Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Joanna Choukeir Hojeily

Motherhood in the Age of Fear Opinion on NYT

Women are being harassed and even arrested for making perfectly rational parenting decisions.

It’s not about safety anymore. It’s about enforcing a social norm (leaving you child unattended in the car).”

CHICAGO — I was on my way home from dropping my kids off at preschool when a police officer called to ask if I was aware there was an outstanding warrant for my arrest.

“No, no,” I told him. “I didn’t know that.”

I needed to call my husband, but my fingers were shaking. I don’t remember if I was crying when he answered, only that he was saying he couldn’t understand me, that I needed to calm down, to tell him what had happened.

What happened began over a year before on a cool March day in 2011, at the end of a visit with my parents in Virginia. I needed to run an errand before our flight home to Chicago, and my son, then 4, didn’t want to get out of the car.

“Come on,” I said.

“No, no, no! I wait here.”

I took a deep breath. I knew what I was supposed to do. But I was tired. I was late. I didn’t want, at that moment, to deal with a meltdown. And there was something else: a small, quiet voice I’d been hearing more and more lately. “Why?” the voice asked.

Why did I have to fight this battle? He wasn’t asking to Rollerblade in traffic. He just wanted to sit in the car. Why couldn’t I leave him, just this once?

If it had been warm out, I would have said no.

I knew about how quickly a closed car can overheat, even on a 60-degree day. But it was cool and cloudy. I’d grown up in that same town in the 1980s and had spent hours waiting in the back seat of my parents’ station wagon, windows open, reading or daydreaming, while they ran errands. Had so much really changed since then?

So I told him I’d be right back. I cracked the windows and child-locked the doors and set the alarm.

When I got back five minutes later, he was still playing his game, smiling. We picked up his sister and our suitcases back at my parents’ house and caught our flight home.

It took me a while to figure out what had taken place in the parking lot — that a stranger had watched me go into the store, recorded my son, recorded the license plate on my mother’s car and called 911.

When our flight landed in Chicago, there was a message on my phone: “I’m trying to get ahold of Mrs. Kimberly A. Brooks. I need to speak with Mrs. Brooks about an incident this afternoon in a parking lot.”

Once I realized what had happened, I felt like a terrible mother.

I felt as though I’d been caught doing something very bad, even if I didn’t understand what the bad thing was, exactly, or what the rationale was for its badness.

I felt, I think, what just about every woman feels when someone attacks her mothering: ashamed.

CreditEleni Kalorkoti

But had I committed a crime? There’s no law in Virginia against letting your kid wait in a car — though, amazingly, 19 states do have statutes addressing this situation. The police seemed to think it was child abuse or neglect — that someone could have hurt or kidnapped my son while I was gone.

When I tried to explain this to my outraged father, he said: “Last I checked, kidnapping is a crime. Someone could break into my house and shoot me in the head, but the police aren’t showing up to arrest me if I forget to lock my door.”

“I don’t think they see it the same way when kids are involved,” I told him.

“The same way,” he said. “You mean rationally?”

I contacted a lawyer who said I would just have to wait to see if the police would press charges or contact the Illinois Department of Children and Family Services.

And so I waited, terrified, until the morning I received that second call and learned that I was being charged with contributing to the delinquency of a minor (my son).

I spent the next months determining the best legal course of action, and also the best course of action for living with the humiliation of being accused of criminally negligent parenting.

My story might have ended here. This is what shame does to women: It isolates us and makes us feel our stories aren’t really stories at all but idiosyncratic flaws.

The only reason my story continued was that I started seeking out other mothers who had been through similar struggles. I found six willing to speak about their experiences, and I expect there are many more out there. I was not the only one who had paid the cost of parenting in the age of fear.

We now live in a country where it is seen as abnormal, or even criminal, to allow children to be away from direct adult supervision, even for a second.

We read, in the news or on social media, about children who have been kidnapped, raped and killed, about children forgotten for hours in broiling cars.

We do not think about the statistical probabilities or compare the likelihood of such events with far more present dangers, like increasing rates of childhood diabetes or depression.

Statistically speaking, according to the writer Warwick Cairns, you would have to leave a child alone in a public place for 750,000 years before he would be snatched by a stranger.

Statistically speaking, a child is far more likely to be killed in a car on the way to a store than waiting in one that is parked. But we have decided such reasoning is beside the point.

We have decided to do whatever we have to do to feel safe from such horrors, no matter how rare they might be.

And so now children do not walk to school or play in a park on their own. They do not wait in cars. They do not take long walks through the woods or ride bikes along paths or build secret forts while we are inside working or cooking or leading our lives.

‘I don’t know if I’m afraid for my kids, or if I’m afraid other people will be afraid and will judge me for my lack of fear.’

I was beginning to understand that it didn’t matter if what I’d done was dangerous; it only mattered if other parents felt it was dangerous. When it comes to kids’ safety, feelings are facts.

As one mother put it to me, “I don’t know if I’m afraid for my kids, or if I’m afraid other people will be afraid and will judge me for my lack of fear.” In other words, risk assessment and moral judgment are intertwined.

This has actually been confirmed by researchers.

Barbara W. Sarnecka, a cognitive scientist at the University of California, Irvine, and her colleagues presented subjects with vignettes in which a parent left a child unattended, and participants estimated how much danger the child was in.

Sometimes the subjects were told the child was left unintentionally (for example, the parent was hit by a car). In other instances, they were told the child was left unsupervised so the parent could work, volunteer, relax or meet a lover.

The researchers found that the participants’ assessment of the child’s risk of harm varied depending on how morally offensive they found the parent’s reason for leaving.

Dr. Sarnecka and her colleagues summarized the findings this way: “People don’t only think that leaving children alone is dangerous and therefore immoral. They also think it is immoral and therefore dangerous.”

It’s not about safety,” Dr. Sarnecka told me. “It’s about enforcing a social norm.”

No one knows this better than Debra Harrell, one of several women I spoke to about their experiences.

In 2014, Ms. Harrell let her 9-year-old daughter play in a park while she went to work at a nearby McDonald’s. It was a safe neighborhood on a summer day with lots of kids. None of this mattered when another parent contacted the police. Ms. Harrell was charged with unlawful neglect of a child and her daughter was put in foster care for about two weeks.

That same year, an Arizona woman named Shanesha Taylor was charged with two counts of felony child abuse and sentenced to 18 years of supervised probation, all because she had no child care and had to leave her two younger children in the car while she went on a job interview.

In a country that provides no subsidized child care and no mandatory family leave, no assurance of flexibility in the workplace for parents, no universal preschool and minimal safety nets for vulnerable families, making it a crime to offer children independence in effect makes it a crime to be poor.

And yet middle-class and affluent mothers are not immune from this kind of surveillance and punishment, either.

One such mother I spoke with was charged with felony child endangerment when she left her napping 4-year-old daughter in the car for a few minutes with the windows open while she ran into a store.

During her arrest, she remembers the officer saying, “Stay-at-home mom’s too busy shopping to take care of her kid? Does your husband know how you take care of your child while he’s out earning the big bucks?”

This article presents an important perspective on parenting. I grew up with my brothers and sisters (2 boys and 4 sisters) while we explored, made bonfires, and built dens in the wild meadows behind our home in Lebanon – with no adult supervision.

My parents’ only condition to us being let loose in the meadows was confident walking and hiking. (Not a clear statement)

(Reminder: your father was an officer in the army and barely at home in your early childhood? There were No social norm in Lebanon. Not then, Not now)

So some of us were as young as 2 on these child-lead adventures. In Maryland I was 10 years old and I would take my younger siblings (including 8 month old Adrea) to the playground, jumping in puddles, and catching fireflies at dusk while my mum and dad were away for work.

(You were decked with the task of caring for Adrea, and most of the chores when your mother was away, against your will, You looked miserable and abandoned while the others enjoyed some attention)

We never felt neglected. We felt free, independent, and responsible for our younger siblings. I was lucky to have had such an enriching childhood. No child I know would have this opportunity in this day and age.

(Reminder: Your parents felt confident because you had a chaperon while your parents were frequently away. He took you to parks, zoos and walking and biking in nature. He even tried to enroll you in the nearby community swimming pool, and the application was denied, due implicitly because you were Not Jewish in this predominantly Jewish quarter)

Service Design? Conversation about its future?

Last night, April 4, 2013, Joanna Choukeir Hojeily was a panelist on Service Design at The Hub Westminster “Future Of Service Design”
Here is a summary of the best bits from the discussions.

Conversations About The Future Of Service Design

“I was invited to be a panelist at The Art, Science (and Magic) of Service Design alongside Alison PrendivilleBen ReasonRich Radka and Geke Van Dijk.

The conversations were lively and compelling, and I really enjoyed and learned from the experience. These are some of the intriguing points that were discussed on the future landscape of service design:
  • Customer, consumer, user, patient, learner, participant, collaborator… how do we understand them better through the way they see themselves when using a service, rather than how we see them.
  • How can we mature the customer/service relationship from using a service to participating in shaping and improving it.
  • Problem to solution, brief to deliverable… how do we break the linear process of projects with the realisation that services happen over a time lapse, and the environments, contexts, user needs and expectations are forever changing.
  • The best service is only the best service now, but will require constant change to meet the demand for tomorrow. Service design needs to be an ongoing process that create fast and small iterations for a customer base that is more demanding, less satisfied and less loyal every day.
  • Designer, business-minded, innovator, strategic, disruptor, implementer… It is often challenging for service designers to be the creative change makers that they are, while adhering to business frameworks and logistical constraints of large organisations.
  • Ways of addressing that: making changes incrementally through quick fixes, basing ourselves within the organisations, having internal service design teams, training people within organisations in service design tools and techniques so they can do it themselves with our support.
  • Service design, social impact and social value… Public sector teams are becoming smaller, and more public services are being commissioned to private and voluntary organisations. With the Social Value Act, these organisations need to not only demonstrate that their services are cost-effective, but that they demonstrate and evaluate a social value. As service designers, we need to be thinking about developing methods, tools and techniques that not only result in services that offer great customer experiences and a good return on investment, but that create a social impact on the lives, social networks, finances, and environments of those they touch.
  • Last night Joanna took part in a discussion panel on Service Design, over at the Hub Westminster. </p><br /> <p>Joanna has summarised the main points she took away from the conversation, around the future of Service Design.</p><br /> <p>
  • The event was organised and sponsored by Rosenfeld and Webvisions and hosted at The Hub Westminster.
  • If you attended the panel and want to share any interesting points you took away from the panel discussion please leave us a comment!

Missing Hunter: A male cat?

My niece is living in London and decided to shelter two cats, a male and female cat.

The Hunter male is missing and Joanna has taken a day off to search for him.

That behaviour would not have happened in Lebanon.

Here our cats and dogs live outside homes: They are fed for a various purposes and Never to be kept in the warmth of a house.

Joanna Choukeir Hojeily's photo.

Hello everyone, I’m afraid Hunter is still missing.

It has been 4 days now. If you live on or near the Progress Estate (Eltham SE9), please kindly check your garages and sheds in case he should be locked in?

Also please check underneath bushes and shrubs.

If he is injured he might be hiding and unable to jump over fences to make it back home.

If he has been chased by another animal he may be disorientated and hiding in fear.

He is a confident indoor/outdoor cat with a strong attachment to home and to his sister at home.

He has never gone away for more than an hour or two or missed a meal so this is very unlike him.

Thank you for spreading the word and helping to bring Hunter back home.

Note: Hunter might come back to check on his sister and then vanish again.

I guess Hunter decided for a diet cure. People keep feeding them around the clock.

 Paper on Gaza Tunnels taken down on FB


Yesterday I did something stupid.

I tweeted an in-depth academic research on the history and purpose of the Gaza tunnels to Netanyahu’s official twitter account (probably managed by someone else).

Today the paper has been taken down.

You can check the link below which shows the results page, but the first paper on that page takes you nowhere.

The research clearly linked the expansion of the tunnel system to the continued siege on Gaza. It reframes the tunnel system as a very well managed ticketed ‘transport system’ for the people in Gaza to move from A to B, to get access to food, medicine, cigarettes, phones, water, fuel, materials to rebuild their cities, cars and weapons of course.

All of which they can’t get through the Egyptian or Israeli borders (bare essentials rationed by the calorie).

People bought shares in tunnel projects and received a revenue from usage.

The tunnel system generated $30 million a month in revenue for Gazans on average.

Managing and running the tunnels employed a third of the population and created a middle class in a poverty ridden ghetto.

This was a business, a trade and a transport system for Gazans.

One researcher called it Gaza’s lungs.

The article demonstrated that there is no evidence that the tunnels were ever used for acts of terror against civilians.

They were used once to kidnap an Israeli soldier and Hamas negotiated the release of 1,000 palestinian prisoners in return.

But this is not terror, this is a combat strategy for negotiation. So, I can see why Israel sees the tunnels as a threat to its military invasion and economy, but there is no justification for it to refer to the tunnels as ‘terror tunnels’ that ‘could’ ‘potentially’ target Israeli women and children, or instill further fear in an already petrified/paranoid Israeli population, and murder hundreds of  civilians in Gaza (More than 2,100 died in the latest “removing the top soil” preemptive war and 11,000 were injured, mostly children).

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Making your own cleaning products

I share a few tips in this blog post on how to make your own environmentally friendly cleaning products

A few months ago I looked into cleaning products that have a positive social impact and decided to switch to products from Method due to its B Corp status and the fact it is widely available (you can read more here).

The practical problems I had with Method

Although I like the organisation’s values I did not like the products for a number of slightly unexpected reasons:

1- the toilet cleaner dispensed more cleaner than seemed necessary (making it not very ‘green’ and expensive)

2- the shower cleaner didn’t work as well as my previous brand (Ecover)

3- the washing up liquid had a pump action dispenser which required the bottle to remain upright which just didn’t work for me

When I was considering alternatives, Joanna Choukeir, who works at one of my clients (Uscreates), told me that she had started to make her own cleaning products and I asked for more details. She very kindly sent me the following instructions:

Making your own cleaning products – suggestions from Joanna

  • Washing detergent (colours): grate a soap bar (usually the natural olive oil bars) and mix it with some baking soda
  • Washing detergent (whites): same as above but I add a squeeze of lemon
  • Worktops, bathroom, sink cleaner: use baking soda and apple cider vinegar (this works great in areas where there is hard water or anywhere water leaves white marks on taps/sinks etc.)
  • Washing up liquid: grate a soap bar and mix it with a bit of baking soda, lemon juice and water
  • Mirrors and windows: just wipe with a piece of dry newspaper! Add a drop of water for stubborn stains
  • Stainless steel surfaces: wipe with a drop of olive oil on a cotton pad
  • Wooden and tiled floors: use grated soap bar and water
  • Pots and pans: same as washing up liquid, but then wipe with a cotton pad and olive oil
I am going to try these suggestions and will let you know how it goes.
Do you have any suggestions for homemade cleaning products?



Main Principles of International Humanitarian Law

“The principles of International Humanitarian Law:

1. The principle of distinction, which distinguishes between combatants and
civilians and strictly prohibits targeting the latter.

2. The principle of proportionality, which requires that all possible effort must be taken to prevent harm to civilians or civilian objects when attacking a legitimate military target and that the incidental damage caused to non involved civilians must not be greater to the concrete and direct military advantage achieved.

The Israeli High Court of Justice provided a good example of what is allowed and prohibited when it addressed this issue: “Take the usual case of a combatant, or of a terrorist sniper shooting at soldiers or civilians from his porch. Shooting at him is proportional even if as a result, an innocent civilian neighbour or passer-by is harmed. That is not the case if the building is bombed from the air and scores of its residents and passersby are harmed.”

It is true that these principles have been violated countless times by regular armies, militias and guerrilla forces since these conventions were ratified.

However, according to the decision quoted above, neither the violations in other conflicts nor those carried out by Hamas can justify Israeli violations.”

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The Public Committee Against Torture in Israel (PCATI) believes that torture and ill-treatmment

of any kind, under any circumstances, is incompatible with moral values, democratiic

standards, and the rule of law.

PCATI was founded in 1990 in response to government

policy that enabled systematic use of torture and ill-treatment during GSS interrogations.

In September 1999, following petitions filed by PCATI and other human rights organizattions,

the High Court of Justice ruled to prohibit some interrogation methods that had

been employed at the time and which clearly constituted torture and ill treatment.

This ruling was a significant advance, although it left an opening for the use of torture and

ill-treatment in Israel. PCATI works towards the protection of detainees’ and prisoners’

rights, and the implementation of an absolute prohibition against torture.

In a combat situation: Ethical Code of Conduct priorities

Joanna Choukeir Hojeily posted on FB this August 4, 2014

Yesterday, I asked my father, a retired Major General in the Lebanese Armed Forces (LAF), this question:

“In a combat situation, if your commanders are faced with these three factors, how would you train them to prioritise and take action:
1. Achieving a military objective;
2. Sparing soldiers’ lives;
3. Sparing enemy civilians’ lives.”

He replied: “According to the LAF Ethical Code of Conduct, the three factors are of equal priority.

We need to achieve a military objective while sparing as many soldiers’ and civilians’ lives.

The military objective is very important, however, if it risks the lives of soldiers and/or enemy civilians at a scale that exceeds the achievement of the military objective, we would need to consider a different military strategy that incurs less loss in lives. This ethical practice is common across many National armies in the World.”

And what is Israel army Ethical Code of Conduct?

IDF: “No justification for endangering lives of soldiers to avoid killing of civilians who live in vicinity of terrorists” ‪#‎GazaUnderAttack

Now I quote from the Israeli Defencs Forces’ Ethical Code of Conduct:
The overriding principle guiding the commanders is achieving their military objectives. Next in priority is protecting soldiers’ lives, followed by avoiding injury to enemy civilians.”

#‎Israeli‬ officer’s briefing: “Let errors take their lives, not ours. This is the mindset. War.” ‪#‎Gazaunderattack‬

Questions human rights organisations are asking themselves

Questions human rights organisations are asking themselves

Therefore, it comes at no surprise that the UN and the World would be questioning the ethics of Israel’s military actions so urgently and frequently




April 2020

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