forced evacuations

The time between An Nakba (1948) and the destruction of the Palestinian refugee camp Tel Al Za’atar (1976) by Lebanese Forces and the destruction of the Palestinian refugee camp Nahr el Bared (2007) by the Lebanese army is distanced by time, but not by memory. The Palestinian families who fled Jewish terrorism in their homeland to seek refuge in Lebanon, only to find themselves subjected to more brutality, usually in cahoots with the Zionist state, particularly in these two other camps is important because many of these families experienced multiple nakbas, as they describe it, because they fled from Palestine to Tel Al Za’atar, to Nahr el Bared, and then last summer to various other Palestinian refugee camps like Baddawi and Shatila. The space is distanced by time from one forced evacuation to the next. I can’t help but think of this when I think of Hurricane Gustav heading for New Orleans in a matter of hours and the forced evacuation taking place. They have only had a reprieve of three years before this new hurricane and most of the people in places like the Lower Ninth Ward continue to have to fight for their rights to basic needs such as housing and education.

Here are some facts that highlight the situation in the Gulf Coast.

* Number of renters in Louisiana who have received financial assistance from the $10 billion federal post-Katrina rebuilding program Road Home Community Development Block Grant — compared to 116,708 homeowners: 0
* Number of apartments currently being built to replace the 963 public housing apartments formerly occupied and now demolished at the St. Bernard Housing Development: 0
* Percentage of the rental homes that were supposed to be repaired and occupied by August 2008 which were actually completed and occupied — a total of 82 finished out of 10,000 projected: .008
* Number of families still living in FEMA trailers in metro New Orleans area: 6,982.
* Number of houses demolished in New Orleans since Katrina: 10,000.
* Number of homeless in New Orleans even after camps of people living under the bridge has been resettled — double the pre-Katrina number: 12,000.
* Number of displaced families in New Orleans area whose hurricane rental assistance expires March 2009: 14,000.
* Number of children who have not returned to public school in New Orleans, leaving the public school population less than half what is was pre-Katrina: 32,000.
* Number of Louisiana homeowners who have applied for federal assistance in repair and rebuilding who have still not received any money: 39,000.
* Review the 11 companies that took advantage of Katrina Victims and the Tax Payer

I was thinking about this today as I watched Al Jazeera showing ordinary white folks complaining about evacuating; for some reason Al Jazeera chose not to interview any of the African American families who have become refugees or internally displaced people who were never allowed to go home in the first place. Whose living conditions remain far more vulnerable as a result at the present moment. I was just exploring a website that announced its traveling performance project to highlight these and many other themes related to the racism the U.S. rendered so undeniably visible in its response to Hurricane Katrina. The project is called Hurricane Season. How ironic that it is beginning its U.S. tour now; how ironic that this new hurricane is on its way to New Orleans almost exactly three years to the day of the first and most devastating disaster.

Here is a film clip that shows people of New Orleans addressing the racism that Hurricane Katrina shed light on for the rest of the U.S. and indeed the world:

The Katrina Information Network has a list of 29 things one can do to support people in New Orleans on this anniversary of the prior hurricane and on the heels of this impending one.

Back here it seems a bit more quiet than usual. Everyone seems to leave the university by 4 pm at the latest and I find myself enjoying the solitude of my office along with the pigeons that sit on the perch outside my office; they have made a nest for themselves here. The peacefulness of Nablus is deceiving, however. Unlike my newlywed friend’s new apartment in Beit Lahem, which has a view of the apartheid wall, the checkpoint, and illegal settlements, the mountains of Nablus shield me from most of these horrifying sights. But, unfortunately, the mountains here do not shield the people living in Nablus from daily (or rather nightly) incursions. Last night/early this morning was no different:

Israeli forces invaded on Saturday morning the West Bank cities of Jenin and Nablus and nearby refugee camps, local sources reported.

A number of Israeli military vehicles invaded Nablus at dawn; troops deployed in several streets and fired rounds of live ammunition.

Moreover troops invaded Al Ein refugee camp in the city and launched a search campaign in the area, no arrests were reported.

And in Gaza, of course, the siege continues in spite of their two-day reprieve of the Rafah crossing opening for Ramadan. Some patients will hopefully be allowed to leave for medical treatment. Though it seems that Fulbrighters will not be allowed out because of the U.S. government’s collusion with the Zionist state. In spite of what these nimrods on Al Jazeera English seem to suggest, the siege is still alive and well and killing Palestinians daily, hourly.

But there was a nice and hopeful story on Al Jazeera last night about a new archaeology museum in Gaza:


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