62 years, memories from my village

A few months ago I attended the debut play by the Irish-Palestinian playwright Hannah Khalil. The play entitled “Plan D” was a look at the lives of a small family living in a generic Palestinian village during the spring of 1948. I was moved by the play, and it haunted me for a while afterwards, actually I still think about it every now and then. It was disturbing in the most subtle of ways, and it certainly got into my head. One of the things that bothered me and the people I was with was the fact that the family in question never fought back. They heard whispers of something coming, and knew that their neighbors had disappeared. Playing it safe, they decided to camp out in the hills near their home, and keep a lookout to see what unfolded. The father eventually goes back to check on the house, and upon entering the kitchen he sees  a man seated at the kitchen table grinning at him. The father leaves back to the hills, and takes his family to Jerusalem on foot, when asked what prompted his sudden departure he said “I felt like I never existed”. I asked Hannah afterwards about this, I mean we were brought up to believe that we fought back, and only when we ran out of ammo did we leave, to catch up with the Arabs, form an army and return, assuming a timescale of a month or two at most. Hannah said that that part was based on a true story. I was stunned.

This year I went back to Jordan, my first ‘proper’ visit in 9 years. I spent loads of time with my Aunts and remaining Uncle, and found them to be unusually open and chatty about their experience of the Palestinian Nakbe. I say unusually, because I have found that my relatives tend to speak about the pre-Nakbe period or they focus on politics or life in Irbid. They tend to avoid massive chunks of their experiences, namely their experience of occupation, ethnic cleansing, and their times in the refugee camps of Karami (Jordan). With Hannah’s play still playing on my mind, I pressed my Aunt for more details of our village and what happened there.

My Aunt was eight at the time and she remembers how she used to play with the European soldiers, who gave her sweets, and how one day when she skipped up to them they angrily told her to get lost “rookh!”. Confused, she returned home. Not long after, her sisters and younger brothers, along with their Mum and elders moved to the hills surrounding the village. They left behind the young men.

No shots were fired when my village was invaded, or so my Aunt says. The Iraqi army, from whom the Palestinian ‘fighters’ took orders, entered one night and told the Palestinians not to fire, as people walked into the village. Who these people were, what exactly the Iraqi army said or did and how the Palestinians reacted I may never know. My grandfather and eldest Uncle are dead, and they would have been on the front lines so to speak. My Aunt does remember that her brother in laws father remained in the village, and was never seen or heard from again and she remembers whisperings of what happened in Deir Yassin. Someone said that they saw his dead body in front of his house.

So my Aunt remembers, starting the long walk to Jerusalem. Along the way, her heavily pregnant 16 year old sister goes into labour, in the middle of a valley with planes flying over their heads. No army was formed when they arrived in Jerusalem, and thus began the refugee camp years. She remembered later meeting someone whose village had also been invaded. The villagers were locked up in the village hall. One girl caught the eyes of the soldiers and was dragged off, only to be returned later looking sullen. They came again for her, and the girl was terrified, she kicked and she screamed, her parents clung to her, but the soldiers dragged her off. She was never seen again either.

These stories are rarely told and are rarely heard. Rape is viewed as the failure of the man to protect his womenfolk. This may be why so many people left the villages, the idea was to get the women to safety. This was deemed more important than land.

This vagueness I have regarding the history of my own village pains me really. And is why the oral history project, spearheaded by www.palestineremembered.com is so important to us and future generations.

Here is commemorating the 62nd year of the Nakbe


Boycott Victory!

Haaretz article: http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1043425.html

The report claims Mayanot Eden (coloquially known as “Mei Eden”) had to close its warehouse in the town of Loanhead, south of Edinburgh.

The shutdown reportedly followed an extended boycott campaign by pro-Palestinian organizations in Scotland, though the Israeli company claims the report to be untrue.

According to the leftist group, many organizations, including universities, colleges, trade unions, local and regional authorities and shipping giant Caledonian MacBrayn have cancelled their contracts with Eden Springs, Mayanot Eden’s subsidiary in Britain.

It can work!

Shame on us…

We say that God does not change a peoples’ situation until they change what is within them. Lebanon treats Palestinians worse that criminals, the rest of the Arab nations are complicent in the Palestinian predicament, the Gulf states exploit their migrant workers, all in the name of capitalism and a luxury lifestyle for the minority. These sentiments, far from being condoned by Islam, are the very vices that Islam initially set out to eradicate in the Arab world. These actions are in direct opposition to the beliefs and values that we prescribe to.

We nitpick at superficial issues, we analyse in detail the precise dress code required for women and the effect their clothes have on the greater society, we ponder the deep question of whether the process of producing gelatin renders pork gelatin halaal, fatwas are issued on the precise percentage of alcohol is halaal in beverage while keeping silent on the persecution of a rape victim, our conscious befuddled about whether we can listen to music and if so which type of music is halaal. We  go mental over some cartoons some poncy Dane draws, and roll out the red carpet, dancing in greeting of a mass murderer. Until we cleanse these heinous sins, adhere and submit to what we know Islam to be, then we deserve to live in this shame and we deserve the scorn the world levies at us.

A cop out often used when faced with our ugly reality, is that these are the actions of our unelected governments, that we have no say in what they do. Yet we also have a saying that a government reflects the people it rules… and I’m sorry to burst the bubble of our warped reality, but not even an absolute monarchy can survive without the compliance and support of its governants. Our lack of democarcy is not an excuse for our putrid souls, but a direct product of it.

Saluting Israel–Palestinan Style

The date: 29/06/2008

The Location: Route masters in London

Saturday Sunday saw the Zionists ‘saluting Israel’ in the middle of London’s popular Trafalgar square, as well as a mass mobilisation of anti-Zionists in the UK condemning this glamorisation of ethnic cleansing. There were several events, the Jews for Justice for Palestine (JFJP) held a silent vigil near the square, holding up the names of the Palestinians villages cleansed of its native inhabitants. PSC, BMI, Palestine Forum, Neturei Karta and various other groups also held a rally next to the square. Some activists even managed to get red dye into the large fountains, resulting in them being switched off. I shall leave it up to those who attended these rallies to review them, and a list of articles on this event appears at the bottom of this blog entry.

The Palestine forum, along with the PSC, Palestine Twinning Network, the NUS-BSC, Action Palestine, Friends of Alqsa and FOSIS pooled together to rent three route master buses for the day. They decked them out in massive banners (see photos), and filled them up with protesters, yours truly included. We set off from Russell square at noon and did a tour of London. One of the buses had an open top deck, and the vast majority of people were on this one. Armed with speaker phones and alot of zeal we took off to deliver the Palestinian message to the weekender’s in London. We were met with alot of puzzled looks, got thumbs up, supportive honks, scowls and the classic British two finger salute (read: up yours).

We got off at one point to watch dabke performed by children from Gaza, on a tour of the UK who did a tremendous job, and we picked up members of Neturie Karta. For those of you who have never heard of this organisation they are orthodox Jews who are anti-Zionist, and demand that all of Palestine be returned to Palestinian sovereignty.

They even go so far as to say that ‘the issue of whether the jews [immigrants] should remain is a question that should be left up to the Palestinians to decide’, from what I can gather their opposition is based on theological grounds. One thing about this group that stands out when you meet them, is their decorum, for they are among the most dignified people I have ever come across. We did receive alot of two finger salutes, crass remarks such as ‘go live in the gutter’, and some of the leafleters were physically harassed by having the leaflets torn from their hands, but this was nothing compared to the abuse the Zionists levied against these peaceful men. One of the comments I heard was a man scream at them that they would ‘burn in hell’, the site of Orthodox Jewish men sitting alongside girls and boys bedecked in traditional Palestinian gear must have been too powerful a message of un-anti-semitism for this bigot to handle.

Things really heated up when we approached Trafalgar square, all I could see was a sea of Israeli flags. The square was packed with people! I was sad to see that more turned up to this than turned up to the last Palestine rally held last May. I may be wrong in my estimation of the number of people that turned up, since one of the women with me on the bus said she had expected more to turn up! Still, we had people scream at us, swear at us, make rude gestures and what not. Bizarre really since I would expect supporters of one the worlds most powerful and influential regimes to smile smugly at the motley crew who turned up to rain on their parade, but they seemed genuinely intimidated! It certainly restored my faith in protests!

We lost a large chunk of what I will refer to as bus protesters, who decided to join the rally at the square. The rest of us convened on the open deck bus to circle the square a few more times, shouting slogans, and trying to explain to people the shamefulness of such a celebration. We managed another two laps of the square before we had to leave at the request of the police, the reason being that the celebrations were about to end and they didnt want to have to deal with our bus amidst a sea of Zionists.

All in all though I would say it was one of the most successful protests I have ever been on, we were able to reach alot more people than we would had we been on a standard march, and we certainly did not incur the wrath of the average pedestrian or motorist as we usually do due to roads being closed to accommodate the march. I certainly think the organisers deserve a big hand for their creative and effective action.

Other reviews:


The Fanonite

Israels 60th Birthday

My disgust with the Zionists…

As part of my blog cleanup I came across I few drafts that I had (for some reason) never finalised or published. I have decided to publish some in their draft form. This one is rather relevant considering the recent comments by the former-Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who stated that the blockade on Gaza was nothing less than an abomination

The land theft, mass murders and overall ethnic cleansing rituals by the zionist state are as clear and evident today as they have always been since pre-1948. but then what? the sympathy of states remains with the perpetrator, while the victims are portrayed as rabid dogs. The stark reality of this whole ordeal is hard to take in, I personally cannot comprehend a mentality that a) carries this out such heinous acts and b)condemns a former state as ‘inhuman’ for doing the same thing (i speak of nazi germany here).

This clearly shows the futility of discussions–how anyone can be in the same room as, never mind talk and beg from, people who have clearly crossed the line of humanity is beyond me. What can we expect from a state that thinks it is ok to bulldoze someones house? mass bomb a highly populated city? use white phosphorous? and to take whatever they fancy?

[This post was motivated by the following posts:

Ethnic Cleansing continues in Palestine

How Israeli Troops Invade Homes in Gaza, Brutalize, Smash and Steal]