Saturday, May 31, 2008

Al Nakbeh

On this last day of May I have a comment about Al Nakbeh before it fades for another year. Israel has celebrated its 60th birthday, and Palestine has mourned the catastrophe of its loss.

I believe that the United Nations’ decision in 1948 to partition Palestine to create Israel was illegal and immoral. Regardless, the UN did it and Israel is a fact. Unfortunately, in the decades that followed the Arab Israeli conflict has always been defined as ‘controversial.’ Think about what that means – the subject is too debatable to debate! It isn’t a politically correct subject for discussion, and I personally have been told this, uncountable times, by people in order to avoid the subject. For 60 years much of the mainstream media, many powerful politicians, elected officials, writers, publishing companies and others who have influence on public opinion have actively prevented the whole truth about Israel from coming out. Whether these people employ self-censorship or have succumbed to coercion doesn’t matter; it has been a phenomenal whopper of a conspiracy. But I think their days may be numbered. The Palestinians won’t go away; their persistence and influence are growing daily. The truth of what has happened and continues to happen to them in their homeland is being heard by more and more people all of the time. I believe there is hope that the Palestinians will get adequate justice so that their troubled land will have peace.


Friday, May 30, 2008

Heartbreak for seven Fulbright Gaza students

Seven aspiring students in Gaza have been told by the US State Department that they cannot take up their Fulbright scholarships to study in the USA as Israel will not give them permission to leave.

What a disaster for them and how stupid of the Israelis. Those seven students will hate the Israelis for ever. Surely this is the sort of thing that should be encouraged. As I have said before every daily story coming out of Gaza and the West Bank just reinforces the feelings that the Israelis have no intention of making peace.

And what about the US? How cowardly of them not to insist that these students should get to travel. T

Wednesday, May 28, 2008

why does the world bow down to Israel?

Orphanages, schools, charitible societies, homes, chicken farms, cement factories, the list just goes on and on and all these and more have been subject to the Israeli Defence (?) Forces bulldozers and destructive vandalism.

Do the Israelis want to make every Palestinian into an enemy? I think the answer must be yes because the more they humiliate, antagonise, attack and take away all the meaning of life for the Palestinians engendering more hatred this feeds into the Israeli psyche and motives and gives them an excuse to grab land, expel, confiscate, humiliate etc. The Israelis don't want peace they just want land that is free of the indiginous population.

In Hebron the IDF issued orders for the closure and confiscation of orphanages, schools and other facilities run by the Islamic Charitible Society. They have confiscated food, clothing, school, supplies, refrigerators, two buses, ransacked 2 bakeries that provided bread to the orphanages removing all the equipment. They raided the girls orphanage and looted the workshops of its sewing and processing machines, office equipment, rolls of cloth, finished clothing and supplies. This has been publicised and monitored by a Christian Peacemaker team and internationals from all over the world.

"They came at 4 in the morning with 2 bulldozers and they left before 8 am. I own this chicken farm with my 3 brothers and we worked day and night for 18 years to build up our business. The Israelis destroyed everything in less than 4 hours." 15 kilometres away from the remains of the chicken farm are the ruins of a cement factory razed by Israeli bulldozers on May 24.

Today Bishop Desmond Tutu is in Gaza at the start of a delayed UN meeting into the killing of 18 Palestinians, all members of the same family, in Beit Hanoun in November 2006 by Israeli artillery. The Israelis would not give him a visa at the time so he has had to get into Gaza thru the Rafah crossing point.

Two days ago President Jimmy Carter spoke at the Hay Festival and said the blockage on Gaza by the so-called Quartet was 'one of the greatest human rights crimes on earth' and that not to talk to Hamas was unrealistic when everyone knows the Israelis themselves were negotiating with them through an Egyptian mediator. He also criticised Fatah for the exclusion of Hamas.

We all go on and on about Palestine about what should be done, could be done and will be done but I come to the conclusion that a so-called democracy (for the Jewish people only) gets away with flouting all UN resolutions, Human Rights laws and so forth. There is just no hope when an occupying power brutalises the occupied. T


From demolishing legitimate businesses such as this one to the ultimate act of evil of demanding the demolition of an orphanage  in Hebron, Israel has excelled itself in the realm of crimes against humanity.

But does it matter anymore when Israel the great, the above-the-law land of the free, the untouchable, carries out crimes against humanity?  Just because it's free does it have the right to freely annihilate another people not of their liking?  There are only two words that equate with this kind of contempt for humanity:  nazism ... the belief in racial superiority this time Israeli, supported by an extreme right wing dictatorial political system, zionism .... just like the fascists of Europe at the turn of the twentieth century.  

And meanwhile, our government and the rest of the world, sit idly by and do anything  to stop this evil in its tracts.  What more does it take - another holocaust - no wait, that won't happen, Israel has the monopoly on that word .... how about total annihilation, ethnic cleansing, genocide .... and outright deprivation and murder .... do these words mean anything any more to anyone in politics??

I suppose not .... with the likes of Bush, the untouchable, around....


Monday, May 26, 2008

white lines that disappear within weeks

How do we improve the driving habits here in Jordan???? There is an endless list but to start I think it is important that the roads are well marked as it is difficult to drive down a wide road with no lines and know where to put your car. At crossroads a couple of heavy white lines would certainly slow drivers down.

It seems that the Municipality have the same idea but their implementation leaves a lot to be desired. I just wonder why they bother to paint all the lines which disappear in about two weeks. Is it the tendering process where they choose the cheapest paint offered? Or is someone creaming off the money with inferior paint?

There are many subtle and psychological tricks that the Municipality can use to slow traffic down instead of the horrid speed bumps that they put on the roads which take one unawares as they blend into the surface roads and most are without warning signs.

I just cannot understand why this is not done. Instead of spending thousands of dinars on celebrating Independence Day why not spend it on some decent paint which will help save lives? T

Saturday, May 24, 2008

Fiskian words

Words cannot express adequately the diabolical state of mind of Bush and his cohorts in that axis of evil known as the Quartet.  Ah, I hear you say, but an axis only has three as in its usage during World War Two, so how can you include the Quartet .... a group of four .... and so we ramble on with words that no longer have meaning, nor value, which is becoming very Fiskian at the moment!   I object to the compelling word 'quartet' used in this context, when it normally applies to creative genius in the writing and musical fields. 

Ever heard of the Valley of Peace initiative,  on top of the mountain of other peace initiatives that have fallen foul of the Israeli desire for conflict?

Well, it seems that the Israelis in their infinite wisdom prefer not to deal with international legitimacy, but rather to circumvent it with business opportunities for their friends in high places ... hence the latest scam as in the words of none other than the President of Israel in referring to the Palestinians: 

"They haven't established a proper government and they don't have an army.  We can't unite them and we can't divide them.  We can't help them politically. We can only help them economically.  Today, it's possible to coordinate economic aid with both the Jordanians and the Palestinians."

Note the: "we can't help them politically" bit.  I thought this must have been a quote from the latest satirical quip from Israel, but then I remembered, most of their comedians left for the US when Nathanyahu hit the scene back in the 90s, disgusted with zionism and it's racist bent. 

'We can't help them politically' keeps swirling in my head.  

What does that mean exactly?  Perhaps it's this: we can't remove checkpoints; we can't stop the settlers; we can't stop expanding settlements; we can't stop the military occupation; we can't stop demolition of houses; we can't stop invading schools, houses and hospitals; we can't stop blowing up ambulances; we can't stop sniping at civilians; nor stop women in labour dying at checkpoints because of the checkpoints and we can't remove the checkpoints ... because of what again???

And all because Zionism in its incredulous philosophy and raison d'etre, always has to have an enemy at the gate and if they can't find one they will create one.  

So once again, a people without an army, without a proper government, politically divided because of Zionism, without anything in fact, are not allowed to have political rights or human rights,  just economic ones.  

And we go along for the ride!

Oh Lord, I understand why you have forsaken us so. J

Heading forward with complacency

It's good to know that we now have a law to counter the plague of society - any society - that has to cope with 'family' violence, or domestic abuse, or child abuse.  It's also good to note that we are making headway over the land in the awareness field.

So why am I still disturbed?  Maybe it's because I fear tackling this issue 'headon' is going to take a long time to leap from 'awareness' to 'action'.

Such is the case with a boys school in Jebel An Natheef.  For too long those in a position to change the daily use of corporal punishment at this school, have been sitting on the fence of their awareness and continue to ignore the pleas of parents and other concerned citizens.  

What is it that stops the School's Principal from taking action, or the Ministry of Education from intervening, or the teachers themselves to see the error of their ways, now that we have a law that can stop the abuse of children wherever it is found?

Surely the schools within the city are the first stop in this commendable drive, with more intergovernmental collaboration?  As this is not the only government run school that educates through the use of physical abuse.  Aid projects for building buildings for schools is one thing ... but without the men and women with vision to teach in these buildings, what's the point? 

So what is it that always stops good practice in its tracks?  

Maybe it's a simple matter; that of our collective complacency and perhaps a little bit of personal aggrandizement. J

Wednesday, May 21, 2008

hooray, she is cleaning her freezer

A dear friend of ours was diagnosed with cancer 8 months ago. She has been through a 7 hour operation, chemotherapy, radiation, feeling ill and all the terrible reactions you can think of. But today SHE IS CLEANING OUT HER FREEZER!!! This is the best news for us all. T

Monday, May 19, 2008

the poor amongst us

A friend has cancer and has to go up to the King Hussein Cancer Centre for her treatments. There are always so many sad stories but this one really touched me.

A lady came to sit next to her and they started chatting about their illness and treatments. This lady had to come from Irbid and my friend found out that she has 9 children the eldest being 17. Her husband was killed in a car accident four years ago and they exist on JD 20 from charity and JD 20 from neighbours per month. She said that her children had not eaten meat since last Ramadan. She thanked God and His Majesty for her free treatment for her cancer but she is having an operation this coming week and was worried what would happen to her children if she did not survive. When we watch all the money that is flowing round Jordan it just seems so awful that families are not able to eat.

I know this happens all round the world and one cannot help everyone and that life is getting more and more difficult with all the price rises, but it just does not seem right that people cannot get enough to eat. T

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Today wear black ....

Today we wear black; as we solemnly mark the 60 years of the nakbeh (the catastrophe) in Palestine; and lest we forget the basis on which the State of Israel was founded, here is just one story that symbolizes this never ending struggle for justice for all in the holy land. And here is another: J

It was an afternoon in late May, 1973, when I pulled into the school yard at St. George's School on the Nablus Road in Jerusalem to pick up my 7 year old son. The Head Master was waiting to tell me and all the other parents that he would see us next fall. He was closing the school as of that afternoon for the summer. He said he didn't know what else to do. A couple of boys had thrown stones at an Israeli army jeep on the street in front of the school and had run away. The soldiers came into the school and confronted the Head Master with an ultimatum. Either he turns over the boys in the morning or the soldiers would take two boys from every class into custody until he did. This fine man in an impossible position made a wise and honourable choice. The school was shut down and stayed closed until September.

This simple story took place during the first decade of the Israeli military occupation of Jerusalem and the West Bank when Arabs could still move from one town to another without hundreds of road blocks and an 8 meter wall in their path. Now at the end of four decades of a brutal occupation the world continues to turn its back on the human rights of Palestinians and to label them as terrorists because they dare to resist. What nation can celebrate its 60th birthday with dignity when it was created and maintained at the expense of another?


I remember in 1994 after the peace treaty between Jordan and Israel was signed a telephone call late at night from an Israeli (don't know how they got my number) asking me to do an interview with the Israeli pilot who had shot down my husband over the West Bank in 1966 whilst defending his country from an incursion into Jordan by Israelis forces. I was so upset and thought to myself do these people want to show that what they do is ok and for them to show me forgiving the Israeli pilot? Absolutely no way will Israel ever live in peace until they recognise the rights of the Palestinians and a Palestinian state is formed. T

Monday, May 12, 2008

Only on a Friday ...

Beirut .... that unfathomable yet beautiful city, home to my son for the 
time being, is driving me crazy.  

Just when things were going so well for son at uni; he's evacuated by 
the Jordanian Embassy along with two hundred other Jordanian students, 
as chaos runs riot, loud and menacing, through the streets of this beloved 
of cities. 

He ducked and dived his way from Hamra to the AUB campus on Bliss, 
on that fateful Friday, as the sound of gunfire and loud explosions ricocheted 
from building to building.  He chatted with friendly masked gunmen along 
the way who guided their passage to safety, as bullet casings crunched underfoot.  
He would have to wait a whole day along with a crowd of Jordanians that had 
swelled to nearly two hundred, some anxious, some panicked, some blase, 
some sleeping and still others just enjoying the fleeting moment of freedom 
from academic toil and the stress of exams.  Nightfall, and the all clear was 
given to board the four buses that would leave in convoy northwards towards 
Tripoli; ironically the scene of some of the worst clashes in this current bout 
of political bullying, and then a long drive from one end of Syria to the other, 
homeward bound.

Twenty four hours later, starving, worn out but safe, son arrives home with 
a story to tell, leaving behind unfinished end of year exams, and starlit nights 
playing guitar on the veranda.  No-one knows what the outcome will be .... 
this never ending story that is Lebanon.   

Bellapais Abbey

So I shall put those thoughts on hold for a while and think of pleasant 
memories of a recent trip to northern Cyprus, another divided land, dotted 
with a rich cultural heritage of monasteries, castles, abbeys and mosques 
.... so calm and tranquil ... and ponder about the madness of men and their 
creative genius so easily destroyed by a flick of a pen, a remote control or a 
wagging tongue ... J

Bellapais Abbey

St. Hilarion Castle, Kyrenia

outside the courtyard of the Lala Mustafa Pasha Mosque, Famagusta

Sunday, May 11, 2008

(Dis)honour killings - are we turning a corner?

In today's Jordan Times a 'man has been charged with premeditated murder of his younger sister' and also 'the victim's father, mother and sibling of complicity in premeditated murder in connection with the drowning of the 22 year old at dawn on Saturday'.

I just hope that this charge sticks all through the judicial process (wish I could get to the judges on the case!!!) so that it will send a strong message that these disgraceful crimes will be punished, not with ridiculously short sentences but with long ones which will show those who are thinking of murdering their female relative that the full force of the law will be taken up and they will spend very long spells in prison. A huge cheer to the Prosecutor who has been brave enough to bring these charges.

If it were not for Rana Husseini and her brave reporting we would never know about these crimes. All credit to her and hopefully all her work will be rewarded in changes in the law, especially Article 340. T

Friday, May 09, 2008


Having just spent two weeks assidiously sorting out rubbish for recycling, I find it so difficult just throwing everything in the trash can here.

Paper, cardboard and certain plastics were put into the bin - it was amazing how much one collects when shopping. There are very strict rules which have to be adhered to. One friend mistakenly put a wet paper handkerchief in her recycle bin and the municipality refused to collect it!!

Some of the supermarkets are now charging for their plastic bags so whenever we went out a bundle of bags went with us. So much is talked about recycling here but until it is arranged so that it is easy for us to do it our landfills will just pile up with stuff that could be recycled. T

Sunday, May 04, 2008

To My Sister-in-law

She took my hand on the day I arrived and stayed close to me.
She introduced me to her family who were now my family.
She taught me her language and she practiced mine.
She helped me knit and sew for my babies.
She told me the stories of her tribal past.
She set an example by fulfilling her duties lovingly.
She laughed at the foibles of people but seldom at them.
She was patient, tolerant, and sensitive to my feelings even when she didn’t share them.
She worried about me, not her family when she heard the bombs explode across the Jordan Valley in 1967, because it was my first war.
She tired but seldom complained as the care giver to those in her charge – and they were many.
She always knew who she was and what needed to be done.
She took my hand and accepted me.

Dear Samia, knowing you has been a rare and exceptional gift.
May you rest in peace.


Thursday, May 01, 2008

Maps of Amman

The other day in a five star hotel I heard a tourist ask for a map of Amman. The man at the front desk politely apologized that he didn’t have any maps, but that the hotel gift shop had some for sale. In the shop the maps sold for JD 3.500! In most cities one can get a free map in a hotel just for the asking.

I asked a travel agent why there were no free or cheap maps available and he said that when he wanted to print his own maps for his tourists, he was not allowed to do so. The only authority that can print maps in Jordan is the National Geographic Society. I would hope that National Geographic Society doesn’t have a monopoly on maps which are, after all, public information. The government and the private sector are putting a lot of effort toward making Jordan a tourist destination. Maps of cities, towns, and sites in the country should be part of this effort.

And now I wonder how we will locate the addresses we want using the new blue numbers on buildings. We need street names that are easy to read and a grid to help us find them. Before long we who live here may need to rely on a good map since Amman is expanding and the country is changing.