Volume 3 Issue 3 August 2019
Letter from the Editor I am writing this letter from my family home in Palestine with renewed hope and purpose. The theme of this issue is perseverance, a theme I don’t think I fully understood until this trip. Being here has shown me the true meaning of perseverance, and what it means specifically in the context of Palestine. As you read through this issue, I ask that you reflect on what it means to persevere, to remain hopeful while facing adversity, and to live with purpose. If there is a truth to be told, your job is to tell it. If there is a story to be shared, your job is to share it. And with that in mind, I hope that you allow Falastin magazine to be the medium through which you share your truths and stories and resist. This is the last issue of the third volume of the magazine and I am so grateful to everyone who made this issue possible. Thank you to the staff of Falastin, to all of our contributors, who make each and every issue better than the last, to the PACC board for always being so supportive, and to you, the reader for supporting each and every issue. Sincerely, Reem Farhat, Editor in Chief
Letter from the Executive Director As I read the pieces throughout the magazine a wave of nostalgia passes through me. Within days, I will be visiting this land that we all hold so dear to our hearts. While the excitement builds, I would be lying to myself and to all of our readers if I told you these feelings were not tangled with nerves. The reality is as Saja Awad says in her piece, on page 24, that vacationing in Palestine is not like living there. I am reminded of this every time the nerves creep into my thoughts. I want to be able to visit Palestine one day and only feel excitement and together, one day, we will make this a reality. At PACC, we have had a very busy and productive summer and are preparing for an even more productive year to come. The highlight of this summer was partaking in a state wide campaign to end children’s hunger and providing free meals to our students. In addition, we hosted Janna Jihad, the youngest journalist in the world (an interview with her is featured on page 12) who spoke to kids her age and shared a first hand experience of the struggles of Palestinian children. We invite you all to join our many programs and events this upcoming school year. Tank you to our Falastin staff for successfully completing Volume 3. Thank you to our board of director and sponsors for their continuous support. Last, but not least, thank you for picking this up and supporting Falastin. Sincerely, Rania Mustafa, Executive Director
Falastin Staff Editor in Chief, Reem Farhat Poetry Editor, Aya Mustafa Fiction Editor, Marah Siyam News Editor, Aseel Washah Arabic Editor, Aseel Zeinati Arabic Editor, Hiba B’irat Copy Editor, Basma Bsharat Layout Editor, Ibrahim Issa 2
TABLE OF CONTENTS The Olive Trees Tell Stories by Marah Siyam..............................................................................5 I Will by Salma Othman....................................................................................................................6 Don’t Underestimate by Razaan Halak........................................................................................10 Palestine Perseverance by Sowsan Ribhi.....................................................................................10 جلست بظل شجرة الزيتون تأليف أية مصطفى..................................................................................................10 التواني (فلسطين) تأليف يوسف قطب..............................................................................................................11 صناعة الصدف تأليف رجاء غزاونة................................................................................................................11 Interview with Janna Jihad by Rania Mustafa...........................................................................12 Shouldn’t Holy Months be Sacred? By Hafsa Habehh.............................................................14 Marc Lamont Hill on Powerful Truths........................................................................................18 4 Owls Silenced by Mohamed Arafat..........................................................................................20 Lessons on Perseverance by Reem Farhat...................................................................................21 Palestinian Refugees in the Occupies West Bank by Shoruq Organization.........................22 Life in Palestine- Is it THAT Different by Saja Awad Barghouthi........................................24 Existence is Resistance by Ammar Zidat.....................................................................................28
We’d like to give a special thank you to Salma Zaitar, whose artwork is featured on the front cover, and Said Elateb, whose work is featured on the back cover.
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Painting by Said Elateb 4
The Olive Trees Tell Stories By Marah Siyam There is only so much I can do with the tools the only places left in the world that still have the life has given me. I don't have a lot of money, or fami- scent of my parents? My parents’ house burnt down ly, or friends, I guess nothing at all to some people. I after some kids were playing with firecrackers too know the lack of social interaction weighs heavy on close to the house. I was in the house when it caught me sometimes, but still I feel fulfilled everytime I go fire. I didn't leave the burning house, my mind just to my home. My home isn't like yours, there isn't a shut off and I knew I would never be able to live room or an oven, I don't even have a bed and I’m 67 without it, so I stayed inside. I believe the trees saved years old so you can only imagine how bad my back me. They are the only ones that care about me and is, -but I am grateful. That is something I've always need me. Everyone says a man saved me, but I don't been able to say no matter what. believe that. People aren't that darMy home is wide and ing or nice, especially to me. I only “My home is wide and filled filled with red dirt that is soft to have these trees left, and that's fiwith red dirt that is soft to ne. They are mine and only mine. the touch, it’s what I believe the floor of Jannah feels like. The the touch, it’s what I believe The Israelis tried burning my trees, ceilings reach the heavens, the taking my trees, and stealing my the floor of Jannah feels clouds decorate these ceilings, trees, but of course they could nevlike.” even when it rains it looks like er succeed in hurting them. “I glitter adding only beauty to my know the first thing my parents home. The smell doesn't come from the kitchen, it passed down to me was not these trees, or that house; comes from the morning dew or the leaves that fall it's the unique perseverance Palestinians hold.” They and release the lightest scent of green. My home is, or could hurt me, and even kill me, but no one will rather -- are, my olive trees that stretch for miles and touch this land unless somehow they drain every miles, never leaving me bored or hungry, never leav- drop of Palestinian blood out of my body. ing me period. These trees don't move and that's where the comfort comes from; they never leave me when I need something to lay on, the leaves bend over to create shade for me. When I need someone to dance with, the trees sway so naturally towards my body teaching me their moves and culture. Each tree is different; one tells me the stories of those who have passed before me, one tells me how the weather has only gotten worse over the decades, one even tells me about my parents. My parents both died while I was only a child, and the only thing they left me were these olive trees. Many people don’t talk to me because they think I’ve gone crazy since my parents died; when they see me talking to my trees they say I’m possessed by a Jinn. But I haven't gone crazy and I still read Quran every single day and I doubt those Jinns would like that. I actually don't really know why I don't like talking to people. The only memory I have of talking to anyone was this woman who said I should sell the trees and my parents’ house to make money since I have no one to take care of me. I didn't like that; why would I sell one of Photo taken by Reem Farhat 5
“I Will” By Salma Othman “I give up. I won’t talk about it anymore. I’m done. No one will listen mama. Why won’t they listen?” “Habibti, what’s wrong?” “I keep trying to bring up what is happening in Palestine to raise awareness, but everyone tells me to just give up because no one will listen. I think I am going to just stop.” “Oh Aisha, come here sit. Let me tell you a story of when I was around your age. I was 18 years old and I wanted to change the world.”
did my best to make a difference,” I told him, making him just stare at me visibly disappointed. But I didn’t care. I got a text message from my friend telling me that I needed to stop talking about what is happening overseas. I had sent a group of my friends a post that talks about Zionism and how they celebrate on the day of the Nakba, translated to catastrophe. I guess they didn’t like it very much because I was once again told to be silent. I felt a pang of sadness when I realized even my close friends were blinded by their own ignorance. So I vowed to never forget the people who don’t have help and the people that are depending on us to change the world. I will go into Communications and I will become a famous journalist that no one can silence.
25 years ago “You can’t do it, just change your major,” my principal told me when I told her I wanted to go into Journalism. I looked at her absolutely gobsmacked at how she discouraged my entire future without batting her eyes. I prepared myself for some discouragement but I didn’t expect to be told to take a seat in this world and just watch. I came to the decision that I wanted to become a journalist so that I could finally speak of Palestine without people trying to silence me. I grew up with people always telling me I couldn’t do anything to help and that I was just one person and one person can’t change the world. But I was a very stubborn teenager and I refused to take a seat in the war that is going on. “Thank you for the encouragement and advice, but I think I will go now,” I replied to her in a sweet tone and walked out of her office. When I got home, I started to research what was going on in Palestine so I could become more educated on the topic, but I got interrupted when my uncle came over. “Asmaa, come khalo is here,” my mom told me from downstairs. I rushed downstairs and said Salam to my uncle, and when he asked me what I was planning on studying in college, I replied with full confidence. “Inshallah I am going to major in Communications and Media Studies.” “Why? That isn’t going to get you anywhere in life,” he told me with a distraught look on his face. “The answer is simple, I’m sick and tired of people not caring about what is happening outside of their bubble so I am going to pop that bubble and bring the news to them. I told myself that if I am going to leave this world I am going to leave knowing I
Present “I was told for many years that I couldn’t do anything and that I was destined to fail, but that made me want to prove them wrong. Look at me now, I became that famous journalist I wanted to be. I go all around the world teaching people about other countries that need our help. You think now that no one will ever listen, but trust me- there are some people in this world that are looking for answers and searching for the truth. If you give up now then all those people who are waiting for your help are going to die waiting. The world is counting on you Aisha, don’t let us down. But most importantly, don’t let yourself down. If everyone thought they couldn’t do it and that no one would ever care, then this world would be a horrible place to live in. So we need those people who will take a stand and never back down. We need those who will show perseverance and truly change the world. So Aisha, will you continue your mission and let people know exactly what is going on in Palestine... or will you crumble under the pressure of those trying to silence the truth?”
Illustration by Massara Haseeb
جلست بظل شجرة الزيتون تأليف آية مصطفى
By Razaan Halak Don't underestimate the power of kindness For one act could spark a smile Don't underestimate the power of a smile For one smile can bring hope Don't underestimate the power of hope For having faith raises individuals Don't underestimate the power of an individual For one could make a change Don't underestimate the power of change For it can create love Don't underestimate the power of love For love causes hate Don't underestimate the power of hate For hate destroys everything above
ألستمتع بجمال األرض الفلسطينية أكلت الكنافة النابلسية ألستمتع بحالوة الثقافة الفلسطينية جهزت فالفل وحمص لالفطار كي أثبت أنها أكلة فلسطينية تعلمت كارة التطريز كي أُحيي التراث الفلسطيني صلَّيت في المسجد األقصى أرض فلسطينية كي يعلم الصهاينة أن القدس ٌ تكلمت باللغة العربية حتى ال أنسى اللغة الفلسطينية رفعت العلم الفلسطيني ألني أفتخر بجنسيتي الفلسطينية
Palestine Perseverance By Sowsan Ribhi Fenced in, can’t go anywhere I see my olive tree Next to my fig tree In the middle of my inherited share I sit and endure your endless tyrannical unconscionable rule You do not need to recognize my existence For I exist despite your presence As I struggle I aim for resolve Your absolute state soon to dissolve Only then will you recognize That a Palestinian you can’t terrorize Defined by terms you can’t acquire Look for me You will find perseverance Causing your disturbance with my persistence Standing tall, an unwavering empire Every single defiant Palestinian is its emperor We follow only our rule and that of our Creator Keep attacking for in the midst of your fire I’m always overtaken by endurance Thoughts of the holy land with its abundance where written on every single stone Is the word Palestine
صناعة الصدف تأليف رجاء غزاونة المحلية إضافة إلى تصدير قسم ال بأس به إلى األسواق العربية الخليجية وكذلك دول أوروبا. الفخـار: تعتبر صناعة الفخار من الصناعات البدائية واألكثر قدما ً بين الصناعات التقليدية في فلسطين ،حيث واكبت الحضارات اإلنسانية منذ األزل حتى يومنا هذا ،وما زالت هذه الحرفة تمارس في مختلف المناطق والقرى الفلسطينية ،بل أنه حتى وقت قريب كانت كل منطقة متخصصة في إنتاج أشكال معينة من القدور ،إال أن األمر لم يأخذ في أي حال طابع الصناعة المتطورة ،بل بقي يتسم بالطابع العائلي والمنزلي ،باستثناء مشاغل محددة أنشئت في الخليل وغزة ،كما بقيت منشأة واحدة في مدينة جنين شماالً وأخرى في منطقة طوباس في وسط فلسطين .وبشكل أدق تتوزع المنشآت العاملة في صناعة الفخار وفق ما يلي 79 :مشغال في الخليل تشغل 69عامالً 96،منشآت في غزة تشغل 21عامالً وفي جنين هناك مشغالً واحداً يعمل فيه 9 عمال وفي مدينة طوباس هناك منشأة واحد ة تشغل 0عمال وكذلك منشأتين تاريخيتين في مدينة ارتاح تشغالن ثمانية عمال .يغلب على هذه الصناعة التقليدية الطابع العائلي من حيث ملكية المنشأة والعمالة المشتغلة ،حيث يعتبر جميع العمال من األقارب الذين يتوارثون هذه المشاغل عن اآلباء. أظهرت الزيارات الميدانية لهذه المصانع أنها ما زالت تستعمل معدات بسيطة تتألف من الدوالب وفرن الشي الذي يعمل على حرق الحطب وزيت الديزل ،مما يسبب أضرارا ً بيئية ،وتعتبر إسرائيل السوق الرئيسي لمنتجات الفخار حيث يصدر إليها %61من اإلنتاج، بينما يسوق %71في األسواق المحلية
تعود صناعة الصدف في فلسطين إلى القرن السادس عشر، شأنها في ذلك شأن صناعة خشب الزيتون ،حيث أدخلتها إلى فلسطين البعثات التبشيرية الدينيـة وتطورت هذه الصناعة في مطلع القرن من استمرار تطور هذه الصناعة في زمن االحتالل البريطاني إال أن االنتعاش الحقيقي تحقق في العهد الذي تولت فيه الحكومة األردنية اإلشراف على الضفة الغربية ،حيث أعفت القوانين األردنية جميع الصناعات الدينية من الضرائب ،لذا يمكن اعتبار تلك الفترة عهدا ً ذهبيا ً لتطوير هذه الصناعة. وقد تسبب االحتالل اإلسرائيلي في تراجع هذه الصناعة بشكل واضح ،كغيرها من الصناعات الفلسطينية ،وتم فرض ضرائب ورسوم مختلفة أدت إلى ارتفاع تكاليف اإلنتاج إضافية إلى تراجع الطلب المحلي على هذه المنتجات بسبب انحسار قطاع السياحة مما انعكس على قدرة استمرار العديد من المنشآت على العمل فأغلقت الكثير من المشاغل وانتقل عدد كبير منها للعمل في األردن نظرا ً لتوفير شروط وحوافز تشجيعية لمثل هذه الصناعات. يبلغ عدد مشاغل الصدف 52مشغالً تتوزع في منطقة بيت لحم وبيت ساحور ،بينما كان يصل عددها قبل االحتالل اإلسرائيلي عام 7691إلى 177منشأة ،ويعمل حاليا ً في هذه الصناعة ما يقارب 711عامل في حين بلغ العدد اإلجمالي للعاملين عام 7691حوالي 011عامل(**) .ومن الجدير بالذكر أن عملية تصنيع منتجات الصدف تحتاج إلى الكثير من الجهد والمهارات التي يتم اكتسابها عبر فترات زمنية طويلة. يتم استيراد المادة الخام من الصدف من استراليا ،والمكسيك وإندونيسيا ،وتباع المنتجات بشكل رئيسي في األسواق السياحية
التواني (فلسطين) تأليف يوسف قطب وقبل أيام عدّة ،هدم بيوتا ً وصادر معدّات تعود إلى إحدى العائالت". ويلفت إلى ّ أن "تلك البيوت ال تناسب حياة األهالي هناك في الصيف، إذ ترتفع الحرارة فيه إلى أقصاها ،كذلك األمر في فصل الشتاء ال سيّما مع البرد الشديد واألمطار الغزيرة .لذا يعيش الناس في الكهوف بهدف البقاء والصمود".
التواني هي قرية فلسطينية صغيرة في جنوب جبل الخليل من محافظة الخليل .العديد من سكان القرية يعيشون في الكهوف حيث أن االحتالل اإلسرائيلي يقوم بهدم البيوت باستمرار .وتقع القرية إلى الجنوب الغربي من مدينة يطا.وهي قريبة من مستوطنة ماعون اإلسرائيلية (التي شيدت في عام .)7697وتحدث نزاعات متكررة بين سكان التواني والمستوطنين على األراضي والطرق والموارد المائية. تقع خربة المفقرة بين ثالث مستوطنات ،األقرب إليها مستوطنة "أفيغال" التي تتميّز بمبانيها العصرية والحديثة والتي تمتد وتتوسع على حساب أراضي الفلسطينيين هناك .بالتالي، ّ فإن سلطات االحتالل تطمع بالخربة وتسعى إلى طرد أهاليها والسيطرة على أراضيهم وسرقتها لصالح تلك المستوطنة. ويقول منسق اللجان الشعبية لمقاومة الجدار واالستيطان في جنوب الخليل ،راتب الجبور ،لـ"العربي الجديد"ّ ، إن "أهالي المفقرة يعيشون في الكهوف بسبب القيود المشددة التي تفرضها عليهم سلطات االحتالل اإلسرائيلي ،وتمنعهم من البناء والتوسع .ففي الكهوف يتجنّب الفلسطينيون إخطارات الهدم ووقف العمل والبناء". ويتحدّث الجبور عن "البيوت المصنوعة من القماش (بيوت الشعر) أو تلك المشيّدة من صفائح الحديد ،على الرغم من ّ أن االحتالل اإلسرائيلي يهدمها دائما ً عند مداهمة الخربة. 11
Interview with Janna Jihad Interviewed By Rania Mustafa Janna Jihad Ayyad is 13 year old Palestinian youth activist and amateur journalist from the village of Nabi Saleh in the West Bank. In 2018, Janna was officially registered and became the youngest press card-carrying member of the Palestinian Journalist Syndicate. Janna began reporting at the age of seven, after witnessing the killing of two of her family members by Israeli occupation forces that had entered her village. Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs named Janna Jihad at the age of eleven, a grave security threat to the state because of Janna’s young age, European appearance (blonde hair and blue eyes), fluency in English (with an American accent), media recognition and large international following. Janna also serves as the ambassador for the organization SHAMSAAN (meaning 'two suns' in Arabic) which is a collaborative South African initiative that promotes activism using a creative arts approach in promoting the values of human rights and social justice. You can learn more about Shamsaan at www.shamsaan.org.
What would you say is your biggest challenge as a child in Palestine? There are a lot of challenges because I can get arrested anytime because of the Israli military law. There are a lot of challenges as a Palestinian child just thinking and sleeping on the thought that you can wake up sometimes on the soldiers in your house it’s just very terrifying. Those feelings and stuff we face are some challenges we face as Palestinian children. What is your favorite thing about reporting and why? My favorite thing about reporting is basically that it's a really nice way to send my message and raise awareness. It’s working and it is raising awareness about what's happening.
What can Palestinians living in the diaspora do to make a difference? They can do a lot of stuff. We have the educational funds for Shamsan which they can support. They can call the representatives and ask them to coWhat inspired you to pick up the camera and start sponsor HR2407 Betty McCollum “No Way to Treat a reporting at such a young age? Child” Bill. And they must educate themselves about I started journalism when I was 7 years old when I realized that there were not enough journalists what's happening and also be the voice of the chilto cover everything that happened in Nabi Saleh and Palestine in general. Like when my friend Mustafa was killed, my uncle Rushdi was killed; there’s a lot of things happening in the world and they didn’t know how we are feeling as Palestinian children living under the Isreali occupation. So I wanted to be the voice of those children and just send their message to the world; and be the voice of those messages and those feelings and just send it to the world. What is one message you want to get out to the world? I want the whole world to know that we are not living like any other children; like a normal child. Our rights and childhood are getting violated. We just want to live in peace, justice, and equality just like any other child in this world.
Photo taken by Ahmad Jamhour 12
dren who are suffering. And to just try to get edu- and invite more people to come to Nabi Saleh
cated and educate people about whatâ€™s happening They also can come and visit Palestine, our houses are open. Come and see what's actually happening and go tell what you personally saw
and to Palestine and the West Bank.
Illustration by Carlos Latuff
Shouldn’t Holy Months be Sacred? By Hafsa Habehh With Ramadan behind us, we reminisce the need to be able to use our freedom and voice to grant beautiful nights of reflection and humility. Following them theirs. It is our duty as Palestinians and as Musthe end of the holy month, Muslims around the world lims to be able to stand against these injustices. This were celebrating and enjoying the company of their includes massacres against all holy centers and other family and loved ones. For the people of Palestine, countries under siege. With all of this happening at however, this time is not as wistful. As we know, the one time, we need to be able to keep up with it and Israeli army does not let the year finish without an make sure we spread this to everyone we can. With attack on the Palestinian people. However, looking at everything going on in the media about Palestinians the timelines of these attacks, they always seem to and anti-Semitism, we’ve seen so much positivity, but align with Ramadan. The biggest example is the most we’ve also seen tons of negativity. It’s important for recent series of attacks on Gaza within the first days us to do our own research and share facts rather than of Ramadan that left around 30 people dead, includ- fake news. ing pregnant women and children under 5 years old; I want to acknowledge the bravery of our this doesn’t include more than 150 wounded. Not to Muslim congresswomen Rep. Rashida Tlaib and Rep. forget the 7-week Gaza War in 2014, which left more Ilhan Omar. Despite the horrible attacks against them than 2300 people (including chil(through media and even threats), dren under 5 years old) dead, as these women stood by the rights of well as nearly 11000 injured, be- “We need to be able to use Palestinians. In a time like this, we gan exactly one week into Ramour freedom and voice to need to be brave like these role modadan. With these attacks rouels and stick to what we believe in. grant them theirs. It is our tinely landing during this time, We cannot let people twist their duty as Palestinians and as words and paint them in a negative it no longer seems like a coincidence. Tragedies like this alMuslims to be able to stand light. Spread the news, get involved, ways make me think about the against these injustices.” and use your spaces to educate othhorrors of the massacres of holy ers on Palestine. Together, we will centers like mosques, churches, free Palestine. and temples. It’s no doubt that massacres and soulless killing of innocent individuals are extremely horrifying. However, attacks on individuals in a time and place of humility and reflection are the worst kind of terrorism. In fact, holy times and places of worship are very vulnerable. Vulnerability is defined as the emotional exposure of a person. Now, the month of Ramadan does not only make an individual emotionally weak, but physically as well. Throughout the month, Muslims are fasting from sunrise to sunset which in Palestine can be more than 16 hours. With the vulnerability of the holy month, these attacks are worse than they could be at any other time in the year. The terrorists that commit these violent acts cannot be blind to this. With the routine attacks on Palestinians during this holy month, it is clear that they make these decisions strategically. While being in the same boat of vulnerability during the month of Ramadan, we can understand this. Whether it is inside or outside this month, we cannot forget our brothers and sisters in Palestine. We 14
Illustration by Carlos Latuff
Marc Lamont Hill on Powerful Truths Interviewed by Reem Farhat Dr. Marc Lamont Hill is an activist, journalist, author, and professor at Temple University. On November 28, 2018, Dr. Hill gave a passionate speech on the need for the international community to unite for Justice for Palestine. Following his comments, he was fired from his position at CNN. He has since not backed down from his sentiments, and is currently host of BET’s Black Coffee and is working on his upcoming documentary, Black in the Holy Land.
nections between Africans throughout the Diaspora and Palestinians everywhere. Can you talk to us about your upcoming documentary, Black in the Holy Land? Black in the Holy Land is my way to get us to think about race in the Middle East. When I say Black in the Holy Land, I put air quotes around all of them. Black means something very specific in the United States. It speaks to a certain set of experiences, and it is a complicated term and what it means to be black in America is different from what it means to be “Negro” in Puerto Rico, and what “Asmar” means in Palestine. So what I am trying to do is figure out what race means in these different places. Specifically, I want to see how African communities navigate that in different settings, especially against the backdrop of historic Palestine. What does it mean to be from Jericho and be Afro-Palestinian but does not necessarily identify as Afro-Palestinian and has been in Palestine for hundreds of years and couldn’t tell you where his ancestors were from. Or I could be like Ali Jeddah in East Jerusalem who is a community leader there. His father is mukhtar of the African Quarters of Chad and is Nigerian on his mother’s side. But his family has been in Palestine since before the Nakba and have been a part of the resistance. Or what does it mean to be an Ethiopian Jew who immigrated to Israel, and how is that different from other Muslims or Christians who are here as refugees. I am trying to make sense of all these things.
Photo taken by Ahmad Jamhour
Your speech at the UN on Palestine was incredibly passionate and emboldened and seemed to come Tell us about your experiences in Palestine. from a personal place. Were there any experiences in So I first went to Palesitne in January of 2015 particular that inspired that speech? with the Dream Defenders as part of a delegation of There is this idea in a wonderful book that is activists, artists, writers, and teachers who were trycoming out soon by a woman named Mai Hassan that ing to build solidarity with black Americans and Pal- talks about the idea of being an engaged witness. It is estinians both living in Palestine and throughout the one thing to read about something, and another enDiaspora. We met with different organizations such tirely to be on the ground and see it and feel it. That as the human rights organization Adalah, and learned idea of an engaged witness, of seeing black faces in about the struggle. It was really powerful and comEast Jerusalem, looking at children in Khalil strugpelling. Since then, I have returned many times. I’ve gling and having to go through checkpoints to get spent a great deal of time in Palestine as a researcher from here to there, looking at Khan Al Ahmar where studying the Afro-Palestinian community in East Je- these people have built a village out of mud, and rusalem. Over those many trips and the time that I watch it be destroyed any minute for settlement exhave spent there, I have met with the communities pansion, seeing that up close made me think about and spent time thinking about how we can draw con- things differently. This one time, I was on the way to 18
Isawiyah, there was a ‘flying checkpoint’, which means a checkpoint is just made randomly on the road. I watched this 80 year old man have to pull his pants down for security, it makes you cry. When you see all these kinds of things, you say there is something about this occupation, about this battle for justice, that makes you need to understand things differently.
everyone is not free?” I think that the Black freedom struggle has always modeled a kind of commitment to not just intersectional freedom, but to think across the world what freedom and justice could look like. I think that is something of critical importance. That means that we have to be asking ourselves does Black Palestinian solidarity just look like Black folk calling for a free Palestine, it also has to be Palestinians saying “Black Lives Matter.” And what does that look What would you say to individuals who believe in like on the ground on a day to day. That is the kind of the Palestinian right to freedom, who see what hap- stuff that excites me about this movement. Because pened to you or Ilhan Omar and the backlash peomaybe more than ever, there is an opportunity, a ple get for speaking up and are afraid to speak up chance, a possibility, for Black Palestinian solidarity for Palestine? to flourish. But that means that we have lessons to Speaking up isn’t something you do because learn from you, sumood, steadfastness. That isn’t to you lack fear. There is a reason to be afraid. There is a say that Black people aren’t steadfast, but there is reason for your voice to shake when something about the particular ways that you speak powerful truths. I don’t plays out in the Palestinian context that fault people for being afraid, I just “What does freedom are interesting and insightful. We need to want people to say even though I and justice look like build from each other and learn from am afraid I will speak anyways. The each other. We need to unlearn antiif everyone is not reason I want them to do that is beBlack racism, unlearn Islamophobia, unfree?” cause justice requires that we do learn anti-Arab sentiments, and that way that. And when we don’t do that, we can build something greater. we make things more challenging for ourselves long term. Everything has to be free for justice to prevail. If we have a collective commitment to justice, it's much harder to defeat all of us. What should we as Palestinians take from Black Liberation movements? One of the most beautiful things about the Black Liberation struggle, particularly here in the states, is that it has always had internationalists impulses. We have always looked to the Carribeans, we have always looked to the Haitians, and we have found strength, inspiration, and solidarity in those struggles. For me, an internationalist vision is necessary for Black folk to be free. When I think about the Palestinian struggle, what lessons can be learned from the Black struggle is to keep that internationalist mindset. Therefore, as a Palestinian living in ‘48 or living in the West Bank or Gaza or Jordan, you are looking at Palestinian liberation as a piece of a larger struggle that will liberate folks in Yemen, and will liberate women in Saudi Arabia, and will liberate folks in South Sudan against the government. “What does freedom and justice look like if 19
4-Owls Silenced By Mohamed Arafat A bomb, A shell broke the silence, of an about to cry child. He was scared, but more scared to cry. It broke the silence of the owls during the night. There were no owls, no bats, and no crickets. A raid broke the silence of peace the silence of freedom, the silence of those promised to stay by us. It also breaks the glass of the window over that child. His mother and father were in shock, not knowing whether to cry, to scream, to ask for help, to die, or to refuse to die. No one to help them though, but to hug their child and pray. Nothing to do though. but to curse the wars, and its makers. “Shall we stay or leave?” The mother whispered, but no one heard her. “Shall we stay or leave?” She again whispered and groaned, but none responded. It was dark. No power during the night, no mercy but the mercy of God, the mercy of war makers already died. Mercilessness. “Shall we stay or leave?” She again asked. Everyone left. Even our neighbor who loved this country. He left. Everyone left. Even the other one who has two Ford cars. And the other one who had diplomatic passport. All left but us. No one responded to her, but the shells did though, Another window broke, the kitchen is gone,
the bathroom, the bedroom, the small cradle of her child, his toys, his kids books, his socks, and the little shoes. She wasn’t saddened. “My child isn’t gone yet, Thank god,” She breathed, looking at her child, feeling his hands, They were cold, his little feet were cold too, he didn’t breathe… There is something wrong with your son. His body is so cold. He doesn’t breathe. She cried to her husband, whose body was cold too! She didn’t know how she lost them. whether from the shells, Fear, Or from the mercilessness.
Lessons on Perseverance By Reem Farhat Here, I’ve learned the meaning of perseverson. I learned that flowers can grow out of rubble, ance over and over. even when that rubble was a home. I’ve never seen so I went to get my glasses fixed, and this wom- much light in a woman’s face. an was holding a pair of broken ones in her hand. She There’s a spot in my village where you can told the owner there that the jheish broke her son’s almost see the entirety of the country. It’s a steep pair when they arrested him, and she wanted to redrive, and a hazard at night, but once you take in the place them with the exact same type. With patience view you forget how much the unpaved rocks must that can only be sent by God to those whom He loves have worn down your tires. You can see the shining the most, the owner searched each and every corner top of Qubbat as-Sakhrah from there. This is when of his store for an exact replica. We home is the most beautiful. In the all rejoiced when he finally found dead of the night overlooking the “I learned that flowers town, the dogs barking, the stars comone. Backseat conversations with can grow out of rubble, peting with the dome of the rock, the taxi drivers are anything but muneven when that rubble cool breeze. “It’s those moments that dane. They go past the generic quesyou take with you, that keep you was a home.” tions we all ask once the silence gets longing for return, and marveling at too heavy. Far past the, “How long the miracle that is Falastin.” have you been doing this for?” But if you need those Here, I’ve learned the meaning of perseveranswers, you’ll find them too. Fifteen years. He start- ance over and over. I see it in the olive trees which ed working as a cab driver when they took away his grow without water in the dry heat day after day. In ID card. He has never traveled outside of Palestine, the figs which keep us all waiting but come by the and only works in the West Bank. same time every year, ripe and sweet and soft. In the Saturday is the day of rejoice in Ramallah. It’s moon which seems a million times closer here and I the day that the IDF isn’t stationed at the DCO, the never know why, but she rises and falls each night checkpoint in front of the city. Traffic on this day is a without fail. good thing. It’s “normal” traffic, the kind that happens when there’s too many people going to the same place at the same time. Not the kind when soldiers point guns at your car. When you’re on your way to work and have to get your ID checked every morning. When an entire bus full of people is emptied and made to stand outside sweltering in the summer heat. This is happy traffic. Little boys are men here. When I ask my little brother what he wants to be when he grows up, he tells me he wants to be an astronaut. He wants to explore space and wear a cool helmet and fly. When I ask my younger cousin who grew up here what he wants to be, he says an engineer. He wants to rebuild the houses that have been destroyed. I met a woman with a bright face, hands that betrayed her age, and a photo of her son hanging around her neck. I learned he graduated at the top of his class. That he loved science and math, but also loved reading poetry. I learned she had to bury him three years ago and that his future was buried with him. Her house was torn down when they shot her Photo taken by Reem Farhat 21
Life in Palestine, Is it THAT Different? By Saja Awad Barghouthi During spring of 2018, my family decided to away from us. Every morning I would see this sight, move back to Palestine. Being born and raised in New as they could fly past checkpoints while we would Jersey, I was brought up to be proud of my homeland have to wait hours just for a teenager covered from and therefore I understood that eventually we would head to toe with artillery could look inside, ask for make our way back. (Eventually.) To say I was our ID’s, and finally let us through. No reason, no shocked, confused, and excited all at once, was an un- questions, just wait. There’s no siren to tell us there derstatement. On one hand, I felt that my entire life in will be a heavy checkpoint, or that my village’s only New Jersey was over, and having to start a complete- entrance is closed today. Day to day, there’s some ly new one in Palestine seemed like the most difficult type of new problem to face which would affect even task I could ever be given. On the other hand, Palesthe most basic of tasks, like going to work, or school, tine was always a place dear to my heart, and if I was or a hospital, -even during emergencies. being completely honest, a part of me was always I remember during December of 2018, every jealous of my siblings who single entry point to Ramallived there growing up. And lah was closed; every en“Anyone who shows sympathy to- trance to each village around so, taking all of my experiwards the Palestinian cause is auto- mine was closed. There was ences, memories, and four suitcases, I took the 12-hour matically a target no matter which no way out. The open-air flight to Palestine to begin country they are from; even if that prison we’d compare Palesmy new life. tine to had become my realicountry is the one depositing bil- ty, my new life. After a week My perception of lions to fund Israel.“ what life would actually be of these sealed checkpoints, I like in Palestine was probadecided to drive to one, waitbly similar to all of yours. If there’s anything I could ed for my turn and asked the Israeli soldier in Engemphasize, it’s that vacationing in Palestine is nothlish, “Why are you letting the Israeli cars pass, and ing like living there. The constant checkpoints on each not us?” He smugly replied, “This is our road, not city entrance and the watchtowers coupled with a 15- yours.” Mind you, this very road has been paved foot gate at the entrance of each village are as daunt- since the days of the Ottoman Empire. I looked at him ing as they sound. Waiting for hours on flying check- and thought, let’s see if my American passport can points near Ramallah, for absolutely no reason other help. I handed it over and he replied with a snarky than to make the lives of Palestinians even more unlook on his face, “You can go through, but not the bearable, is just a scrape of the traumas and maltreat- car”. At that point, what could I do? Replying back ment Palestinians face on a daily basis. angrily could very well have gotten me arrested or Lucky for me, I’m Palestinian-American. Or so shot. So, I drove back to my village, enraged, disgustyou’d think. Although I carry an American passport, ed, and mostly heart-broken. Heart-broken because I being in the West Bank is basically means for the Isknow that my fellow Palestinians have seen so much raeli Army to treat me as horribly as they’d like. Any- worse. In the 1 year I have lived here, in my village one who shows sympathy towards the Palestinian alone, 7 youths under age 21 have been arrested and cause is automatically a target no matter which coun- convicted for merely throwing rocks at soldiers when try they are from; even if that country is the one deour village would be raided. positing billions to fund Israel. Frankly, there is absoEveryday comes with a new form of oppreslutely no respect for anyone residing in Palestine, or sion, whether it’s traveling only on “Palestinian merely visiting. roads” and needing permits, which are rarely apAfter moving to Palestine, I began to work in proved for young people, to traveling to Jerusalem, or Ramallah, a 30-minute commute from my village. having the basic necessities of life such as electricity, Driving through the settlement packed mountains in being American means nothing, as I experience these Area C, and watching settlers drive towards the occu- oppressions each day I’ve been here. pied city of Yaffa with their Israeli license-plate cars, I To my surprise, people were still happy here. couldn’t help but think of how much they’ve taken They enjoy their lives, they get educated, they have 24
weddings, and they are proud that they are Palestinian. Going through this struggle day in and day out, knowing that at any moment our village could be raided, a neighbor might be martyred, or going through a checkpoint could be deadly, there’s a sense of comfort and serenity that people here exhume. It’s
something that’s unexplainable, and it’s a feeling that I’ve never had while living in New Jersey. Although most of Palestine is currently occupied, being here is my duty as a Palestinian who spent a childhood attending rallies chanting, “Free Free Palestine!” A majority of Palestinians cannot live here, so who am I to
Painting by Said Elateb
Existence is Resistance By Ammar Zidat As I brought myself to write what I thought end on June 5th 1967, their motivation was to pass would be an essay reflecting on the struggles of my down the culture that had been given to them, to not life and the aspects in which I had to persevere let the memories of the country that they had only through being a Palestinian-American, a feeling of heard of go to waste. They acknowledged that they guiltiness rushed through me. The feeling of guilt would not bow down and wallow in sadness because came because I knew that I was privileged enough to of their situation. Rather they will adapt, excel, and never have had to face a struggle that justified a replace themselves in a position in which they fight the flection on pure and strong-hearted perseverance. In- occupation from the outside looking in. They wished stead, I will write about the accounts of my parents, and prayed that one day they can do more, but they Palestinian Refugees forced out of their homes on have accepted their situations and pursue every new June 5th 1967, forced to relocate to a foreign country, day with an attitude that they will be the best version adapt, and excel in the hopes of one day having a bet- of themselves for the sake of what their country symter future for themselves and those around them bolizes. They live by the verse in the Quran that says My father was on“Allah does not burden a ly a toddler when he was soul past what they can forced out of his home in “As fate would have it, the two refugees handle.” They looked at Jenin. He found himself of Jenin found themselves as neighbors their situation as a sign of in the country of Jordan love from their lord. An inin Zarqa, Jordan and on January 20th not understanding why dication that he has made 1991, the two people who were only them endure such a hard he had been kicked out of a land by the very people identified as refugees, embraced that difficulty because he knows who they had welcomed identification as a symbol of a culture that this difficulty will not into this country. My fade them, rather it allowed that will never die, but only grow mother was born in a refthem to excel in ways that stronger together.” ugee camp never getting the occupiers of their hometo experience the land in land would never want to which her older siblings spoke so highly about, never see possible. getting to see the place that she so pridefully identi“The optimism that my parents display of fied as her home. As fate would have it, the two refu- their situation, the perseverance that intrinsically exgees of Jenin found themselves as neighbors in Zarqa, ists in both of them serves as a mantle that they have Jordan and on January 20th 1991, the two people who passed down to me.” I promised to preserve through were only identified as refugees, embraced that iden- the times in which it seems my culture and the person tification as a symbol of a culture that will never die, I am puts me at a disadvantage and to never forget but only grow stronger together. about the country of my parents and our ancestors Perseverance became embodied within the because it is only then that we lose the war. They remost fitting of people, my parents. What is it that minded me once more that my existence is resistance. drives a person to work 10 times as hard? What is it that controls what can become an uncontrolled hatred for the injustice that has happened to them? The answer to that is simple. It’s perseverance, but perseverance does not exist on its own. For perseverance to exist there has to be motivation. Motivation to persist, continue, and not give up when it seems that life has nothing but obstacles. When attempting to understand what this motivation was from my parents, the swiftness and consistency in their response shocked me. Their answer was that their motivation was refusing to let the battle 28
Photo taken by Reem Farhat
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