Thursday, December 27, 2007

Caroling against conflict diamonds

And by conflict, I mean the conflict.

Such is the latest initiative of the conscientious Adalah-NY (the Coalition for Justice in the Middle East), who adopted one of the campaigns of the Campaign for Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions against Israel in New York City. For weeks now they have been organizing regular protests against Israeli diamond and real estate mogul cum settlement financier Lev Leviev in front of his newest Jewelry store in NYC.

The group is organizing an encore performance on December 29.

Leviev, one of Israel’s wealthiest businessmen, is helping to build the Mattityahu East settlement on the lands of the village of Bil’in with partner Shaya Boymelgreen, the Zufim settlement on the lands of the village of Jayyous, and the strategic West Bank settlements of Har Homa and Maale Adumim around Jerusalem which divide the northern West Bank from the Southern West Bank.

Check out video of some of their "alternative caroling"-great stuff. More posted on their site.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

How about some Hannukah paper for that Eid gift?

Eid ul Adha was upon last week (or as we refer to it in Gaza-the meat Eid-)and this time it happened to coincide with the holiday season here in the US. So in shopping for a Eid gift for Yousuf, I had to deal with puzzled looks down south when I explain that we don't celebrate Christmas, but taken a step further, when I explain that actually it was also the Muslim Eid. I'm not trying to be facetious here, really. I'm just relaying conversations as they happened, and you be the judge.


Woman at checkout counter in toy store: "Oh what a lovely choice! Now is that a Christmas present for your son, or a birthday present...what kind of wrapping paper would you like?"

Me: "Actually, its a Eid present. Eid is a Muslim holiday. It happens to coincide with Christmas this year".

Woman: "I see. Well we have Hanukkuah paper right here!"

You get my drift (this is a true story by the way).

I had an equally enlightening conversation with our neighour's grandson, who was in the process of showing off his new bike to Yousuf.

Jacob: "What did you get for Christmas Yousuf!"

Me: "Actually, Yousuf doesn't celebrate Christmas, Jacob. He celebrates Eid."

Jacob: "Well we celebrate Christmas. and I got a cool new bike."

"Yes, I know that, Merry Christmas. Our Holiday is called Eid."

"I thought you speak Spanish"

"We speak Arabic, but that's not the point...."

"Well, i got a bike for Christmas. What did Yousuf get?"

I rest my case. I'm not asking for much here, am I? Is a simple "oh-what's Eid?" too much to expect?

I'm not sure if I should blame the schools in this case, the media, the people themselves, even the Muslim community. Maybe a little bit of each, coupled with the fact that it is just easier to ignore anything having to do with Islam here. Either way its a little startling that so few people actually have any clue about what Eid is-compared with, say, Boston, where we used to live. I even took the initiative myself in one case, and attempted to email a supermarket chain I'm very fond of (Trader Joe's) explaining that it was also Eid and suggesting they add a "Eid Mubarak!" to their flyers along with "Happy Hannukah and Merry Christmas".

The response: Thank you for contacting us. We will forward your comments to Marketing and get back to you". Needless to say, they never got back to me. But I'm still holding out hope.

Yousuf decorating cupcakes with friends this Eid.

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Thing you should never say to a very pregnant woman!

As I near the end of my pregnancy, I've taken some time to reflect... and I've come up with a list of grossly insensitive things that you (yes, YOU...husband, friend, sister, brother, random person standing next to a pregnant woman on the subway) should never say to a very pregnant woman. So future fathers, uncles, cousins...take note (and yes, several of these things have actually been said to me! And I'm pretty petite as far as full-term pregnant woman go):

1. Weren’t you wearing that yesterday? (Also see: Don’t you have anything else to wear?)
2. Wow, look at that, your belly button is popping out!
3. Wow, you’re really getting big!
4. Is something wrong with your face or is it normally that swollen?
5. Do you need help with those dishes (said unenthusiastically)?
6. Boy your house is a mess.
7. Didn’t you just go to the bathroom?
8. You think you can’t sleep now, wait till the baby arrives!

Sunday, December 02, 2007

Who's afraid of the One-State solution?

Olmert, for starters. A day after the theatrical display at Annapolis, the Israeli Prime Minister gave Haaretz a telling interview, in which he acknowledged in no uncertain terms Israel's Apartheid like nature:

"If the day comes when the two-state solution collapses, and we face a South African-style struggle for equal voting rights (also for the Palestinians in the territories), then, as soon as that happens, the State of Israel is finished."

Because heaven forbid Israel should have to face that struggle. Equal voting rights? Phshh. Why face a fight for equal voting rights when you can fight with Merkavas and F-16s; when you can sustain a decades long occupation of land, people, and resources and mask it with an empty and unrealistic call for two-states (see also his comments today: no firm timetable for peace talks, despite Annapolis) ?

His statement-similar to one he made in 2003 (back then he "shudder[ed] to think that liberal Jewish organizations that shouldered the burden of the struggle against apartheid in South Africa will lead the struggle against [Israel] ), is essentially an acknowledgment not only of the untenability (and the inequity) of the so-called two-state solution, and everything it entails (including sustaining a Jewish majority at the expense of the Palestinian population, no matter what the cost, i.e. ethnic cleansing) but also of the inevitability of a one-state solution.

Its just NOT clear to me why more media has not caught on to this stunning declaration. Maybe its easier to suspend reality for a while-a long while-in favor of an easier to digest fiction (well, easier for some people). That's one mushy piece of fiction.