I woke up this morning to the screams of Serena and Yasmina asking me to wake up and to have my mobile on a scene that was occurring out of our window.
Still half awake half sleep from an unknown source of pain that hasn’t been allowing me to sleep recently, I stood up at the window watching. It was right at our home.
A police or army car, it really doesn’t make any difference anymore was standing opposite the road, while another large car more of a military one was stopping next to ours. A group of soldiers were surrounding the young man, whom I could only see his jacket and hit him in all directions and pulled him to one of the cars. I think they kept hitting him until more help came in.
After the scene had ended, I headed back to bed, still half asleep my daughters surrounded me talking about the issue. The main subject of discussion was, why didn’t anyone interfere. The fact that all the neighbors were looking from their windows (like us), and some passerby’s crossed the road as if it was just another typical scene.
In all ways, it cannot be an ordinary scene. We live on the main road, but usually, those who walk by are usually people who live across. Since the making of the train, people would walk to the train from wherever they live around Beit Hanina. It was likely that he wasn’t from our neighborhood, as in any of the surrounding buildings. But while complaining, it was also us. We were watching like everyone else. Even the dogs at that instant stopped barking.
Serena told me the story again, how it all started when she heard Zoe and Brownie barking insanely. It was her who stopped them from crying when she saw the soldiers because she was worried they would shoot them. Suddenly the discussion among us changed. It became about martyrdom.
It is true that upon seeing such a scene, one cannot but imagine what if it was I? What if it was your own son or brother? What if you decided that you needed to intervene? A typical reaction when you witness an unfair situation in the street? As if we are all destined to an inevitable end.
Yasmina and Serena were sitting each on one side of the bed, like death angels. Each compromising with me an idea. Each very aware that she should be careful in every single word she uses. Serena speaking about martyrdom has been a lot. The only thing that secures my assurances is her high bound to the family and me. She doesn’t want me to get hurt. I always jump into the next scene of their imagination saying, don’t worry; if you die, I will follow. We will be the next suicidal family. It is really simple for me. I cannot imagine that life can exist a moment after any harm that can touch them. Somehow accepting death is about the proper cycle of life. But being killed this way is so oppressive. So unjust. It doesn’t keep any meaning a moment after for life. I will definitely become vengeful. I am not a mother who will celebrate the death of her children buying the myth of heaven. It will all be a burning hell for everyone.
Somewhere this suicidal idea worked as a tactic for my daughters. Somehow in their imagination of martyrdom, things have a happy ending or a reward. The moment I use the term, me too. They quickly retreat from the idea. Well. I guess this is the 101-psychology lesson I use, and it seems to work. From the other side, there was Yasmina, who said she wrote a prose yesterday in class. It is called “ a letter from a martyr to his mother.” Before saying a word, she assured me that it was just a letter. She imagined what goes on inside the victim’s head. She kept saying, don’t worry I am not planning to die.
I confess that such discussion is so harsh. The moment I hear the word martyr coming out of their mouths I panic. And life color changes in an instant to a straight black. I think that they catch my fear, and that is why they keep mediating their words as they talk to me. From one side, I want them to say all they think about. From the other hand, it is not easy. From the one hand, I feel their urgency to speak out their minds, and I also feel their hesitation in talking about it. In the end, each time I make a choice to get it all out.
For an instant, I wanted to tell Yasmina to print it out and post it. It was a breathtaking piece of prose. Somehow, a positive childish message of a child to her mother. A message trying to ease downs the pain that comes after. But I quickly removed that thought away and said. Oh, don’t. This can be taken as a message that you are planning to do something. This is the new norm now. People are really getting jailed for their Facebook statuses and comments. A fourteen-year-old girl has just been jailed for a status that says, “ Forgive me.”
As I was listening to Yasmina’s simple words in the letter. I was thinking, how much she actually realized what was taking place. How much do these young lives understand that death is not just another adventure? I couldn’t but see every single martyr who just ascended. The social media is somehow a rewarding method in their minds. You just see an ordinary life. A very normal life with dreams of a real brightened tomorrow. And whether they actually left for death or not. The message that is left is so high and an epic that remains after them. We choose to take signs from each word and photo whether they intended to or not.
Yesterday, there was a song shared by Diya Talahmeh. The same person whose speech in the university rally was so full of jihadist slogans. This very same man was singing in English a love song, I guess for Palestine. But yet it carried an entirely different sound. What happened from that song to that speech? To the moment he was killed. Somehow social media behaves like our subconsciousness in the time of our death. Even though each post and photo that is posted are done with full consciousness.
I am writing this down, with fears that this article will be taken into intelligence suspicions. I still feel the hesitation. One time a friend of mine told me that I should be careful because what I write seem provocative, and it could be translated as encouraging attacks.
But then I think, suppressing what we think about and how we think about it is the primary factor in promoting death. Hushing our surrounding and we will make it worse. I prefer a hundred times to hear the hard things my children say, rather than leaving it all inside them to grow in different directions that can be suddenly manipulated.
Each time I see a young man lynched by the Israeli army, and each time I see people pass by or stop to watch. I see more and more threatening deaths coming around.
I was putting a scenario in my head this morning, imagining myself fully awake. What would I have done? I imagined myself walking down to them and really ask them to stop. What is it that makes them so violent? Can’t they take him without all this aggression? What did they suspect in a man walking? I, like them, don’t want another attack. I don’t want to see another Palestinian getting killed. I prefer to know that this man will live rotten in their jails with the hope of life that will form its own at some point, and not death. Why do they have to use all this force?
I was trying to reason the idea with my daughters who were asking the same question: what do they think when they do this? They don’t feel guilty? I found, of course, myself defending the soldiers in front of them saying that they are soldiers and soldiers follow orders. They look at them as suspects. As a potential threat. They don’t see people.
I thought if my intervention would change that soldier mind in the way he treated the young man. Or would I get beaten and jailed for intervening in their duty?
I couldn’t but imagine a scenario with more violence that may erupt. This time, us, being the victims.
I had to retreat from my ideas, that only bring more tempting rage to our minds. I didn’t need to explore with my youngsters. I wanted to make sure that I still could ignite life inside them.
As much as I don’t want to lose my children, I am certain that no mother or parent wants to experience the loss of his child. I also understand the nonsense in applauding death in martyrdom. Somehow it may be the worse cynical or situations when grief is faced with cheers. All trying to buy a moment of equalization of a situation that will remain tragic forever. Somehow it is not easy to calm down the people’s rage and intolerant approaches towards life and death. Some may be aware of it. Some maybe not. But all gather in a rally of victorizing an ultimate defeat in the loss of a human life. But I cannot understand, except in one direction, the attempt of the army\soldiers\police in using this excessive force that in many times ends in murder; which makes me really wonder if this is what they actually want. They want the escalation of violence. It seems matching perfectly with a particular tactic that we still didn’t fully comprehend.
But yet, I hope, that we all continue to raise our voices high towards more tolerance. To more freedom of expression. Because even when it is hard to hear. It remains better than suppressing it. Particularly in such times. Where the loss is so close to every door.
A free word remains the hope for a better future … I sincerely hope