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Friday, 21 November 2014

I am from Gaza - Maisoon


Maisoon shared her very important life story and reflections on life, forgiveness and determination that would make anyone proud to know her. Please read, reflect and share her important message. Eileen

Maisoon Bashir

I first met Maisoon on the Welcome to Gaza Convoy. She was working voluntarily as a translator with us as she has wonderful English. Maisoon spoke of her pride in her country, her language and religion and we all learned much from her regarding identity as a female living in Gaza. She talked about her family, the painful loss of her Dad and the long occupation of her family home with such feeling that we openly cried as she related so much of her personal life to many of us. She spoke of such emotion, pain and suffering with a dignity, selflessness and an ultimate positivity that I have seldom heard outside of Palestine.

Maisoon told me, at first falteringly, that because many of the people on the Convoy were talking of the deep and intense trauma of the Gazan people that this made her want to talk with me about what had happened to her family. Many of the readers will already know the context of the exit of the Israeli army and settlement of the Gazan strip. However many will not so I will briefly outline Maisoons family’s living conditions before Israeli citizens and military left the Gaza Strip in 2005.

Maisoons father and mother and her six siblings lived in a three storey house prior to 2000 when Israeli soldiers, because of its location bordering an Israeli settlement, occupied the top two floors for five years, until 2005, insisting that the family only access the ground floor. Every night from sunset to sunrise that occupation of their family home, as if it were not difficult enough, became worse as they would then be confined to one bedroom while the soldiers, with guns, either maintained guard outside the bedroom door or worse at times from within the bedroom.
“We don’t eat because you just have 5 munities what can you do in this 5 minutes!. We don’t sleep. We were like prisoners in one bedroom”.

At times Maisoon told me that her mother and father would be too anxious to sleep and so they would stand up all night in fear of anything happening to their children. On a few occasions when her mother went to the bathroom she returned to find soldiers in her bed. Intimate family life was completely disrupted for a full five years. Despite the trauma of this and the intrusion on every aspect of family life and growing up Maisoon said,
“I won’t let them ruin my future. My father always told us that fighting and anger was no solution and that we have to find a way to peace. Peace in our country and peace in our hearts”.

Maisoon explained to me that her father, a school principal who was a very peaceful man studying for his PhD, refused to move from his home despite greenhouses being destroyed, on-going occupation and refusing them freedom of movement. They had been requested by Israeli Occupation Forces to move in order that greater protection could be provided for the nearby settlement of Kfar Darom. Despite all that had happened to his family in terms of on-going humiliation, the shooting of his son in view of members of the United Nations and being shot himself Maisoon told me that her father always maintained that “punishment does not pay”. Maisoon recalls him saying to her, and to visitors to their home who questioned how he could continue to live in this occupied environment that,
“We have to devote ourselves to finding a peaceful solution so that our children can live in peace”.

Maisoon seems to have adopted her father’s philosophical position and the way that he lived as she spoke so fondly of him, of his life, of his work, and of his relationship with all of his children and his wife.
“He was a man of peace and I want to be like him. He was special and I want to be something special like him. I want to be a special star for my family and for Palestine”.
Maisoon was surprised at her father’s death. She spoke about having spoken with him before she had gone to bed that night and he had been well.

“I used to love talking with him and I miss him so much. I just couldn’t believe he had died. My Dad called me for suhoor (breakfast) and after that I went to sleep, then my sister called me to wake up but I was tired and didn’t want to get up. A few minutes later she ran in to tell me that my father had died. I couldn’t believe it. After that I took on the responsibility to be there for my mum and support her in everything that she has to do for our family. It is what I want to do. I want to support my family in every way that I can. My dreams have had to be put on hold for a while because my family is so important. My father always encouraged us to follow our dreams and I will follow them. I am following them but in a different way to the way that I thought it would be but that is ok because I want to do what is right. I want all of my family to be proud of me”

Maisoon says that she feels very different from her friends and from people her age.

“They don’t understand me. They think I am too serious and boring because I am not interested in the things that they like and the things that they do. That is because I haven’t had any practise. When I was growing up I couldn’t go out freely with friends because the soldiers ordered us to be home at sunset. They told us when to eat and when to sleep. Other families also thought that our house was too dangerous for their children to visit so I had no practise in making friends. I’m a sociable person but I have more important things to do with my life. I have my dreams and I have to make them come true. I don’t have my father around to help me so I have to make them happen myself”.
Maisoon says that being with the international convoy was a unique experience.

“For the first time in my life special after the death of my Dad, I felt that people wanted to listen to me”. “She sees that for the first time after the death of my Dad, I am happy. But she is worried that you will all let me down. We find it very hard to trust people. I am sure that you can understand that. We are afraid of being hurt. We have been hurt so much. I have tried not to feel hope for the future but you have made that very difficult because now I feel hope and I feel like I belong again. I used to feel like a fish out of water. Now you have put me back into the water and I feel like I can breathe again”.

Her family are not the only ones who have noticed. Maisoon says that her friends have commented too. They have heard a different tone in her voice.

Maisoon hope that her dreams will come true. She says that she knows that her dreams are big ones. She says that
“They are especially big for a girl who had her childhood taken away from her. From aged nine to fourteen I had soldiers in my home night and day. But I am going to make all of my experience; the family that I come from and my faith in Allah and hard work come together to make my dream come true”. I’m still a strong girl in front of all difficulties , and fighting for my Dreams. I believe that tomorrow will be better, and I always repeat the words" Keeping your Dream alive"

What is your dream Maisoon?

“I want to be a star in the sky for me also for my family. I want to be a star in the sky for Palestine, a girl that all want to hear about and follow her news. I want to be the hand offering a helping hand for anyone in this world regardless of religion, nationality and culture because in the end we are all human beings. Maybe some will see it is impossible to achieve it alone, but I’m sure that there are many people like me who share the same Dream, so I will never be alone, and our message, the message of peace will be realized!

Having spent time with Maisoon and experienced her generosity of spirit and time, her knowledge, professionalism and dedication to all that she does and her love and pride in her family, her religion and her country, despite all that she has endured at a young age, it is clear that Maisoon has already achieved her dream in so many ways.
But I know that there is more to come.

Thank you for sharing your very important life story with me Maisoon
Eileen

Thursday, 13 November 2014

Memories of war..!! by Maisoon Bashir


It is the 10th of July 2014, the third day that I am writing in my diary about the war here in Gaza, and the stories that will forever live within me. Pain running through my stomach and abdominals, an emotional pain, constantly waiting for the future with fear and worry. Despite the fear and worry, people are still determined to live and fulfill their dreams, nothing will stop us ... apart from death. For me, this has become like a series of action, which returns every year. The only difference is that there are new heroes and, sadly, new victims. It seems that the productivity of this series is increasing year after year.
The first show starts suddenly with random shelling, the thunder of the bombs, the explosions, the sound of aircrafts, the sound of ambulances, the screams of children and the cries of the mothers. Once again, the breaking news of Gaza hits the headlines, with an updated number of martyrs. This is just the beginning of the story. In every story there are thousands of tales with eyes filled with tears of pain and anguish, and fear of what has happened around us, at the same time there remains hope, strength and the willpower to exist.
As usual, my family gathers in one room thinking it is safe, the safest room in our home. Only this time the war comes in the holy month of Ramadhan, this is something that was completely not expected. We all have that one 'safe' room yet we know that nowhere IS safe. We have to expect bombing and shelling anywhere at any time and any place. This war lives up to its name good and proper.
I need to write these notes just to record them in order to share with the rest of the world. However, I do not need to record this for myself because it will remain entrenched in my heart and memory and I will never forget them. How can a person forget the permanent pain of loss inside of him? But I write to share my horrific experience with the whole world, for them, to know. Perhaps my writing will be able to wake the world up who is in a deep sleep, whilst millions weep.
I remember the fear of my mother when hearing the sound of shelling and missiles approaching more and more from our house, here the role of my mother is starting as worry and fear are increasing . My mother starts reading verses from the Koran, and make us repeat them, perhaps it could save her children, surviving the brutality of the shells, as if something would protect their children from death .. !!. Here I stand saying "don't stress me with your worry mum the worse thing can happen is to die and we will all die one day."
My younger sister frequently says "Mom do not go out of the house, my mother do not sleep away from me, mom do not leave me alone. Since the beginning of the war my sister is constantly in the smallest room of the house, thinking it’s the safest room in the house, as previously stated.
In the morning the shelling intensified and it was violent and scary ,it lead to my little sister crying and crying and squeezing my hands tightly, in a way that scared me a lot; what makes me cry is her look while she saying these words "Maisoon, do not leave my hands Let's die together!" or when she says "mmm I'm not afraid of death but I do not like to be tortured by it or I do not like to to... to stay alone in this life!" .
Imagine with me , I don’t sleep the whole night fearing that if I close my eyes, I will wake up with something I don’t like. The worst case scenario, seeing my family dead. I realize that everything is possible in a war , but the feeling of losing someone close to you is so difficult, I know that very well, because I still suffer the loss of my father (May Allah bless his soul) and I always will. Nothing can ever bring him back.
A shortage of sleep has exhausted me, and my body is exhausted by thinking too much. I often have the desire to shout loudly and say "OH, PEOPLE PLEASE STOP , THAT’S ENOUGH ( KHaaalaaas , in Arabic ), I WOULD LIKE TO SLEEP JUST ONE HOUR ". Perhaps someone will hear or pay attention.
The clock struck 3:00 at dawn , it is time for the preparation of suhoor (breakfast in Ramadan). I do it, trying to kill the desire of sleep in my eyes after a scary night ..
"Mohammed wake up, come on. Zana wake up and drink a cup of water, mom, drink water, eat something." As I fulfill the role and responsibilities of a mother who takes care of her children, you can consider this a feature of my character.
I love my family very much, I am so proud of them and I miss my siblings, who are abroad, a lot. They remain very worried and they call, call us ten times within an hour to be assured that everything is fine.
The phone is ringing, it is my brother Dr. Yazid "Are you okay. If there's anything surrounding you, DON’T go out the house!"
Then another phone-call, it is my brother Eng. Yazan "What happens, I heard there is a shelling in our city Deir al-Balah reassure me, do you have electricity, do you need anything?" and the same thing from my brothers Yousef and Zaid.
The one worried the most and in a complete state of horror is my sister Amira. She is studying medicine in Germany. You will not believe, she calls every hour or at any moment she hears news that there is bombing in Deir al-Balah "I am following News and I heard that there was bombing, I am worried a lot, please assure me, don’t hide anything from me, Are you Okay?!”
Every time my siblings call, I can't pretend that everything is fine I can’t tell them, "Yes, we're fine, me, my mother, Zana and Mohammed, do not be afraid. It has became normal to us”. Whatever Allah has written, good or bad, will be. And they themselves know that.
Birthday..
14-7 is the date of my Birthday , today is my 22nd birthday. Now, I am a girl who is twenty-two years old. It’s a nice feeling to grow a year, whilst your dreams and ambitions grow with you. Twenty two years - a dream growing up with me since my childhood is to be a bright star in the sky, to raise the voice of truth, to be the voice of poor people, the voice of my beloved country Palestine. For Twenty-two years I have seen my people suffering from injustice.
I was planning to celebrate my twenty-second birthday , because I thought it would be special this time. Especially after I graduated from University. I finished one stage of my life and will take a new stage, and go out to realize my dreams. The first thing was a scholarship, I got it after three years of trying, without feeling bored or frustrated, a chance to travel to the United States in a scholarship to learn how to set up scientific research.
I was so happy
I was at the peak of my happiness, feeling proud that I achieved a goal or perhaps a dream. I believe that my dream is mine and I will get it. I learned this from Martin, Gandhi, my father and many great people who have played a role in shaping my character. What increased my joy, I knew that my Birthday this year will be in the same time that I'll be there. So, I'm going to see my brother, Yosef, who I have not seen for ten years and more, because of the situation in the Gaza Strip. For this reason, I thought it would be a special birthday, I was closing my eyes when I put my head on my pillow, dreaming how fantastic it will be. This is the subject, to live plunged in a fantasy world, a world in which every privacy and what I wished, exist.
Call me crazy, for it is my best feature, sometimes a person needs some madness to taste the sweetness of life. It will be the first time to be out of Gaza's boards, it is the first time to taste freedom. But the price is very expensive.
I started planning, moment by moment, how I will spend the time with my brother. And suddenly something stopped me ‘Oh! One Moment Maisoon, Do not forget that you are in Gaza, you have to realize that.’ Perhaps it is the cost of living in Gaza, to put something between a dream and reality and to expect anything to happen. But this disturbing cost does not stop me dreaming, never. I used to dream and be optimistic that the next will be better, no matter what the circumstances are; this was the sentence of executioner to hinder me to travel without knowing the reasons .. !!
And what made the thing became more complex is the war against Gaza. OH! What bad luck you have Maisoon…! All that I have planned has ended in a bad way, and nothing will happen! I lost my joy and happiness, but there’s one thing that happened, one thing didn’t change yet, it was to have a special birthday and yes I had it, but with a view of the Israeli occupation. Thanks to the Israeli occupation, particularly with these horrifying pictures of children and civilians killed and their homes destroyed. It's been made special by the sound of bombing everywhere and the electricity and water shortages. It's been made special by my younger sister who says “please let us die together!”
This was the equivalent to my birthday cake. So thank you for making my birthday so special. Thanks to the silent world, the so called callers of human rights and biggest thanks to the humanity of Israel.
Time of breakfast:
The time now is 4:00 pm, the time to start preparing the breakfast. These are the ritual of the holy month of Ramadhan, but in these circumstances, everything is different. My mother tries to choose easy meals that can be prepared quickly and we help her to make it in a short time!
Electricity is still cut off, the shelling is continuing and different voices in the area, with each hit we get out of the kitchen and wait for a bit, then we are back completing cooking the food, thus like playing a game. Now, everything is prepared and after ten minutes we will have our breakfast, but suddenly we hear heavy shelling near, close to the home. My home is near to UN school which has a huge number of families, and the parents who fear for their children’s lives. You hear the screaming of kids and the sounds of sirens from ambulances. Five people have been killed.
My mother says " hurry up, eat quickly, praying and don’t go out, OK?"
Indeed, we eat but we do not taste the food, the fear overpowers us in many ways, this is being one of them: what we eat just to give our bodies strength from exhaustion of this bad situation, and no one can bear it.
Now, the radio news station is starting in my home! Yes, don’t be surprised, every one of us is following the news. While the electricity continues to cut, the only window is by using our cell phones to be kept updated with what's happening outside. Imagine, twenty-four-seven we hear the news. It seems that my home turned completely into a news station, but in a different form.
I told you before, that everything is changing because of this the war, it doesn’t care about anything even the holy month, the religious rituals or at least the humanity! That they violated your inviolable Ramadan, sorry Ramadan!
My pen has stopped writing, because I can't bear what is happening and I can't bear the brutal war and the massacres have been committed one after the other, without any movement of the world. And also, because the stories and events, how much I tried to narrate is incomparable to what is actually happening. The events are indescriptibles. The ink from my pen has finished and I don’t have completed my story.
Will the war end? I do not know. But I know, that it has planted pain and pain in the hearts of people, especially in those children who have lost their families, their ties and their dreams but their eyes are still shining .. ! We are waiting and we are still waiting for the real victory, for freedom, shining it’s sun in the land of a long occupation. Maybe it is our destiny to die, if not in this war, it may be in the coming days or perhaps, will be like those who drowned in the sea, seeking to save their lives. Or luckier, to be the survivors on a beach, where we can find the new world.
Regards
Maisoon

you can contact her here: https://www.facebook.com/moon.non

Tuesday, 28 October 2014

women in black square


בעקבות האירועים שקרו לאחרונה בירושלים
חשוב להגביר את נוכחות נשים בשחור בכיכר!
אנא עשו ממיטב יכולתכם והצטרפו למשמרת מחר
יום שישי 24.10.2014 בין השעות 13.00 - 14.00
בכיכר פריז

Following the events that occurred recently in Jerusalem is important to increase the presence of women in black square!
Please do your best and join shift tomorrow Friday, 24.10.2014 between 13.00-14.00 in Paris

Saturday, 11 October 2014

Palestine before 1948 - video


Friday, 10 October 2014

Israel’s blood diamonds

http://electronicintifada.net/content/israels-blood-diamonds/8754

Israel’s blood diamonds

29 March 2010
Every year, consumers the world over unwittingly spend billions of dollars on diamonds crafted in Israel, thereby helping to fund one of the world’s most protracted and contentious conflicts. Most people are unaware that Israel is one of the world’s leading producers of cut and polished diamonds. As diamonds are normally not hallmarked, consumers cannot distinguish an Israeli diamond from one crafted in India, Belgium, South Africa or elsewhere. The global diamond industry and aligned governments, including the EU, have hoodwinked consumers into believing the diamond trade has been cleansed of diamonds that fund human rights abuses, but the facts are startlingly different.
Israel — which stands accused of war crimes, crimes against humanity, ethnic cleansing, genocide, the crime of apartheid, extrajudicial executions within and outside the territory it controls and persistent serious breaches of the Geneva Conventions — is the world’s leading exporter of diamonds (see Figure 1 below). Israeli companies import rough diamonds for cutting and polishing, adding significantly to their value, and export them globally via distribution hubs in Antwerp, London, Hong Kong, New York and Mumbai.

In July 2000, the global diamond industry set up the World Diamond Council (WDC). The WDC was established as a response to public outrage about the use of diamonds to fund bloody conflicts in western African countries and it includes representatives from the World Federation of Diamond Bourses and the International Diamond Manufacturers Association. The council’s ultimate mandate is “the development, implementation and oversight of a tracking system for the export and import of rough diamonds to prevent the exploitation of diamonds for illicit purposes such as war and inhumane acts.” Significantly, the WDC limits its concern about human rights violations to those funded by rough diamonds only. In 2003, the WDC introduced a system of self-regulation called the Kimberly Process Certification Scheme to stem the flow of “conflict” or “blood diamonds.” In keeping with the limited concerns of the WDC the UN-mandated Kimberly Process adopted a very narrow definition of what constitutes a conflict or blood diamond: “rough diamonds used by rebel movements or their allies to finance conflict aimed at undermining legitimate governments.” As a result of this tight ring-fencing, the much more lucrative trade in cut and polished diamonds avoids the human rights strictures applying to rough diamonds, provided the industry uses only Kimberly Process-compliant rough diamonds. Regardless of the human rights violations and atrocities funded by revenue from the Israeli diamond industry, governments and other vested interests party to the Kimberly Process facilitate the unrestricted access of diamonds crafted in Israel to the multi-billion dollar global diamond market.
The WDC created a web site called Diamondfacts.org to promote the virtues of the industry. It lists 24 facts extolling the benefits of the diamond industry — primarily to India and countries in Africa. Some of the benefits include that an estimated 5 million people have access to appropriate healthcare globally thanks to revenues from diamonds; diamond revenues enable every child in Botswana to receive free education up to the age of 13; the revenue from diamonds is instrumental in the fight against the HIV/AIDS pandemic.
While these facts are laudable the list makes no mention of other less savory facts, including the fact that revenue from the diamond industry in Israel helps fund atrocities and human rights abuses such as the killing, maiming and terrorizing of thousands of innocent men, women and children in Palestine and Lebanon — the sort of atrocities the Kimberly Process is supposed to prevent being funded by revenue from diamonds.
The list of “Diamond Facts” paints a one-sided, positive image of the industry. It implies that the greatest benefits are being felt in some of the poorest nations of the world. But Israel, one of the wealthiest nations, towers over all other countries in terms of the net benefit derived from the diamond industry. The added value to the Israeli economy from the export of diamonds was nearly $10 billion in 2008 (see Figure 2 below).

The WDC website is equally selective when it comes to providing information about which countries are most dependent on diamonds. It explains that Namibia, one of the minor diamond exporting countries in monetary terms, derives 40 percent (Trade Performance HS: Exports of Israel” accessed 25 March 2010) (See Figures 3 and 4). By comparison, the budget for Israel’s Ministry of Defense was $16 billion in 2008.

Revenue from the diamond industry helps fund Israel’s illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, its brutal subjugation of the Palestinian people and its international network of saboteurs, spies and assassins. None of this is alluded to in the WDC’s “Diamond Facts.” Contrary to claims by the diamond industry and jewelers that all diamonds are now conflict free, they are not. Israel’s dominant position in the industry means that diamonds crafted in Israel are interspersed globally with diamonds crafted in other countries. Consumers who purchase diamonds that are not laser-inscribed to identify where they were crafted run a significant risk of purchasing a diamond crafted in Israel, thereby helping to fund gross human rights violations. The Kimberly Process Certification Scheme strictures only apply to rough diamonds, thus allowing diamonds crafted in Israel to freely enter the market regardless of the criminal actions of the Israeli government and armed forces. The Kimberly Process is seriously flawed and is being used by the diamond industry and jewelers to pull the wool over consumers’ eyes by telling them that all diamonds are now “conflict free” without explaining the limitations and exactly what that means.
All this is hardly surprising given Israel’s dominant position in the diamond industry. Israel currently chairs the Kimberly Process. The notion of self-regulation by any industry that is intrinsically linked to the violations it purports to want to eliminate is something that neither governments nor the general public should tolerate. It is impossible for the public to have confidence in the diamond industry’s attempt to self-regulate as long as it facilitates the trade in diamonds crafted in Israel, which, if the Kimberly Process applied the same standards to all diamonds, would rightly be classified as blood diamonds and treated accordingly.
Given the failure of Western governments to hold Israel to account for numerous breaches of international law including international humanitarian law, breaches of the UN Charter, its failure to abide by more than 30 binding UN Security Council Resolutions, breaches of EU Agreements and disregard for the 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice, they are unlikely to insist that the diamond industry broaden the definition of a conflict diamond to include cut and polished diamonds that fund human rights abuses.
Consumers should have the right to know where a diamond was crafted and consequently the right to choose an Israel-free diamond. These rights are not available to consumers today.
In 2005, Palestinian civil society called for an international campaign of boycott, divestment and sanctions (BDS) against Israel similar to that which helped bring an end to the apartheid regime in South Africa. The international BDS campaign has to date focused much of its boycott activities on the most easily targeted Israeli products including fruit, vegetable, cosmetics and some plastic products. Targeting these products helps to increase public awareness of Israeli crimes and to some extent satisfies the public’s desire to register disapproval of Israel’s actions. However, these products account for only a small fraction of Israel’s total manufacturing exports. Even if the boycott of these products was totally successful it would not make a significant difference to the Israeli economy or to Israel’s ability to further its expansionist goals.

The diamond industry is a major pillar of the Israeli economy (see Figure 5 above). No other developed country is so heavily dependent on a single luxury commodity and the goodwill of individual consumers globally. Anything that threatens the carefully-nurtured image of diamonds as objects of desire, romance and purity could have serious consequences for the Israel diamond industry and the country’s ability to continue funding its illegal occupation of the Palestinian territories, the construction of illegal colonies and other associated criminal activities that render it the pariah of the modern age. The international BDS campaign needs to focus global attention on the diamond trade that facilitates Israel’s ongoing crimes against the Palestinian people and its neighbors in the region.
Seán Clinton is the chairperson of the Limerick branch of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign and a former Boycott Officer on the National Committee of the Ireland Palestine Solidarity Campaign.

Thursday, 9 October 2014

Blog to End the Occupation: Confronting Challenges to Palestine Activism

Blog to End the Occupation: Confronting Challenges to Palestine Activism: The US Campaign held its 13th Annual National Organizers' Conference, The Mainstreaming of BDS & Continuing Struggle for Palestinia...

It’s time for the US to stop fuelling the conflict in Israel and Gaza

U.S. government: Stop arming Israel - amnesty international

https://campaigns.amnesty.org/campaigns/us-stop-arming-israel#3



     U.S. government: Stop arming Israel

    More civilians have been killed than fighters since the Israeli military Operation “Protective Edge” started on 8 July. Call on the U.S. government, Israel’s largest arms supplier by far, to urgently suspend arms transfers to Israel and to push for a UN arms embargo on all parties to the conflict.

    Photo: Israeli soldiers in position next to an artillery shells from an artillery unit near the Israeli border with Gaza, 21 July 2014. © European Pressphoto Agency


    MUST SEE - go to link ... and ACT please

    https://campaigns.amnesty.org/campaigns/us-stop-arming-israel#3