khobbezieh, dabke, & nar


i spent the day on saturday in the offices of badil helping them with their photo library and getting some research materials for my book that i am way too far behind on right now. i’m hoping new information will kick start me back into writing. badil has this series of posters on its walls, as seen in the example above, from some group called the “world truth league” that operated in the early 1950s. they think it is a group of armenian palestinians who produced these posters, which were directed at a western audience. they are very interesting critiques of western powers and their complicity in the massive ethnic cleansing and confiscation of land in palestine. the one above is my favorite, but there were others that were also interesting about palestinian refugees and president truman’s complicity.

yummy khobbezieh
yummy khobbezieh

the rest of the weekend i spent trying to do bits of work in between eating too much yummy food. areej’s mom is not only the best cook in the world, but she also has the best garden in the world. i don’t think there is a fruit, vegetable, or herb that she doesn’t have in her garden. and she makes everything from scratch. even the bread. i asked her if she had any khobbezieh because i wanted to taste it. i’ve never had it before and i’ve been curious about it ever since i read an article about gaza a couple of months ago:

AS a convoy of blue-and-white United Nations trucks loaded with food waited last night for Israeli permission to enter Gaza, Jindiya Abu Amra and her 12-year-old daughter went scrounging for the wild grass their family now lives on.

“We had one meal today – khobbeizeh,” said Abu Amra, 43, showing the leaves of a plant that grows along the streets of Gaza. “Every day, I wake up and start looking for wood and plastic to burn for fuel and I beg. When I find nothing, we eat this grass.”

the article is a bit inaccurate because while khobbeizeh can be characterized as a sort of grass, i guess, it is something that palestinians normally eat, especially in the winter. there are a couple of different ways people cook it–my friend’s mom made it two different ways for us as seen in the above photograph–and people love it. it is a warm, delicious meal especially on cold, rainy days.


areej’s mom also made us an indoor fire, which was amazing. it has been so cold here, in fact yesterday there was hail in the early afternoon. so she cut up some wood and made us a warm fire which we sat around warming ourselves. it was even better than a fire place. i just wish we had had marshmallows to roast on the nar. but areej made good use of the pieces of burning wood, which were the perfect size for argiela.


i left deheishe yesterday afternoon to head up to ramallah. i left a bit early because of the weather and made it to ramallah where i was meeting some of the students in my drama class to see a play at al kasaba theatre, which the rest of the photographs are from. it was a different group of students from the play last week, but yet another group who had never seen a performance. this one was a musical performance by the sareyyet ramallah dance troupe and the name of their performance was qisset sahet il ward. it was written by hussein barghouthi and the choreographer was khaled elayyan. the rest of the credits can be seen on al kasaba’s website. here is a synopsis of the play:

Abu Yousef and Hamdan try to revive what little is left of the worn our memories… the stage offers what they remember from stories that took place before the Nakba 1948. Their memories merge to produce a reflection of a collective memory. Abu Yousef has lost all but pieces of his memory, since some time now, and Hamdan is living in wander and fog. He nevertheless decides to retrieve what he can of his and Abu Yousef’s lost memory, so they talk about days of the past.


the play opens with a narrator setting the stage for the audience, but the bulk of the narration after that comes from the amazing dance that you see for the rest of the performance. it was a mixture of dabke, more popular forms of dance movements, and some modern dance as well. it was really amazing. and, most importantly, another set of students understands the difference between theatre and film. i’m especially pleased that the theatre opportunities right now are those that give them more palestinian history through artistic expression.


the only other thing i want right now is the sun, no more wind–the rain can stay–and some heat.

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