HUMAN …..

Exploring what its mean to be HUMAN. Highlighting  the Separation Wall and the brutal checkpoint in the West Bank. A series of photos and an article I shared with the New York art magazine, Dekit. Please click on the link below to read the article and see the photos. 

http://issuu.com/dekitmagazine/docs/human_/57

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No, My Children won’t be ready …

A video made by a Jewish right wing extreme institution that calls for the destruction of Al-Aqsa Mosque; one of the most sacred holy places for Muslims world wide located in the Jerusalem, and urges to rebuild the Jewish Temple that were destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE after the Jewish revolt against the Romans. The short video has gotten a large reaction by Muslims, Palestinians and as well as the Egyptian newly elected “Muslim Brotherhood” president Mursi. The video by the institution called “ The Temple Institution” shows a Jewish father with his two kids playing at the beach, while the father – wearing a Jewish Kippah hat usually worn by Orthodox Jews- reading a newspaper with titles about Syria, the kids were building something using the sand on the beach. Once the kids finished their building, they dragged their father to show him what they were doing; the father walks towards their work. Standing there astonished, he drops the newspaper- in a slow motion- and the paper hits the ground open with a photo of President Mursi’. Some waves during the sunset, and there comes the moment “ A big sand Jewish Temple”. The video ends with “ The Children are ready”.

 

Not long after this video was on youtube, the Palestinians responded with another video. A Muslim father- kind of long beard- with his two kids on the beach in Gaza, the father is reading a newspaper in Arabic with a big photo of the same Egyptian president with the title “ Mursi: The Egyptian Revolution President”. The Muslim father prays, and after he finished he got a small paper which he wrote on it- “لا إله  إلا الله” he takes the small paper, walks towards the beach and his children and stuck that paper on top of  “ Al-Aqsa Sand Mosque” his children made. As the same dramatic first Jewish Video, the Muslim version of the video ends up with some waves and the sunset, with the sentence “ Our Children are ready TOO. This video was done by a Palestinian youth initiative called “ Khatwa Youth Foundation” located in Gaza.

 

My first response to those videos, I am not a father yet, but when I am ready to be one; No, my Children won’t be ready. My children will not be ready to engage in this religious insanity, my future children will not be ready to hate, they wont be ready to get in that cycle of violence led by extreme religious views on both sides. Yes, I will raise my children to love their country; yes I will plant in them the values of justice, faith and resistance to the occupation with the most supreme and creative ways possible. My children will be hopeful, they will have dreams of a better future, they wont believe in such a thing called fate, nor be led by those hypocrites that use religion and politics to enlarge their wealth.

 

Good try using innocence- represented by children- in the two videos, as well as romance- represented with the beach and the sunset. No sir, none of you will manipulate me with such fake romance. When I think of children I see hope, I dream of a better future, I do not think of children as a way to spread a message of destruction and conflict. When I think of children, I think of them being part of the resolution of the bloody conflict we have been living under for the last 68 years. I really do despise those- on both parts- hurling the most precious of all-our Children- as subjects in ones agenda; children are not and will not be the fuel of the conflict and war.

 

On the other hand, I personally don’t give a heck about the newly elected Egyptian president and I don’t really see where he fits in those two videos, but rather see it as a political game that both parts used to enrich their religious-political views. I am a West Banker Palestinian that dreams of diving deep under the Mediterranean sea of Gaza, I do dream of seeing my children building sand castles, but I do not wish to be reading a newspaper filled with religious and political miseries, I rather will be swimming with my children, and most importantly taking photos of them and capturing happy moments of their childhood. Oh and by the way, where are the mothers in those two videos??!! Why are those two parts ignoring the presence of women? Just wondering, maybe this tells you something else too.

 

I am not writing this because I don’t belong to either group religion, I am not being critical of them both religion beliefs, but I am writing this just to express my frustration and disappointment of using religion to justify conflict. It is not a religion conflict, or maybe it is?? I am getting confused here to be honest. I wish that no body will make a third video response and build the Church of Nativity or the Church of the Holy Sepulcher on sand, if this ever happens I am packing and I am out of here.

 

Until the moment that I decided to write about this, the Israeli/Jewish video have more than 310,000 views with more than 103 comments, like :

“The children ARE ready!

What a great day when it becomes a reality. May it be speedily in our days!”,

“Don’t talk ! Build !”

“Before building anything on the Temple Mount, the construction site must be cleared from existing structures. Let the bulldozers roll!”

“We Want Mashiach NOW!!

“Israel the only land of hope and glory for the entire world”

“I can not stop watching it. Hope to see the real temple in Jerusalem soon.”

“Jerusalem- the heart and capital of the Jewish people forever. Long live Israel! Long live Jerusalem! “

“This is the Future”

 

Where as on the Palestinian/Muslim made video there are only 413 views and six comments, one of them was removed and another was flagged as spam. They comments translated from Arabic says “

 

“Even if I don’t agree with the Egyptian new president Mursi, but this is a very nice video and I don’t have doubts for a second that a day will come and we will have victory over the Jewish Infidels”

“ very nice video, but I don’t like the Mursi part, because we elected him forcibly”.

“Its not right”

“Very nice video”

 

Just a wake up call, and a message to those behind the two videos; Wake up, your children deserves better than this.

 

Enjoy some of my photography with kids ..

 

Elias Halabi

Bethlehem, Palestine.

 

To watch the videos I am writing about, please follow those links.

For more information about the videos please follow the links below.

 

“The Temple Institution video”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LPmViwmJSJE

 

“The- Khatwa Youth Foundation video”

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gcZvlszLboo&feature=player_embedded

 

Videos in the news

 

http://en.aswatmasriya.com/news/view.aspx?id=f2a214e3-2fb2-4fbe-9c28-b22ea922531e

 

http://www.salem-news.com/articles/july242012/egypt-ridiculed-ae.php

 

 

 

 

 

 

Palestinian Children, Beacons of hope in the midst of despair

Palestinian Child Day comes on 5 April of each year. On this day, the Palestinian community celebrates children, who represent the present and the future of Palestine. This year, once again, this occasion comes at a time when Palestinian children still suffer major Children’s rights violations caused by the occupation. Yet, regardless of all those violations the Children of Palestine symbolize the beacon of hope in the midst of despair.

Two basic articles In the UN Declaration of Children’s Right’s; “The child shall enjoy special protection, and shall be given opportunities and facilities, by law and by other means, to enable him to develop physically, mentally, morally, spiritually and socially in a healthy and normal manner and in conditions of freedom and dignity. In the enactment of laws for this purpose, the best interests of the child shall be the paramount consideration.” And “ The child shall have full opportunity for play and recreation, which should be directed to the same purposes as education; society and the public authorities shall endeavor to promote the enjoyment of this right.” Yet when it comes to the Children of Palestine the reality is different. Unlike most of the Children of the world, Palestinian Children does not have open spaces or parks to play, for a lot of the open spaces they used before are now on the other side of the Separation Wall.

Regardless of the violations of Children’s Right’s in Palestine, the Palestinian Children are resisting the injustices and refuse to let the Separation Wall and the occupation steal their joy and their childhood. Well, the question is “ Are they aware of it?”  Maybe not, but by their innocence and playfulness they make a difference. Further more, these Children are not going to wait any longer for any UN resolutions to bring them justice, they have decided to live their childhood, they declare their freedom with a smile, and they cage the occupiers in their sniper towers with an innocent yet persistent attitude of “ we are going to push the wall until it falls”.

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Oldies Goodies, and some apples on the side …

Sometime I wonder, what thoughts, reports and books were typed in that little old typewriter I have in my room. Second and third and even fourth thoughts were drafted before the final work. No backspace, no delete, no spelling correction and most important; No copy and paste. Antiques and cultural heritage adds to my passion for History. Yet history lies between our hands and we don’t even see it. I am an antique and old books collector. One book that I have talks about governing in Palestine, the book is from 1939, another book is about the Palestinian police and security in Palestine printed in 1932, a Christian liturgy book that dates back to 1883, a Muslim Hadeth book that dates back to 1942, an Arabic scientific & literary journal 1894 and a few other old books.

A very valuable collection that indicates that yes there were Palestine and Palestinian intellectuals before the occupation of Palestine. Just another prove to those ignorant people out there saying that the Palestinian people were invented. Unfortunately all those valuables and many other valuables I found were trashed and in the way to be thrown away.

Few months ago I went to Italy and took an intensive course in Management of Cultural Heritage, and I was lucky to witness and learn some of the ways they preserve antiques. A breathtaking experience I had was holding a book that dates back to 3000+ years and still is used by researches. In Palestine people are busy with politics and conflict, yet one day we will be free, and then it may be too late to find the treasures of the past. I am sure some people are saving these treasures, and guess what, those people will be the ones that the coming generations will thank.

for more photos check my photography page, like it and share it with your friends.

Poland voices Palestine

Under the title “Israel’s show of force in the West Bank” the Polish wide spread news agency exhibited an album of photos I took last Thursday in its front page regarding the brutal demolition of Beduin homes in Kherbet al Rahwa in Southwest Hebron. 

One of my wishes and dreams of being a bridge and a voice to those Palestinians to the international community have came true. Thanks to all those who made it possible. This again gives me the push to keep taking photos and show them in any kind of form I can. 

Check out the Album from the original source 

http://wiadomosci.onet.pl/wiadomosci/pokaz-sily-izraela-na-zachodnim-brzegu,5032250,11398672,fotoreportaz-duzy.html

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And the Nakba continues

This time in southwest Hebron, Khirbet al-Rahwa was the target of the unmerciful, brutal and ruthless caterpillar bulldozers driven mercilessly by Israeli soldiers, the attack came all of a sudden with no prior demolition orders.

Monday the 13th- of February 2012 ” It was before noon when the Israeli soldiers came with bulldozers, jeeps and a large number of military force. They started demolishing the animal shelters where we keep the newborn sheep, we begged them to stop; they refused. We ended up begging them to at least give us some time to take the newborn sheep to a safe place, and again they refused. The men of our community were away, and when they saw the soldiers and heard about what is happening they rushed back, but the soldiers did not let them any where near us, they kept them away from the shelters and the tents that they are knocking down. At the other tents that they didn’t demolish were staying all the woman and the young kids, crying and screaming for help and asking the soldiers to stop. “

“ I don’t know where to put my kids and my wife to sleep now, they demolished our only place, our HOME. Our only source of income, the sheep is now outside without shelter, the newborn sheep are dying now, and we lost around 70 sheep since they demolished the shelters. My grandfather, my father, my self and my kids were born here. Nothing is left for us now, even the water cistern they destroyed it”.

On Thursday I had the chance to accompany a number of people from a Polish NGO, which helped a while ago in building the water cistern that was demolished on that day. Coming from the comfortable area of Bethlehem- If I may say- of course overlooking the Separation Wall and the various checkpoints and illegal settlements- I was shocked, irritated and deeply moved from what I saw. I have witnessed very harsh realities, I have seen people dying in front of my house, my own house was a target for a number of missiles, but yet, I have never seen Tents and animal shelters being knocked down. What was even more tormenting is witnessing the pain in the eyes of those old men while pointing out their lose, calling the tent their home with almost a tear dropping yet with outstanding resilience, insisting that they are staying on their land no matter what pressure the Israeli government is putting on them to leave. The Bedouin community called out for emergency help from the international and local community, some help they already received from the local governor, specially food and blankets, but those don’t even count, since they don’t have a roof to stay under, specially during the heavy rain storm Palestine is facing now since few weeks.  “ We will stay here, we are not moving anywhere else, we have nowhere else to move to, this is our home”, one lady kept repeating to me.

With all that, there was still a little space for sunshine, kids playing around the rubble, Arabic tea boiled on coals, the killing smell of Bedouin special kind of cigarettes, more rain, mud, young shepherds running to find shelter from the heavy rain, a chicken keeping her chicks warm, more tea, “tent/home” made bread, good conversations, trust, friendship and hope in the international community present that day, to be the voice for the voiceless and a helping hand in rebuilding what was destroyed. “ Write about everything you heard from us today, and show every picture you took, we want the whole world too see the reality, we want nothing but to continue living peacefully in our land”, these where the last words said to us before leaving back to Bethlehem.

This is just one of the stories. Many other violations of human rights caused by Israeli soldiers and settlers accurse everyday in cities, villages, towns and refugee camps in Palestine. Many stories appear in forms of typical daily news; other stories don’t even make news. But those are human beings being stripped off their humanity every single day; those are people who have to battle to survive, families that have to stay under the rain when we sleep in our comfortable houses, yet they have much hope that their voice will be heard and that their reality will soon be changed.

Khirbet al Rahwa is a small village inhibited by a couple of hundred farmers and Bedouins whose only source of income is from raising sheep and some farming. A community that lived peaceful even with all the harassments from neighboring illegal settlements rooted in the Palestinian Occupied Territory, until the unjustified demolition, which is a continuation of the violation of the international humanitarian law.

Fore more Human rights violations in the OPT, check out the website of the “Palestinian Center for Human Rights”

http://pchrgaza.org/portal/en/

 

Serenity Skies ….

سافر تجد عوضا عمن تفارقه وانصب فإن لذيذ العيش في النصب
إني رأيت وقوف الماء يفسده إن ساح طاب وإن لم يجر لم يطب
والأسد لولا فراق الأرض ما افترست والسهم لولا فراق القوس لم يصب
والشمس لو وقفت في الفلك دائمة لملها الناس من عجم ومن عرب
والتبر كالترب ملقى في أماكنه والعود في أرضه نوع من الحطب
فإن تغرب هذا عز مطلبه وإن تغرب ذاك عز كالذهب

الإمام الشافعي

My inmost being …

You formed my inmost being; you knit me in my mother’s womb.  My very self you knew; my bones were not hidden from you, When I was being made in secret, fashioned as in the depths of the earth. Probe me, God, know my heart; try me, know my concerns. See if my way is crooked, then lead me in the ancient paths.

“ She did not see the light since then” …

Moments after the police started searching the house, they heard the calling out from inside the closed bathroom; on the ground there was a blanket, a pillow and a barely twenty years old girl. After resisting the police, her father confessed that he had confined her inside the bathroom at the age of eleven, “ she did not see the light since then” the father added.

The father was convicted on the indecent assaults-RAPE- of his minor daughter; the mother tried to stop him but got beaten without mercy. Five years later, the court convicted the heartless criminal with imprisonment for ten years with hard labor. Yet, for bringing down the personal right- from the victim her self, the court decided to reduce the sentence to only five years.

Those two disturbing stories were on the local news couple of days ago. Reading the news have left me speechless, powerless, full of anger and rage against my own species- men-, my government that left a rapist father free for five years before convicting him, for the shame and taboo based culture I live in and finally on every silent partner in those specific crimes and other crimes that happens and we don’t hear of.

We all have a choice; we can stand up and fight the dehumanization of woman and their basic rights, or just keep silent and walk away. We can make a difference; we SHOULD fight for it with all we can, BEFORE ITS TOO LATE …

Ps. all those images I took at theater plays, and they just represent in away how I felt and imagined the situation.

I strongly suggest you check a video on the same topic made by the Palestinian artist Samar Hazboun on a project called “ Hush”,

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TarXpjNMpuM

 

Glimmers of Faith & Beacons of Hope …

You may not know but Christ is born more than one time in Bethlehem, Palestine. On the 7th of January every year, Bethlehem celebrates Christmas with the Greek Orthodox, Syrian Orthodox, Coptic’s and Ethiopian Christian and that is not the end of it; on the 17th of January the Armenians will start their Christmas celebrations.

On the night of the 6th of January, the Basilica of the nativity gets packed with local believers as well as international pilgrims. One can see the Russians, Greeks, Arabs, Africans, Europeans, Americans and Latin Americans all trying to squeeze in and find a place to simply pray. If you listen carefully, you can hear Greek, Arabic, Aramaic, and other languages all in the same time, and that’s because all sects have their mid-night mass at the same time. Moreover, the smell of incense along side with the gospel of Matthew and the story of the Birth of Jesus sung in different languages is enough to capture all your senses and leave you breathless.

The highest priest, old nuns and priests are the only ones allowed to attend the exclusive mid-night mass at the Grotto of the Nativity. Extremely crowded, over heated, Young Russian and Greek nuns praying with tears dropping on their cheeks, bread and wine on top of the altar, priests wearing colorful dresses, big crosses  and big beards  reading the gospel and others holding candles, while others are singing each on in his language; and me, I was taking pictures.

What a lifetime experience it is,

Enjoy some of the moments I captured, and Merry Greek, Syrian, Coptic and Ethiopian Christmas. And almost happy new Easter New Year …

Feel free to leave me a comment or contact me at halabielias@hotmail.com

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