Blog Archive

Blog Archive – January, 2010

Haiti and Gaza

January 17, 2010

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

I can’t help thinking of Gaza and its people as I hear and see the suffering of Haitians. More so as we witness the overwhelming response of the world rushing to Haiti’s aid.

I wonder: how many others remember Gaza as the Haitian tragedy unfolds, as reporters explore each family agony, as ships and planes of relief are mobilized, as money flows to countless relief organizations. Even as a few historians recall how Haiti has been plundered, its democratic attempts derailed, its people left in poverty, Haiti earns such unanimous sympathy. From around the world vows of support are launched. Heart warming? For some.

Exactly one long,painful year ago, we saw the massive onslaught against the people of Gaza. That was man-made: Israeli made. It was an earthquake that spread over the entire area and it lasted for 22 horrifying days. It persists.

Some photos escaped from the site of carnage forcing a few who cared to view the corpses, the weeping families, the homeless, and the aimless. In Gaza too, United Nations buildings were bombed, schools and places of worship, hospitals and police centers crushed, surrounded by corpses. Like an earthquake it was indiscriminate.

What contrasts so much with today’s Haitian experience is complete absence of international aid for Gaza. Not only was there no assistance for the dying, wounded and homeless during the assault. Throughout the 13 months since then and today, assistance to Gaza's people was barred.

In recent weeks we have witnessed this injustice, with the arrival at Gaza’s borders by a symbolic handful of supporters from “Viva Palestina” and Gaza Freedom March. One saw  how obstacles were place in the way of even their symbolic assistance. That is: the few of us who scoured through ‘alternative media’ saw. Otherwise there was no media attention.

Significantly, Muslim organization are also kept out of Gaza. (We note that several have announced aid to Haiti, a result of having surplus funds undelivered to Gaza!)

The ongoing siege against Gaza is clearly part of Israel’s larger genocidal policy against Palestinians.

Never was the politicization of humanitarian aid more obvious than it is in these events.

Of course we feel sympathy for the losses of our Haitian brothers and sisters. Doubtless, so do the many authors who have been pointing out how the US military is using the tragedy to essentially secure control of Haiti, following their history of interventions in Haiti over the past century. This history is important to bear in mind at this time. One article I recommend is “The Militarization of Emergency Aid to Haiti: Is it a Humanitarian Operation or an Invasion?” by Michel Chossudovsky whose link is:

[ Haiti and Gaza ]

Tahrir's Production Team wishes you Happy NewYear

January 01, 2010

by Barbara Nimri Aziz

This fall, Tahrir ran its annual three-month program for interns. We offer this course in radio journalism for young people from our community. What a delight it has been this year.

Lea came from France for a diploma in journalism at a city university but joined us for three months to learn what WBAI offers as an alternative media. Before returning to Paris last week she completed a powerful audio review of the book “Palestinian Walks”; it aired on Dec 15. Her previous journalistic work in France had limited her to short news pieces. Very short: 2 minutes! Here at WBAI we have the liberty of extended features and news stories that explore an issue in depth. Her piece for us was almost 9 minutes, and she learned how much one can do in this longer format. Lea intends to return to NY in the spring. Meanwhile in Paris, she plans to produce an interview for us with the preeminent expert in the field of Iraqi music, Scheherazade Hassan. This will compliment a recording of Iraqi music to offer as a gift to listeners on our next fund-drive.

Sally is using this year after her graduation and before she takes up graduate studies to work with us. She is interested in the marketing side of journalism, and is astonished by the way this free-speech listener sponsored WBAI works. Contrary to her and my own expectations, Sally’s been drawn towards audio production. With coaching on how to read for radio, Sally seemed transformed. And she took easily to audio editing on Adobe Audition, our basic tool in radio journalism today. Her interview with her sister, NJ college basketball star, showed us her interviewing skills. As any good journalist, Sally was impressed by her first interviewing assignment. “I learned much about my own sister I had not known before”. That aired on our Dec 29 broadcast.

Sarah Malaika is now a seasoned producer, having been with Tahrir three years. She has opened new doors to the wider artistic community through her wok as a museum curator and her interest in music. Listen to her enchanted interview (Nov 10) with Hafez Nazeri, the young Iranian musician who, with his father, gave an inspired concert in New York last month. I liked her interview with visual artist John Jauji after the Queen’s exhibition “Tarjama”.  Sarah takes charge of the program when she hosts and I can attend to other assignments. She has her own style, and doubtless her own listeners. That’s nice about having qualified team members, usually former interns, who continue with us. Each host brings their own style and therefore their own listeners.

Another intern is Ramatu. As a deeply involved activist in the NY community of African immigrants, Ramatu brings a wider network of community resources to Tahrir. She also writes for a community paper. Ramatu speaks Hawza language and prepared a Hawza promotional ID for WBAI. When Hawza speakers in our listening area hear this 30 second spot for the radio station, they are delighted. They are proud to hear their language, however briefly, on New York City airwaves. And so are we. Ramatu is now preparing a review of the edited volume of writing from Africa, “Gods and Soldiers”. It’s now a question of converting a written critique for radio, and that’s the new skill. Writing for radio is very different from writing for print media. But these interns catch on quickly.

Our fourth intern, Nehal, wasn’t with us for more than a month because of approaching exams. (She’s at the New Jersey Institute of Technology). Nehal took to sound production the first day however, and decided within an hour of placing her hands on the mixing board, that she preferred the engineering side of radio work. She also has a good voice.

A special quality of WBAI production is that we learn to do everything. First we identify the individual or issue for a story, then do the research to prepare sources, then undertake the interview with a quality recorder, then transfer that to the editing program, then edit, then prepare and read and edit-in the introduction and sign off, and finally select and mix in the music.

Last weekend at the film showing of “Islam on Capitol Hill” which Hassen Abdellah organized, I again met Adeeb. Adeeb joined us when he and Reem came on board two years ago. He was attracted to radio because of the scope it offers for music, and music is Adeeb’s primary interest. When we reached the point of our training in ‘reading for radio’ Adeeb found he had another talent. We all realized he is an excellent speaker. When I met him last week he told me about a new endeavor. He’s collaborated with a colleague to form the company He’s the artist development director. Congratulations Adeeb!

We miss Fatima and we know she misses us. She is a dynamic host in any gathering. But her new job in government doesn’t allow her to work in public media. We send out another congratulations, to Fatima and Ibrahim!

Reem has been with us for more than a year now. She is a second-year journalism student at a nearby university but there she has no opportunity to work in radio. It’s primarily print assignments; besides, the politics at the university is completely different. They actually assume that what they teach means journalists are totally objective. Of course at WBAI we know this is nonsense. Reem will spend the winter semester in Prague on an overseas course arranged by her university. She will specialize in radio journalism while there, so we’ll benefit from that when she returns.

Tamara originally an intern, rejoined us as a producer following a three year hiatus while she completed her degree in English literature and spend a year abroad as a Fulbright scholar. We went to the Nuyorican Café together with Saadia to see the play “Domestic Crusade” after which she interviewed the director. Tamara wants to produce book reviews when she has time; she helps us a lot by translating audio of interviews I completed not long ago in Syria

A lot of talent in our house, channeled into high quality journalism to serve our communities. Besides learning so much, we enjoy the work, and being together. Special thanks to ICLI for the intern training grant to Tahrir.

[ Tahrir's Production Team wishes you Happy NewYear ]

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a poem.. a song..
poem "I Wash My Body in Beirut"
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Life without A Recipe
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Barbara Nimri Aziz
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