in this edition: gaza, nubia, and e library

June 14, 2010 § 2 Comments

1. i am amazed at this ebook library.  so many dead white men i have been meaning to read.  really, check it out, the selection is incredible.  the burgomeister’s library. it makes me want a kindle.  someday. someday.

2. george galloway speaks about the attack on the mavi marmara, the investigation of israeli military actions, and the new and bigger flotilla coming to gaza in september.

3. oh hook up with me on google reader if you would like.  maiamedicine on google.

4. great article on pulse: when did resistance become a bad word?

What the Western political class and its media demand of the Arabs and Muslims is acceptance of the unacceptable status quo in Israel-Palestine. To resist the status quo is to be troublesome, destabilising and irrationally violent. Resistance arises from the inadequacies of a culture and religion given to antisemitism and hysteria. In order to develop, these backward folk must give resistance up.

(…)

As for the brave passengers on the MV Rachel Corrie, I wish they had not said, “we will not resist.” I wish they had said, “We are unarmed and we have no desire to come to blows with Israeli soldiers. However, if we are hijacked by armed men in international waters or near the shore of Gaza – over which we do not recognise Israeli jurisdiction – we will resist as best we are able.” Unwittingly, the activists handed Israel ammunition for its propaganda – ‘when civilised, peaceful activists arrive we deal with them peacefully. When mad Islamist Turks attack us with sticks when we board their ship, we have no choice but to shoot them many times at close range in the back of the head.’

The passengers on the Mavi Marmara should be congratulated for resisting piracy and the illegal,  barbaric siege. We should never be ashamed of resistance – in occupied Europe, in South Africa, in Iraq, in Vietnam, in Palestine, in Lebanon, or on the Mediterranean sea. Resistance is beautiful. Resistance proves the existence of the human spirit amid a vast sea of inhumanity.

5.

a small point about nubia

i found waldo!

srsly. it is really common in the black n. american boho alterna conscious scene to refer to oneself as nubian.  or to talk about ‘nubian queens’. or ‘nubian culture’.  etc.

here’s the thing.  there are people, real people, who live right now, who are nubians.  nubia is a real place.  nubians are a people. the word ‘nubian’ cannot accurately be used in this day and age as a simple adjective to mean ‘black race’.  and doing so, erases the nubian people.

yeah, i found waldo.  but i also found nubia.

and nubians are the indigenous people of the southern part of egypt (as well as northern sudan, actually the majority of nubians live in sudan).  who have been occupied since the 7th century by arabs.  and even 14 centuries later, the nubians are treated as second class citizens in their own land, as indigenous people are around the world.

Many Egyptian Nubians were forcibly resettled to make room for Lake Nasser after the construction of the dams at Aswan. Nubian villages can now be found north of Aswan on the west bank of the Nile and on Elephantine Island, and many Nubians live in large cities such as Cairo.

when we as black n. americans talk refer to ourselves as ‘nubians’, because we think of nubian as a mythological people (and i am so calling myself out on this, before i moved to egypt, i thought of nubia as a mythological kingdom, or at best an extinct people.) we participate in the egyptian national project of turning nubia into a tourist site, a curiosity. we participate in the cultural genocide of a people, inadvertently, and unintentionally, but we still do it.

so rather than co-opting and culturally appropriating the word nubian to ascribe dignity to us as black n. americans, we could actually support the cultural survival of the nubian people.  feel me?

dont get me wrong.  when i am in my historically nubian neighborhood (abdeen), or in aswan (the capital of nubia), and i am called nubian by nubians, i smile.  it is a compliment.  a way of being welcomed and given a place that as a stranger that i dont deserve, but am grateful it is offered.

but that is totally different than me calling myself ‘nubian’.  im not nubian.  i live in a nubian neighborhood. i have visited nubia, and its capital, aswan, and love the people, culture, land, art, music. we moved to abdeen, in part, because we wanted to live in a nubian neighborhood (which by the way is called ‘the ghetto’ by middle class arab egyptians…ahem…)

6.

one of the things i said before the flotilla set sail to gaza was that i did not see the freedom flotilla as a nonviolent action.  and so a week later it was funny to read these us and israeli based commentators and pundits talking about the violence of the activists on board the mavi marmara.

honestly, i think part of the problem is how we make these lines between violence and nonviolence.  in listening to the israeli spokespeople they kept saying ‘ these were not naive peace loving activists’.  the assumption that nonviolence is naive, unrealistic, and idealistic, but harmless.  but that is not what the saints of nonviolence (mlk jr. and gandhi…you know…) believed they were practicing.  they argued that passive resistance, not fighting back, would make evident to the world the violence that was inherent in the systems that were oppressing them.  but in order to for this tactic to work, the world has to see the violence and believe that the violence is wrong. in other words, the world has to value the people who are doing nonviolent intervention.

well, the us and israeli media, have pre-empted nonviolence resistance by using the media as a means to control what the world sees.  the edited videos that israel put out into the media and that the us media seems to have taken for the most part as fact.  even though, the israeli story makes no sense.

who do we see as valuable people?  and if the value that we give to people, is based on structural violence, on race, on gender, on nationality, on language, etc. then how non violent is it to use a structural violence

why would a small core of ‘hate-filled terrorists’ decide to take on one of the most powerful navies in the world with sling shots and iron bars (that look like they were flag poles)?  do we really imagine that for the days and weeks leading up to that fateful night on the open seas, these ‘terrorists associated with hamas and al qaeda and global islamic jihad movement’ got together and planned such a piss poor defense?  why wouldnt at least one of them have a gun?  or a rocket? or bombs strapped to their chest?  doesnt it seem more likely that this was a last minute ditch effort for self protection thrown together by the instinct of self-preservation in the face of death?  doesnt it seem more likely that people grabbed what they could and fought with what they had?

but as i said i never saw this as a nonviolent action.  and neither did israel.  and neither does the us.  the very act of breaking the siege is seen as violence to those who have declared the borders and insist on maintaining those borders no matter what.  to make the claim that this is nonviolent because the boundaries are false, is beside the point.  in the same way that many people see property destruction to be a violent act, israel sees the blockade as its own property that is threatened by activists attempting to delivery basic goods to gaza.

which brings us to the question: who are we?  do we identify with property, with things?  how does bringing aid to gaza violate israeli soverignty?  if israel is not occupying gaza?

when israel claims that it is not occupying gaza, it is only occupying gaza’s borders, as if this is a more moral, less violent act, what does this say about power?  what is a more powerful, more controlling position?  to occupy the land?  or to occupy the borders of the land?

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