freedom

I look around and wonder if it is just a foggy day or month or year or decades of my life as a Palestinian … holding up tight within myself waiting desperately for a clear day … just an average day when I will wake up and look at the sky and see it bright. Look at the sun and see it shine…look at the trees, the flowers and watch them moving in their destinies lively dance. Waking up one day to the Palestine I grew up thriving to have… to the Palestinian cause that was injected into our veins. To join the rally of humanity .. to feel normal.. to feel human .. to feel belonging to the human race…

But instead. I wake up not knowing if it is another dusty day .. if the sun that shines in the morning will keep its warmth to the night…

An ugly reality of our lives.. a nation that has been so fragmented when each one of us became a nation of his own. Palestine became a single unit for each. Each one of us has his own Palestine, with its people, its government, its ministers. It is not the Palestine we were raised to have.. it is not the Palestine we thrived to liberate…

It is a Palestine that is injected with egocentric needs and personal interests, and anything else is the enemy…

A day, a month, a year, six decades… of crying over a loss of a land, of a diaspora of a nation, of imprisonment of a population, of occupation…. And yet… we fail to have a single voice for reconciliation … we carry on to a black fog of authority that exists on personal interests and draining every single vein of its people … a mist that certifies.. each single moment the death of Palestine.

Yes… this is Nakba.

17-5-2012

I was listening to some news about the Israelis renewed the attempt to demolish the Mughrabi Gate and the installation of the new bridge, in preparation to create a museum or whatever…under the tunnels… and somehow behind all the political games of occupation and attempts of seizing more control over Jerusalem and AL-Aqsa and everything else. And somehow behind the reality that Israel wants to shake the grounds under the Aqsa. And somehow also that Israel works within a matrix of control as well in the surrounding of the old city, and this attempt would increase the possibilities of seizing the area at any needed time. There lies a good thing behind the current excavations and tunnels that are unveiling what the Israeli calls as the Torah city. And that what disturbs me when I hear our closed circle defense and shallow calls for defending the Place. The fact that there is a Torah city that existed thousands of years ago is only a complement to the greatness and authenticity of this town. The ignorance of the Israelis in trying to make a myth about their history and forcing it into a new reality that denies our existence is a mere act of ignorance and panic. And the fact that we Muslims deny the existence of a two or three thousand years of history where Jewish people lived, and that life was under the earth of the modern Jerusalem is also ignorance.

I really cannot understand that we have to fight against the findings of the city under the current city. It is part of our history as people of this land. It is part of our history of monotheists. It is part of our history as human civilization as well.

And admitting, recognizing, acknowledging, whatever term we might use, the presence of these people (the Israelis) in this land, doesn’t take our rights in it. The Islamic Jerusalem (Christian as well) cannot be denied. It is all there standing up high and proud, and deeply rooted and evolved despite three thousand years of history of various people who lived , resided or existed and continued to live on this land.

Paulo Freire says in the pedagogy of the oppressed: “It is only the oppressed who, by freeing themselves, can free their oppressors. The latter, as an oppressive class, can free neither others nor themselves. It is, therefore, essential that the oppressed wage the struggle to resolve the contradiction in which they are caught; and the opposition will he determined by the appearance of the new man: neither oppressor nor oppressed, but the man in the process of liberation. If the goal of the oppressed is to become fully human, they will not achieve their aim by merely reversing the terms of the contradiction, by just changing poles.”

When would it be time, when we rise for who we truly are, and just acknowledge our existence without denial of the others? When we get there, we can end our vicious occupation, or at least can manage it as human beings, not as dehumanized people.

18-4-2012

This is a quite very old essay…. somehow many things changed since then. Brownie was kidnapped one time after the other… left to an unknown destiny and a grip from my side to write his Memoirs after yet another last rescue.

The president is still here.. sarcastically repeating same advocacy addressed to Others, and now as we are caged in one shrinking living Cantons.. he is struggling for his Party and his own escape Maybe… with yet another empty threat that nobody takes serious, and surprisingly , with a nation giving up to their kidnapper…. Somehow maybe, like Brownie, who gave up on us rescuing him from the never ending kidnaps.

 

My dog and the president ( a confused title for a confused situation)

My search for Brownie (the dog), reminded me of our failure as a nation. I was wondering like a fool probing for a “stolen” dog, that seemed appealing in the eyes of those youngsters inside a society, who stares at you with strange pathetic looks for looking for a dog.

I couldn’t but stop and think of how much of a schizophrenic nation we are. The same filches who crept it, come from the same people whose kids are probably hiding it in their house or neighborhood and feel disgusted seeing someone looking for a dog.

I don’t know if it is a total state of perplexity, or it’s the rush of jittered energy in my nerves that is making me connect this with Mr. Abbas interview with the Israeli TV, and saying his unflustered ’goodwill’ pledges and assertions to the Israeli audience.

He didn’t bother to come out to his nation on the municipality elections ( which is nonetheless a gravestone for our nationhood) and at least comfort us with anything . Or was he so assured, that the only audience that could have a real elections and he can address are the Israelis and that is why he addressed them?

I really wish to understand, what kind of consultation is he receiving and from whom???

One day he goes to the united nation and exploit Israel, and the next, maybe same day, he goes to the Israelis and he tries to get their sympathy and support??? For what?

Why would he think that the Israeli voters even think of him? Why would he ponder that whoever he is or whatever he says would assume the Israeli public opinion?

Or maybe , his consultants are affected with the American elections heat, and cogitate that his words will make any variance for the Israelis? And if so. For whom and against who? Who is our President in favor for? He wants to support the Israeli radical right or right right wings?

And he guaranteed that there would be no intifada during his time???? Of course he will do his best to avoid any intifada, because the only intifada will be against him.

It is such a calamity, that this so called leadership, not only has ragged us away from our land, but abolished what is left from the Palestinian Cause.

And Right of Return , and his right as a refugee … so what does he exactly mean , that as a leader he gives up the right of return , and as an individual he will claim this right as a refugee ?????

Seriously Mr. President … even the young burglar of my poor dog gave a more convincing alibi …

I can only pray for Brownie some Divine protection …. Like us Palestinians ….

2-11-2012

Daughters of Palestine: Not a Review

Before I even put a sentence into this, I am definite this will not be a review.

The title of the book, as much as the content is so personal in its real perspective, that it makes it impossible to study. But yet, I wanted to do that, because I believe the book provides a critical stage, bringing Palestinian women into the front line of the Palestinian National movement.

The book brings over thirty women into the spotlight in a study that attempts to track the Palestinian women movement through two groups, that of the Diaspora and led the General Union of Palestinian women, and that of the west bank and Gaza with the ladies who led various women organizations. She categorizes the movement into three generations, the Pre 48, the 60-70s, and the 80s until the 90s. Of course, each wave is motivated by a period of time that led to the kind of growth they encountered, the first generation was anti- colonialists and protested the British colonization and were awakened by the two successive Palestinian revolts in ’29 and ’36.   The second generation of women leaders was energized by the Arab nationalism led by Abdel Nasser, and the communist revolutions that marked the decades. The third generation is an outcome mainly of the first intifada.

The book’s chapters move from one city to another in a significant account that describes the Palestinian national movement as well. Amman, Beirut, Tunis and Jerusalem.

The book is a fascinating journey of Palestinian women leadership that somehow seems like metamorphoses. It is very close with the Palestinian struggle, and somehow it is impossible to detach it from it. From the very first day of any movement, the plight for liberation and for justice always came first. It is a long journey of ongoing sacrifice. A role women always tend to take it be a choice, whereas, the land comes before the personal rights.

It definitely grew and varied from one generation and school of thinking to the other. Whereas, that period where several schools entered with the rise of communism and socialism marks the most productive time. A period that followed a total devastation that is still lived today is the moment when the Women Union became part of the PLO. Or when the PLO institutionalized all the activities.

From that moment on, everything became political and factional. The women became daughters of the PLO. And not long after, the domination went to those who were the daughters of Fateh.

Reading the book held me with many similar emotions, of the whole identity issue that a Palestinian always holds within. The plight, the strive to an individual dignity in living free. Resilience and steadfastness. Feelings that became behaviors and later slogans with real political reflections, and now only words that fly through the air of every protest or public discourse.

What is sure in the journey of the Palestinian exodus is that men and women genuinely carried on their shoulders the liberation dream of Palestine. As there exodus continued from the Nakba to the Naksa. The plight became a fight for finding a place to resist from, so from Jordan, to Syria, to Lebanon until Tunisia. With each devastating closure to status in one city, the plight was taking another form. More power to the structure of the Fateh part of the PLO and Palestine was minimized gradually in the map and in the hearts until, in the mid-eighties, the cause became not just institutionalized but personalized. It was a moment the purpose transformed into a state of personalization, and it all became about one person.

Whether that person was one or a body that formed what shaped the current situation of Palestinians today is not really the most crucial part. What really stopped me is the fact that people devotion to the cause diverted. While in the 60s-70s those leaders, (females when they existed) dedicated their lives to the freedom of Palestine. The resistance took the form of an armed struggle. Women sacrificed their families in a society that is patriarchal and traditional in all its basic concepts, especially when it comes to women, and those women and men gave themselves to the plight of Palestine. How their discourse changed and their plight itself took a different focus, while it is still taking me by surprise, explains a lot about our failures as a nation.

It could be true, that after being washed out of countries, every few years to another. Having to fight your allies instead of your enemies. Or conspire against those who hosted you and vice versa instead of teaming up to liberate the land was an exhausting work after three decades of struggle and resistance. By that time there was a lot of money and power, but no land to settle. Maybe a bitterness and an aspiration anyone who didn’t taste displacement feel.

But yet, we are talking about more than a half displaced population here .. the decision to leave Beirut with hundreds of thousands of refugees behind what persisted in remaining a dark destiny of injustices and despair seems to be that of an eccentric choice, not different from that of signing a peace agreement for the sake of just coming back home .

What stirred me again, was having the two sides of the reality of the Palestinian cause come closer to me. While we were here dreaming for freedom, fighting for our own souls as well in the first intifada for an aspire dream . while the dream was for once touchable, even if it was just in our own imagination. The leadership in Algeria has already reduced the demands of a nation in an interest of a few thousand. And those among them who still held the plight for liberation and equality remained dispersed.

How a nation has been reduced to a person. How a movement of liberation became a move towards luxury where secured (almost) promises of not being displaced . and women movement became hero-fired by internal political factional loyalties, not women’s rights or lights . …. Such as everything in Palestine …

It became a Palestine of Fateh … a Fateh with no strategy or agenda except that concerns each concerned influential figure among them …

Israelis find it too much to describe them as Nazis. I would have been tolerant about it until this morning. As Israeli “ pretentious peace seekers” were demanding our empathy and regret as Palestinians, like Abu Mazen towards the settlers kidnapping/death, and as part of an organized agenda, we see them sympathizing today not yesterday, not the day before on another murder of a Palestinian life. A Palestinian teenager. A young life that is so close … the mourning of the family, of the neighborhood could be smelt and felt from here.

While our kids are murdered. The criminals are out there in the luxury of their living hood. Instead of scanning the murderers areas, it is the victim’s place that is in closure and seized by Israeli Police.

Instead of searching the murderers they lock us in …while the killers are out there free.

When we mourn we have to express compassion. When we celebrate we have to express remorse. We have to watch our every word.

Our kids are terrorists … if not now they are potential ones.

Our lives are the next target for an Israeli soldier or a settler …

The world expects our sympathy, when we never know if we meet our loved ones again after passing a checkpoint or any road. Since all our roads have become settler roads.

When our enemy becomes a soldier and another civilian dressed settler. I don’t know if I am keeping that safe place in me for specifically not considering all Israelis as settlers.

They wonder why we don’t get it?

Three of their kids, whom one of them was already a soldier. Ready to kill Palestinians if didn’t kill yet. The two are an outcome of the worst known settlements in Israel were killed, and our life becomes a living hell. Our children are abducted in front of our own eyes. Our boys are murdered. Not just murdered burnt. We are locked in a neighborhood that is surrounded with Israeli forces from every possible entry. And the world calls us terrorists … and they don’t want to be described by Nazis.

They don’t need ovens to burn our boys.

They don’t need a Nazi badge to lynch our people

They don’t need to call their closures, the Wall, the fence, the checkpoint a Ghetto …

And they want us to kneel down and ask for their acceptance to our words. To our emotions. To our existence…

Resistance is nothing but an obligation …

You name it whatever you want …

Each time you draw death closer to us … the intolerance among us will just increase…

Nazism is not about an oven or razing houses and ghettos. Nazism is a mindset of racist, criminal acts … and that is where Israel stands today.

Watching the news might be a bit of frightening seeing the Israeli army losing its temper and patience aimlessly, fearfully attempting to find the abducted soldiers/youth settlers( Israel claims they are not soldiers). But I remind myself with the fact that it is another time we are face-to-face with the true face of occupation.

What I always tell myself is that I appreciate the checkpoint I have to pass each day to arrive to work, regardless to the detour and the reminder of oppression all the way, but I feel that I am still face to face with Israel on basis of its reality. Occupation.

I was hearing feedbacks from people in Hebron, and it was one moment of feeling pride from one side, and struggling to aim for a really true exit that could change the reality of this maze from the other side.

It worries me to see me, to see us, experiencing this sense of victory, while realizing it is not victory at all. But this is how our life has become; enjoying any opportunity that could make us feel that we scored. Even while deadly worried about the destiny of the population in Hebron as they are subrogated with the fierce attack with the Israeli forces, surrounded with the shameful feelings from being also surrounded by the Palestinian security subjects that are searching in the same fiercely way of the Israelis.

As we are injecting ourselves with a new hope in scoring, I don’t think we even think of victory, we are too far from even dreaming of such a day. We don’t even know how to define what victory is anymore. I cannot think of what kind of victory would I want over Israel. It has been decades that our senses of occupation have been injected in a frozen mode.

But in all this, there is more than a lesson to be learnt for both Palestinians and Israelis.

For Palestinians, both authority and people, yes, there are still people who are holding this cause on their shoulders and are willing to die for it. Someone told me today, if the abductors are former prisoners ( the leading clue israel claims to have got), “do you understand what would it feel when you see that your friends, brothers, relatives (former colleagues in prison) are dying, experiencing what they are experiencing in their hunger strike”? I was thinking of how numb we are, satisfying our frozen sensations in posting or sharing a word or a photo to support prisoners. How we failed to internalize the pain, the injustice, the real suffering of prisoners. IF the abductors are former prisoners, it is a lesson to Israel, to tell them yet another time, in prison people learn how to be unified, how to be strong, how to be strategic, how to plan, how to understand the enemy … how to be able to learn his rules and manoeuvre around his tactics and style. In prison, people also learn the meaning of loss. The meaning of unworthy lives you made our life add to become.

As much as I try not to oppose the PA in such a situation, but the fact that the PA is part of the search makes it another pain in the heart. It is another direct failure of the so-called security coordination. It is another blow back in our faces as a nation. The continued accusation is practically proved right now. That this coordination made the PA serve as a watchdog for Israeli security and well being … even against us.

The abduction of soldiers may remain the best tactic Palestinians can have in order to gain some rights, at least some rights to the prisoners.

As Israel celebrates its brutal expansion in our lands, it is another lesson for Israeli population, you want to live in a settlement, be ready to pay for the consequence. As long as there is a Palestinian who carries the cause in his heart … injustice will never be a substitute to a peaceful living.

 

A day in Real Life
Today was a real extraordinary day. I went to ICAHD the building camp in the morning, and we were informed that there is a demolition about to take place somewhere, either in A-Tour or E-Sawiyyeh. Meir said that in order not to provoke the Border Police, not everyone should come to follow the demolition team. We’ll have a chance to see the demolished houses later. So we left off, and after a while, we found out that the demolition was taking place in ANATA, not only in Anata but possibly, exactly, at our building site. So EVERYONE had a chance to witness!!!!

I don’t know whether to say “ironically” or “luckily,” but it wasn’t the house we were rebuilding; it was another house less than a hundred meters away. The police cars, individual units, Border Police, army, a bulldozer, jeeps – the whole set was right there in front of our eyes. Meir asked the internationals to stay away so that they wouldn’t get involved and somehow he didn’t want to provoke problems and make the Border Police come to the building site.

We were all stationed on the rooftop of a neighboring building, and we were all watching with silent rage and desperation what was about to happen. It was all there, like a live movie. Police dogs were the first to enter the site of the house. The police then started knocking the door down, and a few minutes they broke it and began. The house was empty of its tenants/ They surrounded the whole area and started emptying the house of its belongings.

From a distance it looked like a very organized moving procedure: they were moving things, putting them in plastic bags, holding them and putting them nicely at the side.
I couldn’t keep watching. I didn’t want to provoke the internationals into a situation where I don’t know its consequences. But I felt so useless.

I saw Meir, and Shay and another Israeli volunteer and one American volunteer closer to the house on one of the hilltops. I decided to go there and see if Meir would agree that we all go and try to do something to at least prevent the demolition or even try to reach the family. I went to them, and a moment later we were confronted by three Border Policemen who were positioned to prevent us from getting any closer.
I went to the neighbors to ask about the family. How could we reach them?
The family, which consisted of nine people, had left the day before yesterday to Hebron to pay a visit to their family on the occasion of the engagement of their oldest daughter, and they were supposed to come back today.

From my place with Meir and Greg and Shay, maybe the only thing we could do was to intimidate those soldiers stationed next to us. They were behaving like robots. I was too angry to even “understand” their being obliged to do whatever they were doing.
The area started to get surrounded with kids after half an hour. The moment the police saw a Palestinian youth they quickly went to him and tried to harass him. By then the whole group was getting close, but they didn’t allow them to get as close as we did.
We were mean to the police and kept saying how bad they were. I yelled at them when they went to a boy, and as I saw those kids watching the demolition, I yell at the police that, and in some years, when these kids grow up, you will wonder why they become what you would call terrorists. He responded: Why don’t they go to schools? Why don’t they go to parks instead of coming here? And I was like: Because if you look around and see the facilities they have besides the natural dumpsters every centimeter, you would see that these kids live violence and terror; they have nothing.

It was so devastating, so unfair, we all felt useless and desperate. An old lady came and said that she was the owner of the house and I had to go to them to explain to them what she was saying until they allowed her in. (It turned out that her son is the landlord). Luckily, maybe, they never suspected that I was a Palestinian, perhaps because I was so offensive and behave as if I am so much in control. God, I was worried they would ask me for my identity card, and I would be DEAD.

When they finished demolishing, we all went to the site. A man came, the brother of the woman who lives in the house, and then another man, the owner, came. That old lady was sitting there crying silently talking to herself. I walked through her belongings, and it killed me. A whole life of a family. A life memory, all packed and thrown in plastic bags next to rubble to what was once, not once, just a moment ago, a home. I saw school bags, books, a diary of a teenager, photo albums. The woman never expected that she would have “visitors” who would go into every detail of her life and her family’s. People going through her personal belongings, her clothes, even her underwear. She didn’t know that her fridge would be lying in the road, about to be opened by total strangers, she didn’t know that the pans with left oil and grease inside the stove will be passed around through so many strangers invading what just a while ago her private life.

ICAHD decided quickly that this is a home we will rebuild at once, and by the end of the two weeks, we will hopefully get two homes rebuilt instead of one. Maybe that was hopeful. To be honest, I don’t if this is the solution. We know that they could come, actually WILL come back and destroy it, but at least we fill in a certain feeling of outrage and resist this unfair and unjust situation. It could be a kind of vague scream, but at the same time, a kind of resistance that could, maybe, be helpful.

I suggested when we went back to Beit Arabiya, the home demolished and rebuilt four times which serves as the base of the summer work camp, that we spend the rest of the afternoon at the new destroyed family’s site. Maybe they need help; they would definitely at least need the only non-effective thing we could offer: our support.
As we went there, I tried to stay with them as much as possible, feeling more and more desperate and ineffective. I found myself crying, looking at the poor woman who seemed to have been once upon a time, just a few hours ago, a strong woman, trying to hold back her tears, trying to manage a conversation. She kept going towards her belongings stuffed and thrown away close to the rubble from what just an hour ago was her home.

She would occasionally go inside the rubble looking aimlessly towards things or objects she seemed not to know. She would go collect some items and try to put them together; she would go check out some of the belongings and come back and sit speechlessly. I asked them what it was they were determining to do now, and they couldn’t answer, they simply didn’t know.

The family whose house was demolished couldn’t find refuge with their extended family because of they, too, already lived in dangerous conditions and they don’t have any extra space. They couldn’t leave whatever was left, their hurled belongings, just like that. A state of absolute loss, total defeat. No clue, what will happen to them next? Nowhere to sleep, nowhere to go, no shelter of any kind. They were stuck, both of them unable to think or even have any clue of what to do or where to go next. I felt so bad, and again very ineffectual. I asked them if they needed anything, just to call us and we will try our best to help. We will be in the other building not far from them.

After an hour, I suggested that we go back to them again. They have decided to collect their stuff and go to Essawiyyah where they have an empty piece of land, and they would put their stuff there and sleep there. Sleep there on the earth and get covered with the sky. This is not a metaphor or an attempt at poetry. This is all that they had.

The husband had already taken a load in his Ford and headed towards the other location. After 15 minutes he came back with the stuff because the soldiers at the checkpoint refused to let him out, saying that they don’t have the equipment to check the car, so if he wants to pass he would need to go to Kalandia, at the border with Ramallah, where they are EQUIPPED with the proper search equipment!!!!!!
LUCKILY, the neighbor from the different land, whose house had also been demolished, had a gate which he could close so that their belongings would be safe.
They were hesitant to do it; the husband said that he didn’t know, so I stepped in and said, “You will have people trying to build the house again, the bulldozer started removing the rubble so that the workers start rebuilding tomorrow, and this man is offering a solution.” I looked at the man, and I asked him if he was serious; he said he was. I looked at the other one and asked: “What is the problem? Let’s start moving.” It was 5.30. I told him we have an hour where we can help. I will call the group, and we will do it quickly. Before they both even had time to think, I asked the volunteers if they were ready. One of them immediately went to call the rest, and in a minute everyone was there. We created a chain between the two sites and started moving the things.
It was the best thing we could have done. We finished in an hour.

I felt good that we had succeeded in at least being proactive and useful for once. It is so hard to think. It is so hard to think about that woman, about the man, about those children. I felt invaded and insecure the moment my purse was stolen the day before. It seemed the end of my security. I felt as if was walking naked, without my purse. What would this woman feel? She came home and didn’t find it. What would her teenage daughters feel? Their whole life was stolen from them today, right in front of their eyes. Yesterday they had a home, today it vanished, and it was demolished. And that poor man, he has a whole family who he seems to be worried about how to get them the bread of the day. Now, he cannot provide them shelter. What is left for them?

If losing a purse made me feel naked, how do they feel?????? I felt invaded when I knew that the one who stole my disc-on-key would get to some personal stuff of mine.
What would this woman feel about total strangers holding her clothes, her underwear, her pots and pans, her whole life, her privacy, and passing them from hand to hand. Not only through the hands of the oppressors, but through ours as well, those who were trying to help. Why would we have to see if she cleaned her fridge or not, if she washed the dishes after her last meal at that house or not? Why would we have to have a look over a whole life that s not ours?

This family, a few hours ago, was just a family. We didn’t know anything about their existence, and now we’ve invaded them. This is so unfair. It s all unbearable. And at the end of all this, they wonder why these people become TERRORISTS.

Nadia Harhash
17-7-2007

The language I use is the language I feel. Sometimes there is no place left for making it softer.

Today I received this from an Israeli friend responding to my post about the Israeli invasion of Palestine TV program Good Morning Jerusalem:

“I think this piece (as well as some others) would be far more credible if the strong language would be toned down a little bit. It seems a bit “too” extreme and, while I certainly understand the sentiment, winds up only appealing to those that already hold similar beliefs and ideology. To explain your reality to those that see it differently, the words need to be more measured and less provocative.”

I just found myself answering him without hesitation: “The language I use is the language I feel. Sometimes there is no place left for making it softer.”

As we continued with a quiet debate, I thought of how impossible somehow ever to satisfy the occupier… well, there is more than one issue here; I don’t write to convince the occupant or anyone. I write to reflect on my very own feelings as a Palestinian. A sense that only Palestinians can feel. Only oppressed, occupied can touch down. There is not attempt to convince anyone. Just to make our case clear. For what it is. From us, people. Regular human beings who are striving to live … just live.