Bed·ou·in (noun or adj.) ˈbe-də-wən, ˈbed-wən 1. Desert dweller, nomadic Arab of the desert. 2. A wanderer or rover.

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I’ve been sitting on this for quite a while, and I’m not exactly sure why – time to swallow all my insecurities and just share it!

In February, I traveled with some friends (#shoutout Julie, Biff, and blog-less Maya) to Ramallah to film a piece on the West Bank village of Taybeh and Taybeh Brewery. This is the result.

Watch and share, if you please.

My roommate, Julie, writes about a new documentary film called “Five Broken Cameras.” It looks beautiful.

Julie in Jordan!


“Five Broken Cameras” — an Israeli and Palestinian collaborative documentary on life under occupation in the West Bank and 6 years of non-violent protests of the Separation Barrier in the village of Bil’ln — Sundance winner and shortlisted for 2013 Oscars.

Despite the acclaim, the Israeli Ministry of Education has refused to allow the film to be shown as part of the high school curriculum… which, as the clip below details, is a great loss. How can anything change if no one will take a minute to look at the other side? And really… not “look at the other side” in the sense of “consider the other opinion” … but rather, look at the other side of your border –> this is what is happening.

Nadine always says that she loves film because it is a compelling way to present an idea .. it is a medium that people…

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“Everything is so expensive. The salaries are so low. We can’t live with dignity here.”

A Jordanian friend said this at dinner yesterday about life in Amman. She was talking about some of the reasons for her upcoming move to Saudi Arabia–a nation where women cannot drive, must remain covered in public, and where they cannot freely roam without accompaniment by a man. She will forgo the freedoms (I will, for now, ignore the slight irony in my use of that word in description of Jordan) of her home country in light of a more prosperous economy and the hope of a more comfortable life. The conversation came at an apropos time, the past three days protests have been breaking out all over Jordan in response to the government’s announcement that fuel subsidies will be removed. Gas for heating and cooking is considerably more expensive now, nearly double what it was, just in time for the cold winter months. In response, thousands of protesters took to the streets all over Jordan–the most prominent of rallies took place on Friday in downtown Amman, where 5,000 people came to peacefully protest the new measures. The rallies, the sporadic violence, the open criticism of the king, is unprecedented here. Jordan is known for being a peaceful nation untouched by the revolutionizing metamorphoses that shook many long-standing governments in the Middle East and North Africa as a result of the Arab Spring, a sort of kind and welcoming halfway house in a “bad neighborhood.” Everyone is on edge, clinging to their own hopes that everything will be fine as it usually is, as it probably will be, but still wondering–is this how it started in Syria? Is this what it felt like? Can the anger of Jordanian citizens in a downwards spiraling economy be tempered?

Meanwhile, news from just a hundred miles away, in Gaza, has dampened nearly every conversation. We were told to avoid going out on Friday and, as a result, spent almost the entire day camped out in my living room watching the news and reading twitter updates. It was a strange day–four of us very aware of what was happening, attempting to lighten the mood by making guacamole and painting our nails, but unable to avoid talking about Gaza and why, four years later, this is happening again. I had, as I think all of us did, a very visceral reaction to the whole thing that is only somewhat starting to fade. It was like deep tugging on my heart, a sort of constant anxiety that if I didn’t try and curb by clinging to my friends would bubble up to my throat, manifested in platitudes about the unimaginable plight of Gazans, and the entire strangeness of living in the Middle East while this is happening. Because actually, if I feel this unease during a few downtown protests–comfortably living in Amman, my expenses paid for by a government which at the first sign of trouble would fly all of us out of harm’s way–I can’t imagine what it must be like to be in the Gaza Strip. Or to be in Tel Aviv. I’m trying to find a neat way to wrap this up, but I’m struggling. I think things in Jordan will be fine. I don’t think any violence is imminent, or that the king’s regime is in danger of falling. I don’t know what will happen over the coming weeks in Gaza, how many more Palestinians and Israelis will lose their lives. Aside from all the politics, deep-seated hatred fueled by religion, and the myriad of other factors that further complicate and make improbable the possibility of a solution to the Israel-Palestine conflict–this is what we cannot lose sight of: that the loss of innocent human life is tragic, it is nonsensical, and it should cause all of us, regardless of our political position on the matter, to take a small moment and grieve for the lives curtailed, left sadly unfinished for reasons we cannot fathom. In the words of author David Levithan, “what separates us from the animals, what separates us from the chaos, is our ability to mourn people we’ve never met.”

10-month-old Hanen Tafesh, killed on Friday. Majdi Fathi / APA images

The past week or so was Eid el Adha, a Muslim holiday that honors the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his only son, Ishmael. The story goes that God commands Abraham to kill his son, and Abraham submits to God’s will—at the last minute, God intervenes and provides Abraham with a ram to sacrifice instead. Eid el Adha is a celebration of Abraham’s readiness to give up everything for God, his submissive nature regarding the will of God is something to be emulated. Ok, religious history lesson over. We all had a few days off of work because of Eid so I traveled around Israel and Palestine with some Fulbrighters. I had never been to Israel before, and I was incredibly excited to see the Holy Land. On the list:  Nazareth, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Ramallah, and Tay Beh.

I don’t want to address anything political in this post. The Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories is oft debated among the international community, written about in all kinds of news media, and has impacted the lives of thousands who live in what is known as the state of Israel. There are many online and print resources that address the topic, and countless places to read about the Israeli-Palestinian conflict—here is just a brief overview of Israel’s history that touches on some consequences of the UN’s vote to partition Palestine. All I can say is that there were places that felt like different worlds—namely spending Friday in Tel Aviv, then crossing over to Ramallah in the West Bank the next day. I saw some beautiful sights, and witnessed an incredible amount of diversity. There were moments I felt incredibly uncomfortable surrounded by Hebrew, a language I know nothing about (except the word ayykh, which means “what?”), and many others of slipping comfortably back into Arabic just in the span of a few hours. I spent entirely too much time trying to navigate hopping borders with our large group, but that was more than made up for by the abundance of delicious food and a slew of new inside jokes. Missed buses, good beer, interesting strangers, and lots of espresso accounted for the majority of our trip. Overall, it was a wonderful experience, and I’m happy for the opportunity to have seen something new and have heard even more stories.

Anyways, I’ll be sure to post many photos in the coming days and weeks; they can probably do more justice to this experience than my words ever could. That is, if I can regain any semblance of productivity. Vacations always do that to me—I mean, incapacitate any attempts to do work. The intention is there, just not always the follow-through. It’s like when you sit down to send some purposeful emails or research job opportunities only to find yourself 30 minutes later looking at wedding dresses with a spoonful of Nutella in hand. Gah, my life. But I certainly digress. Yalla, pictures to come soon!