Adonis Diaries

TEDxRamallah Event watched in Beirut, part 3

Posted on: April 22, 2011

TEDxRamallah Event in Beirut, part 3

In the previous two articles, I talked of the speakers Fadi Ghandour, Huwaida Arraf, Steve Sosebee, Julia Basha, Sheerin Al Araj, Laila Atshan, Alice Walker, and Wael Attili of the Kharabeesh enterprise.  The third part will discuss many of the remaining speakers.

The first session hosted Raja Shehadeh, Gisel Kordestani, Mohammad Khatib, Fadi Ghandour, and Huwaida Arraf.

Mohammad Khatib is a young entrepreneur that was hired by Google to join the team in Silicon Valley after developing Bazinga! a start-up catalyst and a tech hub in Ramallah. The application records and plays back the freedom slogans during the Egyptian peaceful revolution. Mohammad Khatib doesn’t tell us what his mother told him for him to advise the younger generation: “Don’t listen to your mom“.  Maybe his mom was urging him not to leave to the USA?

Raja Shehadeh is founder of Al Haq (law in the service of human rights) in the West Bank. Al Haq is an affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists that monitors, documents, and issue reports on human rights violations in Israel and Palestine. Raja Shehadeh wrote “The Third Way: A Journal of life in the West Bank and occupiers’ laws. Strangers in the house” and “Palestinian Walks (2008)“.  His latest book is “A Rift in time, travels with my Ottoman Uncle”

The second session hosted Amal Shehabi. Sam Bahour, Steve Sosebee, Mohammad al Dahshan, the Palestinian singer Rim Al Banna, Julia Basha (Director of the award winning movie Budrus), and Munir Fasheh.

Amal Shehabi had a harsh life in the Palestinian camp of Ain Helweh in Saida (Lebanon).  When the Israeli forces invaded Lebanon in 1982, she was taken prisoner at the age of 15 and experienced the brutality and confinement of prison: She was denied to see the sun light…She received a health-care diploma from the UNRWA Siblin training center and worked as supervisor to Palestinian woman’s organization from 1985 to 2008.

The son of Amal Shehabi suffered severe bullet head injuries and was handicapped; Amal care for him everyday and encouraged her son to become an Olympic champion in wide jump. Amal Shehabi has told her detaintion story in the documentary “Kingdom of Women” of Danah Abu Rahmeh.

The speaker Muneer Fasheh is a mathematician born in Jerusalem in 1941.  His family was expelled to Ramallah in 1948 by the nascent Israeli State.  Muneer said that we have to respect other kinds of knowledge not based on official institutions diplomas.  For example, his illiterate mother, who could not even handle numbers, was an excellent seamstress for years:  No PhD degree in any disciplines may position you to sew even a shirt.

(Apparently, institutional education is mostly politically motivated to limit the better job opportunities to the most fortunate citizens in any obvious or latent apartheid system).  Lack of schooling institutions for all is a major handicap for acceding to equal job opportunity rights.

In 1997, Muneer established the Arab Education Forum within Harvard University Center for Middle-Eastern Studies.  His fresh idea is to institute a college “Home of wisdom” in one of the Palestinian universities.

The third session welcomed Abdelrahman Katanany (the zinko artworks), the Lebanese-based Palestinian rap group Katibe 5, Alessandro Petti, Saleh Jawad, Sheerin Al Araj, and the blind psychologist Laila Atshan.

Suad Amiry is a funny architect and the founder of RIWAQ: The Center for Architectural Conservation dedicated to restoring and preserving Palestinian buildings. Her parents had to leave Jaffa in 1948 as refugees in Amman.  On her first hour at the university in Lebanon, professor Khoury let a sand clock finish the hour before saying: “Is this hour too long for you? Consider that you will spend one million of such an hour during your career.  If you are pressured to engage in architecture against your will, now is the time to decide.”  Many students never returned.

During the 40-day curfew and 10-month siege of Ramallah by Ariel Sharon, Suad Amiry had to take in her demanding mother-in-law.  As Suad is writing her diary at 4 am her mother-in-law would bug her to come out and prepare breakfast.  Thus, “Sharon and my mother-in-law: Ramallah Diary ” was born.  At the age of 55, Suad started a new career of writer.

The fourth session hosted Wael Attili (the Kharabeesh enterprise based in Amman), Khaled Seb3awi, the Mexican/US rap singer Mark Gonzales, Alice Walker, Suad Amiry, and the group of bagpipe players of Guirab. The session ended with the Fayha group of 40 young singers singing three beautiful songs and led by maestro Barkev Taslakian.

Khaled Seb3awi is a Canadian/Palestinian Computer Engineer and the first certified Geothermal Engineer in the Middle-East. He installed the first geothermal system in the West Bank and is the founder of MENA Geothermal.  This system takes advantage of the steady temperature on the ground at 17 degrees and infuse water in underground canalization to heat the homes in winter and cool them in summertime, thus, saving 70% on the energy bill.

Khaled Seb3awi invention cut down the return on investment geothermal systems from 12 to 6 years.

He had hard time with the Jordanian government before he secured the project of the 1.6MW for the University of Madaba:  He had to deal with a dozen ministries for the review and approval process.

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April 2011

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