The ISIS Trap

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He was the funniest, most handsome guy in my class. Always perky and full of life.

Unfortunately, he wasn’t successful academically and found even less luck in his personal life… After failing his diploma exams twice I took pity on him; trying to guide him in the right direction. I told him that he should strive to further his intelligence in something extracurricular, something that compelled him to work hard.

By this point, he had already tried and failed to find a job after dropping out of high school. He went through bad days; stopped calling and texting me, distancing himself more and more. By chance, I would occasionally see him in the street, but every time he was struggling with a different job, different ideas, and appearance – struggling with his identity.

He was no longer the man I knew. I felt sorry for him.

A year ago, myself and the community were shocked to learn that he had joined some vile, extremist group tracing the ideology of ISIS. I was furious with him. I shouted at him, lectured him, but nothing, it was too late. He had already been brainwashed.

My poorly raised friend is in danger. His ideas no longer reflect the peaceful Islamic teachings we were brought up with.

A few weeks ago, I saw him in the street. It had been a long time and I was happy to see him without that untidy beard and hair. My happiness faded fast when I learned that he had just left prison where he was forced to cut his hair and beard. It was then I knew that my friend would never go back to the way he was at school.

These devilish groups hunt these people. They always look for the weaknesses in the poorest and most vulnerable. My friend was from a poor family, had a poor education, he was always looking for a job and a way out. Without doubt, these extremists had exploited this vulnerability.

I hope, someday my friend will change. I feel I might have failed him as a friend; I only hope that no one falls into the same trap.

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Propaganda

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In October 2016, my friend from London emailed me an article from a Zionist news website, translated from the the original Arabic about a mother expressing her joy when she heard her daughter say “Mum! I’m ready to sacrifice myself for Palestine”.

I’m Palestinian, a resident in Gaza and I have personally witnessed three aggressive Israeli campaigns, indiscriminately affecting civilians and children. I felt uncomfortable and angry how the zionist writer had misrepresented the facts and twisted the words to fit their own narrative.

More than that, our beliefs have been vilified and misdescribed to the world. When we say “we are ready to sacrifice our lives for the sake of Palestine” they announce to the world that we are but terrorists who hold no value for the sanctity of life. Is there not a lost sense of irony that those who supposedly preach peace and scorn violence, are in fact those who drop bombs on schools and hospitals. Many more innocents have died from explosives, bullets, fires and the lack of access to medical care than by any disturbing act of self-sacrifice.

When my mother saw that I was aggrieved she tried to console me “don’t worry son” she said “they always do that, even when they killed Mohammed Al Doura in his father’s arms they told the world that he was shooting at them”. My mother’s words brought me no comfort.

I’m filled with a sense of despair at how our cause and struggle is twisted, how a lie told a hundred times becomes a truth and how propaganda is spread across the world without space in a thirty second soundbite for a retort. What debate has just one debater?

Yet worst of all, it worked.

We feel isolated in the belief that very few people in the world know the real truth about the hell and horror that the Gazan people have witnessed and the constant trials and tribulations faced by the Palestinians.

However, I hold out hope for those who can’t be deceived by propaganda and are prepared to dig a little deeper. The truths of our circumstances are out there, they are not comfortable to hear, but the suffering can no longer be ignored.

Palestinian Myths and Superstitions

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Palestine, like any country or society has its own myths and superstitions. These are created and told for different reasons and purposes.

Some of them are created to give people faith or hope. Some in order to get money, and some were created by our ancestors to avoid bad luck.

Here are 15 common, yet slightly strange Palestinian myths and superstitions.

1– Interpreting the granules in empty cups of coffee is known in every Arabic country. Fortune tellers tend to earn money from this as people often resort to this myth believing that it will reveal what is going to happen in their future. Especially people who want to get married.

2– Reading palms is also popular in the Arab world. Storytellers read the lines on your palm claiming that every line indicates something that will happen in your future.

3– A Palestinian superstition is to wear/hang a necklace with a blue eye or blue pearl pattern to prevent other people from envying them.

4– Some people think if a pregnant woman craves sweets during their pregnancy that means they will deliver a girl but if they crave salty food it means they will deliver a boy.

5– Another saying is that If you visit someone while they are eating it means your mother in law loves you. I did tell you some were strange!

6– If somebody steps over a boy laying on the ground it means he will never get taller.

7– If you blink or your ear burns then someone is talking about you.

8– If your right hand is itchy, it means you will soon shake someone’s hand but if it’s your left it means you will get some money soon.

9– If a cat starts clawing the furniture the sofa then you are soon going to have a visitor. The cat cleaning behind its ears signifies good luck and the chance of getting some money.

10– Dropping a cup of coffee on the ground indicates a good thing, or fortune.

11– If a bird’s waste falls on your head, it means you will receive money.

12– Some particularly superstitious parents prevent their children from counting the stars, so as to avoid getting warts.

13– Many people believe that an upturned shoe may bring evil and bad fortune to the house, so whenever they see them flipped they should turn them the right way immediately.

14– Parents tend to tell their children that there is a secret bird which tells them all their hidden secrets so the children never lie.

15– In order to prevent children from lying, parents tell their children that if they don’t tell the truth then the word ‘LIAR’ will appear clearly on their foreheads.

 

 

Born in a tank

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My name is Ra’eda, I live in the east of Gaza.

I live in a tent just a few meters from the Israeli soldiers that are constantly patrolling by.

Back In 2012, I was pregnant, and waiting for the big day. Luck was not on my side, and my baby was due during the 8 day offensive on Gaza.

When the conflict started I prayed for a delay as we would both be so vulnerable during that time. God forbid that my baby would be born to war or, even worse, lost forever.

I feared the stories from 1948 of Israeli soldiers taking babies from Palestinian families when they were fleeing their homes. I feared that a stray shell would end it all and I feared that my baby would grow up to struggle like I have.

But the time had come. My family took me outside and bright spotlights and sirens turned on us like we were criminals. A soldier called to us from an army vehicle in bad Arabic “where are you going?!”. My sister rushed in between us waving a white flag.

It was at that point I passed out from the pain.

I learned later that the soldiers told my family they would take me to the hospital. My family were helpless, handing me over to Israeli soldiers without being permitted to come with me.

But what choice did they have?

They lost all hope that I would ever come back.

When I woke up in our tent the next morning, I was oblivious to what had happened the night before. I was greeted with warm smiles and embraces and handed my beautiful baby boy, wrapped in blankets and shawls.

My family told me I gave birth in a military tank.

Amazingly, tucked inside his blanket was 500 NIS.

My virtual reality

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I always seek to escape from this surreal reality. I almost find fantasy more visceral than reality.

I began to love something strange, being alone. I have been looking for something important this whole time. I was looking for myself.

The most important thing in life is to find the meek person within you; and bring them to light.

To be capable of fighting in life, you need to get to know yourself better. To accomplish that, I had to create my own virtual world where I was in complete control. I could design everything to fit the way I wanted to see things.

The simpler the life you lead, the healthier your life will be.

Realisation came from escapism. I discovered many things about myself, life and the lessons it was teaching me.

Firstly, our lives are not healthy. Secondly, We surround ourselves with too much misused technology.

I realised how life used to be rich with beauty. I always imagine myself living in another era in another place. However, the fact that I’m living in Gaza does not burden me anymore.

Thanks to my homemade virtual world, I can travel anywhere, create my own city and live the life I want. This taught me that it does not matter where you live, what matters most is your immeasurably valuable mind.

I picture standing alone on an island, envisaging my own tropical paradise, making my own hammock, reading books and c’est la vie!. I would be distraught if someone came to rescue me.

My escapism is not cowardice. I will not run away from the burdens of life; but to face it proactively I need a healthy mind and body.

I need to live a life of my choosing; not the life society chose for me.

For me, I keep my mind fed, for as long as I can quench my thirst for knowledge, I am alive.

Books are for the mind what food is for the body.

To those who accuse Muslims 

  

Hello there! Yes I’m talking to you!

 

To you, who is accusing Islam of many unfair things! You just browse the news and the media and then, oh yeah, you believe Muslims are terrorists! Is that it? Do you know anything about the history of Islam? Do you know the most important principles of the religion? Did you forget about all the crusades? All the vicious wars between governments and churches? Those who are the peddlers of military weapons! Why do you connect any violent attack with Islam? Knowing that any human is capable of committing violence! Violence is not something a group of people do, violence could be inside anyone of us. Do you know that the lowest crime rate is in Islamic countries! Do you know how many people are killed everyday in the US and Europe? Either through violence or society’s neglect.

 

Do you know that punishments in Islam are just 1% of the religion! Every religion in the world has came for one goal, peace. Only people misunderstood and mispracticed them. Although punishments exist in Islam, they have strict conditions in order to be practiced. The most important thing is to have independent state. States are no longer practical in the present the last one was the Ottoman Empire rather than that an Islamic state could not be built. For that reason none of the big Islamic countries are supporting the so-called ISIS. You should know that Islam nowadays is rarely practiced right as it should. Also Islam is divided to many sects: schism, Sunna, Hanables…

 

So every one of them may practice something different in the name of Islam. One day I saw a video “stoning a girl”. It was horrible for me as a Muslim! Cause it had nothing to do with my religion! Stoning in Islam isn’t like that and it can’t be done in this era. The most horrible thing in Islam is killing a human. Prophet Mohammed taught us: destroying Al-Kaba at Mecca stone by stone is more acceptable than taking one life. Relationship with girls in Islam also is misunderstood in the world, everything prohibited has a reason for it. Having sex before marriage has several demerits:

 

Scientific, admixture of generations.

 

Social: many people kill each other for that and it brings shame to the family.

 

Modesty, Islam preserves modest of women.

 

Moreover, everyone has a choice no one is forced to be a Muslim and all Muslims are happy with it. For me, if I have the choice I will choose Islam every time. Because I feel comfortable and peaceful with it, that’s the point of all religions – to bring peace, comfort and harmony.

 

There are many things you could not understand unless you go deeper into the matter. I’m not a religious scholar, I just wanted to get things off my chest.

When a mother abandons her child

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I woke up in the morning about in early July, 2014. There was no electricity like always and I was bored. I thought I would read a book. I opened the window and stood there to get some fresh air as I tend to do in the morning. Once I opened the window I heard a loud blast and clouds filled my vision  I could not see anything because of the dust. Children started to cry and scream, I did not give it much attention as the Israelis do it from time to time. I went to have my breakfast. After few minutes I heard the resistance reply with a rocket.

After an hour the tanks on the borders started shooting. I realized the day was not going to be easy. The tanks kept shooting for hours.I tried to know what’s going on. I could not watch the TV news because there was not electricity, but eventually I found an old radio. I turned it on and started listening. All the local channels were trying to calm the people and telling us to stay at home.

After a while the Israelis stopped firing dead down for a few hours. but In the afternoon they  started up again, more aggressivly this time. I knew that something must have happened to drive them crazy.

I checked out the news. It turned out that the resistance had performed a large operation behind enemy’s lines. People could not leave their homes now. Anyone leaving their home would be dead.

After three days of endless fighting, the people decided to run for their lives, but they were still afraid of what would happen to them. But they came to realize that taking their chances was better than being sitting ducks. They could die any second.

At 5:00 AM in the morning the people decided to run together as one group, , they started leaving their houses, but unfortunately that was not a good idea.

When the people  started running outside a family of 11 members was hit and killed in the street. People were unable to do anything , and they could not get back home.

Air-strikes rained down upon them. It was the most horrifying scene in my life. People get bombed, shreds of flesh flying in the air. I said to myself, what a vicious inhumane enemy ! The people watched their loved ones getting ripped to pieces and they were absolutely helpless. They could do nothing about it. Even if a mother dropped her child ,she could not return to  save it. And the ones who thought about stopping to save their families, they ended up dead like the rest of them.

People were killed like animals and those that survived witnessed the most vicious massacre Gaza has ever seen. The people who managed to escape some of them found a relative to stay at their house and some stayed in the street. Me and my family ran to our uncle’s house and stayed there ( -Nayma tower- ).

I could not believe I survived such a horrible situation. Me and my family decided to do a barbecue to celebrate, but it was Ramadan, so we had to wait  until the time of  Al-Maghrep prayer.

At 7:00 PM while we were preparing the table a drone missile hit my uncle’s balcony. We all knew  that meant. That we should evacuate the whole tower immediately because they are going to bring it down to the ground. Usually the period between the warning shot  (drone missile) as the Israelis call it 5 minutes or so.

While we were evacuating another drone missile hit my aunts flat which was next to my uncles. When we rushed to check, my aunt’s face was covered in blood and she was screaming trying to say something. We hardly understood what she was saying, that her son was stuck under a big cement rock. A few of my relatives decided to go inside to rescue him, and once they entered they all died.

After that we had no place to go to. We finally  decided to go to the UNRWA school thinking it’s the safest place since it’s an international organization, but it seemed like the Israelis were determined not to leave us alone.

We spent many days in the school and having a hard time getting food and water and to stand in  lines for hours to get them. The food was humanitarian help from UNRWA.

Eventually we were not safe even there. Air-strikes hit the school many times and many people died. Women, children, old men, the Israelis do not differentiate or care.

We spent the most miserable time of our lives in the UNRWA school. I will never forget these horrible scenes. We stayed in the school even after the aggression ended.

I wrote this, so that the whole world can know the horrors that happened here in Gaza. Maybe for the world what happened here is just any other violence act. They might get depressed for a day, or change their profile picture for a while, but actually the world does not know the exact horrifying truth. I just wish the whole world would find out the truth. Who is the victim and who is the perpetrator. And to see the bigger picture. To see what is actually happening behind the scenes, not just what the Zionist media is showing to the world. Misrepresenting the facts and using the media and propaganda as a weapon to deform our real identity.

Translated by me, narrated by me friend from Al-Shejaya Ahmad Al Ejla.

Propaganda 

Propaganda 

  

Two days ago my friend from London sent me an article from a zionist news website about a translated Arabic article about a mother expresses her joy when she heard her daughter saying ” Mom ! I’m ready to sacrifice my self for Palestine “.

I felt angry and surprised how the zionist writer misrepresented the fact and twisted the words, because I’m a Palestinian from Gaza and I witnessed the three consecutive agressions.

And more than that they vilify our beliefs and misdescribe them to the world. For instance: when we say ” we are ready to sacrifice our lives for the sake of Palestine ” they describe it to the world as we are terrorists and don’t value life. Ironically just like someone steals your house and occupy it and then convince the neighbors that they are the owner of the house.

When my mother saw me angry like that she told me ” don’t worry son they always do that even when they killed “Mohammed Al Doura” between his fathers arms they should the world that he was shooting at them”.

It’s very depressing how they play with words by their propaganda and lying at the world about our cause and unfortunately it worked because actually no one in the world knows the real truth about the hell and the horrifying massacres that the Gazan people witnessed.

I still have hope that there are some good intelligent people who can’t be deceived by their lies and actually want to know about the horrifying truth.

The oldest man on earth

256 Years Old Man Breaks The Silence Before His Death And Reveals Shocking Secrets To The World
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What is the longest a person has ever lived for? Meet Li Ching Yuen, a man who lived an astonishing 256 years! And no, this is not a myth or a fictional tale.

According to a 1930 New York Times article, Wu Chung-chieh, a professor of the Chengdu University, discovered Imperial Chinese government records from 1827 congratulating Li Ching-Yuen on his 150th birthday, and further documents later congratulating him on his 200th birthday in 1877. In 1928, a New York Times correspondent wrote that many of the old men in Li’s neighborhood asserted that their grandfathers knew him when they were boys, and that he at that time was a grown man.
Li Ching Yuen reportedly began his herbalist career at the age of 10, where he gathered herbs in mountain ranges and learned of their potency for longevity. For almost 40 years, he survived on a diet of herbs such as lingzhi, goji berry, wild ginseng, he shoo wu and gotu kola and rice wine. In 1749, at the age of 71, he joined the Chinese armies as teacher of martial arts. Li was said to be a much-loved figure in his community, marrying 23 times and fathering over 200 children.

According to the generally accepted tales told in his province, Li was able to read and write as a child, and by his tenth birthday had traveled in Kansu, Shansi, Tibet, Annam, Siam and Manchuria gathering herbs. For the first hundred years he continued at this occupation. Then he switched to selling herbs gathered by others. He sold lingzhi, goji berry, wildginseng, he shou wu and gotu kola along with other Chinese herbs, and lived off a diet of these herbs and rice wine.

He Wasn’t The Only One

According to one of Li’s disciples, he had once encountered an even older 500-year-old man, who taught him Qigong exercises and dietary recommendations that would help him extend his lifespan to superhuman proportions. Apart from Qigong and a herb-rich diet, what else can we learn from this Master of Longevity?

How about this: On his death bed, Li famously said, “I have done all that I have to do in this world”. Could his peaceful last words also hint at one of the biggest secrets to a long and prosperous life? It’s interesting to note that in the West, we’re often taught to believe that aging is something that must be “beaten” with high tech infrared devices and state of the art medication.

His Secret To Long Health:

Li was asked what his secret was to longevity. This was his reply: “Keep a quiet heart, sit like a tortoise, walk sprightly like a pigeon and sleep like a dog.” These were the words of advice Li gave to Wu Pei-fu, the warlord, who took Li into his house to learn the secret of extremely long life.

Li maintained that inward calm and peace of mind combined with breathing techniques were the secrets to incredible longevity. Obviously, his diet would have played a large role. But its fascinating that the old living person in recorded history attributes his long life to his state of mind.

Why Is This So Hard To Believe?

With the average lifespan for the Western world currently sitting between 70-85 years, the thought of someone living over 100 years old seems like quite the stretch. The thought of someone living over 200 years old seems extremely suspicious. But why don’t we believe that people can live this long?

We have to keep in mind that some people in this world don’t live a grueling 9-5 lifestyle, they don’t have to deal with the stresses of debt, they aren’t breathing polluted city air, and they exercise regularly. They don’t eat refined sugars or flour, or any foods that have had pesticides sprayed on them. They aren’t living off of the standard American diet.

They aren’t eating fatty meats, sugary deserts, and genetically modified foods. No antibiotics. No alcohol and no tobacco. Their diets not only exclude junk foods that we so often indulge in, they also include superfoods and herbs which are like steroids for our organs and immune system.

They also spend their spare time in nature practicing breathing techniques and meditating which have been proven to improve mental, physical, and emotional health. They keep things simple, get proper sleep, and spend a great deal of time in nature under the sun. When we get a chance to relax in the sun, we feel instantly rejuvenated and call this a “vacation”. Imagine spending a lifetime doing that in the mountains, and combining that with perfect mental, spiritual, and physical well-being.

I do not doubt for a minute that if we all did the things we knew we were supposed to do, that living to be 100 years old would be commonplace. When we treat our bodies right, who knows how long we can live for?

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How Much Sleep Do We Really Need?

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Humans, like all animals, need sleep, along with food, water and oxygen, to survive. For humans sleep is a vital indicator of overall health and well-being. We spend up to one-third of our lives asleep, and the overall state of our “sleep health” remains an essential question throughout our lifespan.

Most of us know that getting a good night’s sleep is important, but too few of us actually make those eight or so hours between the sheets a priority. For many of us with sleep debt, we’ve forgotten what “being really, truly rested” feels like.

To further complicate matters, stimulants like coffee and energy drinks, alarm clocks, and external lights—including those from electronic devices—interferes with our “circadian rhythm” or natural sleep/wake cycle.

Sleep needs vary across ages and are especially impacted by lifestyle and health. To determine how much sleep you need, it’s important to assess not only where you fall on the “sleep needs spectrum,” but also to examine what lifestyle factors are affecting the quality and quantity of your sleep such as work schedules and stress

 

How Much Sleep Do You Need?

– Newborns (0-3 months): Sleep range narrowed to 14-17 hours each day (previously it was 12-18)
– Infants (4-11 months): Sleep range widened two hours to 12-15 hours (previously it was 14-15)
– Toddlers (1-2 years): Sleep range widened by one hour to 11-14 hours (previously it was 12-14)
– Preschoolers (3-5): Sleep range widened by one hour to 10-13 hours (previously it was 11-13)
– School age children (6-13): Sleep range widened by one hour to 9-11 hours (previously it was 10-11)
– Teenagers (14-17): Sleep range widened by one hour to 8-10 hours (previously it was 8.5-9.5)
– Younger adults (18-25): Sleep range is 7-9 hours (new age category)
– Adults (26-64): Sleep range did not change and remains 7-9 hours
– Older adults (65+): Sleep range is 7-8 hours (new age category)

 

source:

https://sleepfoundation.org/how-sleep-works/how-much-sleep-do-we-really-need