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
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.
Vacation days have provided a pinch of time for bread baking (as well as the start of a new sour dough).
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).
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:
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.
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].
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.
Construction of an international seaport and an international airport supervised by the UN and non-biased countries.
Expansion of the maritime fishing zone to 10 kms and supplying fishermen with larger fishing and cargo vessels.
Converting the Rafah crossing into an international crossing under supervision of the UN and Arab and friendly countries.
Signing a 10-year truce agreement and deployment of international monitors to the borders.
A commitment by the occupation government not to violate Palestinian airspace and easing of conditions for worshipers in al-Aqsa mosque.
The occupation will not interfere in the affairs of the Palestinian government and will not hinder national reconciliation.
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.
The chart below depicts a few things; Israeli cease-fire violations, Palestinian projectile launches and Palestinian casualties that resulted from Israeli cease-fire violations week by week of the cease-fire through January 2014. A few notes on the data; first, we refer to “projectiles” because there are different types of projectiles that are deployed, not all are “rockets” and thus “rockets” alone, the preferred parlance of the Israeli state, isn’t an accurate descriptor. Additionally, we are not focusing on each individual piece of ordinance but rather on events. So if one projectile is launched or two are launched together, these are the same event. Likewise, we don’t count each individual piece of ordinance Israel deploys in an airstrike wherein it routinely drops several bombs in a singular event. If we did, the number of Israeli violations would surely be much, much higher. For example, the Israeli human rights group B’tselem, citing the Israeli Shin Bet, notes that nearly 14,000 projectiles were fired from Gaza from 2005 to 2013. UN OCHA noted that Israel fired about the same number of artillery shells into Gaza……in 2006 alone. Lastly, the Shin Bet keeps numbers on Palestinian fire from Gaza but does not differentiate between fire at Israeli targets that have entered Gaza vs. those outside it. Also, it does not have data available at the week level, only the month level. Even using their numbers for Palestinian fire though, Israeli violations outnumber them nearly two to one.
There really is no comparison between Israel’s capacity to destroy and the combined capacity of all the factions in Gaza. The point here is to understand how the events relate to each other, what leads to escalation, and how this effects the durability of the cease-fire agreement.
As you can see from the chart, Israeli cease-fire violations have been persistent throughout and have routinely resulted in Palestinian injuries and deaths. Palestinian launches have been rare and sporadic and occurred almost always after successive instances of Israeli cease-fire violations. You can see a steady escalation from around week 48 and onward. This corresponds with mid-December during which Israel committed several cease-fire violations resulting in multiple Palestinian casualties. There was no Palestinian projectile fire in the two weeks prior to these Israeli violations which inflicted high causalities. This means that this week was the escalation point and it was Israel doing the escalating. You can see that the following weeks continue to feature exchanges that included high Palestinian casualties. You may wonder why you don’t see Israeli casualties from Palestinian projectile fire depicted on this chart, that is because as afar as I can tell, there weren’t any during this period.
via Permission to Narrate: Israel/Gaza Cease-Fire Dynamics Breakdown.
The latest increase in violence between Israel and Gaza, which has lasted for more than a week now, seems to have caused its first Israeli casualty [Jerusalem Post]. A rabbi hit by shrapnel from an Hamas rocket, fired at a Israeli Defence Force location at the Erez Crossing. One of the few crossings between the Gaza Strip and Israel [Interactive Map, B’tselem]. A place which can hardly been considered civilian by any means [images.google.com].
Meanwhile on the other side of the fence, 172 Palestinians have been killed. 34 of them (that’s about 20%) minors [B’tselem] (178 deaths according to UNOCHA). As of yesterday, 72 schools, 7 health facilities and over 1200 homes had been destroyed. 17,000 have taken shelter in UNRWA schools. 77% of deaths (all – bar one – who were Palestinian) have been civilian. [UNOCHA].
Meanwhile, some Israelis are feeling safe enough to engage in Sderot cinema. Eating popcorn while watching kids being bombed to pieces [Allan Sørensen, Twitter].
There can be absolutely no question of it. This is not a question of two equal parties that need to negotiate and sort out there differences. This is a question of one militarily supremely superior state, using its force to kill and repress another. While “light injuries” and stress is, I am sure, affecting citizens of Tel Aviv right now, the numbers alone show how this no comparison to what is going in Gaza. Eyewitness accounts bears this out [Gurdian].
White man uses lots of money to travel to one of the most conflict prone regions of the world to plant a flag in the middle of the desert to claim it for his daughter, so that she can call herself a bona-fide princess.
Says: “Just want to help kids”.
Because white privilege, colonialism and all that totally was not so-19th century.
‘I feel confident in the claim we’ve made,’ Heaton said. ‘That’s the exact same process that has been done for thousands of years. The exception is this nation was claimed for love.’
Father claims disputed Sudan territory so daughter, 7, can be princess | Mail Online.