It’s a funny thing when I think back to when I was a racist. In high school I hated everyone that gave me an excuse because the most obvious problem, the person I hated the most, I could never admit to myself. It’s called projection and it is the very reason for almost every instance of hate in…
It’s a pretty messy and complex situation, in that there are factors dating back to Israel’s founding 64 years ago that continue to contribute to every aspect of the situation.
But I’ll do my best for a brief “What’s happening now”.
The Gaza Strip is a tiny 4 by 23 mile strip of land along the Mediterranean that is home to 1.6 million Palestinians, 80% of whom are refugees who were forced into that corner when they were kicked out of their homes during Israel’s founding in 1948.
In 2006, the US and Israel basically forced an election on the Palestinian people to decide what group would run the country, and the top two contenders were Fatah, which has a long-running history of aiding the Palestinian cause but have recently become nothing more than Western-Backed and funded cronies, and Hamas, which was basically a more radical group that was created as a response to Israeli aggressions and the lack of an armed, unified group to resist it.
The US and Israel were banking on Fatah winning, but instead, Hamas won, because it was basically an election of “The old and corrupt” against “The “not” old and corrupt”, and the Palestinian people wanted a change from the stalemate we had been stuck in with Fatah.
Because Israel and the US weren’t happy with the results, they funded and armed Fatah to “fight out” Hamas, who were democratically elected through an process that they pushed in the first place, which resulted in civil war, and Hamas being pushed into the Gaza Strip, where they currently rule, while Fatah retains control of the West Bank.
After the brief civil war, Israel imposed a siege on the Gaza strip, allowing no-one in or out, no medical/building supplies, food, clothing, or anything else without Israeli approval, which was never granted.
Fast-Forward, to 2012, the Gaza Strip is in shambled, people are dying of malnutrition, facing medical crises’ because they have no supplies, and are basically forced to merely “exist”, rather than to live as normal human beings. The siege is so severe, that Israel has literally set a calorie limit in which it dictated the amount of food that was allowed in that would keep people from just barely starving to death, with multiple reports stating that within 6 years, the Gaza Strip will be an unlivable region unless something drastic is done to save the area.
Last month, Israel “accidentally” killed a 13 year-old boy as he was playing soccer with his friends after a bullet struck his abdomen. Shortly after, they opened fire on a 23 year-old mentally disabled man who wondered too close to the “buffer zone” surrounding Gaza, and refused to allow anyone to treat his wounds, from which he could have been saved. He died shortly after.
In retaliation, the PFLP [another armed group within Palestine] launched a rocket attack on Israeli patrol forces near the border of Gaza, wounding 4.
That attack is what Israel considers the “start” of the current conflict, while ignoring the previous two killings.
Israel responded by assassinating one of the top leader of Hamas and the Gaza Strip, who had at the time been drafting peace-plans towards Israel, despite having a history of terror attacks.
Hamas then responded by launching many rockets into Israel, while Israel continued to launch relentless, punishing air-strikes on the Gaza Strip. Due to the fact that the strip is so small and so crowded, and due to Israeli use of massive missiles in their strikes, no where is safe within the strip, and no one is allowed to even leave. There are no places to seek shelter, no places to hide, and nothing to do but stay in place and pray that you’re not the next piece of “collateral damage”
In the last 4 days, 73 Palestinians have been killed, with early reports claiming 21 children, 9 women [two of whom were pregnant] and 6 elderly among them, with an estimated 700 injured [with injuries ranging from mutilations resulting in physical disabilities, broken bones, or other less extreme tragedies], of which 150 are children.
In the same time frame, 3 Israeli civilians have been killed from the same blast on Thursday.
While Israelis have an active missile defense system called “Iron Dome”, which shoots down rockets, along with sirens to warn of incoming rockets and when to seek bomb shelters to protect themselves from the home-made rockets of Hamas, those in Gaza are subject to shelling by land, air and sea.
There have been talks that the conflict could escalate and that Israel may send troops within the Gaza Strip, which is a source of great fear, considering the last ground invasion Israel launched resulted in the deaths of 1400 Palestinians, between 750 and 930 of which were civilians, while Israeli forces lost 10 combatants [4 to friendly fire] and 3 civilians.
I know this is a exhausting wall of text so I’m sorry about that, but I tried to cover all the bases of the conflict so that I can have this here for future reference.
I hope I helped you a bit :)
[Made rebloggable by request]
Last week, as part of a cultural discovery project for one of my classes, I spent three days wearing ‘girls’ clothes while going about my day. I wanted to explore the general reaction and preconceptions that people in my city have to clothing, especially in regards to gender. To me, the idea that a piece of fabric or accessory can be so intertwined with who are in our conscious is perplexing. I didn’t want to show off, or offend anyone by my act of curiosity. Rather, I wanted to act as a meticulous observer of the times, to see if the community around me was really as open-minded as I wanted to believe that it was. After all, if such things really only had a place in the realm of high-fashion and in Scottish tradition, then something bigger must be at work.
On the first day, I wore a long-sleeve pink top cropped at the collarbone. I received many compliments, a few glares and even a free Venti gingerbread latte. On the second, I rocked a pink blouse with a high-waisted belt. Again, the same amount of well-wishes, questions and passing eye-rolls. These things were to be expected, as it isn’t necessarily the norm to see someone like me wearing things like these. I felt collected and confident in these modest outfits, seemingly convinced that the world around me could care less about the clothes someone wore. Most affirming was the response to my nails, which were almost always met with a cheerful grin, a high-five and a few words of encouragement.
What happened on the third day changed my perspective on humanity forever. I dressed myself as I normally would; band t-shirt, cardigan, plain Vans, etc. However, instead of black jeans, I complimented the outfit with a plain black skirt and matching set of tights. For me, this was a huge step in self-image. Years ago, I was barely confident enough to leave the house for school. These days, the opposite couldn’t be more true. As I set off about my day, the absolute worst in people came out in a full-force flurry of expletives and discomfort. I was ridiculed in whispers. I was mocked in glances. I was obnoxiously and filthily cat-called by a construction crew who, from behind, couldn’t tell that I was a man. Stopping by a bathroom before a lecture, a frat-bro went out of his way to shove me into the adjacent wall after eyeing me up and down on his way out. Expletives and names that might induce me to vomit were I to repeat them, were casually thrown in my direction with almost zero passing thought. By day’s end, I feared a full-on breakdown, unable to stand up for myself or what I believed in to maintain the integrity of the observer’s perspective. In a way, I had no right to feel that way, mostly because of the realization that this is the way that many have to live their lives. I fought back tears as every stare and ill-formed word engrained themselves in my sub-conscious.
Though I may not know you, I think that it’s important that we all come to understand why these things happen. In my book, cat-calling, shaming and harassment are among the worst actions we can engage in. As a heterosexual male, I will never truly know the fear that women may experience while walking home from work, going see a friend for lunch, or being sized-up in public based on their clothing. I will never truly know the gut-rot that a transgender individual may feel while being eyed up and down at the store or in class, strangers seeming to think as if the clothing they see before them begs a legal invitation of ridicule. I will never truly know the plights of these people, but as an ally and a human being invested in true equality, it is now my obligation to stand up for them as if I did.
What scares me the most is not the glances, mixed emotions, or 10-page paper that will inevitably come as a by-product of this project. No, what scares me is that this is the world we live in. We exist in a place where individuals living their truths can be subjected, directly or otherwise, to fear simply for living those truths. We live in an age where feeling ‘normal’ in your own clothing can create unfathomable contention with strangers, despite them having zero investment in their lives. We live in a world where the material, the fabric, the pieces that adorn you are somehow allowed to say more about who you are than the convictions in your heart and the sincerity in your deeds.
I don’t know about you, but I refuse that world. I refuse to let these things overcome the passion and genuine honesty that I’ve been so fortunate to bear witness to in my time. I refuse to let backwards, unprogressive mindsets stifle the glow and drive of those who are undeservingly robbed of it. Don’t say it can’t happen to you. If it happened to me, under the most average of circumstances on the streets in a progressive-leaning city, it could happen to anyone, and that is something I truly do not understand.
After all, it’s just a skirt.
What is it about a piece of inanimate, plain fabric that scares you so much?
this is a post worth reading.
“With AML eventual recurrence/relapse after chemotherapy is the most common outcome, so you are in good company.”
I haven’t written about myself much in the past few months, but one thing I often talk about when seeing friends are THE ODDS. I researched them constantly in the first few months of my diagnosis. I have folders full of study data, research on different treatments, experimental drug therapies, how cytogenetics impact those odds.
I don’t think about them every day anymore, but the odds aren’t good.
Even among people who go through a well-matched stem cell transplant for AML like me, 25% will die in the first year. By year five, 50% will be gone.
If one survives past year five, there’s a lot less data. But I will face a lifetime of health problems due to the rigorous mutilation of my body I endured to irradicate leukemic cells and make room for my transplanted immune system.
For the rest of my life, the risk of every possible health problem, from small to large, is multiplied many times over for me. I am broken.
But I am alive.
I do think about that a lot.
I’m in Hawaii right now for my brother’s wedding, and decided to stay on for another week for myself. It’s the farthest I’ve been since this ordeal began. I sometimes allow myself to feel guilty that I am enjoying this – A few days ago I swam in the ocean for the first time in almost a year, I accidentally stood on a giant sea turtle (he seemed ok with it), I smiled and laughed with my family, my girlfriend, my brother, my new sister. I’ve eaten a fresh papaya like every day here. Do I deserve this?
I am not sure about all that will come next. But I do know that I’ve stopped wasting time. I can’t help but feel the weight of its value each day. That awareness itself feels like a gift.
I have some time, and if I use it well, it will be more than enough.
The plan, for now:
Leave here soon and fly back East. Get checked up, rent an RV, and travel back to San Francisco with my girlfriend and the puppy. See things I’ve always wanted to see, go at my own pace, work along the way. Write and photograph.
I’ll stay in San Francisco for a while, with visits back to Boston to see my medical team. I’ll work with the Photojojo crew as much as I’m able. And when I’m allowed to travel internationally, I’ll visit places I’ve always wanted to live and will do my best not to feel guilty about it. I will use my time fully, all of it.
out of the night that covers me,
black as the pit from pole to pole,
i thank whatever gods may be
for my unconquerable soul.
in the fell clutch of circumstance
i have not winced nor cried aloud.
under the bludgeonings of chance
my head is bloody, but unbowed.
beyond this place of wrath and tears
looms but the horror of the shade,
and yet the menace of the years
finds, and shall find, me unafraid.
it matters not how strait the gate,
how charged with punishments the scroll.
i am the master of my fate:
i am the captain of my soul.
william ernest henley"