“. . . Gaza is pregnant with people and no one helps with the labor. . .” (Nathalie Handal)

Laura Dean
March 15, 2015

With media fixated on where Netanyahu falls in the polls, you don’t hear much about last summer’s war that left more than 2,100 Gazans dead.

Haneen Zoabi, a member of the Israeli-Arab party Balad, running for reelection. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/dec/30/israeli-arab-flotilla-election
Haneen Zoabi, a member of the Israeli-Arab party Balad, running for reelection. http://www.theguardian.com/world/2012/dec/30/israeli-arab-flotilla-election

TEL AVIV, Israel — The first election in Israel since Operation Protective Edge will take place on March 17.

But while media has made much of the fact that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party is behind in the polls, one thing you don’t hear much about is the 51-day war last summer, which left more than 2,100 Gazans dead.

The war sparked an international outcry as the death toll rose and rose. Meanwhile, as Hamas and other armed groups in Gaza launched rockets at Israel, domestic support for the campaign grew ever stronger.

Seven months later, large swathes of the Gaza Strip still look as though an earthquake hit days before.

Yet across the border in Israel, with election campaigns in full swing, the war — Israel’s longest and by far its most violent with Gaza — is hardly mentioned. (More. . .)

by IMEMC & Agencies
March 15, 2015

Israeli soldiers, stationed across the border fence, fired on Monday morning rounds of live ammunition at Palestinian homes, and farmlands, east of Khan Younis, in the southern part of the Gaza Strip.
The Palestinian News & Info Agency (WAFA) has reported that the soldiers, stationed on military towers across the border, east of Khuza’a town to the east of Khan Younis, fired smoke bombs and a number of live rounds, causing property damage.

WAFA added that the farmers fled their lands following the shooting; no injuries were reported.

The army frequently attacks farmers and workers, in Palestinian lands and areas close to the border fence in the northern and eastern parts of the coastal region, and prevents them from entering their lands. (More. . .)

gaza injured child

March 12, 2015

Hundreds of Palestinians injured during Israel’s summer offensive on the Gaza Strip on Thursday protested in Gaza City against what they say is official inaction for Palestinians disabled by Israeli warfare.

Participants in the protest called upon officials to form committees specializing in the affairs and rights of the wounded and to improve Palestinians’ access to medical care and medications, which are severely limited by the Israeli blockade of Gaza.

Protester Rami Dabbour told Ma’an that the number of injured Palestinians in Gaza reaches into the tens of thousands, estimating that around 74,000 Gazans live with some form of physical injury or disability as a result of Israeli attacks on the enclave of 1.8 million people. (More. . .)

Philip Weiss
March 11, 2015

. . . . The [Salt Lake City] Tribune labels Arkansas Senator Tom Cotton an “uber-hawk.” The letter is sure to define his career, and not in a good way. The Kansas City Star says:

On Tuesday, Tom Cotton, the freshman senator from Arkansas who started the letter, defended it and said he wasn’t a traitor.

The liberal Zionist group J Street says that Cotton was scripted by neoconservative Bill Kristol. Street is reveling in the letter because it is sure to drag the neoconservative rightwing Israel lobby down politically, marginalize the greater-Israel lobby in the far right wing of the Republican Party. Just as the Netanyahu speech has hurt Netanyahu and the Likud wing of the lobby, the Cotton letter is turning out to be an own-goal, scored by the neoconservatives. (More. . .)

March 16, 2015

Israeli forces surrounded a Palestinian home in the Old City of Jerusalem on Monday in preparation to evict the family from the property, the owners told Ma’an.

Rafat Sub Laban told Ma’an that Israeli forces surrounded the property in the Old City early Monday and ordered the family to leave the house.

The family refused, and Israeli forces brought in equipment to remove the front door.

The family’s lawyer managed to delay the eviction for two hours in order to obtain a court order to halt the evacuation.

The Sub Laban family rented the property in 1956 from the Jordanian government and since that time have been paying rent as “protected tenants,” Rafat said.

Following the Israeli occupation in 1967, rental contracts with the Jordanian government were taken over by the Israeli authorities, specifically the Custodian of Absentee Property. These contracts are renewed annually until the Custodian objects. (More. . .)

from MADE IN PALESTINE (May 3 through October 23, 2003)

Gaza City
I sit in a gray room on a bed with a gray blanket
and wait for the muezzin to stand up.
The chants enter my window and I think of all
those men and women bowing in prayer, fear escaping
them at every stroke, a new sadness entering
their spirit as their children line up in the streets
like prisoners in a death camp.
I walk towards the broken window
my head slightly slanted and try to catch a glimpse
of the city of spirits—those killed
who pass through the narrow opening of their tombs.
My hands and the side of my right face
against the cold wall, I hide like a slut, ashamed.
I pull the collar of my light blue robe so hard
it tears, one side hanging as everyone’s lives hang here.
My fingers sink deep into my flesh,
I scratch myself, three lines scar my chests,
three faiths pound in my head and I wonder
if God is buried in the rubble. Every house is a prison,
every room a dog cage. Debke is no longer part of life,
only funerals are. Gaza is pregnant
with people and no one helps with the labor.
There are no streets, no hospitals, no schools,
no airport, no air to breathe.
And here I am in a room behind a window,
helpless, useless.
In America, I would be watching television
listening to CNN saying the Israelis demand,
terrorism must stop. Here all I see is inflicted terror,
children who no longer know they are children.
Milosevic is put on trail, but what about Sharon?
I finally get dressed, stand directly in front of the window
and choke on my spit as the gun shots start,
the F-16 fighter jets pass in their daily routine.

More about Nathalie Handal. . .
nathalie handal

“. . . Summer is hand-blown Hebron glass. . .” (S.V. Atalla)

A weekly publication of cultural news from Palestine.

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This week’s edition is titled “Then and Now.”
It includes “Music in Palestine, Then and Now,” by Amira Gabarin.

Each week the e-magazine includes on the home page the announcement:

We DEMAND that the Israeli army return out computers confiscated from our office during the army’s raid on our premises on 22 Jun 2014.

The Palestine Youth Orchestra
The Palestine Youth Orchestra


poetry-arab-womenThe Poetry of Arab Women: A Contemporary Anthology. Ed. Nathalie Handal. Northampton, MA: Interlink Pub Group (December 2000). Available through Amazon.

From the introduction at Poetry.org:

“This recent volume showcases the work of over 80 accomplished and emerging Arab women poets. With the exception of Oman and Sudan, every Arab country is represented here, as are Arab women in exile or living in non-Arab countries and women poets of Arab descent from Europe and North America.

Individual poets represented here include Etel Adnan, Vénus Khoury-Ghata, Naomi Shihab Nye, and Sabah al-Kharrat Zwein.

A helpful 30-page introduction, with a focus on geography and history, helps to contextualize the poetry. Biographical notes of the poets and translators–as well as a listing of poets by country–are also useful, and will ideally lead readers to more in-depth explorations of individual poets.”

One of the poets represented in the anthology is the Palestinian-American
S.V. Atalla. She was born in New York, completed high school in Amman, Jordan, and now lives in Southern California where she teaches at Mt. San Antonio College. In 1992 she obtained an MA in Comparative Literature from UCLA. She is best-known for her translations of Arabic short stories and poems.

Atalla’s poems in The Poetry of Arab Women are “Diaspora” and “Visitng the West Bank.” Her poem “Story” was published in The Painted Bride Quarterly 47 (1992).

“Story,” by S.V. Atalla

Splitting seeds
in her teeth she spits out
the years like spelling,
one letter after the other.

Bits of Jerusalem
are chips of blue tile.
Summer is hand-blown Hebron glass,
slender, stoppered.

When she says, Jaffa
the iris of each eye is a dark fruit;
her knuckles knot
high in her rustling hair.

Excerpted from “Death by Immolation vs. Death by Isolation,” by Shukri Abu Baker of the Holy Land Foundation

The savage immolation of Jordanian fighter pilot, Lt. Muath Kasasbeh by Isis, once again demonstrated how ugly events can turn amidst a paradoxical war. Isis claims to be a genuine “Islamic State” while it has . . .[committed] some of the most prohibited acts in Islam. . . I have always had a problem with those who use the cloak of Islam as an outfit for all bodies of ugliness, and I find it hard to fathom how any Muslim could capriciously violate the teachings of his own religion in the name of the religion itself. . . Isis’s actions don’t represent Islam any more than Israel’s actions represent Judaism; thus, holding Muslims responsible for the crimes of the ‘Islamic State” is as wrong as holding Jews responsible for the crimes of the “Jewish State” Israel claims to be.

It is strangely quizzical,  how the international community, including a number of Arab regimes, have come together to destroy Isis because of its barbarism when last year, for 51 days, the world including Arab states stood idle, and  some actually grinned, as Israel unleashed its demonic forces onto Gaza taking 2,150 lives, 520 of them children. . .