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    Imaan

    Well, I am undescribably (is there such an english word?!) happy for what you write about my blog. Thank You, it warms my heart. Life in Gaza might not be as pleasent as my photos, the blog started as a way to calm down my parents... Hmm. But was has been striking to me (I've only been here close to 4 months) is that life goes on here as much as any where else. We're being bombed at night but goes to work in the morning, if you understand what I mean. So the political effects on our life here is not that big, rather I find it difficult with the different wiews on children, animals, religion, politics. Being a swedish european woman who CHOSE islam I don't share much of their opinions or ways. Sorry to say. My son just started first grade here and it is not easy to adapt to a totally different way of schooling. Our intention is to live here a year as an experience. Having swedish passports we can go whenever we like (almost) and that is a huge difference for Palestine comparing to the rest of the world. Palestinians (at least in Gaza) ar "locked up".
    Oh, and I am NOt a Hamas-fan. Never was, never will be.
    I'll send you some translations from swedish to english!!
    Best regards //Imaan

    Fay

    I also checked out Imaan's blog (via Lisa)and was fascinated by the photos of her life there in Gaza. And now to read her comment here is very exciting. I hope to read of her experiences if she translates them into English.
    Wishing you, Judy, shana tova u'metuka, v'gmar hatima tova.
    And finally, hoping for peace in Israel and with her neighbors.

    Grandma Lausch

    I just wonder who are 'we' that are 'being bombed at night (by IDF?)'. Is Imaan saying that Israelis bomb Gaza Swedish women who are not fans of Hamas?

    Judy

    Imaan, thank you for responding here-- you're a very welcome visitor, and certainy as far as I know the first from Gaza City.

    I think it really is difficult to adapt to a different school system. I have worked on helping schools do this, because in the UK as in Sweden, we have children from many countries all over the world starting in our schools each year, particularly in London.

    One thing that would really help your son is if you could persuade his school to tell you something about what he will be studying each week, so you can talk about it as a family before he does the lessons.

    Our schools which are best at welcoming newcomers from other countries often create very good booklets which explain how the school works, with photos and keywords a young child can understand.

    Maybe with your photographic skills, you could help your school do that. And the photos could be shown on your blog to help the rest of us know something about school life in Gaza, which I would love to know more about.

    Fay-- thank you for your wishes, and I wish the same for you, and of course as you in hoping for peace.

    Grandma Lausch-- Gaza City did get bombed in retaliation for the rocket strikes which Hamas showered on Israel post disengagement. Imaan has already made it emphatically clear she doesn't support Hamas. Sarcasm doesn't really help in this situation. Bear in mind that Imaan could face some pressure from factions in her own community for being willing to engage in dialogue with Israeli and Jewish bloggers.

    She is very welcome here, and I hope any commenters will support that welcome in their comments.

    Lisa

    I'm so glad that you wrote this welcoming post about Imaan's blog, and for Imaan herself. It's so important that we all get past the shallow, one-dimensional and negative images we have of each other - the images that we absorb via the media. For me, the only surprise is how surprised we all are when we discover that the Other is actually...human. ;)

    Grandma Lausch

    Judy, 'Gaza city' wasn't bombed post disengagement; the meticulously selected terrorist nests in Gaza city were, as even the FO minister Kim Howells confirmed the other day.
    I grew up in a totalitarian state and learned about freedom of speach from experience. I also learned to see a lie, even when it is released in passing. Do you really want your readers to tailor their e-mails to a UK blog on terms acceptable to 'factions' in Gaza? I would rather not bother at all.

    Judy

    Grandma Lausch-- I accept that the bombing was of a site used by terrorists. However, it still does impact on those who live in the city who oppose the terrorists. I do not think Imaan is trying to make lying political points. I do think it is humane and appropriate to seek to encourage a brave person who wants dialogue. If you feel you cannot do that, then indeed, please feel free not to post on this thread any further.

    If you read my posts, you will see that I too strongly oppose totalitarian movements which pose as "liberators". I am for democracy, real democracy. As in places like the Lebanon, it is important to ensure that one does everything possible to ensure that actual and potential supporters of democracy struggling in difficult circumstances are welcomed and supported.

    Grandma Lausch

    important to ensure...appropriate to seek to encourage...real democracy... Judy, have you thought of a career as Charles Kennedy's campaign manager?

    It was nice to come across your blog though; I hope with my departure everyone will be in unison with the Adloyada party line


    Herschel Zimonas

    If Judy thinks that 'we are bombed' sums up the IAF action last week (that it had an impact on those 'who oppose the terrorists' is a truism) what is the difference between Gaza city and Sderot? Or between Adloyada and The Independent / BBC/ Guardian 'cycle of violence' school of journalism? Perhaps the Swedish blogger could explain herself rather than Judy recommending, school mistress-style, not only the meaning but the 'appropriate' [sic] readers' response as well.

    On a practical note: how big a distortion of truth about Israel is Judy prepared to swallow to 'encourage democracy' in Lebanon and Gaza?

    Judy

    Herschel, I suggest you read carefully through my blog section "our entirely unbiased media". Also try reading through my section on "radicals and marxists of Chelm". Then think about which side of truth I'm on around Israel.

    Horace Dunn

    Grandma Lausch and Herschel Zimonas:

    I fail to see anything in what Judy has written that would suggest that would place her in the "cycle of violence" school of journalism that you associate her with. Nor can I detect any demands that her guests on this site tailor their political views to follow a particular party line.

    To praise the good-heartedness and fortitude of people like Imaan is not anti-Israel, nor is it siding with "factions" in Gaza.

    You feel that is important to emphasise certain facts about the current situation in Gaza. This is a good thing to do, but I'd suggest that your points would have been better made had you not adopted such a combative stance. I feel that you are making a straw man of Judy.

    If you have been, thank you for listening.

    Lisa

    Horace, thank you for writing the comment that I couldn't quite spit out. You have a lovely way with words.

    Inna

    Imaan, Thank you for your blog, your gracious post, and your good heart.

    As for adopting to a different school system. I remember having to do that (my family immigrated from then-USSR to US) and what really helped me adopt to the new school system and culture was the interest my family took in my studies and daily activities and (in retrospect) hilarious faux pas.

    I remember coming home and proudly relating to my father that I now knew how to say "I cold" in English--and him explaining about a mysterious word "am" --which does not have a Russian equivalent.

    I also remember how my poor parents would come home and patiently go over all my homework with me, listen for hours to my new discovery (Star Trek, lollipops, Barbies) even if it meant they had to go to sleep at 2 or 3 AM on a work night. (I only said thank you when I grew up and only after reading your post did I really realize how worried they were about me...)

    The adjustment is difficult but if your family is there for you, you can do it.

    Best,

    Inna

    Herschel Zimonas

    Judy ticked Grandma off for pointing out a lie in Imaan's piece; she picked on 'sarcasm' and lectured on what is 'helpful' and what others should and shouldn't 'support'; then she came up with a silly spiel about why Imaan's lie was no big deal. To top it off, she let Grandma know that not all contributions (within the basic norms of civility, naturally) are welcome.

    If Horace failed 'to see anything', he can easily scroll up and read it again.

    I think that spreading lies about Israel is anti-Israeli. I believe that not challenging lies about Israel, big or small, because it is not 'helpful', simply 'stinks to heaven'. And my question is still unanswered:

    how big a lie is Judy happy to swallow to 'encourage democracy' in Lebanon and Gaza?

    Imaan

    Imaan here again. In the end of September Gaza strip was 'being bombed'. I was here so I know. If my english perhaps doesn't express exactly what I want to say, that is something else. What I meant by being 'bombed' was that we heard a sound so loud it all made us jump from fear and my sheer curtains (beacuse you have to keep the windows open otherwise the glass will brake from the pressure)lifted and flew up towards the ceiling and my children all ran to my screaming wondering what it was?! It happen 5-8 times during the days and a few times at night for almost a week in the end of september. Now, if anyone want to describe it in other words feel free. This is just my experience. I'm writing here as a human simply, not as a politician, journalist or anything else. So it becomes little silly to conclude too much from my words.
    About schooling it isn't so much that the system is different... It is the fact that they don't respect children in the schools. My son has been beaten twice (in a collective punishment, he didn't even do anything) and everyday when I leave him in the school I see the teachers shout and behave badly. The teachers my son have are ok and I have spoken to them about this issue and they know that is new here. This is of course not a palestinian issue, beating as a pedagogy exist on many places all over the world. I however cannot accept it and therefore my stay won't be lenghty here. There are of course other things here that are very positive for us as a family here, such as getting to know my husband's family and his culture wich I personally believe is very important for children with parents of different countries, that is to know and feel secure in both cultures.
    Life in Gaza is very hard for a european woman like me. The simple fact that the internet-connection works very pourly is really a obsticle in my daily life. Water sometimes 'finish' in our building and can be gone for hours as well as the electricity. And we do face real difficulties trying to get in and out over the borders. I myself spent 3 horrible days with my 3 children in Rafah in the end of June this summer when we came here. We travveled over the border itself in a bus FULL with people (in the place I sat in - with 2 seats - we were 5 grown up woman plus my 3 children... and in the ile all the men stood packed as fishes) and mind you that the Israli side gave us clarance to leave from the egyptian border, then stopped us and let us stay like that for close to an hour. We didn't even have aircondition and as I said it was June... When we finally came out I was shaking. But I'm still not a Hamas-fan... (and that - for all you serious people in here - was a meant as a joke).

    Judy

    Dear Imaan
    Thank you for posting this very honest and touching account of your situation in Gaza. I very much appreciate the trouble you have taken to try to convey the reality of your own experiences there to the people who have written comments on my blog.

    It is really very hard to deal with some of the painful experiences you relate here. If I can comment first on the school experience, it must be so hard to deal with knowing your children have been beaten. I would have been beside myself if that had happened to my daughter. As you say, appalling things go on in schools all over the world every day, at the heart of which is always failing to care for, and being frightened of children. We don't now have beatings in English schools--though there are teacher unions that would like to have them back-- but it doesn't prevent cruelties from happening. I am a school inspector, and part of my role is to make sure such things do not happen. Mostly, teachers do their best by children, and some are truly wonderful. But you would not believe some of the things I have seen acted out in front of my eyes. Never give up on complaining if there is anything that concerns you. And you and your faith are the best source of healing that your children have for anything bad that touches them.

    I can understand how frightening and painful it was for you to experience the bombing, and to sit in the stifling heat in the Rafah bus. I wish we did not have circumstances that created it. I know from what you write that you recognise the complexity of the situation, that you do not demonize or simplistically blame Israel and the Israelis. We can recognise each other's situation even if we do not share it. This is the time in our Jewish year of prayers when we most fervently pray for the peace of the world, and indeed during these coming days of our Succos festivals, we will be saying special prayers for peace and the welfare of all the nations of the world. You and your family in Gaza and Sweden will certainly be in my thoughts when I say those prayers.

    I hope Ramadan's fasting and communal feasts are bringing you and your family spiritual and practical joy and comfort.

    Thank you again for this very welcome post, and I hope we will hear from you soon again.

    Imaan

    Thank you so much Judy. Thanks to people like you the world go around (well, except for God, of course). Sorry for my double and stressed post, as I said, internetconnection here is not that secure so it makes you spell bad and send posts twice...
    You will also be in my prayers.

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