The way life isn’t supposed to be in Israel and Palestine

Israel-Palestine-HandshakeIt took me about 30 minutes to decide how to start this post. I was not having a creative blocking or anything alike, because I knew what I wanted to write. It was just because this subject makes my heart hurt.

From all the international issues, the Israeli-Arab conflict was always the one that got my attention since I was around 15/16 years old. I am used to write about it in different perspectives (for example my master’s degree thesis was called the Israeli-Arab conflict and water issues: from scarcity to conflict) and I try to keep myself updated about the conflict as much as I can.

As most of you know a series of attacks from Israel to Palestine (and vice-versa) are being carried on. It all started with the kidnapping of 3 Israeli Teenagers (and when I say start, I mean that this event was the big red button that you are not supposed to push, as the hurting of people was on-going before that) by who knows who. Then a Palestinian teenager was killed in retaliation by again, mystery murderers. From there, it escalated very quickly (doesn’t it always?).

According to The Guardian, Israel has launched 1300 air strikes at Palestine, while the Palestinians fired 800 rockets at Israel. 166 Palestinians were killed and Israel didn’t report any fatalities. I suggest you look around and gather information from both sides to have an impartial idea.

As for me, I still think that there is a solution: a 2 state solution, where neighbours respect borders. But will it be possible? The hatred between Palestine and Israel is so much that I think that this will never end (I hope, I really do, that I am wrong). They grow up being taught that the other party is the enemy. I have friends in both sides… although they think they can live in peace, the distrust is there. How can we change this? There are some many violations of human rights (by both parts!) that I start thinking if this will ever end. In the end, they are all people, fighting for something that in 2014 shouldn’t be a problem anymore.

My main concern at this moment is how much more this will escalate. Will it end up in war again? Are we looking at a 3rd intifada or is this just business as usual? Since 2008 that there have been two situations like this one. They were mediated and they didn’t develop into something else, so hopefully this situation will be the same.

Never mind the politics or who is right or wrong. People are being killed. Where is diplomacy when we need it? What can UN do? What can we do?

64 Comments

Filed under Middle-East

Do you wish it wasn’t a girl?

multicultural_kiddos1Being a girl in the world. This is a controversial topic, so I just want to let you know that I am not here to attack any country’s politics, culture or others.
I’ve always been a strong advocate on women rights. No, I don’t hate men or anything like that, that is absurd. I just want the same rights for both sexes (and yes for good and for bad as well!). We are different psychologically and physically, but we all deserve to be treated equal. However, there are still situations happening to women that need to be addressed and stopped, and they aren’t, unfortunately.

I watched a documentary called “It’s a girl“. For those of you who don’t know it, this a documentary about what it means to be a girl in men-oriented cultures like India and China (in some parts of these countries). So what is it like? According to the documentary, you are treated like property. If a boy is born to a family that is a motive for celebration; if a girl is born to a family, it is considered bad luck. Some of the girls are killed even before birth, some after birth (by their own mothers…) and even if they survive this, they are not well fed or treated. If they reach teenager years/adulthood, they are promised to other families (arranged marriage or not), and the girl’s family will have to pay a dowry to the husband’s family. Many families can’t pay this dowry, so sometimes the brides are killed in “revenge”. So, in summary: a daughter means spending money and losing a family member to other family; a son means gaining money and gaining a new member in the family (daughter in law).

Besides this treatment, there is also the threat of rape (by one or more men), which really gets to my nerves. Being a Portuguese girl living in Belgium, I never felt really threatened by this possibility. Sure, sometimes I get those very annoying comments and some whistling, which scares me sometimes, but I was never in real danger (at least I think so…). I do feel vulnerable, though. These girls are in real danger, because they are “property”. And don’t even get me started on girl mutilation or child marriage, with little girls being married to men old enough to be their fathers….

I am angry with this. Is being a women less than being a man?

Even in countries where men and women are considered equal, there are wage gaps, employers tend to consider men first than women (you know, the whole pregnancy and motherhood thing…). Also, if you are a women in a management job or similar, sometimes you get less respect than a men (and I’ve felt it first hand). Please be aware that with this I am not saying that men don’t get discriminated or raped or threatened in any way. They do, unfortunately.

My point here is, why does this keep happening in a world that is so “advanced”? Shouldn’t we all be treated equals? Wouldn’t that make a happier/stronger society? Please leave your thoughts.

52 Comments

Filed under Others

Global warming – Tell me about it

Global_Warming_by_audunellernoWhat is global warming? What is it doing to our planet? Are we really responsible for global warming?

I’ve had this conversation many times with friends, colleagues, family and yet, answers don’t cease to surprise me. According to wikipedia, Global warming is the unequivocal and continuing rise in the average temperature of Earth’s climate system. This causes several types of consequences such as temperature changes, extreme weather, melting of ice, decrease of water resources and even climate refugees (which I will talk about in another post someday…). The majority of people agrees with this definition.

So, what are the causes? Are we to be blamed? Well, it is here that opinions get divided.

Some of the people I’ve spoken to say that this is not due to human action. They say that the earth has had many phases in its cycle, such as ice age and others, and this is just another phase. Even if we weren’t here, there would have been an increase in temperatures on earth.

Others say that it is completely because of humans. We should stop using gases and materials that led to this problem.

Finally, there is a in-between opinion. Humans are not the sole responsible for global warming, but they caused, indeed, most of it. This opinion seems to be the one accepted by the majority of scientists (with some sceptics), although sometimes it seems that the majority of people doesn’t believe in this . The greenhouse gases, burning of fossils and other activities led to global warming.

Opinions aside, what can we do? Well, indeed we should reduce the use of certain types of gases, use alternative fuels, reduce the use of cars (ex: use more buses, trains, bicycles) or use electric/hybrid ones, recycle, make your house energy-efficient, etc.

I honestly think are we should be blamed for the majority of it. For years we’ve using these dangerous gases and harvesting earth’s resources without caring for the consequences.

And you? What is your opinion about global warming? What can we do to minimize its effects?

62 Comments

Filed under Environmental

20 years since Rwanda: What did we learn?

ImageWell, nothing really. People are still killing each other, and it seems that is going to stay like that for a while. Or perhaps we did learn something: how to pass the impression that the governments and ourselves are doing something to change the problems of the world. Well my friends, the ugly truth is: we do almost nothing and the majority of people just don’t care.

For the ones that don’t know, the Rwandan genocide was a genocidal mass slaughter of Tutsi and moderate Hutu in Rwanda by members of the Hutu majority. 20% (!) of the Rwanda’s population – yes you read it well – was killed like that. A series of crimes against humanity were perpetuated, including war rape. Until today, it still amazes me (negatively) how such a massacre could have gone without someone doing something about it. How can you/our governments watch people being killed with machetes (or whatever weapons they could find) and still be immune to it? 

And still, after 20 years, we still see people being killed in cold blood, and I am not talking about Rwanda. I am talking about Syria, Palestine, Sudan and all the countries that suffer some kind of armed conflict. And we are still doing very little. 

 

 

 

28 Comments

Filed under Uncategorized

“We can not all succeed when half of us are held back” – Malala Yousafzai

I was wandering around international news when I spotted this article about girls and education.

Malala Yousafzai gave an amazing speech at UN about universal education. She asked the UN “to fund new teachers, schools, books and recommit to getting every girl and boy in school by December 2015″. She focused her attention mostly on the gender gap related to the access to education. You can learn more about Malala and help her in her quest for universal education in here.

Despite being one of the Millennium Developmental Goals, universal primary education is far from being a reality, especially when it comes to girls (lack of gender equality – another thing the MDGs address…). At the same time that we have kids throwing a tantrum because they don’t want to go to school, we have kids that walk kilometers just to go to class. A lot of children don’t have access to school at all, especially if they are girls.

According to the UN, 123 million youth (aged 15 to 24) didn’t get primary education. 61% of them are women. This happens because women are not viewed as equals, have to stay at home, have to get married at an early age or simply don’t have means to go to school. We all know that the increase on the education level leads to a more developed country. It doesn’t seem to convince the people that are holding girls back. When it is not a matter of people, it is a matter of money. There is still a lot of financial aid to be raised so we can tackle all the obstacles that are stopping girls from going to school.

So how can we help? You can start by consulting the list of organizations that address the issue of girls’ education here.

So, help. A least by speaking of the issue. And please don’t forget that education is a right that belongs to everyone, regardless of gender.

12 Comments

Filed under Others

People are not numbers

I’m going to start this post saying that one refugee is already too many. No one should be obliged to run from his country.
Yesterday, 20th of June, it was “celebrated” the world refugee day. According to UN newest report, there are 7.6 million refugees due to conflict or persecution, at a rhythm of 23000 people per day (!). These numbers are shocking. Pakistan, Iran and Germany are the major host countries to refugees and Afghanistan, Somalia, Iraq, Syria and Sudan were the countries that created the largest quantity of refugees.
The number keeps rising. In a world that should be all about acceptance and peace, we have this major problem. So, why should you care? Imagine yourself being displaced from your house, your belongings, your friends, being forced into a country that (most of the time) doesn’t speak your language, or even a home-country town away from yours, were you have no job, no family, nothing. You wouldn’t know if you could ever return to your home country/town and to the comfort of your previous life. How would you feel? Helpless and lost, right? This is how a refugee feels.
At this moment you are asking: “But if they are going to a better life, how should I care?”. A lot of them don’t get a better life, they just get away from the immediate threat.
How can we help them? First of all, care about them. They aren’t just numbers. There are a lot things you can do – like this.

If you want to find more information about refugees, consult UN’s report about the matter.

Give me your opinions below :)

33 Comments

Filed under Others

Elections in Iran – A time for change?

First of all, shame on me.

I’ve been completely busy with thesis (almost done!) and work and the blog was “abandoned” without any pity. After receiving a lot of emails, I’m back (part-time for a while, I think).
So, today I’m writing about Iran. As some of you may know, last Saturday Hassan Rouhani won the country elections with a little bit more than 50% of the votes. It was a big surprise for everyone: Rouhani favours political openness, as well as re-establishing relations with the west, which may shock with the politics developed by Ayatollah Ali Khamenei.

So, is this election a way to open Iran’s politics? Well, maybe. Rouhani is definitely a good diplomat and he may be able to developed more consistent relations with the west, especially the US. On the other hand, we still have the Ayatollah as the most important and influent man in Iran and he doesn’t like western countries that much.

What do you think will happen?

17 Comments

Filed under Middle-East