How to make a StandWithUs video in 10 easy steps

Guest contribution by Ilias S.

Things not going your way? StandWithUs knows how you feel. Lucky for you, they’ve given us a model for how to cope. So if you ever find yourself coming up short like all the time, follow these ten simple steps!

Step 1: Accept the fact that you are losing

… and come up with the fully thought-out idea of announcing it on YouTube.

Step 2: Visit

… and come up with as many dramatic ways of saying the same thing as possible. [Read more...]

Home is Where the Heart is

Guest contribution by Jana Daoud

They say home is where the heart is.

A third generation Palestinian refugee with dual citizenship in Jordan and the United States, I was raised in a home where my culture and religion were prominent aspects of my life. Being as I am, I never really felt at home in either of the countries I’ve lived in. In the United States, I didn’t feel comfortable being myself. A Muslim with an Arab name meant you were the terrorist that terrorized the entire country. And in Jordan, a place my parents called home during throughout their childhoods, I felt even more out of place there than I ever did in the States.

But in the summer after my first year away for college, under the scorching heat of the summer sun, all of that changed. All my mom had to ask was if I wanted to go to Palestine.

The planning was done on the down-low through whispered plans in the corridors and text messages that were immediately erased for fear of the younger kids catching wind of the trip. This was supposed to be a learning experience and the trip of a lifetime for my mom and I. My mom didn’t want this trip to be ruined with whining six and eight year olds, so my younger siblings didn’t know about the trip until the night before we had planned on making the one hour and forty-five minute drive to the border. [Read more...]

The 2013 SJP National Conference will create change

Guest contribution by Ghassan Rafeedie

The upcoming Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) National Conference is a showcase of talented pro-Palestine advocates, writers, and artists from around the country who will spend a weekend learning from each other in order to advance the cause of equality for Palestinians. While students will be learning from both the successes and setbacks of the past year, the good news is that we have more successes than ever to learn from. These lessons will serve as a springboard for the activities on college campuses during this academic year for the more than 130 SJP chapters around the country. By supporting this conference, we can help those students go above and beyond the already impressive list of actions on campuses recently.

Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) victories came early and often for SJPs last year, with each victory getting Palestinians one step closer to equality. Boycott victories were won at Evergreen State College in Washington State and Earlham College in Indiana. SJPs also oversaw three victorious, permanent divestment votes at University of California chapters in Berkeley, San Diego and Irvine (with Irvine’s vote being unanimous). Oberlin College in Ohio passed a divestment resolution, which shocked even the most optimistic Palestinian activists like myself. [Read more...]

Playlist: 10 must-hear Palestinian songs

Guest contribution by Jumana Al-Qawasmi

Earlier on Sixteen Minutes to Palestine, I wrote about the importance of engaging with the Palestinian [national or personal] narrative when looking at the broad context of resistance. It is one thing to be well-read in the history of the Palestinian struggle. But it is another thing entirely if the narrative of loss completely dominates the Palestinian identity.

Personally, I love my Palestinian heritage not because it is something that has been taken from me. Rather, my Palestinian heritage is a source of joy and positivity. Music is one way I ensure that my identity remains one of hope and productivity, not of loss and mourning.

So I’ll attempt to give a diverse sampling in this short list of Palestinian songs. This is not meant to be a list entirely comprised of Palestinian artists either; the Palestinian struggle has always been intertwined with the narratives of other countries. Thus, it would seem disingenuous to discount the artistic support of musicians from neighboring countries. I also mean to deviate from the canonized Palestinian playlist; you will not, unfortunately, see Mohammad Assaf, famed dabke instrumentals, or well-known hip-hop tracks (Assaf: if you’re reading this, I still love you). Instead, you will get a list of hopefully new and interesting music to add to your library. [Read more...]

Bearing Witness to Similarities between Native Americans and Palestinians

Guest contribution by Wafai Dias

When I first visited a Native American reservation in South Dakota with my school, Temple University, the similarities that I observed between Native Americans and Palestinians were so vast that they just kept piling up in my mind as the trip went on.

Both Palestinians and Native Americans are victims of ethnic cleaning, colonization and settler colonialism. The two peoples are far too familiar with war, death, occupation and bogus peace processes and negotiations that have only resulted in the loss of more of their land.

On our trip I learned that the Black Hills are extremely sacred land to Native Americans. Initially respecting this religious significance of the Black Hills, the United States government signed a treaty with the Natives in 1868 that clearly stated to all parties that the Black Hills belonged to the Native Americans.

However, when gold was discovered in the Black Hills the U.S. passed a treaty that in effect stole the Hills, to a point where today the Native Americans barely own 10 percent of their sacred land. In the early 1900s the faces of four Presidents were carved into these Hills — known today as Mount Rushmore — and the rest of the remaining land was turned into state and national parks. Although Natives today are allowed to practice their religious ceremonies in the parks within the Black Hills, they are regularly interrupted by the masses of tourists that flock to visit these landmarks. [Read more...]

Bisan’s charm

Guest contribution by Lena Ibrahim

I can feel the painfully real connection my family has to the land in what was once Bisan, Palestine, and as I lose my thoughts staring at this charm on my necklace, I can actually see the land we still call home. I begin to personify the charm imagining all the pain it had once seen. I think about what the charm would say if it could speak, how much it would cry if it could cry. I imagine my father as a child, gripping the charm with his tiny fingers and my grandfather picking him up running out of their soon to be stolen home.

On the back of the charm, written in Arabic, is my family’s name. This charm had been passed down from all of my great grandfathers, all of whom were Palestinian men who lived and died in Bisan, Palestine. 1948 was the year my father’s family was forced to leave their home in Bisan. My father recalls not being able to take any of his belongings, except for his charm, which had been gifted to him with at birth. The charm had always been a family tradition but the meaning of this charm changed after my family became refugees. Sixty-six years later, it now sits on my neck almost like a land deed, like a piece of the Nakba, attesting to every generation of my family coming from the land of Bisan before our forced displacement. [Read more...]

Let’s walk through Balata Refugee Camp

Guest contribution by Dana Saifan

Balata Refugee Camp, in Nablus, is the largest camp in the West Bank, housing over 20,000 refugees. Approximately 3,000 additional refugees living in the camp do not have any identification papers at all — they do not hold refugee status nor do they hold a Palestinian ID.

Balata is constantly surrounded by Israeli settlers and soldiers, as right outside the camp are several important Jewish sites, such as Jacob’s Well and Joseph’s Tomb. Pictured here is Joseph’s Tomb.

Because of the Oslo Accords, when Jewish Israeli settlers and tourists come visit these sites each day, Palestinian police are obligated to turn their heads and allow them unfettered access to Balata. According to residents of the camp, around 200 to 400 Israelis make their way through the camp each night. [Read more...]

What it means to be a student for justice in Palestine

Guest contribution by Dana Saifan


Thousands of students organizing for justice in Palestine fill schools and universities across the globe, dedicating countless hours to discussing the Palestine question. Students attend conferences and lectures, organize rallies and events, and flood Facebook and Twitter feeds with Palestine-related news in hopes of educating themselves and others. They fall in love with leading life as an activist, but too often, they don’t reflect on the meaning of activism and put their work into perspective.

For the past two months, I, a Palestinian-American who has been actively involved in a Students for Justice in Palestine chapter for the past three years, have been traveling across Palestine, examining the occupation from the ground and being at the receiving end of dozens of individuals’ life stories. I have also spoken with internationals, heard Palestinian perspectives on internationals, and, although I’m Palestinian, walked the streets of Palestine viewed as an international.

Several times throughout my trip, I’ve heard elderly Palestinians repeat concerns that the younger generation of Palestinians is not doing much to fight the occupation, that they are caught up in materialism and other superficial things. I myself have had moments of hopelessness, questioning the energy I put into the movement for Palestinian rights all the way in the States when the ones suffering in Palestine were themselves seemingly caught up in worldly things, appearing to not acknowledge the occupation and suffering around them. There have been points when I’ve questioned why we dedicate so much time to advocating for the boycott of and divestment from corporations such as Hewlett-Packard, Coca-Cola, Caterpillar, Nestle and more when these things are commonly found in Palestinian homes and stores. Seeing these corporations across Palestine, coupled with my conversations with my elders, forced me to put my work into perspective. [Read more...]

No Headwear Allowed

Guest contribution by Marwa Abed


I remember someone once asking me why I wore a ‘headdress,’ and I almost had to stop and ask them what they meant, before realizing they were referring to my hijab. Headdress?

Today while logging onto Facebook, I scrolled through my newsfeed and saw mention of ‘headwear.’ The comments weren’t in reference to football and helmets; rather this was yet another one of the odd names people make up when trying to categorize hijab.

A Muslim woman from Massachusetts had posted a photograph of a note she received from a test proctor while taking her Bar exam. The note read: “Headwear may not be worn during the examination without prior written approval. We have no record of you being given prior written approval. Please remove your headwear and place it under your seat for the afternoon session.”

Really? [Read more...]

Sixty-five years ago, Ramadan happened during the Nakba

Guest contribution by Jumana Al-Qawasmi

On July 8, 1948, Ramadan was just beginning all across the Muslim world. As Palestinian Muslims get ready for Ramadan this year — set to begin July 9, 2013 — we look forward to the usual: the beautiful nightly prayer congregations, the flickering colored lamps, the unimaginable amounts of cooking, and the time to develop our faith, patience, and capacity for introspection.

In the Palestine of 1948, however, Ramadan meant continued expulsions from a homeland and a heritage reaching back countless centuries. Hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were made refugees between April and June of 1948; thousands more still were forced out of their homes in July and on.

As I fast in training for the coming long days, I can’t help but think back to what it must have been like for my grandfather fleeing his hometown of Barkusia in Al-Khalil. He was only a teenager at the time, barely older than my youngest brothers. My grandfather remembers the townspeople hearing reports of murders and rapes in neighboring towns. These reports often scared Palestinians into running, as it did in my hometown’s case. [Read more...]


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