Doing our homework: Helping Syria

Many have acknowledged that what is happening in Syria is nothing short of a horror story. From the deaths, to torture, and starvation the situation continues to worsen while we cradle our heads in our palms. An overriding question seems to be ‘what can we do?’ It starts with shifting the oppressive narrative and acknowledging the perpetrators of the conflict; beginning with the dictatorship under Bashar Al-Assad to his supporters like Hezbollah and Russia.

What is more insidious than silence, is the concealment of our complicity under the excuse of helplessness. There is much to be done for Syria, from using our voice to field mobilization and basic solidarity.

The post below was compiled by Ramah Kudaimi with some examples on how we can begin helping Syria. It’s time to stop lamenting and begin mobilizing.

If history can teach us anything, it should be that we are powerful in unity and solidarity. When we refuse complacency in oppression and subjugation in whatever manifestation it comes about we can create change.

Follow Ramah on twitter @ramahkudaimi

You can find the original post here.

  1. Support humanitarian efforts
    You can donate, volunteer your team, expertise, etc to support on the ground non-profits The need is large. Some that you can support: Karam Foundation, NuDay Syria, Syrian American Medical Society, Syrian Civil Defence, UNRWA
  2. Support Syrian groups reporting on war crimes
    Some examples: Violations Documentation Center, Syrian Network for Human Rights
  3. Sign the Need for Accountability and Justice from Manbij to Ghouta to Aleppo statement
  4. If your country is involved in airstrikes against Syria, call on your leaders to stop
  5. Arrange film screenings in your local community to educate people about the revolution and subsequent crises
    Either by yourself or in a reading group
  7. Follow informed, principled people on Twitter to stay up to date on current events
  8. Do you work on prisoners, abolition, torture?
    Make the link with Syrian prisoners and highlight the plight of Syrian prisoners
  9. Push local media to run stories that actually feature Syrians
  10. Challenge problematic coverage on Syria
  11. Invite and host Syrians to speak at your events about Syria
  12. Commemorate significant massacres and hold space for Syrians to mourn
    Houla: May 25; Baniyas: May 3; August 25; Ghouta: August 21 (to list a few)
  13. Are you a Palestine organizer?
    Make the link to right of return with Palestinian refugees in Syria
  14. Advocate strongly for refugees protection
  15. Advocate strongly against the creation of new refugees
    This means holding Russia and Iran accountable in your discourse and narrative as well.
  16. Work with Syrian solidarity groups to help push for accountability
    And if you come from an experienced background, help them to develop these plans. After all, isn’t that what true solidarity is?
  17. Support independent Syrian journalists
    Independent Syrian journalists are under attack from all sides. Support them by amplifying their voices, stories, efforts. Find ways to support them fiscally. Donate to organizations that support persecuted journalists.
  18. Are you a fluent Arabic and English speaker? Volunteer with the International Refugee Assistance Project (IRAP)
    You can conduct interviews with Syrian and Iraqi asylees seeking legal assistance to come to the US via Skype.

Nabi Saleh gathers for joy

Nabi Saleh, West Bank | Women from the village circle around an overwhelmed Nariman as music blasts from speakers in the overcrowded balcony. In a labored smile, Nariman catches her breath while trying to inconspicuously sneak glances at her son. Her young Waed has finally been released from Israeli prisons after nine and a half months. He is home, a fact that is difficult for a mother to process after such an arduous journey.

The Return

When Waed arrives near Attara checkpoint in a small car, he is surprised to see a parade of orange ford mini buses and cars extravagantly decorated with flamboyant flags ready to greet him. His friends and cousins run to him first. Initially, he seems hesitant to embrace them and then his grips become tighter and longer. He really is home.

The entire route from Attara to Waed’s home in Nabi Saleh the youth were singing from their windows and honking noisily to mark this joyous event. An Israeli jeep cuts through the parade and drives amid the cars. The youth respond by honking more and shouting even louder, as though giving the proverbial middle finger to their occupier. This is their moment to be glorious. The jeep kept driving in front of the parade until the village entrance. Unabashed, they all used this moment to taunt the uninvited intruder with thunderous laughter and dancing flags, and most importantly with their celebrations of life.

We laughed, and laughed, and cried all at once.

It was heartwarming to see Waed smile from ear to ear as he re-introduces himself to his home, friends, family and mother. The women greeted him with chants and songs of resistance about overcoming the prisons. The rest of the crowd was running up the hill, past the cars and the flocks of laughing children in an attempt to catch a glimpse of the moment Waed finally sees his mother. Nariman was flustered, and yet had to contain herself as she shares her son’s hugs with everyone else that joined her that evening.

Change and theft of time

Much of the Tamimi’s home has changed since Waed last saw it; the way the furniture is set, the renovations and additions to the home. He was not able to witness the process of his home growing and expanding, just as his family and friends were not able to witness his own growth over the past nine months.

Nariman, exhausted from the celebrations sits in a chair and sighs “I love my children, I love life, resistance and hope.” Staring at her son as he converses with the friends he’s missed she whimpers “they (Israel) took almost a year from his life for nothing.”

According to Defense for Children in Palestine, Israel is the only state in the world which prosecutes children in military courts lacking “basic and fundamental trial guarantees.” Since 2000, more than 8,000 Palestinian children have been prosecuted in Israeli military courts.

While Waed is no longer classified as a minor, it is important to note that this is not the first time he had been arrested. In 2012, when he was a minor, he was arrested during a demonstration in Nabi Saleh as his sister, Ahed, stood in front of the jeep attempting to stop his arrest to no avail.

Waed’s eyes seem labored as though they have aged exponentially over the past months. “They don’t just steal time from us, they try to steal pieces of our spirit” explains Waed’s aunt, Nawal. The Palestinian NGO, Miftah, reports that approximately 85% of Palestinian prisoners are subject to systematic torture during their imprisonment. The effect this holds on prisoners can result in long term trauma and difficulty in returning to life before incarceration.

Waed seems to enjoy the gathering of friends and family. He was already taking selfies of “freedom” and teasing his cousins about how different they appear. However, the effects of his experience may never leave him.

Laughter and realizations

With the lights from Halamish settlement visible in the horizon, Nawal filled with sweat from dancing stares at the illegal settlement and whimsically confesses “it feels good to be genuinely happy.” Taking a moment to catch her breath she continues “we, Palestinians, have endured such hardships and horrors but when we see something beautiful we know how to appreciate it. We know how to love the banalities of life.” Everyone that evening in Nabi Saleh was smiling from ear-to-ear, as though their hearts are imploding with a little magic.

The children were running around from room to room trying to play amid the loud music and plethora of people gathering to see Waed. Nariman and I look at the children for a moment and a young Palestinian woman interrupts our silent contemplation “so, that’s the new generation, ah?” She jests pointing toward the children. “They’re future Waed, Bahaa, Oday, Louay” We burst into laughter, the three of us.

We laugh as we realize that indeed it is the next generation. And if nothing changes, sometime from now, we may be at their very own welcome back party– if we are lucky. If we are not so fortunate, they may be the next Mustafa or Rushdi Tamimi, and instead of dancing and singing, we’d be crying and hovering over their lifeless bodies.

But that Thursday evening in Nabi Saleh, we danced under the stars and sang until our lungs gave out. We stuffed our bellies with food and sweets and Waed came home. The young boy is home, with labored eyes and an experience he can never erase from his memory, the young boy is home.



Before I begin, I would like to thank Yasmine for having the courage to defy her reality, to find her voice, to grow and continue to heal past the trauma. I hope our women stand together, empower one another and hold each other in times of tragedy. 

As I read Yasmine’s story “My Mom Took Me Overseas and Forced Me into Being a Teen Bride” I was appalled. I almost denied the fact that it could be true. Firstly, I thought, it was written on a platform for international audiences (so it must be exaggerated, right?) and secondly because in my position of privilege I simply couldn’t imagine it.

When young Yasmine Koeing came out publically about her story many scurried to show support. However, others (mostly Arabs) were eager to shame the manner in which this young woman courageously shared a private and traumatizing experience.

The reaction of both the Arab community and the western audience to Yasmine’s story divulges two grave realities. The first being on the end of Arab groups who suffer from a deeply rooted inferiority complex. Whereby, almost like a reflex, whenever we see similar stories in western platforms we quickly scurry to show the other side of the coin. To prove that we are not all like this. To quickly fix our tarnished image. But Yasmine’s story is not the anomaly and we must be confident enough to acknowledge and tackle this fact.

The second and more sinister realization, is the west’s innate saviorship complex. Where the interest in these stories largely stems from an inferiorization of the global south. It acts as a reinforcement of supremacy where it is the west who must to civilize and save the “barbaric Arab.” The comments in support of Yasmine reeked of pity and lacked any genuine solidarity.

As an Arab

Being an Arab woman, I am acutely aware of the restrictions and obstacles we must face. What is insidious is the fact that we are incessantly inundated with the idea of secrecy. As women, we must never let anyone know what happens behind closed doors. We are taught that our pain, our oppression and trauma is to be dealt with privately, because publicity will only embarrass us.

It’s not surprising that Yasmine was met with a lot of defensive rhetoric from the Arab community. Some even felt the need to publish counter articles as a misguided attempt to prove that “not all Arab families are like this.”

I am horrified of Yasmine’s experience and I also commend this young woman for having the courage to not only defy what is imposed on her, but her ability to be unfiltered and honest with the world. Our defensive reaction, as an Arab community, only catalyzes and protracts the oppression. We all need to feel safe speaking of our experiences.

Arabs criticizing the fact that Yasmine spoke with Seventeen Magazine should focus less on this young girl -who is merely trying to recover from this experience and expose an ugly hidden reality- and more fixated our own communities who continue to carry out this oppression.

To burden young individuals such as Yasmine with having to think in the lines of “oh maybe I shouldn’t speak with Seventeen because of (insert post-colonial philosophy here)” is a very privileged approach.

The main interest of victims of abuse is not the unequal dynamics between the west and the east. They are trying to recover, to breathe once more. Our criticism only alienates them further.

What is striking is that our defensive nature is rooted in our continued marginalization by the self-entitled supremacy of the global North. We, as part of the global south, are constantly trying to prove our humanity; that we too are civil. It stems from a long history of oppression and a perpetuated inferiority complex.

The overwhelming posts on how “not all families are like Yasmine’s” or that Yasmine’s story is “only one part of the society” should force us to look not only at ourselves but our inability to acknowledge this oppression.

We are so ashamed that such things are still happening, that instead of centering our efforts on stopping it, we’re still exhausting our energy on trying to prove our “civility” to the west. We do not need to prove anything to the west. Terrible things happen everywhere and if the global north doesn’t see that it occurs in their own society as well, that is their own shortcoming. It is not our duty to educate them, rather we must work on our own society so we can truly blossom.

Women continue to endure harsh subjugation. As an Arab woman, I testify to the abuse and repression we face. From stripping of agency, to domestic abuse, to verbal and physical abuse, the horror stories are abundant. However, before criticizing the fact that Yasmine’s story was published on a Western medium we must firstly look inwards, into our own communities and ask ourselves why our own media platforms aren’t doing enough to cover these stories. Or more importantly, rather than delve into the debate of where or who should write Yasmine’s story to ask ourselves why young women like Yasmine are still enduring such grotesque experiences.

The fact that we can sit and comment on what medium or who told Yasmine’s story is a reflection of our privilege. Victims do not think about who listens to them, they just want to be heard. Let us listen.

The West’s Narrative

Western media continues to hijack the stories of the global south and contort it in the way which suits it. It maims narratives and actively strips agency from anyone that is not white.

The truth is, that stories from the global south in western media will always be either to prove the uncivility of the global south or to prove the humanity of the global south. Either way, it is almost always done in the most paternalistic manifestation possible.

Western media continues to perpetuate the colonial dichotomy between the us and the them. This is a serious implication that must be tackled, however it is important to direct our endeavor at the system in its entirety and not the individuals being instrumentalized.



April Lullaby

Iyeoka Okoawo is a Nigerian-American poet, artist, singer, activist, educator and TEDGlobal fellow.



Nneka, 35, is a Nigerian hiphop/soul/reggae singer, songwriter and actress. 


Hindi Zahra is a Franco-Moroccan singer and actress.


Kojey Radical is a London based poet, musician and mixed media visual artist. 


You can find the lyrics for this track here.

The Coup is an American band. They are from Oakland, California and have been active since 1991.

Kwamie Liv is a Danish-Zambian singer/songwriter from Copenhagen, Denmark. 

Saul Williams, 44, is an American rapper, singer/songwriter, musician, poet, writer and actor.

Yasmin Hamdan is a Lebanese singer/songwriter and actress. 

Shadi Zaqtan is a Palestinian singer/songwriter.

El Rass & Munma hail from Lebanon.


Basic guidelines for solidarity activists

Solidarity  often translates into a saviorship complex, whereby the so called solidarity activist views the oppressed group with pity and aims to help through saving them from their turmoil.

Pity as a sentiment stems from feelings of supremacy and arrogance. They enforce subconscious feelings of inferiorizing and othering. Rather than extending arms for support, individuals with the saviorship complex instead run in front of oppressed groups holding their palms behind them asking the oppressed groups to “catch-up.”

As we experience uprisings and resistance all over the globe, it is essential that allies understand their privileged position and instead follow the choices and decisions of the resisting groups rather than dictating.

The basics of solidarity:

  1. You are not there to save the oppressed group.
  2. Oppressed groups are not inferior to you, and are not searching for sympathetic pity.
  3. No nation is “free” in the utopic sense. Therefore do not bring your nations idea of “democracy,” “freedom,” and “justice” to the oppressed groups. They are well aware of their demands and do not need you to enlighten them. This is an act of stripping agency, which is an ideology embedded within oppressing regimes.
  4. Do not glorify the resistance movement through poeticizing and fetishizing the resisting peoples. No resistance is pretty. Blood is red, and it is only turned to poetry when we embellish it with linguistic choices. Sometimes such approach helps in alleviating the perpetrator.
  5. Commend steadfastness and resilience as a mode of support. Do not use it as a rationalization to live in a utopic hopeful state, whereby you do nothing.
  6. Do not dictate to oppressed groups how to react or feel. You are not going to deal with the consequences, and your privilege of choice does not place you in a position to tell any oppressed groups how to feel or behave. Humble yourself and listen, this is their struggle and you are an ally.
  7. Do not fetishize the fighters of the cause. Stop approaching women as “badasses” and men as “glamorous heroes” to fulfill your fantasy provoked by action Hollywood films. The very reason people resist is to live in dignity and peace, without the necessity to constantly be fighting. There is exhaustion and trauma behind all such appearances, and it is our duty to help alleviate rather than endorse them.
  8. You can do more work in your home country, than in the resisting country. Carrying out actions against complicity whether in the form of political, educational and economic institutions proves more effective for creating meaningful strategy directed at thwarting oppression.
  9. Struggles are not for you to build a career off the backs of oppressed groups. That means you opportunistic journalists and NGOs.
  10. Oppressed groups are not a charity case. They are people fighting for dignity and justice. Consequently, the humanitarian approach only reduces the symptoms of the oppression itself and does not delve into the roots of it.
  11. Do not become a spokesperson for the respective struggling community. If you are approached to comment on a struggle you express solidarity with, present it from the perspective of your group in terms of complicity and resisting oppression. This is not synonymous with speaking on behalf of the oppressed groups. Every group can speak for itself, so remember to amplify their voices rather than muting them in order to get your fame time.
  12. Standing with one oppressed group and being complicit in another oppression automatically nulls your solidarity. You’re either against oppression out of principle, or you’re not.
  13. Resisting groups are not models for your next art project.
  14. Do not wait for a “thank you” from oppressed groups simply because you’re doing the right thing. Standing with justice is not a time to boost your ego.
  15. It’s not about you.


الوطن ينادي باسم الحرية

:Nabi Saleh first skunk dayتحتّم المواجهة المستمرة والمتصاعدة مع الاحتلال على الفلسطينيين تقيم دورهم في الهبّة الجماهيرية التي يشهدها الوطن بأسره، وإن بحدة وكثافة متباينة.

تمتد المقاومة لنواحٍ عديدة ولا تقتصر على الاشتباك في الشارع، بل تشمل كذلك التكافل الاجتماعي وتطور الوعي السياسي. أشعل هذه الهبّة ما يسمى بجيل أوسلو ولكن طابعها الشبابي لم يمنعها من الوصول إلى شرائح مختلفة من المجتمع أضحت تشكّل الحاضنة الاجتماعية للحراك الثوري المتواصل.

لا يتناقض الاشتباك المباشر مع الاحتلال في الشارع والميدان، على أهميته، مع طرقٍ أخرى للنضال والالتحام مع الشباب المنتفض لمن لم يستطع للاشتباك المباشر سبيلا. وهنا تتجلّى محورية الفلسطينيين والفلسطينيات في دول الشتات في دعم وإسناد المنتفضين في الوطن.

سواء اتفقت مع الأساليب المنتهجة في هذا الحراك أم لا، لا بد من تدعم معنويات الشباب المنتفضين وعدم السماح للاختلاف حول الأساليب بأن تشغلنا عن الهدف الأساسي وهو تحرير كامل التراب

الوطني عبر مراكمة النضال.

تتمثّل إحدى أبرز الوسائل الاستعمارية الهادفة إلى قمع وإحباط الشباب في اللجوء إلى العقاب الجماعي والقمع المكثف. ويشمل العقاب الجماعي ممارساتٍ كهدم البيوت وحملات الاعتقال الواسعة ورفض تسليم جثامين الشهداء وسحب الإقامة من المقدسيين واقتحام الأحياء التي ينتمي إليها منفّذو العمليات وإصدار أوامر ترحيل بحق الناشطين وتحرير غرامات ومخالفات سير عشوائية وغيرها.

لا يسعى الاحتلال الصهيوني عبر استخدام هذه الوسائل قمع الشاب الثائر بحسب بل يهدف كذلك إلى ضرب الحاضنة الاجتماعية للمقاومة وتأليب المجتمع الفلسطيني على الشباب الثائرين جراء الثمن الباهظ الذي يفرضه الاحتلال.

وهذا هو التجسيد الحي لمبدأ “فرّق تسد” الذي لطالما مارسه الاستعمار وعمل على ترسيخه.

لقد حاول الاستعمار الصهيوني تقسيمنا إلى مجموعات منفصلة بحسب أماكن تواجدنا الجغرافي والكيانات السياسية التي تمثّلنا وبطاقات الهوية التي نحملها بألوانها المختلفة، التي غدت أكثر أهمية من لون عيوننا!

يسهل الانزلاق إلى فخ اليأس والخوف مع استمرار قمع وقهر الاحتلال للفلسطينيين، بيد أن هذا لا يعني أننا لسنا أقوياء، بل لربما يذكرنا أننا لا نزال نشعر بحجم الاضطهاد الواقع علينا ولم نعتده أو نتكيف معه بعد، رغم كثافته.

من هنا يمكننا تحطيم أسطورة أن الشباب يقاومون لأنه ليس لديهم ما يخسرونه، فلدى الشباب الكثير الكثير لكي يخسروه، أمامهم حياة كاملة كانوا يحلمون بمواصلتها وعائلات تحبهم ويحبّونها وأصدقاء وطموحات.. غير أن قمع المحتل وخذلان القيادات السياسية وإخفاقها دفع الشبان إلى أخذ المبادرة بأنفسهم من أجل الدفاع عن كرامتهم واستعادة الأمل والحرية الي سلبت منهم.  وفي سبيل إسناد الشبان المنتفضين لاستعادة كرامة وحرية كافة أبناء الشعب الفلسطينيي، يمكننا العودة إلى دروس ونماذج الانتفاضة الأولى. حينها أعلن إسحاق رابين عما أطلق عليه “سياسة تكسير العظام”، ولم يكن الهدف من تلك السياسة قتل الفلسطينيين فقط بل الإجهاز على معنوياتهم وتذكيرهم أن المقاومة مكلفة. أراد رابين أن يعرف الفلسطينيون أن المقاومة مخضّبة بالدماء والقهر وـ”تكسير العظام”. إلا أن هذه السياسة لم تفلح في تركيع الفلسطينيين وإجبارهم على ترك المقاومة بل على النقيض من ذلك.

 هنا اختلفت الأحزاب في نقاش الوسيلة، وهنا تفرقوا، متناسين أن الوسيلة لا تكون في مجال واحد دون غيره، فالوسائل على صعيد المجتمع بأكمله، من مقاومة سلمية، إلى مقاومة مسلحة، إلى المقاطعة، وحتى على الصعيد الدبلوماسي (على شرط أنها لا تكون مبنية على بيع القضية، بل تعزيز أهداف التحرر الشامل).

لا شك أن موازين القوة غير متكافئة، فالمستعمر لديه أسلحة وقوة لا تقارن بالموارد الموجودة لدى الفلسطينيين، لكن في المقابل مخزون الإرادة والشجاعة والعقيدة لمقاومة الاحتلال تفوق نظيراتها لدى المستعمر، وهذا ما يحسم المعارك غير المتكافئة عادة ويخلق توازن رعب بين المستعمِر والمستعمَر.

لذلك من الأهمية بعدم استنفاذ طاقتنا في نقاش الوسيلة لمحاربة الاحتلال، على حساب الانخراط في بناء نضال شعبي موحّد يركز على الأهداف لا الوسائل. وهنا تأتي أهمية العمليات التي تحصل في جميع أنحاء الوطن. القضية هنا ليست أن تكون مع أو ضد الطعن أو الدهس، على سبيل المثال لا الحصر، فلكل منا الحق في أن يقيم الأدوات المستخدمة ويفككها.

ولكن على نقاش الوسيلة أن لا يطغى على أهمية الهف المشترك، فقد أثبت الشعب الفلسطيني أن الكفاح لا ينحص  في مجال واحد وأن المقاومة لا تزال ممتدة من غزة إلى الضفة إلى الأراضي المحتلة في العام 48 وحتى الشتات الفلسطيني. وقد أكدت هذه الانتفاضة مجددا أن أشكال القمع مهما اختلفت فالقمع يمارَس على الجميع والاحتلال ينظر إلى الفللسطينيين بعين واحدة، مهما اختلف موقعهم الجغرافي وتعددت تقسيماتهم وتصنيفاتهم وألوان بطاقاتهم.

شعب واحد، قضية واحدة.

Israeli propaganda machine sends a false image with the video of Ahmad Mansara

English follows Arabic: 

توضيح من محامي اللجنه التنسيقيه للمقاومه الشعبيه الاستاذ طارق برغوت : الاعلام العبري تداول فيديو يظهر من خلاله الطفل الاسير المصاب احمد مناصرة ( مهانيه ) وهو يتناول الطعام علی فراش المستشفی وتم الادعاء ان السجانين يطعموه بايديهم وانهم يعاملونه معامله حسنه .. ان هذا الافتراء مقرف .. واليكم القصه الحقيقيه .. خلال زيارتي للطفل احمد جاء طعام الغذاء ولكنه لم يأكل فسألته لماذا لا تريد الاكل قال لانه يعاني باوجاع بفكيه بسبب الضرب المبرح وايضا لان يده اليمين مقيده … لذلك قمت باخذ صحن طعام يحتوي علی الجلو وبدأت باطعامه وخلال ذلك دخل ع الغرفه شخص مدني وقدم نفسه بأنه من مكتب رئيس الوزاء نتن ياهو فسألته ما سبب الزيارة فقال لي انني اريد ان اطمئن ان امور الطفل علی ما يرام . فبدأت اشرح له ان اموره ليست ع ما يرام حيث انه مقيد ولا يستطيع تناول الطعام او الذهاب الی الحمام وان حراسه يعاملونه بطريقه غير انسانيه حيث يكيلون عليه الشتائم ويبصقون عليه واحيانا يهددونه بالقتل .. هذا الشرح كان خلال اطعام الطفل من قبلي ( ارجو الانتباه الی القميص الابيض وربطة العنق التي تحمل رمز النقابه ) ويبدو ان الشخص من مكتب رئيس الوزراء كان يحمل كاميرا مخفيه ويجب ان تلاحظوا ان الفيديو من غير صوت … هذا الكذب والافتراء جاء لكي يبيض صفحة هذا الكيان وعلی رأسه رئيس وزراؤهم المجرم الذي يتصرف بشكل عير قانوني عندما قام مكتبه بتصوير الطفل ونشره بالاعلام من اجل تدعيم الحمله الدعائيه ضد ابو مازن بالرغم من ان هذا العمل ممنوع قانونيا .. انهم يكذبون بشكل وقح .. انهم يعاملون احمد بطريقه بربريه ويدعون انهم يعاملونه بلطف لغاية انهم يطعمونه بايديهم … انه كذب وافتراء حقير نفذ من اعلی سلطة لهذا الكيان .. ارجو النشر
هنا رابط الفيديو الذي تم نشره من حكومه الاحتلال الاسرائيليه و يظهر فيها المحامي طارق برغوت :

As images and a video is shared widely on social media of Palestinian child, Ahmad Manasra published by Israeli media, there is a concealed story which is being missed by Zionist outlets. Firstly, the photos and video were distributed by the Israeli government as an attempt to debunk Mahmoud Abbas’ statement that the young boy was killed by Israeli forces. It is not distributed as a reinforcement of the young boy’s health, rather as a mechanism to de-legitimize Palestinian concern for the continued Israeli aggression towards Palestinians.

Below is a rough translation of a statement from Tareq Barghout, the lawyer for Popular Struggle Coordination Committee (who was present with Ahmad Manasra): 

Hebrew media has shown a video of injured prisoner Ahmad Manasra as he eats food on his bed in the hospital with allegations that the jailers are feeding him with their own hands and treating him well. This allegation is repulsive and here is the true story. 

During my visits to the child Ahmad, food was brought to him but he did not eat. I asked him why he did not wish to wat and he responded telling me, he didn’t want to eat because he still suffered from pain from the brutal beatings he faced and due to his right hand being shackled. As a result, I began to feed him from the plate of food myself. At that moment, an individual, seemingly civilian entered the room and identified himself as someone from the Prime Minister, Netanyahu’s, office. I inquired the reason behind his visit and he told me that he wanted to check up on the affairs of the child and mae sure they’re okay. I began to explain to him that things are not alright, as the child is shackled and connot eat food or go to the bathroom and the guards are treating him in an inhumane manner where they curse at him, spit at him and sometimes threaten to kill him.

This conversation occurred as I was feeding the child (note the white top and tie holding the union’s code). It appears that this individual from the Prime Minister’s office was carrying a hidden camera, and notice that the video is without audio. These lies and slander, headed by a criminal for Prime Minister- who acted illegal when photographing the child and publishing the photos- serve only to whiten the page and reinforce their propaganda against Abu Mazan despite it being an illegal act.

They are shamelessly lying.

They are treating Ahmad in a barbaric way whilst claiming they are treating him kindly and feeding him with their hands. It is lying and a despicable presentation perpetuated by the highest authority of this entity.

Below is the video published by the occupying government of Israel:

Bahaa Allyan.

Bahaa Allyan writes will of a martyr. Dec. 2014
Bahaa Allyan writes will of a martyr. Dec. 2014

The Ten Commandments of any martyr:

1- I urge factions to not adopt my martyrdom, for it was for the homeland and not for you.

2- I do not want posters or shirts, for my memory will not merely be a poster to be hung on the walls.

3- I remind you to care for my mother. Do not exhaust her with your questions where the only motive is to draw out emotion for the empathy of viewers and nothing more.

4- Do not implant hatred in my son’s heart. Let him discover his homeland and die for his homeland and not for revenge of my death.

5- If they [Israel] wants to demolish my house, then let them. The stone is not more precious than the soul created by God.

6-Do not grieve my martyrdom, grieve over what will happen to you after me.

7- Do not search for what I have written before my martyrdom, search for what is behind my martyrdom.

8- Do not chant during my funeral and be impulsive. Just be on Wudu’ during the funeral prayers and nothing more.

9- Do not make me a number you will remember today and forget tomorrow.

10- I will see you in heaven.

-Baha’a Allyan

Dear Mona

Israeli military court thrives on breaking the Palestinian mind and soul. It exists to perpetuate Israel’s very apartheid structure with a conviction rate of 99.97%. It’s a kangaroo style court in which Palestinians have already been found guilty prior to entering the court room. What is being negated is the form of punishment, and regardless of what it is, it’s always severe.

Mona Qaa’dan, a Palestinian from Arraba, Jenin has been incarcerated in Hasharon prison stince 2012. Her trial has been postponed for the 17th time on Wednesday, the 3rd of September 2014. Mona has been denied visits and remains held in cell number 1 with 4 other women.

This, however, is not a piece on Israel’s apartheid system or its military court which exemplifies everything that Zionism is built on. This is a piece about Mona, precious Mona.

Mona Qaadan

I read about Mona Qaa’dan long before I met her. She is one of 22 Palestinian women held in Israeli jails. I read her story and noticed how she, like the majority of Palestinian resistors, is glorified and romanticized.

When I was incarcerated in April of this year, I was transferred to Hasharon prison and placed in cell room number 1 joined with Shireen Issaw, Intisar Sayyad (who was released on June 9th), Lena Jourbani (the longest serving female Palestinian prisoner), Alaa Abu Zaytouneh (Also released Summer of 2014), and of course Mona Qaadan.

Mona, was the first face I saw and the last.

I had arrived at approximately 3 AM, and by the time I was processed into the system and admitted into the jail cell, it had been 4 AM. Mona greeted me wearing her prayer clothes, as she is accustomed to waking up at dawn every day for Fajr prayers. She took me in, shaken and distraught, without even asking my name. She took me in, ensuring I had the necessities, a toothbrush, a towel, some soap and utensils for breakfast the next morning. As I cleaned up, she took it upon herself to prepare my bunk, with new sheets and pillow covers and waited as I sat quietly in a corner trying to understand what was happening. She waited, patiently until I was ready to climb into bed and sleep.

As I crawled into bed, Lena Jourbani had awoken from my crying and began to strike up a conversation “what’s your name?”

“Mariam, Mariam Barghouti.”

In which Mona interrupts and proclaims to Lena “let the girl sleep, we can talk in the morning, it’s been a long night.”

So we slept, still unaware of the fact that I was conversing with Lena or that it was Mona Qaadan, the one we had chanted for in demonstrations, that was talking to me. I didn’t know Shireen Issawi was sleeping the bunk adjacent to mine, and we all slept.

A few hours later, a bulky Israeli guard came for the routine count and having fallen asleep just an hour prior, Mona wakes me up in the most gentle of voices. “Yalla habibti, wake up and go to the other room so they can count.” If one listens closely enough, they can hear the agony that has grown within Mona’s voice, exasperated by the days that seem like years in between these walls.

As they conclude their counting routine, Mona comes back joined with Lena to give me clothes they collected for me and a new towel. They took me in, without having to ask, they took me in. This scenario is not exclusive to me. One morning, I inquired why the 6th bunk was unoccupied anyway as the other rooms are overcrowded. Mona and Lena explain that they have it constantly prepared for a young girl that is constantly being detained by Israeli forces. “She’s so young and 16, we like to make sure that she’ll always have a place to stay whenever they bring her in.”

They have become like mothers and older sisters to all the prisoners in Hasharon. Their word is firm and to never be broken and their hearts gentle and kind.

I was slightly intimidated by them, their fierceness and the firmness in their dialogue. Later I learned how kind they were and Mona was no exception.

I spent most of my time in Hasharon cuddled in my bunk, just watching the routine of these women and how this has become their life. My first day, when it was time for lunch, Msakhan was on the menu.

Mona came to ask me if I liked msakhan. “I do, but I don’t eat meat, I’m vegan.” I wasn’t even hungry, I didn’t want to eat, I just wanted to cuddle in my bunk and sleep, everything was so surreal, I was in a constant state of derealization. A few hours later, when it was time to eat, Mona and Lena approach me saying “we made msakhan you vegan msakhan, yalla come eat.”

Just like that, they went out of their way to ensure that I eat. Still without knowing a thing about me. In the evening after our cell was locked up, I got to see another side to Mona. During the day, she’s busy running errands and taking care of business whether it was distributing the meals, or ensuring the needs of other prisoners are taken care of, she’s always doing something. Yet, the moment those doors close and it’s just 4 walls, 6 bunks and a blanket serving as a rug, there is this tenderness to her. We were talking and she begins showing me pictures of her fiancé, whom she hasn’t seen since the engagement. “This is my fiancé, handsome, no? I’m hopeful we will be together.”

So we all begin talking about our loved ones, and I listened as attentively as possible, I didn’t want to miss a detail. Suddenly, Alaa and Mona begin talking about going on a diet, Mona explaining how she wants to look good in her wedding dress.

Then as Alaa begins watching Twilight on the television, I notice Mona caressing Lena’s hair. Lena. Strong Lena, curled like a child with her hair being caressed as Mona plays with every lock. Precious, affectionate Mona.

That’s Mona, or a fraction of Mona. 17 postponed trials later and exponential amounts of caressed hair.

It is our failure and our silence that helps with the continued incarceration of these women. They are not monuments for us to admire, nor are they heroes that must hold the Palestinian cause on their backs. They are our sisters and the most fragile of sisters.

Recollection and memory, Al-Nakba continues

Editor’s note: The following post is written by the medic that was present on the scene on May 15th 2014, during the killing of Mohammad Odeh and Nadeem Nuwwarah as protesters commemorated al-Nakba near Ofer Military Prison.

By Karam (Muhannad)

During Nakba day commemoration, Birzeit’s student council were trying to gather students to go to Ofer, but it seemed that no one was interested. I decided to go by myself, so I gathered some friends and went to Ramallah and then to Ofer.

En route to OFer, I received a call saying “a kid got shot with live [ammunition]’s bad.” I then asked the driver to hurry. We arrived to Ofer and there were many people. Three Israeli soldiers were standing up the hill 120 meters away with the rest of them standing 500 meters away in the field across. There was teargas and rubber bullets, which was normal. Nothing I’m not used to.

Two kids were going back and forth throwing stones at the three soldiers, even though they kept missing the soldiers they continued to try because they are kids. I went down to open my bag and I looked back to see if it’s safe and I could see the two kids coming back.

I can still remember the two kids, and two flags. One green and the other black, one was for Hamas and the other was the Nakba flag.

Medic pressing against Mohammad Odeh's chest after he was shot with live ammunition. May 15th, 2014. PHOTO via Haaretz
Medic pressing against Mohammad Odeh’s chest after he was shot with live ammunition. May 15th, 2014. PHOTO via AP

I searched inside my bag to find something that to this day I cant remember what it was I was looking for. Suddenly I heard a shot. One shot and it was live ammunition. I jumped to the left and went down even though I know it was live and live travels faster than the sound it projects. But it was the natural accustomed reaction. Two seconds is all the time it takes for the sound to disappear. I look to my left and he was falling. Mohammad was falling to the ground. I ran to him as he was two meters away.

I was able to reach him before he hit the ground. I looked at him, checking his body. I saw a hole in his chest and I put my hand on it to apply pressure and stop the bleeding, basic first aid training.

He held my hand and looked at me trying to say something but he didn’t have the time. I screamed for an ambulance and asked for help. Two people came to help me carry him. The ambulance was 10 meters away, the man next to me was saying “Mohammad stay with us.” That’s how I knew his name.

We put him in the ambulance and returned to where we were.

I began to tell myself he is alive and he was shot in the lung and fainted, that’s why there was no blood only a hole. Only one spot of blood was on my hand. I tried to convince myself that he is alive. He is alive.

I knew though. I knew something was wrong. I became a ghost walking in Ofer back and forth towards the soldiers. News started to arrive about two martyrs. Nadeem and Mohammad. I started asking about Mohammad Abu Al Dhaher and the other Mohammad who was shot before I arrived. I started calling my friends at the hospital asking them to confirm the name.

Mohammad Odeh being carried to a nearby ambulance. Ofer military prison, May 15th, 2014
Mohammad Odeh being carried to a nearby ambulance. Ofer military prison, May 15th, 2014

Twenty minutes later, my friend who worked at the hospital called and said “it was Mohamad Abu al Dhaher. The last one you put in the ambulance.”

I stayed in Ofer. I didn’t know what to do, I wrote their names on the wall and stayed there, but I wasn’t really there. I was a ghost.

Two hours later I went to the hospital, I’m not even sure if it was two hours later. I had lost track of time at that pont. I couldn’t feel it anymore. It’s as though the whole world had stopped at that moment. I arrived to the hospital and entered inside. There were tons of people gathering. Friends, journalists..but I couldn’t look at any of them.

Afterwards, a group of protesters had marched to the hospital coming from Ramallah after they closed down the shops in honor of the martyrs. I stood in the middle of the street as they all passed by me. I didn’t know where to go, or what to do. Journalists that were asking for interviews were saying “we heard you were the last one next to the martyr.” I went away. I couldn’t say anything. I tried to find a place where I can’t see anyone, so I went behind a car and stopped for a few minutes trying to understand but I couldn’t. Everything began to flash but I couldn’t remember. I began to breathe fast and wasn’t able to move my face. People gathered around me in attempt to take me inside the hospital but I resisted and began to call out the name of a friend that can take me out. Someone knew her and after a while she arrived and tried to take me inside the hospital. I asked her to take me out of there and she did.

That’s when my trip began.

I still remember his masked face, I never remembered his face because I only saw his face on posters, a week later.

3 minutes. 3 minutes is the time we had. They always told us that our job as medics is to keep the patient alive until the ambulance arrives. But this time, even 3 minutes weren’t enough.

It has been a year now but it still feels like yesterday. Everyone has forgotten and it’s only his family that is living in torment. Today I realize that he is gone and nothing that we could have done would have stopped it. Nothing.

The only thing that we should do is keep fighting for them and for ourselves, until we find justice. Until every soldier is held accountable for their crimes.

The dead are gone…and the living are hungry.