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Match Report: Despite valiant debut, Palestine falls short to Japan

Palestine made its AFC Asian Cup debut on Monday against reigning champions Japan. Despite playing passionately for the entire match, the Palestinians fell short to the Blue Samurais, conceding three goals in the first half and a fourth goal at the start of the second half.

Palestine did not expect to win against Japan but they certainly played as though they had every intention to. Their defense was, for the most part, very capable of marking Japan’s stealthy forwards and disrupting their offensive tactics. Despite an awkward start, goalkeeper Ramzi Saleh showed the 15,000 spectators why he is the most suitable player to captain the Palestinian national team. His quick hands and swift dives kept Japan from pulling away with a much greater lead. One memorable performance happened in the second half during a long scramble in front of the goal when Saleh and the Palestinian defensive backs successfully protected their net from at least three consecutive shot attempts.

Palestine’s valiant efforts did not go unrecognized by the Japanese players, the commentators, and especially the fans, who maintained a very party-like atmosphere for the duration of the game. Palestinian flags waved alongside flags of their “Middle Eastern cousins,” as one commentator put it, and familiar nationalistic chants could be heard booming from the supporter’s section even during the match’s slowest moments. “Free, free Palestine” chants took over the stadium in Newcastle after the final whistle.

Overall, Japan dominated the match from the outset. Endo led Japan’s midfield while Honda and Okazaki controlled the pace of the game up front. The Japanese side came out in full force and played a heavy attacking game in the first half that was largely successful. But Palestine took on the second half with a renewed sense of poise and came out swinging.

Considering the fact that this is Palestine’s first match at this top tier of play, this experience will certainly provide them with valuable experience to take on Jordan on Friday and Iraq on Tuesday. The players were able to identify weak points and will seek to fill those gaps before their next two group stage matches. Read More

Palestine social media kit for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup

Palestine’s stunning display at the 2014 AFC Challenge Cup saw them through to their first international trophy win and, more importantly, their first appearance in the Asian Cup, the continent’s most prestigious football tournament.

The Palestinian national team landed in Australia early to prepare for their upcoming matches. The squad shares Group D of the 2015 AFC Asian Cup with Japan, Jordan, and Iraq.

A finish in either of the top two spots of the group will see the Palestinian national team through to the knockout stage.

Palestine is currently ranked the 14th strongest team in Asia by FIFA. Their recent success, which has made them the talk of the Asian Cup, came against all odds. Coach Saeb Jendaya, who took over the head spot in the run-up to the Cup, lost his home to Israel’s invasion of the Gaza Strip last summer. Many of the players face severe travel restrictions under Israel’s military law which has made it almost impossible for the entire team to practice on the same pitch.

Palestine has a tough road ahead. The following is the team’s preliminary schedule.

Here at Sixteen Minutes to Palestine, we will cover Palestine’s progress in the tournament. Show your support of the Lions of Canaan by uploading the following images and banners, sharing our updates, and tweeting with the #PalestineUp hashtag. Read More

Muslim freedoms do not matter

Guest contribution by Samee Sulaiman

The United States is responding to the murders in France with the familiar cycle of spectacular emoting that we have seen over and over again in past events.

Included in this cycle are those outraged by this slight on freedom of speech and those who are outraged that Muslims again are receiving disproportionate attention and blame for the horrific forms of violence occurring all over the world. I have always been part of the latter group, but recently I have become too cynical to respond to these things, so I just ignore them. What I cannot ignore anymore, however is the hypocrisy that all of us continuously enact with our expressions of disgust.

Those of a progressive or leftist mindset might think they know what I am going to say, that portrayals of the loss of Muslim life are never as tragic, or that the violence of white people is never considered as horrific. No, we know this. We have known this for decades and centuries.

What is so terribly ironic about the current discourse is that both the bigots and the progressives have fallen victim to the same trap: that when we express our thoughts in these moments we have reduced Muslim life to only its coarsest biological definition. For when we express outrage at these murders or respond to that outrage only with arguments about disregard for Muslim life and white/Christian/secular/imperialist murder, we forget one thing: it is precisely that the people who have suffered the most attacks on their freedoms in these democratic countries and the nations they occupy, bomb, and destroy are Muslims. Read More

When living became a crime

Guest contribution by Isaac K. Agboola

So far removed from the struggle of my brother.
The agony, the pain, the chaos.
It’s hard to believe that we came from the same mother.

It’s funny how quickly you get really good at goodbyes.
I remember when they just used to take seconds and were quickly forgotten.
But these days the sentiments are more intimate.
The time spent is intentional, because walking out the doorway might not just be the exit from home, but an exit from the life that we know.

The skies darken, sirens wail, and the air is covered in ashes.
Who will survive us, if all the kin we have are mannequins?
Lifeless, limp, and desolate.

Who will be the voice to cry for us?
The ones we assumed would be the protectors have long since been muffled.
I have no stakes in this war.
I just wasn’t aware of when living became a crime.

It’s unfortunate that I was born here.
It’s unfortunate I look the way I do.
Its unfortunate that I live on this side.
It’s unfortunate for Palestine. Read More

Inspiring: Gaza man displays utmost integrity despite crushing personal circumstances

A crippling siege could not erase the integrity of an entire people, as evidenced by one Palestinian man earlier this week.

Jawad Mansour is a father of five who has fallen on tough times. It appeared that luck was working in his favor when he stumbled upon a stash of $30,000 USD on his way to work. But despite his difficult financial circumstances, he made sure that every single dollar was returned to its rightful owner.

Mansour, known also as Abu Waseem, even refused to accept the reward, citing personal principles.

Abu Waseem has worked for eight years as a municipal caretaker in the Gaza Strip. He can often be found sweeping streets and watering plants along the road for a mere $200 USD per month.

He makes barely enough money to provide for his family.

On his way to work on December 29, Mansour found $30,000 USD abandoned on the road. He immediately set off to find the money’s owner.

That same day, a man identified as Abu Muhammad filed a report with Gaza police. He had attempted to make a deposit at a local bank when he found that he was short $30,000 USD. Read More

T.I. gives Gaza Strip shoutout in recently released single

In the spirit of covering Palestine’s presence in the world of music, we have just been alerted to a politically-conscious rap single by recording artist T.I. that mentions the Gaza Strip in its opening line.

‘New National Anthem’, which features vocals from Skylar Grey, focuses on a number of injustices endemic to the United States particularly as they apply to Black America. From police-endorsed racial profiling to the school-to-prison pipeline that breaks families apart and prevents new ones from forming, and from political corruption to the ever-expanding gun problem, T.I. asks a very valid question: “Is this the new national anthem?”

Despite the track’s relevance to today’s social climate, it was written months before the shooting of Michael Brown in Ferguson, Missouri, this past August. The single was finalized and released on September 23. The lyrics ring truer today than ever before. Read More

Quote reveals racist criteria guiding Israeli settlement policy

Having just recently begun my first ever text by Edward Said (forgive me — I’ll explain in a later post), I have to pause every few minutes to ruminate about what I’ve just read. The text is so rich and carefully crafted and the message sinks into your mind so sweetly, bringing with it an imagery that feels all to real. Within the first three dozen pages of After the Last Sky: Palestinian Lives, I followed him into the Baddawi refugee camp in 1980s Lebanon and into a lonely home in Haifa not long after. It is a book about Palestinian identity — a topic that stirs my deepest of thoughts — and it is written powerfully and with pain.

On the twentieth page of After the Last Sky, Said introduces a quote that adds weight to the pain and that also quantifiably reaffirms what he calls a Zionist master plan. Quoting ex-deputy mayor of Jerusalem Meron Benvenisti on what dictates Israel’s settlement policy,

“The criteria established to determine priorities of settlement regions are ‘interconnection [havirah] between existing Jewish areas for the creation of [Jewish] settlement continuity’ and ‘separation [hayitz] to restrict uncontrolled Arab settlement and the prevention of Arab settlement blocs'; ‘scarcity [hesech] refers to areas devoid of Jewish settlement.’ In these criteria ‘pure planning and political planning elements are included.'”

(The West Bank Data Project: A Survey of Israeli Policies, 1984)

The quote is pulled from Benvenisti’s published documentation of Israel’s expansionist practices up until the early 1980s. Read More

A love letter to Palestine, from the Diaspora

Guest contribution by Alia Al Ghussain

I fell in love with my homeland after its soil reclaimed my grandmother, who had lived there all her life. I realized that I could no longer shut myself off to a heritage that I wore like an uncomfortable shawl over my shoulders. I fell in love with Palestine when I picked up Absent Presence by Mahmoud Darwish and had my complicated feelings fall into place, like puzzle pieces creating an image of Palestine in my mind’s eye.

Discovering Palestine allowed me to find myself, regardless of borders, passports, and language. Digging underneath the rubble of grief for my grandmother, and regret that I did not invest more time with her, I found a sense of purpose. I found an explanation to the discomfort I felt when I saw Israeli produce in the supermarket, when friends mentioned that they were thinking of spending the summer lying on a beach in Tel Aviv, when I tried to speak Arabic and my tongue treacherously tied itself up in my mouth and silenced me.

And so I went back. Not to Gaza, where my family is from, but to the West Bank – as close as I could get. I was taken aback at the legendary strength of Palestine, described to me by my father and in the countless books and articles I had read in an attempt to understand my history and ancestry. It was in the way in which checkpoints are negotiated with dignity, day in and day out. It was in the insistence of including Akka, Haifa, and Jaffa in Palestine. Most of all, it was in the sheer fact of existence. The strength to continue an existence in such adverse conditions, and to continue it with one’s head held high, living with a sense of pride and grace so firm that I still cannot quite understand it. I am still not entirely sure if I found, or left, a piece of myself in the streets of Ramallah, Nablus, and Hebron as I walked around, trying to soak up every sight, smell, sound. Read More

Closing the Gap to the Diaspora: Reflecting on UCLA’s Divestment Win

Guest contribution by Dana Saifan

As a Palestinian living in the diaspora, I have at many times reached points of hopelessness in my organizing work. My paternal grandparents are 1948 refugees from Jaffa, and my maternal grandparents were 1967 refugees from Anabta. Growing up, my parents spoke little about Palestine, a land they themselves hardly knew. Speaking of Palestine was marked by a painful past, a sense of shame and loss, and a notion of despair. Questions about my grandparents’ lives in Palestine were pushed aside, and my parents answered with phrases such as “I don’t know,” which was, of course, the easier answer. The distance that stood between my family and our homeland always made us seemingly immobile actors in the struggle for liberation. There didn’t seem to be anything we could do except to take to the streets or passively watch footage of the Second Intifada on the television. Though these kinds of things didn’t have any direct impact on the ground, they triggered my consciousness from a young age. They triggered me to understand what it meant to be Palestinian in America, especially post-9/11. While children spent their weekends watching cartoons and playing outside, I joined the Palestinian community in downtown demonstrations. When children openly spoke about their ancestry in class, I felt the burden that comes with a forced silence. Responses to my identity were marred with ignorance, from the vague “What’s Palestine?” to the clueless “Palestine is not on a map” to the offensive “Your country is filled with terrorists.” To speak of Palestine in class was a political act in itself, apparently worthy of condemnation by my teachers. And if it wasn’t condemnation, it was correction. “You know Israel? It’s that.”

I didn’t understand the microaggressions that I faced throughout my life, and especially through my education, until I began college at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in 2010. I was quickly exposed to Palestinians who demonstrated pride in their identity and who did not seem to be intimidated into silence. I became close friends with Palestinian student organizers who inspired me to get involved in Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP), and I followed the trials of the Irvine 11. I was introduced to the Boycotts, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement for the first time, and I learned more about my own identity through collaborative work with organizations such as Afrikan Student Union and Movimiento Estudiantil Chicano de Aztlán (MEChA). Read More