Updated: Gaza invasion hits Houston Rockets locker room

Update: Recently discovered message by Dwight Howard suggests he might have been pressured into deleting his #FreePalestine tweet. More information at the bottom of the report.

Early into day six of Israel’s latest invasion of the Gaza Strip, American professional basketball player Dwight Howard tweeted “#Free Palestine” to his 5.2 million followers.

Minutes later, the tweet was deleted, only to be followed by an apology and a vow that he will continue to stay out of international politics. [Read more…]

Critical update on ZARA’s kuffiyeh-printed shorts

Earlier, we reported that fashion retailer ZARA was selling kuffiyeh-printed shorts without any attribution to the culture or history associated with it.

Days later, we updated the initial report after discovering that the item had been removed from the website. The original link as well as another direct link to the shorts both bring up a webpage that reads: “We are sorry. The item you are looking for is no longer available. Next, you will see similar products to: printed shorts”.

Searching for “printed shorts” — which is what the kuffiyeh-themed shorts were originally classified as — also fails to bring up any sign of the item in question.

It is unclear whether the shorts sold out or were taken down in response to pressure. However, it seems most likely that ZARA made an executive decision to take down the item. Normally, items that sell out remain listed with some kind of indication that the item is sold out or that the item is on backorder until more units are produced.

In providing an update on the kuffiyeh-inspired shorts, we also want to address some of the concerns many readers have shared with us over the nature of the initial report. Some readers feel that we are inappropriately sexualizing the product and misdirecting our criticisms. Others feel that our criticism of the kuffiyeh-printed shorts is overly sensitive. Still others feel that we are wasting energy that could be better spent supporting ZARA for promoting the kuffiyeh design. We will do our best to address each point individually. [Read more…]

Coca-Cola’s World Cup ad from Ramallah blames football struggles on culture, not occupation

Coca-Cola recently released a series of mini-movie advertisements for the 2014 FIFA World Cup in Brazil. Among them is a feature on Ahlam Abueed and Dalal Foqua, two young girls from Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

There are a few versions of the advertisement available online. The full version, above, runs for a little over four and a half minutes. In it, Coca-Cola highlights both Ahlam’s and Dalal’s aspirations to challenge cultural taboos by becoming successful footballers. The entire montage of interviews and voiceovers paints Palestinian culture as prohibitive and restrictive and concludes by sending the two young athletes to Brazil. Though seemingly in good faith, Coca-Cola essentially plays the role of the savior and offers two Palestinians an opportunity they could supposedly never have.

Despite how pleasing it can be to see Palestine featured relatively positively in mainstream media, there are a few glaring problems with the advertisement’s messaging.

First, Coca-Cola’s presentation of Dalal’s and Ahlam’s circumstances entirely ignores the illegal military occupation of their land and the Israeli soldiers who control virtually every aspect of their lives. Considering the typical experience of Palestinians attempting to travel to and from the West Bank, including countless hours of interrogation and arbitrary entry denials, Coca-Cola had to have run into complications when arranging travel itineraries for the two young girls. How they managed to leave these crucial details out is baffling, particularly for a segment on footballers breaking free from the restrictions around them. [Read more…]

ZARA makes shorts out of stolen Palestinian kuffiyeh design

Update: It appears that ZARA has taken the item down.

The kuffiyeh, typically slung over the shoulders and around the neck, is recognized around the world as a symbol of Palestinian resistance against occupation and oppression. To fashion retailer ZARA, the kuffiyeh is a design best worn around the waist and over the butt.

Printed shorts are all the rage this season, prompting ZARA to release a line of shorts printed with all kinds of colorful and unique patterns. Of the six designs for sale on the company’s website, five of them have floral patterns. The sixth is a mock-up of the Palestinian kuffiyeh.

Both the product and the webpage it is featured on lack any context concerning the origin of the design or its connection to Palestinian history and identity. [Read more…]

Rare scenes from the First Intifada

Photojournalist Robert Croma visited Palestine and Israel in 1988 during the First Intifada and captured a collection of powerful images of life under Israeli military occupation. Although he no longer has access to many of his original negatives, his blown-up contact prints give us a window into the brutality and intimidation, both physical and emotional, endured by Palestinians in both the occupied Gaza Strip and West Bank. Here are some of his best photographs.

Click on the images to open them in new tabs where you will be able to zoom in and appreciate the subtle details of the scenes.

A Throw in Jerusalem


A plain-clothed Israeli security serviceman throws a tear gas canister down a narrow corridor at Palestinian youths in Jerusalem, 1988.

A Mother’s Intervention


A Palestinian mother tries to prevent an Israeli soldier from arresting her son in Gaza City, 1988.

(Untitled)


(Uncaptioned, although research suggests that these photographs are likely of Palestinian mothers urging Israeli military personnel to stop physically abusing their children. The setting is possibly in a refugee camp in Jabalya.) [Read more…]

Photo of the Week: Bloody tolls of the Six-Day War

Photo credit: Unknown
Date taken: June 1967
Location: Jerusalem, West Bank, Palestine

Blood leaks down a road from the body of a Palestinian civilian slain by Israeli soldiers as Israeli military forces captured and occupied Jerusalem during the Six-Day War. [Read more…]

Photo of the Week: Palestine celebrates with emotional display after winning AFC Challenge Cup finale

Photo credit: Ahmed Abdulla Saeed
Date taken: May 30, 2014
Location: Malé, Maldives

The Palestinian national team prostrates on the grass of the Maldivian National Football Stadium following a hard-fought 1-0 win over the Philippines in the final match of the AFC Challenge Cup. A second half goal from the tournament’s top scorer Ashraf Nu’man Alfawaghra allowed Palestine to hoist its first ever international trophy and to secure its spot in the AFC Asian Cup, the continent’s most prestigious and most competitive tournament. [Read more…]

Palestine wins AFC Challenge Cup Final, secures spot in Asia’s top football tournament

Photo credit: Ahmed Abdulla Saeef, Haveeru Photo

Ashraf Nu’man Alfawaghra was right on the money when he scored off of a free kick in the 59th minute. His goal would prove to be the game winner against the Philippines, securing Palestine’s first ever international trophy as well as a trip to Australia for Asia’s most prestigious football tournament, the 2015 AFC Asian Cup.

Both Palestine and the Philippines went into this match with high expectations. Neither team has won the Challenge Cup in the past, and neither team has ever qualified for the Asian Cup. [Read more…]

Summary of Palestine’s road to the AFC Challenge Cup championship match

Palestine is set to face the Philippines today in the championship match of this year’s AFC Challenge Cup. Following a strong record of five wins and two draws, Palestine has made its way into the tournament’s final match for the first time.

Tournament background
This year marks the fifth and final edition of the biennial AFC Challenge Cup. The competition is organized by the Asian Football Confederation (AFC) and consists of teams representing what football governing bodies consider to be emerging nations and second-tier national teams. This year’s Challenge Cup winners — either Palestine or the Philippines, depending on this evening’s scoreline — will directly qualify for the 2015 AFC Asian Cup, a prestigious tournament featuring the continent’s top teams.

Twenty teams participated in the qualification draw but only eight succeeded in passing through. Palestine, assigned to Group D, came away with a hard-fought 1-0 victory against Bangladesh, a 0-9 thrashing of the Northern Mariana Islands, and a scoreless tie with Nepal. The record was good enough to send Palestine to the top of its group and, subsequently, to the next round of qualifications. [Read more…]

The Nakba equipped me with a spirit born of catastrophe but destined for triumph

Guest contribution by Deanna Othman

May 15 marks the 66th anniversary of al-Nakba or “The Catastrophe,” the day that led to the systematic dispossession of two-thirds of the Palestinian population — exiled from their homes, bereft of their property, land, and dignity. This day, with the creation of the state of Israel, came the creation of the Palestinian refugee crisis. The creation of a nation on the land of another nation, with people forcibly removed from their villages — villages that would be expunged from the map, but not from the memories of those who inhabited them.

Yes, with Israeli Independence Day came celebration and mourning. One people’s celebration led to another’s degradation. Humiliation. Deprivation.

According to the Institute for Middle East Understanding, as of 2008, more than 4 million Palestinian refugees were registered with the United Nations, and at least another estimated 1 million were not registered. Thus a majority of the Palestinian people, around 10 million persons, are refugees.

These refugees remain outside of a home that they are not allowed to return to — a home many have never known. [Read more…]

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