Category Archives: Out of Gaza

Meeting “Uncle” Keith

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Salamz all,

The Tida group with Congressman Keith Ellison

A week ago I received an e-mail from Tida telling us that our Tida group would be meeting Congressman Keith Ellison during his visit to the Strip. The name Keith Ellison was not new to me. I had heard about him when he was first elected; after all he is the first Muslim to be elected to Congress.  Moreover, I knew Gaza was of a special interest to him.

I was very excited for the small event which was to be held on Friday April 2nd.  Yet, since this is Gaza, there is a 90 % chance that something will go wrong – and it did. Friday’s meeting was canceled the Congressman was denied entry to Gaza through the Israeli crossing called Eretz. But he did not give up; he took a plane to Egypt and arrived the next day through the Rafah crossing.

Congressman Keith Ellison was extremely busy; he was only here for a short time and he was going to spend it with the people.  Our chance came at Al Deira, a restaurant overlooking the Mediterranean.

I thought meeting a politician would be so serious and boring. But this was not the case with the congressman. The ice was immediately broken as he was down to earth and nice.  I didn’t really feel that I was talking to a politician but rather a friend.

The congressman asked us first to introduce ourselves.  To my surprise he was the one asking the questions not the other way around. I could tell he wanted to hear from us. As the meeting progressed, Mr. Ellison told us to consider him as our “Uncle”. He talked to us about many things among them; how we Gazans youth can help him in his efforts to end the siege. He talked to us about how peace in the Middle East is priority to the US since the very American system promotes peace and justice. He briefly talked about the Civil Rights movement in the United States back in the 50s and 60s noting this oppression makes him relate more to our plight. He talked also about Gaza’s image abroad, admitting that telling the true story of Gaza is not easy.  So, he urged us to be the one who is telling the story using education and communication and talent.

The room for questions was over, the meeting unfortunately finished so quickly due to previous engagements he had. The less than 30 minute meeting was over. He gave us his e-mail address and told us to write to him and send him our latest updates. He left our table and went for yet another meeting.Too bad as I didn’t get the chance to ask the congressman about his own struggle that got him where he is today.

My friends and I spent an hour after he left us discussing the meeting.  I think we all agreed that the meeting should have been longer.  And we wanted to ask questions and listen more from him. But still it was a very nice and valuable experience. We met a Congressman who is trying to advocate our cause; we spoke to him candidly about our hopes and dreams.  And the most important thing is that now we have an uncle in the US.

Such visits like the congressman’s and others are of a big importance. I am sure that the congressman after examining the situation of Gaza will continue to help raise awareness of the ongoing plight.  The more voices we have supporting Gaza, the mores awareness is brought and eventually and hopefully actions will be taken to end the suffering of the Gaza population

He said that there was a slow paced change in perceiving and evaluating the siege imposed on the Strip. This change will be more effective if we, in Gaza, unite our efforts with those who are standing by us. Opening proxies of dialogues and debates to create a better understanding to the situation is one thing among other things we can do to help Keith Ellison and others in our and their mission to end the siege.

Follow Congressman Keith Ellison and Tida on Twitter.

Exchanging Gaza

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Salamz all,

First impression
Before nearly a month ago, my friends, who are members of Sharek Youth Forum ,told me about this project called “Gaza exchange”.  The project, which is sponsored by Tida in association with Sharek, mainly puts some serious issues on the table for the Palestinian youth to debate.
First time I went there, we had a debate about “Non-violence resistance”. It is a very sensitive and controversial topic for the Palestinians. In that session, we were mostly university students, it was very democratic; we agreed, and disagreed, but the thing is I am sure of that I have learned something new from each participant spoke.
The 2 and a half nicely heated discussion widened my horizons, provoked my thinking and more importantly gave me a chance to listen and speak up.
The topic left home with me and despite the fact that I had exams really soon, I often thought about the debate and still think about the whole issue of “non-violent” resistance.
Our final exams started and we had a break from our “Tida” activities.

Friday’s Q and A
As I study English Literature the name Noam Chomsky is familiar to me since my Linguistic teacher is a big fan. Moreover, any Palestinian interested in the international debate about the conflict would have read something by Professor Chomsky.
Our supervisor hinted in “the before exam” session that in the coming days many speakers are going to be hosted via video conference. And it’s already mentioned in Tida’s site that many speakers are scheduled for this year.
Professor Noam Chomsky was hosted last Friday via video conference along with MIT students in the US. When I read the event on Facebook, I got really excited. Such intellectual meetings are very rare, however; Tidas “Gaza  Exchange” is breaking from the norm.
We were like 40-50 mostly students when the questions time came many hands were raised.  Due to the time limitation, it was nearly an hour, not all of us got the chance to ask him.
However, I was lucky enough to get picked. I asked about my very haunting issue of “non-violent” resistance if it works to change facts on the ground or not, in the light of the growing popular support for the Palestinian cause on one hand, and the BDS movement on the other.
After Mr. Chomsky left, we chatted a little bit with our counterparts at the MIT. At 7:15 pm, the session was over leaving with me good memories, new knowledge, and a new experience that I deeply appreciate.

Why I am so into “Gaza Exchange”

As mentioned before here in Gaza we severely lack intellectual debates due to the mental siege imposed on us. I might sound a bit hyperbolic when I say that last Friday in a way or another we figuratively broke the siege, at least the mental siege.
Such sessions, discussions and workshops are of high importance to me. For now the “Gaza Exchange” project is a central priority in my life, so much like the university or even more, because it serves me as a girl who seeks to learn, but I am mostly setback, because no way out. Moreover, a girl who seeks to speak up, but no one is there to listen to me.  Once a topic is suggested or a person hosted, I try to read to prepare for the next meeting-(something I voluntary and happily do at Tida, compulsory do at the university: D )
“Bringing the world to Gaza, and Gaza to world” is the project’s motto which is something, as I live in Gaza, I work on it, I blog for it and now I am being helped by this wonderful project.

Watch the discussion below: (Answer of  my question)

Watch more videos on TidaGaza channel on Youtube.

Congrats to Egypt…and yes It’s from Gaza!

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There have been lots of talks that the Palestinians in Gaza hold a grudge against their Egyptian counterparts, which untrue.  Today Egypt won the African cup for the third time on the row, and you can see in Gazas’ streets celebrations of this sport victory.

The “Sympathize with Gaza” t-shirt that made Abu-Trika a popular figure in Gaza

No one in Gaza can forget what Mohamed Abu-Treka did back in Africa cup. The “Sympathize with Gaza” t-shirt made that player a figure in the whole Arab countries especially Gaza. And till now you can find how much the people respect and love him.
Yes, the Egyptian government is following policies that make our lives here in Gaza harder, but I am perfectly sure that most of the Egyptian people do not agree with it.

Today is the perfect time for Egyptians and Algerians to put their disputes aside and to be happy and grateful for both teams’ achievements.  Now we have an Egyptian Champion of Africa and in the summer we’ll be having yet another team in the World cup in South Africa.

Everybody in the Arab region is not happy for how fragile the relationships between the Arab countries are.
But here comes our role as young people to trust and build a strong relationship between each others. Politicians have been nothing but disappointment to their own people. So we should forestall all the attempts to create rifts between “us” the people of this region.

Gazans support Egypt in the final match tonight-Photo taken by a friend

“To shoot an elephant” too real but it IS true…

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Salamz all,

It was the mere chance that led me to discover this documentary. I read an interview, published on the American based site Electronic Intifada, with the journalist/director, Alberto Arce, who was in Gaza during the war.
Since the moment I have finished reading interview. I searched for more information about the documentary.
After couple of weeks, I was able to download the documentary, and I was planning to watch it on the 18th of January to be part of the global screening, but I got busy with exams. So I saw it before that date.

The two hour documentary starts from the 25th of December when the siege was tighter more than anytime before. The UN announced that its depots were closed, and they couldn’t continue their missions in Gaze due to the siege.  Moreover, there was a severe shortage of flour that made Gazans wait for hours in queues in front of bakeries to get their share of bread.
Then, it moves the viewer to the horrors of the war.

As I did live the war on Gaza, my recollection of it is related to what I heard not what I saw.
Watching “to shoot an elephant” was more of seeing what I heard.

The documentary was hard to watch, because it was very real, very raw and very silent. There were many scenes when I just burst in tears, others when I was horrified, and others when I was very angry.
Alberto Arce calls the documentary “an eyewitness” and it is pretty much so, because the editing didn’t include any narration, music, or anything.

The importance of this documentary lies in how it exposes the atrocities occurred. The accusations of being biased would be refuted by the every scene in the film. Whether it is the account of paramedics who were shot to evacuate a body or the burning white phosphorus in a house of a civilian, all these and more just confirm that war crimes were committed not just during the war even before and after.

What still impresses me, though, is that the internationals who were in Gaza were given the chance to leave, but they preferred to risk their necks to show the truth when Israel was denying access to any international journalist.  It is indeed inspiring and promising to see such models of non-Palestinians who use their own freedom to stand up by us in way that put their lives at stake.

I recommend each one to watch this documentary. It gives you a deep insight of the war on Gaza and its horrors.

More information:
http://toshootanelephant.com/sites/default/press/english_dossier.pdf

Global Screening :
http://community.toshootanelephant.com/

Watch online:
http://toshootanelephant.com/

On Youtube:
http://www.youtube.com/user/kadaveri

I am 21 :D

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Salamz all,

Today,I am 21. Many of my friends asked me “How does it feel to be 21?” my answer is….”feels like 21!”
The thing that makes me like my birthday is the wall posts on Facebook, the late night smses and more important the gifts (so far haven’t received many:D).
But once you are in your twenties, you start to realize your goals and try your best to take concrete steps to achieve them and this can be sometimes so good and sometimes so bad.
Last year maybe was the most significant year in my life. I didn’t do much, but I changed a lot. The war on Gaza was the turning point; I have always loved my country, but I have never felt the urge to do something for it till the war took place. The whole bitter experience gave the famous quotation by Malcolm X “if you stand for nothing, you’ll fall for anything” a more powerful meaning. After the war, I decided that the time I have on earth I should be spending it wisely to achieve my goals, and I found that the best thing to do is reading.
The fact that I also aspire to be a journalist makes me do lots of reading.  I have an ardor to learn more and more about the world. Maybe it is because I live in a much locked up place, I need to feel a sense of freedom given by learning.
One of the best things happened to me last year is the new people I came to know from many parts of the world. My friends (whether from Gaza or out), have an enormous impact on my life. Some inspire me; others encourage me or just make me laugh!
However, last year too, I got very disappointed many times. Sometimes things around you make you feel like “screw everything, I am giving up”. Yet, something or someone comes to save the day, alhamdolilah!
I really hope thing year will also be special, and I meet more positive and successful people,because they motivate me a lot.
I also hope that my artworks, poetry and blog posts will get better and better, in sha Allah!
Finally, I would love to thank Allah (swt), my family ,and friends for their love and support. God bless you all!

Ramadan Kareem from Gaza!

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Salamz all,
Today is the first day of Ramadan to most of Muslims around the world. I would love to say Ramadan Kareem!
May Allah (swt) bring us together all to change this world to the better. In this holy month, don’t forget to pray for your beleaguer brothers and sisters in Gaza ;they need your prayers more than ever. In fact, pray for all the Muslims. The other day, I wrote on my Facebook status that I pray for the “world peace” instead of Palestine only. Well, I meant, pray for all our brothers and sister in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Bosnia,Chechnya,China and in every place oppression is treading the will of the people to be free.
All the way from Gaza, Ramadan Kareem. Peace, love and respect! A very special thanks to Ahmed S3D for the blog’s new banner!!
I designed some artworks for the occasion of Ramadan!


And stay tuned for more posts…In sha Allah. :-)

Save a prayer to the world (new poem)

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Salamz all,

Well this poem means so much to me, because I wrote it based on very genuine feelings. Usually, I write poem based on music tones and empathy of others experiences. However, this time it was totally different. My own experience and my friends’ were the impetus of my poem.
For me, I watched a report about a 2 year Gazan boy who died yesterday, because his procedure to fix the holes he had in his heart was delayed.Due to the siege imposed on Gaza since June the 14th 2007.
I really really want you to watch it:

After I had watched this video, I got depressed for the rest of the day. Plus, two of my friends in Kuwait and Egypt were having difficulties in their lives.
Before I went to bed, I had some few lines and were coming deeply from my heart. Here’s the outcome:

Dreams imprisoned in minds
eyes blinded by sight
darkness obscures the light
time flies by
where are you from all this?
How do you fight a world that complex?
It’s said
life is easy with eyes closed
You can’t just live for you own
You can save a prayer to the world.

Children hurt
innocence is burnt
misery, wars
where am I from all this?
sleeping to run away?
ashamed to admit
I can’t do anything
For a moment I did forget
that I should not live for my own
And I can save a prayer to the world.

Let’s raise our hands to the sky
pray for a world we wanna live in
trust The Creator from within
the world will be saved by then

Finally, today Palestinians all over the world are commemorating the 61st anniversary of Al Nakba or catastrophe. Again Never forget, Never forgive.
Nakba