My first week back has been very busy, especially this weekend. With only 2 weeks of class remaining in this session before this group of trainees leaves and is replaced in turn by a new group, I’ve been trying to go through as many different lessons as I can, and provide as much material as possible, in order to prepare them for actually looking for work. Qayssar did an excellent job in my place covering for me, but I think everyone (especially him!) is happy to see me back. And yesterday on the first day of the weekend I was in Southern Amman (the industrial suburb to the southeast) working on remaking a server that I sold them last month from the school.

Today’s activities revolved around one of Winkie’s recent hobbies: holding massive, successful bazaars for philanthropic functions. We had one during Eid al-Adha as well, although ironically I was missing for that one, working in Sahhab to originally install that same server. Winkie’s bazaars are huge, bringing in craftsmen and farmers from around the entire region to sell at. In this particular case, she dubbed it Souq lil Gaza, or Market for Gaza, and drew up plans to have DJ’s, food vendors, booksellers, and craftsmen all working in the YWCA next to her house, selling their products to raise money to send medical supplies to the Palestinians, who are currently being slaughtered by the thugs of the Israeli army.

The place was simply packed with people. I recognized many of them from other NGO’s and aid groups that I’d met over the past few months, and it was good to see so many colleagues from other groups at the same place, at the same time. Winkie darted about the building, greeting, collecting money from the cheerful vendors, and basically being everywhere and doing everything at the same time. Laura, Aaron and Jeff were at the EGT table, selling hand-pressed olive oil and those banana skin baskets that have lived at Philip’s house for six months, and Ahmad and Khalil were serving lemonade and cakes. I saw people from the King’s Academy selling items that were going 100% to Gaza, and noticed that they were selling black and white Palestinian keffiyehs. I wasn’t wearing my red and white Jordanian one at the moment, but I wandered over to check the price, remembering that I had paid $25 for mine when I ordered it from Palestine last year. I was shocked to see that it was being sold for 3 dinars; I refused to let them take any less than 5. All around me, people were doing the same – with the spirit of goodwill and wish to help the Gazans abounding, everyone was tipping and overpaying as much as they could, and there was a feeling of friendly camaraderie in the air.

Meen irahabi?

Outside, there were Palestinian rappers, singing in Arabic about their homeland. I can barely understand Arabic at a normal speed, and so this was almost entirely incomprehsible. The trio, 2 young men and a pretty young woman, chanted angrily, “Meen irahabi! Ana al-irahabi? Anta al-irahabi?” which translates to “Who’s a terrorist? Am I a terrorist? Are you a terrorist?” The crowd of students angrily responded back to the song; Israel’s consistent, sickening treatment of civilians as terrorists and criminals is well-known. Everywhere, black and white cloth was waved and worn. T-shirts were being sold, with “Aid Gaza” stamped on them, or “Boycott Israeli Products” with a picture of a barcode and the Israeli code, which starts with 729, and with the black and white theme so common, the crowd looked like a pack of zebras.

Here's a farewell kiss, you dog!

By far my favorite part was the game, involving two massive wooden statues that had been created outside the YWCA. They had been given demonic characteristics, and in front of them was a sign that said “Guess Who!” The point of the game was simple: pick one of the statues and try to throw your shoes through its open, gaping mouth. Yes, no prizes for “guessing who” they were; I think that most were able to figure it out pretty quickly. I paid my dinar to take my shots, and got Mr. Bush in the mouth several times, to my great pleasure. There was a crowd of little children watching who were cheering me on. They asked me where I was from afterward, and got very large eyes when I told them that I was American, as if they expected me to suddenly arrest them for laughing at Bush’s shoe-hitting. I told them, in Arabic, that I was no fan or friend of Bush, and they brightened up and ran off, bringing me back a tin of green paint, where they asked me to write his name in English on the statue. It had already been written on him in Arabic, so I wrote it again next to that.

As the souq wound to a close, Winkie, who had been counting the proceeds from the day with the leading vendors, announced to everyone that we had overshot our goal of 500 dinars by a little. “In fact,” she shouted, “we’ve got over five thousand dinars from today!” She informed us that the money was going to purchasing first aid kits to be sent to the fleeing Gazans, simple yet well-stocked kits that would try to help take the pressure off of the already overcrowded hospitals that are being shelled and destroyed by the advancing Israeli army. What kind of civilized country attacks and destroys hospitals, schools, and UN facilities in their deranged hunt for a fraction of the population? There’s only a few that can get away with it.

It’s very simplified, but a good way to proportionately look at these horrendous attacks on Palestine is to imagine a little kid who throws bricks at his neighbors house, breaking a few windows and someone’s leg. Then he goes home to his parents, who are merely eating lunch. The neighbor reacts by dropping a nuclear bomb on the kid’s house, killing the troublemaking boy, his parents, and a dozen houses to all sides. Why was he throwing the bricks? Perhaps it was because the neighbors have been abusing, and mistreating his family for the past 60 years, with the blessing of the mayor to do it. That about sums up the proportionality of Palestine’s attacks on Israel versus Israel’s on Palestine. Violence in any way is horrible, but the viciousness and spitefulness of the Israeli assault on the thousands of exhausted Gazans is beyond overkill and into the realm of insanity.