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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.


Last day at work: Happiness in Palestine.

Categories: Midd Blogosphere
Closing of training and English classes led by Maggie Nazer at Hebron YDRC, Palestine

Closing of training and English classes led by Maggie Nazer at Hebron YDRC, Palestine

Today was my last day working at the Hebron Youth Development Center as an intern. The amazing performance and exhibition which the participants in my leadership training “Art for Social Change” organized were exceptional. It was exceptional what they managed to do just in two short days of preparation left on their own. It was so fulfilling to actually see that my words and actions inspire others! My amazing co-trainer Asala Salhab said: “They told me yesterday: “Maggie said we are leaders so we should organize the performance alone and that we can do anything” and indeed after hours spent in the theater space yesterday, today they came at 9 in the morning on a Ramadan day only to rehearse and perfect the showcase of their work.

It’s unbelievable to me how close I have grown to my English students and how dearly I love them: all of them at once and each of them in a unique way. I spent the last 3 hours in a coffee shop having one of the best times in my life (seriously!), discussing passionately all possible topics imaginable (which I didn’t imagine to be possible when I first met them) despite the many cultural norms which otherwise do not allow a girl to be smoking nargille in the company of guys.

I want to tell you all again that I love you so and you have given me more than I have ever expected! Never have my ideas and efforts for social change and youth empowerment been more well accepted and celebrated.

Last but not least, you have brought me back to Life (no exaggeration!) after a very difficult year in which I many times lost hope in the power of my voice to influence any actual change and in which I was almost about to lose my trust in others…

You have given me hope, you have given me love, you have given me an enriched sense for identity (“We Palestinians teach Life, Sir!”), you have given me your unconditional support and trust.

And I’m way too happy and inspired to even be sad that I am leaving! (Although, I guess it will hit me once I’m no longer on this sacred land.)

Carry the magic we created together with you at all times and spread it generously!

P.S. Don’t forget: WE ARE CONNECTED NOW!

Special THANKS to Center for Careers and Internships at Middlebury College and my hosting organization Hebron YDRC.

Pure Joy

Pure Joy

 


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


You know what “Occupation” means, right? (A lesson from a failed educator! :P)

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

DSCF9517Today I led my first class of English for beginners at the Hebron YDRC.
The group for beginners will meet every Tuesday and Thursday and I was very excited to finally start teaching after spending last week correcting placement tests and preparing lesson plans :)

I had scheduled a program of diverse activities aiming to help my students develop all the skills necessary to confidently express themselves in English emphasizing on speaking which I have been told they have had the least exposure to.

As the group gathered we started with getting-to-know-each-other activities I had prepared. The first one, called “Name cards”, consists of participants writing their own “name cards” and then distributing them to others. The game allows learners to both get to know others and exercise introducing themselves in English.

As I explained the rules I asked them to write on their name cards three main things: name, age, and occupation. As they are beginners, I tried to simplify the vocabulary I used and in the heat of the moment I figured they might not understand the word “occupation”.

“You know what “Occupation” means, right?”- I asked. They looked at me bluntly.
“It refers to what you do: whether you study, or work…”
“Occupation” has two meanings”- this smart guy pointed out and in that moment I realized how inappropriate my choice of words has been unexpectedly…

Occupation has two meanings. Sure they know it.

I excused myself and the class moved on with new games, exercises and laughs, and, presumably, no more mortifying mistakes on my part.
And while there wasn’t much I could do to prevent my unconscious vocabulary misjudgment, it was a great call to be mindful of the environment and not to forget that we are all students and teachers to each other! Inshalla!

DSCF9523


Yet another day in Hebron: Protests and Clashes

Categories: Midd Blogosphere

I work at the Hebron Youth Development Resource Center and I live in what is known as Beit al Tafl, probably the biggest center for youth and children in the West Bank.

As we were about  to finish work today, my collegues told me there were shootings and gas bombs thrown nearby by the Israeli soldiers because of the protests of civilians.

Men and women from the city have been protesting for several days in support of the Palestinian political prisoners gone on hunger strike. According to Palestinian News Network (PNN) more than 40 prisoners have been hospitalized after spending more than 30 days without any food; many of the protesting prisoners have been held in detention.

As we went outside to see what’s happening, the smell hit us immediately. The soldiers have been dispersing a chemically produced substance with extremely heavy smell, which makes you lose your breath, cough and experience various negative physical reactions.

As we moved towards the street, we could clearly see the soldiers who seemed to greatly outnumber the protesting crowd. I wondered why my colleague Omar brought us on the side of the soldiers and whether it was safe, but he assured us the international press was allowed on this side and it was okey to take photos and video for the sake of the freedom of the media.

I later met Mousa, a representative of the Roters agency, who gave us tips: “When they throw the gas bombs, the wind may direct it in the opposite way, so you have to run as far as possible”. “Don’t touch your eyes”.

The smell of animal dirt coming from the liquid dispersed towards the Palestinians was all around us, heavy and sticky.

I briefly saw one of the women protesters- an old woman, holding the photo of her son, held in jail because of his resistance towards the Israeli.

We soon decided to go back to the office. “Someone will get killed today”- Anas, my other colleague and friend said- “Two people were killed on Ras Eljora (the name of the street nearby a big check point) last year”.  As we came back our female colleague Ayat complained about the way we smelled. We were lowered to animals without even being at the center of the action.

We soon decided to leave and all got in Omar’s car. I was going with my friend and volunteer Asala to join her family for dinner. As we came closer, we saw the soldiers on the groud with the guns in their hands, ready to shoot. Stones were thrown in the same direction fromyoung Palestinian boys. We drove closer to the Palestinian crowd as we wanted to get into the city.

For some reason we had to get out of the car and walk.

As I got off the car, gas bombs were thrown in our direction and teenage boys were holding stones to throw at the soldiers.

It was a great chaos.

Fear was so present and so was the need to hold on to each other and to look out for each other. I was trying to keep up with Anas who was walking ahead and looking back to see where Asala was.

There were some guys sitting nearby, quiet. They weren’t running away.

They must have been used to it.

*

In the evening the protests continued, but this time I was looking from the balcony of Asala’s house. The men were on horses; flags were raised in the sky, Allah was called for assistance.

It was just another day in Hebron.

**

In the forefront lines I observed with unbelief. Men were enemies.

Men were risking their lives, their futures, the futures of their not-yet-born daughters and sons.

And all I could think was: how is the world letting this happen?

Gas bomb thrown by soldiers DSCF9463 DSCF9465 DSCF9466 DSCF9467 DSCF9468 DSCF9469 Daily Clashes in Hebron DSCF9457