Friday, February 24, 2006

Anything but ordinary!

"This agreement is intended to give the Palestinian people freedom to move, to trade, to live ordinary lives" said Condoleezza Rice confidently, of an agreement she helped broker with much fanfare following the now comatose Ariel Sharon's disengagement from Gaza.

Now, maybe it's just me, but six months on, I wouldn’t say my life is ”ordinary” by any stretch of the imagination. In fact, I think it's quite outside the entire realm of the ordinary.

Just ask my Yousuf. He often mistakes Israeli helicopter gunships for birds, dances to the revolutionary songs blasted during political rallies marching by our house, and has learned to distinguish between Israeli tank shell fire and machine-gun banter.

When not making our own yoghurt at home due to a shortage in the market, we scavenge Gaza City to find him Size 5 Pampers because Israel has closed down the al-Mintar crossing, as it has done again this week, all while living in a disengaged-but-still-occupied-territory whose parliament must convene via videoconference.

As one Palestinian woman observing the new democratically elected Hamas-led parliament convene last week noted upon being asking about her thoughts of possible Israeli sanctions “our lives are incomprehensible”.

To add insult to injury, I along with the vast majority of Gazans, cannot even travel to the other half of my non-state-entity.

But I guess I can see how I can be considered a security threat, what with Yousuf's chili incident.

And hey, we've always got Rafah Crossing right? I mean after all, "the battle's done, and we kind of won", and to quote the flag from the Chairman Arafat Shop down the street, we now have a "Free Gaza" and of course, control of the the only outlet for Gaza's 1.5 million Palestinians.

Unfortunately, control over the crossing as brokered by Condoleezza after the much-lauded unilateral Disengagement, and the end of Israel's occupation of Gaza, is completely fictitious.

My own friends and family can't even visit me here in my lonely little open-air prison.

Two American peace activist friends of mine (one a Harvard colleague. Who knew they could graduate so many security threats?) were denied entry by Israel to Gaza last week via a supposedly Palestinian-controlled Rafah Crossing.

The reasons cited: "affiliations with groups that are considered terrorist
groups." Pat helped Palestinian villagers plant olive trees and non-violently resist
the encroachment of the Israeli wall on their land in the West Bank last
year. He was coming to Gaza to volunteer with a local agricultural NGO.

Two days earlier, two French aid workers coming to set up a sister city project in Beit Hanun were likewise denied, for the same blanket reason. And the examples go on.

All this is leaving the case of my own husband aside, who, along with 50, 000 other Palestinians, because he lacks an Israeli-issued ID card and family-reunion permit, and is a refugee, cannot visit me in Gaza, except perhaps under extenuating circumstances that may render him "a humanitarian case", according to officials I spoke to. Even then, there is always the chance that he may be denied based on "security reasons"-after all, his son handled a chemical weapon.

Ordinary? Hardly, Ms. Rice.

As one Palestinian official put it to me, "it's all a grand illusion, and anyone who says or believes otherwise-from Abu Mazen down, is lying."


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your blog is so informative. We receive such minor amounts of news in the US media (I live in NC) about the Palestinian crisis. Most is about Israel.

I've almost finished reading "The Other Side of Israel-My Journey Across the Jewish/Arab Divide" by Susan Nathan. She writes as eloquently as you do. If you've read this book, what are your thoughts? Can you suggest any other books that will further my understanding?

Please keep writing...there are those of us reading and learning.


3:35 AM  
Blogger الفلسطينية said...

thanks laila for the post. you are right- this life is not ordinairy- not for you, not for your son, not for your husband, not for anybody. i know i speak for many of us that are outside gaza feel frustrated despite all our activism because we feel like we can't fix the situation in an instant and make your life ordinairy. inshallah one day all our lives will be ordinairy and yousef will no longer know the difference b2n tank shell fire and machine the meantime stay safe and take care:)

6:44 AM  
Blogger The Rambling Taoist said...

We Americans often complain about various injustices, but they seem to pale in comparison to what you must live under on a daily basis. I appreciate the efforts you have undertaken to keep this blog going day after to day, to provide the world with a glimpse of what life is like under occupation. It offers a sobering reality.

8:39 AM  
Blogger Laila said...

Dear Karen:
Where in NC do you live? I did studied there (duke) from for four years in 1996. My husband is moving down there in JUne for a medical residency (back to Durham). We should meet if I come-

9:27 AM  
Blogger Robert said...

First, you must denounce the use of chili. And second, your earlier post about potty training success now seems a but premature. However; are you able to receive mail packages from the US? If so, post an address and I'll send you size 5 pampers.

4:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


Wonderful to hear of a NC connection with your family! My son is a freshman at UNC-Chapel Hill, so I am in Durham frequently.

All the best to your husband as he begins his residency. And, yes, if you come here, I would love to meet you.


6:01 PM  
Blogger solitarioh2005 said...

The paper cups and other stories

I am going to be a bit contrarian ( for a change lol).

Actually events in the middle east are outside the realm of the ordinary but it is not always israeli fault.

People complain about Israel but it is also true the Arab world has been waging a economic boycott to Israel for 50 years.

The situation that does exist between israel and the palestinians it is not just Israel fault.

Look at what does happen when some Zionists paper cups are discovered in Saudi Arabia

Made-in-Israel Paper Cups Used in Local Hospital
Samir Al-Saadi, Arab News

JEDDAH, 22 August 2005 — Paper cups with Hebrew writing disturbed both employees and medical staff at King Khaled National Guard Hospital on Saturday. The catering subcontractor for the hospital coffee shops began using them on Saturday after their usual supply ran out.

“We were shocked and angry,” said an employee. “How can Israeli products be allowed and how did they enter this hospital?” he asked.

The Filipino employee who works in the Al-Musbah coffee shop asked: “Why is everybody mad about the cups?” He was told: “Because they are made in Israel!”

According to hospital officials, the matter is being investigated and action will be taken.

Saleh Al-Mazroi, executive director for operations at KKNGH, said the matter had been referred to authorities in Riyadh and was being dealt with.

On the bottom of the paper cup was a website address and a telephone number. When Arab News looked at the website — — it was found to be in Hebrew though there were a few words of English: “Israeli disposable paper, plastic and foam dinnerware supplier for restaurants.”

Arab News contacted Ibrahim Al-Musbah, manager and owner, who said, “I thank you for informing me. I will look into it personally and the offending articles will be disposed of.” He added that the company has a supplier in the Kingdom from whom they buy restaurant supplies. According to Al-Musbah, the supplier might be unaware of the problem.

Al-Musbah later contacted Arab News and said that the paper cups had come to his company by mistake. The cups were in a cardboard box that looked exactly like the ones his company normally receives and so the employees did not notice any difference. Al-Musbah added that the supplier was named “Jeelani” and that he would supply Arab News with his contact numbers today.

The paper cups were quickly withdrawn from use but might there not be other, less obvious, Israeli products in our shops and marketplaces?

In short :

Israel is surrounded by hostile countries.
Dozens of suicide bombers did explode in Israels towns.

It is not only Israels fault.

Just a few months Ago the Iranian President said Israel should be erased from the map.

The problem is not just Israel. The problem is the lack of willingness of the human beings to make peace

Middle East events are definetelly not in the realm of the ordinary

Click here to see a picture

6:52 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Please don't start wearing Niqab. It is creepy.

I love your blog. It makes the newspaper stories so much more real.

4:21 AM  
Blogger umkahlil said...

"The problem is not just Israel. The problem is the lack of willingness of the human beings to make peace."

The core of the problem is Israel's refusal to implement UN Resolution 194, Section 11:

Resolves that the refugees wishing to return to their homes and live at peace with their neighbours should be permitted to do so at the earliest practicable date, and that compensation should be paid for the property of those choosing not to return and for loss of or damage to property which, under principles of international law or in equity, should be made good by the Governments or authorities responsible;

and Article 13, Section 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states:

Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

9:57 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, but what of those key words " live in peace with their neighbors"?

With the Palestinian's track record for terrorism, how on earth can we take a chance on letting them move here en masse? Even if most Palestinians are not terrorists, there are plenty who would gladly keep murdering us, even after moving into Israel.

And please don't tell me the suicide bombings and other murders are a legitimate response to the occupation that would end as soon as the occupation ends. We got out of Gaza and the rockets are still being fired from there into Israel.

Plus, how can even an occupation justify the shooting at point-blank range of a pregnant woman and her little children in a car? Or the coldblooded lynching of 2 soldiers who took a wrong turn into Ramallah? Or the murder by shooting of a baby sitting in her stroller in Hebron? Or the hundreds of other heinous murders your people have committed, with suicide belts, guns, or their own bare hands?

If the shoe was on the other foot, would YOU want a nation who delights in such wanton murder to become citizens of your country?

1:51 PM  
Blogger l35l3y said...


Well, I don't support terrorism or bullying of any sort. I caught sight of this blog in the Guardian newspaper in England so you are definitely getting some press, Laila. You provide a useful insight into the world you live in and allow others to compare it to their lives.

I don't agree with terrorism but then how many advances in human terms have been made without the use of force by the minor party? British sufragettes killed themselves at horse races and by going on hunger strike. British women might not have the vote now if it wasn't for that action.

England has been under threat of terrorist activity all through my childhood. I can remember bomb scares at school, the Guildford and Birmingham bombings, the horses being blown up in Hyde Park and many other such atrocities. Some British people were annoyed at the US's funding of Irish activities at that time. Blowing people up is not the province only of annoyed Palestinians, nor no doubt is killing pregnant women and children. I'm sure the Mossad and Israeli army are no saints in this respect either.

I think the suicide aspect of it makes no difference, bar the martyrdom of a person for a cause. The media seems to have made so much more about suicide bombings as opposed to an ordinary bombing, they are so much more difficult to detect and stop. No they aren't. The real issue is that there are people out there who are so fed up with their lot, so downtrodden, at risk of being exploited by other power-crazed freaks they'll blow themselves up in preference to continuing and are prepared to take some of the people who they may have been led to think caused this with them.

The end result is the same; ordinary people get caught up in a repetitive cycle of violence which itself is condoned and fed by *all* power mongerers.

I didn't know that Israeli goods weren't welcome in Arab countries but then I can't say I'm surprised by that news given the way the two parties go hammer and tongs at each other. What would you expect any self-respecting Arab country to do?

3:52 PM  
Blogger Kevin said...

Though I was brought up in the US, my Irish parents and political upbringing was very supportive of the Palestinian cause. I don't want to make too many comments until I have read through your blog further.

You are an educated and intelligent person. What would a reasonable negotiated solution look like in your view between the Palestinians and the Israelis look like? Realistic?

In Northern Ireland, 15 years ago if you had discussed the disarmament of the IRA under any other conditions except total victory, you would have been a traitor to the Irish Republicans. The Irish Republicans see that their aim is best achieved by politics.

Can the Palestinians make such a compromise as a group? Under what conditions?

4:05 PM  
Blogger Moses said...

Frustrating news about internationals not being allowed into Rafah.

I got an email from a friend recently who was denied entry, presumably also for her previous peacemaking.

The Israelis have a veto on who gets in?

Some freedom. Some withdrawal.

About 194: In any other context we'd hear leaders and others championing "one person, one vote"

Like in apartheid-era South Africa

7:49 PM  
Blogger Neil Williams said...

This is the sort of help the USA gives to Israel ready for a possible attack on Iran:

Israel: Today's announcement came days after Israel said it was buying from the United States about 5,000 smart bombs, including 500 one-ton bunker-busters that can destroy 6-feet-thick concrete walls.
Analysts say such bombs could be used to destroy Iran's nuclear reactor before it goes online. In 1981, Israel bombed Iraq's nuclear reactor before it went "hot." Iran may be only weeks or months away from activating the reactor. The 2,000 pound "bunker-buster" bombs are part of one of the largest weapons deals between Israel and the U.S. in years. The bombs include airborne versions, guidance units, training bombs and detonators. They are guided by an existing Israeli satellite used by the military. In addition to the 500 one-ton bunker-busters, the purchase includes 2,500 other one-ton bombs, 1,000 half-ton bombs and 500 quarter-ton bombs. Funding will come from U.S. military aid to Israel.
And this occurs time after time after time - The US bankrolls the Israeli military machine. So now you now where the real "terrorism" is coming from.

And what do the Palestinian people have to fight with to gain back a small slice of their land that was taken away by the UK and then supported by the US when the state of Israel was set up? - not a lot (see this video history link: People who have nothing will resort to tactics that are no less barbaric than tanks, missiles and assinations carried out by the Zionist in Israel (the many 1000's of progressive Jewish people must and need to speak out against these ultra right wing nationalists who control the Israeli state).

Every nation and people have the right to resist its destruction by another state and this is what the Palestinian people have bravely been doing.

Lets be clear the suicide bombs on civilians do not help this political struggle and only indicates a level of frustration by some factions with Palestine. It is murder (and so is the killings by the Israeli army of civilians day in, day out) and a subsitute for politics, a "quick fix" and always sets the movement for a free Palestine back.

Peace will only come when Israel implements the UN resolutions for a free Palestine with control over its own government and country. And this my friemds can only happen when the Jewish people stand up to their own Zionist nationalist elements and work for a progressive, democratic government that works with the Palestinian Government for peace and justice for all, weather Jew or Muslim, weather from Israel or Palestine.


Nei Williams
Respect Blog UK.

10:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Elizabeth, these soldiers were not killed in battle. There was no skirmish during which they lost their lives. Though tragic, this would be understandable.

No, these were 2 reserve soldiers who I believe were off-duty at the time, driving, and took a wrong turn into Ramallah.

The residents grabbed these men, killed them with their bare hands, then dumped their bodies from an upper story window. These animals then proudly displayed their bloody hands for the crowds to see. Everyone cheered at the sight of those hands smeared with the blood of those soldiers.

I call that lynching.

The Italian news agency which filmed this monstrous display didn't get a chance to distribute it all over the world, as the Palestinian Authority forced them to hand the film over.

And to the other comment on suicide bombers which said:

"The real issue is that there are people out there who are so fed up with their lot, so downtrodden, at risk of being exploited by other power-crazed freaks they'll blow themselves up in preference to continuing and are prepared to take some of the people who they may have been led to think caused this with them."

My, that's a long sentence. Not too clear, but I think I got the idea.

How nice that you excuse these animals who murder innocent people. How interesting that you think babies, the elderly, schoolchildren, etc. are those "who they may have been led to think caused this" and are therefore fair game.

The lengths people will go to to excuse Palestinian suicide bombers is unbelievable. I can't imagine anyone condoning such horrific acts of murder, no matter what the circumstances are.

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"How nice that you excuse these animals who murder innocent people. How interesting that you think babies, the elderly, schoolchildren, etc. are those "who they may have been led to think caused this" and are therefore fair game."

And how nice of YOU to excuse the animals who murder innocent people. How interesting that you think Palestinian babies, the elderly, schoolchildren, etc. are fair game because of the actions of other people who happen to have the same nationality.

Don't you even realize that you're doing EXACTLY the same thing that you condemn others for?

As they say, there are none so blind as those who will not see.

9:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Of course!! what do you expect!! The Palestinians are Israel's Red Indians!! Israelis are the modern day settlers and might makes right... Just as in the early days of colonization of the North American continent the Palestinians, like the native americans are just supposed to sit tidily in their houses and alloted areas until its their turn to be kicked out!! If they dare fight back they are just animals that need to be pushed out faster or be bombed to kingdom come!! Its too bad the sane citisens of Israel seem to be so quiet and nuts like MJ, who WOULDN"T HAVE the GUTS to try to live under the conditions the Israeli government has forced on palestinians for all these years, are so damn loud!!
Soldiers... getting lost paleeeese!! I felt for their families when I saw the reports that they were killed no one should die like that not even an Israeli soldier, but don't insult my intelligence by claiming they were REALLY lost...

10:41 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Murder is wrong when anyone does it. Palestinian, Israeli, Muslim, Jew, atheist or Hindu -- call it murder or call it "acts of aggression." Dress it up as "martyrdom operations" or call these thugs "freedom fighters," it's still murder.

Murder is wrong. For anyone. For everyone. How hard is that?

12:51 AM  
Blogger Jono said...

You know suicide bombers always try to get into Israel to slaughter innocents and all you are concerned about is your son's diapers ?
That sounds selfish.

6:23 AM  
Blogger Jono said...

umkahlil said...

and Article 13, Section 2 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which states:

Everyone has the right to leave any country, including his own, and to return to his country.

What about the 700,000 Jews who were forced out of the Arab states in 1948, are they entitled to return home ?

6:25 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"And how nice of YOU to excuse the animals who murder innocent people. How interesting that you think Palestinian babies, the elderly, schoolchildren, etc. are fair game because of the actions of other people who happen to have the same nationality."

Forgive me, I must have missed the news report when an evil Israeli turned himself into a human bomb and walked onto a bus or restaurant, with the aim of killing as many people as possible. Or when the terrible Israeli hid and shot at people as they were driving on the highway.

I actually don't think Laila should be yelled at for worrying about her sons diapers. It's not her fault that the terrorists among her people force Israel to close the crossing.

I do feel for the innocent Palestinians who have to pay for the terrorists' actions. But there has been an upsurge lately in terrorists trying to get through at that crossing, so what can we do? I don't like the fact that the Palestinians are running low on supplies, but you can't ignore the fact that if the terrorism stopped today, the crossing would be opened for good.

Israel has been a state since 1948, but there were no closures before 1993, when, after Oslo, Arafat gave his people the green light to kill as many Israelis as possible.

There was no security fence until just a few years ago, when Israel could no longer withstand all the terrorist attacks. This nonviolent solution has brought the number of attacks way down.

Is the Israeli government perfect? Of course not. But I wish people would just once try and think of our side, of what we're up against.

10:45 AM  
Blogger Laila said...

MJ-save me your sympathy votes. Israel closed the crossing because it can, its called intoxication of power and ability to exercise effecive control whenever, whyever. aka: collecive punishment, not because " a terrorist forced them to". Nothing forces or excuses completely sealing off 1.5 million people from medicines, vaccines, and food. Get a grip on reality, MJ. And take a lesson from Amira Hass.

12:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amira Hass? No thank you. Perhaps some Israelis like her, but most of us are disgusted by and ashamed of her and wish she would stop writing her biased, filthy lies.

And I continue to feel sorry for you. I can't help it. I believe it when I read that the increased terrorist activity caused the crossing to be shut down. Why was it open before the threats and closed down after? If you knew that there were murderers just waiting to come in and kill you, would you allow them free access?

I am puzzled, however, that there isn't a way for the Israeli government to get food and medicines into Gaza. Even if the crossing has to be closed to most traffic, I don't understand why there can't be special convoys allowed in to provide the things you need. That bothers me, and I wish Israel would do something about this.

5:05 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I've been thinking that what another commenter on this blog said is true. That these blogs don't change anyone's minds and thatI will stick to what I think is true and so will you.

But I will say that you have made me see the Palestinians as individuals rather than a faceless, nameless group of people. And your reports about those people's suffering has made me think. No matter why Israel acts the way it does (we will never agree on the reason), I see now that something is very wrong if so many Palestinians are low on food, medicines, and other necessities. There should be a way for Israel to remedy this situation while still maintaining its security. I do not like to think that my government would let people starve or go without medicine. The more I think about this, the more it upsets me.

Perhaps someone high up in the government will see your blog and be moved to do something about this. I pray that the crossing is opened soon or that another way can be found so that the Palestinians can get the things they need and participate in the global market.

7:51 PM  

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