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34 Years Later: Memory and Violence in Literary Sabras and Shatilas

Arabic Literature (in English)

It’s now been thirty-four years since the Sabra and Shatila massacres in Lebanon’s Palestinian refugee camps. It is a site to which literature returns and returns; still attempting, if not to make sense, to make connections, to reformulate the questions:

Dia al-Azzawi's

Dia al-Azzawi’s “Sabra and Shatila Massacre”

Most of the literary representations of the massacres in two Palestinian refugee camps don’t aim to hold a mirror to the three days of horror, which took place in 1982, between September 16 and 18. Instead, the literature places this terrifying slaughter into a context of other moments. The works ask how we understand it, how it was and has been exploited, how it changed in our memories; how it changed and changes our understandings of self.

A few from the many:

Jean Genet’s “Quatre heures à Chatila” (“Four Hours in Shatila”). Genet was among the first outsiders to witness the immediate aftermath of the massacres, and he wrote about…

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Good song-Old voice missed.

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Memorial day poetry-Ain’t no f-good war

johncoyote

Ain’t no fucking good war.

A Poem by Coyote Poetry

"

“Can’t allow the hate and fear to overcome us. World been the same for a long time. Must dance and love. Never know when it is time to go.)

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Ain’t no fucking good war.

Old WW2 Vet  sat alone.
He raised his glass to the sky.
He looked at an empty seat.
“To the good war my friend.”
He drinks his shot of whiskey.
“Whisper ain’t no fucking good war. ”
He put his face into his hands.

Father had his ribbons and awards over the fireplace from the Korea war.
We watched war movies together.
He was the hero who always saved me.

On the weekend he would drink his rum.
Late at night I would sit with him.
He would talk to dead buddies left in the Korean dirt.
He would tell me.
“No war is worth a…

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Donald Trump Suggests Starbucks Boycott Over Design of Holiday Cups

He is upse Continue reading

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If you would come

“If you would come to me
Arms open.. As wide as a field of tulips in Holland
As narrow as the veins of my left hand
As immense as a miracle
As mediocre as an awaited death
If you would come to me
Naked as the last autumn leaf in a London park
Covered like the veiled face of a shy bride
As mysterious as the kohled blue eyes of the Tetuan tribe
Clear as the blade that cuts who we were from who we are
If only you would come to me
Unexpectedly
With the longing of months of drought
Assuredly
Like the first October rain
If only you would come with the slow footsteps of Sahara men
With the flurry of a barking dog
Mad as a bull in the middle of an arena in Madrid
Vanquished and prideful like the last matador…
If only you would come to me…
Tonight…
From the sparkle in your right eye…
Tonight…
From the dryness in your lower lip…
Tonight…
I’ll set the rest of this burning city
on FIRE”

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Syria: The Hidden War on Women

Syrian refugee women and girls are suffering harassment, sexual exploitation and domestic abuse in exile in Lebanon and Jordan, and that abuse is increasing.

By Sharron Ward

Some have been living in refugee camps like Zaatari in Jordan for over 4 years. But the biggest concentration of refugees lives outside the formal camps. Over 80% per cent of Syrian refugees in Jordan and Lebanon live in urban areas. And it is these refugees who are the most vulnerable.

Last November, the Jordanian Ministry of Health, having spent millions on health care, stopped funding free medical aid to Syrian refugees. Now Syrians must fund it themselves or look to humanitarian aid agencies for help. But it is illegal for Syrian refugees to work in Lebanon and Jordan.

There are no formal camps in Lebanon, and many lone Syrian refugee women I met in the Bekaa valley have to live in rented apartments or small informal tent settlements. There are thousands of Syrian refugee women whose husbands were either killed fighting in Syria or are simply missing – their fate unknown.

These women are increasingly falling prey to sexual harassment, exploitation and the expectation of trading sex in return for aid. Unscrupulous landlords and local charity organisations abuse their power and exploit the vulnerable position of these women who can’t pay their rent or have to rely on aid agencies for help.

‘Samar’ is one such woman I met. If the struggle of trying to survive as a single women with five young children – all who were sick with asthma and themselves traumatised by living under siege and years of bombardments from Assad’s army – wasn’t enough, Samar also has to contend with local charities, run by men who expect her to trade sex for aid in order to get help.

Mona, a widowed woman I met in the Bekaa Valley in Lebanon recalls a similar experience.

“The rent was very expensive around $400USD a month. I could not afford the rent, so I asked the landlord for a reduction. He refused, saying ‘I told you – you shine the light on me and I will shine the light on you. But you refused.’

“I didn’t know what he meant,” says Mona. Later she realised he was expecting sex in return for rent.

Samar is not only traumatised by unspeakable horrors during the Syrian war – she saw massacres in which hundreds of people were killed – she also survived a 7-month long siege.

“We would go into bombed out houses, wash the dirt off the rice and eat it,” she explained.

But she too suffers from what she calls “the cruel treatment of women by Syrian society.” She explains that from the age of 8 or 9-years-old, Syrian girls from conservative families starting to reach puberty are kept at home in order to “protect” them from the advances of men.

This restricts their ability to get an education, and as Samar says, there is no way to provide an income now when she needs it the most. Her husband is missing inside Syria, and she struggles to be the breadwinner.

“I’m really suffering in Lebanon, I can’t provide for my children, to provide for all their needs because I didn’t finish my education.”

Syrian refugees are running out of money, and so incidents of early marriage, which has always been traditional in Syria amongst conservative families, are rising rapidly. Marrying off Syrian girls under the age of 18 years old is a way some families see of easing the economic burden.

‘Farah’, a 17-year-old Syrian refugee living outside the camps in Jordan was under great pressure from her family to marry early. She was officially engaged three times and informally several times – the first at the age of 12 years old. Each time she refused, she was beaten by her family. First by her father, and then by her brother, who “became his deputy.” The beatings she endured were severe.

Syrian men in exile too are feeling the strain. Unable to work in Jordan and Lebanon, and unable to cope with the humiliating change in their economic circumstances, men are lashing out at their wives more than ever.

‘Amal’ in Jordan told me of the severe psychological stress she endured from her husband.

“He hit me all over my body. He said it was because of our situation in Jordan, that he couldn’t provide for us, he couldn’t work.”

Bravely, Amal speaks out as domestic violence and abuse is stigmatised in Syrian culture. As a result, the true scale of domestic abuse and sexual exploitation remains hidden.

Much needed relief is provided by the United Nations Population Fund which is supporting local government and non-government organisations to empower and counsel both Syrian women and men. But the UN says its humanitarian agencies, heaving under the strain of catering for refugees in the Middle East, is on the brink of bankruptcy.

Dr Shible Sabhani, the UNFPA Humanitarian Co-ordinator for Jordan says that despite gender based violence reaching epidemic proportions in the Middle East, donor fatigue has meant that the “sustainability of our ability to help these vulnerable Syrian women is greatly at risk.”

For thousands of Syrian women in exile in the Middle East, the hidden war on women continues.

Edited by Andy Kemp
Filmed, directed and produced by Sharron Ward

Syria: The Hidden War is a Katalyst Productions film for Channel 4 News

@KatalystProds

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I do

“I no longer have patience for certain things, not because I’ve become arrogant, but simply because I reached a point in my life where I do not want to waste more time with what displeases me or hurts me. I have no patience for cynicism, excessive criticism and demands of any nature. I lost the will to please those who do not like me, to love those who do not love me and to smile at those who do not want to smile at me.
I no longer spend a single minute on those who lie or want to manipulate. I decided not to coexist anymore with pretense, hypocrisy, dishonesty and cheap praise. I do not tolerate selective erudition nor academic arrogance. I do not adjust either to popular gossiping. I hate conflict and comparisons.
I believe in a world of opposites and that’s why I avoid people with rigid and inflexible personalities.
In friendship I dislike the lack of loyalty and betrayal. I do not get along with those who do not know how to give a compliment or a word of encouragement. Exaggerations bore me and I have difficulty accepting those who do not like animals. And on top of everything I have no patience for anyone who does not deserve my patience.”

written by José Micard Teixeira.

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