Monday, December 19, 2011

We are all 'A' – or at least we should have been by Haggai Matar

For the first time in many years an Israeli activist, from her own free will, is establishing her political ideology that Henry David Thoreau put as: "Under a government which imprisons any unjustly, the true place for a just man is also a prison..."

Truth be told: We all should of acted like 'A'. Every Friday, across the West Bank, Israelis and Palestinians demonstrate together. They stand, together, opposite the same soldiers, chant the same slogans, give the same speeches, run away from the same clouds of tear gas and the same sprays from the disgusting 'skunk' machines, and get arrested for the same reasons and for the same false accusations.

However it is at that point that the racist laws are activated. The Israelis are released from the police station with limited conditions or with similar conditions from court as they have to deal with the Israeli detainees within 24 hours. The Palestinians are taken to Ofer Military Prison. From the outset, the military orders that dictate their lives allow the authorities to detain them for eight days before they are even required to give them a judicial review to extend the detention. Even then, in most cases, the court will decide to allow an extension and then another extension and then detention till the procedure regarding an indictment has ended. This process can take a number of months and in the end the arrested Palestinian is released. The arrested Israeli however, his friend, his partner, was out the whole time.

That is how it always is – under apartheid law. As a rule we always made sure that if Palestinians were arrested, Israelis were arrested too so as to show solidarity, to protect our friends inside detention and to document the way they are treated.

Until 'A'. 'A' was arrested last Friday together with another 20 Israelis, Palestinians and internationals at the main demonstration in Nabi Saleh marking a week since the murder of Mustafa Tamimi. Among the arrested was a close family member of the killed, Mohammed Tamimi as well as Mohammed Khatib from the Popular Committee of Bili'in – one of the most moral, creative, funny, determined, brave and moving people I have ever met in my life. When the time came to sign the conditional release form at the police station (a 15 day injunction order from Nabi Saleh) 'A' and her friend refused. They were brought before the judge, they refused again and were sent back to detention. They notified the authorities that they were standing in solidarity with their friends Tamimi and Khatib and they would not agree to be released while the two others were still in detention.

In the end, Khatib was released and 'A''s friend signed the conditional release form, but Tamimi and 'A' stayed in detention. At the Shalom (Peace) Court of Justice in Jerusalem, on Friday, on Saturday, on Sunday and this morning – Monday – she will again have a hearing to extend her detention. The same thing will happen in this hearing that will happen in every one after it, 'A' will communicate an exceptional message of solidarity. She demonstrated, with her action, with her imprisoned body in a disgusting cell at the Russian Compound in Jerusalem, the absurdity of the apartheid laws of the occupation, the way it differentiates between partners in the struggle by their origins, by the nationality dictated to them, by the ID card they carry in their pockets.

The distance between home to jail

In all fairness, it should have been standard procedure, for all of us. Just like we are arrested together so we should stay in prison together. We should refuse, all of us, to sign. All the Israeli activists arrested in the same protest together with all the Palestinian activists. The village elders say that once it really was like that, in the first intifada and before. Everyone refused, everyone was jailed together (that way, they explained, they didn't separate between the arrestees at the detention centre, unlike today).

Alas we do not refuse. We sign. We give up on a demonstration for two weeks in one place and go to another, and then again back to the place we were originally banned from and at the end of the day we always go home: to comfortable warmth, to a soft bed, to sleepy cats, to familiar food, to favourite books and to the embracing lover. We go back to routine, to work, to tasks, to meetings, to nights out, to Facebook, to the blogs, the newspapers, the greengrocer, the neighbour who got his bike stuck in an awkward position, to family dinners, to a light that needs fixing in the hall, to our studies and to the streets that turn into a river when it rains for more than five minutes.

Our friends do not. They stay with Shabas (Secret service agency) issued uniform, in a cold tent in Ofer Military Prison, with nothing from home. Remember how Abudallah Abu Rachme described the months in jail with no shoes and no watch? Like that. That is the man jailed under a government that imprisons any unjustly. That is the man Thoreau is referring to. That is the just man that should be imprisoned too. A is doing the most just thing that can be done under the regime that we have here.

There is no end to the reasons for signing a release form, for the reasons to return home. It can be said that practically it will not help since, of course, the Palestinians are not released any earlier because of it. It can be said that it just snatches away more good activists who are very much needed outside. It can be said that a worthy struggle sets before it not only fairness but also the well-being of the strugglers, and there is a need to do as much as possible so as to survive and not become drained. It can be said that it is a more sustainable way as opposed to a situation where we will all be in jail. And its true. Its all true. However, despite everything, there is something very right, more right, in 'A's actions. Something that marks clearer than ever before the ugliness of the system. And like a beacon of light illuminates the right change in this method. Therefore, today, also those of us sitting at home – we are all 'A'.


Update: Monday, 12:20:

The police have had enough of 'A''s stubbornness, and a few moment ago decided to release her without insisting for a signature requiring a 15 day injunction from Nabi Saleh. In fact they just threw her out of the detention centre. 

Translated by Ruth Edmonds

A Letter from Mohammed Khatib after Being Released

Dear friend,

I have just been released from jail, after three days inside. I was arrested last Friday, together with 22 others, in the village of Nabi Saleh, during a demonstration commemorating the murder of Mustafa Tamimi. Our arrest took place as we peacefully protested near the entrance to the Jewish-only settlement of Halamish, which is built on lands stolen from Nabi Saleh.

Minutes after we got to the gate, Israeli Border Police officers moved in to remove us from the scene. Palestinians, Israeli and international activists, we were all shackled and dragged away into military jeeps that transported us to the adjacent military base, which is in fact part of the settlement.

In the military base, still shackled, I was assaulted by a settler who hit me in the face, leaving me with a bloody nose. Shortly after, the settler also attacked a female Israeli activist who was by my side. The soldiers and policemen present did not prevent the attack, nor did they bother to detain the settler after the fact. Instead, the zip-tie locks on my hands were removed, only for my arms to be bound again, this time behind my back.
Hours later, at the police station, I learned that to cover up their responsibility for my attack, the soldiers have laid a bogus complaint against me for assaulting them. My hands were tied, my face was bleeding, but it was I who spent the night in the inside of prison cell.

Mohammed Tamimi from Nabi Saleh was also arrested during that same demonstration. While the police decided to release all the others, he and I were to remain in jail. During our demonstrations, soldiers often take pictures, to later use them as "incriminating evidence". This time, the soldiers used one such picture to accuse Mohammed of throwing stones during a demonstration a few weeks or months back. The man pictured in that photograph is not Mohammed Tamimi from Nabi Saleh, regardless, he remains in jail. Military law allows Israel to keep us Palestinians in jail for eight days before seeing a judge, and even then, it is a soldier in uniform who is the so called neutral arbitrator.

As the prison doors closed behind me, my happiness was clouded by the fact that Mohammed Tamimi was not released. The battle for his freedom is only beginning, as our lawyers prepare the petition for his release. If you can, please help us fund legal aid for him and for the countless others who are regularly arrested protesting Israeli Occupation.

I would also like to use this letter to extend my gratitude to Ayala Shani, an Israeli comrade who was arrested with me. She refused the injustice of being released while both me and Mohammed Tamimi were still detained. As these words are written, she is still in jail, despite having been offered her freedom twice already by Israeli courts.

Mohammed Khatib

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Death Rules Here by Ben Ronen




“Ola is somewhere, I don’t know, Saddam is in Jordan, back soon, Louai is up there with all the shebaab (youths), Oudai – you know where he is…… a fortnight he will be released from prison and will return to the village, and Ziad is at a wedding in Ramallah.” “And where is your son?” I ask Abd al-Razak as we sit outside under his olive tree with his wife Ikhlas, just a few minutes before the start of the weekly demonstration. “Mustafa?” He went out early today. One of his friends came by to collect him and they went to Nablus.” Maybe it’s a good idea that he keeps away from the village for one Friday.” I say. “He can be wherever he wants, he’s grown up” Abd al-Razak replies.

I haven’t been to Nebi Salach for two weeks and coming back now gives me a powerful feeling, a feeling of coming home. Even the knowledge that in just a few minutes this special calm will be replaced by a warlike atmosphere doesn’t change it. On the contrary, it is strengthened by this knowledge, and adds meaning to it. “Were you here when the army came looking for Mustafa?” Abd al-Razak asks me. “They were always looking for him. They came at night, surrounded the house from every direction. He managed to jump out of the window and get away. I was here inside when I heard them firing. One of the soldiers aimed his weapon at me. He was only a kid, about 19, and I started to yell at him to move the gun away from me. Then the officer came down from the roof to see what was going on. I said to him: “I’m a sick man, you come into my home and your soldier points his gun at me?” The officer replied: “I know that your son Mustafa was here, and that he throws stones every week”. I held my wife tightly and said to him: “We also throw stones at you, we all throw stones at you”. I held out my hands and said: ‘Here you are, arrest me and my wife’.”

In the evening, after the last of the demonstrators had dispersed, the soldiers had abandoned the village and the clouds of tear gas were hanging in the chilly evening air of the pastoral village, I went back to say goodbye to Abd al-Razak and Ikhlas. Everyone was sitting outside, Mustafa too, dressed up stylishly, as was his way.


Friday evening. We are sitting at the entrance to the recovery room at Beilinson Hospital, waiting. Two hours ago we were sitting in the doctor’s room and he was explaining to us about Mustafa’s condition. Someone was trying to translate his explanation, and I understood that his condition was not a severe as we had thought. It’s going to be alright, they said. One of the doctors emerges and tells us that Mustafa has been transferred to the neurosurgical department. We go up in the elevator and walk towards the admissions desk, Ikhlas is worried but we reassure her. Waiting.

Another nerve calming cigarette, before making our way back up to the ward. At the entrance, someone stops us saying quietly: “We have just been told that it is a matter of hours until he dies. I don’t understand - none of us understand – just a few moments ago we were talking about taking everyone on a trip to the beach and to eat in Jaffa and now you are saying that he is about to die? We go into the lobby, Ikhlas’s cries split through the dreadful silence of the hospital. We try to calm her, to comfort her and give her a little hope. But she knows. She can feel it.


In a dream. We are standing outside the hospital elevator early in the morning. Ikhlas smiles and says “Let’s go to the beach now” My phone buzzes indicating that I have a message. I wake up with a start. The message says: The doctor said that Mustafa’s brain failed at 5am. He won’t live out the day” It is 7:46am and I slip back into the dream about the beach. The phone buzzes again. It just says: “He died”.


We are waiting in the lobby of the funeral hall, I look towards the elevator and wait for it to start coming down. The numbers move slowly, the elevator stops, the doors open and a stretcher emerges, bearing a figure shrouded in a white sheet. Living people are in the room, but death is in the air. The ambulance driver has forgotten something upstairs, and we stand silently around the body, waiting for him to return, to save the situation. I sit at the back of the ambulance, as it races along the highway towards the Rantis checkpoint, I reach out and dare to touch him, first his arm and then, his head. I don’t know if this is real or not, but I do know that this is the last time that I will be close to him.


After the earth had covered the last piece of the flag that the covered you, I didn’t know where to go. Then, the familiar Friday shouts started. I went closer and saw faces shouting the same familiar slogans, but their faces were different today, their tears were barely dry but they were already holding rocks, going down once again to the roadblock, to the jeeps. One of them hugs me tightly, and says: “Better to die on your feet, than to live on your knees." I nod in agreement and think that maybe he is right and it will never end, but we will not give up.

Monday, December 12, 2011

In Memory of Mustafa: The End of Another Demonstration by Michael Treiger

by @Dustbowl_Pal

It was in the hours of early afternoon, another weekly Friday demo in Nabi Saleh drawing to a close as Israeli soldiers begin to retreat from the hill which stretches from the upper levels of the village to the heavily guarded Al Kaws spring which was violently overtaken by neighboring Halamish settlers exactly 2 years ago.

In the distance we saw a huge armored caterpillar tractor speeding its way inside the village accompanied by 2 armored jeeps. Everyone knew what this meant. It meant carrying out the destruction orders put upon several houses in the village as punishment for their residents participating or organizing the weekly Friday demos. We rush towards the road to try & face the tractor while its operator is busy plowing into some rocks on the side of the village’s road, as we get closer to the tractor we are overwhelmed by a rain of teargas which covered the road completely in an unbearably painful choking fog, even a tiny whiff of which renders one blind, with irritating skin & unable to breath minutes after it passes. The brave & brazen youth of the village begin barraging the armored tractor with rocks from a hill next to the road as soldiers poking their steel marble bullet rifles & aluminum teargas canister launchers flinging bullets & canisters which whistle centimeters by the protestor’s ears, breaking the limbs of some.

As the gas gets overwhelming the youth descend onto the road, at which point, the tractor & armored jeeps are making their slow exit out of the village & towards the army checkpoint located just outside the village homes at the eastern extremes of the village. The smothering fog begins to clear as I hear disturbing screams coming from further down the road. The screams get louder, the last remnant of the poisoned smoke clears the view & I see Loay Tamimi screaming, jumping up & down with a madcap look on his face, not a few meters from him I see a body of a man laying on the road next to the makeshift checkpoint made out of roadside rocks which the village youth use to try and block their village out of reach from marauding IDF armored jeeps, skunk water trucks, teargas cannon mounted trucks, deafening “Scream” jeeps & massive armored trucks which are used to carry armed units in and cuffed, blindfolded & humiliated villagers out.

It is far from unusual to witness a protestor passed out cold on the ground, it is most commonly caused by asphyxiation on the highly potent teargas used by Israeli soldiers to disperse any and all demonstration taking place in the West Bank which are not organized & filed with Jewish settlers. As I try to catch my breath I notice Zi’ad, Loay’s brother is weeping hysterically, the screams get louder I took off running as fast as I could I hear screams of “His face is gone!”, frightened male & female crying resounding in unison as if made by a ghost which descended on this stretch of road to immolate any vibrating strain of nerve it was sensing in my paralyzed knees which just kept on gliding me forward without any sensation whatsoever by that point.

As I get there I see Zi’ad kneeling next to the unconscious man, his whole body shaking, his eyes flooded blood red, attempting to clean the man’s head with his Kaffiya holding it like a mother cleaning a baby after a bath, that’s when it hit me: “Oh no, it is one of Abd AlRazek sons..” as I rush to the body I looked in the face of a dead man.

“Oh My god.. it is Abd Alrazek’s eldest son who is engaged to be married soon!”


I am sitting on Abd Alrazek porch with Abd’s two sons & solidarity activists, its completely dark outside at the edge of this typically hot Palestinian autumn day after a long & hectic peaceful demonstration which was met with a typical out of proportion violent response by the IDF which, at one point, calmly apprehended two of Abd’s sons Ziad & Mustafa from a street corner, later taken them to an army checkpoint & cruelly beaten with the blunt edges of their weapons. Ziad was there on the porch with us that late evening but Mustafa was not. I told Abd about the time Zi’ad virtually saved my life during one of my first demos in the village I almost passed out scaling the hills around the town with the IDF on our tail, I could have easily fallen off the if it wasn’t for Zi’ad’s constant pulling my ass up another stretch above sea level. After serving us watermelon appetizer for the meal to come shortly I began buggering Abd about his 2nd son which was not present. With a calm manner he confessed his oldest son was visiting with his bride to be & he was unlucky to be released with his brother & that he is most likely on his way to the dreaded Ofer military prison then proceeded to regale a bunch of gawkish, mouth breathing Israelis (us) about his own shocking experiences under Israeli military captivity while his wife & sons piled more food on the plastic table.


Abd Alrazek AlTamimi, father of 7, is a dialysis patient who has been looking for a kidney donor for many years. As of late his situation has began to deteriorate rapidly at which point he could no longer physically participate in the villages weekly peaceful demos to protest the occupation and increasing encroachment on the villages land by settlers of the adjacent settlement of Halamish. Abd Alrazek owns two ford West-Bank taxies \amd is a taxi driver for a living, but since the stark deterioration in his condition he spends most days hooked up to an old dialysis machine which was installed in his home and leaves him barely able to stand & even sit for long periods of time. Due to his condition all family income duties have been unloaded upon his 2nd eldest son Ziad with the help of Abd’s own brother to taxi the fords up & down the West Bank.
As with such blessed burden which a 23 year old finds himself under comes an unexpected benefit. If Ziad goes to Ofer the family loose their lose source of income & Ziad was spared for that day.

Uday, Abd’s 20 year old son & one of two twins has been sitting captive in Israeli military prison for 8 months for taking part in the weekly demos in the village, few months ago it has been revealed that Uday has been transferred to hospital for a broken jaw after being beaten by the blood thirsty beasts who man Israel’s special prisons for West Bank and Gaza Palestinians since the time Abd himself was captive in them.
Uday is set to be released within the next week.

The Fortunate Son

As a crowed was gathering around the Mustafa I was unable to figure out my place in this scenery. Politically active, highly stubborn, independent “know it all” drained of all meaning & purpose. I am surrounded by Mustafa’s brothers, a few of his friend & his sister, all of whom were in a state though as if the world was melting all around them. I’m the one who received the privilege to be in the company of these iconic men & women in this historic period of a struggle which has the entire world on its tipping scales. The sole reason for that is absolutely NOT a vehicle to wash off my guilty settler conscious! I was entrusted with a blessed burden. The burden which helps me sustain my self worth & my very existence as a loyal comrade of the oppressed. To prove that is not an easy task, I am filled with a purpose to be an accessory in the most important revolutionary struggle in the region where I reside and I attempt to contrast my biological based standing as a privileged being of the colonial-settler caste under the Zionist entity which I loath with all the blood that is coursing behind my eyes for making me, the son of a Russian “Aliya” migrant single mother, the spazzy tourrettes kid who was cursed & beaten every day in Israeli school & despised by Israeli teachers for being a hyperactive, jokish, spazzy “foreigner”.

I could not bare to stand a politicization & realize that according to all the social maths I am a colonial privileged member of this human pile they like to call “Israel”.
I began a labor which continues to this very day, that labor was critically wounded as I looked into Mustafa Tamimi’s eyes right there on that stretch of road on which he fell.

Voices began emerging as if out of a bottomless canyon, a ford taxi was pulling next to us & I couldn’t make any sense of the voices urging me to quickly pull Mustafa, with a deep gaping hole on the half of his face, into the taxi.. to my eternal shame I snapped a picture as another shabab quickly took my place and lifted Mustafa to the taxi driven by Mustafa’s uncle urging it to go to “Tel Aviv!!” where such mortal injury had a chance to be treated successfully unlike the provocatively understaffed & undersupplied Ramallah hospital.

This moment lasted hours in my head. I replayed & replayed it hundreds of times in a matter of minutes, as I was wondering aimlessly throughout the screams and panic I saw a friend of mine, completely loosing it with a number of people trying to get that big rock man under control. He has just come back from the hospital right back into the chaos. He was shot earlier on his head with a plastic covered steel marble bullet, being a Palestinian and one who never backs down in the face of an army he gets injured shockingly often with an injury more gruesome and bloody than the last one. All he does is smile as the Israelis in uniforms pellet him with everything they’ve got. This is a very common sight in the demos in Nabi Saleh! These are the people that fill the ranks of every important peaceful demonstration in the West Bank, no matter how shamefully small! shockingly many of whom are of the same little village of 500, the mass of a villager with a common name: Tamimi, and I was the worthless little worm standing next to these assembly of giants mourning over a fallen fellow giant.

At which point i wanted to bury myself, I wanted to hurt.. I have been pouncing around the aluminum teargas canisters, sound bombs & plastic covered marble steel bullets in front of the soldiers for 4 hours while ppl I officially count as my comrades but in reality consider to be my betters, were falling left and right with bleeding ears, broken arms & ankles, I was the fortunate one! I don’t get just as emotionally involved as a native Palestinian would to risk his flesh to defend the honor of his homeland and I appear “international” or “Israeli” and the army has a proven policy in effect to harm ONLY Palestinian Arabs. This is well known and the main reason why Palestinians under violent occupation would think to invite us Israelis into their hallowed turf of martyrs.

I couldn’t even consult the grieving friends & family of the fallen giant as I don’t share a common language with most of them. That’s when the blood streamed back in my veins reaching my knees and I began to march forward in the chaos, with absolutely no destination at all. The Israeli Army, universally unbeaten in shameless displays of power in the face of their defenseless victims, set up a number of “mobile checkpoints”, files up with soldiers, at the site of their gruesome crime.

The soldier screamed “Stop! I told you to STOP!” I walked on determined to face in the direction of the jeeps that shot Mustafa without any plan in my head or a reason. A commander walked up to me, grabbed me by the collar & repeated “go back or I will have to arrest you” at this moment, tearing up, I exploded with a barrage of insults aimed at the unhuman scum facing me: “you will not tell me where to stand or go! You S.O.B you scum of the earth, murderer! You’ve murdered someone today! You piece of shit you!!” at which point he ordered one of the soldiers to cuff me as I tried to walk on, I kept screaming “how do you feel? you criminal murderer? You murdered a human being! You feel proud?” his response: “Yes ,I feel very proud of that!” after that I turned mute. Standing handcuffed the soldier ordered me to come along with him, I refused, he then pushed me ever so slightly forward, repeatedly, as I kept stopping he grabbed my coat & continued pulling me to the villages army checkpoint.

“Sit Down here!”.. “What are you DEAF?? SIT DOWN HERE!!!”..”YOU DON’T WANT TO ANGER ME, SIT DOWN!!” as I stood motionless staring aimlessly at the cloudy skies trying to wrestle the pain down the soldier noticed a number of press cameras pointed to my direction, he pulled me behind the large prisoners jeep & again ordered me to sit down..

Afraid to risk an “international incident” he just let me stand.. I rly wanted him to beat me right there.. I wanted it soo bad.. my insides were rotting with shock & grief I wanted to anger them to beat me right then and there! As I was “escorted” inside the mini barracks of the checkpoint I was getting unbelievably cold, but I didn’t utter a word to the guarding soldiers.. I was shivering and they felt cocky asking me in English “what what you do here? Why you come photograph Arabs.. Stinking Arabs?” as I stayed mute they commented in Hebrew “this one looks touched in the head”, “yeah this ones got crazy written all over him”, “an Arab gets shot in the eye & all hell breaks loose…” returning to English: “its good you know, its good that we shoot stinking Arab in the eye” resuming to Hebrew: “I just want to kick him in the head so bad bro.. so bad” I wished it! coming out of there with a big bruise, I deserve it! Fucking useless idiot!

The wind blew stronger through the mini barracks pores & I was beginning to shiver more intensely & felt dead inside until I heard the villagers banging away at the metal checkpoint gate just outside, it made me feel warm, a warmth I did not deserve.

The Hospital

As I arrived late at the hospital where Mustafa was moved to after being cut free I was told of police violently denying the few relatives who’ve received permits to see Mustafa at the hospital from entering the premises. Mustafa’s sick father and any of his brothers and sister were denied permits to leave the west bank at all to see their mortally wounded brother & son. Mustafa’s mother, his uncle who drove the taxi & his son were all who were given permits. The family were subsequently allowed to enter the premises of the hospital out of that famed goodness of the Jewish heart presented by the hospital security administration. After making our way in under false pretences due to hearing that a number of solidarity activists were violently kicked out of the premises for “crowding” Me and my friend found the other solidarity activists who’ve made it in via similarly deceptive means. Bits of Information about Mustafa’s condition were sent to us via the family members who sat outside emergency room where we were all afraid to ascend to for fear of sparking another row with security guards who will not hesitate to violently remove Mustafa’s mother from the premises. We sat patiently as unbelievable news began reaching us.. “his eye is intact!” “he is in recovery, they’re going to clean the blood and try to save the eye!” It seemed totally fantastical compared to the scenes of Mustafa burned into my mind. But I believed every word that came out of that hospital staff.. it seemed so incredible I kept flashing images of Mustafa with a huge facial scar, sitting on his father’s porch smoking nargilla, feeling of guilt & worthlessness slowly ebbed to the back of my mind where they stay vigilant at all times until they are desperately needed or decide to invite themselves without warning.

The Last Time I Saw Mustafa’s Mom before Writing This

Surrounded by activists & supporters sat Umm Mustafa with a blank stare which seemed as the bravest blankness I’ve ever seen! I was taken aback and began to calculate what to say.. and if I can say that?.. will she understand me? do we even have a common language? I chickened out..

As the activists were leaving I saw Umm Mustafa walk away into the darkness of the emergency ward, sat down on the floor and began weeping quietly. It was unbelievable… all this, all this brave face and attention she gave to the supporters and activists it was all just a face.. I drove the 2 hours home with my friend in total silence and went to sleep thinking sweet thoughts of bandaged Mustafa, sitting on his dad’s porch smoking nargilla safe in the knowledge that Uday is playing football in the town’s field.

Rest in peace
My dear better Mustafa

مصطفى هو العلم بقلم راية زيادة

الشرش شكلو عنا ضرب
صمت تنازل ثم غضب

رسم الحدود و هرب
شاف الخارطة, صرخ يا عرب

نعم انهزم انهزم
شاف حالو قزم

اوسلو طلعت مش زلت قلم
ما رسم, كان بيرتسم

انصدم, حلمو بينهدم
وبينهدم, ينهدم, هدم , دم

وصار العلم هو الالم
مش اخصر , مش أصفر
مصطفى هو العلم
يحكي قصة شعب انظلم

في الم في امل
في امل جوا الالم
لما دمو غطى العلم
في الم ..في الم..في أمل

Mustafa Tamimi… a true Palestinian hero by Amra Amra

by @amraamra

Shock, disbelief, anger, rage, grief, shame, denial. These are just some of the overwhelming feelings that are flooding my body as I sit here contemplating one question… Why? Why is it that these feelings infiltrate me as a Palestinian? A Palestinian living the brutality of occupation. A Palestinian who witnesses injustice and human rights violation on a daily basis. A Palestinian who now NOT optimistically hopes, but rather resorts to dreaming of a brighter tomorrow.

For as long as I remember, I clearly recall knowing that being Palestinian is much more than being just one of the many identities in the world. Being Palestinian carries so much more weight and meaning. So much more that I cannot even put onto paper. No human words can express, no tongue can speak, and no mind can comprehend.

For so long, unknown pictures, stories, and names were what I read. The anonymous Palestinian who was imprisoned, the anonymous Palestinian who was murdered, the anonymous Palestinian who was evicted. But the “anonymous” was enough for me. It was enough for me to sympathize. It was enough for me feel. But the feeling of sympathy and compassion is fundamental and in human nature. Or at least that is what I naively thought. Now what we unfortunately have is overwhelming desensitization and ignorance.

When I read articles, it is now filled with familiar names and pictures. The “anonymous” has now become more personal. I cannot even attempt to grasp the tragic death of the fallen martyr, Mustafa Abdel Razaq Tamimi who was deliberately killed by the aggressive and heartless Israeli Occupation Forces in Nabi Saleh. The whole crime was captured by photographers and media. The scene in which prevented his sister, Ola from seeing him was documented and published. The tears and cries of help were yelled as UN vehicles paraded the crime scene, not even slowing down in an attempt to help. Even the Israeli aggression against the mourners in Nabi Saleh on the day of Mustafa’s funeral was evident. While family and friends paid their respects and attempted to come to terms with what the fascist Israeli apartheid regime had done, those same fascist Israeli apartheid regime combated them with excessive toxic gas , dirty skunk water, and their soulless blows and punches against courageous activists.

I have been told endlessly that I take “these things too personal” and that I shouldn’t. I take these things too personal. At this point I’m saying the phrase out loud because I don’t understand it. “I take these things too personal.” Nope, it still doesn’t make any sense out loud! I think that everyone should take this too personal. Mustafa should be considered as everyone’s brother, son, and friend. More importantly, every Palestinian, and I mean EVERY Palestinian should be saluting his bravery in resisting the Israeli apartheid regime at the front lines. For Mustafa sacrificing his precious soul for Palestine. Every Palestinian should have a feeling of shame that they themselves were not there with him. At least that is what I feel… shame.

For those who tell me that I take things too personal, I will continue to take it too personal and at heart because I’m human! I breathe, feel, cry, laugh, love and hate. So when someone hurts me, I hurt. When someone tickles me, I laugh. When we mourn the loss of a fellow Palestinian brother and other desensitized Palestinians are watching on the streets, smirking and making ridiculous comments, I will feel fury. When someone steals the life of another comrade in such a brutal and grotesque way, I will grieve. I will grieve… just like others are grieving.

When the international community tells Palestinians to adopt to more peaceful resistance in resisting the ongoing Israeli occupation, that is what we do. Yet, we are met with the same and even more brutal suppression. At this point I do not know what gives me the hope to continue, and I think many will agree. Nothing seems to make sense now. But one thing does make sense. Mustafa Tamimi’s soul has not gone in vain. We will carry him with us in our continuous struggle against occupation. We will not give up Mustafa… and that is for sure!

Dedicated to the brave and courageous Palestinian of Nabi Saleh… Mustafa Tamimi

Fellow Activists Mourning the Murder of Hero Mustafa Tamimi

In Memory of Mustafa: The End of Another Demonstration by @dustbowl_pal

مصطفى هو العلم بقلم راية زيادة

Mustafa Tamimi… a true Palestinian hero by @amraamra

A farewell to comrade Mustafa Tamimi by @abirkopty

…but we will keep going by @palyouthvoice

Eyewitness describes Mustafa Tamimi's last moments by Ibrahim Burnat

Goodbye Mustafa Tamimi by @manararam

No miracle yesterday in Nabi Saleh: Mustafa Tamimi murdered by @LinahAlsaafin

Mustafa: Truly Chosen by @MariamBarghouti & @dalsaafin

Mustafa Tamimi – A Martyr of Nabi Saleh by Sanaa Sultan

more to come...

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Spraying main stream Ramallah

A group of Palestinian activists started a project of graffiti in Ramallah on Friday morning, the graffiti work consists of visual words done with stencils in both Arabic and English aiming to move the society and create public pressure in regards to fundamental issue such as the Palestinian prisoners hunger strike, the need for the people to think and act.
The graffiti consists of words such as : “Hungry 4 freedom” in both Arabic and English underlining the word hungry in regard to the prisoners hunger strike, “Think” in both Arabic and English to try and create a certain controversy around the public’s silence on all that’s happening around and “There is still hope” in Arabic, that aims to give the Palestinian society hope for the future.
The graffiti was done all around the city of Ramallah, Am’ari Refugee camp and in the village of Betunia next to Ofer Israeli military jail in the West Bank.

Diana Alzeer is Palestinian-Bulgarian political and social activist and freelance producer living in Ramallah, Palestine. Twitter: ManaraRam Email:
All photos by: Irene Nassar

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Palestinian activist: Why I’m not celebrating statehood, by Diana Alzeer

For the last two months the press has staunchly defended the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders. Yet, for many Palestinians refugees – who make up 70% of Palestinians worldwide – and activists on the ground, this state does not represent us.
by Diana Alzeer

He looks at me, shaking his dirty-blonde hair, and with a mocking tone says: “Come on, Diana, why aren’t you celebrating? I hate to see you sad.” He is an American journalist,  a friend of mine who is here in Ramallah shooting photos of the festive crowd celebrating the Palestinian Authority United Nations bid to secure the recognition of a Palestinian state based on 1967 borders.

But I do not feel like celebrating the quest for a state on the 1967 borders. Those borders mean the loss of 70% of what we Palestinians call “Palestine” – the areas where Palestinians lived before the year of 1948. It means celebrating the fact that Palestinians are about to give up on the right of return, since it no longer appears on the PA genda, nor even in the Palestinian daily discourse or in the Palestinian newspapers.

For the last two months the press has staunchly defended the State of Palestine on the 1967 borders. Yet, for many Palestinians refugees – who make up 70% of Palestinians worldwide – and activists on the ground, this state does not represent us.

Six months ago, on March 15, a group of Palestinian youth including myself demonstrated at Manara square in downtown Ramallah demanding an end to the division of the Palestinian people. We referred not only to the political division between the mainstream political parties in Palestine, Fatah and Hamas, but also divisions among all Palestinians wherever they live: exile (refugees), Diaspora (not refugees), West Bank, Gaza and Israel. We called for an end to this division through elections to the PLO’s Palestinian National Council (PNC), to ensure the representation of all Palestinians and to guarantee that decision-makers will actually obey and listen to the call of the street. “March 15″ became the name of our movement.

Six weeks later Fatah and Hamas signed the “reconciliation agreement” in Cairo, assuring Palestinians, especially the March 15 activists, that the PNC and general elections for the Palestinian Authority’s Legislative Council and President would be held within one year after the agreement was signed.
From where I stand now, as an activist in the former March 15th movement; the Boycott, Divestment, Sanctions (BDS) movement; and in the un-armed popular struggle in Palestine in villages such as Nabi Saleh, Bil’in, Ni’lin, etc, – I do not see elections as a reality. Moreover, I do not feel represented by the local Palestinian politicians. The PLO may be considered the “sole, legitimate representative of the Palestinian people,” but since the PNC does not hold elections, many Palestinians, like myself, do not feel represented by it. Until elections are held, we will continue to demand them.

I cannot celebrate with my fellow Palestinians today; I do not want to chant for Mr. Abbas, nor for Hamas in Gaza. I am a Palestinian and I will defend my rights until they are achieved. Therefore, I will not accept just 20% of the Palestine that existed before 1948, and I will not give up on the rights of refugees in exile to return to their lost homes and land in Haifa, Acre, Jaffa and all the land from which Palestinians were forced into exile in the year of 1948.

The Palestine State on the ‘67 border will give me no guarantee of an end to 63 years of exile, occupation and apartheid. It will not bring justice of freedom to me or my fellow Palestinians living in Palestine or the ones in exile.
Mr. Abbas will be giving his speech to the Security Council on Friday, but that speech will not grant me the ability to visit Haifa, nor will it dislodge the blocks of the wall, nor will it result in the removal of Israeli settlements in the lands that were taken over by Israel in 1967.

A message to Mr. Abbas
Mr. Abbas or “ President” Abbas, I do not believe the PLO really represents the Palestinians at this point. The PNC should have held elections before you decided to go into this battle at the UN. As A Palestinian living in Ramallah, I should have been consulted about this move.

The presidential term ended two years ago; the term of the Palestinian Legislative Council is also over; the PA cancelled the Local Council Elections and decided to proceed with the UN bid, ignoring the fact that the Palestinian people are divided as never before.

Abbas might see a large crowd jumping and dancing in downtown Ramallah and the West Bank cities but I can testify that this does not represent all of Palestine and the Palestinian people. The celebrants are not the refugees, whom Mr. Abbas has not visited in their refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria and Jordan since he returned with the PLO to the occupied territories. Those are for sure not the refugees who marched on May 15 to the Israeli borders demanding their right to return to their land. Those are not the youths who protest against the settlements and against the wall every single week.

We may be in the minority, or maybe we are not. Sixty-three years of occupation have caused many people to give up. Still, not all of us Palestinians have given up, some of us continue to demand a political solution that is not based on splitting lands and creating borders. Our struggle as Palestinians is not an issue of disputed territories; the historical struggle of Palestinians is a struggle for justice, freedom and equality with the right of return at the top of the list. The only way a just solution to the Palestinian can be achieved is to create one democratic secular state for all its inhabitants Muslims, Christians, Jews and others. This is the option that too many Palestinians and Israelis have been ignoring.

Diana Alzeer is Palestinian-Bulgarian political and social activist and freelance producer living in Ramallah, Palestine

Sunday, August 28, 2011

A First Person Account of Al Quds Day at Qalandiya by Amra Amra (via The Palestine Monitor)
Photo by Silvia Boarini

As I approached Qalandiya checkpoint, the anticipation and uncertainty overwhelmed me. I distinguished familiar houses and shops in which we sought refuge from the Israeli forces on the protests of 15 May and 5 June. At one particular point, as we drew nearer to the checkpoint, I recognized a distinct smell. I immediately turned to my friend and asked if she also smelled the toxic tear gas. She looked at me and nodded in agreement.

But it turned out that our imagination had just gotten ahead of the both of us.

Being the last Friday of the holy month of Ramadan, our spirits were high: our goal was to reach Jerusalem on the launch of the Olive Revolution. This seemed impossible, as we were all well aware of the excessive restrictions that prevent Palestinians from entering the city due to the Apartheid policies imposed and the transformation of the city as a result of Judaization. Yet this did not stop us from our attempt to enter our sacred city that has been stolen from us.
Photo by Silvia Boarini.

While we gathered in preparation for the protest, the imam called out and the worshippers gathered to pray. Soon after the prayer concluded, the protesters chanted and demanded their freedom, justice, and an end to the Israeli occupation. We stood there for nearly thirty minutes with the deployed Israeli soldiers who barricaded us.

Many of them were in their late teens, carrying oversize weapons. As I stood there chanting loudly with fellow activists, I couldn’t help but feel pity towards the soldiers. They stood and merely watched us chant, waiting for an order to act. Some had smirks on their faces and one took pictures of the protesters.

Yet their desire to instigate fear did not move us. We stood firmly, demanding the rights that all humans are entitled to: the basic rights that the Palestinians have been deprived of for over 60 years; the rights that we have been demanding and will continue to demand until they are restored.
Photo by Silvia Boarini.

As we were face to face with the Israeli soldiers, I noticed two of them who were whispering and plotting their next move. I made sure to relay the message to those near me; they were already aware and hurriedly prepared to wrap their scarves around their faces.

In a matter of seconds, people started shoving and pushing trying to get away from the toxic gas and sound bombs that were thrown our way. As I shouted for those near me not to panic and to stay calm, I realized maybe they had the right idea, considering a canister was thrown in my direction and the gas soon engulfed me.
Photo by Silvia Boarini.

Within a matter of seconds after inhaling the gas, the effects overwhelmed me. I blindly stumbled through the insane traffic trying to catch my breath and find a sense of direction, which was quite difficult. All I remember were horns beeping and me trying to open my eyes to guide me to safety.

Soon after we regained composure and realized the protest was over, we unenthusiastically decided to head home. However, ended up at the barrier where we were earlier. We did not want to leave. Several of us began chanting “Free Free Palestine!” As Palestinian worshippers returning from Jerusalem passed by, we chanted and called for them to join us, unfortunately to no avail. Before leaving, a courageous and spirited individual stood and boldly told the Israeli soldiers that we will not give up and that our struggle will continue.

I am proud to say, that yesterday we determinedly stood up for what we aspire to achieve. What we are calling for are the rights of all Palestinians. Unfortunately these ‘rights’ have been tailored to suit the Israeli-created identities of a ‘West Banker’, ‘Gazan’, ‘Jerusalemite’, ‘Palestinian living in the occupied land of 1948’, and refugee. These terminologies have only served as obstacles which divide us and lead us off the path of our struggle. What puzzles me and many others is that while we call for the collective rights of all Palestinians, only a selected few participate.

An image that has been engraved in my mind is that of a mother and young boy trying to pass the barrier to enter Jerusalem. The mother effortlessly attempted to persuade the child who appeared to be seven or eight to pass the barricade and not be afraid of the Israeli forces. As she was pulling him by the arm, I couldn’t help but notice that he was helplessly crying as he dragged his feet in an attempt not to pass the barricade. The fear that was in his eyes served as a solid reminder of the impact that occupation has on the lives of many. I only hope one day he will grow up to be one of the many, not few, who strive for the rights all Palestinians.

Friday, August 26, 2011

Olive Revolution: We'll keep on going! (Via Palestine Youth Voice)

Palestinian youth have marched today to knock on the doors of Jerusalem. They marched to knock down the apartheid on their land. And under the title of "Olive Revolution" it was. Palestinians denied entry to Jerusalem held their Friday prayers in front of the military checkpoints.

In the morning, the presence of the PA security forces was exceptional. They were not present to protect the Palestinians from an Israeli attack. They were present to collaborate with the Israeli soldiers who were denying Palestinians the right to pray in Jerusalem on the last Friday of Ramadan. The image of a two Palestinians wearing their formal kaki uniform standing inches in front of the Israeli army, checking Palestinians IDs was very hurting.

The Palestinians denied from entering to Jerusalem held their prayers in front of the fully armed soldiers. After finishing their prayers, they stood up high chanting and screaming out loud. That loud voice that the Israeli brutality has failed to shut down.

Despite the few numbers of youth and activists present, it was a very hopeful scene. The demonstration gathered Palestinians from the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Palestinian lands occupied in 1948. It gathered them all standing and screaming out loud, we're ONE PEOPLE. We fight for ONE CAUSE. Nothing will split us anymore.

The numbers of protesters were much lower than their numbers in the June 5th and May 15th marches, but the numbers actually standing face to face with the soldiers were higher. About 100 to 150 protesters were standing in the front line compared to the dozens in June 5th and May 15th.

The Palestinian tweeps were all present. They were all very courageous. They were not satisfied with their cyber presence. They went down to the street at the time others preferred to remain locked up in their rooms re-tweeting them. There are two kind of people, one that make history, other that follow it.

The youth who were standing there were the regulars in the popular resistance. The youth that keep coming week after week. Is it an addiction to the toxic gas? Maybe. But for sure they have an addiction to the act of freedom.

These young ladies whom I heard chanting in March 15, they're the same courageous ladies chanting weekly in Nabi Saleh, and again they're still the same ones who screamed the hell out of their vocal cords today. And week after week they bring more hope to me. These are the core of the revolution.

The revolution does not start with the masses. It starts with the few courageous. And it eventually triumph with the masses. But the revolution in Palestine have already started months ago. People will just start noticing it as it grows larger. It's like the Anemone in Palestine. It starts growing in winter but people start appreciating it in spring.

A courageous young lady screamed at the soldiers before we head home: "We don't fear you, and we will keep on coming." We certainly will. And the Olive Revolution will keep on going. Despite the enemies we'll come. Despite the attempts to frustrate us, we'll keep on coming. The revolution is not a must, it's a choice. We already made our choice. Alone or with the masses, we'll keep on marching towards our rights. If we don't succeed we at least have the honor of the attempt.

Long Live Palestine.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Co-Resistance vs. Co-Existence by Maath Musleh (via Maan News Agency)

For decades, many powers worked on portraying the Palestinian-Israeli conflict as a problem of co-existence. Millions have been pumped into co-existence projects, projects that have just reinforced relations between the oppressor and the oppressed.

If any had had a little time to read history, they would know that Palestine was actually the land of co-existence for hundreds of years.

It’s the land that hosted the Armenians when they were massacred by the Turks. It’s the land that embraced the Jews who were oppressed in Europe. And the co-resistance that takes place daily here is a clear example that there isn’t any co-existence problem. The real problem is Zionism.

Zionism is not only the enemy of the Palestinians and Arabs, but also, the enemy of the Jews worldwide.

A lot of Jews who were born with Israeli citizenship have realized that Zionism and the Israeli regime is their enemy. It’s our common enemy. Thus, the trend of co-resistance has been evolving for years in Palestine. Jews carrying Israeli citizenship have been part of the popular resistance taking place in Palestine. Co-resistance is a danger to the state of Israel.

Even the mainstream media has been avoiding recognizing those activists as Israelis. The Israeli media refers to them as just “Anarchists”.

Co-resisting with Israeli citizens has been also a sensitive topic in the Palestinian community. A lot of activists fear to fall in the trap of normalization. The basis to this fear is true. The PA and its supporters tried on several occasions to counter Palestinian activists that diverted from the PA’s political path with rumors. They used the fact that Palestinian activists co-operate with their Israeli counterparts to spread distorted rumors of their involvement in normalization work. The involvement of the left Zionists in several demonstrations has added more vagueness to the issue.

We have to be open about the subject now more than ever. We have to set the standards for our co-resistance. Yes we do co-operate with the Jewish citizens of the State of Israel. But the standards of this co-operation are clear. We work together with every Israeli that opposes Zionism and fully recognizes the Palestinian rights, freedom, equality, and the right of the return.

Together with them we co-resist the Israeli occupation and the Zionist enemy. Together we call for the rights of the Palestinians that have been disregarded not only by Israel and western powers, but also by Arab regimes. Some Arab regimes have either prioritized their business interests or just simply lost belief in the possibility of achieving the full Palestinian rights. We still have the belief.

And those rights are indivisible. These are basic human rights. You either believe in it, or you don’t. Freedom, equality, and the right of the return.

As Zionism is also the enemy of the Jews, those Israelis have the right to resist it. Those activists are not only there for solidarity. It’s also their war. The Palestinians who try to portray the co-resistance as normalization have to first go down to the front line and resist. We have nothing to hide. Our work of co-resistance is under the sun. It’s not underground. And we oppose co-operating with the leftist Zionists who take part in demonstrations or call themselves peace activists.

Those left Zionists do not care about the Palestinian rights. They just understood that the occupations' and settlers’ practices will harm their Zionist dream, a dream that disregards the Palestinians from their rights in their homeland.

The State of Israel clearly does not speak for the Jews. Its practices have started a new wave of hatred towards the Jews worldwide. To help end that wave, the anti-Zionist Jews should file a lawsuit against the State of Israel to forbid it from speaking in the name of Jews. A lot of them have said it before, ‘Not in our name’. But this shout should be louder. And legal actions should be taken. The concept of co-resistance will continue to grow larger.

The anti-Zionist Israeli activists are heroes and their courage is admirable. Those activists have been marginalized in their own communities. They went through a lot of trouble. They have been always on the front lines. They have been beaten up, shot at, and arrested. They come week after week knowing that they put their own lives in danger. They do it because they have the belief, the belief in rights and humanity.

They have principles and for that I respect them a lot more than a lot of my people who have given up. Yes we co-operate with those activists. They’re our comrades. And this is co-resistance.

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Lying there by Amra Amra

Written in January 2009
Lying there. Not knowing what to expect. What was going on? Where was I? The last thing I remember was...Oh yes. There was a siege in my city, my home, my prison; Gaza. That explained the deafening airplanes sounds that were roaring above my head. Why was there so much dust? I couldn't breathe. It was so dark. I'm scared of the dark. Don't tell anyone though. I have to be strong for my younger sisters. You see in Gaza, the electricity is always cut off. So I couldn't be scared. I had to be their role model. Their rock. Their shoulder to cry on. I couldn't show them I was afraid. I had to be strong for them.

What is that on top of me? It's crushing my chest. Am I dreaming? I probably am. Or am I awake? I'm still not sure yet. I have to open my eyes. "Come on you could do it!" my conscience was telling me. I hear my older sister calling my name. "Samar!" she yells. "SAMAR. DENA! JAWAHER! IKRAM! TAHRIR!" Why weren't my siblings answering my older sister? I finally have the strength to open my eyes. Finally, I think to myself. But everything around me is dark. I can't even move. Why am I glued to the floor? Why is the roof on top of me? I don't understand. The last thing I remember was my parents tucking me in for bedtime. Where were they? "Mama, Baba!!!" I yell. No one answers. I can't take it anymore. I could hardly breathe now. It was too hard. It felt like a thousand tons on top of my chest.

I call for my siblings. No one answers. Maybe they were already rescued. I hoped they were. I prayed they were safe and not in this disaster. I try calling. At this point, the concrete above me shakes and rumbles from another missile that was hit next door. It felt like an earthquake. Everything was on top of me now. I feel the rubble crush my body and bones. I feel and taste the blood trickle down my face and other parts of my body. It was too painful. I couldn't move. Even if I wanted to, it was too hard. I would give anything to be anywhere but here. Anywhere. I wanted to escape. I wanted a better life. A life where children were allowed to play with no worries. A place where I wouldn't be scared to sleep and never wake up. A place where bombs were never heard. Was there such a place? Even if there was, I wouldn't know. Because I am child; a child of Gaza.

Things were getting easier now. I couldn't feel pain anymore. My body was feeling lighter. Was I giving up? I wasn't giving up! Don't think I gave up! I was strong for 12 years. 12 years of my life living in Gaza. I was strong! Strong like the men of Gaza; like the women of Gaza; the children of Gaza! Unfortunately, I can't be strong forever. Even though I desperately want to, I can't.

In my last moments I spend here in Gaza; lying here helpless, paralyzed, suffocated by the dust all around me, with my house crumbled on top of me covering me like a monstrous blanket. I lie here thinking. Why? What did I do to deserve this? Am I just one of the numbers of the 313 children who were killed by the aggressive acts of the Israeli occupation forces? Is there anyone listening to hear my cries, my hopes, my rights? No child deserves this to happen to them. No human must endure this. My last cries are for help, even though no one is there to hear me. The helicopters sounds are drowning my last desperate calls for help. Maybe I am going to a better place, I convince myself. A place where I am allowed to live. But I don't want to leave my family, my home, my life. Unfortunately that is not up to me. It is in the hands of my occupiers. THEY are in control of my destiny. It has been cut short as you can see. I was given the chance to live 12 years. 12 short years, although these years were filled with experiences that make life appear black. Pitch black like the days I spent in Gaza with no electricity. Pitch black as it is now, lying here helpless in my final moments.

Dedicated to the Palestinian child who was killed in Gaza December 29, 2008
Dena Bal'ousha 12 years old
May her cries be heard…

Monday, June 27, 2011

Shooting at Freedom Kites by Diana Alzeer

Last Friday in Nabi Saleh, we planned for a day of fun activities to take the minds of the village’s kids off occupation, tear gas, and the constant fear under which they live.

At 9:00 we began the day by calling on the kids of Nabi Saleh to join us to make and practice how to fly kites, dress in clown outfits and have their faces painted.

The kids came along; it felt amazing to see them happy, running around and sharing the idea of freedom in colors. A while after, towards 12:30, we decided to take the kids to the main hill in Nabi Saleh behind the gas station on the main road to fly the kites that some of us had spent all night making. We carried the kites and headed down the main road.

Each week on the road to Nabi Saleh, we are faced by closures and obstructions on the main roads and entrances to the village. We are usually handed a piece of paper and a map stating that this area is a closed military zone and accordingly we are not allowed to enter. We turn the car around and drive to some other villages in the area, where we park the cars. We then go hiking down the mountains and hills to reach the village of Nabi Saleh through the agricultural land behind the village.

This week however was different; for some reasons the IOF did not block the main road. All cars made it to the village without any problems. And all journalists and activists arrived to the center of the village harassment-free.

I naively thought that the Israeli Army would let this day pass peacefully. That day was meant for fun as the kids were supposed to be flying kites. As soon as some of us and the kids decided to walk towards the hill; crossing the main road of Nabi Saleh, we came face to face with IOF soldiers.

After three minutes of standing still, they then shouted with megaphones: “This is an illegal demonstration, go back to the village. This village is a closed military zonel; if you don’t turn around and go back to the village within 5 minutes, we will start shooting.” I look at the clown faces around me; the big colored smiles turns into sad faces. A little boy continues to try flying his kite in front of the fully armed soldiers, a few minutes later the shooting begins...

The kids, who had in their innocent minds and hearts high hopes of a fun day, were sadly disappointed. Everything collapsed as the happiness in their eyes turned to fear followed by confused tears and sighs.
No one escaped those tears. In the case of us adults, it was due to fear and gas; for the children it was fear, gas and disappointment.

I look around me and saw little Ahmad, who suffers from Down Syndrome, running up the main road. His face expressed a terrified looked, his shaky voice shouting as he pointed towards the soldiers and the gas. A good friend of mine, Ben, and I ran towards him. We provided him with a small piece of alcohol-soaked cotton to breathe through. Later on, Ben suggested that I walk the kid home.

That’s how the day continued. More gas, sound grenades and being shoved around. A group of the youth managed to get to the hill after 3 hours of face- to-face confrontation with the soldiers. They decide to rest under a large tree, and then started to sing. The IOF jeeps drove to the mountain and gassed the group–for singing under a tree!

I recall being in the house of a local family, using their internet connection to tweet updates of events happening in Nabi Saleh ,when little Spiderman (the “Super Hero” of Nabi Saleh) showed up carried by some of the activists, unable to breathe or speak–they have gassed him too. He later falls asleep like a little angel, exhausted from shouts, gas, sound grenades and much more.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Onions: The smell of freedom by Diana Alzeer

He ran towards us with a black piece of cloth wrapped around his mouth and nose, I could see his red eyes were about to pop out.  He handed my mom something, and pushed a smelly “thing” in my face; it smelled like onion, but I couldn’t tell for sure.

I was only 4 years old when I experienced tear gas for the first time.  I was confused–my blurry eyes didn’t help, nor did my runny nose.  I was worried about choking.  I looked up at my Mom, saw nothing but a blurry figure of her; I later on found out she was smelling an onion too.  I wanted to speak to her, say to her, “mom, help me, I can’t breathe….”

My heart rate goes up, I can feel it; I feel the beat in my eyes, my head is about to explode.  My mom’s arms are around me now, she pulls me up and starts running.  Someone stops us and I feel the exchange of my tiny body from mom’s arms to someone else’s arms.  I remember disliking the exchange but had no energy to speak up.

I later regain my sight.  I wonder what it is, this cool place with no smelly stuff.  A group of people are all sitting on the floor smelling onions too.  Why onions??  My little brain wonders if it’s some sort of onion festival.


We were walking toward the main taxi station in Nablus city, my hand holding tight to my mom’s when we saw some “Shabab” running around, screaming: “Run… Run, they are coming this way!”  My mom’s steps started  getting faster and faster.   Less than thirty seconds later, she stops to look down at me; my eyes lose it, I feel sick and the onion comes in.

That was my first experience of gas canisters and the “amazing feeling of it”.  Twenty years later,  here I am in Nabi Saleh, Bilin and Qalandia checkpoint, hand in hand with fellow friends.  The feeling is different.  Although tear gas does not feel any better, now it’s different–my feeling of it is different.

Having met a group of young Palestinians who share my thoughts, my beliefs on the non-violent struggle, and seeing them dedicated to the cause of freedom and justice for our beloved Palestine, invokes in me an exotic positive feeling in mind and soul.

My semi-weekly participation at weekly demonstrations, being there with my friends on the front line, gives me hope.  Hope for freedom.  I now feel it more than ever; I now believe it’s possible more than ever.

The rage  and furious demand of freedom in the eyes of those around me, those sharing the love of the land and people–whomever they are, wherever they come and whatever passports and nationalities they hold–makes the smell of tear gas acceptable, pleasant and enjoyable.

Two weeks ago, while holding an interview with a local activists from Nabi Saleh, the crew was gassed.  I looked around and there he was; little “Spider Man” of Nabi Saleh village, the adorable Samer–not older than four–looks at me petrified and runs home, where someone hands him a small onion to breathe on.

That’s when the flashbacks of my little trip to Nablus during the First Intifada had hit me.  “Spider Man” of Nabi Saleh probably views us at the Nabi Saleh demonstration just as I viewed the “Shabab” running toward me and my mom back then.

Do I accept for this little boy to live the same way I have lived?  No, of course not.  He is probably having a worse childhood than mine.  Having to get used to the smell of constant tear gas thrown at his house every week, having to smell the “Skunk” truck and run home hiding from the humiliation smell of it every week.  This is not even close to my childhood memories.

I do not want little “Spider Man” to live the years of my youth.  I want him free, I want him to have a normal teenage life in a free country where human rights and justice are present in each and every aspect of his life.  I do not want him to believe the smell of tear gas is normal, nor the smell of onions.

I believe that with the current wave of activism work in Palestine, the increasingly number of activists who believe in the cause and the non-violent resistance will turn the dream of freedom into reality.  I was never before so inspired to believe in the change coming our way as  I am now.

The spirit of and belief in freedom that I see in the eyes of those around me gives me a taste of freedom, not on the ground but rather in my heart and soul.  Waking up early enough on a Friday morning to be able to reach places like Nabi Saleh gives my soul a tremendous amount of hope.  And I see it coming, little Mr. “Spider Man”.  Do not worry–I smell freedom and you will live it.

A Letter to Linah

To Linah,

You’re part of us. We are part of you. Just wanted you to know that we all went through, and still do, the same with our parents. We understand the worries of our parents for their children. But our worry for Palestine is just greater. We understand very well that a lot of sacrifice has to be done. And we are ready to give these sacrifices. Our struggle is not for political solutions. Our struggle is for our rights. I for one have participated for the first time only in March 15. Not because I didn’t believe in the cause before that, but I just didn’t believe in the fruitless protests. I’ve been in hunger strike for 21 consecutive days (30 days in total) and slept on Al-Manara for more than 40 days. Not to get Hamas and Fateh to agree, but to unite the Palestinians here and in exile. That’s why our first demand was the PNC elections. The past 3 month of my life is more precious to me than the whole 25 years of my life. I met people that are the world to me. They’re not politicians they’re revolutionaries. The ladies who led the protests and the movement were an inspiration to me. I’ve witnessed first-hand the reason the word Freedom and the word resistance in Arabic are feminine.

We are still struggling. We see the light at the end of this dark tunnel. And we will reach there eventually. If we didn’t, having the honor of the attempt is enough for me. Other than the ladies, Abul Qasem El Shabbi was an inspiration to me.

I’m aware of all the opportunists around us. But I for one have taken the decision. I had two choices. One is to sit home go to my work get rich and my world would be revolved around me. Or the second was to stand up and make my world revolve around Palestine. I chose the second. I believe that the movement I’m part of now may not achieve our rights. But for the past 3 months I lived proud like I never did. I loved Palestine like I never did. And for the first time in my life, I don’t have dreams at night of what can I do to free Palestine. I’m living that dream. This is the first step. But I’m living it.

I’ve never loved in my life. So I was always shocked to see what people in love do. They go through useless hell to be together. My love is Palestine. And I’m willing to sacrifice everything for it. At the end, it’s not about how you die. It’s about how you live. If I ever had children, I would want them to talk about my actions to their peers, not repeat my words blindly.

Dear Linah, I was honored to meet you in Nabi Saleh. You showed extreme courage there. Hope to see you in front lines more. If I don’t, I know, we all know that our backs are safe with people like you.
Hopefully sooner rather than later we would be reminiscing about this in a free Palestine.

The belief is all I got now. I couldn’t convince my parents, but I surely live in peace with myself. If I die tomorrow, I will know that I have nothing to regret.

Stay safe and strong.
A Palestinian

Monday, June 13, 2011

Basem Tamimi's Speech to the Judge on his Trial

Your Honor,

I hold this speech out of belief in peace, justice, freedom, the right to live in dignity, and out of respect for free thought in the absence of Just Laws.

Every time I am called to appear before your courts, I become nervous and afraid. Eighteen years ago, my sister was killed by in a courtroom such as this, by a staff member. In my lifetime, I have been nine times imprisoned for an overall of almost 3 years, though I was never charged or convicted. During my imprisonment, I was paralyzed as a result of torture by your investigators. My wife was detained, my children were wounded, my land was stolen by settlers, and now my house is slated for demolition.

I was born at the same time as the Occupation and have been living under its inherent inhumanity, inequality, racism and lack of freedom ever since. Yet, despite all this, my belief in human values and the need for peace in this land have never been shaken. Suffering and oppression did not fill my heart with hatred for anyone, nor did they kindle feelings of revenge. To the contrary, they reinforced my belief in peace and national standing as an adequate response to the inhumanity of Occupation.

International law guarantees the right of occupied people to resist Occupation. In practicing my right, I have called for and organized peaceful popular demonstrations against the Occupation, settler attacks and the theft of more than half of the land of my village, Nabi Saleh, where the graves of my ancestors have lain since time immemorial.

I organized these peaceful demonstrations in order to defend our land and our people. I do not know if my actions violate your Occupation laws. As far as I am concerned, these laws do not apply to me and are devoid of meaning. Having been enacted by Occupation authorities, I reject them and cannot recognize their validity.

Despite claiming to be the only democracy in the Middle East you are trying me under military laws which lack any legitimacy; laws that are enacted by authorities that I have not elected and do not represent me. I am accused of organizing peaceful civil demonstrations that have no military aspects and are legal under international law.

We have the right to express our rejection of Occupation in all of its forms; to defend our freedom and dignity as a people and to seek justice and peace in our land in order to protect our children and secure their future.
The civil nature of our actions is the light that will overcome the darkness of the Occupation, bringing a dawn of freedom that will warm the cold wrists in chains, sweep despair from the soul and end decades of oppression.

These actions are what will expose the true face of the Occupation, where soldiers point their guns at a woman walking to her fields or at checkpoints; at a child who wants to drink from the sweet water of his ancestors' fabled spring; against an old man who wants to sit in the shade of an olive tree, once mother to him, now burnt by settlers.

We have exhausted all possible actions to stop attacks by settlers, who refuse to adhere to your courts' decisions, which time and again have confirmed that we are the owners of the land, ordering the removal of the fence erected by them.

Each time we tried to approach our land, implementing these decisions, we were attacked by settlers, who prevented us from reaching it as if it were their own.

Our demonstrations are in protest of injustice. We work hand in hand with Israeli and international activists who believe, like us, that had it not been for the Occupation, we could all live in peace on this land. I do not know which laws are upheld by generals who are inhibited by fear and insecurity, nor do I know their thoughts on the civil resistance of women, children and old men who carry hope and olive branches. But I know what justice and reason are. Land theft and tree-burning is unjust. Violent repression of our demonstrations and protests and your detention camps are not evidence of the illegality of our actions. It is unfair to be tryed under a law forced upon us. I know that I have rights and my actions are just.

The military prosecutor accuses me of inciting the protesters to throw stones at the soldiers. This is not true. What incites protesters to throw stones is the sound of bullets, the Occupation’s bulldozers as they destroy the land, the smell of teargas and the smoke coming from burnt houses. I did not incite anyone to throw stones, but I am not responsible for the security of your soldiers who invade my village and attack my people with all the weapons of death and the equipment of terror.

These demonstrations that I organize have had a positive influence over my beliefs; they allowed me to see people from the other side who believe in peace and share my struggle for freedom. Those freedom fighters have rid their conscious from the Occupation and put their hands in ours in peaceful demonstrations against our common enemy, the Occupation. They have become friends, sisters and brothers. We fight together for a better future for our children and theirs.

If released by the judge will I be convinced thereby that justice still prevails in your courts? Regardless of how just or unjust this ruling will be, and despite all your racist and inhumane practices and Occupation, we will continue to believe in peace, justice and human values. We will still raise our children to love; love the land and the people without discrimination of race, religion or ethnicity; embodying thus the message of the Messenger of Peace, Jesus Christ, who urged us to “love our enemy.” With love and justice, we make peace and build the future.