(Middle East Eye) GAZA CITY - Without prior warning, an Israeli missile hit the house of the Ayyad family last Saturday. The Ayyads, who are Christian, were the first family among the tiny minority in Gaza to be targeted since the offensive began three weeks ago.
The Ayyad’s home was severely damaged. Furniture was ruined and family belongings such as children’s toys were strewn everywhere as a result of the missile’s impact. But naturally the human cost was much greater.
Jalila Ayyad was known among the people of Gaza as a woman that had nothing to do with any militia groups. “We are a Christian minority and have no links to Hamas or Fatah - we keep to ourselves and avoid problems,” says Fouad Ayyad, Jalila’s nephew.
Fouad is also the name of the bereaved husband of Jalila Ayyad. Standing in a white T-shirt stained with the blood of his wife and son - who was also seriously injured in the attack - he watches on as the nephew is interviewed.
A memorial service was held on Sunday for Ayyad at Porphyrius Greek Orthodox Church on Sunday. The church has become a haven not just for Christian but also hundreds of Muslim families seeking shelter there as the offensive drags on.
“The church has been our hosts for the past two weeks, offering food, clothes and whatever we needed, their loss is our loss, their pain is our pain,” says 45-year-old Abu Khaled.
At the memorial service for Jalila, Archbishop Alexios said: “Another human being, an innocent one, has lost her life.” In the pews, crowds of Palestinian Christians sobbed as first from their tiny minority to be killed in the conflict was laid to rest.
In something that surprised local journalists, Jalila’s body was carried by both Muslims and Christians to the grave. It seems the shared wounds, mourning and rage are bridging past divides in war-ravaged Gaza.
Last week, Gaza’s Roman Orthodox Church also sustained damage by Israeli artillery shelling. Fifteen graves were damaged and damage was also caused to the Church’s sole hearse, says Kamel Ayyad, a parish member.
“The world must realise that Israel’s missiles don’t differentiate between Christians and Muslims,” said Abu.
At the memorial service a sad young man surrounded by attendees dressed in black gave a speech on behalf of the Greek Orthodox community and questioned the position of the international community in dealing with Israel’s crimes.
“Here is a Palestinian, an Arab, a Christian woman, martyred by Israeli shelling,” he said. “Bombs slammed into us and killed without differentiating between civilians and combatants,” he adds.
Father Manuel Musallam, a former priest of the Latin Church, has always been an advocate for Palestinian unity.
“When they destroy your mosques, call your prayers from our churches”.
There are approximately 1,500 Christians in Gaza. Mosques stand next to churches along the thin coastal enclave. George Ayyad, a relative of Jalila, rejects the idea that Christians will leave Gaza after this incident.
“This is exactly what the Israelis want, but where should we go?” he questions, before he continues “This is my homeland and we are Christians here in Gaza for more than 1,000 years and we will remain.”
During the memorial, bible scriptures were recited before Ayyad’s body was carried out and placed in a simple white coffin that had been decorated with a black cross.
Homeless Christians and Muslims brought out her remains together in the same community where Jalila will be buried, in the town she was born: in Gaza.
A Virgin Mary icon was placed in Jalila’s coffin while her relatives sang “Hallelujah.”
"It’s necessary to maintain a state of disobedience against…everything. One must remain somehow, though how, open to any subject or form in principle, open to the possibility of liking, open to the possibility of using. I try to maintain no continuous restrictions in my poetics except with regard to particular works, since writing at all means making some sort of choices. But NO DOCTRINES. Rather I tend to maintain a sense that a particular form or set of rules at a certain point might serve me for a while. Like many writers I feel ambivalent about words, I know they don’t work, I know they aren’t it. I don’t in the least feel that everything is language. I have a sense that there has been language from the beginning, that it isn’t fundamentally an invention. These are contradictory positions but positions are just words. I don’t believe that the best poems are just words, I think they’re the same as reality; I tend to think reality is poetry, and that it isn’t words. But words are one way to get at reality/poetry, what we’re in all the time. I think words are among us and everywhere else, mingling, fusing with, backing off from us and everything else."
"Jesus was a radical, non-violent revolutionary who hung around with lepers, hookers and crooks; wasn’t American and never spoke English; was anti-wealth, anti-death penalty, anti-public prayer (M 6:5), but was never anti-gay; never mentioned abortion or birth control; never called the poor ‘lazy’; never justified torture; never fought for tax cuts for the wealthiest Nazarenes; never asked a leper for a co-pay; and was a long-haired, brown-skinned, homeless, community-organizing, anti-slut-shaming, Middle Eastern Jew."
and who wldnt invite that dude to a party (water into wine sounds diiiivine no punnin)
"Jesus, what a tramp!" George of the famous duo leading John Steinbeck’s Of Mice and Men exclaims with disdain after first meeting Curley’s wife, the newly married young woman living on the ranch. The audience, notably younger than usual Broadway theatergoers, dependably erupts with laughter, and as that subsides, George threatens Lennie, his lovable, mentally disabled friend, “Don’t even look at that bitch” when Lennie innocently remarks how “purdy” she is.
The insults are thrown at Curley’s wife: bitch, tramp, tart. The further along in the production we go, the more I realize that the audience agrees. In rooting for our heroes — the everyman protagonists who scorn and demean the only woman — the audience finds themselves unquestioningly hating her, too. But why? Of course, in playing this character, as with any other project, I care for her and have found common ground with even her specific flaws; I would expect my affection for her to be above those watching from the audience. But in dissecting this piece for five months now, I’ve found that within the writing, there is both a lack of reason to truly hate this woman, and the inevitable and undeniable urge to do so.
A few months ago, I read a piece by Daisy Eagan, a Tony Award-winning actress who was aiming to condemn a misogynistic comment on my character in a New York Times review. The review stated that my version of the character was intentionally lacking in the vamp department so as to dissuade the viewer from thinking that “she was asking for it,” — “it” being her death. Of course, I agreed with Ms. Eagan’s opinion in that no woman ever asks for violence or rape, and that ignorance was most likely what brought the Times writer to his conclusion.
However, during our four-month run, I’ve had ups and downs with this notion, in my own feelings of insecurity, and in studying the words of Steinbeck; not just the play itself, but in a letter that was passed on to me by our director at the beginning of our run, written by Steinbeck to Claire Luce, the actress who originated the role on stage. In the letter, Steinbeck sheds light on what is behind this character without a name, writing that, “She was told over and over that she must remain a virgin because that was the only way she could get a husband … She only had that one thing to sell and she knew it.” He goes on, “She is a nice, kind girl and not a floozy. No man has ever considered her as anything except a girl to try to make … As to her actual sex life — she has had none except with Curley and there has probably been no consummation there since Curley would not consider her gratification and would probably be suspicious if she had any.” I can barely read the letter now without tearing up at the thought of this imaginary woman, what she stands for, and what she loses. It’s only become clear to me during my time with Curley’s wife exactly how subversive Steinbeck’s work is, and how he must have intended it.
If this woman is purely a victim, why is she so hated? And if she is truly harmless, why is she so threatening? Without question, it was a commentary on the social climate at the time, which still surprisingly applies today. But if sexism is one of the featured themes, why not say it? Crooks, a character who is forced to live in the barn and away from the other men, says that it’s “because I’m black. They play cards in there but I can’t play cus I’m black.” As clear as day, the color of his skin is the reason for segregation. A modern audience cringes and immediately identifies. Such an explanation is never given as to why Curley’s wife is shunned.
From an outside perspective, one might see her desperate attempts to make a connection to these men as innocent: “There ain’t no women. I can’t walk to town … I tell you I just want to talk to somebody.” Yet somehow, invariably, a large portion of the audience seems to agree with George. They want her to leave so she doesn’t cause any trouble. I understand, because watching Chris O’Dowd, Jim Norton and James Franco make their plans for a utopian ranch, I want them to have that dream, too. But why is Curley’s wife’s presence so disturbing? And why does the audience agree? It’s the subconscious and inflammatory nature of Steinbeck’s writing that makes the viewer join in on the bashing of this woman, punish her existence, snicker at her mishaps. The genius and relevancy behind Steinbeck’s mission in writing this piece is that, to this day, it forces you to see yourself, to expose the depth of your own intolerance, prejudice, cruelty, and naiveté.
Literarily, Curley’s wife is compared to an animal in an effort to reduce and humiliate her. She is mockingly referred to as a “Lulu,” the same name for Slim’s dog, described as a bitch who just “slang nine pups.” “She’d be better off dead,” is the opinion of Candy’s old dog, and that attitude is undoubtedly mirrored toward the lone woman. But when the dog gets led off to be shot, protests can be heard from the audience, and as a dog lover, I have the same feeling. Complaints can rarely be heard during Curley’s wife’s death.
The final, eerie moment of her life is often accompanied by the uproar of laughter. She is violently shaken, rendered lifeless. It doesn’t seem to get less painful for me, less terrifying, less tragic with time, yet our unusually young audience seems unfazed, if not amused by the savage act. Perhaps it’s the only response that comforts them in an awkward or tense moment. Curley’s wife’s dead body lies still on the floor as Candy spits at her, “You goddamned tramp, you done it didn’t you? Everybody said you’d mess things up, you just wasn’t no good.” And again, the audience cracks up. That isn’t to say there aren’t viewers undisturbed by the sight of this broken woman, and the lengthy scene that follows her death wherein she lies lifeless and untouched, center stage.
Throughout this run I’ve come to recognize these common reactions, and eventually understand them without resentment. Yet somehow, each time I enter the stage, as I’m faced with the audience who laughs or sneers, I’m struck with the loneliness that I can only imagine a woman like Curley’s wife must feel — the desperation for conversation, respect, and above all, dignity. Each time, I’m caught off-guard when I lose it.
"Why is female vulnerability still only acceptable when it’s neuroticized and personal; when it feeds back on itself? Why do people still not get it when we handle vulnerability like philosophy, at some remove?"
Chris Krauss, I Love Dick pp. 207-208 (via fleurisms)
Three of four sisters are here and a cousin and it’s hard to tell the scribbles apart
Celebrate International Zine Month!
The history of zines in popular culture dates back to the mid-twentieth century when science fiction fans created their own publications. By the late 1970s, zines were synonymous with the punk rock DIY attitude – anyone with access to a photocopier could produce a zine about their favorite music. In addition to documenting local or regional fan culture, zines often include interviews with performers and reviews of concerts that cannot be found in mainstream publications, so they make a fantastic and unique popular music research resource!
The 1990s featured a resurgence of 1970s DIY punk attitude which found a home in the Riot Grrrl movement. Zines like Grrrl Germs, Satan Wears a Bra, and Girly Mag fostered local feminist networks and fought against the commercialization of female identities in popular culture.
Images: From Satan Wears a Bra, Gayle Wald Riot Grrrl Collection.