Photo of the Day: The flag of Palestine means resilience

Note: Due to the sheer amount of evocative and telling photography coming out of Palestine, we have transitioned our weekly photograph features into daily photograph features and will continue uploading images on a daily basis until further notice.

Photo credit: Mahmud Hams
Date taken: July 28, 2014
Location: Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Palestine

A Palestinian man with the flag draped over his back assesses the damage of an Israeli air strike on a home in Shuja’iyya neighborhood of Gaza City. Shuja’iyya was the site of some of most intense shelling seen since Israel’s invasion began earlier in the month. [Read more…]

Nationalizing Mohammed Assaf’s success is problematic

Guest contribution by Deema Alsaafin


It’s post-Arab Idol season yet the fever that has gripped Palestine over the past few months is still making my head spin. The name on everybody’s lips is Mohammed Assaf, the humble 22-year-old singer from the Khan Younis refugee camp in the besieged Gaza Strip that pleaded with and bribed Hamas and Egyptian authorities into allowing him a chance at traveling to realize his dream and become crowned the second-ever Arab Idol.

Despite his victory and overwhelming support, Assaf’s journey has inspired many conflicting and often disappointing sentiments that show how readily the line between the individual and the national will be attacked. The view that accomplishments such as Assaf’s can only be appreciated or given any worth if held within the context of Palestinian liberation is at fault here.

The rife nationalist stance that gripped the ground throughout Assaf’s journey holds that Assaf is either worthy of support because of his dedication to Palestine by uniting the ground, or that he is an evil person because he “distracted” us from other more important issues. Nationalizing Assaf also placed irrelevant expectations on him, causing some to believe his Arab Idol success deserves support only under the pretext of Palestinian liberation. These ideas simply don’t match up because they fail to separate Assaf’s individual dream from the greater national goal. [Read more…]

Logic: Why you are wrong for rebranding Zionism

When attempting to redefine the word Zionism, the way Israel tries to rebrand its occupation of Palestine as a well-intentioned attempt to restore peace, one should at least avoid leaving out the details.

Last week, a blogger at The Daily Beast ran a brazen article in which she declares herself a Zionist who openly “fight[s] for Palestinian rights”. Her argument is that contrary to public opinion, Zionism is a nationalist rather than an oppressive movement that holds just as much merit as the Palestinian struggle for self-determination. A captioned photograph reads, “Jews deserve a flag, and a nation, just like everyone else”. But even at the expense of others?

In the author’s hasty attempt to rebrand Zionism, she fails to identify how, historically-speaking, Zionism has sought to achieve its end goal and how, logically-speaking, Zionism continues to achieve this end goal. Instead, she writes, “‘Zionist’ doesn’t mean ‘fascist,’ or an ‘imperialist,’ or ‘running dog.’ It doesn’t even mean ‘Israeli.’ It means, very simply, ‘Jewish nationalist.'”

Defining herself as an “American-Israeli writer who has studied and written about the contemporary Middle East since the early 1990s”, I’m sure she is well-versed in the history of Zionism. But just so that it’s out there, let me remind everyone that Zionism isn’t just a form of Jewish nationalism. It is a form of politically-motivated nationalism that incorporates select elements of Jewish history to establish a Jewish state in a land already populated by others. Upon the inception of the movement in the late 1800s, well before Israel ever existed, Theodor Herzl called on Jews to move to Palestine to lay the framework for a future Jewish state. The indigenous population’s legal claims to the land were to be ignored, a strategy enforced by Israel today. [Read more…]


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