... in gaza

What the kusttram is to Belgium, the Gaza marathon is to the Palestinian territories

04 Mar 2012 | 121 words | belgium coast gaza kusttram marathon running

So it turns out that, since last year, they have a marathon in the gaza strip. Even better, this is the only marathon which covers the entire coast of a state territory (much like Belgium is the only county in the world that has a tram running along it’s entire coastline).

The Volkskrant article that made me aware of the existence of the gaza marathon even claims that the coastline of the gaza strip is exactly 42K long, which after some quick fact-checking turns out to be only slightly wrong.

According to various news-reports, this year’s edition was quite a hellish task, with very low temperatures and a sand/rainstorm blowing into the faces of the competitors.

Marathon runner in a sandstorm

Free Gaza footage from Al Jazeera

13 Jan 2009 | 258 words | gaza media propaganda war censorship

Al Jazeera has launched the AL Jazeera Creative Commons repository that hosts TV quality Al Jazeera footage from Gaza under a Creative Commons Attribution license. This effectively allows all uses of the footage (even by other TV networks) as long as attribution is given to Al Jazeera. As far as i can tell (and they also boast about this in their press release) this is the first time that a major broadcast organization is making it’s own footage under a Creative Commons Attribution license.

This is especially relevant as Al Jazeera is one of the very few foreign news organizations that has camera teams and correspondents inside the Gaza strip as Israel is currently denying access to foreign journalists. Or as the International herald Tribune puts it:

In a conflict where the Western news media have been largely prevented from reporting from Gaza because of restrictions imposed by the Israeli military, Al Jazeera has had a distinct advantage. It was already there.

Screenshot from Gaza Zeitoun / War on Gaza day 18.

Given that the licensing terms allow other broadcasters (commercial and public) to rebroadcast the footage provided by Al Jazeera it is interesting to see if they will indeed make use of this opportunity and start offering a view of the conflict that relies less on the propaganda videos provided by the Israeli military. Personally i doubt that there will be many takers but i would love to be proven otherwise….

In the meanwhile congratulations to Joi, Mohamed, Donatella and everybody else involved to make this happen…

God went surfing with the devil

21 May 2008 | 117 words | gaza israel drone wars

Seems to be a title of a documentary film about life in Israel and gaza in production right now (no IMDB entry yet). From what i can tell it looks like an attempt to portray everyday life in both Gaza and Israel by following surfers in both territories.

According to juxtapoz.com the film should be ready in about a year, but for now the filmakers have a daily blog covering the process of shooting in Isreael and Gaza (where they have just been arrested by hamas) with some of the best photography I have seen online in a while:

Surfer in Gaza

Lets hope that the film comes close to the beauty of the photos… [via nomoresleep.net]

Essential humanitarianism (the Gaza Zoo)

02 Feb 2008 | 404 words | gaza energy israel

Leila points to a pretty intresting article by Darryl Li written after a recent visit to the Gaza strip. In his article ‘From Prison to Zoo: Israel’s “Humanitarian” Control of Gaza‘ (watch out, this is a link to a .doc file, what the fuck are they thinking at adalah.org?) he examines the policy of essentail humanitarianism develloped by the Israeli state after the take-over of the Gaza strip by Hamas last summer. Li claims that the conditions in Gaza have changed in such a way that it is more accurately described as a Zoo (as opposed as a prision) these days (and no he is not talking about the actual gaza zoo, where masked gunmen steal lions & parrots):

The metaphor of the Gaza Strip as the world’s largest prison is unfortunately outdated. Israel now treats the Strip more like a zoo. For running a prison is about constraining or repressing freedom; in a zoo, the question is rather how to keep those held inside alive, with an eye to how outsiders might see them. The question of freedom is never raised. The ongoing electricity crisis helps to illuminate this shift, so to speak. […]

The interaction between the state and the court is telling as regards the post-disengagement management of Gaza and the mentality of zoo-keeping. In 2006, Israel decided that the best way to punish Gazans for the capture of one of its soldiers was a one-off, spectacular act of violence that would lead to widespread deprivation. Now it seeks similar results - the loss of electricity and the resulting disruption of everyday life - through more calibrated, long-term means. This shift in approach is akin to the difference between clubbing an unruly prisoner over the head to subdue him and taming an animal through careful regulation of leash and diet. […]

The notion of “essential humanitarianism” (it is unclear what would constitute the “inessentially” humanitarian) reduces the needs, aspirations, and rights of 1.4 million human beings to an exercise in counting calories, megawatts, and other abstract, one-dimensional units that measure distance from death. It distracts from, and even legitimizes, the destruction of Gaza’s internal capacities and resources: its economy, institutions, and infrastructure. And even if implemented in good faith and with the best of intentions, it promises nothing more than turning Gazans one and all into beggars - or rather, into well-fed animals - dependent on international money and Israeli fiat.

Border economies

06 May 2007 | 241 words | border gaza israel food business

One of the things that has always fascinated me about borders is the way they structure the local economies of adjacent regions. People one the one side suddenly start selling ridiculous amounts of all kind of things that are not available – or much more expensive – on the other side. Particularly vivid examples of this phenomenon can be observed on the fringes of France. The area around Calais is full of shops selling booze and cigarettes to busloads of brits & in Portbou just across the border to Spain where there is not a single store that does not sell Pastis in 5 litter bottles to visiting Frenchmen. Laila adds another although – although completely unrelated to leisurely border crossing – example from the border between Gaza & Israel:

“Yes, you know, the Imsaddar household. Their farms are near the border with Israel, in eastern Gaza… their bees fly across the border and gather pollen from the Kenya trees and Orange groves in their farms. So the honey is just better.”

How is it that honey from bees gathering pollen from trees across the border is better? Is it because the flowers are freer? Less empty or trapped or sad? Less occupied, perhaps?

“I think they just have more trees and flowers there. After all, most of our groves were razed during the Intifada,” explained a friend.

Taken from her excellent ‘Raising Yousuf, Unplugged: diary of a Palestinian mother‘ blog

On asymmetric warfare

20 Aug 2005 | 308 words | war iraq occupation, gaza

Couple of days ago spiegel online ran a story about how the insurgents in Iraq where now using dogs with explosives being strapped on to them to attack the occupying forces. While the article did not even bother to point to specific incidents or provide other proof for this claim it reminded me of two pictures of donkeys slummering on my hard-disk.

In late 2003 donkeys suddenly entered the stage of the global war on terror with incidents involving donkeys taking place in Bagdad …

Most people would never suspect the lowly donkey of being an instrument of terror – which is exactly why anti-U.S. insurgents used the beasts to launch rocket attacks Friday on two hotels and the Oil Ministry in Baghdad. […] Iraq’s donkey cart drivers now find themselves on the front-line of suspicion after insurgents used the traditional vehicles to launch rockets at the capital’s two main foreign media hotels on a major commercial street on Friday. (jordan times 23 november 2003)

… and Gaza:

Israel killed a senior Hamas militant with a helicopter missile strike on a donkey cart he was riding Thursday after his radical Islamic faction fired a rocket into a large Israeli city for the first time. […] Palestinian bystanders collected parts of Kalakh’s body from the ground, wrapped them in white cloth and carried them on a stretcher to a hospital in the Palestinian city of Khan Younis, in the south of the densely populated Gaza Strip. The donkey lay dead on the ground next to the smashed cart.

The picture from bagdad did not feature a dead donkey (which was kept alive but left other people wondering about his future) but perfectly expressed the helplessness of the US army in dealing with the situation in Iraq. You see two rather puzzled us soldiers calling home from the donkey cart.

meanwhile... is the personal weblog of Paul Keller. I am currently policy director at Open Future and President of the COMMUNIA Association for the Public Domain. This weblog is largely inactive but contains an archive of posts (mixing both work and personal) going back to 2005.

I also maintain a collection of cards from African mediums (which is the reason for the domain name), a collection of photos on flickr and a website collecting my professional writings and appearances.

Other things that i have made online: