Archive for gaza

Gaza, Stripped

Posted in maps & mapping, politics with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on January 15, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy

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This has been making its way around the internets, and seemed approps for a repost up here. Apologies for my technical insufficiencies that make it nearly impossible to read whats going on. So the green areas are/were Palestine and the white area was/is Israel. The maps march us through time from 1946, to 1947 (the UN partition), to 1949-67 (get yr war ons), to 2000 (redux!).

One of the crucial functions that maps play in my life, is having images like this ingrained in my mind whenever the heavily audio/ rhetorical media & political world tries to parse things this way or that, minimizing or obliterating historicity. For all of my epistemic issues with borders/ frontiers etc, mapping out terrain like this, with dates and places and clear histories of who was presiding over what land and when (as for instance the UK trying to wash its hands of this whole Middle-East situation), is essential to our understandings of what is going on in the world and how that has stemmed from what took place beforehand. They try to rewrite that shit every day (listen to Condoleezza Rice speak on any given region) but you hear all of it differently when you have a clear picture in your head that puts dates, and scales, and geography all in one scope.
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This is why it freaks me out that a majority of (North) Americans can’t find the United States on a map, and struggle to name even four countries that begin with the letter “U” (in english).

To even listen, let alone further engage in conversation about Palestine, it is so important for one to see images like the one above over and over and over. Maps need to be part of the conversation. At least thats our ethos at Black Maps. Elsewise we get people like Sarah Palin getting up in front of the entire country saying she can see Russia from her front porch in Alaska- and have people both believe her and vote for her…

I got this today from my friend Micha. Lets consider it some follow up on my earlier post about Blogging Gaza. Buh-here’s what Micha wrote:

Hi folks. My friend, Brian, started up a project called “Alive in Gaza“, following his work on “Alive in Baghdad”. He helps get reporting equipment into war zones and then helps publish reports from people on the ground. Check it out http://www.aliveingaza.org . He’s looking for various help with fundraising, translating, etc. I thought you might be interested in knowing about it.

I did check it out and it really is well done and exciting nah, its fantastic! Both in concept and delivery. It looks pretty spanking new, but so far it features audio dispatches from Gaza (with expressed intent of daily updates!), maps, and on-the-ground news updates of the situation over there.

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And because size and scope are important (especially in this age of GoogleMaps and GoogleEarth), here is a non-google zoom in on the Gaza Strip. Again, so you can situate voices from blog dispatches to NPR who are speaking from and about Rafah, Erez, Gaza City, Beit Hanoun and all the rest of it. This one of, if not the most densely populated places in the world. Since Israeli forces pulled out of Gaza a couple years ago it has been penned in and made into what many folks are calling the largest prison in the world.

Scroll back up to that map at the top (the green and white one). With that map in mind, does this prison analogy seem a bit less metaphorical? Kinda makes you think people aren’t just embellishing when they talk about the Palestinian people getting fenced in

I’m gonna sign off here and leave you with a map I dug up of the West Bank and an excerpt from this awesome democratic media project, Alive in Gaza.

Godspeedyoucartographers!

Esteban Sunshine Superboy

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Dispatch from Muhammed: “Non-stop Shelling”
January 13th, 2009

[Original Editor’s Note: “The following dispatch is a letter from Muhammed Al Ja’bawi in Gaza to our Regional Bureau Chief Omar Abdullah”]
Salam Alaikum Omar,
The situation is deteriorating each day inside the Gaza Strip. I cannot find the words to describe what is going on now in Gaza. The shelling is non-stop from the north and east of Gaza.
The Israeli troops are slowly approaching the northern side of Gaza, where the Hamas resistance is still on.
Today I contacted my cousin Ahmad, who lives close to northern Gaza in (….) Quarter. He said the Israeli troops suffered grave loss, whereas Hamas emplaced a great deal of improvised explosive devices targeting the Israeli forces as they were advancing.
As for me, I had to evacuate my house after we heard loud sound of shooting and missiles. We are now staying in an UNRWA-run school. Thank Goodness there is not any Hamas operatives or other resistance members among us in this school, but we do not know what tomorrow is holding for us. This is our first day in school. We have enough food and some supplies that will see us through for a number of days.
I will try to contact you again today, or tomorrow morning, God willing. I will most likely get hold of a new battery for my mobile phone. You can call me tomorrow morning at 9:00 or 10:00 a.m. Gaza local Time.
God bless brother Omar,
Muhammed Al Ja’bawi

[Ed: “The letter in its original arabic”]
السلام عليكم اخ عمر
ان الوضع يتأزم يوم بعد الاخر داخل القطاع,
لاتوجد كلمات توصف الحدث
القائم في غزة الان, القصف مستمر من الجهة
الشمالية و الجهة الشرقة من
القطاع, القوات الاسرائلية تتقدم ببطئ من
الناحية الشمالية لقطاع غزة و
المقاومة من قبل حماس مستمرة , اتصلت اليوم
بأبن عمي احمد و هو يسكن
بالقرب من المنطقة الشمالية للقطاع في حي () و
قد اعلمني ان القوات
الاسرائيلية قد تكبدت عدد من الخسائر في حين
ان حماس اقمت بنصب عدد من
العبوات الناسفة لاستهداف القوات
الاسرائلية عن تقدمها
اما بالنسبة لي فقد اضطررت الى اخلاء منزلي
بعد سماعنا اطلاق نار كثيف و
دوي عدد من القذائف, نحن الان نسكن في مدرسة
تابعة الى الانوروا , و
الحمد لله لا يوجد اي من اعضاء حماس و اي من
جهات المقاومة الاخرى معنا
في هذه المدرسة , و لكن لانعرف ماهو مصيرنا
غدا , اليوم هو يومنا الاول
في المدرسة , يوجد لدينا ما يكفي من الطعام و و
بعض المعدات لعدة ايام
ساحاول ان اعاود الاتصال بك مجددا اليوم او
غدا صباحا ان شاء الله , و
على الاغلب ساحصل على بطارية جديدة لهاتفي
النقال , يمكنك ان تتصل بي غدا
صباحا بي الساعة التاسعة و العاشرة صباحا
بتوقيت غزة
في امان اللله اخي عمر
محمد الجبعاوي
[For more independent citizen journalism, please support Alive in Gaza]

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Inventing Air, Blogging Gaza

Posted in politics, science with tags , , , , , , , , , on January 5, 2009 by Sunshine Superboy

So… its gonna take a few weeks to get everything up and running toward anything resembling my vision for Black Maps, but that won’t stop me from sharing some interesting tidbits. What to do on such a blank canvas?? I figure, why not start with the categories from the banner up top? Are you game? Today, we’ll hit up science and politics. Tomorrow, I got some good stuff on unsung heroes and buffy, and etymology of maps in the works.

+ Science +
Somebody asked me last night if, as a Philadelphian and science geek, I would be blogging about Benjamin Franklin. To be honest, I hadn’t considered it, but the very question planted a seed in my mind. Why the fuck not? This town has an Independence brew named after the guy and a huge, entertaining museum & research institute dons his name, why not get in on the action?

Well, yesterday I came across an enticing post called blogging the 18th century, which in and of itself, sounds either astoundingly captivating, or boring as all bloody hell. Turns out its the former! Devilstower reviews a new book called the Invention of Air, which chronicles the misadventures of Ben Franklin’s good buddy Joseph Priestly a fancy pants Brit who, despite being hated by pretty much everyone in England, is credited with, oh… discovering oxygen, successfully popularizing science, and launching one of the first attempts to systematically describe English grammar to name a few things. That and he and his family were sent on the run after their home was burned to the ground by the haters.
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Devilstower’s post begins thusly:
Steven Johnson’s latest, The Invention of Air opens with a lone passenger examining waterspouts from the deck of a ship sailing to America. To set the stage, I can do no better than lift a couple of paragraphs from Johnson’s introduction.

This was Joseph Priestley, formerly of Hackney, England, en route to his new home in America. At sixty-one years old, he was among the most accomplished men of his generation, rivaled only by Franklin in he the diversity of his interests and influence. He had won the Copley Medal (the Nobel Prize of its day) for his experiments on various gases in his late thirties, and published close to five hundred books and pamphlets on science, politics, and religion since 1761. An ordained minister, he helped found the dissenting Christian sect of Unitarianism. He counted among his close friends the great minds of the Enlightenment and the early Industrial Revolution: Franklin, Richard Price, Josiah Wedgewood, Mathew Boulton, James Watt, Erasmus Darwin.

But while Priestley’s luminous career had established an extensive base of admirers in the newly formed United States, he had booked passage on the Samson thanks to another, more dubious, honor. He had become the most hated man in all of Britian.

Come on. After that, are you really going to stop reading?

point taken. But what of Franklin?

Finally, though the book is most decidedly focused on Priestley, it’s also a good reminder of something that often gets forgotten: Benjamin Franklin was an astoundingly important figure not just in the United States, but around the world. If all that remains of Priestley for most of us is his name next to Oxygen, Franklin is too often reduced down to bifocals, almanacs, a reputation for romantic dalliance, and some funny one liners. Seeing Franklin from Priestley’s perspective, gives you some sense of what a towering figure Franklin actually was, and how vital he was to the enterprise of both science and democracy.

I’m a little less starry-eyed about Captain Bifocals than my buddy over at Kos, but we have an entire blog to explore the bright side, the dark side and the vast grey area of Ben Frank. The Invention of Air seems to give us a good start in filling him out in three (or maybe even four?) dimensions. Less controversial, at least far as my blank slate is concerned, is this “air inventor” whose life was compelling enough for a solid book contract.

The Invention of Air
Steven Johnson
254 pages
Riverhead Books 2008

so… speaking of air, what gives with the Israeli air raids and all???

+ Geo Politics +
Wither Gaza? Seems like Israel’s military hopes so, or even hopes to expedite the process, despite the best efforts of France’s Top Model Sarkozy and co. And while rumors are flying of a call for a third Intifada, we can stay informed of the whole brouhaha through this ongoing coverage at electronic Intifada, a sweeping blog that ranges from human rights testimonies, to an editorial about the Gaza Ghetto uprising, to the targeting of Palestinian schools and beyond. Pretty inspiring in the midst of all this.

We had a rally and march this past weekend in Philly following this one last week- at the very end of December:

Just to be clear, I am not, nor will I tolerate a hint of anti-semitism in this space. If anything, there are jokes among my closest jewish friends that I am a “jewmaican” (and 2nd generation at that, my father having self identified as a Jewmaican over thanksgiving jamaican brunch, with tongue firmly placed in his cheek). But the maniacal politics of war, invasion, and persecution are unambiguously fucked up. While a confused interplay of guilt, bigotry, and ignorance creates an opening for many U.S. politicians to muddle the misguided zionist project with our love and support for jewish people, you all are too smart for that, and I trust that your friends and neighbors are as well. So lets do all the cliché things for once- you know “keep it real” “speak truth to power” and so on. Yes? I mean, if even some national level politicians can do it, certainly we can my friends.

Update: Please check out this diary of a Palestinian mother by clicking on this orange section.