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I have been reading this book for a while now. Its called “It’s easier to reach Heaven than the end of the street”

I agree it is a long name for a book.

To some the name might give a hint about the subject to others not so much. Either way to make it easier to all, the book talks about Palestine and the occupation.

Its by an Englishwoman called Emma Williams. I have not yet finished the book but I had to stop and make this comment: the paragraph in the picture contains a LIE. Falafel is not israeli dish!! All the zionist occupiers who came to Palestine prior to the Nakba did not know Falafel! This is a case of success for the occupation in which it has managed to steal yet another part of our culture and identity and claim it for itself. This is not the first time that I or any of you have heard or seen these cases of success but the main reason I took note this time is the remainder of the paragraph in which the writer acknowledges the claim of the occupiers to the originality of the dish as israeli!

As a Palestinian while reading the book I am very conscious of the language used by the writer and I realize that coming from an Englishwoman the book is rather objective but not quite. You have to focus to see the subjectivity of the writer slowly creeping in.

The book discusses the writer’s memoir in Jerusalem during the Second Intifada and while the writer stresses the fact of the occupation of the “West Bank and Gaza” she ignores to a large extent the original crime of ethnic cleansing of the Palestinians and only hints at it. The writer also stresses the grievances of the zionists regarding the “suicide bombings” to a greater degree than the horrors of daily occupation.

While reading you notice zionist complaints being written in the body of the text while the related Palestinian complaint is mentioned in the footnote.

I will not say that the book is completely biased because it is not, but I am also very aware of my feeling that it is a book that could have been a bit fairer to us as Palestinians but then again I did not expect it to be considering most of the world’s view of “Israel” as a legitimate entity while to me it will never be.

I am not sure whether I have made my point clear here but to those of you who know arabic I would recommend that at this point in time you read Mahmoud Darwish’s poem: عابرون في كلام عابر as it comes to mind when i want to say to zionists get out of our lives, our history, our culture and our Land! And leave our Falafel, our Hummos, our Mansaf, our Msakhan and our Kaffiyeh to us!

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The following quote is what Edward Said thinks no Palestinian can forget

Violence has been an extraordinarily important aspect of our lives. Whether it has been the violence of our uprooting and the destruction of our society in 1948, the violence visited on us by our enemies, the violence we have visited on others or, most horribly, the violence we have wreaked on each other.

Edward Said (1986), After the Last Sky, London: Vintage p. 5.

I believe that today this applies to all the oppressed societies in the world. Violence has become such a dominant scene in our lives it has become the norm.

It seems that even our daily struggle for a living is violent. Its a more subtle kind of violence in which we are grinding out our needs from the toughest of stones, but its a daily violence nonetheless.

I am almost certain that a bad or selective memory is a gateway to ignorance and that ignorance is something that I am literally afraid of.

I have recently noticed that I am becoming very forgetful despite my 31 years of age and that is not good on so many levels including relationships, the professional level and most importantly the intellectual level.

Therefore I have decided to write small briefs about the books I read and like. Mainly to try and preserve my memory and as a secondary benefit I would tell people about the books. I know there are many social media networks dedicated to readers like Goodreads.com, Shelfari.com or even the arabic website Abjjad.com but the problem is I really don’t feel like having one more profile on one more social network or website (the bad memory is not helping with passwords either!!!)

So Hello Everybody and welcome to the first brief of a book on my blog… conveniently the title of the book is:Hello Everybody!

The book is a narrative about the experience of the writer Joris Luyendijk, a Dutch journalist, as a Middle East correspondent for a number of dutch newspapers, radios and television channels between 1998 and 2003. It walks us through the writers own personal discovery of how distorted journalism is in the world in general and how much worse that distortion is when it comes to the Arab World (apparently Palestine is a whole different game!!).

News is determined by news agencies not correspondents or reporters, they also determine the importance of the events and hence the general direction of the media. Journalists and correspondents on the ground are mere “scorers” i.e they are there to say that they are there when an event happens to imply that they have a knowledge that a far away observer does not. The writer contends that due to the nature of the regimes in the Arab World as dictatorships the fact that the correspondent is geographically close to the event offers little advantage due to the lack of transparency, the fear factor and ignorance so imbedded in our societies and the correspondents own lack of courage to admit the absence of solid verifiable information.

The events the writer had the opportunity to cover during his stint in the region included major events such as the bombing of the Al-Shifa Pharmaceutical in Sudan, the siege on Iraq including Operation Desert Fox (1998), the death of Hafez al-Assad, the liberation of the south of Lebanon and 9-11. What the writer faced in his daily work in addition to all these events served to highlight in the writer’s mind, and later in his book one major thought:
“Good journalism in the Arab World is a contradiction in terms”

Rightly, the writer explains this further by writing a simplistic yet witty analogy: “When I went to Cairo as a correspondent, journalistic practice seemed like a set of tools you could unpack and use all over the world. But dictatorships and democracies weren’t two cars of different makes. If democracy is a car, a dictatorship is a cow or a horse. the man who turns up with a screwdriver or a soldering iron is powerless”.

The writer did not feel that he had a wrong set of tools when he moved from Egypt to Lebanon and Palestine at the start of the Second Intifada. There media was not only a tool that told the story or the event, there media was a stage on which the war was being fought. In Palestine it was a media war and Palestinians were losing.

Instead of conveying the truth of the Intifada as a struggle against the occupation the media was professionally manipulated by the israeli side using the gap available in journalism (News agency domination) to feed the media the story about a war between two sides, and our pride as arabs prevented us from playing victim and our incompetence and the nature of the structure of the Palestinian Authority as a dictatorship put the Palestinians played directly into the hands of the enemy.

In his final days as a correspondent in the Middle East Mr. Luyendijk covered the American war on Iraq. Once again he faced a skewed ability by the different parties to deal with the media much like the israeli – Palestinian case this too was managed as an Us versus Them, Good versus Bad. Only this time Hollywood was running the show and Al-Sahhaf was on the other side.

In terms of offering a solution to the problems posed in the book the writer has not done much but the courage to say that he was part of the problem and the honestly with which he has done it compensated for the shortfall in my opinion. The book is very well written and the writer was also able to draw a few smiles on my face even if most of them were born out of a bittersweet joke that cruelly reflects our sad reality. The book is also balanced on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and takes a view tolerant to the existence of the zionist entity a view I do not agree with (nothing against jews though being in Palestine). Despite that I would highly recommend the book as it represents a good account of the skewed perspective with which we are bombarded in the media.

التلة القديمة

على الطريق ما بين عمان و مثلث العارضة، اذا نظرت الى اليسار بعد مثلث “حمرة الصحن” قد تجد تلة تعلوها بيوت قديمة

واذا توقفت لتمعن النظر قد ترى حياة عند اسفل الطريق المنحدر من التلة وقد ترى راعيا يرعى اغنامه في مكان لربما استعمله اولئك الذين سبقوه

يا ترى ماذا حل بهم؟

I watched this movie last night:

Incendies (2010)
Twins journey to the Middle East to discover their family history, and fulfill their mother’s last wishes.

Incendies (IMDb)

It has been a long time since I watched such a powerful film. It is not a Hollywood movie and I have my doubts as to the American film industry’s ability to produce such a film given the recent bullshit it has been releasing.

The film is an adaptation from a play by Lebanese Canadian playwright Wajdi Mouawad and it is such a good production that leaves you wondering: how amazing this would be in the theater?!!?

Love, hate and all the emotions in between will flood your senses as you watch things unfold. In the end it leaves your mind in turmoil! It takes you on a journey that does not end with the credits of the film. It is worth every second of your time if you are willing to listen to my advice: WATCH INCENDIES!!!

P.S: to Petillante I owe you for this one!