We, too, Love our Land

I am the little infant in my mother’s lap,
where I started to grow and draw our map,

With my brother, who is still a little child,
His hopes and dreams had our land smiled,

My sister was also very talented young,
She is a singer, and palestine, by her, is sung,

Ali, my handsome brother who is a big man,
With friends, thinking to rebuild Palestine, he began,

My father, the worldly-wise lawyer,
wants peace, just like the fisherman and the sawyer,

My mum, in whose lap I still stay,
promised to teach me freedom everyday,

We all stood proudly under the colored flag,
In the land day, on Palestine, we started to brag,

Fluttering under the blue high sky,
For the sake of it, we all are ready to die,

With black, green, red and white,
To live on this land, we have the right,

“Long live our nation,” we said,
No farewells on you will ever be bid,

Mohammed Arafat


The Palestinian pound: Mo’ money, mo’ problems?


This article is also published at The New Arab 

The Middle East used to be under the Ottoman Empire whose currency they used until the First World War in 1917 when the empire disintegrated. As a result, the Middle Eastern states, including Palestine, started using other currencies.

Palestine, assigned as a mandate to Great Britain, used the Egyptian pound until 1927, when Britain introduced the Palestinian pound. This pound held the same value as the sterling pound.

After the Israeli occupation, and the declaration of the state of Israel in 1948, the Palestinian pound was replaced with the Israeli lira. In 1980, the lira was replaced with the shekel, and in 1985, the Israeli new shekel was introduced.

Consequently, many younger Palestinians are unaware of the Palestinian pound.

Palestinian schools, in a bid to remind the younger Palestinian generations of their history, hope to introduce the Palestinian pound among their students.

In a meeting with Azzam el Shawa, the Palestine Monetary Authority governor, Sabry Seidam, the education minister said that the coming step hopes to strengthen Palestinian history among students.

“This step holds a lot of national meaning among students, and it is preparing [them] for the independence of Palestine.”

He added, “The Palestinian Ministry of Education focuses on education, offering its support to the Palestinian teacher.”

A number of politicians in the Palestinian National Authority have also hinted on plans which seek to introduce the Palestinian pound officially among Palestinians in the West Bank and Gaza in the coming years. This move requires the cooperation of the Palestinian Monetary Authority, Ministry of Finance and the Ministry of Economy.

Commenting, the general manager of economic policies in the Ministry of Economy, Azmy Abdulrahman, said that there are no real plans for using a new currency in Palestine and statements by politicians are only words, adding, “a new currency with no economic basis is a crisis”

However, the Ministry of Economy said that it has the ready-to-use policies for the new currency, and is waiting for a political decision to begin. They added however, that disruptions in the Palestinian Authority need to be fixed before a new currency is introduced.

Furthermore, article 22 in the Protocol on Economic Relations (Paris Protocol 1994) states that Palestinians have the right to have their own currency beside other available currencies.

Meanwhile, halting the use of the new Israeli shekel means stopping many of the economic processes that depend on the Israeli currency. Palestinian decision makers must take all of this into consideration. Moreover, having a new currency needs a Palestinian central bank that can take care of all incoming currency and current economic processes being taken care by the Israeli central bank.

Decision makers will also need to ensure that the currency is able to compete with others.

Dr. Yasser Shaheen, a Palestinian economist, believes that having a new currency can happen gradually without abandoning the Israeli shekel.

Some Palestinian economists and analysts, including Shaheen, think that the Israeli authorities might attempt to block the Palestinians from using their pound by closing the crossings between the Palestinian cities.

“A new currency is not easy without mutual understanding between the Palestinians and the Israelis,” Shaheen explained.

Mohammed Arafat


To Palestine, Send my Salute,

To Palestine, send my salutes,
To its patience and the played flutes,
To its seas that I missed,
And its shores that I kissed,
Its stunning skies that were always blue,
And the green forests that I played through,

Send my warm regards,
To its lands and yards,
To the old olive trees,
The hidden old keys,
To the high mountains,
The natural fountains,

Send my warm greets,
To the sandy streets,
The tree swings,
The dove wings,
The canary and its songs,
And the reeds it belongs,

Send my embracing salam,
To my granny and her tired palm,
To my father, and his milky cow,
And the beautiful farm anyhow,
To my mom’s pure heart,
Where my love will start,

Mohammed Arafat


Weaving relationships: Gaza factory produces Kippahs for Israel


This article is also published at The New Arab

Since 2006, politics has brought an end to every relationship that used to exist between Palestinian workers inside Israel, and the Israelis whom offered jobs.

Israel withdrew from Gaza in the so-called “Israeli disengagement from Gaza” in 2005, and Hamas has taken control of the Gaza Strip since.

Before then, thousands of Gazan workers would cross the Erez crossing to the north of Gaza to work in Israel for a salary of $800. Today, this figure remains a dream – many are unemployed, and dream of a salary of $200 to make do.

Palestinians hoping to bring about a change relocated the places of work from inside Israel, to small projects inside the besieged Strip.

“The clothing sector is not developed yet although we were told that it would be developed by Israel.”Located in al-Shati camp in the western Gaza, are a number of factories. Mohammed abu Shanab’s clothing factory is the only one that produces the Israeli Kippah – a brimless cap worn by Jews.

Abu Shanab’s small factory is not limited only to the Kippah, but also manufactures dresses, shirts and other items ready for export to Israel. Annually, the factory produces around 10,000 trousers alone.
Abu Shanab believes that politics must not affect the economic relationship between Israel and Gaza, saying that Israelis have economic friends in Gaza, and that, “work is a message that can bring peace to the area.”

Recent studies show that the percentage of unemployment in the Gaza Strip is more over 42%, a direct cause of the Israeli siege and the political battles happening in the area, all of which affect the economy of the beleaguered Gaza Strip.

Yaseer al-Austaz, heading the Palestinian Textile and Garment Industry, said that fifteen Gazan clothing factories export their products to Israel, while an additional 26 export to the West Bank.Mohammed abu Kamel, a Palestinian weaver and clothing factory owner, said that producing special and customised items for Israel is a good thing as it is based on work and trading between the two.

“This can help develop the clothing market, which can offer new jobs for the unemployed and their families.”

“Exporting to Israel and the West Bank increased the number of the working factories to 165, offering about 4500 jobs for weavers in Gaza.”

Mohammed Arafat


Happy Scarifying Mother’s Day

The mother with her orphans got into a wrecked ship,
Leaving the destruction, pain.. and a life to grip,
She did not know where to go or where to stay,
But that ship was her hopes and the only way,
It drove in the sea, and the water raved,
Its sail hit by the storms and was waved,

Screams of the children were heard,
Mourning, gasping but saying no word,
High rocks, waves and corpses were all round,
Everyone on the wreck was afraid to be drowned,
The mother tried covering her kids’ eyes,
And their mouths to stop the far cries,

The ship waved, and was about to sink,
Everyone on started to horribly think,
The smuggler wanted someone to leave the vessel,
So the boat can finally calm and settle,
No one obeyed him, and the cries yelled,
To protect her kids, the mother impelled,

She dropped her tired body in the deep sea,
Hearing the screams of her boys who would be free,
She drowned dreaming of their bright days,
Their willing future and the new life phase,
She is the mother scarifying her whole life,
We see her in any hardship and in any strife,

Mohammed Arafat


We Are Not Too Old

We are not that much old,
but our heads are already bald,

On our faces, stories can be read,
Not alive, but our souls are already dead,

Our life is stolen by promises of a state,
then we realized the lie too late,

Nothing we got but political games,
Our days filled with blames and claims,

We know who is right and who is wrong,
Though, to this land we all belong,

Political battles are no longer ours,
Our age should be filled with roses and flowers,

Humans we need to be called,
Grief and sorrow must be stalled,

Dark days to return green,
and hatred to be finally clean,

Peace, on us, should always shower,
United we can be and have power,

Mohammed Arafat



Arab Spring’s Lie…

Reactionary regimes ruled for years,
Spreading lies, hatred and horrible fears,

Filling their safes with our flesh and bones,
Despite hearing our moans and groans,

They dumped us and stayed in castles,
Accusing us of causing clashes and hassles,

Nothing wrong we did but seeking democracy,
Freedom of speech but not their aristocracy,

Arrogantly, they played and faked us,
And on media, they refused, anything, to discuss,

Our heads were covered with ash and dirty mud,
Our blood was, in streets, just a running flood,

Our homes were demolished and destroyed,
Sorrow and suffering we tried to avoid,

Families killed and separated,
Muss and chaos created,

Asking for freedom was our only crime,
Is it a high mountain to be able to climb?

Mohammed Arafat