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From the Womb of Suffering, Gazans Speak Out

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Intro

Once upon a time, a beautiful, prosperous nation lived in harmony. The land the nation lived on was small in expanse, but its placement was tremendously convenient for its people. It connected three continents and was on the coast as well. Besides these major advantages, the land was blessed by God, it’s safe to say it was also the land of spirituality and holiness. With such conspicuous features, it was only natural that the land fell victim to attacks and attempts of colonization repeatedly. Till one wicked made-up state succeeded in stealing the homes of hundreds of thousands of residents, and in stealing many more lives.

Read Also: Visiting Jerusalem: Would It Be A Mere Dream For Gazans Living Under The Israeli Military Siege?

Alas, this is no fairytale, this is the reality of Palestine. And today, I will lay in front of you the bitter reality of perhaps the most oppressed area in Palestine: the Gaza Strip.

After Gaza managed to bring failure to “Israel”’s attempts of occupying it, the colonial state opted to control entry and exit from Gaza by land, air and sea. 

Gaza has been under an Israeli blockade since 2006. The blockade has devastated Gazans, affecting every aspect of their daily life as they have spent 15 years living under occasional –and vicious– attacks and a constant economic crisis. that set up barriers between their dreams, and the means to achieve them.

Writer’s Input

I write this from Gaza, and allow me a personal input; life in Gaza is depressing. After all, how can happiness carve a space for itself amongst 15 years of siege, restrictions of all kinds, aggressions, assaults, murdered dreams, and false hopes?

Many adolescents have dreams of becoming footballers, singers, musicians, etc. However, with little to no means to support said dreams, very few Gazans are able to indulge enough in their hobbies to turn them into careers. And the older youths feel lost and drained. Most young people with a higher education can’t find work due to the low job opportunities that is ultimately caused by the blockade.

Lost Childhood 

This blockade on Gaza has been punctuated by devastating wars carried out by Israeli missiles that have impeded Gazans from obtaining access to their dreams, as thousands of Palestinians were bombed. One of the most brutal wars is Israel’s offensive war in 2021, in which children orphaned, mothers widowed, and several families were wiped off the civil registry.

So many Gazan children were buried under the rubble with their aspirations due to Israel’s war. So many of them are supposed to graduate from their universities and build a new life. Alas, Israel’s blockade along with wars have crushed all the dreams.

“I Dream”, Gazans’ Dreams Under Israel’s Siege

Here, I met three citizens of Gaza; a talented mini-Messi, a poetic Jane Austen, and a motivated Jon Snow. Despite knowing first-hand how it is like to live in Gaza and bear the loss of your grand dreams, I still posed questions to these individuals about their experiences of life under Israel’s blockade. The questions are as follows: What does the word blockade mean to you? What impact had the blockade had on adolescents and youth such as yourself in Gaza? How do Israel’s war crimes, especially the recent attacks in May 2021, widen the barriers between Gazans and their dreams? Can you envision a free Gaza?

The Messi

I sat with the 14-year-old Sami Amara, a youth with a powerful strike that rivals that of Messi’s. He navigated rationally through my questions and defined the blockade as a large prison imposed by ‘Israel’.

“The Israeli occupation’s blockade hasn’t affected us as youth but our activities too, trying not to raise our voices and convey our message to the whole world,” Amara further expressed the impact of the blockade.

On a mental level, my interviewee was brave in his recalling of the wars and their impacts. He expressed that he is still traumatized by Israel’s attacks, his melancholic words were, “All of us lived the horror of war, fear, and the feeling of loss”. The war not only separated us from our dreams, but also left us in fear of not knowing whether we’ll live to convey our message as Palestinians, to the world.” 

As for his answer to the last question, Amara was a little bit optimistic about the blockade coming to an end. “It’s more than a dream and we’ll achieve it one day. We will be able to participate in international forums. We will be able to convey our message and talk about our suffering. One day, we’ll lead normal lives. We will be happy and feel safe.” He ended.

The Jane Austen

My second interviewee is a rather timid, and soft-spoken one. She was feeling too shy and I opted not to take a picture of her in order not to make her uncomfortable. She is the 13-year-old Gazan girl Mays Saed. She loves drawing and reading. Success in Tawjihi –last year of high school in Palestine– and having a small bookshop are her ambitions. “The blockade is a suffocating siege, like a monster that sticks its claws into people’s chests, tearing them and their dreams apart.” She eloquently defined the blockade.

When asked about the impact of Israel’s blockade, she listed numerous things, such as the increasing unemployment among Gazans, and the deprivation of youth of their dreams. My interviewee thinks that the latter made adolescents such as her “age way before their time.” She also added, “For how the blockade and Israel’s attacks on Gaza affect us, many of us wait our whole lives to achieve even a fragment of our dreams, but alas, even our efforts turn to dust.”

As for her thoughts on a “free Gaza”, she said, “We all –common people, traders, children, will be over the moon. So many elderly people will finally achieve their dream of praying at Al-Aqsa Mosque before passing away. The economy will be reignited. The unemployment rate will be reduced. And I? I will finally spread my wings to fly high in the vast sky of freedom.”

The Jon Snow

Jon Snow is one of the most supportive foreign journalists of Palestine. His courageous coverage of the brutal 2014 attack on Gaza made many Palestinians love him, and my third interviewee is one of them. 

The blockade doesn’t only affect those who were born when it happened, its affects extends to those who were born before it. This is Enas, 24, a graduate of the Islamic University of Gaza. She works as a news writer. She’s a dear colleague of mine, and we were having a lovely conversation until I asked her what “blockade” meant to her. With a look of sorrow accompanied by a sigh, she answered, “Israel’s blockade of Gaza has turned Gaza into the world’s largest open-air prison. We are like caged birds, creatures that have the illusion of flying freely, but still are restricted in reality.” 

When asked about the impact of the blockade, she confirmed that the conditions in Gaza are restricted, telling me that if we lived in an unrestricted area, she would “feel connected to the world. I’d be free to go wherever I want and do whatever I want. I would get a master’s degree in Literature. This is what I really want to do in my life, but I can’t do it here in Gaza. We don’t have such a program.”

Dejectedly, she told me that no one comprehends what war means unless they experience it. Enas wants to travel, but she is afraid that Israel may launch an attack again on Gaza, and her tripedition stops her every time, opting to stay with her family instead. “If the Israeli occupation’s blockade ends, I will, no doubt, visit Al-Aqsa Mosque in occupied Jerusalem.” she concluded.

Till When?

I was lucky to interview optimistic Gazans with a rearing soul, but so many have had their souls broken, so many think that we’re going to stay trapped like wingless birds forever, never to fly; not even in our suffocating cage. And how could they not be pessimistic, when the world continues to turn a blind eye to Gaza and its suffering?

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Climate Change

COP27 Climate Change Summit: Greenwashing Scam Imperilling Human Rights

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COP27 Climate Change Summit - A Greenwashing Scam Ignoring Human Rights

COP27 Faced Major Criticism

Morally, politically and economically COP27 climate change summit has been coined as a greenwashing scam imperilling human rights.

The world watched Egypt closely as it hosted the 27th United Nations Conference on Climate Change (COP27) in Sharm El-Sheikh from the 8th-16th of November. More than 190 governments attended COP27 to attempt to solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental challenges.

Furthermore, Egypt hosting of COP27 sparked much controversy due to its abysmal human rights record. Additionally, COP27 faced heavy criticism due to some of the world’s top polluters, such as Coca-Cola sponsoring the event. Furthermore, attendees arrived in private jets; meat and dairy products remained on menus; dozens of domestic civil society organizations were excluded. Additionally, the summit was overshadowed by persistent calls to release up to 65,000 political prisoners in Egyptian prisons.

Worlds Top Polluter, Coca-Cola, Sponsored COP27

The UN climate conference announced a sponsorship deal with Coca-Cola, one of the “world’s top polluters”. Coca-Cola recently retained its title for the fourth year as the world’s top plastic polluter. The sponsorship deal is a greenwashing scam by campaigners, drawing intense criticism.

Coca-Cola produces 120 billion throwaway plastic bottles a year. 99% of plastics are made from fossil fuels, exacerbating the plastic and climate change crises.

Private Jets, Bottomless Cocktails and Beef Medallion Dishes

Surprisingly, attendees indulged in the very activities which got us into this mess in the first place. Moreover, world leaders flew to Egypt in private jets. Attendees enjoyed bottomless cocktails, one-hour unlimited wine and beer packages, $100 beef medallion dishes, and $50 seafood platters.

This begs the question: do these foods belong at a climate conference? We have missed the true purpose of the climate summit: to help save the planet.

Caption: Residents push a boat through a flooded street in Havana. Industrial nations are being asked to compensate those countries most affected by the climate crisis. Photograph: Ramón Espinosa/AP. Image obtained from the Guardian.

Meat and Dairy On the Menu – Not on the Agenda

In the three-decade history of the UN Climate Summit, COP27 was the first UN summit to discuss the meat and dairy industry’s contribution to global greenhouse gas emissions.

COP27 faced massive criticism this year from climate activists due to the unsustainable meat and dairy items on its menus. It seems unimaginable that globally we are trying to reduce our meat and dairy consumption to save our planet. However, our governments cannot stop eating these foods at the world’s largest climate summit.

Cutting meat and dairy output are not yet on the agenda for governments at COP27. Many governments attending the summit give billions to livestock farmers in subsidies. Instead of focusing on plant-based diets, they are advancing policies to reduce greenhouse gas emissions using feed additives that make animals less gassy and technology that sucks up the methane wafting off manure heaps. Andy Reisinger, a farm emissions specialist and vice-chair of the UN’s IPCC climate panel, said feed additives could worsen emissions by promoting intensive farming.

Read more: Is Veganism the Solution to Eradicating Food Carbon Foot Print?

Dozens of Domestic Civil Society Groups Excluded

Hundreds of prominent human rights defenders, researchers and environmentalists were exiled from Egypt. They were unable to attend Cop27 due to the nature of their work. Many voices from Egypt were absent at the conference due to the government’s corrupt attempts to exclude dozens of domestic civil society groups.

“Arrests and detention, NGO asset freezes and dissolutions and travel restrictions against human rights defenders have created a climate of fear for Egyptian civil society organisations to engage visibly at the COP27” 

Additionally, COP27’s wifi blocked access to international human rights organizations such as Human Rights Watch, Amnesty International and other news websites needed during information talks. These prominent human rights organizations hosted talks at COP27 but could not access their sites due to previous work criticizing the Egyptian government. Egypt used this strategy to hide the nation’s decades-long record of cracking down on human rights.

Read more: Pakistan’s Climate Crisis: A Peek Into The Apocalyptic Future That Awaits.

65,000 Political Prisoners in Egyptian Prisons

Currently, there are an estimated 65,000 political prisoners inside Egyptian prisons. COP27 was overshadowed by persistent calls to release political prisoners.

A British-Egyptian detainee, Alaa Abd el-Fattah, was a significant focus in the media. As a leader of Egypt’s 2011 revolution, he has been in prison for the past decade. He started a partial hunger strike in April 2022 to protest his detention conditions. He spent the last six months consuming just 100 calories a day. A week before COP27 started, he stopped eating altogether. Then, on the day the summit began, he stopped drinking water. He has since resumed drinking water but remains critically ill.

Greta Thunberg, who refused to attend COP27, signed a petition by a human rights coalition calling on Egyptian authorities to open up civic space and release political prisoners.

Read more: Accelerating Deforestation in the Amazon Severely Threatens Climate Change Crisis.

COP27 Cracks Down On “Greenwashing”

Companies, banks, cities and states worldwide have continuously made broken promises to achieve net-zero emissions. These corporate climate pledges amount to little more than a greenwashing scam. Evading net zero claims is a common greenwashing strategy. Companies claim to be carbon-free due to strategies such as buying carbon credits while simultaneously pursuing new fossil fuel projects emitting greenhouse gases.

Greenwashing is when an organization spends more time and money marketing itself as environmentally friendly than minimizing its environmental impact. It’s a shady marketing gimmick that misleads consumers who prefer to buy environmentally friendly goods and services.

At COP27, the UN cracked down on greenwashing, laying down recommendations for how companies, financial institutions and cities must calculate their net zero emissions status. The new UN report aims to eliminate loopholes by laying out ten steps to bring integrity, transparency and accountability to net zero claims.

“I have a message to fossil fuel companies and their financial enablers. So-called ‘net-zero pledges’ that exclude core products and activities are poisoning our planet. They must thoroughly review their pledges and align them with this new guidance”.

United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres.

Read more: Doomsday Glacier on the Brink of Collapse: Catastrophes of Climate Change.

The UN cracked down on companies stating that they can’t claim to be net zero if they are not in line with targets set out by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC). These targets include cutting global carbon emissions by 45% by 2030. The UN limited short-term carbon offsets and held that they could only be used sparingly in the long term.

Historic Deal: Governments Must Pay Poor Nations for Climate Damage

Governments at COP27 approved a historic deal to create a fund for compensating developing nations that are victims of extreme weather events worsened by rich countries’ greenhouse gas emissions. However, many remained uncertain as countries argued over emission reduction efforts.

COP27 Climate Change Summit -Greenwashing Scam Imperilling Human Rights.
Caption: A Fridays for Future protester at the Cop27 UN Climate Summit holds a sign calling for the “loss and damage” deal. Photograph: Peter Dejong/AP. Image obtained from the Guardian.

Moreover, this is a massive step for poorer countries bearing the brunt of climate change. These nations face extreme weather events such as floods, droughts, heat waves, and famines despite releasing the lowest greenhouse gas emissions. This historical “loss and damage” deal will provide financial assistance to developing nations stricken by climate disasters.

However, this loss and damage deal has several flaws. Some nations held that the pledges to limit global temperatures to below 1.5 degrees showed little progress compared to the COP26 conference in Glasgow in 2021. Furthermore, others criticized how the language and guidelines on phasing out fossil fuels were weak. Despite many different opinions between nations regarding the guidelines of this historic deal, it is still a vital step towards achieving climate justice.

Read more: Climate Refugees: Pain of Unseen Victims.

Concluding Thoughts

COP27 has faced significant criticism this year for many justifiable reasons. Many believe COP27 is a greenwashing scam failing humanity and the planet by not leading to significant changes. The UN climate summit is losing its credibility in being able to create meaningful change to save our planet.

World leaders and people in power continuously use high-profile gatherings like COP for attention and are greenwashing, lying and cheating their way through pledges and commitments. The UN Environment Programme released the Emissions Gap report stating that only an urgent system-wide transformation can deliver the enormous emissions cuts needed to stabilize global temperatures below 1.5 degrees by 2030.

World leaders consistently fail to fulfil their commitments and act on time. We cannot place trust in greenwashing scams like COP summits anymore. Instead, we need rapid, far-reaching, unprecedented changes in all aspects of society if we want to build a sustainable world for future generations.

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Qatar FIFA 2022, A Civilized Model Of Islam

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Qatar FIFA 2022

Qatar is the first country in the Middle East to host the FIFA World Cup 2022. This was after Qatar’s award hosting in December 2010. This is a tremendous opportunity for Qatar to represent Qatar FIFA 2022 as a civilized model of Islam. The country converted to Islam in the 7th century. Since winning the hosting, it has been constructing some of the most eco-friendly and architectural advanced sporting facilities ever seen. It is the kind of country that has the power to host the greatest show of FIFA ever on Earth.

First, Qatar has always drawn its strength from discovering oil, fishing, and pearl hunting. In addition, it is the world’s second-largest exporter of liquefied natural gas. Hosting the tournament presents tremendous opportunities for Qatar to prove itself as a powerful country. Significantly, Qatar has always been taking advantage of the tournament hosting to develop local Industries, expertise, and infrastructure. This was for Innovation and application of excellent standards and support of Qatar’s transition to a knowledge-based economy. This edition of the FIFA World Cup 2022 is being themed by Qatar on its culture, history, identity, and hospitability. As a result, efforts have made the event an unforgettable historical experience.

(more…)

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The Lebanese file: neither a president nor a government

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election of lebanese presidency

Despite six presidential sessions, Lebanon still does not have a president.

The funny thing is, the government is also idle and the whole country is waiting for a miracle to get up again.

France is on the president line!

The head of the Free Patriotic Movement, Representative Gebran Bassil, is expected to visit Paris, which is expected to mark a remarkable development in the presidential file in Lebanon.

The meetings will aim to discuss the imminent presidential, governmental, and economic entitlements of all Lebanese stakeholders.

French president macron right) and free Patriotic movement leader gebran bassil (left)
French president macron and free Patriotic movement leader gebran bassil

Based on Basil’s excellent relationship with Maronite Patriarch Bechara Al-Rahi and Hezbollah, the French hope to agree on a roadmap for the presidential elections.

Although the French side does not carry an integrated initiative, it sought to know the position of all parties regarding a list of candidates that includes about seven names.

Those connected to the French ambassador understand that her country still has the American mandate to manage the initiative about the presidential file and that Paris wants to reach an agreement with Saudi Arabia that facilitates the task because insisting on fighting harsh battles would prevent the election of a president soon.

President issue: Who does Hezbollah wants?

 Hezbollah is reconsidering the local reality from a different angle than the one that preceded the election of President Aoun, as evidenced by Aoun’s recent paradox of reopening half-closed doors.

In contrast to Aoun, the party does not find any justification for repeating the vacuum for more than two years and tightening its internal domestic rams to deliver its candidate.

They are fully aware that choosing to unilaterally elect a president of the republic, and consequently, a government of one color and the presidency of the House of Representatives, means putting the country in direct conflict with the outside world. Everything that surrounds the internal reality is different from the previous stage, as is the position of the concerned countries.

 While Hezbollah’s opponents are only mentioning Franjieh as president—or, at the very least, any candidate from the party’s second row—this does not imply that Hezbollah has abandoned its candidate or candidates.

The party assumes entering into early settlements, which means that the party receives its price both internally and externally.

This is because the party cannot bear the idea of losing its candidate and will not bear the idea of any settlement following a vacuum that results in challenges, conditions, and counter conditions.

An alternative situation is possible in addition to that. Except for the March 8 team, there is no president of the country.

Is the former minister Franjieh a serious candidate?

Former Minister Suleiman Franjieh was Hezbollah’s candidate.

Nasrallah’s remarks coincided with a fresh French attempt that started a few days ago to forge an agreement on choosing a new president before the year is up and included pledges to start aid programs for Lebanon, including the “Cedre” program.

Former minister Sleiman Franjieh
Former minister Sleiman Franjieh

The debate that the French began with the major parties in Lebanon is anticipated to be finished with Washington and Riyadh and is predicated on the premise that no one can impose a prime minister or president of the republic without a genuine agreement between the major forces.

Hezbollah claimed in 2016 that there was no Plan B for the nomination of General Michel Aoun, and it repeated that claim this time as well: the candidate is Franjieh, and there is a point on the line.

 If the two allies cannot agree on a second candidate, there are dangers that no one has the luxury of incurring.

What does The Free Patriotic Movement says?

 The Free Patriotic Movement was informed by Hezbollah that the results of naming places below the presidency of the Republic under the General Michel Aoun administration were not encouraging, as the residents of these sites turned against the people who named them to them.

There is a “term” that Hezbollah agreed to, though, which is that it will not attend the election session for the Marada Movement’s leader until he has Basil’s endorsement in his pocket.

The party’s desire to maintain and strengthen the agreement with the Free Patriotic Movement is the most crucial factor, and as a result, “the election of Suleiman will be with Gibran’s consent and not at his expense,” among other factors, including giving Franjieh Christian support that makes him a strong president.

So far, there has not been any serious president, and we are facing many sessions without a result.

Is Lebanon on a date with a long presidential debate, as happened before the election of former President Michel Aoun, or will we witness the election of a president before the New Year?

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