Peace prizes are given to those who fit in with the narrative

Obama and Malala are both together against the ‘medieval’ Taliban.

While not diminishing anything about the bravery of a girl taking a bullet to the head for her wish to go to school, lets make sure it doesn’t create blind-spots.

The prizes, attention and celebration is – whether they intend to be or not – a part of a very specific narrative and alternative ones are certainly possible – on the other side of the Taliban stands a violent force as well.

Malala and Nabila: worlds apart

Blurry pujo

First time I managed to be in Kolkata over durga pujo. To say it’s a pretty big deal is a bit of a understatement. Christmas Lighting in shop windows have nothing on the pandals (the temporary structures built to house the gods) and thakurs (the idols of Durga and her children – Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesh and Kartik).

Apparently around 3,000 of these are built around Kolkata, and from a week spent spotting them in every street corner I have absolutely no reason to question that number.  Each neighbourhood has at least one, and there are famed ones with budgets counted in millions of rupees. This year one was 3D printed, another adorned with tens of millions worth of gold, another with diamonds and so on and so forth. There are prizes to be won from a wide range of newspapers, corporates, tv channels etc.

Durga Puja in Bengal is the celebration of the goddess Durga’s (wife of the in western circles more well-known Shiv) visit to her father (Himalaya). Visiting your parents after you’ve been married is of course joyous (can’t be much fun waiting on your husband and his family). Additionally, it’s celebrating Durga’s defeat of evil – in the form of a demon who has taken the shape of a buffalo.

The basic activity involves a) buying, gifting & wearing of new clothes and b) taking said clothes (and yourself) pandal-hopping across the city. While the festival can’t exactly be called secular (since well, you know, the Hindu pantheon and myths feature pretty heavily) for most people it seems to be more a festival/carnival type event rather than a heavily loaded religious one.

Finally, after five days of sweating, crowding, wearing new clothes, eating mishti and too much food the sad day of Durga’s departure from her father (to head back to her husband) comes and Durga (along with her children) is taken – with much ruckus – to the river in which she is then left to find her way back to Shiv in the Himalayas.

Happiness is bread

Vacation days have provided a pinch of time for bread baking (as well as the start of a new sour dough).

IMG_6199Bread

New Toronto restaurant staffed with deaf waiters

New Toronto restaurant staffed with deaf waiters – YouTube.

In a way could be pretty subversive, instead of attempting to make people who diverge (in abilities or in any other aspect) from whatever is the “majority” way (or even just the “groups with power”) adapt or fit in, create spaces which are – in effect – owned by them (in this case through using a sign language).

Marketing to the aid of wasted food

Intermarché – “Inglorious Fruits and Vegetables” – YouTube.

What does Hamas want?

Can’t say much about the veracity of these, but supposedly they are coming from Hamas sources and have been given to Egyptian negotiators. They are requirements for the signing of a 10 year peace.

The ten conditions were translated by The Electronic Intifada from an Arabic version published by Ma’an News Agency:

  1. Mutual cessation of the war and withdrawal of tanks to previous locations and the return of farmers to work their land in the agricultural border areas.

  2. Release of all the Palestinians detained since 23 June 2014 and improvement of the conditions of Palestinian prisoners, especially the prisoners from Jerusalem, Gaza and Palestinians of the interior [present-day Israel].

  3. Total lifting of the siege of Gaza and opening the border crossings to goods and people and allowing in all food and industrial supplies and construction of a power plant sufficient to supply all of Gaza.

  4. Construction of an international seaport and an international airport supervised by the UN and non-biased countries.

  5. Expansion of the maritime fishing zone to 10 kms and supplying fishermen with larger fishing and cargo vessels.

  6. Converting the Rafah crossing into an international crossing under supervision of the UN and Arab and friendly countries.

  7. Signing a 10-year truce agreement and deployment of international monitors to the borders.

  8. A commitment by the occupation government not to violate Palestinian airspace and easing of conditions for worshipers in al-Aqsa mosque.

  9. The occupation will not interfere in the affairs of the Palestinian government and will not hinder national reconciliation.

  10. Restoration of the border industrial areas and their protection and development.

via Palestinian factions reportedly set 10 conditions for 10-year truce with Israel | The Electronic Intifada.

Israeli PM: There can be no state for Palestinians

Netanyahu has stressed often in the past that he doesn’t want Israel to become a binational state — implying that he favors some kind of accommodation with and separation from the Palestinians. But on Friday he made explicit that this could not extend to full Palestinian sovereignty. Why? Because, given the march of Islamic extremism across the Middle East, he said, Israel simply cannot afford to give up control over the territory immediately to its east, including the eastern border — that is, the border between Israel and Jordan, and the West Bank and Jordan.The priority right now, Netanyahu stressed, was to “take care of Hamas.” But the wider lesson of the current escalation was that Israel had to ensure that “we don’t get another Gaza in Judea and Samaria.”

 

Amid the current conflict, he elaborated, “I think the Israeli people understand now what I always say: that there cannot be a situation, under any agreement, in which we relinquish security control of the territory west of the River Jordan.”Earlier this spring, Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon sparked a storm in Israel-US ties when he told a private gathering that the US-Kerry-Allen security proposals weren’t worth the paper they were written on. Netanyahu on Friday said the same, and more, in publicNot relinquishing security control west of the Jordan, it should be emphasized, means not giving a Palestinian entity full sovereignty there. It means not acceding to Mahmoud Abbas’s demands, to Barack Obama’s demands, to the international community’s demands.

 

This is not merely demanding a demilitarized Palestine; it is insisting upon ongoing Israeli security oversight inside and at the borders of the West Bank. That sentence, quite simply, spells the end to the notion of Netanyahu consenting to the establishment of a Palestinian state. A less-than-sovereign entity? Maybe, though this will never satisfy the Palestinians or the international community. A fully sovereign Palestine? Out of the question.He wasn’t saying that he doesn’t support a two-state solution. He was saying that it’s impossible.

 

This was not a new, dramatic change of stance by the prime minister. It was a new, dramatic exposition of his long-held stance.Naming both US Secretary of State John Kerry and his security adviser Gen. John Allen — who was charged by the secretary to draw up security proposals that the US argued could enable Israel to withdraw from most of the West Bank, including the Jordan Valley — Netanyahu hammered home the point: Never mind what the naive outsiders recommend, “I told John Kerry and General Allen, the Americans’ expert, ‘We live here, I live here, I know what we need to ensure the security of Israel’s people.’”

via Netanyahu finally speaks his mind | The Times of Israel.