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

 

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!

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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!

 

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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.

With The Sun Comes Hope

1888454_10207192556065210_8997645204048485790_nVery few photographers can capture the soul of what they see through their lenses.  Not only the souls of human subjects, but the soul of all they photograph.  The ones who have this gift have the ability to speak a thousand words, touch a thousand emotions, and stir the very soul of those who see and enjoy their work.  Such a photographer possesses a deeply profound and beautifully poetic flare.

My Partner, Haitham Khatib epitomizes and possesses all of these gifts and qualities.  His photography is a visual documentation and testament of his history, of life in Palestine, and the very essence of Palestine’s soul.

In talking with Haitham about his work as a photographer and my work as a writer and a poet, we find we share the same perspectives, and personal introspection of the Palestine and the Palestinians we want the world to see, to feel, to sense, and to be forever moved and changed by.

12360248_10207125113899198_5954398593356885989_nThere is something quite remarkable about the rising and setting of the sun from and upon horizons.  To behold such amazing beauty, let alone capture in the moment, is moving, romantic and spectacular.  Many photographers capture these moments in their work, but for Haitham the rising and setting of the sun over his beloved Palestine is very personal to him, the sun is a favored subject in his work.  For the Palestinians, every sunrise brings a fresh sense of hope for their future, encouragement and strength; and with every sunset brings a calm, peaceful and quiet reflection of self, of hope, of purpose and of something greater than themselves.

1936541_10207192555225189_4803221565003273270_nThere is calling to the soul with every sunrise and every sunset, a personal, emotional time, and one that through Haitham’s work we can all share in those moments with him, with Palestine and the Palestinian people.  A connection that without his work we would not have the privilege to experience.

12631358_10207407638922147_7487545467186298821_nI look forward to the day that I stand with Haitham and view the magic of sunrise and sunset over Palestine firsthand, to see, to feel, to experience what he does every time his lens steals a moment in time, of beauty beyond measure.