Sunday, 1 November 2009

We are All Palestine

Last week, by coincidence, I came across a blog post about Fuad Mahmoud Nayif Turkman, a 17 years old Palestinian from Ya’bad in occupied Palestine who was killed by the IOF on September 30th, 2009. That morning, Fuad was standing outside his school when he was intentionally run over by an Israeli military jeep. There was a small photo accompanying the article, which I couldn't figure out at first. At closer investigation, it turned out to be a martyr’s funeral, maybe that of Fuad, who was carried by others while surrounded by a sea of yellow flags; the Fateh flags. A tip of a red was also visible, most probably the red of the Palestinian flag. Only upon viewing the picture with some photo applications was I able to see that the martyr was actually wrapped in the Palestinian flag. I know that all political movements do this, i.e. carry their party or movements flag in funerals and marches and demonstrations, but it annoyed me because other than the flag in which the young man was wrapped and that tiny tip of red, not one single Palestinian flag was visible. I searched the internet for other photos of the funeral, for I couldn’t believe that a Palestinian martyr was taken to his final resting place with only one single Palestinian flag. I did find other pictures and in all of them there were the yellow Fateh flags and a couple red DFLP flags, and only one single Palestinian flag visible. And keeping in mind that both Fateh and the DFLP on addition to a few “independents” build the current “PNA”-government makes one wonder what is more important to these people: their political parties or Palestine? I remember a time when although it meant many years in Israeli jails, Palestinian flags were everywhere, especially when a martyr was taken to his/her final resting place. Today, one would have to squeeze one’s eyes in search of a single Palestinian flag among the seas of yellow, green or red. These martyrs are not Fateh’s martyrs nor PFLP’s martyrs nor DFLP’s martyrs nor Hamas’s martyrs, they are OUR martyrs; the martyrs of Palestine, the heroes of Palestine. Every political movement is of course proud of its martyrs, would make a Palestinian wedding out of their funeral, would stand by the families, would distribute posters and pamphlets about them, write about them on its sites and blogs. But we never looked at the posters filling the streets and thought: ah, too bad, he’s a Fateh. Or: I wish he was a PFLP, or a DFLP. Or: good riddance, one Hamsawi less! It seems today, before anything else, every political party makes sure everyone knows the martyr is “theirs”, and I even remember times when 2 movements would “fight over a martyr” each claiming he “belongs” to them, leaving us shaking our heads and wondering what has come of us as a nation. These martyrs are no one’s “property”, they belong to all of us, to Palestine.

Unfortunately, in occupied Palestine there is a growing “culture” of categorizing our heroes, whether it's the martyrs, the prisoners or the activists in general. It doesn’t stop at simply being proud of one’s comrades and brothers in the movements, but a means to promote the movement itself, a PR instrument so to say. This is not a new phenomenon, but it was not so wide-spread and not so clear, to an extent that today the political affiliation is more important than being Palestinian. These heroes sacrificed their lives and their freedom for Palestine, not for Fateh, nor for Hamas, nor for the PFLP nor the DFLP or any of the rest. Also, “heroes” are “created” at every corner and every turn. Every party, movement or initiative promotes itself through some of its members and affiliates, giving them a wreath of heroism, while forgetting or actually ignoring the thousands of other Palestinians who get killed, arrested, tortured, injured, get their homes demolished, their olive trees uprooted. These heroes remain anonymous; nameless Palestinians fighting mostly silently to survive the Zionist brutality. Sometimes you find a name to the face near a demolished home or a burned up olive field, but often it remains: “2 Palestinians were killed by the IOF“, “7 Palestinians were arrested”, or “52 Palestinians became homeless after house demolitions”. It is as if today’s slogan is: only members and affiliates counts and the rest can starve, so join us to feed your kids or to get your suffering heard!

Growing up, we too had our heroes. These were Palestinians who, regardless of their political affiliation, were sincere in their fight for a free Palestine and worked solely towards achieving that goal. Among others, our heroes included the martyrs, the people who made the ultimate sacrifice for Palestine. We would distribute their posters everywhere, would hang these posters on our bedrooms walls, would celebrate their eternal life for they are alive and will continue to stay alive carved in the collective national memory of Palestinians as long as there are Palestinians walking this earth. These were and still are the heroes of the Palestinian people, regardless of their political affiliation. There is no Palestinian, whether in occupied Palestine or in the Diaspora, who doesn't know Ghassan Kanafani, Dalal Al-Mughrabi, Naji Al-Ali, Lina Al-Nabulsi, and many many others more. We refer to them when we talk about Palestine, we sing about them, we write about them and we add their photos to our facebook account, to our twitter account and to our blogs and sites. These heroes are not Fateh’s heroes, nor PFLP’s heroes nor DFLP’s heroes, they are OUR heroes; the heroes of Palestine. Then there are a few of our leaders, and I don't mean here the leaders who are only good for speaking, corruption, stealing the funds of the Palestinian people, or selling out the Palestinian rights, but those leaders who kept loyal to their principles till the very end. Those leaders who refused to exchange Palestine for a “Minister” post or any other post in an imaginary “authority” for a country that is under occupation and is being eaten up by that occupation. And keeping in mind the huge sacrifices of the Palestinian people, those honest loyal leaders were astonishingly few. To me personally, the heroism of these leaders emerged out of the fact that they represented a whole nation, and not themselves, and refused to let themselves and their principles were dragged to auction houses to be sold to the highest bidder.

Our lives as Palestinians living under the brutal Israeli military occupation are full of heroes. My early childhood heroes were several, and besides the odd non-Palestinian hero, they were mostly Palestinians. One of my first heroes was Lina Al-Nabulsi. Lina was a 15 year old pupil who was shot dead by the IOF in cold blood on 15.05.1976. In our bedroom we had that well-known poster of Lina by Suleiman Mansour, lying on the ground with blood visible beneath her head, where the Israeli bullets had hit her. She was alone in that meadow and one could see from the sunset that it was getting dark. As a child, this lonely girl, bleeding to death or actually dead, lying alone in a meadow, had a great effect on me. On the one hand, I honoured Lina so much and identified with her. Lina was the Palestinian girl who could be any one of us. We were all Linas in the making. We could get shot by the IOF on the way to school, on the way back home from school or from visiting friends, while sitting in our classroom, standing by the window at home, or while playing in the garden or in the narrow alleys of the refugee camp. When she was murdered in cold blood, Lina was doing nothing, she didn't shoot at the IOF, she didn't throw stones at them, she didn't shout at them or fight with them. She was just on her way back home. The Zionists claimed after her murder that there had been a demonstration earlier that day where Palestinian pupils had thrown stones at the IOF soldiers. Thus, the Zionists actually admitted that they executed Lina in cold blood, for she was killed hours after the demonstration was over. Did they follow her for hours and then shoot her? Or did they just search the alleys of the Old City of Nablus for any Palestinian youth in school uniform so they can punish him/her and make an example out of him/her for other Palestinian pupils wishing to demonstrate against the brutal occupation? And even if we assume that Lina was at the demonstration, does throwing stones at fully-armed Israeli soldiers justify killing Palestinian children?

On the other hand, Lina caused me not a few nightmares and sleepless nights as a child. The poster was exactly opposite my bed and whenever I woke up, Lina was the first person I saw, and whenever I would lie down to sleep, Lina was the last person I would see. Some nights I would stay awake all night long, watching Lina and thinking about her and what her life would have been like in a Palestine free of Zionists; for her life was very much mine: Two Palestinian pupils; one killed by the IOF on the way to her home while maybe thinking about her life, and the other lying in bed in the middle of the night, watching Lina’s poster and thinking about how life would look like without the Israeli occupation and how many Lina’s were yet to be killed for the sake of the Zionists entity, and wondering how long I had before I was another Lina in a poster on someone’s wall. The good thing about these sleepless nights is that I would spend the night reading. If my parents were still awake and sitting in the living room, I would sneak close enough to get enough light to allow me to read, without them noticing me and sending me back to bed. I would sit on the floor in a corner and read until I was either discovered by my parents and sent back to bed or fell asleep and found myself the next morning in my bed. So, again, the good things is, I did a lot of reading during those sleepless nights. Lina was not only my childhood hero, she was a hero to thousands of Palestinians and she still is. Years after her murder on the hands of the Zionist terrorists, we still mention her when we talk about Palestine, we still sing her song and we still buy that poster and hang it on our bedroom walls. She is one of Our Living Dead

Lina’s song, “Fi al Daffa” (in the (West) Bank), was written by Hasan Daher and performed by Ahmad Kaboor:
Lina was a child making her future
Lina fell, but her blood was singing, was singing ....
For the angry crucified body
For Jerusalem, Yafa, and Jericho
For the standing trees in Gaza
For the riotous river in Jordan
For the angry body in the (West) Bank
Oh, Pulse of the (West) Bank, don’t be subside, declare it a revolution
Destroy your chains, make your flesh the bridge for return
Let my homeland be free, let my occupier leave, let my occupier leave....

This brings me to another group of my childhood heroes; the singers and musicians and dancers who sang and danced for Palestine. These were many and they accompanied me, like most Palestinians, from early childhood. Even today, so far away from Palestine, people like Marcel Khalifeh, Ahmad Kaboor, Al ‘Ashiqeen, Al Funoun, Fairouz and many others, bring me back to Palestine, back to my childhood, back to the best days of my life, back to my family, to my friends, to all those who are still there in Palestine and to those who are everywhere and to those whose body has become a part of Palestine, and back to the best and most cherished of my memories. We all memorize their songs, sing them during marches, sit-ins, demos, weddings and funerals. Before the wedding halls, the cake and some “romance singer” became the fashion, people celebrated weddings the Palestinian way. The wedding would last 3 nights of Palestinian folklore and national music and dances. I had the luck to witness these weddings several time, and each time reminded me what a great people we are and what a great culture we have. We used to sing to show our solidarity, our protest and our pride. One time, a group of pupils at my old school decided to hold a sit-in in protest against Israeli terrorism. I don’t remember what massacre or crime the Israelis committed at the time, but I remember how we went to the sports hall and sat there, refusing to go back to classes. This was something rare at Schmidts, a strict German private school, but we managed to stay put and when the Palestinian headmistress came and tried breaking our protest, we sang: Ya Thalam Is Sijni Khayem (Oh darkness of the prison set up, we love the darkness. There is nothing after the night but the dawn of glory to rise). She didn’t say anything more and just left. I believe it was only the power of that song that made the headmistress leave us to our protest, and anyone knowing that headmistress would know what I’m talking about. I remember one particular incident during the first Intifada when I was in Dheisheh and wanted to visit a friend who lived on the other end of the refugee camp. On the way there, I could practically hear the same song “Unadeekum” coming from every house I passed. It wasn’t unusual at the time, for almost every Palestinian would tune in to listen to “Al-Quds” radio, which aired Palestinian national and folklore songs the whole day.

I remember an incident as a child when I was at a cousin’s house. She had recently given birth to a baby girl and lived in the small house neighbouring ours. Her husband was locked up inside Israeli jails at the time. I remember the tiny house almost empty of any furniture, except for a few mattresses here and there. They had practically nothing. She had given me a piece of bread and told me to sit on the mattress in one of the rooms while she cleaned the house. Every now and then she would come and check on me, and when she noticed how bored I was, she took me to a tiny room, some kind of storage room, with boxes filled with books. She searched inside, chose one book and told me to go back to the mattress and read the book while she finished her work. I don't remember the name of the book, but I do remember seeing it for the first time and that we didn't have one like it in our library at home. It had lots of pictures, was in Arabic and was about Palestine, about the Zionists, the Great Revolt and the 3 Akka prison martyrs. I went through the pictures and I saw a photo of a letter sent from one of the martyrs to his family before he was killed. It was such a sad letter that I wished I could tear that paper and take it away so I can have the letter with me all the time, but I didn’t dare do that. In discussions and otherwise, it is often that Zionists & Co claim that there was never a “Palestine” and that the fight for a “Palestinian state” only began in the 1960’s when, according to their lies, Arafat invented the Palestinian identity. I wonder then how they would explain, among others, the “Buraq Revolution of 1929”, or the riots of 1933 against British pro-Zionist policies or the “Great Revolt of 1936”. The fight against the Zionization of Palestine began with the first Zionist stepping foot on Palestine and claiming it to be the land of Zion. The British Mandate authority encouraged Zionist occupation of Palestine, supported them and worked on fulfilling their dream of creating a homeland for the Zionist in Palestine. Not much different from today, the Zionist terror organizations, the antecedents of the terrorist IOF, used to raid Palestinian towns and villages, attack schools and coffee shops, kill civilians indiscriminately and then go and cry: the Arabs are attacking us. While ignoring the Zionist terror and blaming the Palestinians for the bloodshed, the mandate authority helped arm the Zionists and train them, later to become itself a target of these terrorist groups. The Palestinians were left with one choice; to fight for their rights and their independence and their homeland. Clashes between Palestinians and Zionists ended with the Mandate police mostly killing or arresting Palestinian demonstrators.

During one such incident, clashes erupted between Palestinians and Zionists on 16.08.1929 and lasted for a couple of weeks. The clashes started in Jerusalem, when on 14 and 15.08.1929 groups of militant Jewish groups gathered in Jerusalem and organized marches during which Palestinians were attacked, insulted and their property destroyed. When the marchers reached Al-Buraq Wall, which is part of the Al-Haram Ash-Sharif, they claimed it was theirs and tried to seize it by erecting the Zionist flag and singing the national Zionist anthem. Palestinians from all over Palestine gathered to protect their religious sites. The demonstrations continued the following days and what later became known as the Al-Buraq Revolution spread to the rest of Palestine, mainly in Jerusalem, Haifa, Yafa and Safad, and led to hundreds of deaths from both sides. The British High Commissioner at the time blamed the Palestinians for what happened and ignored the fact that the Zionists were responsible for killing Palestinian civilians, destroying their homes and destroying and burning Palestinian property. To please the Zionists, as is the case today, it was the victims who were punished. The mandate police arrested hundreds of Palestinians, and 26 of them were sentenced to death by hanging (14 from Safad, 11 from Hebron and 1 from Yafa). Upon public uproar and Arab protests, the decision was changed to life imprisonment with the exception of 3 Palestinians who were to be executed. These were: Fuad Hijazi (26 years old from Safad), Mohammad Jamjoum (28 years old from Hebron) and Ata Al-Zeir (35 years old from Hebron). The execution took place on the morning of 17.06.1930, the Red Tuesday, at the Akka prison. They had spent their last night singing the famous song: Ya Thalam Is Sijni Khayem (Oh darkness of the prison set up, we love the darkness. There is nothing after the night but the dawn of glory to rise). Before their execution, Mohammad and Ata asked for Henna to paint their hands following the Hebron custom of painting the hands of bridegrooms on the day of their wedding. They were also allowed to see visitors who tried to console the young men. Mohammad told the visitors: Thank God it is us unworthy ones who are dying for our homeland and not the worthy men whose efforts and services will benefit our homeland. The three were to be executed one after the other with one hour difference between each execution. Fuad, the youngest, was first to be executed at 8 am. Ata was supposed to be second, but Mohammed asked to be executed first, and when the executioner refused he rushed and put the rope around his neck. At 10 am when it was time for Ata to be executed, he asked to be executed without handcuffs, but the executioner refused, so Ata broke the chains. The 3 martyrs were allowed each only one final message to their families. In these letters, the 3 told their families, particularly their mothers, not to cry and not to be sad, for they are not dead, but are bridegrooms. They asked that Palestinians should commemorate the 17th of June as a day for the blood spilled for Palestine. Fuad said: if the execution of us three shakes the English nightmare on the Arab nation, then let tens of thousands like us be executed to end this nightmare completely. After their death, the great Palestinian poet Ibrahim Touqan immortalized the 3 martyrs in his poem the Red Tuesday. Outside the Akka fortress, a Zionist plaque on the history of the prison mentions nothing of these martyrs or any other Palestinian victims. But despite Israel’s efforts to delete Palestinian suffering and existence, the 3 heroes have become part of the Palestinian national collective memory; they are the living amongst many who are dead and don't know it.

One of the first books I ever read was “the Children of Ghassan Kanafani”. It was a small collection of some of Ghassan Kanafani’s short stories. Being written for children, the tiny booklet was written in a simple language and even had a few drawings by Burhan Karkutly. I was affected by the stories and impressed by the drawings. Rarely did I enter a house that didn’t have at least one or two of Kanafani’s books. At our own house library we had almost all his books, and I remember that the one of the first times I felt I could discuss politics with some my classmates, who often seemed to come from another galaxy far away from Sawahreh and Dheisheh, was when by coincidence during rehearsals at the school theatre, the name “Returning to Haifa” was mentioned. A classmate of mine and I realized that we’ve both read that book and others of Kanafani’s and started naming his books and which ones we’ve already read and what we thought of them. Another of my heroes was actually discovered by Kanafani. As children, we used to spend the holidays in Dheisheh refugee camp. Once a week, I believe it was a Thursday, those family members present would gather in the living room after breakfast. Then we would hear knocks on the door, and one of my uncles would go to answer the door. He would return after a few minutes with a newspaper. It was the same ritual every time. The first thing we all looked for in the newspaper was the caricature of Naji El-Ali. I believe most Palestinian families did the same. In their work, Kanafani and Al-Ali represented all Palestine and connected Palestinians in occupied Palestine with those in the Diaspora. Through the stories and the caricatures, both said what many of us wanted to say. They spoke of the Palestinians, us, those in occupied Palestine who stand steadfast in our homeland, and of those Palestinians in the Diaspora, who still hold the key and have only one Qibla: Palestine. They talked of the plight of the Palestinians, their struggle for their rights, self determination and freedom from the brutal Israeli occupation, of their suffering on the hands of the Zionist oppressors. They addressed the corrupt Palestinian leaders and the defeatist Arab regimes.

Their story is a typical Diaspora Palestinian story; that of the wandering Palestinian, thrown out of one place to another because of his political activism, because he dares talk openly about Palestine, because he dares dream of return, because he is Palestinian. This wandering Palestinian is under continuous observation wherever he is, he is not allowed to settle down, live a normal life. He is treated as if he were a cancer that should be removed, when in fact it was this wandering Palestinian who helped built many of the region’s countries. This wandering Palestinian is the teacher, the doctor, the engineer, the writer, the poet, the artist, the architect. He is always reminded that he has no place in this or that country, he is not welcome. But it never mattered; because for the wandering Palestinian there is the one and only home, the place where he can finally settle and make home, the place where his ancestors lived before they were kicked out by the Zionists, the place to which he holds the deeds and the keys, the only place where the wandering Palestinian would be accepted. For the wandering Palestinian there is only one destination: Palestine. Their work was published in many counties, and in some even censored. And despite receiving death threats because of what they use their pens and brushes as weapons, they went on with the fight for Palestine till the last breath. Both were assassinated to stop them from fighting for a free Palestine; a Palestine free from the Zionists, free from the corrupt and treacherous Palestinian leaderships, free from opportunist Arabs. They lost their lives, but they were never silenced, for their voices still speak to us through their work. They were two Palestinian giants who fought for a Palestine for those who truly deserve the name Palestinian, and they died as giants to become immortal.

In addition to many other famous Palestinian heroes, there are the thousands of unknown Palestinian heroes. Those who work their lands and protect them despite the continuous threats and attacks from the IOF and Jewish fanatics, those who go to school or to work every day despite the Israeli terror facing them at every corner and every street, those who are steadfast on their lands, in their homes and refuse to leave and be made refugees, those who are struggling against the Nazi-like and fascist methods used by the Israeli prison authority, those who despite handicap continue to roll their wheelchairs in marches, those who work to inform others about Palestine and expose Israeli lies and propaganda, those who get beaten and arrested at checkpoint, in front of their schools, in their homes at the middle of the night when no cameras or videos are around, those whose houses are demolished to make place for new illegal settlements and Jewish-only roads, those who after the Israeli bulldozers have left collect the rabble and build a new house, those and many more who defy the IOF threats and despite daily Israeli terror are steadfast on this land for the land is Palestinian and will remain so till the last drop of Palestinian blood. These are also our heroes, our unknown heroes whose stories we rarely hear, whose names we rarely know. They go on with their lives despite the hardships and the occupation, despite the political bankruptcy, corruption and betrayal surrounding them, and despite the growing “categorization of activism” that is even making international support conditional to what category one belongs to.

During my last visit to Palestine, I went with my brother and two of my uncles to visit the Martyrs cemetery in Artas near Dheisheh. During the First Intifada, whenever there was curfew or siege, martyrs from Dheisheh refugee camp would be buried here. I used to come here with friends and I remember bringing some foreign activists there too. Just down the road, a new martyrs’ cemetery had been erected for those killed by the IOF during the second Intifada and after it. As I went up the steps leading to the cemetery, I felt like entering a holy shrine. I was in Germany during the second Intifada and the invasion of 2002, but like most Palestinians, I followed up what was going on and my daily thoughts were there in occupied Palestine. Everywhere my eyes looked I saw tombstones with martyrs’ names, some of which I recognized from news reports or from stories told by family or friends. They all lay resting here, those who were killed while protecting their families, their homes and their towns, cities or refugee camps and those who were killed inside their homes, the mosques and the churches and taken away from amongst their beloved ones. The cemetery was clean, flower beds were neatly planted and olive trees scattered within the cemetery spread their branches to give shadow to those lying to sleep within the bosom of our mother Palestine. The tombs were all decorated with wreaths and flowers. And I didn’t miss the empty graves that stood open and ready for those yet to come. Despite daily tragedies, and despite the daily terror of the IOF, those lying here were never forgotten, and were visited on a regular basis. Those were the sons and daughters of Palestine. Here, no political affiliation mattered any more, they were again truly brothers and sisters, killed by our mutual enemy: the Zionists. I walked among the graves and read what was written on the tombstones. Here the brutality of the occupation and the injustice inflicted on us was clearer than anywhere else. These were mostly young people, and on some tombstones there were photos on the martyrs placed by families and friends. They were mostly laughing or smiling. On the tombstones, one could read the name of the martyr, the date of their martyrdom, some Suras from the Quran, and on some a few lines describing the bravery of the martyr or lines from revolutionary poems left by friends or comrades. Then, I came across one tombstone and stood reading. Following the name of the martyr was one sentence: the son of Hamas. I shook my head and wondered: Why? Why did they have to add that? Wasn’t he a son of Palestine, regardless of religion and affiliation? He died for Palestine and not for Hamas or for Fateh. But don’t think that the others are any better.

It makes one really furious to watch what has been done to Palestine’s martyrs, to our martyrs. Among others, I wanted to write about the 3 Palestinian students killed by the IOF at Birzeit university campus late 1986. This was yet another murder carried out by the IOF in which once again unarmed Palestinian pupils or students were the target. I remember the cold winter day early December in 1986, when at school I heard about the IOF murdering at least 3 Palestinian students from Birzeit university and injuring many others. The IOF had been posting checkpoints outside the university campus and preventing Palestinian students from reaching their classes, thus depriving them of their right to free movement and their right to education. The students decided to hold a sit-in in protest, to which IOF soldiers replied by storming the campus and firing live ammunition, killing the three students and injuring many. That day I went on my first politically motivated hunger strike, for I used to go on hunger strikes for a few hours whenever I had a skirmish with my parents, and although these “tiny” hunger strikes were a demonstration of my protest, they were not of a political nature. I decided not to eat a thing the whole day to protest the killing of these students who had done nothing. I did fast the whole day and my parents respected my decision not to eat a single thing. I didn’t remember the martyrs’ names anymore, although for a long time they were engraved in my memory, so I searched for them in the internet, and I truly wish I didn't. The minute I saw their names in the search result I immediately recognized them among all the other names that appeared as well. But, I could only find two names, although I distinctly remember that for sure at least 3 were killed that day. Anyway, I found only two, and they were all on the Hamas sites and forums. These sites introduced the two martyrs as being the first two martyrs of the Hamas movement. This is of course something I don't remember, and if it was said so at the time I don't think many cared much about the political affiliation of this or that martyr, they were all the children of Palestine. And because I remembered that there were more than 2 martyrs I continued the search for the third martyr, who most probably was not Hamas and thus not mentioned, unless of course, my memory betrayed me and they were only 2. The search did lead me to find a UN document about a discussion on Israel’s human rights violations which mentions 3 Birzeit students being killed on that very day. These were: Jawad Abu Salmieh, Saeb Abu Dahab and Kamal Radhi.

Well, what made me furious was the fact that during my internet search, I would give several terms such as martyr, Birzeit, students, killed, etc… and would get many search result, depending on which combination of terms I used. I searched both in English and in Arabic. I came upon several Fateh and Hamas forums. Many of the sites I checked would be discussing “their martyrs”, and only “their martyrs”, as if these martyrs were registered trademarks of these political parties. Some were full with insults, abuse and attacks, not against the Zionists as one would expect, but the “new Palestinian enemy”. Fathawis were calling Hamsawis: ZioHamsawis, and Hamsawis were calling Fathawis: FatehZionists. And each party was listing what they called the “massacres and crimes committed” by the other. The discussions, more likely the attacks, on these sites reminded me very much of the discussions on Zionist & Co sites; they know they are wrong, they know that facts speak against them, they know they can’t hide the truth forever, so they resort to the only weapon they have: lies, personal attacks and insults. I find such forums contribute to the division amongst Palestinians at a time when unity is much needed. They, whether knowingly or not, contribute and assist the Zionist occupation and provide Zionists & Co with food for their lies and propaganda. In one German report on the Palestinian internal fight, one Fateh member said that Israel was “kinder” and “better” than Hamas. This report was aired on one of the main German TV stations, watched by millions. It would not have surprised me if on the next day, Zionists & Co would have posted that report on all their sites and wrote: Look, Palestinians finally admit we are kind and better than others among them! Did Hamas ethnically cleanse Palestine? Did Hamas commit one massacre after the other? Does Hamas have over 11,000 Palestinian prisoners locked up? Did Hamas kill tens of thousands of Palestinian and injure tens of thousands over the years? And the list goes on and on. And by the way, this wasn’t the first time that a Fateh affiliate would come on German TV and speak “nicely” of Israel in comparison to “Hamas”. I even got feedback from Germans who also found the behaviour of these Fateh affiliates disgusting, especially at a time when Israel is still occupying Palestine, killing Palestinians and besieging Gaza. No matter how deep my conflict with this or that Palestinian Palestine, how dare one Palestinian for one second claim Israel is “kinder” or “better” than another Palestinian movement? And we all know what Fateh’s problem with Hamas is, so don’t claim they are “killers” and I don’t know what, it only makes you look like real Zionists. This “fight” between the movements is transmitted to their younger affiliates. On internet forums, facebook discussions, yahoo groups one comes across so much nonsense that is truly alarming. They fight over how many were killed during clashes between both and forget those killed daily by the IOF. They fight on who has more prisoners in the other’s jails, and forget the thousands inside Israeli jails. They fight over who has the “legitimate right” to “rule us” and forget that this “PNA-authority” is a charade, a limited self-rule not much different from the Village leagues which Palestinians boycotted, and most important, they forget that we are under occupation. They fight on who is “more Palestinian” and forget or ignore the real enemy, and just a reminder for it seems many have forgotten, our enemy is Zionism. And each time I come across such nonsense, I wonder: do these people care about Palestine? Does Palestine still exist for them? At the same time, I did come across sites and forums, both Fateh or Hamas, that were truly Palestinian so to say, with no attacks on others, no hate, but sites for all Palestinians. And when the odd members would write a comment attacking this or that group, he would be lectured and stopped by the administrators and other members.

During the first Intifada, we used to carry Palestinian flags proudly, although being caught with one meant years in Israeli jails, or even worse: being shot at. Remember the many Palestinians who were killed by the IOF while holding the Palestinian flag, or those killed while trying to raise the Palestinian flag on the roofs of buildings, on electricity masts? Today, if you come across a Palestinian demonstration in the occupied territories, and they are rare nowadays thanks to the “PNA”, you would have to squint your eyes in search of a Palestinian flag amongst the seas of yellow or green or red, and sometimes even you search in vain for it. Yes, it is true that people have carried the flags of their parties often in demonstrations, but the dominance was for the Palestinian flag; it was the flag held in the first row, it was the flag held highest, it was the flag held most! We used to shout: Bil Roh Bil Dam Nafdeek Ya Falasteen! (with our souls, with our blood we defend you O Palestine!). Today, one mostly hears slogans for Fateh or Hamas and giving one’s soul for this movement or that. It seems some have exchanged a country for a political party. The categorizing of Palestinians, whether martyrs, prisoners, activists or otherwise doesn't stop at stamping Palestinians and “limiting” them to this or that political party, movement or initiative or whatsoever, it goes further. Some activists are classified as “peace activists” or “non-violence activists”, as if the rest of the Palestinian activism was “non-peaceful” or “violent”. Is this the way you want to categorize Palestinians who fight for your freedom? They are Palestinians activists FULL STOP! It is not us Palestinians, fighting for our legitimate rights and our freedom, who set these categories, but those who will only support us if we fit in with their definition of activism. We used to have one category for all those who were active against the brutal Israeli occupation: Palestinian. Today, Palestinians get killed by the IOF, others get arrested and end up a number in a news article, or in some cases you get to read a few extra lines about them. Other chosen few get killed or arrested and you get a full coverage on them and within a few days they become household names. You read and hear so much about them, about their activism, about their lives and their families, as if the others don’t have a family or didn’t have a life. Some groups want so much to promote themselves and please their American and Europeans friends and “funders”, that they are willing to classify Palestinian fight for liberation. They think they have monopoly over Palestine and over “activism”. Some might agree with and work for a Fateh emirate in the occupied West Bank or a Hamas emirate in the occupied Gaza Strip or a “semi-state” in the occupied Palestinian Territories, but we want a Palestine, a free Palestine.

On the day of their execution, the 3 Palestinian martyrs of the Akka prison: Fuad Hijazi, Mohammad Jamjoum and Ata Al-Zeir wrote letters to their families, friends, the Palestinians and the Arabs nations. In one letter they said:
“Now we are at the doors of eternity, offering our lives to save the sacred homeland , for dear Palestine, we plead to all Palestinians not to forget our spilled blood and our souls that will fly in the sky of this beloved country, and to remember that we have willingly given ourselves and our skulls to be a basis for building our nation's independence and freedom, and that the nation remain persistent in its union and its struggle for the salvation of Palestine from the enemies, and to keep its lands and not to sell one inch of it to the enemies, and that its determination not be wavered and not be weakened by threat and intimidation, and to strive until it gains victory... The Arabs in all Arab countries and Muslims have to save Palestine from its suffering and assist it with all their strength… Now, after we have seen from our nation and our country and our people this national spirit and national enthusiasm, we welcome death with complete pleasure and joy and willingly place the rope of the gallows, the swing of the champions, around our necks in sacrifice to you, Palestine, and finally, please write on our graves: “to the Arab nation full independence or callous death and in the name of the Arabs we live and in the name of Arabs we die.”


No comments: