Latest Entries

What Still Stands

Guest contribution by Hasheemah H. Afaneh

Drawn onto that wall
That stretches miles and miles,
Dividing one olive tree from the next
To no end… for no end,
A message calling for the ending
Of the 67-year-old presence that lingers
On what still stands.

Imprinted in the streets,
Tracks of your trucks and
Oil stains of your tanks,
Trying to leave a mark in place
Of what still stands.

Painted on the roads,
You aim to divide
Our streets from your streets,
Our homes from your settlements,
Our homes from our homes;
Homes that still stand. Read More

Dissected Poetry: The Last Mango

Remember that night on the balcony,
When a tense summer breeze kept us company?
With mangoes galore, and
Uncles long snores, and
The sea down below putting waves on its shores, and
That’s when you turned to look up at me.

In those rare, golden moments when I was able to visit family in the Gaza Strip, I would always find myself gravitating toward my grandmother more than anyone else. We had all sorts of rituals — from the early morning breakfasts with sweet, warm goats milk to the clothes she would knit or crochet for me that I’d model around the house, and from the trips to the marketplace where she’d buy me a souvenir to take back with me to the afternoons spent listening to stories about my mother when she was young. So many rituals.

You — just barely ten. I was six times your age, and
In a matter of days we’d be so far away that
Whoever invented the phrase good
Followed by bye

One ritual stuck with me more than any of the others. Teta and I would spend evenings on the balcony of her home eating mangoes and watching the sun go down. We did this all the time with all kinds of fruits. But mostly with mangoes. I remember it best with the mangoes. Read More

Land: Between Definition and Connotation

Guest contribution by Hasheemah H. Afaneh

When I woke up from ten hours of sleep on a twelve-hour flight from Chicago to Jordan, I looked at the screen in front of me and saw that we were only an hour away from our destination. The passengers around me sat quietly except for a man speaking loudly a few rows ahead. Taking off his seat belt, the tall man wearing a leather jacket with jet black hair and a carefully trimmed mustache stood and looked out through one of the oval plane windows.

“We’re over Palestine,” he informed the man next to him in Arabic.

Although the seat belt sign was still on and the flight attendant was sitting across from the man’s seat, the man remained standing and looked out of the window with dark, nostalgic eyes.

I nudged out of my seat a little to look out of the window to see what exactly the man was looking at. I saw nothing but clouds, and looking away from the window, I saw the man was still standing. Read More

Today I turned my bed away from the window

It used to be that I was greeted by a warm orange glow every morning.

If I wasn’t running late, I’d take the time to appreciate the ribbed shadow of the blinds slowly creeping along my bare wall.

Sometimes the fog diffused the rays of light.

The dew down below would speckle.

My apartment is on the second floor and the trees here are short —

My view of the sky is clear and wide. Read More

‘7 months later': UNRWA updates us on status of post-invasion Gaza

This tweet says so much that there is little I can add except a few statistics to help contextualize what might be one of the most distressing facts of the year.

The United Nations estimates that 96,000 homes in the Gaza Strip were affected by Israel’s massive assault in 2014. Of these, 7,000 were totally destroyed, displacing more than 10,000 families. Many of these families are still searching for a permanent place to live. But even that is a disingenuous thing to say since many families have found permanence in UNRWA schools, for example.

Let us repeat: There are 7,000 concrete skeletons in Gaza right now. Read More

A thousand shames

A Palestinian girl carries a Kalashnikov rifle during a victory parade for Islamic Jihad in Gaza City.
(Photo credit: Wissam Nassar, New York Times)

Saying that this photograph recently resurfaced would imply that it had somehow gotten buried. But that is simply not true. Published for the New York Times just days after Israel pulled back on its most deadly assault on the Gaza Strip yet, the image sent and continues to send shockwaves around the world. What was a child doing in the middle of that victory rally? Why was the child outfitted with a gun?

There is an evident beauty to the photograph. Most comments I’ve come across allude to it. From the vantage point of the art critic I sometimes secretly aspire to be, the image is wonderfully framed and composed. The bokeh pushes your eyes to hers. Her hairflip puts you in middle of the action. There is an intensity that resonates more from her facial expression and the way she composes herself than from any of the weapons caught in the shot. The darkness of the shadows gives it an eerie silence. We are frozen in a moment of time so powerful. Read More

How Israeli law turned Palestinians into ‘infiltrators’

Displaced from their homes in the mid- to late-1940s, Israel was quick to characterize Palestinians as infiltrators. It is a very cold word, and wherever it is used, know that it serves not only a political objective but a racist ideal as well.

The term in its most derogatory form originated almost simultaneously with the establishment of the state of Israel. The more than 700,000 Palestinians who fled their homes as Jewish Zionist paramilitary forces raided their villages were promptly barred from ever returning. Israel introduced legislation to recategorize them. No longer were they Palestinians. They were absentees. But that was too general. So they became infiltrators.

The year leading up to Israel’s declaration of independence and the decades following it yielded a bizarre sequence of laws and amendments that formalized, brick by brick, Israel’s commitment to racial purity and total ownership of the land. These are the laws. Read More

Watch Gaza’s parkour team somersault to the sound of Israeli drone strikes

“If we wash our hands of the conflict between the powerful and the powerless, we side with the powerful – we don’t remain neutral.”

Brazilian philosopher and critical theorist Paulo Frieire said it first. Banksy, the anonmyous English graffiti artist, scrawled it on a wall in the Gaza Strip.

Last February, Banksy used underground tunnels to sneak into the Gaza Strip and, in his usual form, stealthily painted artworks on cracked walls and the remains of homes destroyed during Israel’s latest military offensive. He published a video highlighting Israel’s brutal treatment of the occupied territory, sarcastically urging viewers to make Gaza their next tourist destination. Read More