Sunday, April 26, 2009
Seven Palestinian Children
Tell her Bassem always smiled. Tell her that Bassem was killed because he wanted to live on and tend his own land in Bil’in. Tell her Bassem wasn’t involved in any ‘violent’ protest. Tell her he was telling the soldiers to stop throwing tear gas projectiles because a woman was wounded. Tell her when people ask ‘Where is the Palestinian Gandhi’ that Bassem is one of many Palestinian Gandhis. Tell them the morning that Bassem was killed he gave medicine to Hamis, whose skull was broken because he wanted to live on and tend his own land in Bil’in. Tell her that people from all of the surrounding villages came to Bassem’s funeral. Tell her that Bassem still walks with us.
Tell her that Ghassan was blown up in his car with his thirteen year old niece, Lamees,whom he loved very much. Tell her that Ghassan wrote a story for each of Lamees’ birthdays. Tell him that Annie, his wife, heard the explosion but “could not find Ghassan.” She could only find his left leg. Tell her that Ghassan’s son “started knocking his head against the wall.” Tell her that “little Lalya was crying: ‘Baba . . . Baba.’”
Tell her that he was killed for writing that Palestine was a land filled with people:
I saw the long line of the big cars enter Lebanon leaving faraway the land of oranges…I started weeping in a loud sharp way…your mother was still looking in silence to the
oranges…In your father’s eyes were the reflection of all the orange trees he had left
behind for the Israelis …all the clean orange trees he had planted one by one glittered
in his face. He failed to stop the tears that filled up his eyes, when facing the police
head officer. When we reached Saida, in the afternoon, we became refugees.
Tell her that Kamel Nasser was a beloved poet. Tell her that Ehud Barak, the Lithuanian-Pole, dressed up like a woman and shot him in the mouth and his right hand. Tell her that Kamel was babysitting for some friends who went to Jordan for a funeral when Ehud Barak burst into his bedroom and shot up the right hand which held a pen that wrote:
Shed no tears in sorrow for me
For in my homeland
Life is degradation and wounds
And in my eyes the call of danger rings.
Beloved, if word of my death reaches you
And the lovers cry out:
The loyal one has departed, his visage gone forever,
And fragrance has died within the bosom of the flower
Shed no tears...smile on life
And tell my only one, my loved one,
The dark recesses of your father's being
Have been touched by visions of his people.
Tell her that Dr. Salman Abu Sitta dedicates his life to recording the names of the villages which the genocidal Pole David Ben Gurion, whose real name is David Gruen, changed from Arabic. Tell her that Dr. Salman's atlas contains "40,000 names which were in use in Palestine in 1948 and prior." Tell her that this atlas "shows the locations and the names of 1300 towns and villages, 10,000 religious, cultural and historic landmarks and 20,000 place names." Tell her that these "names are the vocabulary of Palestinian life." Tell her that Dr. Salman's painstaking labors were in part so that "the young generation who have not seen their homes but heard about it, can navigate through it and find where their villages were and where their lands were, so they can reconstruct Palestine." Tell her that Dr. Salman warns the Jewish people,
“. . . the history of Jews will ultimately be marked indelibly, and above all other historical
events, by what they have done in Palestine.”
Tell her that you may as well forget saying you’re Palestinian if Jews are in the room. Tell her that if Jews are in the room the room fills up with their suffering, and there is no room for yours. Tell her that if you find yourself at a workshop about social oppression with African-American table mates and they tell you their hot button is that they don’t like it when people ask “What are you,” and you tell them, “I like it when people ask me what I am because my people are vilified and demonized as terrorists and I like to tell them what I am so they’ll see we aren’t all terrorists,” to forget getting up and speaking to the group even if your table mates force you because no sooner than you’re done speaking a Jew in the room will stand up and say “I am a Jew and we are hated all over the world so I don’t tell people that I’m Jewish because Jews get killed for being Jews.” No, don't tell her that because it's Anti-Semitic.
Tell her that you may commemorate the Holocaust every day, but may not teach about injustice in regard to Palestine. No don't tell her that. Tell her that one must sort of teach around injustice and Palestine. Tell her you may teach Cry, the Beloved Country, but don't talk about apartheid and Palestine. Tell her that we're the Jews' Jews and Hitler's final victims. Tell her that we're f*****d. No, don't tell her that. Tell her that we will "forget the bitter days." Tell her "we shall return." Tell her that one day we will not be forced to keep many things inside us.
Tell her that she has every right to live on her own land and to tend her own olives. Tell her she has every right to live from where her grandmother was forced into exile. Tell her that she has every right to live where her grandfather was gunned down when he tried to return to his home. Tell her she has every right to 'pick the fruits.' of her land. Tell her she has every right to remove their poison from our wells. Tell her to shun their peace process. Tell her it's a ruse. A ruse as they salivate anticipating the annihilation of our presence on our land . Tell her that their concern for demographics is racist and hateful. Tell her that there is no compromise with evil. Tell her that there is no compromise. And tell her not to be intimidated by those who call those of us who want to go to our homes extremists.
Tell her that our smiling Bassem loved her. Tell her that our gifted Ghassan loved her. Tell her that gentle Kamel loved her. Tell her that Dr. Salman labors with love for her. Tell her that Raja Shehadeh who writes with love for a landscape he walks, now desecrated by people who lied that they made the desert bloom, loves her. Tell her that we once lived peacefully with Jews. Tell her that we may "breathe," but we must also "eat." Tell her that we may "have our house," but we also need our "children." Tell her they can't kill us all. Tell her to remain resolute and to keep up her spirits.