Palestinians love to laugh, announcements, reports

Published: Mon 1 Dec 2003 10:09 AM
Palestinians love to laugh / announcements and other reports
1) A friend asked me....Ben J in Jenin 2) I Punched an Arab in the Face_ Haaretz article 3) Palestinians love to laugh_Ben J 4) First European meeting of ISM support networks 5) ISM Announcement - Trainings in December
Ben J. Jenin
Hi. Things are quiet today, the jaish {soldiers} have not returned. Today is Friday, the Islamic Sabbath, so most places are closed and not many people are out. It's overcast and a bit chilly, sorta dreary outside. It's a far cry from the searing heat here when I arrived in September. Apparently winters here don't snow, but it gets chilly. A very dear long lost friend just got in touch with me by e-mail and asked what a day in my life is like here. I have no answer, and for a good reason. That reason is that as long as I'm here, ridin' with the Palestinians in Jenin, I can have no routine or predictability about my daily life. Like them, I can't make serious plans for tomorrow, let alone next week. Life is simply a series of externally manifested disruptions and false starts. A Palestinian can't decide to take a day off, because they had better make $$ today, as tomorrow could bring a month long curfew in which he or she will be shot for leaving the house, straight up. One can't put off the shopping for a day because there might be yet another Israeli military incursion, transforming this beautiful city into a surreal ghost town, with no one on the streets for fear of death. And people do die for walking thru their own streets during curfew, believe it.
So, I have no daily routine, no typical day. Since the crushing curfews of September and October ended {90% of days were curfew}, it's very hit or miss. About half the time I am awoken by tanks and gunfire in the middle of the night, the rest of the time its quiet. A lot of the time people are afraid to leave their houses, the rest of the time you see what a beautiful community this is. Several times a week the Israelis come into town and kill people, the rest of the days they don't. Often we go to villages because the Israelis have invaded it and are terrorizing the folks, often we don't.
There is as complete lack of continuity for the folks here, never knowing what's coming, or why. So as long as I'm here it's like that for me too. It's a really cruel thing, and goes on for months, years and decades. I don't know anything about that. In these months I've gotten just a small taste, but it's changed me and I'll never forget it. So you can imagine how it affects these folks.
On a quiet day I come here to do an update for ya'all, or walk around town chatting, eating. Occasionally I read a book or do laundry. I sit alone a lot and stare into space when I'm not busy, to be honest. I smoke 2 packs a day, as does everyone else here. I go up to the roof of our building and do pushups, and look for signs of invasion, such as tanks etc. I think about goin' home alot, especially lately, and look forward to it. I also wonder about how hard it'll be to adjust. People that came for 2 weeks write me, telling me its hard to adjust.....i've been here almost 3 months. Not sure what to expect. I like to go joke with my Palestinian friends around town, shoot the breeze, drink tea, answer questions about America. I call that "9-11 watch", because it might prevent another one, not that I'm always sure we deserve it. Lemme explain that term: most of our activities here, we call something-watch. So we have curfew watch, checkpoint watch, stonethrower-watch, whatever. 9-11 watch consists of going around, informally answering people's questions about America, trying to highlight the difference between the neo-fascist government and normal folks like us. People here are very receptive to it, but often genuinely surprised. They believe me, they often just didn't know there was dissent in America. Pluggin a leaking dam with my fingers. They are happy to hear it, and eager to meet ya'all!!!! Thats 9-11 watch.
It seems that our government is gonna get us into a huge war with these folks, all based on a mutual lack of information, our lack about them and vice versa. I'm gonna have to vote no on that one!!
And that's kinda what I do hear, when I'm not knee-deep in an invasion. I hope that more people will consider coming hear to see the situation for themselves, and see how much we've been lied to. One needn't come in the capacity I did, you could just come check it out.
Folks are folks, don't let Bush steal that basic human truth from you. Yours In Struggle, Ben
'I punched an Arab in the face' Liran Ron Furer (reported by Gideon Levy), writing from Tel Aviv 28 November 2003
November 21, 2003-- Staff Sergeant (res.) Liran Ron Furer cannot just routinely get on with his life anymore. He is haunted by images from his three years of military service in Gaza and the thought that this could be a syndrome afflicting everyone who serves at checkpoints gives him no respite. On the verge of completing his studies in the design program at the Bezalel Academy of Art and Design, he decided to drop everything and devote all his time to the book he wanted to write. The major publishers he brought it to declined to publish it. The publisher that finally accepted it (Gevanim) says that the Steimatzky bookstore chain refuses to distribute it. But Furer is determined to bring his book to the public's attention. His book is not easy reading. Written in terse, fierce prose, in the blunt and coarse language of soldiers, he reconstructs scenes from the years in which he served in Gaza (1996-1999), years that, one must remember, were relatively quiet. He describes how he and his comrades forced some Palestinians to sing "Elinor" - "It was really something to see these Arabs singing a Zohar Argov song, like in a movie"; the emotions the Palestinians aroused in him - "Sometimes these Arabs really disgust me, especially those that try to toady up to us - the older ones, who come to the checkpoint with this smile on their faces"; the reactions they spurred - "If they really annoy us, we find away to keep them stuck at the checkpoint for a few hours. They lose a whole day of work because of it sometimes, but that's the only way they learn."
He described how they would order children to clean the checkpoint before inspection time; how a soldier named Shahar invented a game: "He checks someone's identity card, and instead of handing it back to him, just tosses it in the air. He got a kick out of seeing the Arab have to get out of his car to pick up his identity card ... It's a game for him and he can pass a whole shift this way"; how they humiliated a dwarf who came to the checkpoint every day on his wagon: "They forced him to have his picture taken on the horse, hit him and degraded him for a good half hour and let him go only when cars arrived at the checkpoint.
To read the full report, please see:
3) Palestinians love to laugh November 29, 2003 Ben J. Jenin
Howdy from Jenin. Another quiet day, HamdAllah {thanks to God}. Thought I'd take this time to tell you that Palestinians are hilarious people who love to laugh and make jokes. That's not something I knew before I came here, but it's really true.
I'll tell you a joke I heard here in Jenin. First a little background, you know how neighboring regions everywhere always have funny mock rivalries, jokes about each other? Ok, so Nablus is the biggest city in the West Bank, and they have a funny rivalry with Jenin. The joke is: Why did the man in Nablus take a glass of water AND an empty glass to bed with him? Because he thought, "Maybe I will become thirsty in the night, but maybe I will not." Then there's another one, slightly tasteless but all in good fun. "Do you know how to save a drowning Nablus man?" Of course you answer no, and the teller says "Good!"
But everywhere you in Jenin people are laughing and joking, unless there's something particularly bad happening. I have made friends with these cabbies who work out of a cab station by our apartment; I swear to God you could make a TV show about these guys, they are so hilarious, makin fun of each other and various politicians. For my benefit they always include impersonations of various American celebrities and politicos, Arnold is a favorite, as is Bill Clinton {guess what the jokes about him are?}. They also like obesity oriented jokes about Sharon, and jokes about Bush being clueless and confused. They save the best for Arafat though, with a lot non PC references to his shakiness from Parkinson's and the fact that nobody knows where he's from, he just kinda appeared, which is bizarre but true. Most of the jokes are at each other's expense, they even do the classic thing me and my brother did, where when someone says something you repeat it in tone, but in a whiny nonsense form.
Ok, sorry, just got a phone call, sorry, I gotta go, you'll have to take my word for it, Palestinians like to laugh.
Struggle, Ben, Jenin
**Call to generate interest and discussion
The International Solidarity Movement is a Palestinian-led movement of Palestinian and International activists working to raise awareness of the struggle for Palestinian freedom and to end the Israeli occupation. We utilize nonviolent, direct-action methods of resistance to confront and challenge illegal Israeli occupation forces and policies. The first ISM campaign was held in August of 2001 in the Occupied Palestinian Territories, and was followed by several nonviolent, direct-action campaigns to date, in which people from all over the world traveled to Palestine to stand with the Palestinian people in their resistance to occupation and oppression and in their struggle for freedom.
Over the past 2 ½ years the challenges to ISM's efforts have grown tremendously, as have the attacks on the International Solidarity Movement, on individual activists, as well as on the movement as a whole. Whereas it is apparent that the occupation is not ending anytime soon and the ISM is determined to continue its mobilizing against the occupation, much more support from groups all over the world for the Palestinian struggle and for the campaigns and activists in Palestine is needed in order to ensure the continuity of ISM and the viability of the nonviolent, direct-action resistance in Palestine.
As a result of numerous discussions with various ISM support groups in different countries, an idea to hold a European meeting of the ISM emerged. This meeting would aim to: • Create an international ISM network to improve the organization of actions and increase the level of coordination between ISM groups outside Palestine. • Discuss how we can better support ISM Palestine and ensure the continuity of this movement. • Develop strategies for the ISM networks outside of Palestine
Escanda, an organization in the north of Spain (, is willing to host this meeting, providing accommodations and food. Proposed date is from the 4th of April (arrival day) till the 10th (departure day), but this is up for discussion, as are the objectives and the agenda of the meeting
for more information please contact: phone number (saif): (+34) 665029689
5) Trainings in December
As you may know the ISM has not organized a campaign in Palestine for the month of December. We are taking a month to assess and strategize. Nevertheless, we know that some of you have already made plans to join us, and we do thank you. However, we still cannot accept any volunteers that do not go through our manditory orientation and training. During the month of December, scheduled trainings will be limited. We are trying to organize them based on when volunteers told us they are scheduled to arrive. Currently we are planning to hold two orientation & training sessions in December. Each training session is two days long and you must be present for the entire time or have made alternate arrangements with us. Currently the dates set aside for training & orientation in December are:
Friday/Saturday December 5 and 6
Friday/Saturday December 19/20
Hisham is coordinating the trainings and arriving volunteers should contact Hisham upon arrival to Jerusalem at: Hisham - 052-244-983 ISM Office - 02-277-4602
If there are any questions or problems, please contact
Thank you for your patience, commitment and solidarity. ISM

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