A Dream Unfolds – Palestine

12670220_810297935765897_8257748858966663853_nEight months ago I began a journey… I answered a very personal call upon my heart and conscience, upon my mind and soul. It is a call to a connection that is not easy to explain, a connection to a land and people who I deeply, personally identify with and feel very much a part of – Palestine and her people. My journey started as a dream, to write. Writing is a gift to me, one I have embraced my entire life, and one that has been redirected for a profound and important cause, to write about and for Palestine and her people. Palestine is rich in culture, history, heritage, life… a people of both the Mediterranean and Middle East that are very special and unlike many others. There is a special warmth, kindness, strength and resiliency that Palestinians possess that many in this world could only dream to have a fraction of such qualities. I know this first hand. Palestinians are not only Arab Muslim, but Arab Christian and Arab Jew. I identify with all three faiths and beliefs, but more so as a Muslim myself. I have very, very special people along this journey with me, my partner Haitham Khatib whose undying patience with me serves as encouragement and his support for writing our book, his and mine, means so much more to me than my words can express. Haitham has believed in me from the beginning and we believe in one another’s vision for Palestine. There are others, Palestinians that are very close to me, like family, who continue to stand by me and share in the vision and goals I have to help Palestine, to help my Palestinian brothers and sisters in their stand and resistance for freedom, One person in particular stands out and he knows who he is. I am forever grateful, blessed and encouraged to be on the same path for same reasons. I pray that Allah bless, keep, protect, guide, liberate, stabilize and make free and prosperous our beautiful Palestine, in sha Allah, that Palestine will shine among the rest brightest of all and set the example for others to follow of what peace, tolerance, love and resilience means. We live under the same skies, under the same sun, together forever we are one, Palestine will be free, from the river to the sea, we will live to see it you and me, in sha Allah, ma sha Allah, subhan Allah, ameen.

Although I have been on a bit of a hiatus due to international travel from this blog for the last two months, my writing of the book has continued and I will be contributing more articles once again here.  Thank you for faithful following and support.  #Free_Palestine #End_Occupation #Save_Humanity

 

From Gaza – “don’t worry, this is normal…”

12799381_10201404543791146_2810122174645825893_n“Don’t worry, this is normal for us”, “we are used to this terror”. Two very powerful and gravely disturbing statements, both responses from Gazans in response to my messages asking if they were okay and safe…

Last night, in the dead of night, IOF launched unprovoked air assaults upon the southern Gaza Strip, shelling neighborhoods, traumatizing an already traumatized population. One family in particular lost two of their three children when shells were fired into their home. Their son, age 10 murdered in his sleep, his 6 year sister sustained critical head injuries and succumbed to those injuries hours after the assault, and their remaining 13-year-old son, survives with the trauma and devastation that today he is alive but will never hold his brother and sister again; their parents now having to bury children whose lives have been stolen by an illegal occupation of their country.

The Israeli Zionist Occupation of Palestine sole purpose is to slowly, systematically exterminate, erase and eliminate an entire race of people. Short of mass scale executions and gas chambers, the Occupation’s crimes against humanity, their war crimes, are no less heinous, inhumane and evil.

The Gaza strip has become the Concentration Camp of Israel’s creation. Contained, controlled, and enclosed. Not unlike the Nazi ghettos of Europe where entire populations were confined.

In discussing solutions, discussions born out of a sense and need to bring justice, feelings of rage take hold. Some argue there is no clear, black and white solution to the problem of Occupation; that the west has allowed this malignancy of Occupation to grow so far out of control, created, supported and funded by the western governments for decades, that the western governments have lost control over the monster they have created; and in a perfect scenario, if Occupation’s Regime was toppled tomorrow, it would create a vacuum effect, and chaos may ensue.

Perhaps this would be the result, but just as the west has paid reparations to a Zionist Regime to appease their own conscious, the west must now take a stand to correct their error. Not doing so just validates that this whole Regime and the atrocities it has and continues to commit is spawned out of a sense of greed and control. Even Occupation is a fool to think the western governments support them for the sake of their so-called sovereign state. The Zionist Occupation is nothing more than a pseudo western stronghold in the Middle East with the western governments being the master and the Zionist Occupation their Marionette.

It is easy to say that the western governments should take a firm, possibly military action to depose the Occupation government, but this is impossible at this point of their creation.

12801504_1570273776620666_2682751930117441607_nThe only way to continue to weaken the stronghold Occupation has on this land, is to do so economically, and through exposing their war crimes, crimes against children, against humanity; Occupation’s violations of international laws and agreements; for former Israeli military who have begun to speak out and expose the truth of their crimes to increase their voice; for the world to continue to be made aware of the truth of what is happening in Palestine, that has been happening for nearly seven decades, via social media, video and photography as it happens.

It is overwhelming for some, perhaps even you reading this, to think of what you could possibly do to help. It is a fact, that one person’s efforts alone make a difference, but together in effort, we can bring change; just as society fought in support of ending South African’s apartheid, we as a world society must now stand in solidarity and effort, to end Occupation of Palestine, end the regime, end the Apartheid and end the genocide.

12814757_921407347975099_7763735290907970251_nSilence condones the violence and complacency, turning a blind eye, makes the world guilty of these crimes equally. We are all human, part of the world’s humanity. I must believe that the world still has a conscious, that together through activism, advocacy, boycotts, divestment, sanctions, social media storms of fact and truth, and pressuring our governments, and corporations to have a conscious; and take a stand against this fascist occupation regime, in order to cleanse their hands of the blood of innocent Palestinians. Only then does Palestine really have hope of realizing her freedom.

Again, I must emphasize to you the reader, to educate yourself. What is happening in Palestine is not merely a conflict of Jew against Muslim. It is not, never has been. This portrayal is not reality; it is yet another western media concoction to deviate from the truth. Palestine existed long before the fictional state of Israel was invented. Palestine and the Palestinians have always been Arab Jew, Christian and Muslim living in peace. Israel is a Zionist creation and ideology that has nothing to do with Judaism. Zionism uses the cloak of Judaism to proclaim its case that the conflict is one of religion. Zionists that entered Palestine during the Nakba of 1947 to 1949 came from Eastern and other parts of Europe.

When you have the desire to seek the truth, to find the truth, the truth always prevails. There is no excuse to plead ignorance of the issues at play. To do so, becomes selective ignorance of active choice. So what choice will you make?

 

Palestine’s Struggle – Palestinian Freedom

BUTTERFLY OF PALESTINEPalestine’s Struggle – Palestinian Freedom…

For 70 years my life has known only occupation, a life entrapped by hate and condemnation

Victimized but never the victim, a dignity possessed as I fight for freedom

In my life the struggle is daily and in my martyrdom my strength is my legacy

Who is Allah’s chosen? For surely Palestine it is you, not the Zionist as they claim, but Palestine true!

This is my land, my heritage; the right of return is my right and privilege

My young and old in flags buried, my fight is now yours to proudly carry

Palestine’s land runs in blood, Palestinian’s murdered and slaughtered flows like a flood

Never in vain and forever with purpose Zionism will fall and Palestine will have recourse

Bare our children strong and true, fight with pride and hope, let them learn well from me and you

Faith is the substance of things hoped for and the evidence of things unseen

Palestine’s hope is in every tomorrow and in tomorrow is freedom’s dream

The world is waking from decades’ long sleep, a conscious newly fired and promises yet to keep

A two state solution is no solution at all, this land is Palestinian and to truth we call

Colonized and raped, sold and plundered, but the roots of Palestine run deep and her heartbeat is heard like the heaven’s thundered

Palestine’s soul can never be held captive; Palestine’s soul is free and resistive

Resist to exist and fight day and night, our voices we raise to scream our plight

Boycotts, divestment, sanctions and protests, demonstrations held to awareness invests

Silenced never, voices heard, governments try, but we will not be deterred

Money paid in reparation to Zionists who are masters of manipulation…

Preying on the guilt of humanities failures, now humanity has blood on their hands, devils not saviors

Wake up world and see what you’ve done, out of greed and lust for power you will lose and see that Palestine has won!

EMA 2016 ©

Occupation – may bend us, but will never end us!

12376770_194443920918075_6718451733709081375_nThe biggest flaw in Occupation ideology is that brutal force will bring compliance and eventual extermination of the Palestinian people.  Nothing could be further from the truth.  The only oppressors, the only terrorists, the only criminals against humanity that exist in Palestine are the Occupation government and their forces.

Their brutality and inhumanity is only making the Palestinian people stronger, more resistant, and as more of the truth of what is happening in Palestine gets out to the world the weaker Occupation gets.

Palestinians strive to survive and resist to exist.  These are not just poetic turns of phrase, they are the reality.  I have seen some amazing talent come out of Palestine; poets, writers, and musicians.  What is most moving, impassioned and inspiring is the raw talent of young, talented people like the ones in this video.  Two powerfully expressive singers from Gaza, Waheeb Nasan and Kareem Ibrahim, with their song cover of Adele’s Hello; but this is not Adele, this is Palestine Calling! –

What inspires and strengthens young talent, the youth of Palestine overall is the constant conflict, constant torment of their lives and existence under Occupation.  The way they take their power back is to stand strong!  attain education, learn from their enemies weaknesses and use it to their advantage – what better way to do this than to succeed, remain alive, fight for truth, fight for freedom, and use the most powerful tools at their disposal, technology.  Not only technology, but specifically social media.

Occupation cannot stop the spread of truth, and as fast as their crimes are committed the evidence is uploaded raw, unedited, leaving no room for distortions of the truth.  Like this video taken just hours ago in the village of Bil’in, Palestine, IOF Soldiers invaded Bil’in tonight around 12am Midnight (Palestine time).


The only reason IOF makes these invasions into the village of Bil’in especially, every Thursday night especially, before the weekly, non-violent resistance demonstrations is to make the people tired, scared, agitated, and provoke them. Especially the Shabab (youth)… leaving all of them, all the people, over tired, angry, scared and enraged. This is what IOF wants, it makes the people easier targets for their aggression and executions of innocents. This is what every Palestinian lives with, the only reality the children of Palestine know.

These IOF and Occupation efforts may oppress, but they do not suppress the innate right and need to live strong and free.  Palestinians use their adversity to their advantage to become stronger, to become more resilient, to ready themselves for a better and new future of a free Palestine.  It continues to amaze me, and inspire me too.  Where others may give up, Palestinians stand up, and take their power back, empowering themselves and in doing so heal in many ways.  There is no mistaking that the wounds and scars of decades of conflict and oppression under Occupation remain, but such things do not weaken the Palestinians.  A good and interesting example are the young men in this following video from one of the most war torn parts of the Gaza strip in Palestine –

 

Occupation – may bend us, but will never end us!

Palestine is strong and Palestine deserves to be free!

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Unprecedented Beauty… the life, faces and true side of Gaza

12715741_600786150077582_1541146658767962665_nWhat do we see when we think of Gaza?  The majority of the world sees only the bleak side of Gaza, Palestine.  The side of it that has and is under constant conflict and war; an ongoing Intifada from one degree to another.

But there is a side of Gaza, Palestine that not many see or appreciate and it is this side of Gaza I write about in this article.  Specifically from the perspective and through the lens of my esteemed friend and partner in this project, Fadi Thabet (pictured).  Fadi was born, raised and lives in Gaza, Palestine.  A brilliant teacher, loving and devoted husband and father, and one of the most talented Palestinian photographers I have the honor to know.

12359979_580168558806008_6629681144378964015_nFadi has an exceptional gift for capturing the beauty, humanity, strength, resilience and dignity of Gazans in their day-to-day lives.  What Fadi does not say in commentary, he speaks volumes through his photography.  His photos provoke emotion, thought and show us the side of the Palestinian people we all need to see and know.

Gazans are diverse in their heritage and this makes the people of Gaza exceptional.  Every photo has its own story, never just random pictures and most caught in the moment, bring us the viewer into the lives of the Palestinian people of Gaza.  People who forever find reason to smile, to hope, to resist and believe that Gaza will be free again, that Palestine will be free.

12417938_589442587878605_2439505561062160326_nI am most inspired by the inner spirit of the Palestinian people.  Their struggle and sense of hope is something I personally relate to on intimate level.  There is ongoing conflict throughout the world, and especially in the middle-east, but there is something so distinctly different about the Palestinian people and how they face these ongoing conflicts with a level of hope and endurance that surpasses so many others.  That even through the worst humanity can experience, Palestinians still smile.  A genuine inner joy they find in the darkest of hours.  We, the rest of the world have much to learn from the Palestinian people.

It is so easy for us who live outside of the middle-east, especially in the western world, to find things in our day-to-day lives to complain about and be unhappy about.  Personally I am not one like this, but I, like the Palestinian people am unique this way.  I always find the good even in the worst, and still I smile.

12321235_591562684333262_6628143658417444079_nWhat touches the emotions so deeply is what is seen in the eyes of the children of Palestine.  Especially in Gaza, and Fadi captures these emotions in the moment so profoundly.

There is an innocence that survives the brutality of humanity, but an innocence that is wise before its time.  No child in the world should have to ever experience conflict, war, and destruction; or oppression like the children of Palestine do living under Occupation.

Denied basic human rights, denied the right to human existence, persecuted at every turn, for no other reason than they are Palestinian.

12715767_602266879929509_6123170059249478549_nWe the world, the citizens of the world with social conscience cannot continue to be complacent about what is happening in Palestine to the Palestinian people.  The world’s media works very hard to keep the spotlight off of Palestine, in the hope that we will forget about Palestinian people.  But this will not happen, because of brilliant photographers like Fadi Thabet and others who continue to share their work with the outside world through sites and collaboration like this project, and through the power of social media.

The reality of how some Gazans are forced to live is subhuman at best.  Like what you see in this photo of a man and his children.  The shipping containers you see in the background are salvaged and used as what was supposed to be emergency, temporary shelter for those Gazaz displace due to the wars and conflicts.  But these have now become the only shelter for those lucky enough to have them, because many still live in displacement camps within tents and little to no protection from the elements.

12745566_601859696636894_844800832238474259_nEven among the devastation and destruction, Gazans still find reason to remain strong and to strive to live as normal a life as possible, including celebrations of accomplishments of students (pictured).  A stark contrast of the darkness and despair of war and the hope and determination for a better future with the newest generation of Palestinians.

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I cannot express enough how much respect and admiration I hold for the Palestinian people.  I learn from each of them so much each day, my life forever changed.  The unrelenting perseverance of the Palestinian people puts life into perspective. For example, this young boy continuing his studies boldly in the face of adversity.

This article is just one of more to come featuring Fadi’s work.  It is the hope that you will catch a glimpse of the real side of Palestine, of her people, and begin to question preconceived ideas and misinformed knowledge you may have of Palestine.

10384587_601804506642413_1286857031052484437_nThe Palestinian people are proud, rich in culture, from a long lineage and heritage in this land, on this land, and nothing can or will ever change this.

The children pictured here are one of many groups of Palestinian children and youth proudly demonstrating the beautiful dance of Dabke.  A music style and dance full of energy, joy and strength.

12376395_583647205124810_2919244015084276930_nAnother wonderful quality of Fadi’s is his love for the children of Palestine, his heart is big for the coming generation, and his encouragement of them and for them through his teaching and his photography is something quite special and can be tangibly felt through the faces captured in his photographs.

 

 

 

 

 

Senseless Harassment, Brutality and Murder

Where is the humanity in Israel, in Occupied Palestine?  The only humanity that exists are the Palestinians themselves, a diverse people of Arab Jew, Arab Christian and Arab Muslim, that have lived together, intermarried and prospered for generations before Nakba of 1947-1949.

Every day Palestinians are harassed in the streets, in their homes, some brutally beaten and others killed in cold blood for alleged crimes that go unsupported by evidence, families left with little to know recourse.

QusayAt the time of writing… another young Palestinian youth has been gunned down.

There is a saying in English – “same shit – different day”.. this is inhumane madness. This young Palestinian, no longer a small child, but not yet a man, has been gunned down, executed for alleged attempt to assault an IOF Soldier, claims that go unsubstantiated by IOF, and no one holds them to account.

LOOK! please look, at these pictures, look at the face of Qusay Abu Al Rab, age 16. Where is the justice for him? What is the world doing to stop this genocide of Palestinians?

The media focus seems only to view conflicts selectively chosen by executives and governments that decide what should be seen and how to “spin” the commentary on what is shown.  You will not see the daily incidents of cold-blooded murder in Palestine on you local news.  I leave you the reader to question why that is?

Myself and others like me however, work to expose the atrocities, the humanity that is being extinguished a little more every, single day in Palestine at the hands of the Israeli Occupation government and their forces.  Every international activist and humanitarian aid worker that I have had the pleasure of getting to know and talk to, who have spent ample time on the ground with their organizations in Palestine attest to the truth of what is happening there.  They have seen it first hand.

12733567_10153957108478832_1554418332003708011_nChildren cannot live without the sight of IOF and their guns every day.  IOF’s presence is as static as the buildings and trees that blanket the land.  Always armed, always ready.  Highly trained and skilled military who use their training and skills to serve as thugs, as executioners under the guise of “protecting Israel”.   Protecting Israel from what exactly – peaceful people, Jew, Christian and Muslim alike, who want nothing more than to live, exist and thrive in peace.  The Zionist Occupation does not want this.  Palestinians are all of the above, Jew, Christian and Muslim.  The Zionist IOF are mandated to extinguish them all at will.  This is the truth.

Yesterday, in Jerusalem, during a news report being filmed live, IOF executed in broad daylight, Mohammad Khalaf, shooting him with multiple rounds of live fire, his body riddled with more than 50 bullets.

 

The claim by IOF is that this young man attempted an assault against them.  I have watched and re-watched this video, I do not see such attempt.   What I do see is inhumanity at the most heinous.  Unwarranted use of force.  Another senseless murder in cold blood.

Palestinians cannot breathe for fear they will be shot.  Palestinians cannot peacefully walk in their cities and villages without random stops, checkpoints, harassment and provocations all at the hands of IOF.  This video taken on February 19, 2016 attests to such harassment.

 

Home-invasionChildren in Palestine cannot sleep safely in their homes.  Anxiety and fear rule their nights.  All too often IOF at random conduct nightly home raids, never explaining why to the homeowners, and if any explanation is given it is always the same one “this has been deemed a closed military zone”.  What does that mean exactly?  Sleeping children, in their homes warrant the title of “closed military zone”.  The first picture is of such a home invasion that took place in Hebron, Palestine.

 

Gaza-Home-Invasion1This next photo is of another IOF home invasion in Gaza.  What kind of threat can an innocent sleeping child pose to warrant an IOF Soldier armed to extremes standing over her?

These are the faces of Palestine, the innocent people of Palestine; and these are the faces of the IOF, Israeli Occupation Forces, funded, trained and supported by western governments.  This is what your tax dollars are paying for.  All the money sent in aid and support to Israel is paying for these inhuman, heinous crimes against humanity and the world turns a blind eye.  When is the conscience of the world going to kick in?  When are the people going to take a stand against their governments, their corporations, and independent financial supporters and say – enough is enough!

Silence condones violence.  Complacency is guilt by association.  Stand for humanity, for human rights, and hold Israel to account.  Not doing so is equal to the blood of innocents being on your hands.