vanishing the palestinians

May 17, 2008 at 12:16 am (middle east, palestine, west bank)

vanishing the palestinians

This was the narrative I grew up with in Britain. It was so effective that no one here doubted its truth for decades and Israelis themselves were astonished to “discover” the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza after 1967. However, in occupying them, Israel was back to the old problem of how to keep the new land without the people. Since physical expulsion was no longer an option, the alternative has been to make the Palestinians disappear as a nation by destroying their society. The history of the last 37 years of Israeli occupation can perhaps be best understood in this context. The Israeli colonisation of land and resources has strangled the Palestinian economy and made statehood unviable. At the same time, the destruction of Palestinian history proceeds unabated. One of the least noted aspects of Israel’s 1982 invasion of Lebanon was the removal to Israel of truckloads of crucial Palestinian archives and documents from the PLO Research Centre in Beirut. The Israelis did the same in 2002 when they invaded Ramallah. Vital statistics, computer hard drives, population statistics and land registers were taken out with the aim of destroying the Palestinian collective memory, history and national existence.

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and i still think that zion is a beautiful word

May 17, 2008 at 12:07 am (anti-oppression, middle east, prisons, west bank)

When I was younger I was in love with the idea of Zion.  I associated it with the old reggae song -Dreamland- that still puts me in a good mood, the Idea that Einstein proposed when he called himself a Zionist,  aplace of refuge for refugees around the world.  I place that was a beacon of peace in a world of division.  A glowing model to the world on how people could live.  I traveled to the West Bank in 2003 and 2004.  Lived there.  And saw what the  dream of Zion had becomeby the Israeli government.  A nightmare of checkpoints, economic isolation (that Israel feeds off of by controlling theborders) dying children, graphic images, indignity, the daily toll of survivng under occupation.   We had a little saying: Its the occupation stupid.

So the candidates are fighting over who is more pro-Israel, which is translated as more pro Israeli government.  Even Barack has a hypocritical stance.  Hel’ll talke to anyone without conditions, except Hamas.  Hamas is a legally internationally-observed elctions, elected government.  By democratic choice of the people of the West Bank and Gaza.  It is the Palestinian government.  And Israel’s response is to lock the government up.  REally, during the spring and summer o f 2006, before and during the scuffle with Lebanon, they stole most members of the Hamas government and put them in jail.  We cant even pretend that is legal under international law or our agreed upon ideas of justice.

Then the Hamas injailed members said dont release us until you listen to the Palestinian Political Prisoners Movement.

The only countries that are allowed to be a democracy are the ones that the US supports.  And the US supports Israel.  unconditionally.

And so Barack, who wont talk to Hamas until the agree to a vague set of guidelines, guidelines which are more accusatory than achievable,

Look I dont agree with the vision that Hamas has set forth for Palestine.  I am an outsider looking in.  But really to say that Hamas has to say that Israel has the right to exist is ridiculous.  Chavez does not think that the US has a right to exist.  No empire has the right to exist.  No country has the right to colonize another people.

But to say that because the US representative of Hamas (who is this guy?  Does he live in the States?  Why is he not in jail?  Maybe he lives in Canada.  Or Timbuktu.) endoresed Barack means that he wont be staunchly pro-Israel is ridiculous.  The majorit of people around the world love Barack.  They invest in his message of HOPE and cHANGE more than I do.  But honestly after the past decade or two, we are all looking at the bottom of Pandora’s box.

What they  love more is that he is Brown.  That his father was African, that he spent his childhood in Asia.  That he knows the thirdworld with a first love, sweet, innocent, open.

Maybe he will cut them a break.

But this is why I love Palestine.  Or at least part of the reason.  Because they are the great unloved.  Even Barack cant treat their democratic choice as legitimate.   It is so popular and powerful to demean Palestine.

They are my hope.  All of the righteous underdogs.

And I still think that Zion is a beautiful word.

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first independent palestinian lgbtq organization!

March 11, 2008 at 2:45 am (anti-heterosexism, anti-oppression, anti-racism, palestine, west bank)

wow this is amazing.  when i was in palestine before i looked for a west bank queer organization and heard rumors of some, addresses of places that didnt exist, names without phone numbers, etc.

so any of you, especially in the west bank, should check this out and let me know who they are.  what they are up to.   and hey i  learned a new word in arabic: al-qaws means rainbow.

GROUNDBREAKING DEVELOPMENTS FOR THE PALESTINIAN LGBTQ COMMUNITY (PALESTINE)

Registration of the First Independent Palestinian LGBTQ Organization
Jerusalem, January, 2007-

Al-Qaws, the Palestinian Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual Trans and Queer (LGBTQ) community project of the Jerusalem Open House for Pride and Tolerance (JOH), has achieved a mile stone development in which it decided to become an independent entity, constituting the first-ever official Palestinian LGBTQ organization. The Al-Qaws (“Rainbow”) project was initiated in December 2001 by the JOH in order to address the special needs of the Palestinian LGBTQ community in Jerusalem . The project was specifically designed to reflect the special nature of one of the most traditional communities in Jerusalem .

During the six years of its existence, Al-Qaws has undergone an all-embracing organizational process of development. What started as a local professional-oriented project has grown into a national community and grassroots organization, with activist leadership.

This major development has been made possible thanks to the leadership group’s determined investment, the deep commitment of Al-Qaws activists and the autonomous space provided to Al-Qaws within the JOH, enabling Al-Qaws to address the needs of the Palestinian LGBTQ community.

This process culminated in the decision of the Al-Qaws’ leadership to secede from the JOH and establish an independent organization.  With this decision, our community begins a new journey with a committed leadership group and widespread local activists, friends and supporters. In November 2007, Al-Qaws received the formal status of a nonprofit organization and a new name: Al-Qaws for Sexual & Gender Diversity in the Palestinian Society.

Haneen Maikey, Al-Qaws Director, commented, “This change is incredibly exciting. This new phase presents new opportunities with promises of growth through self-definition for Palestinian LGBTQs.”

True to its deep commitment to advancing the status of LGBTQ people in Jerusalem , the JOH has provided constant support for Al-Qaws toward this development. This has made the transition period an easy, productive and exciting stage for all those involved. The JOH will continue to host Al-Qaws in its new community center in downtown Jerusalem . The two organizations are committed to exploring wider fields of cooperation in the future towards the advancement of our common goals.

Noa Sattath, JOH Executive Director, stated, “The Palestinian LGBTQ community is fortunate to have such strong and capable leaders. We look forward to working together with the leadership of Al-Qaws for a better future for all our community members.”

For further details, please contact:
Haneen Maikey
Al-Qaws  for Sexual & Gender Diversity in the Palestinian Society

info@alqaws.org +972-2-6250502 ext 128 +972-54-4898062

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palestinian solidarity in a time of massacres

December 13, 2006 at 4:16 am (anti-oppression, palestine, west bank)

++++++++++++ +++++++++ +++++++++ +++++++++
http://www.counterp unch.org/ atzmon11222006. html
November 22, 2006
What is to be Done?
Palestinian Solidarity in a Time of Massacres

By GILAD ATZMON

Let’s face it; while the Palestinian and Arab resistance evolves into an
absolute example of the ultimate heroism and collective patriotism, the
Palestinian solidarity movement in the UK and around the world is not
exactly what could be called a profound success story. In fact, it would
be erroneous to state that this is really the fault of those who
dedicate their time and energy to it. Supporting the Palestinians is a
complicated subject. Though the crimes against the Palestinians have
taken place in broad daylight and are not some well-kept secret, the
priorities of the solidarity movement are far from being clear.

When thinking about Palestinian society we are basically used to
thinking of some sharp ideological and cultural disputes between the
Hamas and PLO. Not that I wish to undermine that staunch disagreement,
but I am here to suggest an alternative perspective that perhaps could
lead towards a different understanding of the notion of Palestinian
activism and solidarity both ideologically and pragmatically.

I maintain that Palestinian people are largely divided into three main
groups and it is actually this division that dictates three different
political narratives, with three different political discourses and
agendas to consider:

The three groups can be described as follows:

1. The Palestinians who happen to live within the Israeli State and
possess Israeli citizenship – The Israelis have a name for them; they
call them ‘Israeli Arabs’. These Palestinians are largely discriminated
by Israeli law in all aspects of their lives; their struggle is for
civil rights and civil equality.

2. The Palestinians who live in the Occupied Territories – In most cases
those Palestinians are locked behind walls and barbed wire in Bantustans
and concentration camps in the so-called ‘Palestinian Authority
Controlled Area’ (PA). Practically speaking, those people live under a
criminal occupation. For three decades these people have been terrorised
on a daily basis by Israeli soldiers in roadblocks and incursions, they
are subject to air raids and artillery bombardments. Their civil system
is shattered, their educational system is falling apart, their health
system is extinct. These Palestinian people are craving for a single day
with no casualties.

3. The Diaspora Palestinians – Palestinians who were ethnically cleansed
over the course of the years and denied return to their homes by the
racially orientated Israeli legal system (the Law of Return and Absentee
Laws). The Israelis do not have a name for them, they simply deny their
existence. The Diaspora Palestinians live all over around the world.
According to the UN statistics every third refugee is a Palestinian.
Millions of exiled Palestinians live in the region in refugee camps, the
others can be found in every corner of the globe. The Diaspora
Palestinians know their rights and they want to be able to come home if
they so choose, they demand their right of return.

Confronting very different realities, the three groups above have
managed to develop three competing political discourses: The 1st group,
the so-called ‘Israeli Arabs’, struggle for equality. The means they
have to achieve their goals are largely political. They search for a
voice within the racially orientated Israeli society.

The 2nd group, namely the ‘PA inhabitants’ , battle against the
occupation. They fight for liberation. Their means are political, civil
resistance as well as armed struggle (in fact it is within the 2nd group
where the bitter struggle for hegemony between the PLO and the Hamas is
taking place).

Being out of Israel and lacking international support as well as
adequate political representation, the 3rd group is still ignored by the
entire Israeli political system and even by major players within the
international community. The exiled Palestinians are largely neglected
and their demand for the right of return is yet to be addressed properly.

Apparently, the Palestinian discourse is fragmented. It is divided into
at least three different, sometimes opposing discourses. Cleverly, not
to mention mercilessly, on their behalf, it is the Israelis who maintain
this very state of fragmentation. It is the Israelis who manage to stop
the Palestinian political and cultural discourse from integrating into a
single grand solid narrative. How do they do it? They apply different
tactics that maintain the isolation and conflict between the three
distinct groups. Within the State of Israel the Israelis maintain a
racially orientated legal system that turns the Israeli Palestinians
into 10th class citizens. When PA inhabitants are concerned, the Israeli
military maintains solid and constant pressure on the civilian
population. Gaza is kept starving, it is bombed on a daily basis. Some
of it is flattened. More than a few observers regard the situation in
the PA as nothing but slow extermination and genocide.

In order to humiliate the 3rd group, the Israelis enforce a racist
legislation that welcomes Jews to the country but rejects others (Law of
Return). In practice it is a racially orientated system that stops
exiled Palestinians from returning to their land.

Paradoxically enough, the more pain the Israelis inflict on any of the
groups, the further the Palestinians get from establishing a grand
narrative of resistance. Similarly, the more vicious the Israelis are,
the further the Palestinian Solidarity movement is getting from
establishing a unified agenda of activism. Indeed the Palestinian
solidarity campaigner is confused and asks himself what campaign to
choose. Who should be supported? The division of the Palestinian
discourse into three conflicting narratives makes the issue of
solidarity rather complicated.

Seemingly, different Palestinian solidarity groups follow different
political calls and Palestinian causes. Some call for an end to the
Israeli occupation, others call for the right of return. Some call for
equality. Many of the solidarity campaigners are divided amongst
themselves. Those who call for the right of return and ‘one State’ are
totally unhappy with what they regard as a watery and limited demand for
the ‘end of occupation’. Seemingly, Palestinian solidarity is trapped.

Joining one call and not another is actually surrendering to a discourse
that is violently and criminally imposed by the Israelis.

This is exactly where Zionism is maintaining its hegemony within the
Palestinian solidarity discourse. It is Israeli brutality that dictates
a state of ideological fragmentation upon the Palestinian solidarity
discourse. Whatever decision the Palestinian activist is willing to make
is set a priori to dismiss a certain notion of the Palestinian cause. It
is indeed painful to admit that it is the Israelis who have set us into
this trap. Our work, discourse and terminology as activists are totally
shaped by Israeli aggression.

The Battle Is Not Lost

However, there is a way around that complexity. Rather than surrendering
to the Zionist practice which splits the Palestinian solidarity
discourse, we can simply redefine the core of the Palestinian tragedy,
which is now turning into a global crisis.

Once we manage to internalise that the discourse of solidarity with
Palestinians is dominated by the malicious and brutal Israeli practices,
we are more or less ready to admit: it is the Jewish State: a racist
nationalist ideology that we must oppose primarily. It is Jewish State
and its supporters around the world that we must tackle. It is Zionism
and global Zionism that we must confront immediately.

Yet, this is exactly where the solidarity campaigner loses his grip. To
identify the Palestinian disaster with the concept of ‘Jews Only State’
is a leap not many activists are capable to do for the time being. To
admit that the Jewish State is the core of the problem implies that
there may be something slightly more fundamental in the conflict than
merely colonial interests or an ethnic dispute over land. To identify
the ‘Jews Only State’ as the core of the problem is to admit that peace
is not necessarily an option. The reason is rather simple: the ‘Jews
Only State’ follows an expansionist and racially orientated philosophy.
It leaves no room for other people as a matter of fact and principle.

Yet, once we come to grips with this very understanding, once we are
enlightened and realise that something here is slightly more fundamental
than merely a battle between an invader facing some indigenous counter
freedom fighting. We are probably more or less ready to engage in a
critical enquiry into the notion of Zionism. We are more or less ready
to grasp the notion of the emerging secular emancipated Jewish
collective identity. We are ready to confront the modern notion of
Jewishness (rather than Judaism).

Once we are brave enough to admit that Zionism is a continuation of
Jewishness (rather than Judaism), once we admit that Israel draws its
force from a racist ideology, harboured in national chauvinism and
blatant expansionism, once we admit that Zionism, which was once a
marginal Jewish ideology, has become the voice of world Jewry, once we
accept it all, we may be ready to defeat the Zionist disease. We do it
for the sake of the Palestinians but as well for the sake of world peace.

The Gatekeepers

Let’s try to think of an imaginary situation in which a dozen exiled
German dissident intellectuals insist upon monitoring and controlling
Churchill’s addresses to the British public at the peak of the Blitz.
Every time Churchill speaks his heart calling the British people to
stand firm against Germany and its military might, the exiled dissident
Germans raise their voice: “It isn’t Germany, Mr Prime Minister, it is
the Nazi party, the German people and the German spirit are innocent.”
Churchill obviously apologises immediately.

I assume that you all realise that such a scene is totally surreal.
Britain would never allow a bunch of German exiles to control its
rhetoric at the time of a war against Germany. Moreover, dissident
German intellectuals would not have the Chutzpah to even consider
telling the British what should or what shouldn’t be the appropriate
rhetoric to use at time of a war with Germany.

However, when it comes to the Palestinian solidarity discourse, we are
somehow far more tolerant. In spite of the fact that it is the ‘Jews
Only State’ that we struggle against, we allow a bunch of self-appointed
Jewish leaders and activists to become our gatekeepers. As soon as
anyone identifies the symptoms of Zionism with some fundamental or
essential Jewish precepts a smear campaign is launched against that person.

I have been closely monitoring the Jewish left discourse for more than a
few years now. I might as well admit that I can think of at least one
good reason behind Jewish anti-Zionist activism. I do understand the
need of some humanist Jews to stand up and say, ‘I am a Jew and I find
Zionism disgusting.’ At a certain stage of my life I myself was saying
just that. As some of you know, I totally admire Torah Jews for doing
just that. However, when it comes to predominantly Jewish socialist and
secular left groups, I am slightly confused.

Moshe Machover, a legendary Israeli dissident and a Jewish Marxist who
happens to be the intellectual mentor of the British progressive Jewish
activists, expressed the following view just a few days ago when he
stated a complaint he had with a petition:

“anti-Semitism is a Palestinian problem, as it pushes Jews into the
arms of Zionism. This has long been understood by all progressive
Palestinians. Anti-semitism is an objective ally of Zionism, and the
common enemy of Palestinians, Jews, and all humankind.”

Indeed anti-Semitism may be a problem, yet, is it really a Palestinian
problem? Should the Palestinian solidarity campaign engage in fighting
anti-Semitism? Shouldn’t we leave it to ADL and Abe Foxman? I think that
we better try to do whatever we can to save the people of Beit Hanoun.
This is where we are needed. I am certain that the vast majority of the
Palestinian activists know that I am right.

Every PSC campaigner I have ever spoken to admits to me that only very
few Palestinians find interest in the Palestinian Solidarity Campaign.
In fact, the statement by Machover provides the reason. According to
Machover, those amongst the Palestinians who fail to see that
anti-Semitism is the problem are nothing but reactionary, as only the
‘Progressive’ Palestinians acknowledge that anti-Semitism is indeed a
problem. Let me tell you, the Palestinians I know do not like it when
Machover or anyone else calls them reactionaries just because they are
not that concerned with anti-Semitism. Reading Machover, it is rather
clear that such views serve as a body shield for Jewish secular
collectivism and the Zio-centric historical narrative. If to be honest,
there is not much reason for any Palestinian to join a movement
predominated by the obsession with anti-Semitism.

May I tell you, I am not an historian. I am academically trained as a
philosopher and particularly as a continental one. I am interested in
the notion of essence. For me to attack Zionism is to aim towards a
thorough realisation of the essence of Zionism. To a certain extent I am
indeed an essentialist. This is pretty worrying for those who try to
reduce the discourse into positivistic exchange regarding numbers and
historical facts. I am interested in the spirit of Zionism. I’m
concerned about that which transforms the Israelis and their supporters
into ethically blind killing machines.

Beyond Chutzpah

You may have heard of the book I am holding in my hand. Probably, it’s
the ultimate Zionist tract: Alan Dershowitz’s The Case For Israel. I
don’t know whether any of you have ever considered reading this banal
not to say idiotic text. I did, it fell into my hands a few days ago.

Shockingly enough, this book is structured as a beginner’s guide for the
Zionist enthusiast, a kind of “Israel for Dummies”. It teaches the
nationalist Jew how to be an advocate and defend the ‘case of Israel’.
We know already that Norman Finkelstein has managed to prove beyond
doubt that the text is academically a farce. Yet, there is something
revealing in this text.

The book is a set of deconstructions of ‘the anti-Zionist argument’. It
starts with the heaviest ideological and moral accusation against Israel
and it gets lighter, more historical and forensic as you progress.

Dershowitz launches with the ‘million Shekels’ question “Is Israel a
Colonial, Imperialist State?” To a certain degree Dershowitz manages to
tackle the question. He asks, “if it is indeed a colonial state, what
flag does it serve?” Fair enough, I say, he may be right. I myself do
not regard Zionism as a colonial adventure. However, hang on for a
second, Mr. Dershowitz. It seems you might be getting off the hook
easily here. Our problem with Israel has nothing to do with its colonial
characteristics. Our problems with the ‘Jews Only State’ have something
to do with its racist, expansionist and nationalist qualities. Our
problems with Israel have something to do with it being a Fascist State
supported by the vast majority of Jewish people around the world.

Now if you, Scottish activists stop for a second, ask yourselves why
Dershowitz starts his book tackling the colonial aspect of Israel rather
than facing its Fascist characteristics. My answer is simple. We are
afraid to admit that Israel is indeed a Fascist State. It is
predominantly the politically correct groups that furnish Dershowitz
with a Zionist fig leaf. In fact, it is the Jewish gatekeepers on the
left who have managed to reduce Zionism merely into a colonial
adventure. Why did they do it? I can think of two reasons:

1. If Israel, the ‘Jews Only State’ is wrong for being a racially
orientated adventure, then ‘Jews for peace’, ‘Jews against Zionism’,
‘Jewish Socialists’, ‘Jews Sans Frontieres’ etc. are all wrong for the
very same reason (being a racially orientated adventure).

2. To regard the Israeli Palestinian conflict as a colonial dispute is
to make sure it fits nicely into their notion of working class politics.
May I suggest that a universal working class vision of Israel implies
that the Jewish State is nothing but a Fascist experiment.

I would use this opportunity and appeal to our friends amongst the
Jewish socialists and other Jewish solidarity groups. I would ask them
to clear the stage willingly, and to re-join as ordinary human beings.
The Palestinian Solidarity movement is craving for a change. It needs
open gates rather than gatekeepers. It yearns for an open and dynamic
discourse. The Palestinians on the ground have realised it already. They
democratically elected an alternative vision of their future. Isn’t it
about time we support the Palestinians for what they are rather than
expecting them to fit into our worldview?

From a talk for the Scottish Palestinian Solidarity Campaign in Edinburgh.

Gilad Atzmon was born in Israel and served in the Israeli military. He
is the author of two novels: A Guide to the Perplexed and the recently
released My One and Only Love. Atzmon is also one of the most
accomplished jazz saxophonists in Europe. His recent CD, Exile, was
named the year’s best jazz CD by the BBC. He now lives in London and can
be reached at: atz@onetel.net. uk

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black dot

November 2, 2006 at 6:23 pm (anti-oppression, middle east, palestine, poetry, west bank)

Black Dot

 

 

All they have left

Is their nightmares

Their dreams

Keep me wondering

Is this what a war means

If survival is worth bombs falling

 

Slumbering weak

Awake

Palestine heartache

Prayer to shaheed gods

Descending:

Make this war end

 

Its going to take resurrection

Sin no escape

Miracles too late

But clocks haven’t stopped ticking

Sickness

But medicine is illegal

I’m a witness

Can’t write about war,

A color-blind pigeon

 

I want justice

India ink dove

 

I could take the heartache

And run because its too much

Just to march to death beats

 

But my friends disappear in hell

Drink water and tea

And tell me

‘We’re just looking for something

To believe in

A piece of land

To build and dream in’

 

Evening call to pray

Drifts into the window

From a million star particles away

Get down on my knees

Smell powder

Lay awake for hours

Scratching out my heart disease

 

Tonight

I’m not the only one awake

Only one that’s angry

Only one that thinks

Fighters are dreamers

Who dream

With bodies

On front lines of fear

Eternal black dot on a yin/yang symbol

Fists in the air

Survival is worth whatever war brings

 

Jesus resurrecting

His friends mourning

His demise

God shaheed

Asks me

 

If you aren’t outside the green line

Then where are you?

 

You think that palestinians and israelis

Don’t understand each other

 

They understand each other

 

Killing over land and water

Cash and barter

 

You don’t think you understand

 

But you do

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give and take

September 9, 2006 at 12:16 am (lebanon, poetry, west bank)

last night she was alive
tonight she s dead
turn off the television set
close the windows

im feeling lost in the yellow swing
state of tomorrow
borrowed from yesterday
prayed to live forgiven hidden traps
of trees longheld behind this mirror
forest green forgotten begotten ill-gotten
color cream dont be the beautiful child
duitiful on your knees
stand up hands up
high 5 free

throw me a lighter pocket fire pockets
refolded along the tailored seam
tailored dreams
stitches corroded
by gunpowder
cracks louder
by laser red
painting the tree

yesterday i was alive
today i am free

today is a mocking bird
rocking words
i am screaming words
silent like a whisper
between adam and eve

spinning worlds my head is spinning

primitive news battles
bomb shells on carcasses
winning the feed

i feed you bitter leaves teagrass
and sunflower seeds
the mountain recedes
the horizon is coming
grey blue ships on the color

skin matter skin wrap bone
wrap muscle
wrap faster
wrap earth oil
stop the bleeding beautiful children
portrayed on tv as just another
incurable disease

so we pull bandage
frantic bombs screaming
laughing at the obscene

off stage off time
off life off rhythm
since the beginning
of steel lips injection

take earth take fire take
oil take
black take
gold take
this morning i was alive
this evening i am resurrecting

somebody was shot today
unless you knew her
life is still seemless
war can still be looked at objectively
mountains are still mountains
rivers are still rivers

but for me
rivers are splitting mountains
in unequal halves

i will never know her name but
her body her children iconic

charred rubble

disjointed

silent and breaking

my back

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writing in west bank

September 8, 2006 at 1:25 am (lebanon, palestine, poetry, Uncategorized, west bank)

these are some of my writings this summer in bethlehem. 

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karama maisha

September 8, 2006 at 1:23 am (lebanon, palestine, poetry, Uncategorized, west bank)

i think sometime later in my life i will look on these few quiet weeks as a precious bridge between the present and the past. not only because of geopolitics, but also because i am alone. my partner is in the states. and so the apartment rings quiet.

hukum theti is the arabic phrase for self-governing community. it is the closest phrase i have come to in arabic for communal anarchy.

karama is the arabic word for dignity. another delicious find.

right now my focus is studying arabic. i want to swim inside the sounds.

what gives us value as human beings? what gives us worth? sometimes i believe in the lie that our value comes from how many people know us, listen to us, how many people we effect. and yet how do we measure this kind of value? how can i know who i effect or to what extent?
i dont know what gives us ultimate value or if such thing is possible. (i am beginning to suspect not) but i want to stop believing in the lie that my value lies in someone else’s estimation. i struggle with this everyday.

i am wondering what gives us value because i am wondering how can i know if i am valuable in this world? i know that what i do is common. that is why i do it–to a certain extent. and yet it is the common and ordinary which feels least valued in this world.

it is the struggle against the common against the people which is the self-defining theme of western history.

and i, an insider/outsider to the west, am highly suspect western self-centerings and self-definitions.

but learning arabic reminds me that i belong here too. a nomadic belonging. ghaish means to live. the name ghaisha means life in arabic. swahili is 40 percent arabic. maisha means life in arabic. my parents gave me the name maisha to connect me with people i met 26 years i was born. i had my 26th birthday in the eastern congo. it is a nomadic belonging. but a belonging i can believe in.

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drop in bucket

September 8, 2006 at 1:21 am (Blogroll, dance, lebanon, palestine, poetry, west bank)

a few nights ago we went to a great party in the old city of bethlehem. it was one of those rare moments when i dont remember talking politics or reading politics or watching news. we danced to hiphop and salsa and arabic pop, spoke in french english and arabic drank cocktails and laughed until we were exhausted and climbed our way back home.
people write me asking me if i am okay. yes. better than okay. all i can say is dont believe the media the news the hype. i know most of you know this already but it still leaves you in a quandry…what should you believe in? what is left when so much of the world is a mirage?
i wrote this morning: believe drop in bucket
worth something
dry overpopulated lands
glittering
swing in sky
more in harmony
with light reflecting cherry cigarette it wont matter on time
cuz off time cut space
blues never sounded
but sweet
to hard lives in red hatchback
dusty road
miraged oblivion believe drop in bucket
worth something dancing salsa in palestine
bombs fall on edges centers
borders
exist cuz cartographers
got knives 50 thousand people die everyday
no one holds gun to they heads
they just die
fall into dirty water
retrovirus retroviolation
franken-tree plantation
they get automatic ticket to heaven dancing salsa important in revolution
in wild trees and wild hair sweet tears
yes dialoguing bodies
goddess give rite of the soul drop in bucket worth something star pistols over stone village in south
palestine earth still give birth
1000 me-activists dont understand
with 1000 manifestos fuming in hand
1000 me-poets refusing comprehend
that rhythm of water matters
drop in bucket
wave in ocean
motion of hips
when music hits
when feet hit dry land believe in yes in bliss
even if we all dead
dont believe ruling fewdrop in bucket
cool cats in muslim
territory holding hands
most of you have question limitless
unless you are among
walking dead
to you i am so distant
like noon on another planet
just blowing the astro sand
away.

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goodbye

September 8, 2006 at 1:06 am (lebanon, palestine, poetry, Uncategorized, west bank)

so this is the eloquent goodbye
this is the lost hallelujah
this is the forgotten lullabye
this is another reason to grow wings and fly

the fire next time
stars crying
fireworks sparks haling on head
bombs glass & abandoned caecasses of homes
pop music from lebanon
another name on map
gaza summer rain operations
surgically cutting into borders
of rivers lakes ehtnicities
creating new mines
illegal weapons
chemical spray
another lesson on geography
we spin inside bubbles
bubble pops–
water drenches fire
next time you and i
quiet fists in front of hearts
on front lines

habibi
im writing poems
no one will read
listening to songs
i will never learn to sing
cool overcast chicago
the war is over here
ghost losers
arrongan winners

air tastes from grilled limbs
to chemical seals

factories closed
nothing is made
people have forgotten
blood once rand down
bark of trees

never forget gaza
never forget lebanon
never forget palestine
never destroy names

there will always be palestinians
be dance be song be forgiveness
there will always be lovers, always
be brothers, always be the symbol of a gun
of an anthem
of a martyr
there will always be palestinians
those who struggle in laughter
grief
place stronger than imagination
place wider than freedom
a window
a lamp
habibi and me

hard pressed glowing poppy
caught in pages of holy fairouz
old words straining through speakers
of rose-coloured radio
in caution-sign yellow taxi
as we curve over mountains
windows down
red moon rising
fingering wind and smoke
olive trees young caught in henna curls

this is the goodbye
that folds itself in a note
passed from thigh to thigh
in english class
winks from grey hijab
mobile phone buttons vibrating
softly another text message
after class
you and i
leave the way lovers should

questions that first brought
me to you
unanswered
blue black words
that we have survived
imbibed
revived

this is the lost hallelujah
this si the forgotten lullabye
this another reason to grow wings
and fly away

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