“Gangnam Style finds a tragic touch in Gaza”
If you have access to the internet, you have probably seen, or at least know of, the South Korean YouTube sensation “Gangnam Style.” If you don’t have access to the internet or even a television but have access to a radio, you have probably heard the song. Normally I would say that is a crazy statement and there is no way that people is destitute areas with a simple radio have heard this (awful) song. But after spending the night in the Sahara desert in Morocco and being able to hear a faint “Gangnam Style” playing far off in the distance, I don’t believe that statement to be so crazy. The song is literally everywhere. If you’re stuck in a language barrier you could probably break the tension by starting to do the “Gangnam Style” dance and attempting to sing the catchy tune. Not that I would recommend that as you will look pretty ridiculous doing so, it could be done.
Capitalizing on this global phenomenon, five men and two children from Gaza created their own rendition of the song: “Gangnam Gaza Style.” The video is an attempt to show the global community the conditions that they live in. Ridden by destruction from Israeli attacks, the Palestinians residing in Gaza are virtually living in a prison stuck in the Stone Age. In 2006, Israel bombed Gaza’s only power plant and since then, there have been rolling blackouts lasting upwards of 18-20 hours sometimes. The people in Gaza are living without power and if they are lucky enough to have a generator, the gas stations are empty and therefore unable to supply power to the generators. The video displays the unlivable conditions Israel has created for the Palestinians in Gaza. In the most recent attacks in November of 2012, Israel destroyed one of the few remaining sports venues, leaving only a pile of dirt and rubble in its place. This destroyed the Palestinians; and the men and children in the video demonstrate this. Children make up about half of the 1.7 million populating Gaza today and over 91 percent of children suffer from “moderate to severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).” These children will not have a place to live if things continue like this. If things continue like this, they may not even make it to their twenties. The World Health Organization has deemed 95 percent of Gaza’s water undrinkable and a UN report suggests that by 2016 the water supply will run out.
“Gangnam Gaza Style” is using a global phenomenon to reach out to the world for help. The video is rather poor quality, as it was shot on a cell phone camera, but the message is strong and unavoidable.
“Uproar Over Netanyahu’s Ice Cream Is Welcome in One Parlor”
Pistachio: Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s favorite ice cream flavor from his favorite ice cream parlor, Metudela. Ironically, as this New York Times article points out, pistachios are quite the staple crop in Iran. It would be rather safe to assume his pistachio ice cream is not flavored with pistachios from Iran. But the prime minister had $2,700 set aside in his budget for his own personal annual ice cream fund. Something I wouldn’t mind having but I can think of about a hundred more beneficial ways to spend $2,700. Israel is facing government spending cuts and I’m probably not alone when I say this seems like the first thing that needs to be cut. I’m trying to imagine the outcry that would happen if it was released that President Obama allows for any government spending going to his personal affairs, like an ice cream fund.
This story comes at a time when Netanyahu has already been quite consistently scrutinized for his frivolous lifestyle and now for some of it to be funded by the state has many outraged. The ice cream parlor, even though they had not received an order from the Netanyahus in a few days, are not being jilted by this story as many are traveling to see what the fuss is about this ice cream. My understanding is that it is quite delicious. “Let them eat ice cream?”
“The Politics of Qat”
Peer Gatter is the author of The Politics of Qat – The Role of a Drug in Ruling Yemen and he agrees that qat is not a narcotic drug; but he argues that qat is a “potent social drug” that controls life in Yemen. When we discussed civil society last week we discussed qat and how it unintentionally created an arena in which citizens can debate and discuss social and political issues. Gatter acknowledges that qat does promote this, but he also claims that those that wish to abstain from chewing, for whatever reason, fear exclusion and loss of respect. He describes how he watched qat “ravage” regions of Yemen, “changing social customs and society, making traditional leisure pursuits disappear, and diluting values and ethics.” Gatter is challenging the place qat holds in the public atmosphere, almost as if to expose its dirty secrets.
Is qat something that should be romanticized in Yemeni lifestyle? It is a drug and maybe it isn’t addictive (I have no idea) but the lifestyle of chewing qat can become addicting. People can throw their lives away over just the social aspect of chewing. In the United States, marijuana is illegal, however, the main drug in marijuana, THC, is not considered to be addictive. So what about marijuana becomes addictive? The social aspect. Sitting around in your buddy’s basement “ripping the bong” and listening to Pink Floyd and discussing the meaning of life over a pizza, or three. And if marijuana has so many wonderful medicinal components, why is it still illegal? Personally, I believe it should continue to be illegal until it can be properly governed and regulated as if it is abused at a young age, it can become extremely detrimental to one’s mental health. Could the same (on some level) be happening with qat? Gatter argues that qat is the controlling force behind all that Yemen does, and that is not a good thing.
“Going Against the Grain”
Gideon Levy, a journalist for Israeli newspaper Haaretz, has been following the Israeli occupation of Palestine for decades. He visits Palestine once a week and reports on what he sees, plainly and without propaganda. He simply observes how the Palestinians live and are treated by Israeli guards and describes what he saw in a column for the paper. Some see him as a “brave disseminator of the truth” but many others “condemn him as a propagandist for Hamas.” Levy said that he realized three things when he began visiting the occupied territories: 1) this was the biggest drama facing Israel; 2) it wasn’t being covered by the Israeli media; and, 3) it would be his life mission to report on the occupation to Israeli readers who did not want to know what was going on. Levy also makes note that “there have been worse and more brutal occupations than the Israelis. But never an occupation that believes it is the victim. And the only victim.”
This couples my previous post in that there are people within Israel that do not agree with the occupation of Palestine. They support a two-state solution. Unfortunately, however, they are small in numbers. But not by much. If the most recent Israeli election proved anything it was that supporters of Netanyahu are shrinking and believe that it is time for a change and a solution to this conflict. It is necessary for people like Gideon Levy to continue their efforts in dispelling the untruths being promoted by the state of Israel for awareness and support to be rallied to elicit change and a solution. Israel has been a state for 65 years now so this conflict has been extended over almost seven decades. I feel that it will be an utter shame on mankind if this conflict continues to the 100-year mark. I hope there is a solution, in which the Palestinian people can live freely, without fear, within my lifetime.
“Carl Bernstein on Morning Joe: Stop Confusing the Likud Party with Israel”
Earlier this month Carl Bernstein took part in a discussion on MSNBC’s “Morning Joe” that addressed the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense. Many have opposed this nomination because of his “anti-Semitic” views towards Israel. Personally, I have difficulty with the phrase “anti-Semitic” because it has become defined as “anti-Israel” when “Semitic” is not a descriptive word for Israel. “Semitic” is a descriptive word of the Hebrew language as Hebrew is a, well, a Semitic language, originating from the Sumerian cuneiform. Arabic is also a Semitic language. Therefore, the phrase “anti-Semitic” does not mean “anti-Israel” but “anti-any-language-that-is-of-Sumerian-origin-and-I-guess-then-therefore-the-people-who-speak-it,” which is on the upside of 300 million people. But I digress. Anyway, so people are concerned about the nomination of Hagel because he is “anti-Semitic.” Carl Bernstein who is an American-Jew said:
“It’s time….that the American Jewish community and the U.S. Congress has got to stop confusing the Likud party with Israel. The Likud party and Netanyahu are not Israel. The so-called American Jewish lobby is not Israel. Israel is a great democracy, it’s divided down the middle the same way we are… It’s time to have a truth-based conversation and policy about Israel, about the Palestinians, about the division in the Islamic world, and Hagel and this team, and Kerry and Obama, can carry it forward. But it’s time to stop cow-towing to Netanyahu and the Likud party.”
For decades now, the U.S. government has been allowing Israel to commit grave infractions against international law regarding human rights, among other things, and has let Israel off with a slap on the wrist. Obama has expressed his dislike, or frustrations, with Benjamin Netanyahu before but couldn’t reprimand Netanyahu as much as he wished he could (or so I imagine) if he wanted to be reelected for a second term. Now that he has been elected for a second term, he doesn’t need to please any electoral factions any longer. I’m hoping that with the nomination of Chuck Hagel for Secretary of Defense, who has a harder-line opinion of Israel, Obama and his administration this second time around will be able to put Netanyahu in his place and begin discussing the pressing issues regarding Israel that have been ignored for so long.