about to cry when I saw my reading material falling on the floor, and the pages being mixed. I asked the female security personnel- that was checking my printed material not to mix between the various articles, she replied ( with so much power) that I could find the pages and organize them later one. While I was trying to explain to her that my reading and printing material should be kept intact, I saw another security man fetching my wallet while pulling off all the credit cards and putting them on the counter, and emptying my purse in such a humiliating manner. His friend on the other side was picking up my underwear one after the other- while joking and talking to his friends in Hebrew- thinking that I don’t speak the language. They also took my cell phones and I was unable to call anyone for help. At one point, the phone was ringing and I asked one of them to get it to me, and he did- by I missed the call; and he took it back.
The whole seen of people mixing all your stuff together, while I am standing mesmerized captivated by their inhumanity, failing to follow up who is doing what, where and how- was horrible and painful. I could not hold my tears, wondering how much one could accept humiliation, dishonor and degradation in the name of “Security reasoning”; and went to get me a tissue to wipe my tears from my purse, when another security guy screamed at me that I can’t touch the purse. While I am in this state, and while my belonging were so dispersed and scattered all over the long counter, the security guy in charge came and told me that I can’t take my reading material to the plain. I started explaining -with tears and so much anger- to him that I need to read on my way, and it is a 5 hour flight, and my reading material is crucial to me. It took me a while arguing with him and another security officer until I managed to get the approval for to take all the pages that they scattered and messed up with me to the plain. The time was flying and I was about to miss my flight, when a very polite young security officer told me that she will book me a seat, so as to be ready. She actually did book me a window seat. In a short time, the head of the security officers came and told me that I can’t take my laptop with me to the plain. Again, and while being so hurt, while seeing them joking when looking at my cloths, ridiculing me while dropping my tooth brush on the floor, my money scattered on the counter and much much more- I started explaining to them that I can’t leave without the laptop. In trying to calm down myself, and decrease my feeling of hurt, I asked the head of the security to cal his superior. His superior, in the name of Tal Vardi # 14544 came (he gave me this name following my request). He was so disrespectful, so rude and abrasive. I was explaining to him how important is my laptop to me, I told him that I need to prepare my lecture, and that a laptop from Israel will never reach Tunisia. He kept on telling me that I can’t take the laptop with me. Then I told him that if that is a rule, they should inform people that laptops are not allowed on the planes and that security forces can’t do it without prior notice. Tal Vardi with such a humiliating and sarcastic manner replied (while having all his staff around him): “ So next time I need to call you and talk to you before you fly ??? Do you think that we have time for you??
At that moment I decided that I should call for additional help, for Tal Vardi refused totally to talk to me, and left me alone. At that time, three security people were packing my stuff in such a mess, pulling the computer’s battery, wrapping the laptop…without even getting my approval. I called Bilha Cohen the secretary at the institute of Criminology, she then gave me the phone number of the dean’s office. I called Aliza, the Dean’s secretary, she gave me his home number, and I called, his wife gave him to me, and he said that he can’t do anything and that I should call his deputy, she is the one that could help me out. By that time I was 20 minutes from my flight. I called his deputy, and there was no one in the office, and my computer was wrapped out about to be sent to Tunis- as they planned. I then started yelling while trying to explain – but this time with so much anger – and told them that there way of treating people is not human, that I allowed them to check everything in my luggage, that I cooperated, but they treated me with such a rude and inhumane manner. There refusal to allow me to take my laptop with me, even when I was willing it to them if they give it to me in the airplane; and following their refusal to even talk to me or calm me down- they all left me sitting on that long counter, trying to find a way out. Their talks, their methods of making fun of me, and their disrespect made me tell them “I am not flying”. I pulled my luggage, unwrapped the laptop, and left the place.
This whole process of humiliation took between 1:40- 4:30 pm. I ended up with bad chest pain, dizziness and illness which led to vomiting and feeling so humiliated. I called some friends to help me out, such as Einas from Mada, and Mr. Jaber Farah and Elena from Musawa. They both called me over 7-10 times trying to calm me down, asking some activists from the office and the airport to help out. I also called my friend Dorit Roer-Streir, but no one was able to change the situation. I left the airport, unable to breath, walk or function.
I am sorry again to miss you, miss learning from the conference and miss sharing with you my work, but must state that there is a limit to the amount of humiliation that one could take, and I felt that the whole process of turning me as a Palestinian woman into a naked entity, with no value, no voice, no respect and no power to fight this demonization back, made me refuse to fly. How could I fly as a human, when all they wanted to do is to strip me from my humanity, using all the power they have, while steeling from me even my ability to protect my girl’s picture, my writings, my reading material, my laptop and my other personal belonging.
Please accept my apologies, and please write back to my university and to the Israeli state and ask them to stop depriving us from our ability to participate in conference, to aquire knowledge, to get each others support, and stop using our bodies/lives and their “security reasoning” to marginalize, ostracize, and humiliate us.
Love to all,
Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian ( November, 16,2006)
Wednesday, November 15, 2006
Monday, November 13, 2006
- Siniora went ahead and asked the Parliment to vote on establishing a criminal court to investigate Hariri's death despite 5 ministers and without President Lahoud's approval. The Parliment voted in favor.
- I had a decent day at work and got some projects done.
- And then tonight I discovered "hudna."
A truce is referred to in Arabic as a hudna. Typically covering 10 years, a
hudna is recognized in Islamic jurisprudence as a legitimate and binding
contract. A hudna extends beyond the Western concept of a cease-fire and obliges
the parties to use the period to seek a permanent, nonviolent resolution to
their differences. The Koran finds great merit in such efforts at promoting
understanding among different people. Whereas war dehumanizes the enemy and
makes it easier to kill, a hudna affords the opportunity to humanize one's
opponents and understand their position with the goal of resolving the
intertribal or international dispute.
I love the idea of a 10 year cooling off period and an opportunity to humanize your opponent. I may be a hopeless idealist, but that's me. I recommend reading the commentary, Dream of permanent peace by delaying it for a decade, by Ahmed Yousef.
Sunday, November 12, 2006
If interested, here are some links for further reading:
From Beirut to Beltway
International Herald Tribune
The New York Times
Saturday, November 11, 2006
- Eve Ensler, Insecure at Last
This quote is making alot of sense to me today. I have made a few of those that are dear to me, angry by my encouraging them to look. I wish I did not make my friends angry with me because I care about them, but at the same time I cannot stop. I refuse to look away and I need to talk about my feelings even if I make people uncomfortable and am called emotional. Yes, I am. But as far as I am concerned that it is not a bad thing. It is proof that I am experiencieng and not disassociating myself from the horror that I see.
Thursday, November 09, 2006
This evening I went to listen to two former Israeli soldiers from Breaking the Silence talk about about how they were no longer able to distinguish between good and evil when they were in the Israeli Defense Forces. This is how they were able to dehumanize and kill Palestinian civilians as they did. They said that they had lost their morality.
When I came home, I had a poem waiting for me written in response to the massacre at Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip.
18 people, including children, this time.
The Sermon of Death
It is Wednesday Morning
When the sermon started
With shells and rockets
No bells or incense...
No readings of the holy book
No holy wine or bread to distribute
Just flesh and blood
Just screams and tears
Of children of Palestine...
The smell is different when blood runs
The taste is bitter
The color is scarlet
The eye is blind
The ear is deaf
The tongue is silent
The heart is still
But the sermon continues...
They sleep like birds
They suffer no more
They fly to their nest waiting for them on the right hand of God
There, they will fly and ring the bells
Light the incense
And start the true sermon...
They will be birds and sing songs
Sing for the oppressed
Sing for the oppressor
Sing for the world
Sing for sanity
Sing for their home land
Sing for Palestine...
****I wish that my words could bring the many innocent souls who departed our mortal world this morning back to life again to sing, but none of the dead was reported to come back to our phony world. Let them sing in the sky and cry no more. Let them sing in peace.
Monday, November 06, 2006
I did not realize the full potential and viability of the theater when I began
the Vagina Monologues. I had certainly experienced the magic and power before,
but I had yet to understand its truly sacred nature, its ability to explode
trauma, create public discourse, empower people on the deepest political and
spiritual levels and ultimately move them into action.
I spent the day hibernating in my nest today. I barely even left my loft all day. It was wonderful even if a little reclusive. I cuddled with Maya, read Insecure at Last, studied Arabic, and browsed the internet.
I've been trying to understand why I have been so introverted, preferring to come home after work and read on and off the internet as opposed to socializing. I like to talk and learn about social and political issues in the U.S. and elsewhere. I often feel that I am tremendously serious to people in my community. I have definitely have found kindred spirits but, as I have no children besides those that I work with, I have alot more time to think and read about injustices and investigate alternatives.
I have noticed that I spend alot of my research and reading time on people's expression and reaction to the political injustices and anomalies in their environment. Expression is essential. It keeps us sane and it also draws others in, helps them understand and hopefully even compels them to act.
Part of the mixed not entirely explainable feelings that I am having right now are that I haven't really been creating. I have always needed to create, usually with my hands. I used to say that I had neurotransmitters in them that would be released and calm my poor brain synapses down. But I haven't been using my hands recently, just the written word. I haven't even cooked in over a week. My camera was helping until I broke it and I have another more professional one on the way.
I was thinking that I should try to get people together to make and do activist art. This could be grassroots/theater of the oppressed type theater or knitting for all I care. As long as I could freely talk about politics. I may even try to reactivate our defunct Women in Black group. While I am great at activating the kids, I am starting to be able to just pull things right out of my head, it is not fulfilling me personally. I have to figure out how to do that.
Sunday, November 05, 2006
A map with blank spaces, erasures, parts torn out, and others taped in. A new map forming. How many cities destroyed, obliterated, and even erased from the map? What cities and people will repopulate these destroyed cities after? This was made before Israel's 2006 attack on Lebanon. Cities and towns again destroyed. This map could be many other places as well. Palestine, Darfur, Croatia, Bosnia, Guatemala . . . to only name a few.
lebanon we have no bomb shelter. Detail, 70"x40", ink on paper and tape, 2006.Installation at Makor Gallery for exhibition "Double Exposure"
I love arabic script. I love script in general but I particularly like arabic script. If I hadn't been procrastinating, maybe I would be closer to be able to reading this. I was supposed to be studying my arabic tonight. There is still time. What better inspiration than to try be able to read the words in the art that inspires me! I have been able to read and understand some of the writing in laure's drawings. I want to get to the point where I can read it all though. It's time to hit the books, mujer!
Saturday, November 04, 2006
- Eve Ensler, Insecure at Last
I remember the first time I let go of fear. I was young, somewhere between 10 and 12. My mother and I had been visiting family in the U.S. and were on an airplane getting ready to land at Beirut airport. All of a sudden, I was overtaken with the thought that our plane was going to explode when we touched the ground. A typical pre-adolescent "what if..." with a little added drama due to the fact that I lived in a place where this "what if..." was remotely possible.
I remember wondering what it would be like to explode. I was afraid for a moment and then I realized that it was out of my control. If I died, I died and there was nothing I could do about that. This conclusion made me feel incredibly peaceful.
Obviously, the plane landed and nothing out of the ordinary happened; but I have never forgotten what I learned that day. Whenever I am afraid, I think of that plane trip. It helps me face my fears and move on despite them.
I've done incredible things when I've acknowledged my fears and kept going. I moved to the hot and dusty Texas/Mexico border, lived in a community of returned refugees deep in the mountains of Guatemala, applied for dream job that I did not feel qualified for -and I got it.
Thursday, November 02, 2006
Wednesday, November 01, 2006
I found this image and the following information about cluster bombs on Qursana's blog.
A basic design of cluster bombs is a hollow shell hosting hundreds of “small bomblets” varying according to model and design. These little bomblets are scattered over with a possible affected area getting as wide as three football fields. Cluster bombs are known to have a high rate of leaving unexploded bombs behind - still they are in use. Absurdly enough some manufacturers of these bombs decided to give them bright colors in an alleged attempt to undermine their risk by making the leftovers more visible to civilians. Not-surprisingly, it turned out that the new introduced bright colors are only worsening the situation because they are attracting children.
This exactly what is happening in Southern Lebanon. The Israeli military scattered them all over especially during the last 72 hours before the cease-fire when it was very well aware that the cease-fire was about to take place. Nice colorful handsized toys for children to play with.
Over a hundred civilian casualties since the cease-fire thanks to the unexploded cluster bomblets. According to Handicap International an estimated 3 civilians daily fall victims to unexploded clusters.
They are everywhere, scattered in fields that farmers should be cultivating, in olive trees that they should be harvesting. Nice colorful handsized toys for children to play with.
But again we turn a blind eye and send Israel more money. They are not our children after all.
I'm disgusted. I wish you would be too.
For more photos, go to electronic lebanon.
To get a sense of the work that is happening to remove them, go to Mine Action Coordination Centre South Lebanon.
I don't have anything else to say but that I hope that you and many others will open your eyes and "see the light."