Monday, April 1, 2013

Final blog post!

It's kind of scary to think that this is the final blog post! The semester has just FLOWN by!

So I guess I have to say that politically speaking, my position hasn't really changed at all. I didn't expect it to though; my family have spent the last 21, nearly 22, years ingraining pro-Palestinian politics in me, and between that and a few personal encounters with the IDF that were really awful, it would take a lot to change that. I mean, don't get me wrong, I'm not radical in that I think Palestine has done no wrong over the last 65+ years, and I definitely don't think Israel is evil or anything, but I'm still heavily Palestinian.

In other areas though, I have really benefited from this class. I'd never heard anything about the LGBTQ community in Palestine or Israel before we discussed and researched that area, and we got to talk to a member of the community who works with the Open House which was amazing. I'd also never heard Israeli music, which is quite beautiful. I really enjoyed the documentary about Israeli/Palestinian hip hop too! I think this class has opened me up to experience Israeli culture, and I'd never had the opportunity to before, and I really enjoyed all our Skype dates and articles and movies that we got to see from both perspectives. I think this Living Jerusalem class has to be one of the best at IU, and I'm really thankful that I got to be apart of it.

Sunday, March 31, 2013

International Scarves in Solidarity Day

Ignore the year, I couldn't upload this year's picture!

 The third annual International Scarves in Solidarity will be taking place April 11th, 2013. International Scarves in Solidarity is an opportunity for individuals all over the world to show support and solidarity to Muslim women who wear the Hijab/Niqab by choice. This event hopes to spread awareness about the hijab/niqab and negate any misconceptions.
In order to participate in this event—anyone from any background should simply wear a scarf around their neck for the day. Any willing females (due to respect) should wear the scarf around their head.

Islamophobia—the fear and misunderstanding of Islam—is a phenomenon that is unfortunately a reality in the world today. The hijab/niqab is a visible way that many Muslim women have chosen to express their faith. As a result, many will face misunderstanding, discrimination, prejudice, and hate-crimes. International Scarves in Solidarity is an opportunity for Muslims and Non-Muslims alike to show their solidarity with hijabi/niqabi Muslim women in their struggle.
 International Scarves in Solidarity hopes to initiate a respectful and progressive dialogue. Due to the many misconceptions prominent in societies all over the world, the hijab/niqab has been commonly misunderstood on multiple levels. Unfortunately, many people believe that the hijab/niqab is a form of oppression. The truth is that the decision to wear the hijab/niqab is intended for Muslim women to make for their selves.

At the very core, International Scarves in Solidarity upholds the notion that all women should be granted freedom of expression and religion in society without fear of harassment. Moreover, no public or private institution should be able to regulate laws that intervene with this basic freedom.
 Finally, this event is NOT meant to simulate the experiences of hijabi/niqabi women. Hijab/Niqabi women face a struggle that will never be understood throughout just ONE day of wearing the hijab. Again, this day is intended for awareness, dialogue, and solidarity purposes.

***Please feel free to upload your pictures with messages of support to our fellow Hijabi/Niqabi Muslim sisters on the facebook event page/twitter/blog!***

Wednesday, March 27, 2013


AHH late seems to my current theme! I think the biggest difficulty I have had this semester is remembering to comment on everyone's blogs. I'll read posts people make, but sometimes I don't have much to say beyond "I agree with you" and sometimes I'll walk away after reading it and forget to comment in general. (Also, being on time with my blog posts have clearly been difficult for me! AH)

Other than that, I've really enjoyed our classes this semester. I loved Skyping with everyone we interviewed, and the fact that it wasn't solely a reading/lecture based class was amazing. We met some very cool people this semester!

I liked that we talked about our papers last class too. :)

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

JOH, AlQaws, City of Borders

As a member of the group that's focusing on the LGBTQ community, I really loved that the organisations and community we just read about were relevant to LGBTQ rights in Israel and Palestine. I noticed that all the groups were in support of everyone regardless of ethnicity or religion, and I quite liked that it was anti-discriminatory, especially since the conflict makes it very easy to discriminate against another social group, regardless of gender or sexuality. I found Al-Qaws to be the most interesting, for me as a Palestinian/Arab, because I've never heard of any Arab groups supporting LGBTQ rights within the Middle East, and short of a shesha/hookah bar and restaurant in Amman, I haven't heard of any openly gay businesses either. It's just not something that's talked about, so I really loved looking into Al-Qaws. All the groups though seemed really open and welcoming, and I'm really looking forward to seeing the speakers tomorrow! :)

I just have a couple questions for the speakers!

For both Haneen Maikey and Elinor Sidi, is it any sort of challenge to organise events with both Palestinians and Israelis within the LGBTQ community? Do you face any difficulties in bringing queer Palestinians and Israelis together?

What have been your greatest challenges to overcome in starting al-Qaws and the Jerusalem Open House? And what was the initial reaction of the community to the starting of your organisations?

Are you working on any current projects? What do you hope to achieve in the future? Do you have any current goals that you want to see happen?

Monday, March 18, 2013

Reading Responses!

Welcome back from Spring Break, everyone!! :)

Suad Amiry writes beautifully! It was great to come back from spring break and to be able to read about her experiences. I particularly enjoyed reading her A Dog’s Life chapter: getting my own Palestinian ID was kind of a trial since I don’t live there, but at the time my father was working for Abu Mazen so it wasn’t as difficult as it could have been, I guess. Still, they wouldn’t give my brother his ID at all and now it’s too late and he can’t get one (from what I understand, they told us if you don’t live in the area you have to get one when you turn sixteen and if you wait afterwards it’s almost impossible so he doesn’t have one now that he’s turned eighteen and I doubt he’ll ever be able to get one.) My step mother has a Jerusalem ID and I wish we could get onto hers because then we could fly in, but they won’t give her son or my father one since we’re from Beit Sahour, so who knows how that will turn out. I loved Amiry’s chapters because I could totally relate to the ID part of it (not the gas masks part, thankfully – that would have been a little too Are you my mummy?-ish for me.)

I read Galit’s few pages, but I felt a little lost, like I’d come in halfway through a chapter and couldn’t figure out what she was talking about. I know she was discussing Jerusalem and comparing the city to a woman, but I wasn’t sure about the context. Did everyone else only see three pages? I might have clicked on a weird link.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Music - Journal Assignment

Let me start this off by saying I love music - I mean, who doesn't? I wake up every morning and have to listen to my iPod for roughly half an hour before I even get out of bed (it's partly to blame if I'm ever late to a morning class..) There's not really one genre I'm interested in, it's kind of just a mix of everything. I'm not sure how it would define me - I understand that if you listen to one particular style that it might be a reflection on who you are or where you came from, but I don't really have one set genre that I'm interested in, so I don't know how it would go about defining me. I love club music for dancing, acoustic for relaxing, and The Lonely Island for when I'm feeling sassy, haha. There are certain songs that I love for defining moments in my life, though.

When I lived in South Africa, I first heard Mama Africa so I associate all her music from when I lived there. (also, kudos to Google for recently remembering her birthday!) Whenever I hear her music it takes me back to 2007.

Also, Fairuz and Um Kalthoum remind me of my childhood and family in Amman, particularly Fairuz. N'Sync and Britney Spears were pretty big then too..

I'm sure I can find so many examples, but those are probably the most striking.

I think music in general is pretty important in cultures. It's a great source of stress relief, and because music (or at least, good music) spreads so quickly, it's an easy way to communicate something to large number of people. You can express yourself through music and create a bond between people, and so something like that seems pretty important for people in conflicts like the Palestinian/Israeli one. Whether you're Israeli or Palestinian you have a message to share, and there are plenty of people willing to listen. It's also a way to reach an audience you normally wouldn't have any interaction with.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Hip-Hop & Rap Responses

So the readings that I chose to do were the Channels of Rage: Dissecting the Inner Conflict (on the Islamic Middle East blog), Israeli Hip-Hop - all flow, no edge? on Haaretz, and ‘honour killings’ and DAM article via unwomen.

It was interesting reading about the movie Channels of Rage, and the story following the two rappers. Are we watching this as a class? Because we totally should. I thought it was different that the ending wasn’t a happy one (or at least it didn’t sound like it would be considering it was how the two friends drifted apart). The whole relationship with rap and the conflict is really cool; I’m not a big rap fan in general, but I’m really into Shadia Mansour’s rap and I’m going to check out Tamer and Subliminal’s music tonight. From the sounds of the article it seemed like Tamer and Subliminal mostly rap about the conflict and the struggles of either side, so it would be really interesting to see it from a musical perspective!

The Israeli Rap – all flow, no edge? article brought up the question of whether ‘authentic’ rappers are meant to be from the ghetto or not. I don’t think that’s really necessary, as long as it talks about the difficulties they face in life. It just so happens that people who live in a ghetto tend to have it harder than people who live in suburbia. And while Israelis have it easier than Palestinians, being the Occupier and not the Occupied, they still do have to live with difficulties and so why wouldn’t that make their rap ‘authentic’? I did find the whole correlation between ‘blackness’ and rap/hip hop to be a bit funny considering the recent crackdown on African immigrants in Israel and sending them back to Sudan.

I read about the honour killings last of all, and I do have to say the whole idea makes me uncomfortable. I don’t know/haven’t heard of any families that would ever practice this in the Levant region, but it came up sometimes when I lived in Saudi and I just can’t imagine living through this and being afraid of your own family. I know culture can be strict and it does dictate parts of your life, but small things – like don’t wear tank tops or shorts in public or you’ll have creeps following you along the street and you’ll have your grandfather lecture you forever on your immodesty – small things, not ‘fear for your life’ things. I thought it was really cool that they put such a controversial topic into a music video. It won’t reach the likes of Saudi Arabia or anything – they’re quite excellent at screening what people see on the internet there – but it might reach families in the levant area and maybe (hopefully) make a difference!