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Palestine: Palestinians Celebrate Alan Johnston's Release

This week we start with a tragic story of a woman – Taghreed Abeaed – who has died at the Rafah crossing in the south of the Gaza Strip. Dew tells the story:

A 31 year old Palestinian mother passed away today after being stranded in the Egyptian side of Egypt – Gaza border (Rafah Crossing) for more than 20 days. The poor woman (a mother of 5) was suffering from cancer, and went to Egypt seeking medication, as Gaza is very poor with medical expertise. Her parents and family are calling all medias so they can receive her body and give her a proper burial…

More than 6 thousand palestinians are stranded in Egypt, waiting to get back for their families and homes, in very difficult conditions, the weather is so hot, that the temperature exceeds 40 degrees, and some of these people haven't any money left, a palestinian father had to sell the presents he bought for his children in order to pay for the hotel's charges. Another palestinian ran out of money and is spending his nights in coffee shops or wondering around to find a proper place to shut his eyes, even for just a couple of hours..

Travelling is a pleasure all over the world, but here, in Gaza, it's a journey of agony, fear and pain…

But for once there was also good news coming from Gaza this week; the release of the BBC journalist Alan Johnston prompted many posts. Samaher expressed her happiness:

أخيراً تم إطلاق سراح الصحفي آلان جونستون، الذي كان محتجزاً لدى جماعة جيش الإسلام بغزة. لقد شغلت قضيته الشارع الفلسطيني بمختلف أطيافه طوال فترة احتجازه. وقام الصحافيون الفلسطينيون بعدة فعاليات للاحتجاج على اختطافه. كان هناك شعور غير مسبوق بالاستياء من هذا العمل. حتى الأطفال كانوا يدركون أن اختطاف صحفي ينقل صورة ما يجري في غزة للعالم، يسيء إلى فلسطين و القضية الفلسطينية.
و دون الخوض في تفاصيل الأسباب و التداعيات و النتائج، أردت أن أعبر عن سعادتي بهذا الحدث. أولاً لأجل الصحفي الذي كان يقوم بواجبه في ضيافتنا؛ و ثانياً لأن خروجه بهذه الطريقة سيساهم في تصحيح الصورة القبيحة الغير حقيقية التي ظهر بها شعبنا عند اختطاف هذا الإنسان.
At last the journalist Alan Johnston has been released, after being held hostage by the ‘Army of Islam’ in Gaza. His case has preoccupied the Palestine street in its various manifestations for the length of his captivity. Palestine journalists held a number of events to protest his kidnapping. There was an unprecedented feeling of shame at this incident. Even children knew that the kidnapping of a journalist conveyed an image about what's happening in Gaza to the world, damaging Palestine and the Palestinian cause.
And without going into the details of the reasons, consequences and results, I would like to express my happiness at his release. Firstly for the sake of the journalist who was doing his job, as our guest, and secondly, because his release in this way will help to correct the inaccurate ugly image which portrayed our people after this human being was kidnapped.

Dew, who is in Gaza, is also pleased:

Today I woke up at this wonderful news… at last and after 115 days of abduction.. Alan Johnston was finally freed :)…”i am so glad to be free” was his first words to the media, the poor man didn't even have the slightest hope that he will ever be freed..

[…]

I just got the news that Alan has left Gaza and heading home, he has stated that he will take a LONG vacation, and then he maybe consider coming back to Gaza… personally, I don't think he will ever come back ;)

The details of the deal that led to freeing Alan weren't announced, maybe they will be announced later, but what really matters is that the reporter is now heading home, with a little smile on his face, waiting to see his family and loved ones

Finally Alan, your dreams will come true… take care and goodbye ;)

The bloggers at Meanwhile in Palestine and Iraq report Johnston's words before leaving the Gaza Strip:

Now, Johnston left the Gaza Strip, and looked behind his back before he crossed the Eretz Crossing gate remembering 114 days he spent in captivity and fear, yet he also remembers good moments he expressed when he spoke in Arabic and told the reporters; “I thank God, I am happy, I have been through a very harsh period, I want to thank the Palestinian people, thank you, thank you”.

Philip Rizk in Gaza gives his opinion of Hamas’ role:

Last night I was visiting my friend Abu Joudat and his family, who live right next to the Doughmosh clan, some of their members were the ones holding Alan. I got to Abu Joudat’s house after 10pm and the street was full of checkpoints, and masked gunmen in some areas. … Abu Joudat predicted to me he expected this to be the night Alan would be freed. At 6:30am he called and confirmed his prediction.

[…]

Alan's freeing is incredible proof of Hamas’ ability to ascertain law and order, Fatah and no one else was ever able to do the same. Sadly I doubt this will change international leaders’ relations with Hamas, who are calling for both negotiations with Fatah’s new emergency government as well as with Israel. Neither is replying. I am pleased that Hamas have made Gaza a much safer place to live in again. Radio stations in Gaza aired many callers who were relieved and overjoyed at Alan’s release. Today Gaza loses a true friend, who lived in Gaza for three years as the only international journalist to be stationed here full-time, telling of the plight of the Palestinians.

The fact that beaches have been packed over the past weeks is proof of Hamas’ ability to bring security. For many in Gaza the beach is really the only distraction, the only escape from the unemployment and poverty.

Friday at the Beach in Gaza
Source: Tabula Gaza

Asad al Nimr in Ramallah is also thinking about Hamas, but in less positive terms:

Everyday that passes, I realize more and more how powerful Hamas has become.
Everyday I find myself wondering whether Hamas can stretch his long arms, and get into Ramallah like it has got into Gaza.
And sadly I feel as if this day is not far away. I believe that Hamas has enough power to come and change Ramallah, like it has already changed Gaza.

Away from politics, Mona, a Palestinian Canadian, has decided she is ashamed of being an Arab:

I don’t want to act like an Arab or even want to be one. Here I admit it. I finally admitted it. The whole concept and word rebellious is due to my dislike of being one! However, I am not 100% ashamed of being one, I like the culture, but I don’t like the mentality. I don’t like how Arabs use and abuse the word “Arabic” for their advantage and to ridicule others with that word. I don’t like how parents shield their children to the point where my generation or even younger is trying to escape it so badly and resort to living a double life. Life has changed, but they didn’t. Arabs don’t change their mentality easily. Yet, we live here in North America and things did not change. It's gotten worse. … How can you change some of the most stubborn and reserved cultural groups that move here?

Mona gives her reasons here.

And Soul Blossom, a Palestinian Jordanian, asks a question about the headscarf:

What happens when Hijab and work do not work well together?

I was talking to my friend Abeer and she sounded pretty upset. She has recently witnessed some cases of discrimination against veiled women. She has also come across an article about Hijab and work not mixing well.

[…]

Apparently, veiled women are being stereotyped. Societies are judging women based on their looks rather than on their knowledge and skills. I might be able to understand how Hijab is unwelcome in France for example, even though I still do not agree with it. However, facing problems for being veiled in Jordan -or any other Arab country for that matter- is simply silly!

Jordan is an Arab, Muslim country. Veiled women have been part of the society forever. Yet they are being discriminated against. Some people do believe that veiled women are neither productive nor effective. It makes me feel angry and sad at the same time that some women have to suffer due to their religious beliefs.

We end with an extract from a poem by Majeed Al-Barghouthi, describing his experience of learning more than he expected from an English teacher:

You do not know who Mr. Martins is;
But you will; as this is not a quiz.
“When your homeland is occupied
Your first human right is to fight; so, fight!”
Those words are his
Ringing inside and outside the class;

Mr. Martins is a real English professor,
Teaching us English Literature,
But he comments on any world event
Explaining what he exactly meant

[…]

In Arabic, “literature” has many connotations:
Politeness, good manners and moral interpretations,
In addition to literary writings
And “English” to us means many things:
Lord Balfour’s Declaration and Lord Byron
Battles and British mandate and romance!

[…]

When I want to make both words look right
“English” and “Literature” shall read under a new light.

2 comments

  • Daniel Bleiberg

    I thought Palestine stopped existing in 1948, when the end of the British Mandate came into being? Today, I believe it exists as ISRAEL. When I was in Ramallah in 2002, following a suicide bombing that killed many innocent civilians in Israel, I saw terrorists handing around candies and firing guns in the air. The kidnapping, Ayesha, just goes to prove that Gaza is a terror infested area that has been turned into a global jihad base. Hamas, let me remind you, plays an integral role in this terror cycle, as they have killed hundreds of civilians, and they freed Alan Johnston only to win some points in the liberal international arena. Gilad Shalit, unfortunately, is still in Hamas hands. In a sense, the Dugmush clan shot themselves in the foot when they ordered their Army of Islam to kidnap Alan Johnston, a reporter who has been bashing Israel for years and supporting the terrorists’ causes. No surprises that he’s the only foreign reporter who was based full time in Gaza…

  • George Harrash

    The situation is so desperate and chaotic in Gaza that there are few solutions to be considered. A UN force deployed in Gaza is obviously futile (see southern Lebanon), and Fatah is so unpopular and corrupt that they will never win the battle of hearts and minds in the Palestinian community. In my mind, they only way to uproot the terrorism and gang warfare is for Israeli troops to reoccupy the Gaza Strip. The poor Gush Katif Jewish refugees who were uprooted in 2005 must be returned to their homes, and the Israeli Defense Forces must drive out the Gazan butcher terrorists (Hamas, Al Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, Islamic Jihad, Tanzim, Army of Islam, Palestinian Resistance Committees, the Palestinian Front for the Liberation of Palestine, and all others) out of Gaza once and for all. That is the only solution.

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