30 December 2009

On Nuclear Weapons: A Feminist Perspective

Ok, so I finally finished translating Isha L'Isha's position paper On Nuclear Weapons: A Feminist Perspective (the link is to a pdf document, so it might take a few seconds to open) into English. It's a fascinating document and highly recommended to get a fresh perspective on what it means for a country to possess nuclear power.

21 December 2009

Sometimes You Just Love Her So

Sometimes you just love her so
at times it terrifies your soul
she has created the solid centre
you never knew you lacked
or needed.

In one single moment –
the moon, stars and oceans of the world
came together.
amalgamated into chaos.

Only she knew it was beauty.
you took one step backwards
hesitated, and took a fire hot plunge
into amalgamated moon stars oceans.
it seemed not to matter
whether sinking down, or swimming towards
this whole thing is called beauty
you’re soaking into.
you’ve found yourself with her
a new self.

Soaked up, dripping wet,
it was too much for you.
you needed to breathe.
so you came up for air.
and just walked away
back into your neat world,
where the moon is separated by a world
from the stars, and the
oceans do not intermingle with

18 December 2009

The Art of Recycling

I learned the art of recycling out of necessity when I moved to my own apartment. With my limited financial resources, I couldn’t afford to buy new furniture, let alone any decorations. So I started recycling discarded items. Pieces of old, decaying furniture made their way into my workroom, where they underwent renovation: removing old paint, filing with sand paper, painting. The final result would always astonish me. But more so, it would amaze my partner who, with each “junk” as he called it, would get angry: “You’re not bringing that junk into the house!”
With time, I developed an eye for identifying the potential in different items: an old back of a chair turned to a unique picture-frame, an old wooden kitchen-cabinet, complete with a rack to hang plates to dry turned into a one-of-a-kind bookcase.

Every few months, a new piece makes its way from the streets to the workroom. It always thrills me to the bone to see the transformation of something old into something fresh and special. The apartment is forever changing, new pieces arriving, new color, furniture being rearranged, the once kitchen-cabinet turned bookcase now makes its way to the bedroom, the once-yellow picture-frame is now painted red, and so on.

This way, you can redecorate your house almost for free (the only costs are sandpaper and paint). The work itself gives me pleasure – it’s very relaxing, almost like meditation. I also recommend you try other kinds of recycling. My cousin Nina is a designer, and her specialty is in recycling old clothes and making new ones out of them in a very unconventional way. Check out her blog to get some really cool ideas.

So start having fun! And don’t forget to take before and after pictures! Let me know how it goes. Here are some pictures of my own recyclables, but I tend to forget to take a "before" picture, so there's only one. But the rest didn't look much better when I first brought them home.

p.s. This post was inspired by Rebecca's post The Art of the Ordinary.

16 December 2009

Public Announcement

I am coming out tonight. I am making my secret yearning public. A yearning that's been burning in my bones for years now.
A few years back I won a poetry prize from the University of Haifa for some poems I'd written. The following day I decided I'm going to write a book. I took a year off my Master's studies and spent the whole year writing. But then life caught up with me - I went back to my studies and between raising a daughter, studying, and working I all but abandoned my dream.
My manuscript has been lying on the shelf for a number of years now. Every few months I go back to it, and with difficult emotions, I reread some parts. Sometimes I even take up a pencil and do some editing.
I have accepted the fact that the work is very virgin. Most of it needs to be reworked.
Today I feel I have matured as a writer, and I am ready to embark on the journey of writing a novel. A few nights ago, I opened a blank word document and spent a couple of hours writing. I turned off the computer at around 4:30 am [I suffer from insomnia, and anyway my creative writing is best at these small hours of the night], having written almost two pages.
The following day I reread these two pages - and I felt that this is it. It's a good start, and I even had a female character popping up all on her own.
I've been walking around with a small notebook in my bag, frantically writing some notes to elaborate on later on. I feel that this time, the novel has got a strong hold of me. It is struggling to breathe on its own, not letting me have too much control.

So I think these are all signs that the time has come. The time has come for me to make a real commitment.
I promise myself not to let go this time. I promise myself to write something - anything - each and every night.
Hopefully I will have some parts to share with you soon - that is, if you are interested.
This is my promise to myself. This is my promise to the story that is struggling to be read.

8 December 2009

Terrorist at the Airport

Every Palestinian citizen of Israel who has traveled abroad has similar stories of the Israeli security at the airport. All stories share a common thread: feelings of humiliation as the number 5 or, in a worse case, the number 6 is stuck to the passport; receiving special treatment because we answer “no” when asked if we served the army; our bags being thoroughly searched through, our most private items being flaunted in front of everybody, and a security “express lane” especially for us, because we constitute a security “threat.”

I was accepted to the 2009/2010 Isis – Women’s International Cross-Cultural Exchange Program Institute on documentation of violations of human rights. How ironic. Participants were asked to bring with them their traditional dress and their country/national flags. I don’t own a traditional Palestinian dress, but I have two kufiyyas, which I couldn’t take with me, as the black-and-white Palestinian kufiyya has become a symbol of terrorism. That would have won me extra-special treatment at the airport, with my own escort and a seat at the very back of the plane – as far as possible from the pilot.

As for the Palestinian flag – that would be even worse, being caught with the flag of the “enemy.” I have a small pouch with the Palestinian flag hand-stitched on its front. I turned the pouch inside out, stuffed it with a couple of sanitary pads, and hoped it would escape being noticed.

I arrived at the airport four hours before my scheduled flight, as I wanted to spend some time in the duty free shops. If lucky, I’d only get the number 5. These numbers indicate the degree of security threat passengers pose. I stood in line and tried to guess the numbers each passenger would get. In front of me, an older couple with large red suitcases waited their turn. Their looks betrayed their Ashkenazi background. I made a mental note to myself: number 1. I then turned my attention to a young Thai man with long hair and a bulking backpack. He’d get a number 5 at least. Young tourists and volunteers usually get a number 5 or, at best a number 4.

A young woman in a uniform approaches me and, with a polite smile, asks me in English, “Do you speak Hebrew?” I smile back at her, “Of course,” keeping the is it that obvious I am an Arab to myself. She opens my passport and, squinting at my name, I can tell she’s struggling to get it right. “Kalud?”
“Khulud,” I correct her. They’re not allowed to ask straight if I’m an Arab or what my religion is. in the past, they’d ask questions such as which holidays do we celebrate at home and to which school one went. They’ve changed their tactics lately, “What’s the origin of your name?” I guess this question is much more straight-forward and it saves some time. And there is no way around it; with the holidays, I used to say that we don’t celebrate any. Here the only answer is “Arabic.” I search for an elusive answer, and within seconds come up with a good one, “It’s the name my family gave me.”

“Did you served in the army, the police, or anything similar?” And my “no” immediately earns me a number 5 – the “almost terrorist” status.

From then on, I received special treatment. The number 5 gave me a “handle with care” status at every stage. After my luggage was X-rayed, I was motioned to a stand where a very polite young lady searched through my belongings. My lap-top and camera were taken away to be processed in a special device. My luggage was meticulously searched for suspicious items. I stood there waiting, the security persons whispering some things to each other, checking their paperwork, while all the light-skinned passengers passed straight to the check-in without a second glance. All dark-skinned were sent to this special line to have their luggage searched.

When they were finished with me, I went to check in, and then proceeded to the next stage, where only passengers are allowed. I already know the drill, so I showed the woman my passport with my number 5 sticker and she immediately motioned me to my own special lane, which was empty of passengers. Five security persons were waiting for me. I didn’t wait for them to ask me if I had a laptop, and I took it out of my backpack and handed it to them. My backpack was put on the X-ray belt, and it entered the black box. Two men stood behind the computer screen, and for a whole minute they scrutinized the insides of my backpack. Meanwhile, I went through the metal-detecting machine, and it beeped. I took off my watch, and went back through. Again I beeped. “Do you have any coins in your pockets?” I said I didn’t, and then remembered, “I have metal bars in my bra.” Two of them looked at each other, a bit embarrassed. I was asked to take off my shoes and my body was searched by a woman. They then asked for my camera, chargers and cables. It took ten more minutes for me to get out of there. And with that, my humiliation ended. Now I braced myself for the return trip, which I knew would be much worse, since I was flying with EL-Al.

[My adventures with the security on my return trip will be posted next time]