Palestinians document the violence of occupation

July 31, 2008

Few things can get across a visceral sense of the reality of the occupation better than the images captured by Palestinians themselves documenting their experience.  In this short film (5 mins.) and article by Peter Beaumont on the Guardian website’s front page, there is a compilation of precisely that — using cameras provided to Palestinians by B’Tselem, the great Israeli human rights group.

B’Tselem’s “Shoot Back” project

June 13, 2008

The BBC is covering video footage of Israeli settlers beating an elderly shepherd, his wife, and their nephew with a baseball bat, as they graze their goats on land near the illegal settlement.

Footage from a video camera handed out by an Israeli human rights group appears to show Jewish settlers beating up Palestinians in the West Bank.

An elderly shepherd, his wife and a nephew said they were attacked by four masked men for allowing their animals to graze near the settlement of Susia.

The rights group, B’Tselem, said the cameras were provided to enable Palestinians to get proof of attacks.

A spokesman for the Israeli police said that an investigation was under way.

So far, no-one has been arrested.

Baseball bats

For the past year, B’Tselem has handed out video cameras to Palestinians as part of its “Shooting Back” project.

Read more at (warning: video is graphic).  You can read more about B’Tselem’s inspired human rights campaign, “Shoot Back,” at

–L.L. Wynn

Gender troubles – transsexuality in Iran

March 10, 2008

Over the last few years there’s been some intermittent mainstream interest in transsexuality both in the West and in the Middle East. Although the topic was somewhat taboo in the West until relatively recently, it has been discussed quite openly in Iran for the last 25 years. The relative openess surrounding this topic in the Islamic Republic has aroused the curiosity of the Western media, and reports on transsexuality in Iran such as this article often try to come to terms with the fact gender reassignment surgery is religiously sanctioned (even encouraged) in a country where homosexuality is illegal. Is the 25 year old fatwa allowing ‘diagnosed’ transsexuals to undergo surgery a sophisticated and modern approach to a serious issue that is often not dealt with satisfactorily in even in the West, or is it simply the outcome of an inability to accept homosexuality? Read the rest of this entry »