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 ©

Non-Violent Resistance

12802832_10207624467422724_3862330094032505984_nTomorrow we will hold our normal peaceful Friday demonstrations which we have held for 11 years now. The Weekly Friday Bil’in peaceful demonstrations include Palestinian, Israeli and International activists.

The demonstrations always start peacefully from the Palestinian and International activist side… every week we take the same path, we march towards the wall on our land. The soldiers are always waiting for us, at least 2 hours before we arrive. When we reach about 200 meters in distance from the soldiers they open direct fire on us with tear gas bombs and rubber bullets…

For anyone who may believe our demonstrations are violent they are misled by Israeli propaganda! In the 11 years time of these peaceful protests we have not heard of ANY Israeli Occupation Soldiers being injured, HOWEVER, we have had two Bil’in Palestinian villagers killed (by tear gas bombs) and thousands of Palestinian, Israeli and International demonstrators injured and some very seriously again caused by tear gas, rubber bullets, and direct soldier assault. Hundreds of demonstrators including Internationals have also been arrested and many deported during these demonstrations.

Hundreds of very old olive trees on this land have been burned during the demonstration, by the soldier tear gas.

Once the soldiers start shooting some Palestinian kids throw stones.. its their way of releasing and demonstrating their anger and frustration and resistance against this illegal occupation AND the Israeli THEFT of the our village lands, which lands have still not been returned.

Our village land has been stolen since 2005 – and we no longer have any access to it – a new Israeli settlement has since been built on OUR land.

Please remember that our village and our daily lives are under the constant real threat of harassment by the Israeli occupation soldiers who by day or night have and can drive through our village dropping sound bombs and tear gas without any reason .. and who also conduct night raids and home invasions and arrest demonstration participants, including kids!

Please understand… we are doing our very best… in these difficult circumstances!  Haitham Khatib

Genocide, Apartheid, Occupation and the Truth!

There is no mistaking at all what is taking place in Palestine daily is genocide at the hands of a Zionist Regime that holds Palestine contained by Apartheid and controlled by Occupation.

Genocide: the deliberate killing of a large group of people, especially those of a particular ethnic group or nation.

At the time of writing, three more young Palestinians have been gunned down, slaughtered in the streets in less than 24 hours.  Young men with bright futures; futures that have extinguished by Occupation bullets.

Iyad Sajadia, age 22In Qalandia refugee camp more that 22 young Palestinians have been martyred in recent months. IOF raids this camp regularly. coming at will with provocation and malice and to exterminate Palestinians. On Monday, from 9pm until dawn Tuesday, IOF soldiers raided this camp and Iyad Sajadia, age 22, tried to defend his camp and people, standing up to the IOF when he was shot, in the head, in cold blood, by an IOF sniper. He had no weapons, just a will to survive, protect and be free.  He was to graduate this summer from Al-Quds University with a degree in Media Studies.  Iyad is the third young journalism student killed since October 2015.  Already these Palestinians have lost everything, their land and more. This particular refugee  camp is tightly contained by Occupation forces, narrow roads in and out. This camp as become an easy target for IOF for whom the lives of the Palestinian people have no value and are deemed expendable.

Labib Azzam age 17, and Mohamed Zaghloul who was also 17In the early hours of today, Palestinian time, two young men, ages 17 each, where gunned down in the streets by IOF  near Nablus outside of Ramallah city in the West Bank.  Labib Azem and Mohammad Zaghlwan (both 17)  who were executed today early in the morning by Zionist occupation forces adjacent to the illegal Zionist occupation colony of Eli, south Nablus.  IOF claim these young men attempted to stab Occupation Settlers.  This has become the IOF’s catch phrase to justify cold-blooded murder of Palestinians.

12800211_10207614902423605_4530233051552296792_nApartheid: a policy or system of segregation or discrimination on grounds of race.

Imagine if every day you were forced to see this threatening wall of grey. This Israeli Occupation Apartheid wall is a constant reminder of the Palestinian’s stolen freedom, stolen rights, stolen lands, stolen family members and stolen futures… This is a wall of Israeli hate, fear and oppression! Palestinians do not deserve to live in a cage on their own lands, Palestinians belong here, free.  Palestinians have the right to defend their homelands and their lives.  The Occupation’s Apartheid wall has turned Palestine into the equivalent of an Israeli concentration camp.  This section of the wall and “door” sits on Palestinian land, in Bil’in. Palestinians may not pass “freely” through – in or out! They are prisoners held against their will… The West Bank and Gaza have become and is now an Israeli concentration camp. The Israeli Occupation Forces use these doors as quick access points, to barrage in with their armored vehicles and military soldiers to illegally kidnap, arrest, terrorize, assault and raid our villages by day and by night, and always at the weekly Friday peaceful, non-violent Bil’in demonstrations. IOF are always dressed for war and aim to kill. This is the desperate reality of life under Occupation, this is not a movie…this is the sad daily life in Palestine. Bil’in and villages like it, will not be demoralized. Palestinians are standing up united for their human rights and for peace, and for an end to this illegal occupation. Will you stand with Palestine?  Your silence condones the violence committed against Palestinians daily.

12814672_975552999206146_1806274077068564941_nPalestinian men, women and children, are harassed daily by IOF and illegal settlers.  This is how Zionist Occupation Settlers in full view of IOF soldiers treat Palestinians. Harassing, humiliating, taunting, physically threatening, and dehumanizing with their heinous and racist actions. Zionist men, women and children participate, filled with hate, attack an innocent Palestinian woman shown here. This is life under Occupation for every Palestinian man, woman and child, daily.

asmaa_vortids5How soon history repeats itself and how soon history is forgotten. How soon Occupation Zionists forget their own history and now have become the oppressors they despised equal in hate and action to the Nazi Regime in Europe.

Israeli CheckpointCorralled, controlled and subjugated to terror everyday – this is Palestinian life under Occupation.  This is how Occupation controls the flow of Palestinians. Forcing them to be scrutinized, demoralized and dehumanized through heavily armed and guarded checkpoints through every area of Palestine.  Never free to come and go even within their own villages and territories, and the world turns a blind eye to it all.

How much longer can this go on?  How much longer will the world allow the Zionist Regime to continue breaking international laws and committing crimes against humanity?  Occupation actively breaks International Laws and no one is holding the Occupation to account. Calling Occupation’s Apartheid of Palestine is fact. As well as having the support of South Africans who fought against apartheid, the situation in Palestine conforms to its definition under international law. The 1977 Additional Protocol I of the Geneva Conventions of 1949, for example, lists apartheid as a “grave breach”, and one “without any geographical limitation”.

This is one of many examples of Occupation war crimes, crimes against humanity and crimes against children. Three-year old Darwish Tariq was taken prisoner by IOF yesterday and held for three hours in jail. Listen to this young boy’s account of what happened to him. Where is the world? Silence condones violence and complacency is guilt by association. When is the world going to hold Occupation to account for their crimes against humanity, against children especially? “The police took me, they fired tear gas, they beat my father and on Layth, I inhaled tear gas, I took my milk bottle with me, my grandfather and Layth followed me to the police station…”

 

 

Yesterday at the entrance of Biet Ommar an armed Zionist IOF soldier provokes and attacks an unarmed defenseless Palestinian citizen. Oppressor against the oppressed, tyranny against justice. Occupation can bend us, but occupation will never end us! Another example of heinous, inhumane brutality, the epitome of Zionist mentality. Occupation crimes against humanity – where is the world?

Palestinians have no weapons… their only weapons are their wills to survive and fight for their freedom.  They do so through peaceful, non-violent protests and demonstrations against the Occupation, armed only with their voices and the truth.  This video is an example of the strong, resilient will to live and fight for freedom.  This is non-violent Palestinian bravery against Occupation forces – Watch and listen, view the loss for words from these IOF Soldiers when they are confronted with non-violent, Palestinian demonstrators educating them on their own history. Listen to the courage of this Palestinian man as he speaks the truth about the Occupation’s illegal presence on his land, and their unjustifiable Occupation of Palestine.

This stand by Palestinians is never ending.  With or without the world, Palestine will stand, Palestinians will continue to resist Occupation to exist; they will fight for their human rights, fight for their freedom.  But, the world must live with what conscious they may have.  How much longer can the world stand idly by and watch as genocide is committed, Apartheid enforced and to allow a crazed Zionist Occupation to exist?

In closing, I want to leave you with some very serious food for thought.  The following is an open letter written by an amazing humanitarian, writer and Israeli, Johnathan Ofir.  His letter was written on February 15, 2016 to the attention of his fellow Israelis.  I have never read such a brave truthful admission of the facts about what has happened in Palestine and continues to happen in Palestine as this letter, so powerfully and eloquently written.  For those of you who have a little understanding of the difference between Zionist and Jew, this will clarify the definition and history for you, as well as educate you of the truth, the facts of the genocide, Apartheid and illegal occupation of Palestine…

TO MY FELLOW ISRAELIS – AN OPEN LETTER

“This is probably a culmination of nearly a decade’s reviewed study of our history. At some point, beyond the singular stories, cases and arguments, I feel something unequivocal and very generally encompassing needs to be said about our Israeli ‘miracle’, the manifestation of the Zionist ‘dream’.

I will not write this in Hebrew, although that would probably have been the most direct idiomatic tool to reach your minds. I will not do so, because I have had enough of dirty laundry recycled amongst us ‘self-understanding’ Israelis. Whilst I write to you, my hopes of change coming from within us Israelis have regrettably declined in the years – and thus, I am also, if not more so, placing my bets upon the involvement of the international community – whose help we need so badly – not for more cash, weapons, or apologetic ‘understanding’, but rather for its intervention in what we are apparently unable, and mostly unwilling, to fix. The attitude which I thus exhibit here is an extremely unpopular one in Israeli and Jewish culture – it is the vein of the ‘mosser’ – the one who ‘snitches’ against the ‘Jewish nation’ towards the goyim.
Well, get over it. There are far more serious issues at hand.

I have to tell you, our evaluation of Israeli history omits so much atrocity from our side. Indeed, much of it is still classified – even back to 1948. Yes, you may have heard about Deir Yassin massacre, it is often taught in school books, yet portrayed as an aberration, perpetrated by the ‘extremist’, ‘rogue’ factions before the declaration of Independence (although the leaders of those extremist factions became our Prime-Ministers). But what of the dozens of other massacres perpetrated by – us – in 1948, indeed by the very IDF? Have you read about Al Dawayima, which was apparently worse than Deir Yassin? Yair Auron just wrote about it in Haaretz, I translated and it’s out on Mondoweiss – go and read. It’s a letter which is out for the first time in full, but it’s no secret as such – excerpts of it have been out for decades – as have many other testimonies and documents, for those who care to seek and look.

When you sum up the systematic mass executions, the many gang-rape cases (which have been slow to be uncovered, because they involve shame on both fronts), the crushing of children’s skulls with sticks, the ripping out of fetuses from their mothers’ wombs – all, and many more, perpetrated by ‘us’, the ‘good guys’, the ‘cultured elite’ – often in situations which presented no danger, just out of pure gratuitous sadism and hate for the ‘Arabs’ – then you may begin to realise, that Israel is not in a war of survival, a war of an elite and advanced culture in a ‘bad neighborhood’ of backwards Arab sub-culture.

Let me put it out there, clearly and directly:
We have been acting like animals, with barbarism of a degree which indeed could be, and should be, and has been, compared to those whom we love to hate – the Nazis – whose cruelty is supposed to exonerate ours. As Golda Meir told MK Shulamit Aloni: “After the Holocaust, Jews are allowed to do anything.” NO. Damn well not. We’ve used this excuse, with those words or others, together with a systematic cover-up of our own cruelties, since the start. And because we have largely succumbed to our own propaganda in this, we have failed to perceive the historical trace, which, if followed honestly, will show us that we are essentially AT THE SAME PLACE as before – still subjugating, still massacring, still torturing.

This is not a chain of events forced upon us as an inevitable consequence of trying to ‘survive’. This is nonetheless a predictable outcome of our inherent state-religion – which is not Judaism, as many mistakenly think – but rather Zionism.

We were brainwashed to think that Zionism is our savior. That as Jesus died on the cross for the Christians, our soldiers have died for our country. No – they died primarily for Zionism. ‘Our country’, as is mostly perceived by us, is not really ‘our country’. It is the country of so many others, whom we have not only expelled with unfathomable brutality, but whom we also now keep locked up in cages of various forms, shapes and styles, as well as under horrendous Apartheid regime in various degrees – in order to maintain our sacred ‘demographic balance’ – whilst we continue, rather unabated, in our expansion over the ‘promised land’.

Our occupation did not begin in 1967, neither did our cruelty and crimes. We have established a state on the mass graves of others. This was not forced upon us. Just as Begin said in 1982, concerning the 1967 war “we must be honest with ourselves…we decided to attack” – so must we be honest with ourselves about all of our other portrayals of ‘self-defense’. Indeed, the whole Zionist venture is essentially portrayed as a ‘struggle for survival’, a “struggle for self-defense”.

Had we not hidden our crimes so well, so deep, and with so much propaganda ‘deterrence’ rhetoric, it would perhaps be easier to believe our sincerity. On the other hand, when those crimes are exposed for what they are, it also becomes impossible to justify our moral righteousness. Indeed, as the world media became much more instantly transparent, the reality of our crimes became impossible to hide – so we put an extra focus on propaganda – to twist it all into ‘self defense’. We indiscriminately shelled houses and levelled neighborhoods in Gaza for ‘self-defense’. We torture children for ‘self-defense’. Let’s just say it outright: We torture and terrorize the hell out of Palestinians in order to deter them and make their lives so miserable so they will want to leave – or to revenge, which will justify our next blow.

We have created a monster. Who on earth would want to ‘survive’ if this is how ‘survival’ looks? How vile is this ‘survival’ which maintains itself upon the death and destruction of ‘others’? Indeed, who are those ‘others’? Are we not really the ‘others’, who came with our ‘better knowing’ culture to ‘make the desert bloom’? And as this desert ‘blooms’ with yet another settlement, another fictitious ‘military zone’, another ‘expansion’ – the people who are there, the ‘others’, are gradually removed, encircled, or killed.

We, Jews, have thus created a violent legacy to last for centuries, even if it were to stop now. If all stories were now revealed, all archives declassified (both 1948, 1967 and all others), it is certain that this Zionist venture would constitute another shocking and substantial chapter of barbarism and cruelty in the annals of world history.

But it is not over – for worse, but also for better. We have the ability to stop it now. No, this does not mean our annihilation, as the propagandist Zionist hysterics would reflexively profess. It is an option, standing before us – to relinquish the reign of exclusivity, to separate the Jewish from the State, and to live in peace, with all the challenges that may face every human and every state.

But WE are not a state. A state is not ‘people’. A state is a regime, a paradigm of governance. A state may belong to its citizens – but then neither ‘we’ nor Israel constitute a real state. For the State of Israel is the state of those who hold Jewish Nationality – which supersedes their citizenship. And I refuse to be a part of this “we”, if that means some ethnic-religious-national mishmash superiority. Does that necessarily mean divorcing Judaism? No, of course not. It simply means divorcing the ostensibly inextricable tie that Zionism has made between itself and Judaism, in monopolizing Judaism, using a mafia-style coercion of all those who speak against it, with the (too often) applied ultimate rhetoric WMD of ‘antisemitism’.

This is a scare tactic that needs to be fought. If we do not rise above the intellectual atavism that this ideology submits us to, we will continue to be committing grave crimes and exonerating them as we go, in the name of this ‘religion’.

There is a future. Zionism, nonetheless, is a dead-end. I realize that saying these things today, is far, far from consensus, and is in no uncertain ways a recipe for societal exclusion. I’ll take that. I’ve already resolved to it. But this is not some prophetic martyrdom that I submit myself to. It is actually the only right path that I see. If you want to hope for a good future with Zionism, at least do the minimum to really see what it has meant for Palestinians. That is, surprisingly, perhaps the easier part. The harder part is to look the horrors in the eye, and then look yourself in the mirror, and see what Zionism has done to you.”

 

 

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!

10649446_1712598372320161_4650664014953118563_n

 

We Will Not Give Up!

12784425_10207557230661847_2033490532_nOne of the strongest people and Palestinians I have the honor to know is my partner, Haitham Khatib, a man who has seen and lived through so much challenge and adversity, loss and triumph under occupation.

This is the only existence he has ever known and yet his personal resolve to remain strong, hold on to hope, resist occupation, face every day with determination and purpose is unlike any I have seen.

Haitham is a dedicated and devoted husband, father, friend and leader in his community and in his village of Bil’in, Palestine.  A man who is respected by many Palestinians and many internationally.  A brilliant and successful photographer and videographer, Haitham’s greatest weapon against the Occupation of Palestine has and will continue to be his work in these fields, as well as his and my ongoing work together.

12745636_10207556955094958_5264511808781493959_nHaitham’s photos speak to the ongoing conflict and resistance between IOF, the Occupation government and the Palestinian people.  It is said a picture is worth a thousand words… Haitham’s photography speaks volumes.  Like this photo of beautiful wild flowers held in contrast to an Israeli tear gas bomb.  This is the epitome of Palestinian resistance and resilience, strength and hope. Not even tear gas can destroy hope for a free Palestine!

 

12744218_10207556954374940_8758071286125693713_n

Hundreds and thousands of these tear bombs are used daily against the Palestinians.  But no amount of tear gas, bullets and bombs can take away the right of the Palestinian people to fight and continue fighting for their freedom.  Palestine will be free and together we stand, under the same skies, under the same sun, together for freedom as one.

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.

12718260_601599963329534_6075440608797888336_n

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.

 

 

The Faces and Lives in Gaza: part two…

imag0313Gaza, Palestine, an oceanic jewel of the Mediterranean.  Once a thriving, industrious, prospering and beautiful sea port; one that welcomed the world.  Now, Gaza is a place that possesses remnants of its former self, a paradise now in a surreal existence between living and hell.  An open air prison and active practice target range for IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces).

The people of Gaza continue to impress me, amaze me, inspire and humble me.  Gazans are so strong, emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually; forever holding onto and believing that Palestine will be free.  A people that in spite of incredible odds, challenges and despair strive to better themselves, educate themselves, and preparing themselves for a better future.

For some that means leaving the land they love so dear to pursue better opportunities for higher education and employment.  This is easier said than done for many, but the ones who do make it out, do so with every intention and purpose of making their way back home to help others, to help their families and build a better future for Palestine.

What I find frustrating on behalf of those who have honored me with their individual stories of their lives in Gaza, is that Occupation goes to extremes to exterminate the Palestinian people at every turn, and yet, when those fortunate enough to be accepted into Universities outside of Gaza, outside of Palestine all together, or are granted international Visas, are often denied exit from Gaza to pursue these opportunities.  This is a living contradiction of what the Zionist Occupation desires most.

12107046_758686997577013_5556221131851724603_nOngoing strife and conflict, hardship and for many displaced still after aggressive IOF action in the last four years, the choices to be made are difficult at best; people being forced to choose alliances in order to survive, something that is directly unspoken, but indirectly implied.  Forever cautious of what they speak and how they speak, especially to outsiders, I have come to gain greater respect for the Palestinian people.  Trust has been betrayed all to often, and broken beyond repair in many cases.  It is not easy for Palestinians and those especially living in Gaza to speak freely about their lives and existence.  Especially with ever-increasing threats from the Zionist Occupation Regime to control and eliminate those that speak out against occupation and its actions against Palestine and her people.

12096576_761478657297847_8423740922874530974_nI am ever protective of those with whom I have the honor to speak with, whose trust I have earned and been granted with great care.   These are amazing people, from those with families to those still hoping to one day have families of their own; the level of ambition, dignity, integrity and pride are qualities they all possess and ones I admire and look up to.  People who have so little, yet give of themselves so much to those who have even less is commendable and speaks to the true human spirit of compassion.

Gazans are happy, strong and dignified people, that in spite of tremendous loss, tragedy, ongoing daily conflict and intimidation at the hands of IOF, they still find reason to be grateful and to smile.  The more I get to know the Palestinian people, and those specifically in Gaza, the more I am deeply touched emotionally.

10432532_4855501202416_8886210532923147255_nIt is quite a surreal existence to live in such a compacted, high density population and yet, not have hatred and bitterness, at least not on the scale we on the outside would assume they should have.  This is the very nature of a peaceful people and the Palestinians are a peaceful people at the core of their being.

The conflict and resistance actions that most of us see in mainstream media, when put into perspective really forces you think.  You too would fight back when you and your entire existence has been controlled and dictated to brink of breaking your very will to live.  One point I continue to try to make for you the reader, is to put yourself, allow yourself, to actually think and feel what these people have had to live with and against now for three generations and beyond.  To have your every move, every action, thought, effort to be controlled.  Occupation in Palestine is occupation not only of land, but of the people themselves, every aspect of their day-to-day life existence is at the hands of their oppressor, the Zionist Occupation Government of Israel.

10276060_10153358175693325_998773002538043109_nImagine also the dire circumstances of living with government factions of Palestine who cannot agree among each other how to rule fairly and justly.  This creates a triangulation of control with the Palestinian people caught and trapped in the middle.  Professionals that work within Gaza, and in the West Bank, some who have not been paid regular wages and salaries for two years and beyond; why? because one faction insists the other is responsible.  It is common sense knowledge that a house divided surely falls; but it is obvious that common sense in government and governance is not a common occurrence.  Who suffers then?  the citizens, the innocent people of Palestine.

Is it not enough to suffer under Occupation?  let alone suffer at the hands of your own leaders who cannot agree on how to best help to unite and strengthen their own country.  Yet, Palestinians strive to unite, to become one, of like mind and purpose and as long as these efforts are continually made, Palestine will be free and strong.

*Photo credit:  M. Baroud

*Photo credit: I. Abu Hewella