25. An Open-Letter to the LSE’s ‘Anti-Racism’ Officer about Palestine, Racism and Injustice

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Dear Ms Gross

Let me introduce myself, I am Zena, I was the first speaker at the LSE event on Tuesday night about gender and resistance in Palestine. I have written this blog in response to your article and I have a few questions for you.

First, do you realise that the woman you described as delivering an ‘appalling attempt’ lost her husband and countless other family members in Gaza? Do you realise that the student you accused of ‘condoning the indiscriminate killing of Israelis’ has her entire family in Gaza and is not allowed to go back?

I ask you this because I’m curious as to whether or not you realise that by taking this stance you have explicitly aided the oppressor. The LSE is a University; therefore a plurality of voices should not only be encouraged but actively sought out. Even if the event was all that you said it was (it wasn’t, but let’s pretend), shouldn’t the critique be more holistic in its approach, rather than slanderous and personal?

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12. My family are in Iraq

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I was planning on starting this post differently; I was planning on writing about the realities on the ground in Iraq. The diplomatic ping-pong that journalists love to devour, the movement of X terrorist group from A to B with a battle at C, a break-down of the change of allegiances: how this week we were shown how today’s enemies are tomorrow’s friends and today’s friends are tomorrow’s disgraced enemies. I was going to narrate how my week working at the Iraqi embassy in Paris has been one of the hardest weeks of my life with all the turmoil and infectious feeling of helplessness.

But 20 minutes ago I called my aunty Hanan for news of my family. Turns out my aunt-by-marriage’s brother was killed three weeks ago. He was in the mosque praying when a bomb hit and he died.

9. Mosul Has Fallen

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You might not be aware, but Mousal, Iraq’s second largest city, fell to rebels yesterday. I work at the Iraqi embassy, something felt off, a colleague spent the day glued to the computer and everyone seemed on edge. Even the weather was stormy and tumultuous. It didn’t feature heavily on the news: it was the fourth piece down on the Guardian under the information that Theresa May wasn’t a bloke (shocking) and Le Monde and The Times weren’t featuring it much either, Facebook was quiet, Twitter too – but for me, and those with a finger on the hot-blooded Middle Eastern pulse – this is terrifying news.

The country has been increasingly unstable due to a plethora of reason, not least due to the turmoil in Syria. The Iraqi elections took place at the end of April, a government still hasn’t been announced, but Nouri Al-Maliki, the President who seems to be losing control of the dire situation, has urged the Parliament to declare a state of emergency in the country as 15,000 Mosul residents have fled – mostly further north to Arbil in the autonomous Kurdistan. Violence has spread like wildfire and hundreds of prisoners have been released as prisons were set alight and the army abandoned their posts. Indeed such is the havoc that people are leaving on foot or driving away in abandoned police vans with those who tried to fight lay dead on the streets.