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]..it’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.

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Revisiting non-violence and solidarity

As the situation in Baltimore unravels it is essential to revisit the discourse on non-violence and solidarity.

Baltimore

It seems that as the situation escalates in Baltimore many have scurried to their social media accounts to express their opinions on the course of action to be taken. Unfortunately, it seems that a good portion of those projecting their beliefs of peaceful resistance are not part of the Baltimore community, nor are they part of the subjugated groups oppressed by police brutality.

Although it is vaild to have personal beliefs of peaceful resistance, it is not legitimate to project those beliefs onto those struggling on a daily basis and expressing their frustration in the streets in the manner they see fit.

Police brutality and racist judicial procedures precede the mobilization in Ferguson, Baltimore, Saint Louis and other places that have risen up against injustice. The violence began with the ethnic cleansing of the Americas by white colonialists on the backs of the African community over the blood of the Natives of this land.

Through dictating to the oppressed how to fight the oppressors, we too are stripping them of their voices. The people possess every right to express their frustration in any way they see fit against the oppressor. It is a choice evoked by a necessity.

The attempts peddle around the situation and justifying the dictation under the emblem of thinking pragmatically and strategically in order to fight the oppressor further inferiorizes the oppressed; in a sense of presenting their inability to assemble themselves and resist. There is nothing pragmatic about oppression other than the dehumanizing, humiliating and controlling of the marginalized communities.

On the other hand, if some of the individuals within the marginalized communities believe that the manner in which mobilization should occur is through peaceful means, it too is their right. That being said, it is vital and essential to remember that no form of resistance is exclusive of the other. Rather they combine in a collective effort in order to bring forth justice. Not peace. Justice.

When justice is served, then we can move towards a peaceful and congruous society. However, as long as individuals are being killed based on their ethnicity, race, and beliefs justice must first be served.

While this violence appears to be coming as an abrupt act, it has been ongoing for decades and centuries. The media has covered it from the angle of the oppressor, portraying the oppressed as barbaric aggressive groups, rather than a suppressed people voicing their disgruntlement with the status quo, refusing to continue to die in the name of a farce of a justice system.

As a Palestinian, although there are parallels between the struggle of the black community and the Palestinian struggle, it is not the same. Suffering is not the same, nor is it to be placed on a metric. Any group struggling can draw solidarity and hope from one another, but we, the struggling communities should too listen to one another. We should not project our struggle onto others.

It is essential to listen.

Listen to the screams, to shots, to the batons falling on backs and bones breaking. Listen to the silence that follows. To listen to the struggle, and to show solidarity.

Respect and solidarity with all peoples fighting against oppression, from Peru to Bahrain, to Yemen, to Syria, to Palestine, to Egypt, to Brazil and all other communities fighting.

Events in Palestine; Spring/Summer 2015

There is more to Palestine than the colonization perpetuated by Israel.

Despite the occupation Palestine has a rich culture and carries out educational events on a constant basis.If you’re in the region, it may prove fruitful to join in on some of these events and explore Palestine.

Below are links about some of the ongoing events in Palestine. If you’re in the area, here are some suggestions of places to visit and events to take part in.

Birzeit University 1978, Palestine
Birzeit University 1978, Palestine. Photo Via Facebook

March 24th: Bethlehem
Palestine Museum of Natural History

https://www.facebook.com/events/806859889351944/
In this workshop, two mushroom enthusiasts will be talking about fungi and how they can be used in the process to achieve self-sufficiency and resilience. The discussions following the presentation will focus on mycology and permaculture as a means of non-violent resistance in a context of military occupation, land theft, limited resources, and continuous environmental degradation.

The subjects covered during the presentation will include:
– The history and biology of fungi
– Methods of cultivation
– Nutritional and medicinal uses
– Uses and applications of fungi
Tea, coffee and snacks will be served, everyone is welcome

March 24th: Ramallah
French-German Center

Nation Estate- Photograph Exhibition by Larissa Sansour (www.larissasansour.com)

https://www.facebook.com/events/809419902444927/

March 24th- April 8th Salfit-West Bank
Permaculture Design Course

https://www.facebook.com/events/764466976975013

The farm is inviting you to register to its upcoming Permaculture Design Course. Permaculture is an ecological design system, and an integrated culture that aims to accomplish sustainable development on the long term. Everybody is invited to register and participate in this course, which may open doors to a lot of opportunities for you in the future.

March 27th: Bethlehem
Bethlehem Marathon


The Church of Nativity, the Wall, and two Refugee Camps – that’s the 42.195KM route participants of the Palestine Marathon will explore on March 27th 2015. As the last two years have proven the marathon will showcase different sides of the Palestine everyday life and the historic city of Bethlehem – the birthplace of Jesus. It’s a challenging route, which takes the runners on a two-loop street course for the marathon and one-loop for the half marathon, it includes a few steep hills coupled with some fast sections in a scenery like no other marathon

https://www.facebook.com/events/1526497300901337/

March 27: Jerusalem

“Rhetoric from Within Exhibition”

Majd Abdelhamid is a young Palestinian visual artist, born in Damascus, Syria (1988), and currently based in Ramallah. Graduated with a bachelor degree in Fine Arts from Malmö Art Academy (2010) in Sweden and attended the International Academy of Art – Palestine (2007-2009). He currently resides and works in Ramallah.

Abdelhamid works on deconstructing symbols of national identity, depression, conflict analysis, and time challenging the imagery of victim hood and taboos. Using a variety of media including embroidery/cross stitching, videos, public intervention, sculptures and paintings.

https://www.facebook.com/events/356504991219661/

March 28-April 10: Ramallah

Ramallah Cultural Palace

“دلعنه”

https://www.facebook.com/events/345618115632655/

March 30th: Ramallah
Ramallah Cultural Palace

Girl’s Educating Initiative (Charity Event)
Basel Zayid and Sarab will be present at the event. In support of female students in financial need to pursue their education
https://www.facebook.com/events/813141468723852/

March 30th: Bethlehem
Short Films Screening
Three short films screening produced by Idioms Film (www.idiomsfilm.com)
Filmmakers include Omar Hamilton, Ramzi Hazboun, and Muhannad Ya’aqoubi

https://www.facebook.com/events/454274794722994/

April 2nd: Jerusalem
“Forensic Architecture:Technologies of Public Truth”

He presents the work of Forensic Architecture at the intersection of architecture, war and law. Forensic Architecture is a research agency he set up in 2011 composed of artists, filmmakers and architectural researchers, which provides evidence for violations of international law and human rights. Elaborating notably on cases of military violence in Palestine and on a research for the UN on drone warfare in Pakistan, Afghanistan, Yemen and Somalia, Weizman shows how architectural methods and new sensing technologies can be used to expose the logic of violent conflict.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1648066505414777/

April 5th: Ramallah
Alqasaba Theatre: Ramallah Hospital St.

A Play based on a novel written by the late Palestinian writer Emile Habibi, acting by Palestinian artist Mohammad Bakri

https://www.facebook.com/events/1601515256792834/

April 14: Ramallah

Alqasaba Theatre

Silent play: Men in the Sun

https://www.facebook.com/events/676335465809692/

April 16-26: Ramallah/Jerusalem

“Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival”

Ramallah Contemporary Dance Festival is annually organized by Sareyyet Ramallah. It is an artistic festival specialized in contemporary dance, and was first held in 2006. In 2007, the Masahat Contemporary Dance Network, which in addition to Sareyyet Ramallah includes Maqamat Dance Theater – Lebanon, Tanween Dance Theatre – Syria, The National Center for Culture and Performing Arts – Jordan, was established. Since 2007, contemporary dance festivals are jointly organized by these organizations.

https://www.facebook.com/events/1604405903122428/

April 21: Abu Dis University
أنتم مدعوون للتجول في بازار حقوق الإنسان، حيث توزع المؤسسات الحقوقية منشورات وكتباً حقوقية أغلبها مجانية لمجتمع الجامعة وغيره من ضيوف جامعة القدس. يعقد البازار في المدخل الرئيس الشمالي لجامعة القدس.
كما ندعوكم لمشاهدة فلم “المطلوبون ال18” للمخرجين عامر الشوملي وبول كاون يتلوه حوار يديره أ. د. سري نسيبة حيث يحاور كلاً من د. جاد إسحق وأ. جميل البرغوثي حول المقاومة الشعبية. يرجى الانتباه بأن الفلم سيبدأ الساعة 12:00، بينما تبدأ فعاليات البازار الساعة 9 صباحاً.
You are invited to walk through the Al-Quds Human Rights Bazar, where you can pick up publications from different Palestinian and international human rights organizations working in the Occupied Palestinian Territory.
You will also be welcome to attend the film “The Wanted 18” after which Prof. Sari Nusseibeh will lead a discussion about popular resistance with Dr. Jad Ishaq and Mr. Jamil Barghouthi.
THE FILM WILL START AT 12:00 while the Bazar will open at 9:00 am

https://www.facebook.com/events/693916860735084/

April 23: Yabrud, Ramallah

Climbing in Yabrud

Rock climbing in the village of Yabrud whilst exploring the village’s scenery.

https://www.facebook.com/events/862390737153766/

April 22: Ramallah

Khalil Sakakni Cultural Center: 100 days of isolation

For over a year, the artist Nidaa Badwan isolated herself in a room whereby she created an alternate reality, a sanctuary protected from poverty and external violence. In this ornate four-walled space, the artist somehow managed to reach her inner freedom

https://www.facebook.com/events/811631728922759/

April 24th: Al-Hadtha destroyed village

On Thursday, April 23, 2015, we will march to displaced Palestinian village of Hadatha. The march is part of an annual effort encompassing thousands of individual participants and organizations, including ADRIDP. The purpose of the march is to commemorate Palestinian Nakba on the so-called “Israeli Independence Day”, protest the expulsion of Palestinians from their homeland since 1948, and demand the right of return of Palestinian refugees and internally displaced people to their homes

https://www.facebook.com/events/1023352531026940/

April 23: Ramallah

Irish Pub

All the way from New York City, DJ Vega Benetton returns to Ramallah for another Thursday bringing you the best of Hip Hop, Rhythm and Blues, Reggae, Dance and much more before he returns to the East Coast. Join us at the Irish Pub Ramallah for a night to be remembered.

https://www.facebook.com/events/830950316958688/

April 24th: Jerusalem

Edward Said National Conservatory of Music

Oriental music by: Ahmad Al- Khatib – Suhail Khoury – Youssef Hbeisch – Ibrahim Atari – Øystein Bru Frantzen accompanied by Wassim Qassis

https://www.facebook.com/events/407631922744758/

April 25: Jerusalem

Edward Said National Conservatory of Music

The evening will consist of two performances, starting with Turath and Awj Ramallah and ending with a performance by Basel Zayed

https://www.facebook.com/events/1379685682357681/

April 30th: Ramallah

Franco-German Cultural Center

Death by Ahlam Shibli with Dr. Ulrich Loock

She employs photography to open the eyes, to see what is there as if it were for the first time, to recognize what is unrecognized, Ulrich Loock wrote about Ahlam Shibli in 2013.
The art historian, curator and critic was born in 1953 in Germany and worked as a director for several museums, i.a. Kunsthalle Bern, Kunstmuseum Luzern and Museu de Arte Contemporãnea de Serralves in Porto.
Ahlam Shibli was born in Palestine in 1970. One of the major subjects in her photographic series are the life in exile and impacts of displacement and exodus.

https://www.facebook.com/events/739139832874037/

May 3rd : Ramallah

Ramallah Cultural Palace

A Performance by Le Trio Joubran

https://www.facebook.com/events/898908486814328/

Lina Khattab and 5 court dates later

9 IN THE MORNING, in the numbing cold and right after a snow storm, Lina Khattab’s family waits outside the military courts of Ofer prison in the West Bank.

Lina Khattab has been in the Israeli jail of Hasharon for a month now. Four court dates later, her family holds very little hope of her being released. “I’m done hoping that she’ll be released. I’m done hoping” her mother explains as she waits on a bench trying to stay warm by remaining within the sun’s radius. “She’s just an 18 year old girl, what do they want from her? She’s a little girl, she knows nothing yet.”

Families of prisoners gather around the yard fenced from all sides as they await their loved one’s trials. “Ha. Look at this, this is exactly like jail. The fence, the gate that is guarded, you can’t enter or leave without their permission you’re under their mercy. It’s exactly like jail” Lina’s father explains as he puffs on his cigarette. As everyone complains of the piercing cold, her father jokes with her uncle saying “if she gets released today you’re cooking meat, if not chicken will suffice.” Everyone bursts into laughter.

Lina Khattab (photo via Samidoun)
Lina Khattab (photo via Samidoun)

A soldier approaches the fence, everyone gathers close to him hoping Lina’s name will be next. She wasn’t, and she wasn’t the one after. Lina’s court hearing was the last one in today’s military courts. Her family spent 8 hours in the cold waiting for their daughters hearing.

Once it was time, 11 of us squeezed into a small trailer that served as a court house. Lina walks in, feet shackled, hair held back with a red head band and a smile from cheek to cheek. She kept blowing on her hands to stay warm, and every time she choked up or was on the verge of tears, she stared directly into the eyes of her family and smiled again.

The prosecutor, not older than 28 stares everyone on the bench down. Never making eye contact with Lina she begins to explain how Lina should not be released on bail. As the defense presents their case, the prosecutor sits, legs crossed and begins to play with her phone. Her face expressing some form of disinterest in what is being said. She continues to play with her phone. Concurrently the translator fails to translate what is being said in Hebrew, instead Lina waits quietly and then asks her lawyer what is happening. An appeal to understand the mess in this kangaroo trial under the banner of justice.

The defense suggested that she be released on bail and onto house arrest at her uncle’s house located in area C. The judge declined the offer and once the court was adjourned he remarks “looking at her, I can see the characteristics of a leader.”

Lina has faced 5 court hearings so far without being charged. This 18 year old has been away from home for over a month and every time she has court she must go through a rigorous trip from one bus to another. Hidden in these buses are small cells with metal chairs and no light. The trip takes hours and multiple stops at various prisons. Usually beginning at 3 AM until her court date, which was at 5 PM.

Lina, is not what she was made to be. Lina is not simply the hero on the posters that were showered across social media. She is an 18 year old girl whom refuses to break down in front of the oppressor. She is a girl that dances Palestinian dabka and was in the beginning of her freshmen year at Birzeit University.

Lina, sweet Lina. In a jacket too big for her small body and black hair held back. Lina with the radiating smile, sweet Lina that kept reassuring her parents that she is okay only to turn around to hold her tears back. Sweet, Lina. 18 year old Lina in an unjust system that hides behind the façade of democracy.

Walking out, Lina’s mother attempts to hug her daughter. Small Lina, drowning in an oversized jacket tried to hug her mother back, but soldiers pulled her away and her mother was able to get a touch of a cold palm.

As we leave the trailer and Lina is shackled by her hands her mother and sister shout “did you get the clothes we sent you, Lina?! Ask for them! We sent you clothes, are you warm, Lina?” Before she can give a proper answer she was taken away by two female soldiers.

Once Lina is no longer in sight, her mother proclaims “they’re trying to break her. They see her smiling and fighting and they’re trying to break her. What do they want from this 18 year old girl? They want to steal joy from all of us and break her. They want to break her.”

Whilst we all walk towards the exit of the prison, Lina is taken to jail cell number 1 at Ofer, where she will wait for a bus ride back to Hasharon. The cells are designed to be exceptionally cold and unhygienic. There is only one concrete bench that circles the room and walls engraved with names of former prisoners.

Lina’s next court date is on the 18th of January. As her parents wait outside the courtrooms once more, Lina will again take another trip only to be faced with a judge that has already decided she is guilty and is simply attempting to find some sort of rationalization to explain her continued incarceration.

The war is not over.

As you walk in the streets of Ramallah, with its aesthetically appealing buildings and the chaos of shoppers and street vendors the silence here is deafening.

We continue to protract this bubble deeper into the echelons of denial and complacency. The ululations in the summer for Gaza, and the metamorphosis into a population of cheerleaders continues to etch its indentation. We offered blistered tongues and Gaza offered its soul.

We echoed and chanted, Ramallah and the international community went out holding “vigils” for Gaza. It held a few flags as the bombs fell left and right. We placed the cause on the rooftops of buildings and now they lay flat. Gaza continues to suffer the consequences of this summer and our muffled disgruntle. The ululations and speeches ceased the moment Gaza didn’t fit our embellished aesthetic of resistance in the form of armed fighters and burnt buildings.

Gaza 2014 (photo via Activestills)
Gaza 2014 (photo via Activestills)

Gaza is still under siege and it is in a state of emergency as it floods not only from water but our hollow and insincere support. It continues to struggle and fight, not in the revolutionary form that appeases our conscious, but in a more existential manifestation.

We’ve proclaimed that Gaza is not its own sovereign state ad infinitum. Contrastively, it has been acting exactly as such. With no support, it fought as it continues to fight this horrendous colonialism single-handedly.

Our words were a fraction of what we can offer, and even that has come to a halt. Remember those posters of “we are all Gaza?” No. We were never all Gaza, and we universalized their struggle without offering actual assistance, mobilization or aid.

Gaza, is not the Palestinian cause. Palestine is the cause, and we refused to act as such, rather we fixated on a fragment whilst simultaneously providing the colonizer more leeway to place a majority of its efforts on that fraction, allowing its colonial macabre to be more brutal. Divide-and-conquer is not just a phrase, it is an applied colonial strategy and we continue to fall to the subterfuge.

Gaza ought to cut itself off and truly become its own state. We have failed it de novo unabashed. Remember those mock die-ins? The vigils? The demonstrations we saw at the corner of your flawless selfies? Let Gaza burn it all for warmth.

Our shortcomings cannot be glossed and rationalized under false pretexts. It is sickening that we erupt in euphoria when resistance fits our Hollywood representation. This continued struggle, this population that continues to live despite the trauma, those that have chosen to live, and continue to deal with the destroyed infrastructure, that too is resistance. Concurrently, if Gaza cannot mobilize, that doesn’t justify our ineptitude to continue placing pressure and mobilizing ourselves.

Our silence, will be reincarnated when this morbidity passes and our failures catch up to us, and then perhaps Gaza will ululate in support of us…maybe.

Aggrandized portraits and destruction

Brave Palestinian women, brave Palestinian men, and brave children, standing up to soldiers with guns. Baring their chests and fighting an entire army with only their conviction.

We constantly reiterate these proclamations without addressing the underlying context or deconstructing their implied meaning. We’ve come to associate an entire population with attributes that are more fitting to invincible super heroes.

Glorification as a form of coping, in order to eternalize one’s memory, is one matter, whereas glorifying others in order to justify our failures is another. Constructing a false portrait to redefine the aesthetics of a macabre environment is both dangerous and destructive.

In Palestine, we have seen glorification become systematically utilized by both the international community and Palestinians themselves as to obviate ourselves from catastrophes that seem to be falling left, right, and straight down the middle.

Martyrdom is not normal.

We see martyrs, children as young as 7, being portrayed as resistance fighters after being slaughtered by Israeli forces. Although we would like to convince ourselves that they have died for “the cause”, they have in fact died because of the cause. The first observable fact after the martyrdom of a Palestinian is their presentation in posters that are embellished with faction slogans, sometimes arms, in attempt to lionize these hijacked lives.

What we fail to realize however is that we are de facto stripping them of their humanity and their right to simply be that – individuals that have fallen victim to an unjust apartheid system. Death is inevitable, funerals are for the living, and we attempt to search for ways to cope, to find the most sublime mannerism to eulogize these lives lest we forget these stories that were stripped of the opportunity to complete their story. A story that never had the chance to begin.

The world and we must fathom the fact that our deaths are not stories for their latest novel, they do not exist to be romanticized and fetishized. There is no poetry in death, in murder, in hijacked souls. To appropriate our death is to further inferiorize us, to exalt a perpetrator, and to paint a gallery with our blood.

In Palestine, some people attempt to redeem themselves through these very maneuvers. This is evident in funerals when we chant for mothers to ululate that their sons and daughters are martyrs, like some sort of badge of honor. Whether they have fallen in combat, or were snipered as they returned home from school. Whether they are 50 years old, or 7 years young. Ululate sweet mother, ululate.

Palestinian woman carries the Palestinian flag after it was drenched in martyr Mustafa Tamimi's blood. Nabi Saleh, 2011 (Photo by Mariam Barghouti)
Palestinian woman carries the Palestinian flag after it was drenched in martyr Mustafa Tamimi’s blood. Nabi Saleh, 2011 (Photo by Mariam Barghouti)

We chant about vengeance, whilst providing hollow promises of never forgetting and continuing the struggle. We promise and promise de novo. We forget, and repeat. One martyr after the next, as we ask their loved ones to ululate before they return to an empty bedroom and a bed in which the outline of the body that once was is no longer visible.

A façade, disillusionment of the soul, misallocation of names and syllables we forget, only to be replaced by others. I have been to so many funerals that I cannot recall the names of half of the martyrs. I can, however, explain in perfect detail the anguish in their mother’s eyes, or how pale their bodies looked as they lay still and breathless. I can explain to you in perfect detail how every syllable was pronounced as their friends told me stories of their times together, but their name I cannot recall anymore. It is embarrassing and shameful to even admit this, but I cannot recollect their names. Our aim should not be to eulogize these deaths with hollow chants and vigils that allow us to sleep at night, but to ensure that it does not occur over and over again.

 

Living martyrs

There has been an indoctrinated belief that to die a martyr is an honor. Although there is honor in fighting for a dignified life, the achievement should not be to die, but to live. To live a dignified life or fight for it.

There is, however, a discrepancy between fighting out of genuine conviction, after reaching a personal understanding of the possibly grave consequences, and fighting simply out of indoctrination, after being bombarded with the constant portrayal of glorified deaths.

Bewilderment and awe have been a constant theme among active circles in which Palestinians in the front lines are rendered warriors and conquerors. We attribute super hero traits to individuals that have no choice but to fight or to die in silence. Rather than depicting them as heroes in our campaigns, it is more influential to not be complicit in such oppressive regimes, to work towards ending silence and collaboration. To present them not as what the occupation has turned them, but as who they are in defiance of the occupation.

No matter how strong one appears, many go home at night and collect the pieces of broken sorrows they cannot articulate anymore. Those that have become a part of us, like tumors we collect and carry in a suitcase that lacks wheels, and we drag it everywhere we go. The amount of trauma and anguish that is stuffed under the moments of bravery becomes heavy. Granting, that we still rise up and attempt to move forward, these underlying pains must be addressed and not disregarded.

Across the globe our children are being given honorary certificates and plaques for their “heroism” rather than shielding them and attending to their suffering and the strain this reality has taken on them. To remind them what it means to be a child. That it is not their duty to carry the cause on their backs, and if they are forced to fight due to the morbid existence of an unjust colonialism, that we will care and support them, we will not paint them and force them to paint themselves.

Therefore, when you are speaking of the heroism of Palestinians, remember that there is more to it. Do not allow pain to fester, and injustice to own, by justifying this anguish and presenting an aggrandized image of fighters. It must be remembered that the obsession with struggle has arisen from the context of being forced to fight, not of pure choice. When one is asphyxiated, they will search for air in every direction. Rather than cheering them on as they attempt to search for oxygen, break a window.

The aforementioned behavior is exemplified with Palestinian prisoners. Those that are incarcerated, are being aggressively celebrated in the most atrocious of ways. Some are held in solitary only to suffer a trauma that they may never recover from, while others sit in between walls contemplating plots that one cannot bear to think of. Opposed to working towards bringing them out and preventing further incarceration, we create stories speaking of their resilience. Although they are to be commended for dealing with such morbid situations, coping does not have to always be graceful, and if they inevitably fall, for they are human, we are astonished because we have lauded them for so long.

Our stories are not to be romanticized. Our struggle is still alive and it is bloody and ugly. It should be depicted just as that. Revolution is not the boasted image as perceived in movie excerpts, and it does not end with the rolling credits. It is a constant battle, with oneself and with the surrounding injustice. The fetish of presenting those resisting with capes and slogans of heroism strips us all from the right to be individuals and humans.

At the end of the day, we pray for a mundane day, and such a day has become a privilege we cannot find amid rubble and broken stories.

Sabra and Shatilla then, Yarmouk today

As we commemorate 32 years since the slaughter of Palestinians in the refugee camps of Sabra and Shatilla, Yarmouk must be addressed once again.

There is a certain binary between what happened in 1982, and what is occurring today in Yarmouk refugee camp. Whilst we fixate our anger towards a commemoration and yet continue to remain piercingly silent about the atrocities in Syria and more specifically Yarmouk, we are tainting and insulting all the lives lost in 1982.

We are trapped in waves of anger that appear only in moments of commemoration, yet that wrath subsides when we address the issues at hand. We have betrayed our brothers and sisters in Yarmouk camp, whilst we ululate the names of the 1982 massacre.

Residents of the besieged Palestinian camp of Yarmouk line up to receive food supplies in Damascus, Syria, Jan. 31, 2014. AP/UNRWA

There is a hypocrisy to memorializing a past massacre whilst disregarding an ongoing macabre. 32 years from now, it is not lives we will be commemorating, rather tongues we ought to sever in remembrance of the silence that perpetuated an agony.

Yarmouk remains under siege for over 400 days, with thousands of lives lost. 30 Palestinians have been murdered under torture in regime jails in the month of August alone. Water has been cut off for over a week, and thousands more fight death every single day.

Do not taint the lives of the martyrs in Sabra and Shatilla with your hypocrisy. Do not speak of tributes and commemorations as you salute another on slaughter. Do not think for a single second, that you will ever be forgiven.

Preaching about freedom whilst we remain complicit in another oppression

Syria, we have failed you, we have dumped you into the echelons of our memories afraid to voice our solidarity and support for you in your struggle against an oppressive regime. We have used excuses that do not justify the massacre, and remained silent as we preached about freedom.

Approximately 30 Palestinians have been tortured in Syria’s Regime jails in the month of August alone. That is an estimation of a Palestinian a day. A life drained through tactics that tormentors indulge themselves in under the name of allegiance and loyalty towards an effete system. This is the number of Palestinians in a single month. The amount of Syrians murdered has reached almost 200,000 since the Syrian people decided to rise against subjugation.   

Aleppo, Syria
Aleppo, Syria

There was subtle support in the beginning and slowly our numbers began to dwindle, especially on the Palestinian front. As Palestinians we have failed not only Syria but the Palestinians caught up in the turmoil. Our Palestinian sisters and brothers, refugees from their home, were forced to stand alone. We have manufactured excuses to support a regime that hides behind its fabricated support for Palestine. Whilst simultaneously, Yarmouk bleeds as it has bled for 3 years, and we chant about liberation as we forget our very own to bleed, in the diaspora, in besieged camps.

We are complicit in this despotic system that has cost thousands of lives, displaced hundreds of thousands and leaves an entire nation coping with trauma and conflict alone. We caved in to our feeling of helplessness and our fear of voicing our objection towards this regime with our duplicity.  

Assad does not support Palestine, and if we would like to entertain the thought that he does, it should not serve as justification for his oppression towards the Syrian people, including the Palestinian refugees that have been dragged into this conflict. We must not validate the mass murder and unjust incarceration of an entire people under the false pretext that this system once served the Palestinian cause. Not at the cost of the lives of others. We should not, will not, taint our cause with the blood of innocents.

It has been rationalized that the Syrian system prior to the eruption of the conflict has served the interest of Palestinian refugees in Syria. One does not get to acquit themselves of their tyrannical rule simply because they gave individuals their basic human rights. Not only does this rationalization exonerate Assad of his crimes, presenting him as a benevolent Godfather, but it is insulting to the thousands of lives that were lost.

Palestinians in Syria have become refugees once during their displacement by Israel, and once more when we have neglected them as they starved to death in a besieged camp, as they are kidnapped by regime forces only to be tortured as their families spend months with no knowledge of their whereabouts. Only to have a message sent to them, if they’re lucky, that their loved one has died. 

The world has failed the Syrian people, and as Palestinians that have endured and continue to resist against oppression with the world criticizing our very tactics and routes, we have failed to show solidarity with Syria. As Homs, Damascus, Aleppo and all of Syria faced its very own form of a Nakba (catastrophe) we stood idly by. To even proliferate our failure and highlight our shame, Syrians have constantly stood by Palestine and Palestinians in their struggle. Throughout the conflict they managed to send messages of support and solidarity.

Those that preach about freedom, about solidarity and complicity. Those of us that are constantly speaking out against silence when it comes to Palestine have dumped our call in a metal box and into the abyss when it came to Syria.

Our silence is piercing and Syria will never forgive us as we should be too ashamed to even ask for its forgiveness.

To rise up, is to be unafraid. To rise up is to not be selective, it is to care. To remember the names, we don’t even remember the numbers when it comes to Syria to even begin recollecting the names. To rise up, is to stop preaching what you cannot follow.

I am sorry Syria. I am sorry. With every bullet that punctures a soul, comes a silence that exemplifies our position, and it will echo until it pierces our ears.

Not in the name of the Palestinian cause

 

Photograph: Oliver Weiken/EPA

 

Palestine has been a major fixation in regards to a cause fighting injustice coming in the form of imperialism and colonialism. To stand with Palestine is to stand against injustice, apartheid, colonialism and imperialism. 

 
Solidarity is crucial in the destruction of any imperialist unjust regime, it serves to isolate it through the voice of the masses demanding it stripped of all its legitimacy to oppress.

 
There are however, those that use the Palestinian cause either to redeem their guilt or to mask the charade of their own injustice. 
 
Therefore it is crucial for Palestinians to address these problems and to refuse having our cause be a platform to guise tyranny and oppression of others under the pretext of supporting Palestine in attempts to legitimize another oppressive system, and we as Palestinians must reject any solidarity or support that stems from an injustice. 
 
As Palestinians, we have been calling on the international community, namely neighboring Arab neighbors to act and show solidarity with Palestine. With that, we forgot to address those nations own tyrant rulers. If it serves the Palestinian cause we remain content and turn a blind eye. We have seen it happen with Syria’s Bashar Al-Assad, Qatar’s ruling family, Libya’s Qaddafi, Turkey’s Erdogan, Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and many more. Many Palestinians disregarded those ruler’s own unjust actions and focused on their pseudo support for the Palestinian cause. 
 
The fixation on Palestine has created these schisms between the people and a repugnant disregard to the struggle of others. As Palestinians we must refuse any injustice committed against any people, even if it serves the Palestinian cause. 
 
This also applies to individuals, those that support Palestine yet continue to remain silent against other injustices across the globe. Palestine is not the only place struggling against an unjust system. We are fighting a system that precedes the history of Palestine and is acting in many forms outside of Israeli colonialism. Therefore, it is vital for the destruction of injustices and to ensure a culture based on mutual respect and combating injustice that we acknowledge the abuse of our cause. 
 
If it is at the expense of the blood of others, it must be refused. We cannot have our name be complicit in the oppression of others around the world. Any struggle, is a struggle that deserves solidarity, action, and support. An injustice is an injustice no matter the form it comes in. 
 
This is addressed to all those that oppress and use Palestine to legitimize their oppression. We cannot have the Palestinian liberation be tainted with a blood trail of others. that would be no liberation at all and we would have failed the entire purpose of the cause that stands against imperialism, colonialism and oppression. 
 
Not in the name of Palestine and not in the name of pseudo solidarity. 
 
 
Viva Bahrain, Chiapas, Brazil, Syria, Iraq, Kurdistan, Kashmir, Turkey, Egypt, Somalia, Uganda, Lebanon, Ferguson, and every single struggle out there. 
 
To stand against injustice is to stand against injustice, you cannot be selective.  

Dealing with teargas: from the Palestinian experience

Dealing with teargas:

 

Most of the tactics below are used in order to decrease the effects of teargas in order to remain conscious and avoid collapsing.

 

1- Take note of the direction of the wind all the times, and look for the location of the teargas canister in order to avoid it. Move in the opposite direction of the wind as to not get caught up in a cloud of teargas.

 

2- To avoid getting hit by a canister look up in the direction it’s being shot and check where the teargas canister falls, it’s less harmful for you to inhale some teargas than have a canister fall on your head.

 

3- Use a bandana, kuffiyeh, or any scarf that is soaked in vinegar, or has strong perfume sprayed on it and cover your face/nose with it. (This can both assist with the teargas and help cover your face for security reasons)

 

4-Use alcohol pads that can be purchased at your local pharmacy and when there is teargas, open the pad place it under your nose and breathe through it. This helps you not faint or collapse from teargas inhalation.

 

5-DO NOT RUB YOUR EYES! Teargas makes your eyes burn like fires from hell, but touching them will only exasperate the pain. Instead, use the alcohol pad to wipe under your eyes, or use a dry tissue to hold between your eyelids (in between your eyelashes) and close your eyes so it can soak up the teargas that’s stuck in your eyes.

6-Do not wash your face with water, as it will only increase the reaction of teargas with your skin and cause a burning sensation. Instead use milk or cola. Wait 10 minutes before drinking water, otherwise you’ll get nauseous. Sweat will also react with the teargas, it’s recommended to wear long pants. Gas that sticks in your hair and pores may sting in the shower, the sting passes within 20-30 seconds.

7- The effects of teargas usually last about 3 minutes, depending on the amount you inhale. So remember – mind over matter, keep reminding yourself this pain will pass, even as you have the urge to collapse. Make sure you’re getting away from the source of teargas whilst constantly reminding yourself the pain will pass. Stay standing up.

 

8- Spit. Spit a lot. It helps getting the gas out of your system. Also hold one nostril closed and blow out the other to get the tear gas out.

 

9- If you want to return teargas canisters towards the police/army as a present, it’s a good idea to be  wearing heavy work gloves that can sustain heat, as the canisters will more and more hot from the moment they explode. A more effective means is not to only throw it back directly at the oppressing forces, but to test the wind and throw it at a location in which the wind will carry the teargas towards them.

 

10- The “Venom” launcher mounted on top of vehicles, or the multiple projectiles are much smaller than a single canister and the gas comes out faster, so there’s no point in trying to return them. In this case also it’s important to look at the direction the canisters are shot from in order to avoid getting hit. The amount of gas can completely fill up a street and it will take it more time to dissipate as it hangs in the air.

****Rubber bullets,plastic coated steel bullets & Foam baton.

 

There is a misconception that rubber bullets are not lethal, however a hit to the torso or head from close range can cause severe injury and even death.  

 

1-If you hear rubber bullets being shot, turn around make sure your back is facing the direction of the shot, bow (about 45°), keep your head down and cover your head and neck with your hands. You will have around 3-5 seconds to move somewhere before the bullet reaches you, so attempt to hide behind something as to avoid injury.

 

2-In case of injury ice the area immediately in order to avoid inflammation of the bruise. You can purchase “cooler spray” from your local pharmacy. If there is bleeding do NOT freeze the wound, instead apply pressure on the wound to stop the bleeding and locate the closest medic/ambulance.

 

3-Carrying a backpack can help provide protection against rubber bullets.

 

***Stun grenades/ sound bombs

 

These are used in order to induce fear and anxiety amongst demonstrators. If they are at a distance from you, they are generally not harmful so do not be afraid.

 

1-If the grenade was thrown at a close distance from you, turn your back to it cover your ears and close your eyes as to not have any fragments/shrapnel harm you.

 

2-If you are at close range from the grenade try and move away from it quickly, if it

explodes near you it can cause minor bruises.

 

Tips:

1- use dumpsters to block the police’s way or to hide from rubber bullets or even burn the garbage inside to make it harder for the police to see you.

2- try to get painter mask or gas mask & use them with the work gloves to throw back the tear gas.

3- always improvise & try to find a way to deal with the new things they are using & remember ACAB.

From Palestine to Ferguson, Bahrain, Egypt, Athens, Istanbul, Brazil, Barcelona and all resisting people all over the world.