…and the depression that ensues.
For the past few weeks I’ve been writing the round ups for Palestinian Blogs on Global Voices. It’s not an easy job so I don’t know how Shaden (before me) managed to do it all this time. When you do these round ups it involves a lot of reading but when it comes to the actual writing itÃ¢??s quite difficult and for one main reason: it’s Palestine.
First there are not too many Palestinian bloggers living in Palestine that will give readers a glimpse in to the everyday lives of Palestinians. This is for obvious reasons.
Secondly whether it’s bloggers in or out of Palestine when it comes to blogging about Palestine my best estimate says that 90% of the news involves tragedy. It comes down to who died that week, who was shot and whose house was demolished for an Israeli settlement to be built on, et cetera.
Third, Palestine is not sovereign in the sense that it doesn’t have the normalcy of other nations. In the same region it is much easier to do round ups of Jordanian, Syrian, Egyptian and Lebanese blogs. They all have that sense of independence and people living there go about their daily lives. So bloggers in these nations (like the rest of the world) just blog about…stuff.
So when I do these round ups I really get depressed. We turn on the news, read the papers, or online sites, and Palestinian news has become passive. We can almost disregard anything happening there because it’s always the same. It always revolves around tragedy. Nothing shocks us anymore. If 10 people were killed it’s no big deal. If 3 of them were children it’s no big deal. We’ve become socially constructed or at least media jaded to the extent that we’re no longer surprised. It’s not that we don’t care; it’s just that if you hit a person everyday for a long enough period of time, they become acquiescent to the pain. Especially if it’s incremental. This means in order to jolt the system you need to introduce a new form of pain, an unfiltered form of pain, or open the flood gates.
Which is why when I do these round ups and spend an hour or two scanning through these blogs itÃ¢??s like a jolt to my system. I’m reminded of everything and anything that has to do with Palestine all at once. It is the opening of the flood gates and the pain flows into my head unfiltered and aggregated. I get to see the context, the main themes that run through all these blogs and all the news.
The point of the round ups is (or should be) to show a side of Palestine that most don’t get to see. In other words I try and get a healthy moderate dose of the “everything” that makes people say “Hey, there just as normal as us. They do the same things that we do.” But that’s just not going to happen. I try to do that every week but I fail. I am defeated by the certain realities every time. What happened this week is just a great example of that. How do you segway from the tragedy that happened at the beach to talking about music and arts?
Which is why what really gets to me is that lack of normalcy; or rather my longing for it. The round ups become a weekly reminder of why I pray to God to see a sovereign nation called Palestine that is disconnected from Israeli occupation. A nation where people don’t have to talk about illegal settlements, demolished houses, checkpoints. A nation where Palestinians can have a normal life, or at least as normal as it can possibly get in this region of ours.
This post is not about whose to blame for the lack of normalcy. There are many players involved and at the end of the day everyone gets their fair share. This me venting my frustrations about the current realities and my yearning for a whole other reality.
Will it ever happen? I hope for it but upon writing these round ups I realise this is not something I think I’ll see in my lifetime.
I totally understand you, I have quite the same feelings, I don’t blog about Palestine much often, it’s not because I don’t know much about Palestine, actuallty it’s because I know too much, everytime I want to talk about something palestinian, I can’t do it rationally, what’s going there is insane, and to talk about it you must be insane too. These feeling of opression and misery are buried deep inside my core underneath every word.
Even when there are times of peace, a few days or hours, an Israeli terrorist action will interrupt sooner or later, and the normality that started to form evaporates, the daily life that you’re talking about is simply a misery.
Thank you for sharing your reflection.
It is not all despair, though. I’ve noted a change in the way that Palestine is covered in the mainstream US papers, for the better. And I also believe that it’s positive that the largest public workers union in Canada has voted to boycott Israel as has the lecturers’ union in Britain.
I remember how things were in 1967; one could not fine anything positive written about Palestine and Palestinians so thank God for the internet and alternatives. As one of my dear friends says, one blog at a time, one letter at a time, one poem at a time, all singing for Palestine.
Nas, very touching and very true.
You know, my Palestine-related posts dropped significantly because of this. Everytime I insist on showing the cultural side of Palestine, their treasures, their traditions and all, but I find myself not capable of doing this anymore. The truth is too painful to ignore.
As Omar perfectly said: “These feeling of opression and misery are buried deep inside my core underneath every word.”
Naseem, first thank you for your endless efforts …
These obvious reasons being?
despite life in Palestine being a constant struggle, it does go on…I strongly believe that people in general love to higlight the tragedies of everyday, leaving whatever is ‘normal’ go without notice! We love dwelling on negativity, we love feeling sorry for ourselves all the time and we love expressing how our only way to deal with it is by talking about it!
Personally, when I write on my site, I don’t like my every other entry to be about the deep distress and misery that continues to drench Palestine and/or other parts of the world …I am not going to ignore it either, just like I wont ignore it from my everyday conversations with friends and family, but dwelling over and over and over again on it is supposed to accomplish what exactly? and this is what 90% of bloggers do – they dwell to the point that we’ve heard it, seen it and read it all…redundancy is very boring… nnext? If you browse through other sites such as This Week in Palestine, you will definitely see the normalcy that is lacking in the blogs that you’re browsing!
You give it its worth by making it your headline, you can discuss it, you can talk about it, cry about it, lament, feel hopeless …but is all that going to really change the ‘reality’ of what is happening? the reality as we’ve established time and time again is that Palestinians are living under constant struggle, yet at the same time they possess a great amount of endurance and continue to go to work, school, restaurants, cafes, attend weddings, concerts, movies, and yes they will still continue to go to the beach!
omar, i hear ya bro
umkhalil, yeah I can get on board with that. but even the “good” news revolves around conflict or war or the absense there of. what i’d like to see is a normalcy where we can have palestinian bloggers blogging about none of these things because they don’t exist or at least to the point where they do not dominate and engulf the entire environment.
Eman, yeah I underdstand…it’s like you want to blog about those things but the reality is so overbearing that it would seem almost insignificant or even reckless (i.e. ignoring this reality).
thank you, appreciate that.
1948, refugees, history et cetera
yeah that’s understood. but the problem is that the tragedy is so constant. for example…Amman was attacked and all we blogged about for days and days was this one incident. To the point that (as Eman was pointing out) blogging about anything else is almost ignoring it or being disrespectful of it or whatever. For Palestine that whole “it does go on” is not consistant…whatever normalcy arises after a tragedy it’s soon broken by another one following it.
Some of my response to this is in the paragraph before but to add to it briefly, it’s kind of hard to dwell on anything else. It’s like this black cloud that is constantly looming over one’s head and ignoring it to try and address other things is kind of uncomforting.
But more importantly, what I’m getting at, is that Palestine has become stereotyped…when I read that Ramallah created the biggest plate of tabbouleh I’m like ok, this piece of news is so out of the context of the general reality (that I am in part socially conditioned to believe) that is the mainstream. Palestine = Tragedy….there are variables outside this equation but they seem so out of place to what we’re used to…to the point that this piece of news feels like 1+1=3
When I was writing this particular post I was grappling with the concept of what would happen had I put that last part first and then mentioned the whole beach thing second. And for a few minutes I stared at the screen and realised it just cant be done. Part of me felt like the tragedy is what deserved to be the headling and to do it any other way would be….i dunno what the word is….sacrilegious? disrespectful? irresponsible? naive?
I dunno…it wouldnt seem right.
I was telling Haitham the other day that I wish we had more Pali bloggers INSIDE Palestine. People who could communicate their everyday lives like any other people/bloggers.
I really liked the blogging of Layla El Hadad when she was still in Gaza. Telling her side of the story and not repeating what she saw/read/heard on the news. I even called her and we talked about it.
Like I read itoot.net for the sake of dialogue with my neighbours, I would like to read blogs of Palestinians who live on the same land I live. But my voice is not enough.
Blogging takes courage. And a sense of purpose. And knowing that what you write is important to somebody and that it can make a change.
I know that there are big Palestinian communities all around the world. Maybe those communities can ask their brothers and sisters who live in Palestine to blog. To tell the world how it really is. The happiness, the sadness, the small details of life.
We all want normal life. In order to achive normal life, we need to tell the world that normal life is more important than anything else. The problem is that now, “anything else” is regarded more important than normal life.
Let’s hope for good.
Naseem, thanks again for helping out. I think that I’ve burdened readers (and myself)with lengthy depressing (but realistic)roundups before, so I’m glad that now they can enjoy a less intense yet very informative and nicely written roundups.
There’s one thing I’d like to say, when you actually go through all the posts and reality hits you again it just does not seem “right” to highlight what a minority of Palestinians (mainly Fatah rich kids)are doing in their luxerous lives for example unless you know that you’ve covered alllll the tragidies and alllll the “serious” stuff! it is simply unfair and probably morally incorrect to ignore the norm when it is still important but remember a “normal thing” only because the rest of the World would rather read about it.
Yet again sometimes reality isn’t always desired. And to get people into reading the whole thing you gotta try and make it sound as normal as possible.
I used to complain about the same thing, we don’t have many bloggers inside but honestly I don’t think that the kind of posts written will ever change, unless we’re talking about Palestinians outside of Gaza and the West Bank. But even those might find it hard to blog about their normal life while they can be covering other serious topics.
They cannot blog because of 1948? and because they’re refugees? and because of history?? I don’t get it!
Well, you should break away from that … believe it, life does go on! and when you walk through the streets of Jerusalem, Ramallah, Khalil and bait la7em, jeneen, nablus, tul karem, and even refugee camps you’ll realize that!
First, good to see that you’re back on…
Can you please exactly tell me how you concluded that only those who lead a normal life in Palestine are mainly fateh rich kids? I did not know that rich fateh kids get VIP passes and are not required to stand in line at a major check point before they get to their desired destination? I also didn’t know that when israel decides to bomb a specific location, they make sure it’s free of ‘rich fateh kids’ before they launch? And not to forget curfews! are rich fateh kids are exempt from that? or when schools shut down? only rich fateh kids can attend classes?
and you shouldn’t ignore it but at the same time you shouldn’t ignore the everyday life – not easy, but relatively normal…just because I don’t write a thousand posts about the misery in gaza or ramallah does not mean I don’t care. I talked about how trying on my white pants from last summer now could be a disasterous attempt, but in the conversation I highlighted how there are far more disasterous events in the world such as the latest indonesia earthquake! point is – and I am starting to sound like a broken record – life goes on. You have not been to Palestine in the past, you have not experienced the everyday of an average Palestinian. I have. It is very depressing, it is a struggle getting from point A to point B, and you simply never know when shelling might take place, but at the same time people go on with their daily lives! Even those in refugee camps, and not only rich fateh kids!
Iman, Fatah rich kids live in castles! just ask any Gazzan about that. This is why people did not vote for Fatah last time, this is why Fatah failed and will never get up unless they stop robbing their own people’s off. I’m talking about the elitists iman, the big guys who abused their authorities in a time when the rest of Palestinians can’t find something to eat.
Second, how long did you live in Palestine? a week or two? and where?
Third, we’re talking about normal life “inside” Palestine. And I have no idea why are you taking this personally. Nobody said that those who don’t write everyday about the misery and tragedies do not care! I’ve been disconnected and still, and I haven’t blogged about anything for the past month or so but that does not mean I don’t care.
Fourth, no, not every Palestinian can have a normal life. You have those who travel to Israel with some money to spend on “normal” things and those who can’t find a shelter. If you can get over such a thing, which I highly doubt, some people can’t! unless your idea about normal life is merely breathing.
By the way, I don’t know what are we talking about anymore 😀
Will do … our in-laws are from khan younis .. but wait…they might be considered part of the ‘elite’ so they wouldn’t know what they’re talking about 😀
We’re not discussing why fateh lost .. surely they have their faults but this is not about fateh so I have no idea why you turned it to a fateh discussion?
I lived in Palestine long enough to experience the daily life! I can have a much more fair assessment of the every day life than someone who never set foot in Palestine and is watching the news from the comfort of their own home then blogging about it while the maid makes him/her a cup of tea…
and no, I am not taking it personal … i was just merely using myself as an example.
and those who are able to travel to ‘israel’ are either 1) arab israelis, 2) Jerusalem ID, 3) Palestinian American (like myself) … your average gazan, nabulsi, khaleeli, and Ramallah, Jenin residents cannot!
Allright, if everyone chooses to dwell on the misery palestinians are living every single day and are just so distraught over it why not do something about it instead of …just whining in text? how about for one living it to really get a glimpse of the reality? if an American is able to leave her large Miami home to live in Balata for over a year, I simply cannot see why other bloggers cannot attempt to do that? (unable to get a visa you say?! how about Arab American bloggers?!)
I think you turned it into a fatah issue for some odd reason … you really haven’t been connected… our in-laws in gaza are saying people are begging for hamas to resign … but that’s just our in-laws 😛
lol yes Iman I’m the one who turned this into a Fatah issue, my bad 😀
I said that there are not too many Palestinian bloggers living in Palestine for obvious reasons. In 1948 Israel kicked out a lot of Palestinians when it formed its state and those people are not allowed to return. Can you make the connection now?
Those of us outside Palestine have an important role. I’d like to suggest that more people start writing letters to editors of mainstream US and UK newspapers: praise when praise is due and criticise when necessary. For example, today, both the UK’s Guardian and Independent provide refutation of the Israeli claims that Hamas is responsible for the Gaza beach tragedy; however in the US media, from what I’ve read so far, only the Washington Post provides the refutation of the Israeli spin. Like I wrote earlier, the media is changing, not as much as we’d like to see; another fine Palestinian blogger, Amal Amireh, commented on my blog that ABC News had nothing about the latest tragedy last night, but those of us outside Palestine, especially in Europe and the US, while we can not provide the excellent concrete details of occupation like Laila and her aunt, Mona El-Farra, still have work to do to tell our story to westerners and to use the details provided by the bloggers inside Palestine to make our letters more compelling.
And I also think human interest type stories are OK. Especially, as a means to “humanise” Palestinians because whenever I say “Palestinian” to my US students and ask them what word comes to mind, they invariably say “terrorist,” although this year I was pleasantly surprised. One of my students said that she knew Palestinians and it would not occur to her to associate Palestinian with terrorist.
Thanks again, Nas, it is very nice to have this discussion here.
Not really …
Many have been displaced but many more still live there …
umkahlil you’re absolutely right!
many? most. most have been displaced. and had they not been the population of Palestine would be much larger than it is now.
I feel like im pointing out that 1 +1 = 2
Iman, Of course it isn’t news, which is why I said “This is for obvious reasons”!
And I didnt say Palestinians were extinct so please dont put words in my mouth. What I said was that there are “not too many Palestinian bloggers living in Palestine”…are we disputing this?
I know what you said and I pointed that out … Those were my words .. the way your phrased it sounded as if they’re completely extinct and that’s why they don’t blog!
A Palestinian forum I used to visit regularly had over 600 members – most of which are from Palestine so there, another one has over 1000, most of which are located in Palestine!
So perhpas they’re just not interested in blogging…maybe we can write to the different universities, schools, family and friends in Palestine and encourage them to start documenting (blogging) their daily lives…
Iman, so basically your complaint comes down to how I phrased it. If only I had said something like “there are not too many Palestinian bloggers living in Palestine because they don’t exist”, then we’d have something to really argue about.
If you participate in those forums that you’ve just mentioned then encourage them to blog, why not?
No! and it’s not a complaint but rather more of a probe!
the obvious reasons you had in mind as to why there aren’t many Palestinian bloggers living in Palestine were 1948, refugees and history! Which still doesn’t make sense to me!
I used to participate, but I no longer do .. however, I’ll ask all my friends and family living in Palestine to start blogging…And I’ll ask my cousin who teaches at Bir Zeit University to encourage his students to start as well … la 3yoonak 😀
THANK YOU EN ALL MY SOLIDARITY!!!!!