Sunday, November 9, 2014

Khair was a "conclusion"

The first time I consciously became aware of pain was almost 10 years ago when my uncle passed away after a long battle with lung cancer. I was in the sixth grade, and we were at my grandmother’s when she delivered the news of his death to my twin brother and I. I didn’t cry, I tried to because it felt like the normal reaction to have when someone dies but I couldn’t cry. Even at his funeral, not one tear fell down my cheeks. It took me almost 40 days to actually realize what has happened.

I was always thinking about him, I still do. But one day I reached a point where thinking about him wasn’t enough, I needed his physical presence as well and I couldn’t find him physically that’s when it started. When I realized that he’s actually gone, for real, and that I couldn’t even see him, even visit him while laying sick in bed, that was when tears started falling and I couldn’t stop. I locked myself in the bathroom, and tried to not make a sound. My mother was missing him way too much too; he was the closest to her of her brothers at the time, hence I couldn’t let her see me crying over him. So I cried my heart out silently. I just sat there on the bathroom floor crying.

Then I started feeling pain, not just the emotional one but physical pain. My stomach started twisting inside and felt like my guts were trying to come out but since they couldn’t they were punishing me from the inside. It was like there were a hundred drills in my stomach making holes inside of me in an attempt to come out.  And I started shivering compulsively and that made the pain ten times worse. I was holding my fingers in a fist position not able to open my hand or move, and my nails were sinking into my palms. My head was like a punching bag, and I felt like  it was getting punched from every direction there was. My bones felt like I had hundreds of nails inside of them and started stinging as if I was drowning in freezing cold water. I couldn’t breathe, I thought my lungs have stopped working and I started punching my chest with my fist hoping it would make me able to breathe normally again. It was unbearable.

Then I threw up. It felt like throwing up knives. I don’t know how long it took me to stop vomiting but when it finally stopped I was surprised to look down and see I still have a stomach. I thought it too came out with whatever was coming out of my mouth. I was completely drained out. Physically, emotionally … and I just wanted him to come back and stop this, yet I knew he’d never come back. That was the first time I could “picture” what pain looked like. It looked like that day with me crying in the bathroom. Now I could label “pain”. It was that day when I didn’t only feel pain but I also tasted it and finally became familiar with it. I could recognize it. Ever since that day, I felt this way a few times and yesterday was one of them.

Yesterday was an extremely joyous day for me. My friends and I went back to our university – since we’ve graduated last July-  to see our friends and professors and simply hang out. Then I finally got to meet Suad Amiry at her “Golda Slept Here” book-launch event in Ramallah with my friends and even got an autographed copy by her. She was so happy to see us, this young, at her event. We felt proud that she was proud to have us. It was perfect.

Then I came back home all happy and excited only to feel disgusted that I felt this happy while a young man, as old as I am, was shot dead in cold blood by Israeli police in Nazareth. I was sitting with my family discussing the topic of Suad’s book when I picked up my ipad to see what’s up on facebook. The first post I saw was someone who shared a video that said, “The video of how police shot Khair Hamdan dead in cold blood”. I did not want to see it. In these past couple of months too many people were caught on camera getting shot at and killed. Nadeem Nuwarra, Muhammed Dhaher, Salem Shamaly, and now Kahir Din Hamdan. I did not think I would be able to handle it, and I was right.

 I ended up pressing the play button anyway.

I couldn’t understand what I was seeing, so I played it again and again and again and again. Every time I would pause the video right before they shoot him, that moment when the police men come out of the vehicle and Kahir tries to run away, hoping and praying that maybe this time the outcome could be different. That he would run away, but every single time it would end the same, with Kahir rolling and twisting on the ground in pain after getting shot by the police from extremely close range.

Then as remotely as could be I logged off my facebook, took my cup of the tea my father has just made, grabbed my newly purchased Suad’s books and went to my room and locked it. I still haven’t completely grasped what I just saw. So I went back to facebook, looked for the video, and watched it again and again and again. It still hasn’t made any sense.

This scenario could have ended in so many different ways, they could have shot him in the leg, they could have chased him, hit him, and locked him up, or he could have simply run away. But no. Instead he was shot 6 times in the back and chest, and I lost it. It felt like I was sitting on that bathroom floor again and I started crying silently like crazy, then the physical pain started, then it ended with throwing up.

I haven’t cried about anything that’s been happening lately. Not when Enas was run over by an Israeli settler. Not when an Israeli baby was run over by a Palestinian, not when Mu’taz has shot the Israeli Rabbi Yehuda Glick and then got assassinated himself the next morning by Israeli Special Forces putting over 20 bullets in his body. Not when Ibrahim ran over Israeli settlers waiting at the train station and then got out of the car and hit them with a metal bar. Not even when he was also shot dead. I’ve decided for a while now to put a distance between myself and life under occupation; ‘cause I have a future to build. I have tons of payments to fulfill, many scholarships to apply to, assist with the house’s responsibilities with my parents, take the TOEFL exam, get my driver’s license … I can’t keep putting my life on hold every time something happens. I can’t just put everything on hold every time another kid is shot, or another little girl is run over by settlers, or when another fed-up Palestinian responds in the same way as settler and go run some Israelis over. I just can’t.

But turns out, I don’t have much of a choice.

It’s also my responsibility that they are dead right now. Because I was selfish enough to think I had a right to have a bright future while they couldn’t. Because I, you, and all of us stood by and did nothing as all of this has happened. Or so I thought at first, that it was primarily our faults. We just stood by and did nothing, but technically these helpless Palestinian men and youth were pushed into this ruthless path.

This last September there were 14 cases of hit-and-run by Israeli settlers against Palestinians, that’s 14 cases in one month alone! Since 2011 over 33 cases of Israeli settlers running over Palestinians occurred. Nobody took notice. Nobody talked about security, safety, human rights or whatever it is that’s supposed to protect humans. Then a Palestinian does the same as the Israeli settlers have been doing for years now, and suddenly security is threatened, the sanctity of life is violated, and safety and survival measures need to be taken where there were orders by Netanyahu to “eliminate any source of threat any Palestinian may pose”. In other words, kill every Palestinian you think in the future might do anything or if he\she looks suspicious, and that’s exactly what happened with Khair.

There was an arrest raid by Israeli police over Khair’s village, Kufor Kanna, and of course the Israeli police could never ever have a “nice peaceful” arrest. It always has to be accompanied with bullets and tear gas canisters, and with everything that’s been going on lately in Jerusalem and the West Bank, the tension level was tripled. That’s when Khair went after the police car after passing by their house trying to harm them by hitting the car’s windows. Then the police men came out of the car and when he tried to escape they immediately put six bullets in his back and chest, then dragged him instead of carefully carrying him to the car and threw him in it.

And to think that Khair was as old as I am. He probably had similar aspirations and dreams. From the video he also seems as reckless as I am. Yet he's dead right now, and here I am talking about him. 

The Israeli police lied bluntly about this. You can read thoroughly about their lying schemes in this article, yet their lies are not the problem here, we’re kind of used to it. The problem is this entire system that makes it okay to be racist, makes it okay to become a murderer, and makes it okay to punish people collectively. When you can kill Palestinians and simply get away with it, where you can make the lives of Palestinians a living hell and get away with it.

Thirty-three officially documented cases of hit-and-run by Israelis against Palestinians from 2011 till now alone. Constantly denying Palestinians their right to enter al-Aqsa mosque while allowing Jews to, even though Muslims are not allowed – for instance- to go to the “Wailing Wall” and pray. To try and make what’s happening at al-Aqsa Mosque clearer, it’s like not allowing Jews to go pray at the Wailing Wall, and instead let only Muslims go. I bet you that wouldn’t end peacefully. In addition to taking over hundreds of Palestinian houses in East Jerusalem, while ordering several other hundreds to get demolished. That also adds up to the constant harassment and humiliation Palestinians go through due to the different mood swings Israeli soldiers tend to have.

Yet we’re not supposed to have any kind of reaction, and when we do, this is the result that we get; collective punishment and murder. Mu’taz Hijazi who shot the Israeli Rabbi Yehuda Glick, was assassinated the next morning brutally on the roof of his house, and afterwards his parents were dragged for investigation and then let out with an order to demolish their house as a punishment for what their son has done. The same goes for the parents and family of Ibrahim Akari who ran over Israeli settlers in Jerusalem, and the same goes for every Palestinian who’s ever done anything to vandalize the security of Israel. They get killed by Israeli police or soldiers with no chance of ever even getting to trial, their family members get dragged to prison and their houses must be demolished.

While on the other hand, none of the Israeli settlers that ran over Palestinians were ever taken to trial and their murders were considered as “traffic accidents”. This past October, Enas – 5 years old – was run over by an Israeli settler while she was cutting the street to get to her mother. She was killed right in front of her mother and the settler who ran her over is probably sitting on the dining table with his own family and his own daughter enjoying their time, he wasn’t even persecuted. No trial, no arrests, no prison, and no demolished house.

And at the end of the day, Mu’taz, Khair, Ibrahim … were labelled with many titles and accusations. Some Palestinians here named them heroes, Israelis named them heartless terrorists, while in reality they were simply victims of a heartless, cruel, and gruesome occupation.
As Nietzsche would put it; they were “conclusions”. 
Kahir Din Hamdan was sitting with his father when the police car passed by and he ran in anger of their arbitrary arrests against his neighbors after them. Ibrahim Akari has two beautiful boys and a gorgeous wife waiting for him back home.  Mu’taz has only recently been released of Israeli prisons and he had his entire life ahead of him. He even, according to witnesses, apologized to the Israeli Rabbi Yehuda Glick before shooting telling him, “ I’m sorry but I have to.

He had to. He had to shoot him. Imagine reaching this point where you would have to do something this cruel; where you would leave behind a future that is yet to come, beautiful kids and wife, and a father. They didn’t want to, they had to.

They were the conclusions of this inhumane occupation that’s been crushing our souls way before crushing our bodies.

So no. It’s not entirely my responsibility. Yes part of the blame is on me and those who sometimes get defeated and think of having a normal life while others aren’t. But the primary reason, the cause, is the Israeli Occupation. And if this racism, violence, and policies of collective punishments don’t stop, the results will only be more and more violence.

My pain might have ended eventually, the physical pain at least, but Khair’s family hasn’t and till it does and till those who murdered him and every other Palestinian in cold blood are brought to justice, the pains of Israelis won’t be over as well.

So they better take some responsibility for the murders that have been happening or else this cycle of fear they are living in will never end.  Jews might have been victims for a very long time, but those living in Israel right now who are naming us terrorists and savages, pretending to have nothing to do with it are accomplices in crime; they’re murderers as well.

It’s time Israelis understood this clearly, they won’t live in peace until we do.

The video of Khair Din's murder:

The video of Salem Shamaly's murder:

The video of Nadim Nuwarra and Muhammed Dhaher's murder:

                               "The five-year old Enas that was run over by an Israeli settler."

                              "Picture of kids in East Jerusalem getting run-over by an Israeli."

Thursday, October 2, 2014

A Letter to Our International Activists … Please, Pick a Side.

 Dear international friends and activists,

(I apologize beforehand if this is too harsh for some of you, but well … it was asked for)

I love you all, really, I do, but we need to clarify some important matters here. I believe we’re past the “any kind of support is good” phase and we need an upgrade.

There are millions of “Pro-Palestine” activists out there, but to each and every one of them Palestine holds a different definition, and even though having any kind of support to Palestinians is important, sometimes it’s not enough, not any more.

There are two issues affecting Pro-Palestinian activism worldwide. The first issue is that there is no one unified definition of what “Palestine” is. And the second is that some of this activism stands neutral, supporting “both sides” of the “conflict”. And none of these issues are their fault, it’s our fault as Palestinians for not making the matters clearer, and by writing this today it is nothing but a small attempt in changing some of the misunderstood facts, at least directed to my own friends and acquaintances who are pro-Palestinian activists.

The first and most controversial issue is: What is Palestine?

To most of the world – at least those who acknowledge its existence- it’s the West Bank and the Gaza Strip, and sometimes East Jerusalem as well (which is always stupid for me to refer to one city as two) and this terrible terrible mistake of defining Palestine as such must stop. I know, it’s the Palestine Liberation Organization’s fault for agreeing on these terms to define Palestine with in the first place, and it’s our fault as the Palestinian people for not speaking up, but let’s set the record straight.

Palestine is the West Bank, Gaza Strip, Jerusalem, and what is now called Israel. By only defining Palestine as the West Bank and Gaza Strip means that you are OKAY with everything that’s happened during 1947-1948 Nakba (Palestinian Catastrophe where thousands were murdered, hundreds of massacres and genocides, and where over 700,000 people were forcibly kicked out of their homes and are now refugees that reached 6 million people worldwide) and you completely accept it as something normal. 

Palestine’s “occupation” as it’s now legally called and acknowledged worldwide hasn’t started only in 1967, it started 66 years when Israel was created on Palestinian soil after eliminating thousands of people and leaving other thousands homeless and scattered around the world, where they are denied the right to come back; denied their “Right of Return”.  

I don’t mean to scare you off when I say that Palestine is also “Israel”, which is what we as Palestinians simply refer to as Palestine 48 (tracking it back to the day where it lost its name as Palestine and was turned into Israel). When I say so, don’t translate it as me saying “Oh, I am anti-Semitic (always funny to hear though, considering I’m technically a Semite myself), I don’t want the Jews to have a home, I am racist, let’s kick the Jews out and send them back to Europe or even better .. drown them in the sea!” No, this is what most people assume we mean when we refer to Israel as Palestine instead. So let’s set the record straight once and for all.

I as a Palestinian, a very proud one too, will never ever allow or want to make other people suffer the same way my people did. I will not kick someone out and take over their home, claim it to be my own, then erase their entire history as if it has never existed, or burn them to death, or demolish their homes, or torture them, or bomb their schools, or steal their land, or build walls –HUGE cement walls- to separate them, or humiliate them on checkpoints … I will try as hard as I can, as long as I breath, to never be turned into the monsters that my culprits were turned into. A holocaust survivor would never want to see another human being suffer the same as he\she did, but if they did eventually do so, or allow such inhumane-cruel crime to take place, then technically the Holocaust was never really over.

Therefore again, saying that Palestine is in fact is “Israel” translates into us not forgetting the tragic history that occurred 66 years ago, it does not mean we want to do the same crime against other people –in this case the Jews, Never! The logo “Never Again” is always connected to the crime of the Holocaust, but when we say “Never Again” it means none of these crimes should ever happen again; Holocaust or Nakba.

Hence no, saying that Palestine is actually what is now called “Israel”-from the river to the sea- won’t make you anti-anything, except being anti-injustice. The concept of Israel is pretty clear, it’s a racist state and a colonial power that keeps gaining its power through genocide and injustice, and being against a state with such “concept” behind it won’t make you any less human, Jewish, activist or anything.

If you’re truly concerned with Palestinian rights, you should be concerned with all Palestinians (West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, Diaspora, Palestinians with Israeli IDs) from the very beginning. You can’t start the story of Lion King from where Simba ran off, there is plenty that’s happened prior to that which led him to run (I know irrelevant story and example, but it’s the only thing I could come up with at the moment). It’s not a cause where you “select” what you want to support, either you are in all the way or you’re not. The tragedy started 66 years ago, not 47 years ago, acknowledge this fact.

Also remember, as nice (to Zionist liberals that is) as the idea of a “Two-State” solution is, it’ll only mean that years and years of crimes against Palestinians will go unpunished and not taken care of, and this is not what being a “human rights advocate” and an “activist” is about. There are huge numbers of Israeli activists, historians, scholars, and journalists (such as Gideon Levy) that consider themselves to be pro-Palestinian just because they support a Two-State solution, example of such is “J Street” group. This group defines itself as following, J Street is the political home for pro-Israel, pro-peace Americans fighting for the future of Israel as the democratic homeland of the Jewish people. We believe that Israel’s Jewish and democratic character depend on a two-state solution, resulting in a Palestinian state living alongside Israel in peace and security.

Well, I’m sorry to break it for you “J Street” people - and other Israelis and Americans who think they’re pro-Palestine because they support the Two-State solution- technically you’re worse than Settler-Colonial-Zionists themselves; at least these guys are honest, they don’t like us, they want us out of the country so they can have their promised land for the Jews and only the Jews. You people, J Street people and those of the sort, are nothing but –and sorry for being too forward- hypocrites. If you truly cared about Palestinian rights or even human rights for that matter, you would oppose such segregation and racism in the first place. 

You will ask for citizens to be treated equally and not have a country for people with a certain religion while others will be treated as second-class citizens or even less. You will ask for consequences and sanctions to be imposed for all the crimes that have been committed ever since 1948 in order for your “Jewish democratic homeland” to be established. In other words, “wanting peace for Palestinians”, “the Two-State Solution, and “Israel as a Jewish Democratic homeland” don’t even fit in the same paragraph. Groups like these, who preach peace but couldn’t be further away from it, only make matters worse not better; they literally preach racism under the name of peace.

When such groups go with this approach they should think of the following: agreeing to the Two-State suggestion is like telling the persecuted Jews in Europe –back then during the Holocaust- that they should live side by side (after all that’s been committed against them, without any kind of consequences against the culprits) with the Nazis and just deal with that reality, while knowing that they have homes that were taken from them, family members that were brutally murdered, and years and years of injustice. Injustice going unnoticed, unpunished, and without consequences is simply not right. The Jews have refused to let such oppression go unnoticed and prosecuted Germany, so why should we – as Palestinians- just “forget and forgive”?

The second issue with pro-Palestinian activism is being neutral. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want you to give up your humanity or anything, trust me, if there’s anyone out there who would love nothing more than people actually hold on to their humanity regardless of race, ethnicity, color, and religion, it’s us: Palestinians. But … being neutral, is not being humane: it is being a coward.

When you say “both sides are to blame for the Gaza war”, or that “I’m with both sides and this madness should end”, or “Both sides should stop being so stubborn and bury their differences in order to bring peace”, or “well, there’s always two sides to each story”, and some more “both sides, both sides, both sides …” you’re actually making the matters worse, not better.

By saying such statements you’re implying two things: either you don’t know enough about what’s really going on, or that you’re just another conflicted person in the world with double standards and not enough courage.

Only a couple of hours ago, the famous HONY photographer Brandon Stanton shared a picture from occupied Jerusalem, a beautiful picture.

In his recent travels and part of a worldwide journey, he started inserting the names of the cities he’s visiting with the name of the country right in the same space. But when he shared this beautiful picture from Jerusalem, he left the “country” space blank. I know his website is based on focusing only and solely on our humanity, but as all of us grown-ups here know, humanity alone is never enough.

As humans we make decisions, we pick our fights, and chase our passions with all of our hearts. We choose, that is what makes us who we are and helps us become the people we want to be. By choosing we create our identities. But by standing neutral on the sidelines, refusing to choose, in fear of losing popularity or fans, or in fear of criticism, then we become no one. I know by criticizing HONY’s Brandon I am going to be criticized for not “being human” or sympathetic, and that I’m too political … which is fine, because I at least know where I stand. As Aristotle has put it perfectly, “To avoid criticism say nothing, do nothing, BE NOTHING.”

It’s okay to pick a side, and if you picked the Palestinian side it doesn’t mean that you are against Jews or that you’re against Israelis themselves, and it doesn’t say that all Israelis are horrible, we know … there are good Israelis out there who refuse to be part of what the their government is doing under their names, they are not the problem. By criticizing Israel, you are criticizing colonialism, racism, apartheid, genocide, forced expulsion, arbitrary arrests … etc. Here you’re not against “people”, so when picking a side, you’re not losing your humanity, on the contrary, you’re taking a stand and defying inhumanity.

There is this phrase that’s been circulating on Facebook and Twitter during the last Gaza War that I find fitting to help understand what the problem is with such logic, and it says, “Blaming Hamas for firing rockets at Israel, is like blaming a woman for punching her rapist!” And when you, ladies and gentlemen, say “let’s hear what both sides have to say”, it is like asking the rapist how he felt raping her and how much it hurt when he got punched in the face by his victim. Total nonsense right?

So the statement “both sides” better be annihilated from your dictionary. Besides, I’m pretty sure that whoever came up with this “two sides” notion is some bastard colonial settler who wanted to justify why he was murdering innocent people, stealing lands he did not own, and enslaving others to forcibly work on his plantations, since according to him he’s only bringing “civilization” to humanity.

But, if you still want to stick to the whole “two sides” drama, I will give you these two sides you’ve been yearning for. Actually Rafeef Ziadah has already given us the two sides; you have the Occupier and the Occupied, the Colonizer and the Colonized.

So, there you have it, where would you rather stand?

I’d rather have someone come up and say straight to my face that they’re Zionists or Pro-Israel, than come and tell me both sides are hurting and both sides are suffering. I know, we’re all suffering, but there’s a difference between when a murderer suffers and goes unpunished and when a victim –as much as I hate being one- is suffering and no one is doing anything because some people were too afraid to take a stand. You don’t have to be passionate about “Palestinian rights” when talking privately to me, and then whispering the word “Palestine” when surrounded by a group of your international friends, so you wouldn’t hurt your Pro-Israel acquaintances and injure their ears with the word “Palestinian”, or God-forbid you refer to it as a country or a state on its own as Palestine.

Don’t be neutral, take a stand. Neutral is being passive, and isn’t the whole point of being an activist is to actually be “active” and make a clear decision? 

And I don’t mean to sound ungrateful, I really am so much grateful to anyone raising awareness or doing anything in support of Palestine, but some of the fogginess surrounding this cause had to be lifted.

We’re at dark times right now, where massacres are being committed against helpless victims; men, women, children … if we don’t take a stand, a clear stand, to end injustice now, then who would?

In the end, I apologize if I sound too harsh or impolite, but it all came from a heart filled with love and appreciation for you all. If being a Palestinian has taught me anything, it’s being brave, and being brave starts with simply “being”… with taking a stand. You don’t have to necessarily take my stand or support my cause; just don’t be passive and let things pass you by out of fear or ignorance.

So, my beautiful people, be brave.

Much love,


Monday, August 18, 2014

“Exactly like Omar … Not”

I never thought of life here in Palestine as an action movie, or maybe it’s more of a mix between romantic ,action, and drama, the perfect combination for entertainment. Why would I really?

Yet I started to consider life here as such after an interesting conversation with the sweetest Jewish American group. We were talking about the situation here, and of course “the Wall” was included, and the topic of “crossing” the Wall came up. I told them we have the checkpoints, if they were too much to handle Jerusalem residents can go through a checkpoint on a bypass road, which is easier since they assume you’re a settler and you’d go right through no questions asked. Or, and this was the most interesting option, some Palestinian youth who don’t have blue IDs to let them pass or Israeli permits would simply climb off the wall with the assistance of a rope and a ladder.

At that thought this girl -she was one of those free-spirited, full of life and happiness characters- jumped in excitement and said, “You mean like Omar?” I laughed my heart out at the thought, well Hani Abu Assad sure did something right. I told her, “Exactly like Omar”. Then she resumed, “So cool! Now I could go back and tell my boyfriend that I saw the Wall that Omar climbs to see his girlfriend.”

I laughed again, it was ironically funny. But in my head I was saying, “Oh shit.”

It never occurred to me what impact Palestinian films like “Omar” and “Paradise Now” could have on people, especially non-Palestinians, or people who are associated to the Palestinian\Israeli conflict but not viewing matters from a Palestinian perspective. And that day, I was introduced to one of these perspectives.

It was that this Wall, this horrendous-ugly-disgusting Wall, was actually –partly- the reason behind an amazing tragedy. One hell of a story to tell, where you have the hot Palestinian hero climbing off walls ,shooting Israeli soldiers, being tortured, and agreeing to collaborate with his enemy for the sake of his one true love. Leaving all horrendous and “violent” details out, if we look at it that way, “Omar” would be the perfect fairytale, it can even work as a Disney movie.

The problem is, it’s NOT a fairytale. It’s too realistic.

And this brings us to the main issue, will romanticizing the Palestinian reality do us more harm than good?

I spent four months of my last semester in college trying to figure this out. I literally criticized the hell out of this amazing Native American activist because she was romanticizing herself, her community, and her cause. But to be totally honest the research about this Native American was a bit personal to me, I was criticizing her while in fact I was criticizing myself. I was also a romanticizer of reality, like her, it was the perfect escape. If we looked at matters here truthfully, without filters, or adjustments, I don’t think we could handle it. I know I couldn’t. 

But have we taken it too far? Making it almost desirable? … Maybe we did.

Growing up I fell in love with the image of the young Palestinian guys with their Kuffiyes’ wrapped around their heads and faces only showing their eyes, and their hands clutching the rocks so hard they bleed.
Fell in love with the image of the slingshot in their hands, and that revolutionary gleam in their eyes.
Fell in love with the fire burning so bright coming out of the Molotov Cocktails thrown by the hands of the revolutionists and their full of rage and power screams while sending it through the Israeli barriers to cross them triumphantly.

So when Omar, this young handsome Palestinian, was presented to us as the courageous hero who climbs Israeli Walls so he’d be closer to his friends and the love of his life, of course we’re going to fall head over heels in love with him. It’s the image of the Revolutionist from ages and ages ago, but this time brought in this attractive form to attract people other than “us” –other than Palestinians. We are familiar with this image of the revolutionary Palestinian, but not everyone worldwide is, mostly worldwide –when it comes to Palestinians- this image is related to terrorism. Not once the question of “Why” has occurred, why are these young Palestinians throwing rocks? Why are they shooting Israeli Soldiers? They sure look violent and angry, but why?

The “why” never mattered, because it wasn’t in the benefits of these people spreading these images, until Palestinians themselves took matters into hand, like Hanny Abu Assad. Even though I’m not a huge fan of “Paradise Now”, because it seemed to me a bit of an audience-pleaser (international audience), but it was the first film exposed to foreign audience that presented the question of “Why?”

According to Dr. Bader Araj’s research, “Suicide Bombing as Tragedy and Interaction: The Case of the Second Intifada”, there are many motives and reasons that answer the “why” question. Among the motives is this one: “Desire to regain one’s reputation due to the suicide bomber having engaged in shameful behavior, such as collaboration with the enemy.” And this is the one Hanny Abu Assad chose for his movie “Paradise Now”, where we have this young Palestinian who blows himself up in an Israeli bus, in order to honor the name of his disgraced family. His father was a collaborator with the Israeli Intelligence, meaning his father would “snitch” on his fellow Palestinians that are designated by Israel as terrorists, and hence the Israeli Intelligence would wipe them off the face of earth. 

In Palestine it’s not easy being a collaborator, especially if you get caught. Not only will your life be ruined or eliminated, but your family will suffer of disgrace and alienation as well. (And here I’m not going to discuss if these methods of punishment are justifiable or not, it’s another topic all on its own). Now if we look closely at the motives behind Abu Assad choosing this particular motive to commit suicide bombing, it might not seem so clear. At first it might feel it’s because of the Palestinian barbarians who executed Said’s –the suicide bomber in the film- father as punishment for his betrayal of his people.  But the question doesn’t stop there, automatically you’ll have to ask some follow-up questions like, “Why did the Palestinians execute him? Why did he become a collaborator?” … etc. These questions among others will lead to one result: the gruesome Israeli Occupation.

We witness this same notion of driving people to ask critical questions in “Omar”, where we know this young man and his friends shot dead an Israeli soldier at an Israeli checkpoint. In this film it’s a little bit clearer, where we see him climbing the Wall and getting shot at by Israeli soldiers, or when he’s humiliated by Israeli soldiers when he’s on his way back home and they end up beating him up, and in the end he simply sums up the motive loud and clear when his friends ask him “Why now?” (in reference to why do their operation of killing the soldier that night) and he replies, “Everyday we wait is another day of occupation.” In other words, resistance has to happen, there is no other way. And this would push towards the direction of other questions, such as: “What is the Israeli Occupation? When did it start? So this territory was originally Palestinian? So Israel was also founded on a Palestinian land? … etc”

Yet all of these signs might not be clear to everyone, in the end it is “pretty cool” that a guy would go through so many dangers for the girl he loves. But while fantasizing about how “cool” that is, the other intense motives were a bit undermined. He was not only fighting for the love of his girl, it was also for the security of this love (though I’m kind of allergic to the word “security” giving the circumstances), for a safe haven to resort to, for a place to call home, for a place where you would simply “walk” home instead of climbing walls. The Palestinian struggle isn’t a struggle for the land, the olive tree, the mosque or the church: it’s a struggle for the people. The reason we do all that we do is because we love our cause, and our cause is our people.

So many times on so many occasions I would say to myself, screw this I’m done with this Palestine drama, but then I realize it’s not my decision to make. Thousands and thousands of Palestinians were killed, injured, displaced over and over again since 1948. It is a struggle for life that’s been occurring and reoccurring for years, and I can’t just give it up. This fight for our people is a fight of resorting justice and regaining the safe haven we lost years ago. Who am I to give that up?
It’s about our people, it was always about the people, about love, friendship, and restoring the sanctity of life.

So the question of whether romanticizing the situation is a downside or the opposite, still remains. 

Sometime we need to beautify the situation a little, to make it more bearable. The real problem occurs when we fall in love with this beautified version of reality. After all, who wouldn’t want to be a revolutionist? A freedom fighter? But our hearts could easily get heart-broken and we’d fall out of love with this image when one of these revolutionists gets killed by an Israeli bullet. Waking up of that fantasy is devastating, all of us glorified Muhammad Abu Khdeir and praised him as a heroic martyr, but the reality says that kid was terrified to death. He’s been kidnapped, tortured, and burnt ALIVE. Nothing can beautify this picture, EVER!

That’s why it’s important to remember on what basis these movies and stories are built, they’re not a fantasy or one heck of an agonizing tragedy. It’s real life, it’s our daily life, so there should be tremendous effort to not undermine it.

When the American group had to leave Ramallah and go through the Israeli checkpoint, I felt horrible they had to go through it. It’s never a pleasant experience to go through, but when I talked to the same full-of-life girl, she said, “Don’t worry, it’s okay. It’ll make a good story to tell”. I wish I had her optimism, but how could I when the checkpoint isn’t a one-time experience to me? It’s a humiliating process that I have to go through almost daily.

So I only wish at some point of the future we will reach the stage where the situation would merely be “good stories to tell”, but for now let’s emphasize the impact they have on us as our actual daily reality.

Additional information:
1.      Bypass roads are Settlers-only (Jewish only) roads that connect the illegal Israeli Settlements in the West Bank with Jerusalem, but if you have the “Blue ID” and a car with yellow plates (Israeli plates) you can pass through the checkpoint on these roads without any obstacles or humiliation.

2.      “Blue ID” is the legal document Palestinian residents who live in East Jerusalem hold, and it’s not really an ID, it’s a permit that allows us (East Jerusalem residents) to move “freely” between the West Bank and Jerusalem through the checkpoints, but not Gaza. And it gives us the “permission” to live in Jerusalem as well, but it has to be renewed regularly in order to gain the “rights” to move and live “freely”.

3.      Palestinians in the West Bank have the “Green ID”, and they can’t pass through the checkpoints or the bypass roads’ checkpoints unless they have Israeli permits, which are extremely difficult to obtain.

4.      The Wall mentioned above, is the Separation\Annexation\Apartheid Wall, just so we’re clear. Not the security fence thing they keep inventing, it’s a real cement wall. Ask whoever came to visit here, or Google it.

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Hannity and his 3000-rockets complex!

Most of you have probably heard of Fox News most famous bully Sean Hannity, personally I never bother to listen to anything he says, but … I do enjoy it when others replay what he says and –well- make fun of him and point out his biases, like Jon Stewart or Russel Brand.

Recently I’ve watched this video of his, (not a fan of the title of the video, but we’re here for the content not the title)

In this video, he’s responding to Russell Brand’s criticism and satire of his –Sean Hannity- twisted logic and barbaric bullying of his Pro-Palestine guests. You’re only considered to be a respectable guest on his show if you’re pro-Israel. The interesting part though, is that one of his guests makes the terrible mistake of admitting that there are “two sides” to the story. The second he blurts out these simple little words of truth, Hannity starts playing his same repeated -old- record, “3000 rockets! 3000 rockets! 3000 rockets into Israel! Rockets! 3000! .... !” and he would go on forever if he could.

This video is almost over a week old, so now the 3000 rockets are much more. According to your beloved “IDF”blog, they’ve reached 4000. Terrifying right? I mean you’ve said it yourself Hannity, what if the United States was being targeted with over 3000 rockets? And I quote your words literally, “If 3000 rockets were fired into America, wouldn’t you obliterate the infrastructure of the group responsible?” True words of wisdom Hannity, really, I’m impressed you have some kind of logic.

So, let’s apply this logic of yours on the situation one more time. The statistics I’m about to share were published on August, 9th 2014, so keep in mind the numbers have definitely increased.

Until 12:00 pm on the 9th of August there have been 5635 Artillery Shells attacks, 5630 Air Strikes, and 2450 Gunboats attacks over Gaza. There are over 1903 murdered Gazans by these attacks, in addition to over 10,625 damaged houses (whether completely destroyed or partially).

Now not-so-dear Hannity, when the statistics say there are over 5630 Israeli Airstrikes –and here I’m not even  talking about the artillery shells or gunboats attacks- over Gaza it doesn’t mean only 5630 rockets. No no, every airstrike bombs several “targets”, as the IDF likes to call them, and these so-called targets (that till this moment are mainly unarmed civilians) could vary from 60 to 100, and by the end of the day Israel hits over 150 “targets” (100-200 locations, which are either houses, medical centers, schools, mosques, playgrounds …etc).

Now it’s time to use your imagination.

Imagine how many rockets have been fired into Gaza when you have over 5000 airstrikes targeting over a 100 locations daily. Can you imagine that? I sure can’t. The number of rockets would be beyond tremendous, too huge that Israel needed to request an emergency renewal of US ammunitions! As Jon Stewart has put it, “They were running out of shit to blow up”. Just try to think of what this actually means.

It means they have used most of their ammunition! And here you are, arguing over and over again about how inhumane and unrealistic it is that Hamas fired 3000 thousand rockets into Israel! Even though, according to your logic, it’s only reasonable that Hamas would respond this way. I mean, wouldn’t you obliterate the infrastructure of the group responsible of firing this amount of rockets into your country?

Sir, your double standards and one-sided views are really getting annoying, and I’m only using the word “annoying” just to be polite.

If you want to criticize something or someone so passionately then please at least have ALL the information, and not just pick whatever piece of news suits you. Journalism doesn’t work that way, journalism is about being passionate, true, and a deliverer of facts. Not using whatever facts you want to serve your own biased agenda.

In short Mr. Hannity, GROW UP!

P.S. If you need reliable sources for information, just let me know, since you’re not really doing a very good job finding them.

                                      "The one and only Hannity"