Saturday, October 10, 2009

I hate that I'm associated with you.

So here I was on Tumblr, minding my own business, looking at crochet posts when I came across this little jem:

Palestinian women crochet kippot for Israeli Jews

Reuters has uncovered the fact, well-known in Israel, that many kippot (skullcaps) worn by religious Israelis are crocheted by Palestinian women.

Now, this surprises me in the way of not at all, despite the fact that I was not aware of it previously. How else is a group with no option of an open economy supposed to make money but by servicing those who keep their economy limited. At this point in the article, I'm just sorta waiting to see where it is going, since the opening is fairly inconspicuous.

Almost every house in the village of 3,000 west of Ramallah makes the little caps. It's a social event as well as a helpful cash-earner. Women bring their wool and needles to each other's home to crochet and chat.

"We make qors (the Arab name for kippah translates as 'disc') while having a gossip," said Umm Ali. "We meet each other and we make money at the same time," added the mother of three, whose husband is unemployed...

So here, I start getting a little leery. "Helpful-cash earner" sounds a bit cheerful considering the alternatives. I'm not sure if its the passive language that brings to mind discussions of women's activities from a Jane Austen novel, or the slightly patronizing "what fascinating things these quaint people do!" tone that bothers me more.

Six Palestinian skullcap dealers distribute the wool, needles and the models to women in this village and 10 neighbouring villages.

The finished articles are collected each week and shipped to Israeli retailers. The skullcaps are also exported to the United States.

The women of Deir Abu Meshal, known for its traditional dress embroidery, say that to them it's merely a business.

They say they have no qualms about furnishing skullcaps for the people of the occupying power or the Jewish settler, who may be living on Palestinian land.

They say the work is convenient: they don't have to travel.

"Without this knitting business, people here would be very poor," said Nema Khamis, 50, who passed on her skills to her five daughters and daughter-in-law.

Okay, still not doing too badly. We have the admission that conditions are hard enough that without this work these women and their families would be much worse off. There still is a great deal of context that is being glossed over, but it is a short article, so to one degree we can forgive that.

Then this:
A great example of economic cooperation which benefits all sides. Most impressive: these women claim to make five kippot a day, each. Now that is speed. The only kippot I've ever made, as a teenager, took me months. It's a wonder they have any time to bring up children.....

So much little patience...or bile with which to puke. "Economic cooperation"? "Benefits all sides"!? Lets get one thing straight, just because it doesn't actively make a bad situation worse, this DOES NOT make it a benefit, okay? And "cooperation" would imply that these women get something beyond bare necessities from the work they do. And what the fuck is up with this "these women claim" shit? They have been doing this out of necessity for decades. Get that? DECADES. This is in no way equivalent to your little "crafty phase" at fifteen! It took you months because you had the privilege of not having to learn how to work for a living until you were almost an adult! When these women were fifteen they had already been learning how to do this for, most likely, at least five years. I would also shitcan that condescending "its a wonder they have time to raise children" crap. You gotta feed them if there is ever a hope of raising them.

I hate this. I hate this entitled attitude that thinks itself so worldy and I hate hearing it come from people who think they understand suffering because they participate in a seder every year, or their Grandmother remembers the Holocaust. Here's a tip, your Grandmother or Great Grandmother who remembers the Holocaust? They understand. You never will, and vicarious experiences do not mean that you have any concept of what it is like to live in perpetual imposed poverty.

At best, this author is simply woefully ignorant of the reality of what poverty in a place like the West Bank means. At worst she is dealing backhanded jabs at people who are fucking being EXPLOITED. And I used that word deliberately. When your choices are "do this or watch your family starve" then you don't have much of a choice. Its exploiting their poverty, and exploiting their position after being the ones who helped create it and maintain it.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Like a breath of fresh air

I cried. I did. I have gotten so used to hearing bullshit after bullshit after bullshit about this, and hearing someone call this bullshit out for what it is just hit me right in my heart.
Rep. Alan Grayson calling out both Democrats and Republicans on the health care debate(Transcript below the video):

"Madame Speaker, I have words for Democrats and Republicans tonight."

"Let's start with the Democrats"

"We as a party have spent the last six months, the greatest minds in our party, dwelling on the question, the unbelievably consuming question of how to get Olympia Snowe to vote on health care reform. I want to remind us all that Olympia Snowe was not elected President last year. Olympia Snowe has no veto power in the Senate. Olympia Snowe represents a state with one half of one percent of America's population."

"What America wants is health care reform. America doesn't care if it gets 51 votes in the Senate or 60 votes in the Senate or 83 votes in the Senate, in fact America doesn't even care about that, it doesn't care about that at all. What America cares about is this; there are over 1 million Americans who go broke every single year trying to pay their health care bills. America cares a lot about that. America cares about the fact that there are 44,780 Americans who die every single year on account of not having health care, that's 122 every day. America sure cares a lot about that. America cares about the fact that if you have a pre-existing condition, even if you have health insurance, it's not covered. America cares about that a lot. America cares about the fact that you can get all the health care you need as long as you don't need any. America cares about that a lot. But America does not care about procedures, processes, personalities, America doesn't care about that at all."

"So we have to remember that as Democrats, we have to remember that what's at stake here is life and death, enormous amounts of money, and people are counting upon us to move ahead. America understands what's good for America. America cares about health care, America cares about jobs, America cares about education, about energy independence, America does not care about processes politicians or personalities or anything like that."

"And I have a few words for my Republican friends tonight as well. I guess I do have some Republican friends."

"Let me say this; last week I held up this report here and I pointed out that in America there are 44,789 Americans that die every year according to this Harvard report published in this peer reviewed journal because they have no health insurance. That's an extra 44,789 Americans who die who's lives could be saved, and their response was to ask me for an apology."

"To ask me for an apology?"

"That's right. To ask ME for an apology!"

"Well, I'm telling you this; I will not apologize. I will not apologize. I will not apologize for a simple reason; America doesn't care about your feelings. I violated no rules by pulling this report to America's attention, I think a lot of people didn't know about it beforehand. But America DOES care about health care in America."

"And if you're against it, then get out of the way. Just get out of the way. You can lead, you can follow or you can get out of the way. And I'm telling you now to get out of the way."
"American understands that there is one party in this country that is favor of health care reform and one party that is against it, and they know why."

"They understand that if Barack Obama were somehow able to cure hunger in the world the Republicans would blame him for overpopulation"

"They understand that if Barack Obama could somehow bring about world peace they would blame him for destroying the defense industry."

"In fact, they understand that if Barack Obama has a BLT sandwich tomorrow for lunch, they will try to ban bacon."

"But that's not what America wants, America wants solutions to it's problems and that begins with health care, and that's what I'm speaking for tonight."

"I yield back the balance of my time"