Blog Archive

Blog Archive – April, 2014

Winterís A Distant Memory, Alas.

April 11, 2014

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

For months, I’d wanted to write about our all-consuming winter. But you heard nothing from me. Like many east coast inhabitants, I was stricken by what they call ‘cabin fever’.  Although warmed by a well-stoked woodstove and an oil boiler chugging limply through the night, one feels immobilized, pitiable, and mistreated. Hard not to complain; it doesn’t matter that I’m one among millions. All those comforts we take for granted are not longer comfortable. Not nice.

Now that it’s over/past/gone I stretch lazy limbs, strip to one layer of clothing, listen to the twitter of real birds, and toss a green salad. There’s a term for U.S. retirees --snow birds-- who pass these hard weeks in Florida. They’re back too.

What I find so astonishing in these early days of our thaw, is that with the sight of one red-breasted robin, the twinkle of a single purple crocus budding through melting mud, and the bang bang of a carpenter’s hammer on a neighbor’s roof, the scourge of those four icy, white, blustery, hostile, inconvenient and unsociable months absolutely evaporates.

I have to think hard to recall images of that historical wintery precipice:— a young deer stranded on a icefloat in the river, shoveling through feet of snow to replenish the bird feeder; strapping on my boots, missing mittens and scarves, the utter silence of fresh snow embalming a town, colorless hillsides; the roaring snowplow at 4:30 in the morning, orange lights blinking crawling through snowed roads, tires spinning on black ice; abandoned trips to the city, then finally, escaping onto the dry highway between storms only to land under two feet when I reach the stalled metropolis and forget my car in a snowdrift; then when roads out of Manhattan clear, heading upstate I hit another blizzard 100 miles before reaching home. New Yorkers on their morning ride to work forget fashion and pile ugly boots, oversize coats, and funny Nepal-knitted wool hats over their brand-named suits. Bundled little schoolkids, eyes peering over heavy scarves, are hardly visible in the crush of hunched up adult subway passengers. And remember those mittens attached with string that threaded up one sleeve and down the next? We hated them as children. But I saw a pair dangling from the sleeve of a young New York worker. Slush-slush-slush: on Manhattan streets, walkers tiptoe through icy paths at an Alabama pace, and apartment dwellers pull carts of accumulated dirty clothes through the slush to nearby laundromats.

All gone now. On a drive to the radio station last Sunday, I actually saw people outside their homes wandering over brown grass, a woman leisurely walking her dog, a couple sitting on their house veranda-- outside. Ah, this is why the winter can depress us—we don’t see each other. We cease to witness the routine of daily life. Welcome back.

comments welcome

[ Winterís A Distant Memory, Alas. ]

Who Can Negotiate for Palestine?

April 04, 2014

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

Palestine-Israeli peace talks seem to proceed from uninspired to obscure to fruitless. This week we learned that U.S. negotiators may offer the notorious American spy Jonathan Pollard as a carrot to Israel to concede something to Palestinians, even a promise to continue negotiations. Would it work? And who would it benefit? Can anything move Israel towards a genuine agreement that would realize Palestinian autonomy?

Do you remember any meaningful Israeli move towards peace during these agonizing costly decades? The Oslo Accord lies in tatters. Israel’s pullout from Gaza was an opportunity to rid itself of an ungovernable population on a tiny coastal strip which Israel then proceeded to lay siege to, surrounding Gaza with boats and fences and bombing its population at will.  

Does anyone buy a release by Israel of Arab prisoners as anything but a transfer of men and women essentially held as hostages? Secretary of State Kerry who began his tenure with energetic diplomatic initiatives recently suggested the US might offer a real prize to Israel—the American spy Pollard for…  . For what? Hostages. And, oh yes-- extending a peace talks deadline, leading we don’t know where. Any extension of talks would likely slide into the next U.S. president’s tenure. Then they’d restart under a new US administration.

Meanwhile we’ll see 1000s more armed Jewish colonizers installed in the West Bank, while 1000s more Palestinians are dislodged, more Arab lands seized, more defenseless Palestinians killed, more livelihoods lost, more Palestinians fleeing abroad, more foreign funding allocated for more helpless, more impoverished refugees.

A Pollard-Palestinian exchange would also provide another reminder that one Israeli is worth hundreds of Arabs. So more humiliation.

Where else can Palestinians look for action? Not their militants. Not Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi, not Iran’s Ahmadinajad or Turkey’s Erdogan:-- all erstwhile champions of Palestinian statehood. Not Tony Blair and his phony “Quartet”.  

The recent Palestinian announcement that it will pursue membership in various U.N. agencies is long overdue.

Despite legions of talented, courageous, determined Palestinians outside, and the enduring millions under occupation, this leadership has thus far failed its people and its supporters. It must change. It must invoke bold strategies.

Palestinian leaders can still turn to one of their bravest supporters, Nelson Mandela; his recent passing recalled an extraordinary 1990 confrontation in New York where Mandela boldly responded to a hostile audience regarding his support for Palestine, reducing the normally aggressive Ted Koppel to a dithering amateur.  The clarity of his words in this clip reinforces Mandela’s ideological position; it demonstrates a brilliance and fearlessness we rarely experience today—from anyone.

All Palestinian orators, researchers and supporters outside and all the martyrs inside cannot achieve their goal without really skilled people at their negotiating table. The greatest tribute Palestinians can pay to the foremost champion of their cause is to study every detail of Mandela’s evolution, and adopt it. Immediately.  

Barbara Nimri Aziz is an anthropologist and journalist. She has visited the Occupied Palestinian Territories on numerous occasions, reporting from there for Pacifica-WBAI in New York and elsewhere

[ Who Can Negotiate for Palestine? ]


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