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Bulgarian media: Wave of online hatred in response to articles about Palestine (с БГ превод)

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Incredible to see what кind of responses an article based on my account about Palestine (which is btw more of an overview of the recent and older events of the conflict rather than straightforward criticism) can cause such a great wave of online hatred against me from fellow Bulgarians who are not only name-calling me, but also urging me to go back to Palestine, put a hijab and don’t dare to speak… (in a milder version).
This brings up two points: one is simply the observation how brainwashed many people in Bulgaria are and how we are thought to associate arabs with terrorism to the point where no logic plays a part.
Point two is, of all 5,000 readers of the piece, there are 20+ negative comments and over 100 likes of comments praising the death of Palestinians, while there is 1 positive comment produced by some critical thinking which by the way was written by my best friend
So what I want to say is this: how come we happen to raise our voice (even if it’s online) only when it is to critique (to put it nicely!) something/somebody? Where is the diversity in opinion? How come no one of all the people who probably resonated with something in the article or at least with the presence of an article that challenges what is usually shown on Bulgarian media in relation to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict cared to write one line of support?
Here’s a request: dare to support VISIBLY whatever you resonate with and want to see more of, because otherwise the much more inadequate but loud voices will control our common reality despite our unspoken dislike.
Маги Назер
Невероятно е да видя какви отговори предизвикаха статиите, публикувани от Актуално по разказа ми за скорошните събития в Палестина (които на всичкото отгоре са повече описание на събитията, отколкото директна критика)- а именно вълна от омраза. Сред коментарите имаше голям брой вургални обиди по мой адрес и призоваване да “си ходя обратно в Палестина”, да сложа хиджаб и да не се осмелявам да говоря/пиша.
Това ме навежда на две мисли:
от една страна това е доказателство до каква степен мозъците ни са промити и до колко сме заучили да асоциираме арабите с терористи, без дори да прилагаме в употреба каквато и да било логика и здрав разум.
Второ. макар всяка от статиите да е прочетена повече от 5,000 пъти, има 20+ негативни коментари и повече от 100 харесвания на изказвания от типа “смърт за арабите”. За сметка на това единственият положителен коментар е написан от най-добрият ми приятел
Това, което искам да кажа, е следното: защо се получава така, че се изказваме (пък макар и онлайн) само за да изкритикуваме (меко казано!) нещо или някой? Къде е богатството на мнения? Как така никой от хората, които са прочели статията и които хипотетично резонират с написаното или поне с това, че са налични статии, които се противопоставят на масовото представяне на конфликта, не си е направил труда да напише един ред в подкрепа?

И така, молбата ми е следната: имайте смелостта да подкрепяте ЯВНО тези неща, които ви допадат и от които искате да виждате/да има повече, защото иначе неадекватните, но напористи гласове ще контролират реалността, която споделямe, въпреки неизказаното ни недоволство.


No “Occupied Palestinian Territories”

Categories: Midd Blogosphere
Маги Назер и приятели на празненството по случай отбелязването на международния ден на Йерусалим

Маги Назер и приятели на празненството по случай отбелязването на международния ден на Йерусалим

Today I attended the Celebration of the International Day of Jerusalem in Sofia which featured talks by the Palestinian and Iranian Embassadors in Bulgaria and other high profile individuals related to the politics of the Middle East. The talks all revolved aroun the current situation in Gaza and on the West Bank, so at the end I asked to adress the public and was actually given the floor without being on the schedule or even knowing the organizers in advance.
I shortly shared my impressions as an intern who has returned from Palestine just 3 days ago and I emphasised on how engaged the Palestinian youth is and how much perseverance despite all I’ve seen in the Palestinian people.
During the event we were also told that today the Bulgarian parliament (?) has accepted a change in the official protocal and will no more use the terms “Occupied Teritorries” in any of the country’s official corespondence. This is a little act of support, but it’s well meant, so it’s appreciated.
So, dear fellow Bulgarians, please, never use the term “Occupied Palestinian Territories”. It’s Palestine. : )


Don’t talk about Palestine

Categories: Midd Blogosphere
Jerusalem old city by Maggie Nazer

Jerusalem old city by Maggie Nazer

I have visited Jerusalem 6 times so far in the past 2 months: more than my Palestinian friends will be allowed to enter it in a lifetime.

For the first time so far the old city of Jerusalem was empty today. I walked alone and people stopped me and gave me gifts for simply being here.

It’s getting more and more dangerous and people are afraid to come. the danger is not only physical. It’s holistic. Your comfort is endangered. Your faith in humanity is endangered. Your ability to live life as you have before, to trust the news, respect your political leaders and rest in your ignorance are all endangered.

So, don’t come to Jerusalem if you can’T bear the truth about all the killed and all the oppressed. Don’t talk about Palestine from the position of a “first world” intellectual while all you know is what your country’s media has told you.

But be aware that you are not safe anywhere. Not anymore. Images will find their way to you, stories will be told even if you try to avoid them. Ignorance is not a choice when it’s responsible for the death of innocent. We will not keep silent.

The suffering of one nation is not limited by its boarders. My stolen childhood is my example. But there are many.

Where to now? Maggie Nazer at the closed Shuhada street in Hebron, west Bank

Where to now?
Maggie Nazer at the closed Shuhada street in Hebron, west Bank

My father didn’t know how to love us because he learned how to defend himself through the means of aggression before he could learn to love. He learned to throw stones before he learned to give roses, or hugs, or kisses. He didn’t feel worthy of love because he learned that as a Palestinian he could have either his life or his freedom and dignity. Never both.

Today I prayed on the grave of Jesus Christ that we will hear of no more death, no matter who’s on the receiving end. I prayed that all people’s dignity, mobility and rights will be respected.

See you soon, Jerusalem; Hebron, don’t forget what we shared; Palestine, we met at last and you are part of me.


My 21st Birthday in Palestine

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

In second grade I invited my classmates and friends from school to celebrate my birthday. My mom and I cooked all day and prepared a one-of-a-kind home-made Barbie-like cake with a real doll inside. It was perfect.

When nobody came I stayed at our apartment’s balcony hoping that people are just late, crying. The only kid who showed up was a girl I used to go to kindergarden with whom I had randomly met and invited the previous day. This girl, Lina Stankova, soon became my best friend and has been a best friend in the true meaning of the word ever since.

As I grew up I stopped being excited for birthdays. I think it was just less painful than expecting much and getting dissapointed, especially on the day the world tells you should be your one “special day”.

Of course, I have had great birthdays afterwards that I have shared with amazing friends.

This year, for the second time, I celebrated my birthday out of my homeland Bulgaria. And this time for the first time in a very long while I allowed myself to really be excited!

May be it’s the culture, or simply the people here, but I have felt so much loved and supported here that I have indeed grown to love this place as my second home which, by the way, it is supposed to be (my father is Palestinian). I’m also happy to say that I have found a place which I not only want to visit again, but to stay at (for a while) and work at.

on 8th of July, my birthday, I was nourished in the love of my students, my colleagues, my cousins, my friends and other beautiful people that I may not have yet had the chance to connect deeply. They all gathered and planned my celebration, gave me beautiful gifts, but most importantly granted me with their attention, their acknowledgement and unconditional positive regard.

I was so delighted to hear my cousin Dana Nazer say she saw the boys from my English classes walking around the Hebron Mall going inside all the women shops to search for a present for me!

Thank you all who were present with me yesterday and who thought of me from across continents! I am deeply touched and so HAPPY!

Happy birthday, Maggie Nazer!


I’m in Palestine. And now I’m afraid.

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

I left the United States two months ago with shaken trust in my fellow human beings. I came to Palestine to offer myself, my knowledge and my skills to the community, but I got much more than I had to give: I was healed.

Gas bomb thrown by soldiersIn the meantime as daily clashes became a routine and as I heard about killed day after day, I refused to protect myself and stop listening. I asked for more. I went to the streets to interview the people, I wrote their stories. Every night my friend Abdelrazzaq offered me his cigarettes and his endless stories, memories, visions for the future…

But after so much death… And still hearing the shootings, the firing of tear gas bombs; the impossibility to fall asleep; to talk or think about anything else…

I’m afraid.
I’m afraid that no hope is left for the humans who strive for revenge, for blood spilled as water.
I’m afraid that Our weapons are not as strong as theirs. That love, humanity and education are not as instantly penetrating the human mind and soul as are the rockets and bullets to the land, the buildings and the flesh.
I’m afraid that if someone is to tell me now that the human nature is evil I will not have the strenght to say: “No!”

[Please, kindly note that while it's my experience this story is not about me. I just hope that this post will make more people think about the present and future of Palestine and all other suffering countries around the world and that we can collectively educate each other and forward the request for change and use social medias for a better cause than liking each other's cute photos and full dishes! Thank you. Love, M. ]

Daily Clashes in Hebron

Daily Clashes in Hebron


Day 1 and Arrival: the magic of excitement

Categories: Midd Blogosphere
Hebron

A beautiful window of a building in Hebron

I arrived at the Tel Aviv Ben Gurion airport in Israel at 00.15 on the 23rd of May after what I know was the longest and most stressful travel experience I’ve ever had. It all started in New York as I was told I can not board my flight to Moscow as my flight to Tel Aviv would depart from an airport different from the one I would land at and I did not have a Russian visa to be able to travel between the two. After much stress and some tears, I paid an extra fee and got a ticket for another flight from Moscow to Tel Aviv. My first flight of at least 10 hours went by in sleeping and reading books. The Russian carrier Transaereo did not bother to entertain us which was rather unfortunate as I had another 14 hours to spend at the Moscow airport and yet nothing once I read the two books I had on the plane.

A view from Al Khalil/ Hebron

A view from Al Khalil/ Hebron

I felt very anxious all through my flight to Tel Aviv. As I got of the plane I joined the longest cue I’ve seen at an airport and waited. Everyone showed their documents, answered a few questions and went through. Once it was my turn, I passed my passport. I was asked about my father’s and my grandfather’s names and was immediately addressed to a nearby room where I had to go to be questioned. In fact, apart from the anxiety of not knowing whether you’ll be let in the country or not, the process was not as scary and dramatic as I had it described by others or imagined it. The Israeli staff was quite understanding and friendly. I still had to wait two hours to get my passport, though.

I managed to call my friend Gal who had told me he was going to pick me up from the airport and was readily going to wait for him to come in the next couple of hours. Instead, just five minutes later he showed up and surprised me saying he had been waiting for hours for me to arrive and had even called the emigration office to ask whether they had me! :)

In the morning Gal and his mom left me at the Tel Aviv’s bus station and went to a wedding. As my two miserable suitcases were all broken, I was struggling to make it to the other side of the street but a dark-haired girl helped me carry one. As we talked I was very self-conscious about saying I was half-Palestinian and that I was going to the West Bank as I had no idea if she was an Arab or an Israeli or if it mattered at all. Her name was Nour.

Checkpoint at Hebron nearby the infamous Hebron Mosque

Checkpoint at Hebron nearby the infamous Hebron Mosque

As I got off at Jerusalem I went ahead to get the last bus to Hebron for the day. A cute Boston University rugby guy called Tony helped me with my suitcase and I waited for the Israeli bus to Al Khalil (this is the Arabic name of Hebron).  I wanted to go to the bathroom but I couldn’t leave my suitcases as Nour had told me I should not leave my luggage unattended even for a minute unless I want to get myself into a lot of trouble. In the meantime, another Arab girl asked me to look after her bags which I agreed to do. As she took a while, I grew anxious… She came back soon, but I couldn’t help but acknowledge how all of that was making me feel even after being in the country for just a couple of hours! Since both Israeli and Arabs helped me and welcomed me I felt It was important to yet again remind myself to not project anything to people and simply see them as individuals and not in their stereotypical roles of “oppressors”, “victims”, “terrorists”…

DSCF9044|My colleague Anas from the Hebron Youth Development Resource Center where I’ll be working in the next two months came to pick me up and drove me to the organization’s premises nearby the Northern entrance of the city. I learned from him that some relatives of mine on my father’s side had called him to tell him to “take care of me”. It was clear to me my mom wouldn’t do it as she knows very well how I detest any form of patronizing. I got somewhat mad that someone is giving their permission to someone else to patronize ME, which I will not allow, especially if it exhibits itself in ways that are limiting to my free actions and unrespectful of my free judgement.

Soon after I had arrived, Anas and his friend Muotaz, the other intern- Marin and I went to Betlehem for dinner.

I was suddenly overcome by so much joy and excitement, we frequently stopped the car to just gaze and take photos! I haven’t laughed so badly in months: I was telling Anas he’s giving me stomachache out of laughter!

DSCF9052

Sunset nearby Betlehem

I had forgotten to awe at the new things I see. To be grateful. To be trully excited even if it is annoying for the people around me (Anas and Moutaz were making fun of me for being so excitable. Someone else recently told me he has traveled so much now, there is nothing to be excited about anymore. I think I felt this for a while, too). I think you need a certain sense of comfort and ease, and peace of mind to be able to exercise your excitement.

Excitement, however, is for me one of the most crucial qualities of being alive.

This is sooooo cooool!

This is sooooo cooool!


Books that Inspire! For Palestine campaign at Middlebury College

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

Books for Palestine

Thanks to the Center for Careers and Internships (CCI) at Middlebury College, this summer I will intern in Hebron Youth Development Resource Center (YDRC) in the West Bank, Palestine. This is the first of a series of initiatives I am planning to implement hoping to contribute for the empowerment of young people in Palestine.

Books are the easiest way for new ideas to be brought in, contemplated, adapted, transformed and disseminated! The right to books and ensuring the availability of books should be of uttermost importance.

The collection of new (published in the last 10 years!) books in good condition and covering various topics related to youth will be collected and brought to Palestine to be exhibited and made available to young people at the youth social hub in Hebron YDRC. The campaign has already be generously supported by CTLR. Further enrichment of the value of the campaign will be sending positive encouragements or inspirational messages along with the books to create an opportunity for human connection.

The current campaign emphasizes on quality over quantity: the books meeting the requirements set will be brought in Palestine within my luggage for no additional cost (I will not take much luggage on this trip since I’m going home to Bulgaria afterwards) and will not cause any further ecological harm (other than being made of paper, i.e. trees).

Feel free to message me for more information whether or not you want to donate a book! E-mail Maggie Nazer at mnazer@middlebury.edu