To all music lovers: the Gaza group Typo Band’s song “Dream of Dawn”, in Arabic with subtitles in English. Watch the beautiful footage in the video, hear the song and in case you don’t speak Arabic, read the poetic lyrics as you listen.
“Change the common concept of love and freedom
Don’t leave it the way it is
Write on people’s hearts: ‘I exist’
Tear the fear out of their souls with your kind look
I wrote the post “Being from Gaza” during the Israeli attack on Gaza this summer when thousands of civilians died. Now news popped up the other day on the shooting during prayer time in a synagogue in Jerusalem and the predictable counterattacks by the Israeli army. I wanted to comment on the violence and then I found this quote on the Facebook page “Palestine Loves Israel“, a peacepromoting page (not a pro-Israel page) managed by a Palestinian. He captured things so well that I’d like to let his quote speak for itself.
“I’ve been managing this page for almost 3 years and during this time, I’ve met hundreds of amazing people from both sides and from every corner of the world. We’ve endured two wars together, we’ve celebrated our holidays together (who can forget the chanukka candles from Gaza?) and mourned our dead together. During all this time, I’ve never lost hope that one day, we can live as neighbors and friends in peace and prosperity. I don’t loose hope because I know we’re all in this together.
But in times like this, I see so much hatred on both sides. It’s painful to watch. What I see is always the same: It’s dehumanization. It’s easy to dehumanize the other side, to call them monsters, to hate them. It’s much easier than to try and find a solution. In times like this, it’s a very difficult thing to reach out to the other side, especially when there is so much pain. It’s a difficult thing to show compassion for “the enemy” when you’re supposed to be hating them. Reaching out to the other side despite the traumatic pain, despite the ongoing conflict is a heroic act. Dehumanizing and hating everyone on the other side is certainly easier. But it’s not helpful. It’s fueling the fire. And the vicious cycle of hate and revenge is going on and on…
In this project, I’ve met many heroes. I’ve met Palestinians and Israelis who reached out to each other, no matter what. Who said: “I’m sorry for your pain, I wish you well” in the middle of war. Who said: “I love you so much and say hi to your mom!” despite the ongoing conflict. I’ve met so many heroes… people who changed from extremists into peace workers. People who let go their hate and replaced it with compassion. So many heroes…
No, I don’t loose hope.
Please stay safe everyone and take good care of each other. These are troubled times but we will make it through together.“
Photocredit: abc.net.au (the photo is from a previous attack in Jerusalem)
In the wake of the frightening results of the Swedish election – 13% voted for the populist party Sverigedemokraterna, a double increase since the last election – I have many things to say, but what I want to do today is to share with you a small list. I like lists.
This one contains a description of a few different persons in Sweden. What do these people have in common? Make a guess while you’re reading.
Person 1: Iranian woman. Has a weird sense of humor, always makes you laugh, can cook you amazing dishes that takes hours to prepare.
Person 2: Swedish-Greek woman. A person who listens to you more than she talks about herself. Brings small gifts whenever you see her, anything from a bottle of wine to a pair of earrings from one of her travels all around the world.
Person 3: Syrian woman. Always makes the gatherings light and bubbly, always makes you feel good about yourself.
Person 4: Swedish-Finnish woman. Hosts you in her house when you need somewhere to stay, despite having three small unruly kids, without asking for anything in return.
Person 5: Swedish man. A wonderful person who’ll do anything for you and helps you out whenever you need him, but also tells you if he thinks you’re completely down the wrong lane.
So what is it that these people have in common? They’re all close friends to me. Without them my life would be quite empty. And the other common factor: they all have legal residence status in Sweden, just like I do. A residence permit or citizenship is not something that can suddenly seize to exist, no matter what your hair colour or religion happens to be. And you who voted for Sverigedemokraterna, guess what? Your racist policies won’t break up friendships, or lovers, or parents from their children. People from different colours and ethnicities have always mixed with each other and will continue to do so. We’re all here to stay.
Since the advent of the Internet, the concept of community has less geographical limitation, as people can now gather virtually in an online community and share common interests regardless of physical location. Prior to the internet, virtual communities (like social or academic organizations) were far more limited by the constraints of available communication and transportation technologies.
One broad definition which incorporates all the different forms of community is “a group or network of persons who are connected (objectively) to each other by relatively durable social relations that extend beyond immediate genealogical ties, and who mutually define that relationship (subjectively) as important to their social identity and social practice”
Thank you so much dear Barbara. Even a blogger needs love sometimes.
So this week all Middle Eastern-freaks like me noticed that the first couple ever were able to register their marriage as a civil marriage in Lebanon – something that mixed couples have been advocating for ages. Cyprus have been the choice for many mixed Lebanese couples if they had the money – otherwise one of them had to resign to marry under their partner’s religion (usually the man’s).
I meet people that says “it’s not possible” about interfaith marriages. Why? Some religions don’t accept it; sometimes the two religions clash when it comes to the childrens’ religion (in Judaism the children inherits the mother’s reigion and in Islam the father’s – so what happens if a Jewish woman marries a Muslim man?); sometimes it’s simply the society and family that says “it’s not possible”.
Well I have come across so many mixed marriages that I can conclude one thing in this messy discussion: you can’t make people stay away from each other. As often as societies puts up rules for love, there’s always someone that will break them.
A Swedish-Lebanese family that I know were so determined to stay together that they married in the midst of the civil war, despite the danger of being a mixed Christan-Muslim couple. During the first years of their small children’s lives they were living in hiding from militias, until finally being able to escape to Sweden. They now have three children that has been raised celebrating Christmas and Ramadan, learning about both religions, and they take pride in their mixed background. Sometimes maybe a mixed marriage is the best way of preventing a civil war? Unfortunately Lebanon is still a place where such an effort is extremely difficult to carry out.
So when the news about the registered marriage broke, I hurried to get online. What kind of groundbreaking couple was it that decided to make a point out of not register in one religion? Maybe a Muslim-Christian couple? If not, could it be Druze-Christian? No, it was a Sunni-Shia couple – two branches within one religion. Not accepted by everyone, but not the major breakthrough that I had hoped for. If it was, I’m not sure that they would have been able to have the marriage registered.
But let’s hope it’s a first step for Lebanon to heal from it’s intolerant past and the horrifying events that took place under the excuse of sectarian divisions. If Lebanon really wants to move on, there’s only one way, the way forward.
I love my country and am proud when telling someone I’m from Sweden. I’m aware of the negative aspects some people would hand to you (the weather is depressing, it’s hard to make Swedish friends, there are stupid rules for everything, even alcohol is only available in state-owned shops with limited opening hours) and I will agree with some of these things – but if I hear someone critizice Sweden too much I get sad. Why? Because it’s my country!
In an ideal world everyone would love their country and be proud when telling someone where they are from. I once met a guy in a party who asked me to go on a date with him, that said he was from “close to the Iranian border”, when he really was from Afghanistan (I have a tendency to ask people around one million questions when I meet them, so he couldn’t hide this fact for too long). This I find a bit sad, since he obviously didn’t think he’d have a chance with a white girl if he said where he really was from. In an ideal world people wouldn’t be ashamed of being American because many people dislike George W Bush; Germany because it started the Second World War; an underdeveloped country because it’s an underdeveloped country. I believe that change must come from both the outside as from within, why I want to challenge everyone to say that they love their country and give at least three reasons why. No country can be so bad that you cannot give at least three reasons to love it, right? Here’s why I love Sweden:
I love that there are bike paths everywhere
I love that if you see a homeless cat or dog you call the police and they will come and take it to a shelter
I love that people are honest to the point where it hurts, but at least you won’t get fooled (“If I want to hang out with you this weekend? No, I don’t think we have much in common”)