A lot of people know I am fatherless, few know he is a missing person. I rarely speak about it. He’s been a missing person for 20 years now.  He was abducted by Kuwaiti militia after the “liberation” of Kuwait in February 1991. I know this because it was the last piece of reliable credible news we were able to get about him after he disappeared in the past 20 years.  I don’t know why I feel the need to say this now, or even put it up for public consumption. It is and has been a long battle of denial and affirmation, struggle and joy, of unknowing, and of silence.

As the years moved on, he crossed my mind less and less. The most reoccurring thought is “what if he is behind that knock on the door?” As the years moved on, that thought too diminished slowly. As the years moved on, we fought less and less to find news about him. To find him.  A part of us just got too tired.

So much has happened because he is missing. So much of it has shaped the dysfunctionality and the functionality of my existence. Sometimes I wonder what would have been had I remained that precious daddy’s girl. Would I be the woman I am today? Would I be where I am today? Other times I just don’t wonder.

Twenty years after the fact I ask myself what do I want? Do I want justice? Do I want retaliation? Do I want compensation? Nothing really helps with the black hole of not knowing.  Nothing really makes up for an absent parent. Twenty years later all I want is one thing. Closure.

Dad as young man

Dad as young man

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The last time I heard this much gun fire and intensity and felt this much anxiety over such hostility was when I was in Kuwait during the Iraqi invasion 20 years ago. What am I talking about? The clashes between Hezbollah and Al Ahbash last night in Beirut of course. I was at home where I have no TV and I was trying to get my internet connection sorted out so the only source of news was my friend’s cell phone, she was getting regular updates from her mother and her friends. 20 minutes in we started to hear some crackling of bullets. News of a death had come to us. We decided to move to her place where there is a TV and an internet connection.

We called a cab and headed over to hers, what we didn’t think through was the proximity of her neighborhood to the fighting.  So we sat riveted to the TV and constantly monitoring the twitter feed (which was useless, who would tweet while there is a gun fight going on in their street!).  But the TV was constantly lowered as we tried to figure out where the gunshots were being fired and in between the fire there were the sounds of larger explosions some say it was RGPs other say it was a B7, what the hell is a B7? Or more importantly why do civilians have that kind of artillery?

The complexity of what happened and how it happened and why it happened and the various roles of different groups and sects is something I would find difficult to explain as it is multi-faceted. The idea that it flared up over a parking spot or a car passing by or something so trivial is an indication of something so deeply visceral that I can only begin to understand. So I wont even try, there are enough newspaper reports and other bloggers who I am sure are able to address the issue more eloquently and adequately.

I hate violence, I hate war, I hate guns. I hate how unnecessary it all is. Listening to various people talk about what happened and their reactions and how they all cope is very saddening. We all have our war scars and we are not allowed to forget them.  I am going to stop here, because I just can’t get over the “What the F*&$” in my head. Its not that I am scared of another flare up, it just revolts me at a visceral level. I have been through a war; I have seen invasion and occupation first had. I don’t want more war scars and I don’t want to reopen the ones I already have, I have struggled too hard with them already.

************

Pictures of the violence can be found here:
http://networkedblogs.com/7blry

The idea has caught on and The Palestinian Cultural Center (PCC), a centre that works to raise funds and send to Palestine, is having a souq. The souq is similar in style to the AID Gaza Souq that ran a couple of weekends ago (or was it last weekend?). The will be selling various items from food to table cloths, runners, cushions, ornaments, accessories… etc. They will also sell items donated by you the public in a garage sale.

 

So if you have anything around the house you don’t need, don’t want, or can spare and it is in good condition then donate to them. All donations and proceeds will go to Aiding Gaza in its huge reconstruction efforts.

 

When: February 3rd but please send your donations before then.

Time: 10:00 am – 2:00 pm

Where: The PCC in Rabieh

Contact info: 06 551 47 51

 

The struggle is not over and emergency relief is only part of the battle. Help Gaza today donate your items and go shop at the souq. Make a difference in someone else’s life!

This video was forwarded to me and though we think of Egypt right now as complacent in it stand against what is happening in Gaza, this video shows Egyptian actors coming together to rally the Egyptian street against complacency.

 

Watch till the end. http://vimeo.com/2885082

On Saturday January 17 2009 a community got together and donated time, effort and goods to Gaza. When I arrived I expected to see a few stalls and a few people instead I saw every possible space at the YWCA filled with stalls goods and people.

 

Young and old had volunteered to do various roles from setting up the shoe throwing game, to selling raffle tickets, young musicians had volunteered their voices for a concert and the stalls were filled with various wares from used books to handmade jewelry and such. Stall proceeds were pledged to the cause and they ranged from 100% to 10% of profits and proceeds going to Gaza. The goal was to raise JD 1000 to use for medical supplies and goods.

 

After seven hours of giving and taking, after a lot of running around, people started to tidy up and put away their wares. Happily tired volunteers were packing what little was left of the donations that came through for sale. And as the money was being counted we quickly realized we had exceeded our expectations of JD 1000. Slowly we counted 1000, 2000, 3000, 4000, 5000, and 5555 Jordanian Dinars (USD7845) in sales, proceeds, and donations ALL GOING TO GAZA.

 

Well done, one and all! Well done to every one that pitched in, to everyone that brought or made something to sell and to everyone that brought their wallets and emptied them out.  I would also like to thank the women behind this event (this event was initiated and run and 90% manned by women from the community).

 

In my opinion, what we saw that day was amazing and worth much more in human spirit and generosity. The community came together and it didn’t matter where they were from, what religion they were, what color or creed, what nationality. That day we were all humans out to help other humans in need. Thank you for reaffirming to me that humanity still exists in this ever growing and alienating city.

If media isn’t your thing then you can still donate time and money to the 7iber campaign. Volunteers are needed to sort through donations and money is needed for medical supplies. The details are here:

http://www.7iber.com/blog/2009/01/10/new-7iber-campaigns-how-to-help-gaza/

http://www.black-iris.com/2009/01/10/how-to-help-gaza-now/

Make a difference and help get aid to Gaza!

For those of you that want to protest but are not into demonstrations or want to do more than donate here are a few media and art initiatives that are alternatives you may want to explore. Please note that I am only aggregating these and do not have more information than is posted. Please contact the persons indicated for more information.

 


Initiative 1: Compass To Palestine

Person: Inas Bseiso

Contacts:

email- inasbseiso@gmail.com

facebook: Inas H Bseiso

 

As a response to the continuous suffering of the Palestinian people, I am initiating a project titled Compass to Palestine.

 

Monument, art installation, expression, contribution- these are just some of the words that I can use to describe it.

 

Please read the brief excerpt below and forward to your contacts.

 

Waiting for your feedback,

 

Best,

Inas Bseiso

 

 

Compass To Palestine

 

We honor our dead

Our dead are not numbers, they had stories.

Put a face to every number

Tell a story for every number

All photos and stories will be mounted on a compass

The arrow of the compass leads to Palestine

This compass will be designed and sculpted by volunteering artists and designers

The compass will be built on a piece of land in Jordan

The compass will be a living commemoration of the heroic sacrifices of the people of GAZA on the path to Palestine

The compass will be a living commemoration of the hope of freedom for people under occupation

Preserve the dignified memory of our dead

Your help is needed

 

*******

Send pictures and stories to inasbseiso@gmail.com or Inas H Bseiso on Facebook

 

Initiative 2: Media Initiative for GAZA

Person: Huda Shashaa

Contact: huda_shashaa@jrf.org.jo

 

A group of 4 Jordanian women have come together in response to the appalling attacks of Israel against Gaza, to give voice to the victims of this war and speak of the atrocities so hesitantly covered by western media channels. To date, the world remains silent as both Western and Arab leaders complacently watch another Israeli attack against the starving and imprisoned population of 1.5 million Gazans. 

 

The objective of this weekly discussion will be to reflect on the week’s atrocities against Gazans and work to debunk many of the lies and rhetoric used to justify Israel’s aggression and subsequently deflect attention from the real issues at hand. 

 

Each discussion will be 10-15 minutes, once a week, and will be structured to reach the largest number of people in the western world. 

 

We have had enough and we will no longer be silenced.

 

What it takes:

 

  • 5 dedicated women willing to discuss the topic in an educated manner. These women must be well-read and capable of expressing themselves in English in a captivating and passionate way.
  • Researchers to compile numbers of casualties, news and relevant articles. 
  • Producer to develop the program for each episode (the flow) 
  • Guest speakers
  • Dedicated camera crew

 

 

Initiative 3: Video Messages

Person:

Contacts:

Dear Friends,

 

Due to the ongoing Israeli aggression on Palestinian in Gaza, a group of activists in Jordan have come up with an idea to produce video testimonials or messages of people’s opinions on what’s happening in Gaza.

 

Instead of writing our opinions, we want to give faces and names to our voices, and break the stereotype of Arabs by showing people of all ages and classes speak their mind eloquently and directly to the camera.


Our target audience is the Western public. This can be achieved through sending these video messages to the western and international political and media figures such as President-elect Barak Obama‘s, the British PM , the French President, the head of the EU, the chairperson of the CNN and BBC and uploading these messages on their websites. We’re also aiming to upload these testimonials on websites such as U-Tube, TV channels.

 

Our goal is to saturate this medium with enough messages to create an audio-visual database of our voices. 


Each testimonial should not exceed 1 minute, with the content being every person’s name and nationality (city), their opinions in regards to what’s going on in Gaza, to demand a solution, or their interference to stop the Israeli aggression and/or the Israeli occupation. 

 

Of course every person is entitled to his/her opinion, but I urge you to take a look at the articles below and get an idea of the language used in order for us to speak the language that the West understands, and therefore create more powerful messages.

 

Since the duration of the testimonials is short please pick one thought and express it well.

 

http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article4933.shtml


http://www.mepeace.org/forum/topics/the-true-story-behind-this-war


http://www.ifamericansknew.org/cur_sit/sheets.html


http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10055.shtml


http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article10056.shtml


http://electronicintifada.net/bytopic/boycott-divestment-sanctions.shtml

http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2009/jan/02/israelandthepalestinians-barackobama


http://bit.ly/1zCC

 

If you are interested please get in touch with Salwa to facilitate your participation.

 

There are many more ways in which you can contribute. I will be more than happy to post these various initiatives if you send them my way. The killing must stop. People have to know we can not remain silent.