Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Arbitrariness of Israeli Occupation Policies

Apparently, they have a new rule at Qalandia check point.

Those of you who read my blog regularly will recall the previous rule changes at Qalandia:

When I first came here, the Israeli soldier's rule was: stand in whichever line you wish.

Then they changed it to: men in one line, women in another, and mixed in a third.

Then there came a new rule: those with handbags in one line, those without in another.

Today it's suddenly: people with green IDs (that is, West Bank resident IDs) in one line, all others in the other.

But the good news is that it only took us about 20 minutes to walk the 20 meters or so to get to the other side. Which, according to the whole world, is illegally occupied East Jerusalem. According to Israel, however, it's Israel.

To make their point, they have put up signs that say "Israel" in Hebrew and Arabic, with arrows pointing towards the exit.

Israel ------->

(Pictures aren't allowed at the check point, hence the weird angle and low cell phone camera quality).

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

The Difficulties of Boycotting Israel in the Occupied Territories

I must confess that there has been a hiatus in my boycott of everything Israeli since I moved to the West Bank.

I know. I'm ashamed. But I have been telling myself that it is all but impossible to avoid buying Israeli products when you're here, because about 80 % of the products that the stores carry here is of Israeli origin. What do I buy? What do I eat?

But last week, on the day the Israeli navy attacked the flotilla of ships headed towards Gaza with humanitarian aid on international waters and killed at least 9, injured tens others, detained almost 700, cut off all communication with the people who had been on the ships and confiscated all pictures, audio and video recordings from the journalists and the other witnesses... so that the Israeli version was the only available the first three days... on this day, my boyfriend Tarek and I decided that we can no longer justify to ourselves buying Israeli products.

We can't support the economy of a state that arrogantly disrespects the lives of human beings to such an extent.

So we went shopping. And seriously. If you think I exaggerated when I said that 80 % of the products are Israeli here, I didn't.

Shopping is like detective work now. 

We can buy Palestinian vegetables and fruits in season at the open market in downtown Ramallah, no prob. We'll do without off-season veggies. And without those that require too much water when they grow them, like water melon right now, or mango in the summer. Because Israel doesn't allow us to use our own ground water so we can only water our fields so much.

We can get Palestinian tahina. And Italian pasta, Jordanian canned goods and Egyptian fruit juices (with insane amounts of sugar in them).

But if Tarek wants hot dogs? Not a chance. Certain kinds of cheese? Forget it.

And if you think that just because that shower gel bottle only has Arabic text on it, it's made here or maybe in Egypt or Saudi Arabia, think again. It's either settlement products (which the Palestinian National Authority forbade the selling of since a couple of months, but somehow they're not really off the shelves yet), or made inside Israel. Marketed as all-Arab products. As if they know that people are sort of reluctant to buy Israeli here.

We will start showering with Nablus olive oil soap. It's better for the skin anyway.

Bookmark and Share

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

On the Freedom Flotilla, Israel and the International Community

Excuse me for not writing the second I heard the news of the unimaginably shocking Israeli attack of the Freedom Flotilla shipping medical supplies, cement and other aid to the besieged people of Gaza yesterday.

I've been at a loss for words.

You all know the basics of what happened. Six ships with around 700 peace activists from around the world determined to break the siege on Gaza were attacked by the Israeli army yesterday early morning. At least 10, perhaps as many as 19, were killed. Over 30 injured. More than 600 detained. And Israel is mindbogglingly enough attempting to make the world believe that their commandos fired in self-defense.

Excuse you me, but if you descend from a helicopter on a ship out on international waters, fully masked, with guns, tear gas and stun guns, then you will have an extremely difficult time convincing me that you're killing people in self-defense. Especially since the people on board were equipped with nothing else than plastic knives, water hoses, and apparently a couple of wooden sticks.

As the news have sunk in, I'm left with a number of thoughts in my head:

1. In the middle of all the politics, let's not forget that there are somewhere between 10 and 19 families who lost their sons or daughters yesterday morning. And around 700 families that have been worried sick the past two days over their loved ones captured and detained by Israel.

2. Turkey deserves a standing ovation by the international community for standing up for the people of Gaza.

3. After Israel has once again proved to the world that they have absolutely no respect for human life or international law, all governments in the world should finally lose patience once and for all and demand change. Cut all diplomatic ties, prohibit military cooperation, and sever trade relations with the State of Israel unless and until the Israeli Government makes real changes on the ground and starts respecting international law, human life and human rights.

4. Because it seems that most governments are still reluctant to step up and act beyond the customary verbal condemnations, it is reassuring to see the mobilization of regular people online, on Facebook, Twitter, Youtube, posting videos, links, articles, getting the truth out as the story unfurls. It is encouraging to see that the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement is gaining momentum over the world among normal consumers. It is inspiring to see all the people who took to the streets to express their support for the people of the Freedom Flotilla and Gaza, and to demonstrate against Israel.

Because this, my dear readers, this is how the uprising against South Africa's Apartheid started. With normal people like you and me who got fed up with the inaction of governments and international institutions and took the matter in their own hands and decided to boycott everything South African.

Once people start acting, politicians start worrying, and governments start changing policies.

So keep boycotting everything Israeli. Keep emailing your presidents and prime ministers. Keep sharing articles and videos. Together we can build support for our simple demands: that the siege on Gaza be lifted, the inalienable rights of the Palestinian people be respected, that international law be enforced.

غزة على بالي

Bookmark and Share