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Arabeyes: On Selling a Palestinian Kidney and Changing the Israeli Flag

Do you want to know why a Palestinian wants to sell his kidney, or what had happened to the bicycle of a Lebanese blogger on September 10, 2001? What is more difficult: returning home after living abroad for five years or demanding that Israel changes its flag just as the Kurds want to change the Iraqi flag? And last but not least: why does Ala'a Abdulfattah – the Godfather of Egyptian bloggers – say he isn't and was never a blogger?

To know more, read on.

Palestinian Kidney for Sale

Hareega, from Jordan, stuns us this week with a tale about a man who has placed an advertisement for the sale of his kidney.

في مواطن فلسطيني من كثر الفقر نزل إعلان بدو يبيع كليته

يلعن أبو هالزمن

بعتله إيميل كالتالي

حضرة السيد أحمد

لقد تأثرت فعلاً عندما رأيت إعلانك المتعلق ببيع كليتك وبريدي الالكتروني هذا لا أعتقد أنه سيقدم أو سيأخر وأتمنى ألا يكون مضيعة لوقتك ، أنا مواطن أردني أعيش في الولايات المتحدة لدي مدونة الكترونية بسيطة يزورها بعض القراء وسأعرض قضيتك هناك و سأضع بريدك الالكتروني هناك وأسأل عن أي وسيلة ممكن من خلالها مساعدتك
لا أريد أن أعطيك آمالاً كاذبة لكنني سأفعل ما بوسعي لمساعدتك قدر الامكان وأرجو ألا يكون بعد المسافة عائقاً أمام مساعدتك

وان شاء الله الله بفرجها عليكو

“There is a Palestinian who has decided to put up his kidney for sale because he is too poor. Damn such times! I sent him the following email: ‘Dear Mr Ahmed, I was really moved when I read your advertisement about selling your kidney. I don't think this email will change anything and I hope it will not be a waste of your time. I am a Jordanian citizen who lives in the United States and I have a modest blog which has a few readers. I will post your plight there and I will leave your email address. I will ask for support in anyway people can help. I don't want to give you false hope but I will do anything I can to help you as much as possible. I hope that the distance between us is not an obstacle in helping you. May Allah ease your suffering soon,'” writes Hareega.

What happened on September 10, 2001?

Lebanese blogger Muzna tells us what happened to her bicycle on September 10, 2001, and how her life was never the same after that.

مساء العاشر من أيلول، ٢٠٠١ سرقت أول دراجة اقتنيتها. ليس في الخبر ما يثير الاهتمام، إلا آن أحداث اليوم الذي تلاه منعتني عن البحث عنها. ما قيمة دراجتي أمام تفجير مبني التجارة العالمي وما برره من حروب؟

في ذلك العام كنت أدرس في بلدة صغيرة في ولاية فيرجينيا، ولو كان لي أن أختار من ذلك العام معلما لن أختار غير صورة تلك الدراجة. فضية اللون، بدولابين رفيعين يطلقانها للريح، ..

“On the evening of September 10, 2001, my first ever bicycle was stolen from me. There is nothing in this news to draw attention except that the events which unfolded in the day which followed prevented me from looking for my bike. What is the value of a bicycle when compared to the World Trade Centre and the wars which it sanctioned? In that year, I was studying in a small town in Virginia and if I were to choose one thing which highlighted that year, I will not select other than the image of that bicycle. It was silver in colour. It had two narrow wheels which took off in the breeze,” she writes.


Stranger at Home

From Syria, blogger Mohd Loay Baltaji feels like he is stranger back home after being away from his country for five years.

منذ زيارتي الأخيرة لدمشق وأنا أشعر بالقلق، سأعود قريبا، لكن دمشق التي أُبعدتني عنها الغربة خمس سنوات لم تعد دمشق، إشتقت لياسمينها.لعلها لن تعود يوما بريئة وطاهرة كما حفظتها. ولأول مرة في حياتي لم أرغب بزيارة المدينة القديمة التي لطالما أحسست نفسي ترميني إليها، لقد خذلتني، لم تنظر إلي وأحسست أني غريب لم أعرفها يوما، كم أكره أيامي بعيدا عنك يا دمشق
“I have been feeling anxious since my last visit to Damascus. I will be back soon, but the Damascus that has been separated from me for five years, isn't the Damascus I knew. I long for its jasmine. Perhaps it will return to the innocence I remember of it one day. For the first time in my life, I didn't feel like visiting the old town which I have often felt my soul throw me into. It didn't welcome me and I felt like a stranger who has never known it. How I hate my days away from you Damascus!” he explains.


Change the Israeli Flag

Still in Syria, blogger Mustafa Hamido is reading into how news that the Kurds want to change the Iraqi flag can be put into use elsewhere.

العلم هو الرمز لأي سلطة أو حكم أو وطن. غالبا ما ترتبط السلطة و مدى بسطها على منطقة ما بالعلم المرتفع على الدوائر الرسمية. هذه السلطة يمكن أن تكون سلطة قهر أو حياد أو رضا. أكراد العراق و بمجرد احتلال العراق طالبوا بتغيير العلم العراقي لأنه و كما يقولون يرتبط بسلطة “قهر النظام العراقي السابق” و “جرائمه بحق الأكراد”. وصل الحد في تمادي الطلب الكردي إلى منع رفع العلم العراق في كامل شمال العراق الواقع تحت النفوذ الكردي. دعونا هنا نحاول أن نقتبس ما يقوم به الأكراد و جعله ورقة تفاوض في يدنا في موجهة الإسرائيليين. تخيلوا أن يتجرأ المفاوض العربي”و هو لن يفعل” في جعل طلب تغيير العلم الإسرائيلي شرطا لأي صلح.أعرف أن هذا الطلب هو حلم صعب التحقيق في هذا الزمن لكنه يمكن أن يكون أمنية كي نقول عن أنفسنا أننا موجودون.
“A flag is the symbol of any authority, regime or state. The sovereignty of any authority over any region is signified by the presence of a flag on official buildings. This authority could be that of oppression, objectivity or satisfaction. The Kurds of Iraq, immediately after its occupation, demanded a change of the Iraqi flag because they claimed that it was associated with a regime of oppression and crimes against the Kurds. The extent of the Kurdish demand included banning hoisting the Iraqi flag across the whole of Northern Iraq, which falls under Kurdish rule. Let us now adapt what the Kurds are doing and use it as a bargaining chip in facing the Israelis. Imagine if the Arab negotiator has the confidence (not the he will ever) to make changing the Israeli flag as a pre-condition for any peace deal. I fully understand that this demand is impossible to achieve in this age but it could be an ambition in order for us to tell ourselves that we exist,” he writes.

Is Ala'a Abdulfattah a Blogger?

Our last stop is in Egypt, where blogger Ala'a Abdulfattah tells us why he really isn't a blogger.

Ala'a has come to this conclusion after returning from Lebanon and finding himself lost about what to blog about.

أرجع من السفر في دماغي حواديت كثيير ، يجي في بالي المدونة، مش يبقى لطيف لو كتبت عن بيروت، دأنا حتى شفت الضاحية الجنوبية و الاعتصام و مخيم شاتيللا و عاصرت اللبنانيين و هما عايشين القلق من العودة للحرب الأهلية.

بس مش عارف أجيلها منين، مفيش كتابة عايزة تيجي، أصلي لما بسافر لازم لما أرجع أحكي كل الحواديت لكل الناس اللي بقابلهم و باين كده الحدوتة اللي اتحكت باللسان مينفعش تتحكي بالكيبورد.

“I return from my travelling with a lot of tales in my head. I think of the blog. Wouldn't it be nice if I wrote about Beirut? I even saw the southern Dhahya, the protest, the Shatila Refugee camp and lived with the Lebanese as they anxiously anticipated the return of another civil war.

But I don't know how to start. There are no words coming to my head. This is because when I travel I have to relate all the stories to all the people I meet. It seems that the story I narrate in person cannot be repeated using the keyboard,” he admits.

كل ماجي أفكر في مدخل للحدوتة ألاقي خبر منيل يشتتني، منعم اتقبض عليه، الباشا الفاضي عبد الفتاح مراد ملفقلي قضية، نواب أخوان بيتقبض عليهم، ضرب نار في سينا، مركز الخدمات النقابية بيتقفل، القضاة معرفش مالهم.

بلاش هبل، أنت هتصدق الهيلمان اللي معمول و تحس أنه واجب أنك تدون؟ أنك بتناضل بالكيبورد؟ لا أنت تنفع ولا أنت عايز. و بعدين لو هتكتب في الكلام ده ايه الجديد اللي هتقولله؟ ما الجرائد بتحكي فيه و الأمور واضحة و مفقوسة و مش عرضة أصلا لاختلاف الرأي. طيب منعم ضروري حاجة تتعمل لمنعم ده برضه صديق و كمان يمكن بكره تكون مطرحه و تحتاج اللي يقف معاك، .

“When I start thinking of an introduction for my story, I come across bad news which distracts me. Monem has been arrested. The void Pasha Abdulfattah Murad is framing me for a case. The Muslim Brotherhood MPs have been jailed. There has been a shooting in Sinai. The Union Service Centre will be shut down. I don't know what's up with the judges.

Stop being a fool. Will you believe all the fuss being made around you and start feeling that it is your duty to blog? Are you rebelling using a keyboard? You are useless and your are not willing. And after all, even if you write about all this, what is the new thing that you will say? Newspapers are writing about all this and the situations are clear, detailed and not even debated. Of course there should be something done for Monem because he is a friend. I may also be in his place tomorrow and will have to stand besides him,” notes Ala'a.


Abdul Monem Mahmood
, a Muslim Brotherhood blogger, was arrested by State Security on April 15 for articles he wrote online. Though different in ideologies, fears are that he will share the same fate as his country-blogger Kareem Nabeel Sulaiman. It is no wonder then that Sandmonkey has given up blogging and Ala'a is no longer a blogger.

أنا أصلا مش مدون، يعني قلب كده في المدونة مش هتلاقينا قمنا بأي عمل يندرج تحت الصحافة الشعبية، ولا أنا بعبر عن نفسي بجد بدليل أني تقريبا مكتبتش عن أي حاجة مهمة بالنسبة لي بجد، لا كتبت عن مراتي ولا أهلي ولا كتبت عن الكوميكس ولا كتبت عن البرمجيات الحرة و الهوة الرقمية و لا عن شغلي ولا أي حاجة ليها القيمة في التكنولوجيا ولا عن أفلام ولا موسيقى بحبها. حتى السجن مكتبتش عنه بجد.

يعني في الثلاث سنين اللي هما عمر المدونة (أول سنة فاضية تقريبا) حاولت محاولة ولا اثنين في كل سكة من دول و مبسوط جدا من النتائج، و كتبت تدوينات بحب أرجع أقرأها. بس كل فين و فين.

“I am frankly not a blogger. Surf through this blog and you will discover that I have not done anything which could be listed under citizen journalism. I don't even seriously express myself and the proof is that I have never written anything about myself seriously. I also don't write about my wife, family, the comics, free programme or the digital divide. I haven't written about my job or anything of value in technology nor about the films or music that I love. Even jail – I wrote nothing about it.

“Therefore, in the three years which are the age of this blog (the first year it remained blank), I have attempted once or twice taking those routes and am happy with the results. I have posted entries which I love to read again – but from time to time,” he notes.

But writing is all about ego, and there is no bigger arousal for bloggers and writers than seeing their names in print – whether on paper or online – as well as the perks being famous bring in.

اللطيف في الموضوع أن فيه ناس بتيجي تقرأ المدونة كل يوم و من حين لآخر بقابل حد منهم و أسمع كلام جميل، و أنا طبعا أبعد ما يكون عن التواضع فمش هخبي عليكم أن الموضوع ده بيعجبني، و برضه مصلحه بيطلع لنا منه سفر و تخفيض على الكتب بس يعني نفسي أفهم اللي بيزور كل يوم ده مستني ايه؟
“What is nice about blogging is that there are people who come to read this blog everyday. From time to time, I also meet some and hear nice things. Of course, I am far from modest and will not hide from you that such compliments flatter me and also benefit me in that I get perks like travelling and discounts on books. But I would like to understand what those who visit the blog daily are waiting for?” he wonders.

Our guess is as good as yours. What do you think will happen to Ala'a and other Egyptian bloggers? Will the ranting raving Egyptian blogger soon become a rare breed? Has the government succeeded in curtailing their activism? Or is it just the lull ahead of the storm?

1 comment

  • oh I’m not about to stop, I’m just not sure what it is that I’m not going to stop doing :-)

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