Ayman

Ayman is a co-founder of Existence is Resistance, an organization that recently traveled to besieged Gaza and the West Bank and links progressive hip hop artist from the US with those in Palestine to raise awareness against the occupation. Growing up in both New York and war-torn Lebanon shaped his outlook on the world. Over the past ten years he has been an anti-war activist and a supporter of freeing political prisoners such as Mumia Abu-Jamal. He has also organized against police brutality and cuts to CUNY.

Jan 192015
 

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On this Martin Luther King Jr. Day we present a very powerful speech that he gave at Riverside Church on April 30, 1967 called ‘Why I Am Opposed to the War in Vietnam’.

Here is a quote from this historical speech against the American invasion and destruction of Vietnam.

“Now, let me tell you the truth about it. They must see Americans as strange liberators. Do you realize that the Vietnamese people proclaimed their own independence in 1945 after a combined French and Japanese occupation. And incidentally, this was before the Communist revolution in China. They were led by Ho Chi Minh. And this is a little-known fact, and these people declared themselves independent in 1945. They quoted our Declaration of Independence in their document of freedom, and yet our government refused to recognize them. President Truman said they were not ready for independence. So we fell victim as a nation at that time of the same deadly arrogance that has poisoned the international situation for all of these years. France then set out to reconquer its former colony. And they fought eight long, hard, brutal years trying to re-conquer Vietnam. You know who helped France? It was the United States of America. It came to the point that we were meeting more than eighty percent of the war costs. And even when France started despairing of its reckless action, we did not. And in 1954, a conference was called at Geneva, and an agreement was reached, because France had been defeated at Dien Bien Phu. But even after that, and after the Geneva Accord, we did not stop. We must face the sad fact that our government sought, in a real sense, to sabotage the Geneva Accord. Well, after the French were defeated, it looked as if independence and land reform would come through the Geneva agreement. But instead the United States came and started supporting a man named Diem who turned out to be one of the most ruthless dictators in the history of the world. He set out to silence all opposition. People were brutally murdered because they raised their voices against the brutal policies of Diem. And the peasants watched and cringed as Diem ruthlessly rooted out all opposition. The peasants watched as all this was presided over by United States influence and by increasing numbers of United States troops who came to help quell the insurgency that Diem’s methods had aroused. When Diem was overthrown, they may have been happy, but the long line of military dictatorships seemed to offer no real change, especially in terms of their need for land and peace. And who are we supporting in Vietnam today? It’s a man by the name of general Ky [Air Vice Marshal Nguyen Cao Ky] who fought with the French against his own people, and who said on one occasion that the greatest hero of his life is Hitler. This is who we are supporting in Vietnam today. Oh, our government and the press generally won’t tell us these things, but God told me to tell you this morning. The truth must be told.

The only change came from America as we increased our troop commitments in support of governments which were singularly corrupt, inept, and without popular support and all the while the people read our leaflets and received regular promises of peace and democracy and land reform. Now they languish under our bombs and consider us, not their fellow Vietnamese, the real enemy. They move sadly and apathetically as we herd them off the land of their fathers into concentration camps, where minimal social needs are rarely met. They know they must move or be destroyed by our bombs. So they go, primarily women, and children and the aged. They watch as we poison their water, as we kill a million acres of their crops. They must weep as the bulldozers roar through their areas preparing to destroy the precious trees. They wander into the towns and see thousands of thousands of the children, homeless, without clothes, running in packs on the streets like animals. They see the children degraded by our soldiers as they beg for food. They see the children selling their sisters to our soldiers, soliciting for their mothers. We have destroyed their two most cherished institutions: the family and the village. We have destroyed their land and their crops. We have cooperated in the crushing of the nation’s only noncommunist revolutionary political force, the United Buddhist Church. This is a role our nation has taken, the role of those who make peaceful revolutions impossible but refusing to give up the privileges and the pleasures that comes from the immense profits of overseas investments. I’m convinced that if we are to get on the right side of the world revolution, we as a nation must undergo a radical revolution of values. We must rapidly begin the shift from a thing-oriented society to a person-oriented society. When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, militarism and economic exploitation are incapable of being conquered.”

You can listen to the full speech below:

Jan 192015
 

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Our brother Mazzi & S.O.U.L. Purpose is back with a new video for “Our Sand” shot on location in Uganda.

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It’s off of his “Digital Diggin’ 3Minus1″ EP which is a collection of creative rhymes, flows, & hooks over obscure beats, loops, samples & instrumentals found online.

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This is part 2 & a follow up theme to the original “Digital Diggin” EP…

Watch video below:

Jan 162015
 

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From the video description:

“On a historic trip to Palestine, freedom fighters from Los Angeles, Miami, Chicago, New York, Ferguson, and Atlanta were able to witness firsthand the effects of Israeli apartheid and occupation, and to learn from the people who are actively resisting on the front lines.

In Nazareth, the delegates decided to do a solidarity demonstration as a call for support of the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) campaign that was called for by Palestinian civil society in 2005.

This demonstration was coordinated by Patrisse Cullors, co-founder of #BlackLivesMatter, and features “Ella’s Song” by Sweet Honey in the Rock, sung by Charlene Carruthers, National Director of the Black Youth Project 100 and Dream Defenders’ Executive Director Phillip Agnew; poet, artist, and New York Justice League member, Aja Monet; rapper and Ferguson/Hands Up United organizer Tef Poe, and Ferguson/ Hands Up United organizer, Tara Thompson. Dream Defenders Ciara Taylor, Steven Pargett, Sherika Shaw, and Ahmad Abuznaid, journalist Marc Lamont Hill, New York Justice League organizers Cherrell Brown and Carmen Perez, and Maytha Alhassen, a University of Southern California Doctoral Candidate, are seen preforming the debke, a traditional Palestinian folk dance.

Don’t forget to check out #DDPalestine on Twitter and our Instagram accounts for pictures, videos, and reflection from this trip.

Filming and Editing by Thorstein Thielow”

Jan 132015
 

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By Ayman El-Sayed

While racists ask where is the Muslim Gandhi or why Muslims don’t condemn the attacks in Paris enough or why Muslims are more prone to extremism or why Muslims don’t respect freedom of speech or why Muslims this or why Muslims that a Muslim man in Paris saved the lives of 7 Jewish people including a baby during the attack on the Kosher Market.

An employee of the kosher market, 24 year old Lassana Bathily helped devise an escape plan, first he had everyone hide inside of a freezer, he risked his life to sneak out to alert the French police but of course the racist that the French police are, they see a black man and think he is one of the terrorists.

According to the Huffington Post he told French TV that “”I went down to the freezer, I opened the door, there were several people who went in with me. I turned off the light and the freezer,”, “I brought them inside and I told them to stay calm here, I’m going to go out.”

The Guardian reports that he was put in handcuffs for 90 minutes trying to convince the police that he was not a terrorist and that he was trying to help people escape:  “They told me, ‘get down on the ground, hands over your head’. They cuffed me and held me for an hour and a half as if I was with them”.

The terrorists could have found the people hiding during these 90 minutes and could have killed all of them.  One example of why racial and religious profiling is dangerous.

Some leaders have thanked him and some media have covered this incredible story but not enough because it doesn’t fit into the narrow narrative that Muslims are monolithic.  It doesn’t fit into the narrative that Muslims can’t be trusted, that they are all sleeper cells or fifth columns.  It doesn’t fit into the narrative that Muslims hate Jews.  It doesn’t fit into the narrative that the bombing of Muslim countries is justified because they are extremist.  It doesn’t fit into the narrative several governments have been selling us.  He is mostly getting praised on social media by people inspired by this story.

When asked why he risked his life to help others he said: “We are all brothers. It’s not a question of Jews, Christians or Muslims.  We were all in the same boat, we had to help each other to get out of the crisis.”

Honor him by saying Je Suis Lassana instead of going along with the racist narrative and defending a racist publication like Charlie Hebdo who would have had you believe that Lassana was a threat to French society.

You can watch a short interview with him below:

Jan 062015
 

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By Tahani Sahra Hamdan

Health as a basic human right is a subject of political debate in the United States, even more so for Palestinians currently living under Israeli occupation. As a Master of Public Health in Epidemiology and Global Health student at the University of Texas, I recently traveled to the West Bank of Palestine to conduct a pilot study of women living with physical disabilities. Some of the results that I discovered were not only disheartening as a woman myself living with physical disabilities, but also as an attack upon humanity.

As a first-generation Palestinian-American, I have always wondered what life would be like to live in Palestine with my same disabilities. I would always ask myself the question, “If I were a woman living in Palestine with Multiple Sclerosis and Rheumatoid Arthritis, would I be able to receive the same care that I receive living in the U.S., or does my U.S. passport make my life worth more?”

Ask, and I shall receive. I travelled to Palestine in the midst of Israeli Operation Defensive Edge in Gaza, in which over 2137 Palestinians have been killed and several thousands more injured.

Sure, I was in the West Bank, I did not feel what was felt in the Gaza Strip, but assuredly what began as a pilot study on women with disabilities, turned out to be a nightmare. Between spending nearly every night suffocating from tear-gas shot from the Israeli Defense Forces, simply getting out of the house was difficult for me during my few short weeks there. Upon interviewing the Palestinian women living with physical disabilities, it was not difficult to understand that this is their lives each and every single day.

On days when I was able to leave the house without a tremendous fear for my life, I interviewed Palestinian women living with disabilities to get an understanding of their narrative of life under occupation.

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Disabled Palestinian women explained the difficulty of receiving any type of specialized medical care. Not only the geographic barriers, but also the nine meters high Separation Wall (known by Israel as Security Barrier but known to Palestinians as Apartheid Wall) prevents nearly all travel by West Bank residents to and from Jerusalem and all areas under Israeli control.

Jerusalem is where they have to go for the best medical care, or what we in the United States would consider basic medical care. For people with disabilities, it is the only place where you can see a disability-related specialist. The women I talked to had very severe forms of arthritis and had received nothing more than pain medications. No physical therapy. No mobility-assisted devices. Few, if any, prescriptions at all. They said that they only took medication when they were in major pain, which was during winter. Prior to the Separation Wall, which began construction in 2002, sick and disabled residents of the West Bank were able to freely travel to Jerusalem and beyond to obtain specialized care.

​Geographic barriers posed another great limitation. With hills, rocks, sand, and unpaved road, traveling for people with disabilities was very limited, leaving them no choice but to spend their time at home. The houses are very close together, most homes built on top of each other. Climbing down steep hills and alleyways is often required. The houses I visited almost always had steps at the entrance and inside. Homes resembled that of high-rise apartment buildings without elevators or wheelchair ramps. When they do go out, the disabled walk or, for longer distances, take a bus or taxi that comes to designated stops in their town.

The Palestinian society in general, including women with disabilities, is highly educated. The women I interviewed had completed their Bachelor’s degree but were working in jobs that accommodated their disabilities, such as secretarial positions. Other women dropped out of school at a young age because of physical limitations.

One of the most interesting aspects of the interviews was that disabled women said they were happy with their lives as they were. These women were not married, did not have any children, they enjoyed living at home with their parents, and they helped with house chores. When asked, “If you could change anything in your life, what would you change?” They replied, “Nothing should be changed.”

As a Public Health student, I began to question whether imposing my American values of a happy life should be like upon women that were already happy with their lives. Who am I to judge and change a woman’s perspective of “happiness?”

With the aim of improving the comfort of women living with disabilities in a developing country under decades of political unrest, I hope to one day return to Palestine with culturally-sensitive recommendations that will improve the lives of disabled Palestinian women without imposing my American values.