grading hiatus

i spent the past few days grading sets of papers and exams for all 4 of my classes. that is around 400 papers. in an ordinary situation this would be a nightmare. but here it is especially challenging as my students english language skills are so weak that it takes an eternity to decipher what they mean. at times these mistakes are a bit funny as in one student who wrote in her land day essay assignment about the “sex martyrs” (there were 6 martyrs on 30 march 1976). others are interesting as with a student who took the wrong meaning from arabic to english (their assignment sheet on land day had arabic and english on it so there should not have been any confusion) when translating الأرض which means both land and earth. the problem is she did her research on the subject in english and not in arabic. thus, she wrote a paper about earth day, which is entirely different than land day. this assignment had some nuances to it depending on which class (postcolonial literature, drama, and research methodology). my research students, for example, had to use this assignment as practice with respect to citation, selecting a primary text for analysis, and determining how to figure out what sources to trust. so imagine my surprise when a number of students–at least 30–thought that a zionist take on land day, a palestinian day on which we commemorate resistance in 1948 historic palestine, would be an appropriate source! not only that: my students–most of whom plagiarized anyway and who accordingly received no credit for the assignment–plagiarizedthe zionist website, disguising itself as “plaestine facts,” thus acting as if these were there own words:

March 30th is “Land Day”, commemorated by Palestinian and Israeli Arabs. In 1976, the first Land Day was a protest over confiscation of Arab land for Jewish settlements in northern Israel. Demonstrations, accompanied by a general strike of the Arab sector, erupted into violent clashes with police with six Arab fatalities.

What actually happened in 1976 has been distorted as the annual event has become an instrument of propaganda. On March 11, 1976, the Israeli government published a plan to expropriate approximately 21,000 dunams (5,250 acres) of land in the Galilee. Only 31 percent of the land in question, or less than one-third, was Arab-owned, some of which was to be used to expand the Arab village of Majar near Acre and to build public buildings in Arab towns. This action by Israel was no different than the eminent domain process that is regularly used in the United States or other countries to acquire land for public projects.

Nevertheless, the most prominent political party in the Arab sector at the time, Rakah (The New Communist List), cynically decided to seize upon the decision and called a general strike for March 30. Riots broke out the night before – in which soldiers and police were attacked with stones and firebombs – and continued the following day, resulting in the deaths of six Israeli Arabs. Though the media portrays Land Day as a day when Israeli Arabs peacefully vented their frustrations, Land Day was in fact born in violence, the product of the machinations of a political party that proudly waved the dubious banner of Marxism-Leninism.

Since 1976 the date has become an annual event for Palestinians and Israeli Arabs who have turned Land Day into a general protest against what they claim are discriminatory practices by the Israeli government. Land Day has often been marked by angry demonstrations and country-wide violence. Land Day demonstrations are also the focus of open support for Hamas and Hizbullah, showing of flags from Syria and other Arab countries, and denunciations of the Israeli Prime Minister and the government’s policies toward the Palestinians.

one of the things we have been going over in class ad nauseum is plagiarism. literally, almost every day. as well as discussing how to trust sources, incluidng zionist sources masquerading as palestinian or “middle east” sources. indeed, they had an exam question like this where they had to read 3 different paragraphs from 3 different internet sources and decide which one was the most trustworthy and then they had to explain why. so imagine my shock to find this.

i do not blame my students. i get insanely frustrated by the plagiarism, but i don’t blame them. i blame many sources: the palestinian authority, the israeli/american terrorists who control palestinian curricula, parents who do not make up for the gaps in the education by teaching their children, students who do not make learning a priority in ways that puts reading first (before their haifa wehbe addictions). and really i’ve been thinking about the role of the saudi/gulf media in all of this. i started talking to my students about mbc and melody hits and other stations on satellite in the region. i really feel that this generation has been dumbed down by these sources. and i do think it is like an addiction to other substances like alcohol, for example. these programs the students watch dumb down their thinking. they check out mentally. and i think that there must be some larger saudi/khaleeji conspiracy going on here. i mean, it is not in their interest to help palestinians liberate their land (or any other arabs in any other regime in the region for that matter–egypt shooting up to the top of my list this week). so by producing these programs or music videos that people watch and lose themselves in they help to placate a public who would otherwise be in the streets resisting.

interestingly rawya rageh on al jazeera the other day interviewed some youth in egypt and asked them about their role models. i love that one of them said hugo chavez! why? because unlike the cia puppet hosni mubarak, chavez stands up for justice of palestinians and others fighting for their rights around the world. here is the report (interview is at the end):

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