Sadly the oldest restaurant in Ramallah - Al Bardauni - served its last customers today. This restaurant has been open since before the Israeli occupation. Ibrahim Boulous opened it in 1962. It is very famous and people from all over the Arab world that used to come to Ramallah pre-Israeli Occupation know of this restaurant. Two famous guests include Jane Fonda and Robert DiNiro. Its so depressing to lose this historic and important place...they are planning on building a big huge ugly building full of offices in its place.... good bye...
i took one of their sugar packets and a coaster....reem brought one of the plants from their garden to our garden at the Academy.
if you want to see some old photos of the place please go to:
There are some really cool photos which I was going to post here but there were copyrights all over everything so I figured I am not allowed to
ah......Annapolis.... Frankly it is just to distant and irrelevant and removed from reality for me to take seriously. For those of you who are naive enough to eat up the hype here are some excerpts and links:
from Karma Nabulsi's article in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/comment/story/0,,2216914,00.html
We have not given up
The Palestinian people will not yield to the west's cynical pressure on them to surrender
If you want bad symbolism, you need look no further than the venue. The US naval academy of Annapolis is the current representation of unrestrained global supremacy, from where young cadets are being sent forth to occupy Arab land by force of arms. Appropriate place, then, for the US to host the meeting between Palestinian officials and the Israeli state, with every important government and international institution in obedient attendance. No one has misunderstood the nature of this meeting or is vaguely fooled by what is taking place. What we have at Annapolis is yet another ultimatum to the Palestinian people to surrender their sovereign rights.
The language of the Middle East peace process has become utterly weary, intellectually bankrupted; embarrassing. The tarnished trickery of those tired catchphrases - "last chance for peace", "painful compromises", "moderates against extremists" - is now worn so thin a child would not be taken in. There is no peace process, and hasn't been one for a very long time. It is no secret this conference won't bring an improvement in the intolerable status quo. It is a meeting to legitimise that status quo.
from Laila El-Haddad's article in The Electronic Intifada, 23 November 2007 http://electronicintifada.net/v2/article9120.shtml
Annapolis, as seen from Gaza The conference simply generates new and ever-more superfluous and intricate promises which Israeli leaders can commit to and yet somehow evade. An exercise in legal obfuscation at its best: we won't build new settlements, we'll just expropriate more land and expand to account for their "natural growth," until they resemble towns, not colonies, and have them legitimized by a US administration looking for some way to save face. And then we'll promise to raze outposts.
Each step in the evolution of Israel's occupation -- together with the efforts to sustain it and the language to describe it -- has become ever more sophisticated, strategic and euphemistic.
from Mazin Qumsiyeh http://www.qumsiyeh.org/whathappensatandafterannapolis/
What happens at and after Annapolis
We expect accolades for Olmert merely saying Israel will freeze settlement expansions except in East Jerusalem and the large settlement blocks (the Road map demands a freeze in all Settlement growth including for "natural growth"). The Israeli paper Haaretz actually summed up well "According to the Israeli government sources, the Americans asked Israel whether it preferred to announce a settlement freeze or outpost evacuations. 'Of the two, a settlement freeze is easier than evacuating the outposts, because this only involves a declaration, not a confrontation with settlers in the field,' explained one [government official]." Olmert, like Sharon, will be labeled by the pandering US politicians "a man of peace". The apartheid (hafrada in Hebrew) state will be showered with more US aid (stolen from US citizens to satisfy the Israel lobby). Mahmoud Abbas will be covered in the media only when he talks about how bad is Hamas and thus will be labeled "moderate". Everyone will be expected to attack Iran verbally and soon in other ways and Israel and the US still hope to build a block of "moderates" against Iran by giving the illusions of progress on the issue of Palestine. The daughter of the terrorist who oversaw the bombing of the King David hotel will be praised for speaking eloquently about combating "Arab" and "Muslim" terrorism and thus advance her ambition to move from Israeli foreign minister to a future Prime Minister. It will be a great photo opportunity for all attending. Meanwhile, Gaza will continue to be starved (a creeping genocide) and four million Iraqis and seven million Palestinians refugees and displaced people will get angrier.
I woke up in a bad mood today and tried to ignore the fact that today is our so-called "Independence" Day. I don't think it is necessary for me to expound on the magnitude of the irony of that.
I headed out to the center of town and tried not to remember what happened to me and my sister last year on this day. See: http://majnouna.blogspot.com/2006/11/almost-got-shot.html
I saw Raed, my favorite policeman directing traffic and I decided to stop and just enjoy. No matter what is going on, seeing him in the manara just makes me happy and changes my mood. Always. I leave you with this short video clip of him directing traffic (filmed on my crappy little digital camera bess malash)
(By the way on November 4th he was awarded one of the Palestine Prize for Excellence and Creativity by the PA)
Just came back from the commemorative ceremony for Arafat. My friend Ahmed Habash performed a live sand animation entitled "From the Memory of the Sand" with live music on oud by Jamil Sayeh to a packed house.
Then Rashid Masharawi screened his film "From the Diaries of the Siege" which is an intimate portrait of Arafat shot during the seige of 2002. It was really emotional to watch scenes of the invasion now 5 years after living it... in a theater full of all of us who lived it...all together. I can't believe that was 5 years ago...
The night ended with the announcement of the winners of the "Yasser Arafat Achievement Award". 30 people representing the residents of Bilin received the award on stage for their weekly protests and peaceful resistance against Israel's apartheid wall.
Check out my good friend Ricardo's animation! He just presented this TRANSITIO_MX02 the Festival of Video and Electronic Arts in Mexico City. He presented this piece in a rickshaw, offering free rides to everyone in the colonial park-Alameda Central and only asked in return that passengers watched the animation.
Yazeed and I decided to head out to the Qalqilya Zoo today. Today was the first time Yazeed has been able to drive his car out of Ramallah and over to Qalqilya in 7 years. (Obviously he hasn't been able to due to the Israeli closures and restrictions on freedom of movement) I think the last time I was in Qalqilya was in 2004 to document the wall which has completely encircled the town and totally cut it off from its agricultural lands, has separated families and crushed vital trade links. The zoo is actually really interesting in terms of public space. There is a playground for the kids, a swimming pool, families and friends gathered in large circles sitting in the gardens socializing and eating together. Its incredibly relaxing and a very calm and peaceful atmosphere. Its also amazingly kitsch, my favorite thing being the wall made out of animal bones inside the museum, sort of reminded me of the Capuchin Bone Church in Rome (its made out of the bones of 4000 monks).
I have been obsessed with the Zoo for some time now for several reasons. When the Israelis entered Qalqilya during Operation Defensive Shield in 2002, the male giraffe was killed. Gunfire, tear-gas and explosions were all around the zoo and he panicked and ran frenziedly in circles around his cage ending up slamming his head into a metal bar and he fell to the ground and died. His mate was pregnant and ended up miscarrying from depression. The zoo's doctor decided to stuff both Brownie (the male giraffe) and the child. Three zebras died from inhaling Israeli forces' tear gas during an invasion. He stuffed them too.
Slowly this living zoo is turning into a collection of mummified animals frozen in time. The section of the zoo that hosts these dead animals has become a major attraction. (By the way they built the structure to host the giraffe around him after he was stuffed). The symbolism of this and how it reflects our own situation....our towns being slowly choked to death... is too much.
Brownie is actually on exhibit in Germany at this years Documenta. German artist Peter Friedl visited the zoo and asked to borrow the giraffe for the exhibition. Personally I was really disapointed when I saw Brownie in Germany. He is just standing there in the middle of the exhibition hall, you have no idea who he is, where he came from, what the story behind him is...nothing.
The most depressing part of the day was witnessing the Syrian bear desperately trying to bang his way out of his cage.
Looks like we are finally getting some much needed rain. Nothing much to report. The political situation is so depressing and I don't even want to talk about it. I would just be repeating myself anyways.
In short, I have been mainly consumed with teaching my video class.
Some good news is the "Three Jubran" Majaz concert which took place at the Ramallah Cultural Palace last Thursday. They were amazing and it was broadcast live on al-Jazeera. Best of all was that Jawwal fully funded the whole concert! It was the first time that the Jubran brothers play here with everything supported financially by Palestinian money. (Usually cultural events here have European or American funding but this one didn't!).
Some very sad news is that al-Bardauni's is going to close at the end of the month! (this is the oldest restaurant in Ramallah). It has been open since the 50's. In its place they say they are going to build a huge building full of offices. There are already initiatives to try to stop this tragic loss. More on those later.
Lastly, something has got to be done about the toxic fumes from the bloody garbage dump. It is under the responsibility of the Ramallah Municipality. It is horrible. Last night I couldn't even work in my house because my eyes were burning so badly from the smoke. It seems like half the people in my hara have headaches. We need to do something about this. This tradition of burning garbage needs to be stopped. Its dangerous and toxic.