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Saturday, April 30, 2011

The fine line between Authenticity and counterfeits

Ocean & Blue rose, Bes & Wanna Bes, Angelina Jolie & Justin Bieber, Palestine & Israel

As we all know, there is a really thin fine line between being authentic and faking it. For example, instead of talking about the similarities between the ocean and blue roses, why don’t we talk about the differences?

You might think I am touching the surface, and the differences are either water and flowers or difference in letters but what I am trying to say here is that there is one deep vital difference between the ocean and a blue rose even if they are both blue.

The ocean is painted by an artistic touch of the blue sky, the color is genuine and real. Its natural paint created by god. While blue roses are usually white roses dyed with blue food coloring. While both may appear blue, one is real while the other is a counterfeit.

In life, people are usually divided into two categories regarding authenticity:

1- Bes: People who are comfortable with themselves and who they are, they accepted themselves for their flaws and qualities. People who aren’t afraid of being proud of who they are, they don’t feel like they need to be like anyone rather their own selves no matter how unique and different they are from the stereotypical type of the “perfect” people.

2- Wanna Bes: People who always thrive to be like a certain kind of people that they look up to or like or wish to be similar to. They lose themselves completely to become a copy of a certain kind of people so they can feel better and accepted which usually backfires at the end. Wanna Bes are those who wanna be like the bes, makes sense yet?

I try to always be tolerant enough to accept and love every human being regardless of any racism symptoms or obstacles. I don’t care whether you are black, white, beige or brown. I only care about how humane you are and how authentic you are. Every person has his own radar for authentic people and counterfeits which can be founded on many different standards. I have mine, and I am sorry to say that I don’t like fake people and I can’t accept them. Why don’t you work on yourself and try to represent who you are in a good way rather than becoming a copy of a person you admire? Why don’t you try to be unique in your own way and set an example rather than craving to be someone else?

I truly cant understand those who rush to have Botox injected in their lips to have their lips look exactly like the gorgeous Angelina Jolie, either because they love and admire her or because they need to boost their self confidence and look hotter by having Angie’s sexy lips. Well News Flash, Angie is unique because of who she is and what she represents so having her lips wont make you rich like her, sexy like her or humane like her. Its not hard for you to love and admire Angie but be happy and satisfied with your own lips. Angie’s sexiness, popularity and authenticity are all already taken by her so find your own instead of wasting your time trying to be a lame copy of her.

I laughed so loud when I heard that thousands of guys and boys in America going for the Bieber hair-cut or the Bieber look. Ok so I don’t like him and I think he is lame but even if I did I wouldn’t go get his hair-cut or maybe shake my hair bangs like he does or adopt his clothing style (yuck). Bieber fever was the most saddening but hilarious thing I have ever heard, people are willing to jump along on any new trend no matter how lame it is or it sounds.

I don’t know why people think they are obligated to ride every new trend. Its either Bieber or Kardshian or Lady GaGa or other music or any other kind of influential icons. Why don’t you be unique like them instead of being a copy of them?

Instead of thriving to taste every new trend, I would advise you to start your own new trend and have people thriving to taste it. Don’t overdo stuff, just be yourself.

Be yourself and walk your own path even if it sometimes hurts or pressures you to a point where you cant take it anymore. I am not preaching anyone here, I mean dont get me wrong I would love to have Brad Pitt's abs with Johnny depp’s charisma with Lady GaGa’s popularity and every other star’s blue eyes but yet I have to be proud of who I am and work on myself more to complete the whole puzzle of me.

I didnt want to shove Palestine into this but its somehow connected. Sometimes you abuse power and oppression to gain ownership and control. So originally the land belongs to Palestine but Israel used violence to gain ownership. This usually fails because what is yours will still remain yours at the end. So its clear here who is real and who is fake, who is authentic and who is the counterfeit.


Would you wanna be a wanna be or a unique be? would you rather be a dyed blue rose or a genuinely blue shore?

Follow me on twitter: @Omar_Gaza @Gazawinews @theimeu
Gazawi page on Facebook:!/FromGaza

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Palestinian ............... I was born

Palestinian.............. I was born

A poem I wrote and then was surprised to see it being shared on so many websites :) enjoy :

Palestinian I was born, a stone was found carved in my hand because we were born to resist even if it meant to face a tank with only a stone, or a whole army with courage, or occupation with existence. If you are Palestinian then you exist to resist.

If you are Palestinian you were born to cherish your land just like you cherish your honor. Every olive tree planted anywhere in Palestine represents a piece of your soul, when removed you ache even if you live miles away inside or outside of Palestine.

If you are Palestinian you were born with a goal, a goal to fight for justice. You were born to breathe freedom, breastfeed on resistance and grow with a great passion and devotion for Palestine.

If you are Palestinian you were born to be bound to an honorable history. You indulge in a world-wide support and thrive for a free Palestine.

If you are Palestinian you were born to be blessed with tolerance and acceptance, given an unbeatable soul and endless determination.

If you are Palestinian you were born with a deep connection to every freedom fighter around the world no matter where he\she is, you become instant siblings.

If you are Palestinian you were born to consider Palestine as your mother, your father, your family, your honor, your pride, your goal, your case, your soul, your dignity and pretty much everything else.

If you are Palestinian you were born with a great sense of endurance that will get through anything in life.

If you are Palestinian you were born to absorb and understand politics even when you are just a child.

If you are Palestinian you were born to suffer the loss of a loved one whether imprisoned, killed, bombed or abducted by Israel.

If you are Palestinian you were born with a seed of intifada inside of you that will be watered as you grow.

If you are Palestinian you were born to always have your head up high.

If you are Palestinian you were born to understand me, listen to me, support me, stand with me, watch my back and attack any outsider than threatens my safety.

If you are Palestinian you were born to shake the safety ground under Israel because your existence means trouble.

If you are Palestinian you were born to never give up on Palestine and never let go of your rights.

If you are Palestinian you were born to be special.

If you are Palestinian you were born to be a part of every Palestinian revolution.

If you are Palestinian you were born with inner courage that will defeat Israel even if it takes a long time.

If you are Palestinian you were born to wear the Kuffeyeh and the Palestinian flag proudly every chance you get.

If you are Palestinian you were born to value every grain of Palestinian sand.

If you are Palestinian you were born with a impeccable sense of belonging, you know Palestine belongs to you and you act like it.

If you are Palestinian you were born to see everything in Palestine in a different way, the sky is bluer, the grass is greener, the sand is yellower and freedom is more precious than everyone thinks.

If you are Palestinian, you were born to be inspired and inspire others.

If you are Palestinian you were born to love Falafel+msakhan+Knafeh+za3tar+olives+olive oil because it’s a part of your heritage, it’s a part of who you are.

If you are Palestinian you were born to endure the endless waiting process when you are stopped on an Israeli check-point.

If you are Palestinian you were born to endure Israeli torture and abduction.

If you are Palestinian you were born to endure terrorizing, warplanes, annoying drones, tanks and armed boats.

If you are Palestinian you were born to like the sound of bullets just like your love to fireworks.

If you are Palestinian you were born to admire not only the rose but its thrones too.

If you are Palestinian you were born to the fact that life goes on even if Israel bombs and innocent people die.

If you are Palestinian you were born to be unbeatable, unstoppable and fierce.

If you are Palestinian you were born with a heart that knows no fear.

If you are Palestinian you were born to fly with your soul over any siege, borders, barriers and checkpoints.

If you are Palestinian you were born with Jerusalem as one of your main priorities.

If you are Palestinian you were born to endure endless electricity cuts, and actually wait for them to light a candle and read a book by Ramzi Baroud, Mahmoud Darwish, Remi Kanazi, Paolo Quelho or any other author you like.

If you are Palestinian you were born to put Palestinians and Palestine first.

If you are Palestinian you were born to be a human more than any human.

If you are Palestinian you were born to accept and expect the death of your children.

If you are Palestinian you were born to celebrate the death of every Shaheed “Martyr” because you know that he brought you one step closer to FREEDOM.

If you are Palestinian you were born to know love, if you can love your land that much you will love your soul-mate too.

If you are Palestinian then I congratulate you and I congratulate myself for there is no greater honor than that.

Omar Ghraieb 1\April\2011

A few of my poems I wrote for Palestine

Emancipation, I am Palestine, Little Nora, Oppression

Since some of my tweeps cant enter my notes on Facebook I decided to share few of my poems here:


I'm scared and alone,

it's terrifying.

Explosions, blood, dead humanity is flying in parts.

Should I run? Scream? Shout? Or start crying?

I am lost like a ghost.

I don’t understand but I'm trying hard.

Am I dead or I'm dying?

Maybe it’s a dream that I can shake away.

Maybe it’s a night mare with dark rainbow rays,

Or can it be just a bad day?

My gut says it’s a pain that will stay.

I close my eyes and open them again,

I can't believe what happened;

I saw a man playing the violin,

I looked deep into his eyes

I swear I saw a tear but I can't hear him cry.

I am thinking of ways to escape, but how?

I look at the skies and see them get raped.

I look at the beaches and see them beaten up in hate.

It's so dark yet there is no shade.

How did I get myself into this crusade

The man whispers to my ear;

"The exit is very very near,

All you have to do is to come over your fear."

He guided me towards getting strengthen and

All I did was listen to the voice with in.

He said my wings are ready to help me fly

He said:

"Up there no one can hurt you now fly up high!"

He asked me to set myself free

Where I can witness the marriage between infinity and eternity,

There where all miseries end

I am safe; I can transcend


I am …… Palestine

I am Palestine …… I am not scared

I am Palestine …… I will never be heard

I am Palestine …… you have no idea what I bared

I am Palestine ……. I have done things you never dared

I am Palestine ……. Have you ever cared?

I am Palestine ……. I will never be shared

I am Palestine ……. I fly high even when I am an injured bird

I am Palestine ……. I shall never be raped, hurt or admeasured

I am Palestine ……. You tried to subject me and you simply backscattered

I am Palestine ……. Just like the phoenix from my ashes I emerged

I am Palestine ……. You asked and I answered


Little Nora went early to bed that night

When she heard a humming sound becoming closer

She rushed to her window to see warplanes so close in sight

But she didn’t care

Because she could swear

That this happens every night

She went back to her warm bed

And placed her little head

On her little fluffy pillow colored red

She started counting the happy sheep

She reached number nine then fell asleep

Dreaming of a new happy peaceful day

So she can wake up, kiss her mom then play

Little Nora didn’t know that this is her last night

She won’t be able to witness the sunlight

A loud deep explosion was heard but Nora never woke up

The missiles were invading her room non-stop

Little Nora stepped into another world

Were birds & laughs can be heard

Nora saw little children with freckles and curls

They were all playing and feeling safe

They were all strong and brave

Nora smiled thinking she is in heaven and no longer in hell

And that her family had her story to tell

Nora knew that her people won’t be numb anymore

They will fight for their freedom till it comes to their door

*Nora could be a Palestinian child or a Libyan child or an Iraqi child or an Afghan child or any child living in an oppressed country where fascists have no mercy and she has to pay the price of freedom.



Get on your knees

Its Hercules

Your mission is to beg for every tease

I want to hear you scream “Please”

You don’t have any say

All you can do is to obey

Freeze when I demand you to freeze

I have no mercy and nothing to cease

Your pains and torture will increase

Your ownership and dignity will decrease

I will rape your land

Steal your legacy

Break your legs

So you cant stand

When I invade your privacy

I will break your face

Paint you with disgrace

Until you rest your case

And stop fighting for your freedom

I will cover your sky

And make it dark

Dry your sea

Until you bark

I will rip your mother’s heart

And squeeze

I will kill your dad

With ease

Ill use your children as human shields

Rape your wife and sisters

Maybe rape you too

With no regrets or things to undo

Ill burn your trees

Ill demolish every house

Shoot the birds and step on any mouse

Wipe you from this earth

Show you all shades of death

Feed every newborn child

To my monsters and their pride

Ill never be happy

Until I bring your insides outsides

Ill put you in a little box

Only you and a wild fox

Bring joy to my eyes

While I see you two fight

What a sight

I want to see ripped apart

Deny you from food and water

And when I am bored

Ill play with you a game called “slaughter”

Ill throw you in refugee camps

Fill you all over with labels and stamps

Ill take you a hostage

Till you give me your heritage

Ill stab you till you stop resisting

Ill unleash my devils as long as you are existing

Yes ofcourse I want peace

Doesn’t that mean to blow you into pieces?

And step on you like little creatures?

No education

No rights

Deal with it, reality bites

I don’t see anybody standing up for you

They all abandon you

You are on your own

Oh wait your not even that

You are for me to own

I terrorize you with all kinds of internationally banned weapons

While you fight back with a stone

Isn’t that justice?

I don’t care if the world is a witness

What will the world do?

Fight for you?

I don’t think so

The world followed silence

When I was using violence

So just lose hope

I don’t care if you cope

I like playing this game

I never felt shame

Do you want to know my name?


Through this poem I wish salvation

For every oppressed nation

Not only Palestine

We are all meant to shine

Break our mental and physical constraints

Release ourselves and others from all kinds of pains

Live free or die trying

Stop Oppression

Stop judging

Stop condemning

Stop bullying

Stop labeling

One nation, one love and united by humanity

Hamas & Fatah held joint press conference in Cairo

Detailed info, Reactions & Expectations

Gaza, 28, Hamas and Fatah held a joint conference in Cairo on the 27th of April. They declared that both conflicted parties have signed on an initial agreement of the Palestinian reconciliation paper supported by Egyptian efforts. Azzam Al Ahmad represented Fatah while Musa Abu Marzooq represented Hamas.

Touching base on the most important issues discussed and declared during the joint conference, I concluded a few points:

1- Cairo will summon the rest of Palestinian factions to arrive and sign the final agreement of the Palestinian reconciliation by next week.

2- A technocratic government to be created to represent a unified Palestinian government.

3- Resolving all issues regarding Elections, their timing, procedures of implementing it and how it will be monitored.

4- Activate the role of the Palestinian legislative council.

5- Both representatives thanked all Arab, Islamic and international directions that helped this reconciliation happen, and stressed on the great Egyptian role and efforts.

6- They urged the Arab media to help those efforts of Palestinian reconciliation flourish, to have no mercy on any party who doesn’t work hard enough to make this reconciliation work and to be playing the role the supporting guard to this reconciliation.

7- United Palestinian is stronger than a divided one.

8- Palestinian division helped Israel take advantage of a weak Palestine.

9- Both conflicted parties should walk the road of reconciliation till the end and make it work, also the national participation should continue even after the elections and united government.

10- Both conflicted parties agreed on NOT repeating Mecca’s mistakes and failure.

11- Iran didn’t influence or pressure this reconciliation yet Iranian and Arab support is welcomed.

12- Naming the prime minister and ministers of the new technocratic government would be next Wednesday after signing the final agreement on the Palestinian reconciliation by all Palestinian factions.

13- The Arab revolution and the New Egypt had a definite impact on the Palestinian efforts towards reconciliation.

Both conflicted parties were asked about the guarantees given to prove that this time the reconciliation will work and last, they both answered saying their commitment is the solid guarantee.

News also reorted that Mahmud Abbas, Palestinian president is said to arrive to Gaza through Rafah border along with Khlaed Meshaal, Chairman of Hamas Political Bureau when the reconciliation is final.

As for the Israeli reaction on the Palestinian reconciliation, Israeli PM, Netanyahu renewed his threats to the PA asking them to choose between Hamas and the peace negotiations with Israel, which was answered later by the PA by asking Netanyahu to choose between peace and colonization, showing that they clearly chose the Palestinian unity.

A second reaction came when Israeli tanks and bulldozers suddenly advanced into Rafah only minutes after the declaration of the Palestinian initial agreement on reconciliation.

The IMEU (Institute of Middle East Understanding) issued a few reactions of influential figures:

Rashid Khalidi

Inter-Palestinian reconciliation and elections -- both for Palestinians under occupation and those in the diaspora -- are the esssential preconditions for establishing a unified national movement and a consensus on a strategy for liberation. Without these things, the Palestinians have little hope of changing their situation, which is characterized by occupation and dispossession. This agreement, one of the first fruits of the fall of the Mubarak regime and the Arab spring, will hopefully be a step in that direction.

Eyad Sarraj

This is a very important breakthrough in the Palestinian internal conflict, which has lasted for 4 years and has resulted in serious political and social damage. By agreeing on a resolution and reconciliation of the divide, the Palestinians are putting themselves on the right road for liberation and statehood. The most important meaning of the agreement is the principle of sharing power and democratically competing for it. This agreement means Hamas will enter the PLO leadership and all other issues including security, forming government and elections will be dealt with through agreement. Without the Egyptian revolution, and change of the regime, it would have been very difficult to reach this agreement.

Nadia Hijab

This is the first concrete sign of how the Arab spring will impact the Israeli-Arab balance of power and the US Middle East role. After failed attempts by the former Egyptian leadership, Saudi Arabia, and Qatar among others, and despite concerted Israeli-US attempts to stymie reconciliation, the new Egyptian leadership has seemingly scored a success. Fatah and Hamas suddenly need each other given Fatah's loss of Hosni Mubarak's and Hamas' reliance on a suddenly precarious Syria, and demands for unity by Palestinian youth. The deal underscores the US administration's fading ability to influence events, and the new realities Israel must deal with. There will be much to watch in the months leading up to the Palestinians' request for full membership in the UN.

Diana Buttu

Israel's greatest fear is to face a united Palestinian polity that demands its rights, as was stated earlier this month by Israeli PM Netanyahu. It is important to remember that one of the biggest obstacles to Palestinian unity was international interference, particularly interference by the United States and the EU. This is an important step in Palestinian history and I hope that this agreement will lead to a broader Palestinian strategy on how to effectively challenge Israel's military rule, its apartheid system and its denial of Palestinian freedom.

Raji Sourani

A continuation of split is suicidal for the Palestinian cause and people. The Palestinian leadership has no right or reason to continue the split. The most recent Israeli leadership has embarked on war crimes; through humiliation and social and economic suffocation - leaving Palestinians in their worst situation since the Nakba. This Israeli government has no agenda for peace. There is nothing left for the Palestinians to be divided about: it is politically meaningless to continue the Palestinian split. Palestinian people will not forgive or forget any political party who will continue to keep the Palestinians away from a path toward, unity, liberation and freedom.

Check the link here :

The Palestinian street reacted in different ways, some started celebrating right away in Gaza and the west bank and abroad while others chose to be optimistic but careful since a failure occurred before. On the other hand, some others chose to be totally optimistic saying this wont change and the reconciliation wont hold enough to become reality, instead it will soon fail and Palestinians everywhere will be disappointed. Arabs rushed to congratulate their Palestinian friends and prayed for the reconciliation to last this time.

Many speculations are being spread around on the reconciliations and expectations of either disappointing failure or mass success that will make Palestinians everywhere happy and excited. A new Israeli war on Gaza expected by Israel since the Israeli PM rushed to show anger and start threatening the PA which showed that they will attempt to halt, spoil or impact the reconciliation in any way possible.

Palestinians everywhere considered this step as the first step towards a free Palestine, many even considered this as the end of Gaza’s siege and Rafah border’s ordeal.

Palestinian reconciliation's news immediately made world news and was first news on New York Times, Haaretz, Reuters and numerous other international top media venues.

So the questions every Palestinian is asking now: will this reconciliation hold or fail? How will It impact the life of Palestinians? And How will Israel react?

To stay updated follow me on twitter: @Omar_Gaza
and follow: @theimeu and @Gazawinews

Gazawi Facebook page:

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Hamas & Fatah agreed on initial agreement

Hamas & Fatah agree on creating transitional government

Hamas and Fatah members and representatives met in Cairo in an unplanned meeting today amid media blackout -which is unusual-, since they always share news about the arranged meetings. The meeting was described as “positive”.

This meeting was actually more than “positive” since Hamas and Fatah both signed an initial agreement on the Egyptian reconciliation paper. Its noteworthy that Hamas and Fatah came close of signing this same Egyptian reconciliation paper many times before then changed their minds last minute demanding more changes and exchanging blames.

Hamas representative who signed this initial agreement was “Musa Abu Marzooq” with Fatah representative “Azzam Al Ahmad” in Cairo under the support of Egypt or new Egypt if I may say.

Both conflicted parties agreed on creating a new transitional government.

The first initial reaction of Palestinians was a bitter-sweet feeling, they are hopefully yet they cant forget that this news happened before and didn’t end up to be fruitful or take place in reality.

Will we witness a real full Palestinian reconciliation this time and the end of the Palestinian division? Or is it just a new stunt? Only time will tell I guess.

Cairo will summon the Palestinian factions to sign the final agreement within a week in the presence of President Mahmoud Abbas and Khaled Meshaal. News talked about a government of national unity should be created in a few days. News also reported that a press conference to be held tonight to declare more info.

Azzam Al Ahmad,Fatah representative, to Maan: We agrred upon creating a technocratic government, and an important press conference tonight #Palestine.

Sources also said that both conflicted parties discussed the elections and PLO.
To be continued .....

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Just like Freedom Flotilla 2 a.k.a. Stay Human, US boat to Gaza will sail despite Israeli threats

U.S. Boat to Sail to Gaza Despite Israeli Threats

US boat to Gaza issued a press release confirming and insisting on sailing to Gaza despite Israeli threats of intercepting the boats or attacking them. Here is the press release:

US human rights advocates who are planning to sail their boat - The Audacity of Hope - this spring as part of an international flotilla in solidarity with the people of Gaza will not be deterred by implied threats of violence by the Israeli government, say the boat's organizers.

The Israeli media recently reported that that country's UN ambassador, Meron Reuben, asked the international organization to stop the flotilla, which is expected to include some 12 boats carrying a thousand nonviolent civilians from dozens of countries. Reuben characterized the activists as "terrorists" with ties to Hamas, the Islamist party that rules Gaza, who are "willing to become martyrs."

Jane Hirschmann of the US Boat to Gaza, which is organizing the US participation in the flotilla, said that the Israeli charges "are absurd and would be laughable if it were not for the fact that last year, the Israeli military boarded a Turkish boat with aid for Gaza and killed nine unarmed civilians, including an American."

The use of "the language of anti-terror", retired US Col. Ann Wright, one of the people who will be on the boat and who was on the 2010 Gaza Freedom Flotilla which was attacked by the Israeli military, said, is a "not very subtle threat against the nonviolent human rights activists who will be aboard The Audacity of Hope and our partner ships. We have no ties to Hamas or any political party. We are sailing in peace, we are sailing unarmed, but be assured that, despite these threats, we are definitely sailing."

Press contact: Felice Gelman

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Gaza: Emotions, Easter, Electricity & Emancipation

4 Es in Gaza & Palestine in general

Emotions: Abeer Skafe,10,Hebron, died today after a nervous breakdown & complete paralysis for Israel denying her permission to see imprisoned father

Easter: Gazan children celebrating Easter in a church

Electricity: Gazan children defying darkness

Emancipation: when you spend your life trying to free yourself

Hmmm I have allot to say about this part but this story will say it all. Abeer Iskafi, 11, from Hebron, died yesterday after a nervous breakdown and complete paralysis. Abeer was prevented by Israeli authorities from hugging her father when she went to visit him in prison where he is serving a life term. Israeli police officers in charge of the prison where Abeer Eskafi’s father, Yousuf, is serving his sentence, allegedly did not allow the 10-year-old to go over to the prisoners’ side of a meeting room where visitors can meet inmates when she expressed a wish to hug her father. The little girl was so hurt by the episode that soon after returning home, she refused to eat and retreated into a shell of silence. Later she became paralysed and subsequently slipped into a deep coma that even affected her respiratory functions. She is now on life-support at a hospital in Hebron.

Doctors at Hebron’s Princess Alia Hospital say Abeer’s condition is deteriorating steadily, which is preventing her from being transferred abroad for advanced treatment which the Palestinian health service is not in a situation to provide. Physicians treating Abeer have warned that there’s a big risk to her life if she is moved from her bed or if the connection to the artificial breathing apparatus is disturbed. Abeer’s father has been sentenced by an Israeli court to four life terms with no chance of parole.

All specialist doctors who saw Abeer diagnosed her condition as psychological, and the girl’s health deteriorated till she became totally paralyzed and had to be hospitalized when she lapsed into a coma.

Meanwhile, Yousuf, Abeer’s father had to undergo emergency surgery after suffering a heart attack on hearing about his daughter. Abeer’s elder brother, Ahmad, was shot dead by the Israelis in 2007. Abdul Rahim Abdul Mohsin Eskafi, Abeer's grandfather, said that her health started to decline following her visit to her father in prison.

Eskafi said Abeer used to be allowed to the other side to hug her father and spend a couple of minutes with him on earlier visits but was refused such permission on her latest visit ostensibly because she had passed an age limit a few days ago that made her ineligible for such consideration.

Abeer died at Princess Alia Hospital in Hebron late on Thursday after falling into a coma days earlier. She was buried in Al-Rashid cemetery in Hebron with the participation of city’s residents, local officials and religious figures.

This is how brutal life can get when you are living under occupation; Palestinian children usually pay the price on one way or another. They are either brutally killed while playing, or have to suffer the loss of one or more loved one, or the abduction of one or more loved one, or maybe suffer permanent disabilities, or get a serious disease as a result of Israel’s misuse or abuse of illegal weapons against Palestinians, or maybe they get abducted by Israel and serve the rest of their lives in prison just because they were born Palestinians or maybe die after being denied permission to seek treatment outside Palestinian because Gaza’s siege and West Bank’s occupation leave no place for medical prosperity. Palestinian children are exposed to overwhelming emotions that adults in other places in the world cant deal with and yet we expect from them to be successful, live a normal live, have no physical or emotional complications or even complain about it. We often forget that Palestinian children at the end of the day are children like any other children around the world except the fact that their childhood is stolen from them before they can even enjoy it.


This brings us once again to Palestinian children in general and Gazan children in particular. I am muslim, yes, but I have many Christian friends in Gaza and the West bank so let me give you a glimpse and a taste of what is Easter like in Palestine. I hope this process wont overwhelm you but here we go:

So both Gazans and West Bankers prepare themselves for Easter by applying for permits to visit holy places in Jerusalem and Bethlehem (Yes, we don’t even have the freedom of Worshiping here in Palestine, everything is oppressed). The Israeli military government starts performing a security check and a background check on every Palestinian who applied for a permit even if those same Palestinians have already applied tens of time, always a new series of procedures that will take a life time to finish.

Palestinian residents of the West Bank and Gaza Strip have been required to get Israeli army permission before they can enter Jerusalem since Israel cut off East Jerusalem from the rest of the occupied Palestinian territories in the early 1990s.

Ofcourse permits are only given to businessmen who will benefit Israel’s market or those who suffer from a serious illness and lucky enough to be still alive when Israel grants them the permission of traveling through their own country only after a lifetime of procedures and security checks. A long ago, Israel used to give those permits also to workers from Gaza and the West Bank because they get paid less and they don’t get any medical insurance (Do you smell slavery here or is it my nose only?).

What is really ironic is that internationals from around the world get the permission to visit Palestine’s holy places while Palestinians have to sit, watch and envy. (Ever wondered why Palestinians get angry sometimes? Well I kinda gave you one part of the answer).

So to make a loooooooooooooooooong story short, lets just say that Palestinians spend their Easter waiting for permits which usually end up with a huge disappoint, why you ask? Here is why:

1- Israel either gives them permission after Easter ends.

2- Or gives them permission to stay one day only.

3- Or allows a few members of one family to travel while prevents the other members.

Lets not forget also that every Eid, festival or celebration (Whether Christian or Muslim) in Palestine has to be special. Meaning: Israel has to always either participates in our Eids or makes them more special by either bombing, raiding or killing a number of Palestinians.


Again there is so much to say about Electricity in Gaza or better yet THE LACK OF ELECTRICITY IN GAZA, so as to not to confuse you: by talking about electricity in Gaza you always end up talking about darkness. I came up with this equation: in Gaza Electricity equals darkness. I know its very obvious but hey I came up with it anyway.

Gaza’s longtime suffering with electricity starts from a loooooooooooooong time ago. We suffered everything regarding electricity, you name it. We went through hours, days and weeks without electricity. Hard to imagine eh? Well that’s reality when your living in Gaza.

Rather than the daily power cuts that became routine to every Gazan, you have sometimes to go through days without electricity. At first you get angry but then you get used to it and learn how to live with it and around it. The longest period of power cuts we ever went through was during Israel’s war or assault on Gaza in 2008-2009 when we had to live nearly 23 days without electricity (for those who made it and stayed alive after the war ended). I think by now you are wondering why we suffer those power cuts right? Before I right the reasons below I just would like to dissect Gaza’s electricity.

Gaza’s power supply comes from three providers, which are:

A- Egypt: This provides Rafah and other areas in southern Gaza with high voltage power lines.

B- Israel: This provides some southern areas in Gaza with electric power.

C- Gaza: Gaza’s only power plant that provides some areas in Gaza city with power, Israel bombed the plant numerous times then prevented equipment from entering Gaza to fix it leading to major failures in that plant. The plant doesn’t work in full force either because some of its engines are down or because of the lack of fuel to run it.

Now, lets talk about the main reasons behind Gaza’s darkness:

1- Israel controls all Gaza’s crossings and supplies which means they control the amount of fuel that enters to operate Gaza’s only power plant which is usually a very low amount that’s if we are lucky enough and the crossings are opened. In addition to controlling the power supply they provide some areas in Gaza with, they can cut the power whenever they feel like it.

2- Hamas doesn’t want to use all the entered fuel and that can be for many scenarios talked about by Gazans, either because they are trying to save it for the bad times when no fuel is available or other scenarios alleging that Hamas saves some fuel to sell it.

3- When the PA in Ramallah decides to teach Hamas a lesson and apply pressure for the fuel not to enter Gaza.

4- Concerning Egypt’s power supply: to be honest I haven’t heard that the Egyptian supply of electric power cuts allot or usually but then again I don’t live in Rafah so I cant claim to know the whole story.

Gazans usually invest those loooooong power cuts by gathering around and having a good time, or reading books or playing cards or just enjoying the candle light. They learned how to cope with everything. Gazan students are experts in studying on candle lights because they are always studying for their exams and the power always keeps on cutting. (How does this affect their eyes and vision? Well that’s a whole other story to be told some other time).

Finally, Emancipation:

Emancipation might represent a synonym for some people but for Palestinians it represents a personal goal that they spend their lives trying to achieve. We do go through many kinds of things that we feel like we need to free ourselves from, for example:

1- We need to free ourselves from Israel.

2- We need to break Gaza’s siege.

3- We need to end the occupation in the west bank.

4- We need to free Palestine General

5- We need to end the Palestinian division.

6- We need to free ourselves from misery and suffering.

7- We need to be independent and free in all aspects whether it’s the economy, culture, education, faineances, medical issues, movement and traveling, owning our own lands, defending ourselves and raising our children in a safe healthy environment.

Emancipation might mean freedom and rights but for us it means much more.

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Gaza:If human life means nothing why should animals matter?

Dead Camel

Dead Hen

Dead Sheep

Fake Zebra

You might think I am crazy because I chose to write about animals and their rights in Gaza while humans have no right, well you might be surprised how both are closely linked together.Many have this misconception that the word “humanity” concerns humans only which is totally wrong, being human –in my opinion- means treating everything with humanity.

I have been fancying about the crazy idea of writing about animals for a while now, what brought it up is a poor little black puppy that suffers from a broken leg and came to settle down under the building I live in. This poor puppy thought he is at a safe shelter, he didn’t know he would be the target of every passing person and the target of huge wild dogs at night.

I was born and raised in Europe where people and animals have nearly equal rights (I bet you thought I was about to talk about the equality between genders here, but what I am saying is that humans and animals nearly have the same equal rights). Animals are respected and treated in such a way that animal brutality is considered a “crime”. But animals in Gaza, well that’s a different story to tell.

When I first came here I was shocked with the amount of donkeys I saw. I was used to horse carriages but never saw donkey-carts before so it was all new to me. We brought back our cat with us to Gaza so it’s clear that my family and I are animal lovers.

I wouldn’t generalize my accusation by saying all Gazans are brutal to animals, some are animal lovers too and they own one pet or more but you do witness animal abuse here not because the people love to abuse animals but because they think it is okay and it is the way to do things.

Seeing children chasing cats and dogs to throw rocks at them or pull them from their tails or perhaps smack them against something was very shocking to me, also most of the donkeys pulling those heavy carts are either ill with skin diseases or dirty or suffering from animalistic anorexia. (Animals do suffer from Anorexia too, am not making this up I googled it).

Then as I started growing up I decided to learn more and dissect those facts to see what stands beside them and you will be shocked like I was shocked when I thought about it. To make it simpler, yesterday I asked a little boy about the reason behind his torture to a helpless injured black puppy in the street. I thought the boy was 13-15 years old but later found out that he was younger but sounded and looked older. He looked at the sky and had no direct answer for me, when I pushed for an answer he started laughing and being sarcastic but when I pushed some more and acted serious he just looked down. He kept playing with a rock by passing it between his hands until he answered me back with a question : “What else do you expect from me?”.

He continued, “I see people dying every day here In Palestine, animals are killed too so why should I care? Why cant I just do like everyone else and torture that dog? So what if he dies? Who cares? Why isn’t his mother protecting him? Who will stop me?”. And the questions never ended. I asked him why he considered Gaza as Palestine when Gaza alone isn’t Palestine and his answer came in such a sarcastic way which clearly indicated he was making fun of me when he said., “isn’t Gaza Palestine?”. After asking me about the west bank he claimed he never saw it, all he saw was Gaza so why would he care about the west bank or other countries, I asked him: “Do you believe in God”, he nearly punched me while answering “FOR SURE”, I told him we don’t see god yet we believe in his existence. He went silent for 2 seconds and then started shouting, “Why do I have to keep hearing about stuff, the world, countries, dolphins, life, freedom, safety, traveling and so many stuff that we will never ever ever see or experience ha?”. Honestly, I was shocked and I didn’t know what to answer. “I saw my cousin, his wife and all of his kids and neighbors die in 2009 so why should I care about a lousy animal? People die and you care about your damn dog? I don’t care if he dies right then and there”. He was very angry and decided to leave running in the opposite direction.

How could I ask Gazan children to treat animals in a humane way when animals abroad are treated in a better way than them? How could I ask them not to torture animals when Israel tortures Palestinians everyday and they even kill animals? How could I ask them to be human when everything in their life teaches them to be tough and cruel? How could I teach them to be fair to animals when Israel and the world aren’t being fair to them?

How could you expect a child to be good to a dog when he witnessed the genocide of many people whom he loved and care for and the world did nothing to protect him or them? How could I tell him not to torture animals when Israel killed even animals during Gaza’s assault in 2008-2009?

There is an Arabic expression that says: “He who doesn’t have a certain thing, cant be a giver of this same thing”. Give us humanity and be fair to us then come tell us to be humane. Why would you care for an animal when you saw your whole family murdered by Israel for no reason? Why would care for an animal when Israel shoots animals all the time? It doesn’t make sense, does it?

But I do believe in small things and that being humane cant be partial, if you want to be a human you have to be humane towards everything. Maybe if we open the first huge animal rights organization in Gaza it can make a change or an impact. Maybe this will lead us to opening a huge humane organization in Gaza that protects humans. Maybe the animal rights organization will attract more western attention that will be linked to the protecting-humans organization which will lead for more powerful pressure. Its sad and pathetic, I know but what other choice do we have?

Why cant Gazan children experience freedom? Or humanity? Why cant they sleep feeling safe? Why cant they be free to travel and experience touching a real dolphin rather than seeing a foreign child touching this dolphin? Dont they deserve to be happy and secure like the rest of the children around the world? Why do you blame them for not being humane enough when you showed them all the reasons not to be human for? Why ask them to be more humane when you’re killing them and killing their loved ones? Why kill their humanity then ask them to revive it? Its like swamping a recovering alcoholic with ridiculous amount of booze.

Here is a video showing Gaza Zoo after Gaza war 2008-2009:

All the pictures above -except for the fake zebra- show animals killed during Gaza war 2008-2009 by Israeli gunshoots and tanks. Even animals werent safe.

Two years ago (2009), a story surfaced from Gaza that left the world laughing at us but left us crying at ourselves and the level of desperation we have reached. A zoo owner decided to paint a few donkeys with black stripes to make them look like Zebras. This man wanted to make Gazan children smile and feel that they aren’t forgotten, he wanted them to experience something new, something other children around the world take for granted. He knew he was faking Zebras but all he cared about is making those children smile after being traumatized by Israel’s war on Gaza that same year. The memories were so fresh and vivid that he wanted to help those kids move on so bad. He lied and pretended that those were real Zebras.

See The video here :

When will Gazans have equal rights with animals around the world? Ooooops sorry let me rephrase that: when will Gazans have equal rights with humans around the world? I remember reading Vittorio Arrigoni’s first blog posts from Gaza, he asked why does the world go crazy if a child trapped a cat in a box and smashed that box and care more than caring about the children of Gaza who get slaughtered in awful ways while the world watches?
Should you care about them just like you care about an injured puppy if u were a real human?

Vittorio was clever enough to come up with this title for one of his books about Gaza: “Stay Human”. He knew that humanity is missing in Gaza, not missing from people’s hearts but missing in how Gazans are treated.

May you rest in peace Vik.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Vittorio Arrigoni's killers captured in Gaza, 2 dead + 1 injured

Gaza, April 19, Hamas police forces announced Today that they surrounded a building in Nuseirat camp where they were tipped that the 3 suspects who are behind Vittorio Arrigoni’s death are hiding in.

Then they engaged in armed dispute before two gave up and were captured from which 1 got injured.

As for Abdel Rahman Breizat, the Jordanian suspect, shot himself before his capture and said that he threw a grenade on the other two suspects to kill them so they wont get captured and speak about the direction behind Vittorio's death. Al Omary was killed minutes after his capturing. the third got injured.

Ministry of Interior spread the pictures of those 3 suspects across Gaza, Gazans spread those pictures widely and vowed to turn them to justice.

Gaza is now very happy to see those murderers get captured. Justice is served.

From Gaza to Vittorio with love

Your name is carved in our souls

Gaza vigil for Vittorio

Gaza vigil for Vittorio

London Vigil for Vittorio

Dear Vik, I decided to write you a letter today to tell you what you have missed since you have passed away. Let me go back to the black Friday of your death, Gaza was very sad and devastated. We couldn’t handle losing you because it was something too big to be handled, but what I knew later on is that you were loved worldwide not only Gaza. Vik you touched so many lives here, the people who knew you, the people who heard about you, your friends, your close friends, the farmers you endangered your life to protect, the fishermen who could never forget your bravery while you were on board with them trying to protect them and document the Israeli violations, your ISM family, your folks back home and hundreds of people around the world who were inspired by you.

Vik wallah I got emails from around the world from people who were huge fans of you, they read ur books and were really looking forward to meeting you one day. The emails expressed such grief for your loss; people were upset that you left us all early before they got the chance of meeting you. The emails were from many countries around the world but you cant imagine how much Italians you touched and inspired. I kept asking myself why are those Italians so touched by you more than others, I forgot that you are Italian and I know if you were alive you wouldn’t blame me, you are more Palestinian and Gazan than many of us.

Last Saturday I went to TedxRamallah, the cab ride was aweful. On my way there I kept watching Gaza’s streets and skies, they looked different. Gaza isn’t the same without you Vik, its like something is wrong or just not right or maybe something is left undone that’s how I feel. Police in the streets felt useless for me, they did their best to release you while you’re still alive and I believe that but for me that isn’t enough. We looked useless too, I felt like we should have protected you but I don’t know what could we have done to save you but we owed you that. I want to be honest Vik, when I heard you passed away I was angry and sad and kept thinking you hated Gaza and Gazans at your last moments but then I knew I was wrong when I calmed down. You loved Gaza more than we did, you fought for Gaza just like we do if not more so you will never ever hate Gaza or Gazans no matter what.

At tedxRamallah Huwaida Arraf had a word to say, she wasn’t going to attend after hearing about your death but then she decided to come and dedicate her segment to you, they showed a video about you and your numerous good deeds for Palestine and Gaza. She was in tears, Ramallah was in tears, Gaza was in tears and everybody else watching through VC or online. But then we smiled because we remembered something nice about you and we wished you were there sitting between us. I truly felt that day that you were watching from above.

Rim Banna dedicated a song for you and Juliano Mer Khamis, you were both a huge loss for Palestine. Every speaker mentioned you, knew you and loved you.

Gaza held many vigils and funerals for you, people here showed how much they loved you and cared about you, you were an inspiration for us all. I cant believe those who call you a murderer, a terrorist and all these crappy biased untrue things. I always considered you as the HUMAN in Human Being. You were so humane that you touched numerous hearts around the world. You fought for Palestine and Gaza’s freedom viciously but you only used determination and passion as your only weapons. How could you be a terrorist and how could you be a threat to any one? I wished those who are trashing you really knew your human side or knew you before they opened their filthy mouths. I couldn’t understand how one person can be considered as an enemy to a whole country and a heavily armed army??? Well that just shows how much you were touching people and inspiring them.

Vik I have a few good news for you: They renamed Freedom Flotilla 2, its now called “Stay Human” taking after ur words and the name of one of your books on Gaza, and listen to this: your mom is coming with Stay Human to Gaza, we are so happy. We are planning to go meet her and show her how much we loved you, I truly cant wait to meet her and hug her and tell her thank you for bringing you to life and tell her how many heart you touched. Alessandra wants to come too maybe soon, she cant make it now but she told me that she would love to come to Gaza when she can.

A street will be named after you in Gaza to honor some of your most noble deeds for Palestine and Gaza. Your friend Claudia came to Rafah today to take your body back to your family in Italy. Honestly, I would rather have seen Alessandra here at Rafah today to take you back to your second home since you considered Gaza as your home too. Let me tell you a new secret, I always asked myself why do you love Gaza and Palestine that much, and always wondered if I was Palestinian and Italy went through the same would I be as passionate as you are? You are among few activists who loved Palestine and Gaza enough to die for them. You passed away here; god answered your prayers as you always prayed for dying in Gaza. You wanted to die in Gaza so bad that you never left Gaza during Israel’s war on Gaza 2008-2009. You stayed and volunteered in a hospital and took a shrapnel in your arm. You also attended most of the buffer-zone protests and kept shouting “Shaheed” there. You joined the ISM family to protect the Gazan farmers and fishermen, something I never dared to do.

Your friends here wanted your family’s permission to burry you here and I wanted that also because everyone knew you would want that too, but I wont be selfish enough to be angry at your parents for wanting your body back to burry you in Italy. We all know that your soul will never ever leave us or leave Gaza. I told everyone that I feel you are watching over us and Gaza from above like a guardian angel.

Vigils around the world are taking place to honor you, you are globally loved. You were so down to earth; you loved every cm of Gaza. You never hesitated to meet anyone here or visit any place, you always felt so safe here which is remarkable because Gaza is a war zone but you cared less for violence and more for humans. You are like no other person I have ever met, knew or heard of.

I keep thinking about stuff we can do to honor you, like the street thing or maybe a charity holding your name or anything that keeps your legacy alive. I then realized that you never asked us to pay you back for your love to Palestine because it came from within you. You considered Palestine as your country and us as your family. Your legacy represents your books, friends, love for Palestine and Gaza and the unbeatable flame of your passion towards Palestine and Gaza.

I promise you Vik we will never ever forget you, not one day will pass without 1 person here or around the world thinking of you and what you gave for Palestine and humanity. You are a role model for hundreds around the world.

Vik Gaza misses you, we miss you, Gaza loves you, we love you and you will always be carved in our souls very deep inside. May you rest in peace and rest assured that many will complete what you started. You aren’t silenced, instead your voice became louder because many people around the world are using your voice now.

I miss you.

From Gaza to you Vik with all our love.

Sunday, April 17, 2011

TedxRamallah VCed in 20 cities including Gaza

TED is a nonprofit devoted to Ideas Worth Spreading. It started out (in 1984) as a conference bringing together people from three worlds: Technology, Entertainment, Design. Since then its scope has become ever broader. Along with two annual conferences -- the TED Conference in Long Beach and Palm Springs each spring, and the TED Global conference in Edinburgh UK each summer -- TED includes the award-winning TED Talks video site, the Open Translation Project and TED Conversations, the inspiring TED Fellows and TEDx programs, and the annual TED Prize.

TED became so vital and desired that it started making small events like in Kenya and huge ones like in Berlin and the recent one in Ramallah.

TEDx = TED + x and the x= Independently Organized TED Event.

TEDxRamallah held a very successful event in Ramallah on April 16 -2011, this event was video conferenced in 20 cities across the world including here in Gaza. The preparations and organization skills were both impeccable and impressing coming from a person who attends many events here in Gaza, TedxRamallah Gaza VC was a huge, unique and successful hit. Facing little technical errors is something you cant escape in Gaza due to low electric power and internet fluidity.

TedxRamallah showcased a broad rangeof inspirational speakers, they were either Palestinian or Pro-Palestinian. Here is the complete list of speakers and hosts:

Suad Amiry: a Palestinian architect, author of "Sharon and my Mother in-Law: Ramallah Diaries" and the founder and director of RIWAQ (a non–profit organization dedicated to restoring Palestinian buildings). She spoke about her book and inspiring life experiences that made her end up as a writer when she turned 50 year old.

Jamil Abu Wardeh: believes in the community-building power of a shared laugh -- especially in Arabic. He jumpstarted the Dubai standup comedy scene and produced the Axis of Evil Middle East Comedy Tour. He hosted a number of sessions in such a sophisticated funny way.

Julia Bacha: is an award-winning filmmaker who directed and produced Budrus (2009) and co-wrote and edited Jehane Noujaim’s critically acclaimed documentary, Control Room (2004). Julia talked about Budros and the message behind it, how it changed people’s minds and inspired many around the world.

Wael Attili: is co-founder and chief creative officer of Kharabeesh Network. Kharabeesh is a storytelling house for the new Arab generation that aims to place Arab cartoons on the WEP map. Wael is the blogger behind He also founded other online business such as and Wael spoke in such an abstract way that brought us closer to him and his successful experience.

Fadi Ghandour: is the founder and CEO of Aramex, a global logistics and transportation solutions provider. Fadi is passionate about social entrepreneurship and founder of Ruwwad for Development, a private sector-led initiative engaging youth to empower disadvantaged communities. He is a Founding Partner of Maktoob, the world’s largest Arab online community. Fadi spoke about the outstanding initiative of

Alessandro Petti: is an architect and researcher based in Bethlehem. He is the Director of DAAR, an architectural research studio based in Palestine, which combines discourse, urban intervention, education, collective learning, public meetings and legal challenges as a form of political intervention and narration. He co-curated research projects on the contemporary urban condition exhibited in various biennials and museums. He spoke about his experiences and point of views.

Abedalrahman Katanany: was born in 1983 in the same building he now lives in, once a hospital named Gaza Hospital. He graduated from the Lebanese university where he studied Fine Arts. His caricatures were exhibited from 2001 to 2008 in Beirut and a number of European countries of which France, Spain, and Norway. He also exhibited his art work in Lebanon, Malaysia, and France. In 2008, Abedalrahman was awarded a Special Mention at Musee Sursock’s 28th annual “Salon D’Automne” exhibition, followed by an award for creative youth. Abed spoke about the Palestinian refugee camps from his avant garde artistic view.

Gisel Kordestani: is the director of New Business Development at Google for Latin America and the Asia-Pacific region. She joined Google in 2003, and played an early role in developing the company’s global commercial systems, strategies and partnerships. Through her studies, Gisel examined reconstruction efforts in Beirut following the Lebanese civil war. She has worked and traveled in over 70 countries. Gisel spoke about the importance of social media nowadays, how empowering it is, what impact it has and how she helped make it happen in many countries specially those which are considered as “war zones”.

Laila Atshan: is a psychosocial counselor working with Palestinians afflicted by the Israeli occupation. She is a consultant for UNICEF and other international organizations. Some of her recent assignments include training UNICEF staff working in the Darfur conflict zone and training Iraqi university professors in promotion and implementation of human rights in the context of conflict. Laila's blindness has allowed her to transcend limitations; she is an avid swimmer, horseback-rider, musician, and world traveler. Leila illustrated such a sense humor that rubbed in every listener, she ran her stories across in such an interesting way that left listeners wanting more.

Steve Sosebee: is the founder and CEO of the Palestine Children’s Relief Fund (PCRF). The PCRF is one of the most effective medical and humanitarian non-profit organizations working in the Middle East today. By founding it, Steve has made a difference to the lives of thousands of children (3,000 children just in 2008), by helping them obtain expert medical tests, evaluations and screenings, and surgery or treatment for free. He has worked and lived in Palestine since the first intifada. He is the proud father of two daughters, Deema and Jenna. Steve shared some stories of his successful attempt to help Palestinian children with the help of internationals around the world, he also shared a success story of a Palestinian little girl who had a brain tumor and is now completely cured.

DAM: is the first Palestinian hip hop crew and among the first to rap in Arabic, began working together in the late 1990s. Ten years of performing all over the world has strengthened DAM’s commitment to provide the youth of their city - Lyd - and neighboring communities with programs and opportunities that have otherwise been denied to Palestinian citizens of Israel. In addition, they have conducted workshops for young people from the West Bank to the US, Canada, and Europe. DAM ignited life into the attendees and listeners, they brought everyone to clap and sing.

Zeina Barhoum: born 1984, is a classically trained Jordanian Soprano of Palestinian origin, started singing in 1997 in the school choir. In October 2008, Zeina attended a course in voice at Accademia Di Santa Cecilia in Rome. During the course, she did private vocal training with Signora Alberta Valentini and Signor Walter Alberti. In March 2010, Zeina received a scholarship supported by The Peace and Prosperity Trust and A.M. Qattan Foundation. Zeina is currently recording for her first album. Hosted some the sessions from Amman with such a remarkable smile.

Sheerin Al Araj: was born and raised in Al Walajeh, Palestine. She studied political science at An Najah National university in Nablus. In 2008 she joined the United Nations' mission in Darfur as a human rights officer. In 2010 things developed dramatically in the village with the construction of the apartheid wall. She then took the decision to quit her job to return to Al Walajeh. Shereen managed to get the attention from everyone, she is a true inspirational Palestinian women that brought a new meaning to resistance “Sumood”.

Mohammad Khatib: is a Palestinian refugee who grew up in Arroub Camp originally from a village called Qastina. Mohammad worked as a web developer intern at Google, after which he co-founded Bazinga! a startup catalyst and a tech hub in Ramallah. He co-developed an android application in solidarity with current rise of the Egyptian people. Muhamed gave all Palestinian students hope and showed them that with studying, hard work and determination everything is possible to be achieved.

Afaf Shawwa Bibi: is a communications trainer and consultant. She has coached professionals from various industries on: presenting, sales skills, email and phone communication, business writing, teamwork, meeting management and intercultural communication. She produced and acted in “Sharon and My Mother-in-Law,” her stage adaptation of Suad Amiry’s hit book by the same name, in Beirut and Amman. Afaf was the host from Lebanon, she presented Amal Chahabi.

Huwaida Arraf: is a Palestinian lawyer with American and Israeli citizenship. In 2001 Huwaida co-founded the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), which has twice been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize.Huwaida is currently the Chairperson of the Free Gaza Movement. Since August 2008, she has led 5 successful sea voyages to the Gaza Strip. She was one of the primary organizers of the Gaza Freedom Flotilla in May 2010. Huwaida payed a tribute to Vittorio Arrigoni, the ISM volunteer and International journalist who was kidnapped and killed in Gaza 2 days ago. Huwaida also showed a great deal of strength when she continued hosting sessions with a huge smile.

Sam Bahour: is specialized in business development with a niche focus on the information technology sector and start-ups. Sam was instrumental in the establishment of the Palestine Telecommunications Company and the PLAZA Shopping Center and until recently served as a Board of Trustees member at Birzeit University. He writes frequently on Palestinian affairs and is is co-editor of HOMELAND: Oral History of Palestine and Palestinians. He blogs at Sam shared his experience of moving from USA to his homeland and how the occupation gave him a hard time for choosing to go back to his home in Al-Bereh.

Amal Chahabi: is a Palestinian refugee born in Ain el Helwe camp in 1961. Amal is currently heading the the Amal Center for the elderly in Ain el Helwe refugee camp along with her active role in the women’s anti-abuse program lead by the Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA). Amal tells her marking story of her detention during the Israeli invasion of south Lebanon in 1982 in Danah Abu Rahmeh’s documentary “Kingdom or Women”. Amal shared her story of resisting for her country in Lebanon, how she got imprisoned, how her life changed after prison and the truly inspiring story of her disabled son who went from committing suicide to an athletic icon in Lebanon.

Adam Shapiro: is a documentary filmmaker, human rights defender and Palestinian rights activist. His last film was a documentary series on Palestinians around the world called “Chronicles of a Refugee”. His current film is about the occupied Jolan. Adam was a co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement in Palestine and led a solidarity delegation to Lebanon during the 2006 War.

Aroub Soubh: studied Fine Arts and worked in media with a special focus on children and youth. She created, produced and presented the TV program “Waqet Al Farah” for which she won the Golden Award for Best Children’s Program at the Cairo Radio and Television Festival in 1997. Aroub is now part of a team of experts realizing the first independent Jordanian TV channel.

Munir Fasheh: studied and taught math for many years; got his doctorate from Harvard in education and worked in Birzeit University. During the first Palestinian intifada (late 1980s), he left academia and established Tamer Institute for Community Education, which revolved around protecting and providing “learning environments”. In 1997, he established the Arab Education Forum within Harvard University’s Center for Middle Eastern Studies. Munir talked about the instituted system, Instituted education and how life’s knowledge can be sometimes more beneficial than MB degress.

Khaled Al Sabawi: is the first certified Geothermal Engineer in the Middle East. He is the Founder and President of MENA Geothermal, a Palestinian green energy business. MENA Geothermal was awarded the National Energy Globe Award in 2008 and is currently installing the largest geothermal system in the Middle East, in Jordan. Khaled was the first to bring the Geothermal Green system to Palestine, successful systems have been already implemented in the west bank.

Rim Banna: is a Palestinian singer, lyricist and composer, born in Nazareth in The Galilee. Rim studied music and singing in the High Institute for Music “GNESINS” in Moscow (USSR), and specialized in modern singing and conducting singing ensembles. She works on composing music and participates in different Palestinian, regional and International concerts and festivals, where she represents the Palestinian voice and the Palestinian song. Rim started by saluting everyone even those listening to her in Gaza which caused a very loud applause, Rim sang “Ya Leil ma atwalak” as a tribute to Juliano Mer Khamis (Jenin Freedom Theatre founder) and vittorio Arrigoni (ISM volunteer in Gaza and an international journalist).

Raja Shehade: is by profession a lawyer who founded Al Haq (Law in the Service of Man), a non-partisan, West Bank affiliate of the International Commission of Jurists. In 2008 he was awarded the prestigious Orwell Prize for his acclaimed book Palestinian Walks. The book describes over two decades of turmoil and change in the Middle East, steered via the history-soaked landscape of Palestine. His latest book is “A Rift in Time, Travels with my Ottoman Uncle “. Raja spoke about law and how he built Al Haq center and then followed his passion to writing.

Mark Gonzales: Poet. Scholar. Lover of Life. Mark Gonzales is an HBO Def Poet with a Master’s in Education, a Mexican and a Muslim, a Khalil Gibran meets Pablo Neruda in a lyrical break dance cypher. He transcends citizenship identity to break borders and wage beauty across continents through culture. He is respected internationally for his creative approaches to suicide prevention, human rights and human development via performance, photojournalism, and narrative therapy. Mark’s unconventional art and way of expressing his poetry caught the attention of all listeners, he got a loud applause too.

Alice Walker: is world renown for her fiction, poetry, essays, and human rights activism. Her fiction, in particular her novels, have established her as a canonical figure in American letters, as well as a major figure in what scholars term the renaissance in African American women’s writings of the 1970s. In 1982 Alice published The Color Purple, now a classic of American literature, for which she was awarded the 1983 Pulitzer Prize for Fiction - the first African American woman writer to receive this award. Alice shed a light on her visits to Palestine (West Bank and Gaza), how she is constantly interrogated when she applies to enter the west bank and her thoughts of supporting Palestine.

Saleh Abdel Jawad: is Dean of Faculty of Law and Public administration at Birzeit University. Political Science Associate Professor at Political Science department where he has been teaching since 1982. He received his Ph.D. from the University of Paris-X (Nanterre) in 1986. Saleh is co-founder with Samia Botmeh of Shat-ha hiking group since February 2006. Saleh took us on a journey through Jordan valley and the west bank reading from his personal memoir.

Mohamed El Dahshan: is an economist and writer. Mohamed has maintained his blog as (semi-)anonymous until the end of the January 25th 2011 revolution in Egypt, in which he took part from day one. He has live-reported the revolution for social and traditional media. Mohammed spoke about the social network and its major role in Egypt’s revolt, he thanked the Palestinians for participating and helping Egyptians get the info across and shared some personal photos of tahrir revolution.

The event was long but Gazans were far from tired, instead they were asking for more. We were inspired and we dared to be ambitious enough to dream of one day hosting TedxGaza and video conference it to reach Ramallah and other cities of the world. It was such a rich and informative event that nourished the Gazan intellectuals who attended it.

Check TED intl. website here:

If you missed the livestream of today’s show, you can watch it online here:

Friday, April 15, 2011

GoodBye Vittorio Arrigoni, killed in Gaza 15\4\2011

We Will never forget you, RIP.

Vittorio Arrigoni,36, Italian ISM volunteer in Gaza plus a respectable journalist who always made his best to shed a light on Gaza, was kidnapped yesterday by an “unknown Group”. The group threatened to kill him if Hamas doesn’t respond to their demand: which is to release one of their prisoners in Hamas jails. They gave Hamas 30 hours starting from 11am from 14\4\2011.

At 3 30am 15\4\2011 Reuters News Flash on twitter reported Vittorio’s death, the source was unnamed Hamas source. Then tweets and rumors started asking about the credibility of this news, some started denying while others were confirming. At 4 am Vittorio Arrigoni’s death was confirmed by Hamas officials.

Ministry of Interior, Gaza, issued a press release saying that they immediately moved to search for him once they got the news of his abduction; they did their best until they reached 1 suspect who led them to the other suspects and the place where Vittorio was held in. They entered and found Vittorio already dead. They arrested two suspects and doubt that more accomplices may be involved. The press release also referred that the crime came to shake Gaza’s image and scare international activists away specially after the news of the preparations for a second freedom flotilla. The press release pointed out that the abductors wanted him dead because they killed him after a short while of his abduction. The Ministry of interior promised to follow all the murders, prosecute them and punish them.

The press release of the interior ministry in Gaza didn’t mention more info, no mentioning of the where and when he was abducted, why he was abducted and by whom.

On the other hand, France 24 offered more details –which I cant confirm or deny – about Vittorio’s death and abduction process without mentioning the source behind these info:

The Italian was killed by suffocation and his body was found in a street of the city of Gaza," a spokesman for the Islamist movement which controls the Gaza Strip told AFP.

Two suspected kidnappers were arrested and security officials are looking for accomplices.

Foreign aid workers in the enclave earlier named the man as Vittorio Arrigoni and said he was an activist with a pro-Palestinian group called the International Solidarity Movement (ISM), who was also working as a journalist and writer.

Vittorio was Italian by birth but his dedication to Palestine and Gaza made him no less Palestinian than any other Palestinian, he came to Gaza many times and live here for a while. He endangered his life numerous times while working as a volunteer with the ISM (International Solidarity Movement) in Gaza when he was trying to protect farmers and fisherman, in addition to his participation in all buffer-zone protests.

Vittorio meant allot for Palestinians, Gazans and his friend everywhere. He is a huge loss for us all, may he rest in peace.

We will never forget you Vik.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

NEW UPDATES on Vittorio Arrigoni's abduction in Gaza

According to PalToday Magazine, Italian Foreign Affairs Office declared the loss of communication with one of their citizens in Gaza without mentioning names of confirming that its Vittorio, but its obvious in the Youtube Video shared earlier that its him.

Ansar Al Sunah "Salafi" Group in Gaza, declared their responsibility of Vittorio's abduction and said they will release a press release soon. According to PalToday Magazine.

Vittorio Arrigoni is 36 years old, Italian ISM worker in Gaza.

Join Vittorio's support group on Facebook:

Sign this petition asking for his immediate release and share it :

Gazans will move to Al Jundi Sq. tomorrow at 4 pm in Gaza to protest and ask for his immediate release, join the facebook event:!/event.php?eid=218681814813064

Vittorio Arrigoni, ISM worker, Kidnapped in Gaza

Vittorio Arrigoni, 36, ISM volunteer in Gaza, was kidnapped earlier today in Gaza city. Later, a youtube video surfaced showing Vittotio blind folded and beaten up.

Salafi Jehadis claimed the responsibility of kidnapping and abducting him asking Hamas government in Gaza to release Abu Al Waleed Al Maqdisi in 30 hours starting from 11 am today 14\4\2011 or else they would kill him.

All jornos in Gaza, Vittorios friends here and his friends everywhere ask Hamas to immediately intervene and release Vittiorio who worked hard to help Gaza for a long time.

Please lets all pray for his safe release.

The youtube vid: