Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘Qalandiya checkpoint

I don’t need a law to remind me of my inequality

I do not need the Jewish Nation-State Law to remind me that I am not equal to my Jewish friends. And yet, I was born here, I grew up here, this is my homeland. I have no intention of going anywhere.

(Enough of colonial transfer plans for us Palestinians: we have been ethnically cleansed since 1948 and transferred many times to different regions inside and outside Israel borders, which are Not yet delimited by their Constitution)

By Yasmeen Abu Fraiha. July 24, 2018

Palestinian women cross the Qalandiya checkpoint outside Ramallah, West Bank, into Jerusalem to attend the first Friday of Ramadan prayers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, July 12, 2013. (photo: Activestills.org)

Palestinian women cross the Qalandiya checkpoint outside Ramallah, West Bank, into Jerusalem to attend the first Friday of Ramadan prayers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, July 12, 2013. (photo: Activestills.org)

Write it down, I am an “Arab” woman
Born to this land
I am Palestinian
My parents are Palestinians
And my ancestors are Palestinians

My mother and her family were expelled from their home in 1967, when she was only eight, so that the army could use it as a military outpost.

My grandmother was beaten by IDF soldiers when she returned one night to ask for blankets to protect and warm her 7 children, who were forced to sleep outside, in the cold.

My father grew up in dire poverty, with no access to water or electricity, while new, affluent Jewish towns were sprouting up around him on his ancestors’ land. This history is part of me, and no law will change that.

I do not need the Jewish Nation-State Law to remind me that I am not equal to my Jewish friends.

I am reminded of this on every drive to Ben Gurion Airport, during which I undergo rigorous security checks because of my last name.

I am reminded of it by every landlord who hears my father’s accent and suddenly decides that the apartment is no longer relevant.

I am reminded of it every time my brother tells me that he was asked to show his ID at the entrance to his university campus, even though his friends are never asked to do the same.

I am reminded every time I am asked “You’re Arab? Wow, you don’t look Arab! No worries, we are all human,” and every time I receive stares when I speak in Arabic (meaning Palestinian slang and Not classical Arabic).

I do not need the Jewish Nation-State Law to remind me that Arabic is No longer the official language of the State of Israel.

I am reminded every time I see poor translations published by government ministries and authorities. Every time I enter a bookstore and cannot find books in Arabic.

I am reminded of it every time I discover that yet another important medical document was not translated into Arabic, or when there are no Arabic subtitles on television.

Palestinian citizens take part in a general strike in solidarity with Palestinians in Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza, in the northern town of Sakhnin, on October 13, 2015. (photo: Omar Sameer)

Palestinian citizens take part in a general strike in solidarity with Palestinians in Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza, in the northern town of Sakhnin, on October 13, 2015. (photo: Omar Sameer)

Racism and inequality is not a political issue, it is personal.

When my mother cannot be buried in the place she lived most of her life, it is personal.

When Israelis protest and threaten a Palestinian who bought a home in an all-Jewish city, forcing him to give up, it is personal.

When a poet is convicted in court for writing poetry about oppression and discrimination, it is personal.

When the authorities try to whitewash the killing of an educator who was shot dead during his own eviction, it is personal.

When wine is deemed sullied because it was touched by the wrong person, it is personal.

When one is told they are not good enough to be a parent, it is personal.

Racism means using the identity someone was born with against her. It means telling him that he is inferior because of how he was born. It is as personal as it gets.

The right to national self-determination is a personal and collective right.

I do not ask anyone for permission to choose my own identity, or which groups I choose to belong to. Write it down — I was born here, I grew up here, this is my country and my homeland. I have no intention of going anywhere, and my children, too, will be raised here.

I will speak whichever language I choose, and I will live wherever I want. If this gets me thrown in jail, so be it. I will not go quietly.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen in the Knesset plenum ahead of the vote on the Jewish Nation-State Law, July 18, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen in the Knesset plenum ahead of the vote on the Jewish Nation-State Law, July 18, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Jewish Nation-State Law, and all of the government’s recent activities these past few weeks, are worse for Jews than for Palestinians: The legitimacy it grants Israel’s discriminatory policies places Israel alongside other dark regimes.

No longer can it claim to be “the only democracy in the Middle East.” Israel has placed itself squarely on the axis of evil and has chosen the wrong side of history.

And yet, I have always been optimistic.

My parents, despite what they have gone through, always believed in a shared life. History proves that the good guys win out, and that the oppressed do not stay oppressed forever.

This is true of the apartheid regime in South Africa, of slavery in the United States, of the French Revolution, and even the Jewish people after the  WWII.

I am encouraged from the knowledge that lies and injustices are not sustainable for long. Perhaps this really is the time to go to the polls in droves, as our prime minister said. (Which PM? Netanyahu or Mahmoud Abbas?)

Maybe it is time to build an “alliance of the oppressed” with other groups that face discrimination. It is time to wake up and shake this evil sickness from the ground up.

So that those up on the top will know — beware of our hunger, beware of our rage.

Dr. Yasmeen Abu Fraiha is a doctor specializing in internal medicine and a social activist. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

Related stories

New apps help Palestinians navigate Israeli checkpoints

QALANDIYA CHECKPOINT, West Bank (AP) —

A pair of new mobile apps hopes to help Palestinians navigate their way around snarled traffic at Israeli checkpoints in the West Bank, offering a high-tech response to an intractable problem:

constant, burdensome and often seemingly random restrictions on movement.

“Azmeh, or Me2azmeh” which means traffic jam in Arabic, and “Qalandiya,” the name of a major Israeli checkpoint on the outskirts of Jerusalem, join a slew of other global traffic apps, including the Israeli-developed Waze.

 Andrew Bossone shared a link.

What sets the two Palestinian apps apart is how they go beyond daily rush hour traffic and touch at the heart of a central Palestinian criticism of Israeli occupation.

They are designed to run on slow local networks — a necessity because Israel has not granted Palestinian telecommunication companies swifter 3G access.

The free apps, launched over the last month, are still in their infancy, with only a few hundred downloads each.

But as they grow in popularity, their developers say the crowdsourced apps present a partial solution to the jams that checkpoints cause, and they hope will catch on with drivers.

The occupation affects the Palestinian people from all aspects, and takes from them lots of rights. One of those rights is the freedom of movement,” said Basel Sader, 20, a Palestinian resident of east Jerusalem and a law student at Jerusalem’s Hebrew University who developed Azmeh. “This application can’t give them the freedom of movement but it can make things easier for them.”

Israel operates a series of checkpoints that dot the West Bank and separate it from Israel, restricting travel for Palestinians on a number of roads.

When tensions are heightened, a 120-mile (200-kilometer) jaunt from the southern tip of the West Bank to the north can become a complicated journey that could take hours.

Checkpoints pose particular problems for Palestinians who want to enter Israel for jobs, family visits, medical care or to pray. (Checkpoints are designed to harass and humiliate Palestinians)

Israel says the restrictions are meant as a security measure, and officials note that the number of military checkpoints has been greatly reduced as violence has subsided over the last decade.  (Bull shit)

But Palestinians see the limits on movement as a form of collective punishment that disturbs their routine and can often include intrusive and humiliating searches by guards.

In contrast, Israeli settlers can travel freely in and out of Israel and pass quickly through military checkpoints set up to protect their communities.

Palestinians need permits to enter Israel, as well as Israeli-annexed east Jerusalem, and must pass through Israeli-controlled border crossings to enter neighboring Jordan.

This dual treatment also affects Palestinian travel inside the West Bank. Well-maintained, high-speed roads serve settlements and connect them to each other and Israel.

Palestinians are not expressly barred from using these roads, but the highways usually bypass Palestinian communities.

Many of the roads connecting Palestinian areas are decrepit and in poor condition. In times of conflict, Israel also puts up additional military checkpoints that can slow or halt movement between Palestinian towns.

The apps could relieve a bit of that burden. For now, they are used mainly for checkpoints separating Israel and the West Bank, where drivers are often stuck for hours in a tangle of traffic.

The apps are relatively basic.

With Azmeh, users can post updates about the status of the hold-up at a checkpoint, using green to mark no traffic, orange for moderate and red for heavy, allowing other users to choose to divert to other, less clogged checkpoints. For now, the app tracks traffic at half a dozen checkpoints.

Qalandiya also has users mark the level of traffic at the checkpoint, using green, red or yellow car icons. Users can also inform others if the checkpoint has been closed.

Unlike Waze, the apps do not time the wait at a checkpoint or suggest a different route. Users must decide that on their own.

Milena Ansari, a 21-year-old from east Jerusalem who studies at Birzeit University in the West Bank, drives through the Qalandiya checkpoint every day and uses the Azmeh app.

“I check it every morning when I wake up and decide which road to take,” she said.

If Qalandiya is backed up, she said she takes a longer but less congested route through a smaller checkpoint. She said she sends reports in whenever she crosses.

The apps themselves are hobbled by Israeli restrictions.

According to interim peace agreements, Israeli authorities control cellular networks in the West Bank and they have not granted Palestinian telecommunication companies 3G access, meaning many data-heavy apps cannot be used on the road. Palestinians who choose to subscribe to an Israeli cellular provider can access 3G.

Drivers using the apps connect through 2G, a previous generation of wireless technology that is sluggish.

“The limitations of the Internet connectivity cause us problems,” said Ahmed Zaytoun, the developer of Qalandiya. “When I worked on the application, I made sure that it wouldn’t need a high speed (connection).”

Palestinians have been using social media like Whatsapp and Facebook groups to share traffic updates but Zaytoun said users were posting unrelated content that made navigating the groups cumbersome.

Mashhour Abu Daka, a former Palestinian minister of telecommunications and information technology who now works as a consultant, welcomed the apps but said they could only go so far in assisting Palestinian motorists in the face of Israeli restrictions.

“It will be helpful. But it would be even more helpful if we didn’t have checkpoints,” he said.

___

Associated Press writer Tia Goldenberg contributed to this report from Jerusalem.

Women at the heart of struggle

Roqayah Chamseddine wrote on March 8:
Women duck from tear gas canisters at Women's Day rally

Israeli forces fire tear gas at an International Women’s Day rally at Qalandiya checkpoint near the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah, 8 March 2012. (Issam Rimawi APA images)

“Despite the establishment of stale Orientalist campaigns created in the name of women’s liberation in the Middle East and North Africa, the existence of enduring, self-sufficient women in the region has far-reaching historical context.

The search for female Middle East voices among pundits in the mainstream media echoes the same tired “Palestinian Gandhi” cliché.

Analysts have long used Lawrence of Arabia exotics as a means to portray the women of the Arab world:  if they are not subservient housewives they are coy and reserved daughters, sheltered and locked away by the domineering male figures in the household.

These conjectures are not false in their entirety, but they are also not unique to one specific region, culture, religion or people.

The pervasive Western tradition of characterizing an entire community by certain traits, which their Western audiences can ooh and ahh at, has helped manufacture a plethora of distortions.

History confirms that Arab women have long played an active political role in their societies.

From Egyptian women who demonstrated alongside men during the Egyptian Revolution of 1919, against British occupation of Egypt and Sudan, to resistance fighter Jamila Bu Hreid of Algeria.

Bu Hreid was nearly tortured to death by French occupation forces during the Algerian revolution and independence movement which lasted from 1954 to 1962 and resulted in Algeria gaining its independence from France.

South Lebanon, liberated in 2000 after nearly 22 years of Israeli occupation, was also home to female political action. Lebanese women would quietly supply resistance fighters with ammunition, often wrapping them across their stomachs before passing through Israeli checkpoints unnoticed.

An alluring token

As of late, the women of the Arab world are being actively pursued by journalists, media figures and political commentators as sort of stock characters to be featured in their next editorial or television broadcast.

Those usually courted by the media are there to reassert Orientalist theories, for a Western audience to relish in sheer amusement, because for many an outspoken and visible Arab woman is an alluring token.

This has much to do with the current state of the Middle East and North Africa, specifically the uprisings that have captured the hearts and minds of many across world.

Prior to the deposing of Tunisia’s Zine el Abidine Ben Ali there was little or no media attention given to Arab women in respect to what role they played in the region, besides being propagandized as second-class to their more aggressive male counterparts.

Although the media claims to be on a scavenger-hunt of sorts, in search of the dauntless women of the Middle East, there has always been little talk of female Palestinian heroines and their struggle against Israel’s brutal system of apartheid and occupation of their native land.

The Palestinian village of Bilin has hosted weekly unarmed demonstrations against the occupation of its land since 2005. For nearly 7 years, numerous men and women courageously have faced Israeli forces in order to prevent further colonization of their villages, the destruction of their resources and the subjugation of their people.

Jawaher Abu Rahmah, one of many women Palestinian protesters, was killed by Israeli forces after inhaling extensive amounts of tear gas during a demonstration in Bilin in 2011; she suffered from severe asphyxiation and poisoning caused by chemicals in the tear gas.

Abu Rahmah’s brother Bassem was killed in 2009 after a tear-gas canister was fired at his chest by an Israeli soldier during a similar village demonstration.

And today, Hana al-Shalabi, a 30-year-old Palestinian woman from Jenin, is on hunger strike to protest her administrative detention without charge by Israel.

Al-Shalabi has been subjected to beatings and humiliating treatment by Israeli forces and, despite having had her detention recently reduced from 6 months to four months since her hunger strike began three weeks ago, she has declared that her hunger strike will continue until her demand for freedom is met.

Womens’ compelling strength

The archetypal Arab women most often approved of, for the viewing pleasure of television audiences, is one which is confined to a subservient role: a coy, bashful creature whose raison d’etre is based on approval from a domineering male society.

This decayed misconception branding every aspect of Middle Eastern and North African society a homogeneous stereotype has long been refuted by women like Hana al-Shalabi and Jawaher Abu Rahmah, and a great number of others who are deliberately ignored by the mainstream media.

Women of the Middle East and North Africa are of compelling strength, doubtless courage and incorruptible dignity. History is laden with prominent female activists, poets, authors and political figures from this region who have long existed, despite the deliberate evasion of their stories and in the printing their names, and they will continue to exist.

Roqayah Chamseddine is a US-based Lebanese-American journalist, commentator and activist.

Eve Coulon commented:

“Yeah, but they don’t seem to have capitalize on their participation, especially in Egypt and Libya. To always look out how the west wrongly portrays middle eastern women is again to be fighting the wrong enemy.
Why should the women care what the west think of them? Do I care about how some arab media portray western women (and that’s also often full of sweeping generalisations and misconceptions)?
Why write an article about that and not give a voice to these women and their struggle, write about what matters to them.
That’s the problem with the whole usual “foreign invisible hand” /anti western discourse since the beginning of the Arab uprising.  Not that it isn’t completely untrue, but it seems to be taking so much space in what is written from the middle east by middle eastern people, it just ends up perpetuating the same clichés and borrows from that very orientalist narrative that they want to denounce, of the indigenous people as being passive by-standers, victims of greater forces, victims of the foreign media, incapable of fending for themselves, incapable of writing their own history and so on….
Why lament about how others write about you, write your own histories, I personally would love to read about these female heroes.


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

August 2020
M T W T F S S
 12
3456789
10111213141516
17181920212223
24252627282930
31  

Blog Stats

  • 1,407,617 hits

Enter your email address to subscribe to this blog and receive notifications of new posts by email.adonisbouh@gmail.com

Join 758 other followers

%d bloggers like this: