The Thing About Wars


No. I am not ready. I wasn’t ready then and I’m sure as hell that I’m not ready now. I mean who is ever ready for a war again, and again and again and probably again! Death, destruction, horror, arbitrary airstrikes, F16s, helicopters, battleships, drones. You name it… For all we know it could be us next. Having our home brought down on top of our heads, or get “the call” that says “evacuate in 3 minutes! Yes 3 minutes they are merciful that way.

They always said “if you hear it, you’re still alive you’re somewhat safe thank God for it.” But what if what you “heard” was a friend? a relative? a family member? a neighbor? a stranger who is a brother, a father, a mother, a sister?

You have to live with the fact that you are stuck between four walls too afraid to move from one room to another waiting for death to happen. No power to see what is going on outside and no water to use.

I tried 3 homes in this 50-day war. My in-law’s, my family’s and my own. I will never forget that one night when they airstriked a place nearby my parent’s place while I was staying there, my sister (Alaa) was there along with her 3 year old twins Maryam and Sara. I’ll never forget how Sara woke up horrified and ran to my chest and said in her little girl language “locket-th are dog” “Eth-thawaleekh kalb.” She’s 3 and she knows what the word rocket means. She’s 3 and she knows what war means. She’s 3 and she literally knows what fear means. She’s 3 and she sees dead people on the TV. While, She’s 3 and she should know what hide and seek means. She’s 3 and she should know what rainbow means. she’s 3 and she should be watching Sponge Bob. She’s 3 and her biggest fear should be her mother yelling at her for doing something wrong. She’s 3 and she should know what peace means.

My sister left after staying a couple of days only to come back some days later because her neighbor’s house was targeted. Only then did her daughters live what fear meant. My sister lives in a building where her in-laws and their sons and wives live. Their neighbors called my sister’s father-in-law at 9:00am while they were asleep saying that they got “the call.” He woke all 4 families up and within 5 minutes they all evacuated the house taking nothing but their kids. Running for their lives!

After the airstrike, they all went back to see what had happened to their home, they saw the windows removed out from their place, their furniture half damaged from the shells and shrapnels that escaped through the damaged windows and the wall between them and their neighbor completely brought down. Alaa took some clothes for her and her daughters and went back to my family’s home. Her daughters were stunned. God know they were all stunned. Sara and Maryam kept hysterically crying whenever they remembered the sound and the shaking of the earth.

Alaa, Sara and Maryam are not the only ones who’ve seen death with their own eyes and got traumatized. Some children did die. Other children got injured. Some mothers are still under the ruins of their home. The airstrikes and the bombings targeted everything: Homes, cars, schools, streets, playgrounds, churches, mosques, motorcycles, hospitals, the beach, and even a cemeteries. Even the dead had their share in this war.

I just have a question to those who could have\can made a change and help\ed with this but choose to stand passively watching. Why?

But you know what. Apart from all the depression that all Gaza citizens are going through, we all have had enough, now people have nothing to lose. So if war will bring us peace and will bring us our rights, so be it. We will cry, we will curse, we will say enough but we will stay steadfast. We will not give up our rights. I want Sara and Maryam to have a normal childhood. I want all Gaza kids to forget what they went through. We want our right to live. Is that too much to ask for?




Mohammed Assaf THE Arab Idol




Mohammed Assaf is not merely the Palestinian\Gazan who won Arab Idol. No my friends, he isn’t just that, he is now a symbol. He’s a symbol for everything that we Palestinians stand for. A symbol of hope, love, survival, steadfastness and a symbol of what an honest competition is or should be like. Through his voice, his strong confident voice he reached the hearts of all Palestinians all over the world, the hearts of all people all over the world even, if it’s safe to say! Through his voice he united us, he united Palestine and Palestinians together. We all voted for him, we all cheered for him and we all “ a’aleena al kufyya.”

Yesterday, June 22nd 2013 – yes I have marked the date on my calendar and so should you- yesterday was the happiest day Palestine ever witnessed in 66 years. Ever. As soon as Annabella Hilal the presenter of Arab Idol announced “Mohammed Assaf” the winner people cheered their lungs out, god knows I did! The streets were jammed with cars waving the Palestinian flag, car horns wouldn’t stop making noisy, random happy beeps you wouldn’t actually figure out whether a car was beeping at you to move your car away or if it was just beeping the happy beeps all cars were beeping, fireworks were all over the sky that I think we may have harmed the Ozone layer! Children were happy as they could even be, I saw children dancing in the streets, cheering Mohammed Assaf’s last name and even some were poking their heads out of the cars’ windows carrying pictures of Assaf. I mean it was 12:00am and the sky and the spirit and the ecstatic vibe which filled Gaza made it feel like it was noon. Gaza was genuinely happy, we really needed this. Gaza was the definition and incarnation of the word “Happiness.” We could have never been more proud. Ever since he auditioned for the show and we have been living the Palestinian dream, and yesterday it came true.

So congratulations a thousand times more to Mohammed Assaf  the face of Palestine.




FW  asaf  ppl

peeps  20130623_000428  strts  assaf  20130622_224256


A catchy title that makes you wanna read this

Last time I blogged I was embarrassingly unemployed and somewhat happy about it. Now, I’m a teacher who hates teaching yet enjoys it.  And if my boss is reading this I AM KIDDING I LOVE TEACHING, YOU CHOSE THE RIGHT PERSON FOR THE JOB, DEFINTELY. Once I started teaching I lost contact with earth, I rarely called my friends, I rarely watched movies or series, I rarely watched the news, I rarely  logged on Facebook or Twitter, I occasionally had a decent conversation with my family, I never blogged and I  never read a book (I’m not complaining boss, not complaining.) So this blog is basically written to my friends and relatives who think that I flat lined or in other words- died, people I’m a live AND I LOVE MY JOB. Sunday the 19th marks my safe return to earth, Eid holiday has arrived and I arrived, maaaan I arrived. I watched 4 movies in the past three days, I watched the news and it was all about the psychopath lord Basharomort, I called all of my friends, I started reading a book and snoozed after the first page, woke up again read a line then slept and started dreaming that I was reading the book! now I think I’m having hallucinations about it, which leads me to one question: should I start worrying about myself? anyway, do you see the word “instructor” down there? that’s me, hello. I mean they did misspell my last name it’s “Murtaja” without an “o,” but instructor, me.

Enough about ME, let’s talk about Gaza. Gaza, oh Gaza. Well, there is not much to say actually. I mean same old same old. No electricity, no fuel, drones are still around, the F16s still hover and they throw fly kisses every now and then, a lot of graduates are still unemployed “and I guess after this blog I will be too” and get this, they say there might be a WAR coming. Damn it, Gaza is such a cliché!   

Gossip Drone

Spotted: supposedly “Grey’s Anatomy” on TV


Waky waky people of Gaza.. Drones here, your one and only source into the absolute and utter collective irritation!

Now I know this might come as a surprise but I want to actually “apologies” for a change! Leaving you for an hour this morning did not just feel right and I still feel guilty. I really want to make it up to you. I must clear my conscience, you understand right? So as they say “the sooner the better” how about tonight? Just us. It will be romantic. You know no electricity, no lights just us and candles. I promise I will do my best to drone your heads off and of course take some pictures in the process. BTW If you were lucky enough and there was electricity in your area you might want to cancel your TV plans.

Looking forward to your well-written angry tweets!
You know you don’t love me XOXO

Gossip Drone.



The idea of this blog is obviously from “Gossip Girl”

Let The Bad Times Roll

They say when it rains it pours. I guess that idiom sums up my article today, because in the past couple of weeks Gaza had the privilege of setting this idiom on motion.

It all began with a beautiful sunny Sunday morning May 6th the first day of the “Palestine Festival of  Literature 2012.” A group of remarkable Arab and Palestinian writers came to Gaza carrying nothing but sheer excitement of entering Gaza for the first time in their lives, books and a desire to symbolically break the siege. The PalFest events and workshops took place from May 6th up to May 9th. I attended most of the events, and I can now say that the 6th, 7th and 8th of May were the best days of my life, so far. Meeting all these writers and Egyptian activists was overwhelming. They felt very close. I felt like I’ve seen them before and that I knew them already.


Specially Dr. Ahdaf Soueif I don’t think I will ever meet a woman as beautiful, as calm, as wise, as sweet, as kind, as loving as her. There is something about her that makes you just love her. Selma Dabbagh who is a British Palestinian writer the one with the “meticulous” handwriting -as she described it when she wrote me an autograph- the minute I spoke with her I felt like she was a friend of mine, the way she talks is so casual that you can’t help but feel like she’s your friend. 


As for the wisely impulsive, dynamic, energetic and out-spoken-never-mind-the-consequences person of all -that would be Alaa Abd El Fattah, (an Egyptian blogger and activist) He always spoke with such passion that made you just want to get up shout out and go make a revolution (believe me I thought about it). His energy is infectious and he consumes your thoughts.

Another person that I will never forget is, Amr Ezzat who is also an Egyptian blogger and activist. He was the philosophical, candid and astute guy of the group. He’s the kind of guy that knows what to say and when, seriously, the guy knows when and how to hit!


And who can forget Eskenderella band! They gave us something different to the usual -Something we rarely experience here in Gaza. They gave us a true Egyptian “Tarab.” Their concert was the concert to remember. Perfect. 


PalFest would have been the best thing that ever happened to Gaza for years now if not for what happened in the last day. A misfortune I would call it. Regardless, I think I would be speaking for all when I say that their very existence in Gaza and the fact that they even thought of making the festival in Gaza this year meant a lot to us. It got us out of the solitary confinement that we were living in, the feeling that we are isolated and we never get to be mentioned but in bad-NEWS-channels. They left a mark on each and every one of us I will never forget them and I will never forget the beautiful days I spent with them. I was deeply sad the day they left and I just can’t wait for the day they decide to come back for a visit again. Now we are back on the island of isolation, again!

After the incident that happened in the last day of the festival, it was downhill from there on. Because then  the condition of 8 of the Palestinian prisoners who were on a hunger strike defying the inhumane treatment they are being treated within Israeli prisons intensified. Two of them were believed to be close to death, and the rest were in a critical condition. But now the situation is a little bit alleviated and they did get some of their rights, which is not even close to enough. Freedom is “the enough” we need. A hint of justice is never enough.

And then, the 15th of May the day that commemorates Nakba or  “Day of the Catastrophe.” The catastrophe that befell us Palestinians in 1948. On this day, thousands of Palestinians organized demonstrations in Ramallah, Hebron, Bethlehem and Jerusalem and they all resulted in clashes with Israeli troops and police who fired tear gas, metal pellets and rubber bullets at the protesters in an attempt to break up the demonstrations.


My “Translation 101” teacher once translated “when it rains it pours to us” as..

Lamma ttayyen bt.tayyen   “لما تطين بتطين”

Which basically means when things go wrong, a lot of things go wrong at the same time.  I could have never come up with a better translation or even a better description for all this.

ps. You can follow the hastags #PalHunger #PalFestGaza and  #Nakba for more information.

The Story of A Fisherman

Today is Friday, and Friday in Gaza means one thing and that is: HITTING THE SEA!

There, i noticed a man fishing on the shore. This is his story..




The Kite Runner by Khalid Hosseini

There is a thing my mind always does deliberately when I read good novels and that is Imagining. I get so entangled in the novel that I visualize it all, characters, sitting everything. As long as there is a good detailed description, there would be a good detailed visualization. Now I don’t know if that’s a good thing or if I’m just crazy or overdo reading novels but I like it. I would be reading a novel and watching it simultaneously. Crazy? Maybe. I like it.

Yesterday I finished reading “The Kite Runner” by Khalid Hosseini.

The novel is about a 12 year old boy who continued to remain a trapped, guilty, tormented 12 year old boy until he reached 39 years old, where he finally became a free man. Free from his haunting past and free from his self-destructive self.

To me reading that novel was like reading a motion picture or more like watching a movie and all those written lines were just a subtitle. He profusely detailed details of details that forced you to see everything. And you know what, the novel was a motion picture and surely turned you into one. I found myself many times “laughing through my nose, shrugging, raising one eye brow, making tsk tsk sounds and shaking my head.” And because of the intriguingly appalling changes in the course of events and the continual shocks the author kept slapping my face with, it all made me reflect everything on my face. My face was the mirror reflection of the novel. I was Wide eyed in astonishment a 100 times, I gasped as much as I could remember, I shed a tear or two, I was angry all the time at Amir “the hero” I cursed him, wrote Facebook status against him, and he made me throw the novel as hard as I could over his cowardice and genuine fear.

I Liked…

What I liked most about the author is that he never threw a detail for nothing. Every single detail is carefully studied and carefully placed. His details always stood for something, If not in the chapter you’re reading it’s in the next if not the next it will inevitably hit you in the end and leave you with a “DAMN!”

I liked the little reminders Hosseini kept brushing up our memories with and how he linked them with what is happening. And how his reminders were put in a way that made you always say  “aaaaah yes yes I remember!!”

I liked the characterization of Amir. How he turned from a self-centered coward kid whose only concern was to get his father’s attention to a well-educated boy who followed his dream of being a writer yet still a coward then a lover who loved so purely and silently then a half coward who almost died saving his niece and at the end A man.

I likeed that, if there is a dramatic scene, it wholeheartedly is a dramatic scene. You would see it everywhere: the pathetic fallacy, the use of words, the punctuation, the full stops and the sad personifications. You would almost feel like the pages you are reading are dim and embittered! And believe me if you saw yourself while reading those sadness-infused pages you would see it reflected on your face with a frown or with crossed eyebrows.
My favorite scene in which I was frowning with a beating heart was the one when Amir was waiting for news about Sohrab when he was at surgery. You know, the only thing lacking about me reading that part was a good background music! I would have picked  “I’m Alive by Hans Zimmer” Pearl Harbor soundrack totally suits the situation! 

If there was something that I didn’t like in the novel it is that Amir kept calling America his “Home” and kept filling the little kid (Sohrab) with promises of the American dream, and what I didn’t like most was how “Hazara’s” were treated with such inhumanity.

After reading the novel I closed the book and found myself falling into a trance. A trance of thoughts, a trance of clichés! I learned from the novel a good number of clichés. That I rather not mention.