Saturday, January 03, 2009

Gaza burning

There is no surprise here.

The United States late Saturday blocked approval of a U.N. Security Council statement calling for an immediate cease-fire in the Gaza Strip and southern Israel and expressing concern at the escalation of violence between Israel and Hamas.

The ground invasion has begun and the blood continues to flow in Gaza. A million plus people are held hostage. If past such incursions are any indication, the carnage would be catastrophic. The blogs from Palestine are a good window to what is going on there, of course only until they are cut off.

This is a feed aggregation on several palestinian blogs.

Here is a more heart breaking report from Gaza.

Friday, January 02, 2009

Destruction and Creation

Bombs continue to pour down on Gaza. Fine, Hamas isn't a saint, but Israel's actions have always been wildly disproportionate. Locking down a region of 1.5 million people, ruthless bombing knowing very well that innocents will be killed, erasing mosques and homes and depriving a population of their lives and livelihood, wouldn't that count as terrorism?

As Robert Fisk put it

And always Mr Bush Snr or Mr Clinton or Mr Bush Jnr or Mr Blair or Mr Brown have called upon both sides to exercise "restraint" – as if the Palestinians and the Israelis both have F-18s and Merkava tanks and field artillery. Hamas's home-made rockets have killed just 20 Israelis in eight years, but a day-long blitz by Israeli aircraft that kills almost 300 Palestinians is just par for the course.

But of course, this is not any different from any of the earlier incursions by Israel. This time too they may be able to kill a few Hamas operatives; but they have already created another generation of suicide bombers in the process.

Wednesday, December 31, 2008

'Hope and other dangerous pursuits'

I like Leila Lelami's blogs. Her book reviews, political commentary and information on the North African literary scene are entrancing. So it is with high expectations that I picked up 'Hope and other dangerous pursuits' by Leila Lelami.

This novel details a group of Moroccans who follow a perilous journey to cross the 14km that separate Europe and Africa to reach Spain. Ability to get intimate with the characters and thus to channel the way for the reader to understand the complex and intricate morass of their personalities, which is what, essentially, the opportunity a writer has. Leila Lelami's novel, I think, while heart wrenching at times failed to evolve the characters to reveal their complexities. For example, what was Faten's character - An Islamic devout and a fundamentalist who turned to prostitution in Spain? While this is completely plausible, I would have liked to understand better how she reached from one abyss to the other. What would have been more powerful might have been if Leila had chosen to describe the moments of transition, the contradictions and confusions that might have besieged her in that moment. The character that struck me most was Aziz - may be since I have known people who have been in that state before. Being from Kerala, the exodus of newly married men to the gulf countries is a constant phenomena. In many cases, there is no expectation that their wives are taken along, unless the men are educated and they have high paying jobs. The wives retreat to their homes to take care of their children, do the necessary family duties, often only stepping out to go to the bank to cash the checks that arrive on time. Some 'demanding' wives are given the promises of being joined with their husbands, often knowing very well that it would only end as a pipe dream.

The story of migration is as old as the humans itself. In the ancient times, it was a handful of people who risked their lives to leave their familiar surroundings of the Rift Valley and set out north - the first of the migrations of the human kind. In a world without motor vehicles and planes, their descendants over several generations spread around the world. We stand where we are today because somewhere along the lane, someone traveled a different road, someone risked their lives so that their next generation would survive. It is with this perspective I see the migrations across the world - Bangladesh to India, Morocco to Spain, Mexico to United States, people do extra ordinary things to leave the only place they have known for all their lives to seek a better future. I am no fool to think that we need open borders, but I do think that the best bet to prevent illegal migration is to help alleviate the terrible living conditions prevailing in those countries.

All in all, this book is an interesting read, especially if you are unfamiliar about the issue of illegal migration.