And on the 33rd word, he was a boy

The New York Times reported the shooting of a Palestinian child in the Gaza Strip by Israeli soldiers on Sunday. But nothing in the title or in the opening sentence indicated that the victim was only 10 years old. Including the eight-word-long title, it took the New York Times thirty-three words to finally identify the most important detail: Israel had targeted a child.

Considering the vast implications of the media’s framing of Palestinians, this is far from being a non-story. Considering Israel’s persistent assault on Palestinian children, this was a reckless editorial decision by the New York Times. Details do matter, especially when Israel is on record for killing over 2,000 Palestinian children since 2000, including at least 519 children in Gaza just a few months ago.

Palestinians are typically subjected to a very odd and unbending pattern when it comes to national and international news coverage — that is, if coverage exists in the first place. Israel time and time again prevents journalists from entering the Gaza Strip, targets news agency staff and headquarters, and issues indefinite gag orders on particularly gruesome assaults on Palestinians in the West Bank. But when the news does get out, Palestinians are not always given an equal platform. [Read more…]

Photo of the Week: Jerusalem doors that might no longer stand

Photo credit: Ammar Awad
Date taken: November 6, 2014
Location: Jerusalem, Palestine

Palestinian youth take cover behind doors during clashes with Israeli soldiers and police in Jerusalem. Tensions in the Holy City have risen dramatically after Israeli authorities closed the Aqsa Mosque compound to Palestinians for the first time in over a decade. Most recently, the Israeli government has announced plans to demolish the homes of Palestinians responsible for the hostilities. [Read more…]

Etsy removes items ‘of Syrian origin’ despite humanitarian consequences

As the month of October wound down, one Etsy user received a particularly disturbing email from Etsy’s Marketplace Integrity team. Without any forewarning, the team had removed two items “of Syrian origin” from her shop.

Jumana runs Watan, a personal project through which she creates and then sells Palestine-themed art. The name comes from the Arabic word for ‘homeland’, and Jumana’s handmade art pieces explore the deeper and more personal connections Palestinians share with their country.

Watan is hosted on the popular e-commerce site Etsy, and her storefront features a sketch of the iconic Baha’i Temple in Palestine, framed calligraphy pieces, and an assortment of traditional Palestinian embroideries shaped into pins and pendants. Her sales include bracelets, posters, and phone cases — all designed in ways that celebrate and in some cases even teaches about her heritage. [Read more…]

Letter to Khalto Um Omar

Guest contribution by Jana Daoud

I walked ahead, expecting to find our family friends waiting for us by their car. Instead I heard someone call my name. I turned right into an embrace. I didn’t know this woman –– she visited my family when I was away for college –– but she knew me. As soon as I was in her arms, I felt lighter. I wasn’t carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders alone anymore.

***

I jotted those words down nearly two years ago about my first visit to Palestine, my first time going home. The woman whose loving embrace greeted me right as I entered my home — she is the strongest woman I have ever met and probably will ever meet. I call her Khalto Um Omar, just like mama told me to.

Khalto Um Omar is a Palestinian woman who has given her all to resisting the occupation. Her home has been and still is regularly raided by the Israeli military, yet she does not sway from her firm principle. She refuses to leave her home and she vows time and time again to keep resisting.

She has been married for over 23 years though her husband has been imprisoned for 19 of them. She raised her six children as best as she could while her husband was hidden away in Israeli prisons or Palestinian Authority jails. The two are now imprisoned together after being detained in mid-February. There are no formal charges and there is no declared jail sentence. [Read more…]

Photo of the Day: Resiliency in the form of peeled potatoes

Photo credit: Mohammed Salem
Date taken: August 2, 2014
Location: Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Palestine

A Palestinian woman prepares food on the floor inside a classroom at a United Nations-run school in Gaza City. She fled her home to escape intense Israeli military strikes on neighborhoods throughout the Gaza Strip. She is among roughly 500,000 displaced Palestinians who have had to seek shelter in United Nations-run schools, hospitals, or other public buildings as a result of the bombardment. [Read more…]

Photo of the Week: Portrait of a survivor

Photo credit: Hatem Moussa
Date taken: August 11, 2014
Location: Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, Palestine

A Palestinian boy wraps a bandolier of spent bullet casings left over by Israeli soldiers over his head. The bullet casings were picked up near his home which was destroyed in the onslaught. Israel launched a 50-day military offensive dubbed “Operation Protective Edge” against the Gaza Strip, killing at least 2,140 Palestinians, injuring thousands more, and displacing an estimated 500,000 people. [Read more…]

Photo of the Week: A familiar scene of destruction in a Gaza home

Photo credit: Kent Klich
Date taken: March 3, 2009
Location: Tuffah, Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Palestine

A home in Gaza City shows signs of damage after a shell launched from an Israeli tank hit the building, killing the owner and injuring two others during Israel’s first major offensive against Gaza in 2008-09. [Read more…]

Photo of the Week: Keep this donkey content

Photo credit: Ali Ali
Date taken: June 26, 2013
Location: Khan Younis, Gaza Strip, Palestine

Palestinian children feed and play with their donkey near their family’s tent just outside of the refugee camp in Khan Younis. [Read more…]

Memories of Gaza and the baggage of PTSD

Guest contribution

Saturday mornings in suburbia mean lawnmowers. Rainy season in the South means trucks spraying pesticide to kill the mosquitoes. To me, all of these mean terrifying sounds and moments of paralyzing fear. I survived Operation Protective Edge, a brutal Israeli-led massacre in the Gaza Strip, and it permanently changed my frame of reference.

The buzzing sound of a lawnmower or a truck spraying pesticides — that constant, deep, low-tone buzzing — is eerily similar to that of the unmanned drones that killed so many Palestinians in Gaza and injured many, many others. The sound is like the bass of your car: when it is loud enough and close enough you can feel it vibrate through your body, just like the reverberations from every explosion did. That sound polluted Gaza’s skies nonstop and only changed when the sound intensified as the drones flew lower and in greater number. It took almost a week to get the buzzing out of my ears after I left Gaza even in the quiet serenity of my suburban home, but it doesn’t take much now to send chills down my spine.

The sound of thunder or a door slammed shut can take me from my normal, smiling self into a light-headed, pale-faced, paranoid shadow of myself. The first thunderstorm happened days after we made it back to the United States. It rattled my windows and made me shake like I did in Gaza when the shelling was close by. Once, a storm started during one of my classes and I bolted to the restroom to compose myself and remind myself that I was in a safe place. It is hard to come back to normalcy. It is almost as if normalcy doesn’t exist or cannot exist for people like me, people like those in Gaza who suffered through over 50 days of pure terror. You wonder when it is going to get better and when your mind will finally let you sleep through a thunderstorm.

I often hope and pray that I am not the only one who is struggling to be 100% again, to not have so much baggage anymore. Sadly, I am not alone. I talk to people who were in Gaza during the massacre and were evacuated to the United States too and we all seem to have fuzzy memories. It is almost as if we are beginning to erase all of the pain and the fear. But the details of the most obscure memories have stuck with us.

I remember how smoggy the sky always looked, how it was always quietest before the most intense round of airstrikes, how I was always afraid of looking at the sky, how I never really felt like I was actually there. It wasn’t me. There is a version of myself that existed in Gaza for the seven days that I was there during the massacre and I cannot relate to or identify with that person anymore. I talk about my experience like I am relaying a firsthand account from someone else.

I talk to others in Gaza who have survived and we recount all of the sounds that we hear now that make us jump or look over our shoulders much more than before and it seems almost comical how mundane they are. The worst sound is that of a plane flying overhead. I live in a town with two airports. I hear their engines roar over my head and I anticipate the whistling sound of the missiles that come next with an F-16. This is a far cry from my childhood days of watching air shows and air races.

I wonder to myself, what do the people who lived through the full massacre feel? How are the people still in Gaza coping? How do the people who suffered more personal losses than I did function?

I don’t want to admit that I have trouble falling asleep or that I have lost much of my appetite. I don’t want to feel like the occupiers have won. I don’t want them to break my spirit, so I push through. I have borrowed the resilience of the Palestinians, including my own family’s, and dedicated my time to working on the tangible changes and differences I can make because I refuse to let the occupiers break me.

People ask me how I am and I find myself defaulting to two answers: “I can’t complain” and “I am alive”. Isn’t that funny? I’m alive.

The author, who has requested to remain anonymous, is a graduate student who believes that laughter and life are the ultimate forms of resistance.

Young Chicago Palestine activists need your help

The fourth annual National Students for Justice in Palestine (NSJP) conference will convene at Tufts University in Boston on October 24. This entirely student-run conference is set to bring together student representatives from well over one hundred colleges and universities who will work together to push forward the struggle for Palestinian rights through their grassroots activism and campaigning here in the United States.

The importance of this conference cannot be understated. It is the one time in the year when students from all parts of the country are able to meet, to share their successes and struggles face to face, to coordinate future activities in person, and to physically build this student movement in ways that can’t be done through Twitter or text. For three days, these young activists will be able to centralize their efforts, network with new faces and old faces, and develop a plan for the upcoming year that will put pressure on institutions and organizations that support Israel’s violation of Palestinian human rights. [Read more…]

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