Our Weapons and the Truth ~ Part I

12688251_528757957297314_1467626524558799785_nOur weapons are the photographs we take, that like napalm burn images into the consciousness of the minds of our viewers. My keyboard express words as bullets, social media and the internet is our method and means of launch and delivery for every bomb of truth about the atrocities and human rights violations, the breaking of international laws, at the hands of the Occupation in Palestine.  The Occupation lead by an Israeli government of extremist Zionist ideology and racist sense of superiority exerted as one human over another under the guise of religious entitlement.

Daily killings, fascist brutality, false imprisonment of children, women, men and the sick.  Israelis armed 24/7 walk the streets in and around their illegal settlements built on stolen land, many look for active confrontations with peaceful Palestinians for no other reason than blatant hatred.

A country once free and fertile, now butchered and segregated from the inception of Zionist Occupation whose purpose was never to reside in this land with what they were given by master colonists who had no right to give what was never theirs in the first place.

I do not write from a bias or subjective perspective.  I write based on the documented history and the many conversations and interviews I have had with Palestinians and Israelis, Christian, Jew and Muslim.  All of whom agree what is and has been happening in Palestine for the last seven decades is a gross injustice and series of crimes against humanity as a whole.

12324884_10207737110278725_305009861_nFrom the illegal settlements that have been strategically planned and built from the beginning to spread like a malignant cancer on the land, enforced by an apartheid wall and fences, with access to and from via heavily guarded and armed checkpoints.

Children who are terrorized daily on their way to and from school, women and men harassed and attacked at random by IOF, villages stormed and raided in the dead of night for what IOF describes as a necessary approach to control a population by catching them off guard, because if such raids are attempted in broad daylight the resistance and ensuing conflict would be chaos.

IOF targets children and youth, raiding family homes, restraining frightened parents, physically and forcibly removing children from their beds, lining them up against walls in their homes, photographing them, mapping their homes to determine where each child sleeps, in what rooms and in what beds, interrogating them and their families, taking names and ages, and then they leave.  But not for long, within days, sometimes only hours, IOF return to these homes and arrest and detain these children on false allegations of aggressive actions taken by the children against IOF or Settlers.

The oppressed have become the oppressor.  I speak of course of the generations of European Zionist Jews that settled in this land during and since the Nakba between 1947 and 1949.  Jews that were survivors of the Nazi led Holocaust.  Perhaps born out of a need to exact revenge to victimize others in order to empower themselves, these newcomers to Palestine quickly exerted the same horrific violence and led massacres of the Palestinian people who had lived in this land peacefully long before the extremist European Zionists arrived.

Over the last seven decades this mentality has not changed and in many ways become that much worse.  What is and has been happening in Palestine is nothing less than the carefully orchestrated, executed and systematic genocide of an entire Arab population that consists of Christian, Jew and Muslim alike.  Just since October 2015, there have been nearly 250 Palestinian men, women and children murdered, martyred by IOF.

There are currently more that 700 children sitting in Israeli prisons.  Children who have been brutalized physically, psychologically, and emotionally.

Where is the world on this issue?  Why are the western governments providing continued monetary and military aid to this insane Zionist regime?  Where is the Arab league on this issue as well?  They turn a blind and appoint an Israeli representative to the Arab League just this month.  This is in a classic turn phrase, a mutiny and betrayal to any possibility of a unified and peaceful Middle-East, let alone peace for Palestine.

It is only through ongoing intervention by world human rights organizations, initiatives, and movements in addition to the ongoing BDS and anti-apartheid movements that change is going take place.  Even these are not enough.  It is going take those of us as activists, freelance journalists, writers, photographers and videographers, through the power of the internet and effective use of social media to keep the spotlight on the oppressors, on the Occupation, reflecting back to the world the crimes being committed, and exposing that the world’s silence condones the violence and their complacency is contributing to the most heinous and dark side of humanity; Occupation, apartheid and genocide.

4 Corners Production of “Stone Cold Justice” a docu-news program that shows overwhelming evidence about the treatment inflicted on Palestinian children in Palestine and in Israeli prisons.

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.”

 

 

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.

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

 

 

 

 

Silence Condones Violence and Complacency is Guilt by Association

MohammedJust in the last day, four more young Palestinian men were shot and killed in the streets and marketplace; including Mohammed Abo Khalaf 20 years (pictured left) of Occupied Jerusalem. He had a life, he wanted to live longer and make his own life but he was denied the right to live, and was executed today by Zionist occupation forces at Damascus Gate in occupied Jerusalem, he was shot more than 50 times, denied medical intervention and left in the street to bleed to death like an animal;

and Abed Raed Hamed 22 years of Ramallah 12715688_816836178428761_6483194750105759265_n–  shot in broad daylight for alleged crimes perceived by IOF.  These mark nine young Palestinians gunned down in the last week in cold blood.  Defense for Children International has released, that 49 Palestinian children have been executed by IOF since the beginning of October 2015.

There is little to no recourse for the families of these slaughtered youth.  It is said, that children and youth in Palestine are taught when they leave their homes to go to school, to the store, to visit a friend or neighbor, they should always say farewell to their families in a way one would, knowing there is a good chance they may not come home alive again.  This is the stark reality of life in Palestine.  This is what every Palestinian faces.

Imagine having to condition your children to be in a constant state of preparedness for their own demise, for the demise of their loved ones.  These children are taught from such young ages that they should never take for granted their existence because they are hated, hunted like animals, to be abducted, brutalized, tortured and killed at will.

Rahaf Hassan (2 years) killed in Israeli raid on Gaza in October 2015The innocence of childhood is overshadowed by such realities.  (Rahaf Hassan (2 years) pictured right, killed in an Israeli raid on Gaza in October 2015).

Generations born into a state of fight or flight response.  Children and youth are old beyond their time.  When will the world stop participating in these crimes against humanity?  Governments who are now standing in the way of democratic process, by criminalizing their citizens for actively boycotting Israel on the basis of their crimes against humanity, crimes of murder, torture, and genocide.  Boycotting is now considered an aggressive act of antisemitism.  However, the truth is, it is anti-Zionism.  This is another truth the western world and media do not discuss and speak about.

There is a big difference between Zionist ideologies and true Judaism.  To be against Israel and their crimes does not make one anti-Semitic.  It makes one anti-crime against innocent human beings.

4e71bcf9-a80c-47c2-9b1f-6b8bcdbabb75_BDS-movementFor many Palestinians it feels like things are not changing and in many ways in the day-to-day life, it is hard to see that change is coming, but more of the world’s governments are taking a more assertive stand against the illegal occupation of Palestine, against Israel, in support of Palestine; just in the last two months alone, Iceland, Sweden, Cuba, Spain, Greece, South Korea, and soon more, recognize a free Palestinian State and are actively speaking against Israel’s illegal occupation and violation of international laws, and they are boycotting Israel.
What the governments in other countries may not be doing directly, their citizens are; mounting pressures on corporations now under closer scrutiny.  Others under pressure from their investors, have begun to pull out of Israel completely.  More countries and companies are realizing that silence condones violence, and complacency makes them guilty equally by association; guilty of genocide, illegal occupation, apartheid and murder of innocents. 
When the world caught on that the only cement factory in Israel, CRH, owned and operated by an Irish company, was producing the cement used to build the apartheid wall in Palestine, the investors, and international community put so much pressure on them that they have now pulled out of Israel, and closed all operations.  This happened last month. Also, the French telecommunication firm Orange also has met similar pressure and is closing all operations and pulling out of Israel.12417683_1137333219623944_1641006497100839890_n
Even the US is now bending ever so slightly to pressure to reduce funding to the Zionist Regime in Israel.  The BDS movement that is now in some countries under fire and being criminalized have stood their ground and said they will continue to promote and encourage the boycotting of Israel.  Israel is suffering economically and has been on an economic decline for years, specifically since 2012.
Even the Zionists that Israel have paid incentive too, to come and live, work and contribute to a Utopian Israel are now saying it is all lies.  For example, there are currently 15,000 French citizens, Zionist Jews, living in Israel.  They are growing increasingly angry with the Zionist Regime because Israel has not lived up to the promise of a prosperous existence in Israel for these people, so more and more are returning to Europe.
What the world needs to continue to do, is spread the truth of what is happening in Palestine; what is actually happening, not what they see and perceive from creatively crafted media reports.  There is no such thing as ignorance of the facts in the day and age of technology that we live in.  One cannot plead “I did not know the truth”, when the fact is, the truth is there if you make the active efforts to seek it.

What Do You Tell The Children?

12705364_10207502216166519_1983000440533773367_nImagine yourself and your children in the place of the Palestinian people, not figuratively only, but through an empathy and sense of humanity, allow yourself to feel through these words…

For the Palestinian, the only freedom they attain is when they are killed by illegal occupation forces.

How much longer will Palestine have to live under illegal occupation before the world cares enough to force change? Occupation is not just militarily, it is occupation of every aspect of life for the Palestinian, physically, emotionally and psychologically; it is control of the land they live upon, the food they eat, the water they drink, the air they breathe, their every movement.

qalandia-checkpoint Imagine waking up every day as a child in Palestine, having to face fear, apprehension, dread, uncertainty, and insecurity… seeing death around them, the destruction of homes and land, watching people shot and bleed to death in the streets. Imagine having to go through armed checkpoints just to go to school, to work, to seek medical care… These are the daily realities of children and families in Palestine.

How do you explain to your children that they should have hope, to one day build their homes on their own land that their fathers and grandfathers built upon, begin their lives, to work and start families, when all they know is to be controlled by a people and government whose sole purpose is to extinguish and exterminate their very existence?

How can we teach them of peace and the possibility of peace, when all they see, hear, smell, touch, and taste is destruction? Please do not listen to any Zionist propaganda stories… The history of Palestine will never change; the heritage and culture, the land and lives all per-existed Zionist Israel, and the truth of this cannot be changed, or erased, and the truth will always prevail.

15377_781How do you answer your children when they ask why? how? and when? when will freedom come?  Palestinians are strong, resilient, and proud people with equal measure of humbleness and dignity.  A people who even in the darkest hour believe that tomorrow brings promise of change, and hope for freedom.

As you sit in your safe homes, with your families, your lives, think of these things, and imagine if tomorrow you too were living under illegal occupation.  It is not an easy or comfortable thing to allow yourself to do or think about…why? because you are human and if such things did not make you uncomfortable than you would not have any sense of humanity within you.  Yes, these things, these realities for the Palestinians make you feel helpless, like the matter is insurmountable, but I beg to differ.  That feeling you have in the pit of your stomach right now as you read this, that is your conscience and sense of humanity feeling for other human beings.

12714003_1203917762970535_501863132_nWhat can I do? is a question you may be asking yourself.  What you can do is seek out the truth yourself, do not follow western constructed and formulated media reports.  Even scholarly works themselves that debate who is right and who is wrong about Palestine is not sufficient to base your knowledge.

This article is one of many building the end product, the book – a book that tells the real stories about Palestine from the Palestinians that live and die its truth.  Not opinions about politics or religious ideologies, but the humanity side of Palestine and her beloved people who just like you and me desire nothing greater than to live in peace, safety, security and protection.

12373276_577873235702207_3999923954135502275_nMy life through the ongoing research for this book has been forever touched and changed in incredible, positive and humbling ways.  I have sought the truth for myself and what I have found is so poignant and powerful that I now know this book will be first of many about Palestine and her people, the history and the future of Palestine.

Together with my partner and co-author Haitham Khatib, our hope is to open the doors and welcome you into the truth and lives of Palestine.  We hope that you find what you seek and that you too will be touched by the humanity and lives that you will meet through our book.  That such experience will serve to bring awareness, provoke thought and cause you to question what you have known and been told.

The Faces and Lives In Gaza… part one

_78161886_bcb93f9e-d92a-4ea5-bf96-f1f13121b96aThis is a brief introduction, a first in a series of pieces I will be writing specifically about Gaza, Palestine.  There is ongoing conflict and genocide committed against Palestinians throughout the country daily, but Gaza has been hit particularly hard by serious war efforts led by the Israeli Occupation Forces.  Two *Intifadas, the first being between 1987 – 1993, the second being between 2000 – 2003 and the three conflicts between Israeli Occupation Forces and the Hamas-controlled Palestinian territory in the Gaza Strip: Gaza War (2008–09), also known as Operation Cast Lead. 2012 conflict, also known as Operation Pillar of Defense. 2014 Israeli Occupation – Gaza conflict, also known as Operation Protective Edge.

The sole objective of the of these conflicts between Occupation and Gaza have been to isolate, control and imprison the Palestinian people along the Gaza strip.  Ongoing hostile actions, conflicts, and brutality prove this.  Gaza is under complete siege, surrounded, cut off from major supplies of food, water, fuel and other necessities of life, electricity, humanitarian aid, medical care and intervention.  Sewage, clean water supply and infrastructure has been drastically compromised and destroyed.

12342557_574282929394571_6864647132469184041_nApproximately 60% of all Gazans are under the age of 16 years.  The unemployment rate is nearly 50%.  The people of Gaza are held in precarious limbo, forced to choose from choices no one should have to choose.  To struggle to survive and work wherever they can find work, to fully submit to the barbaric brutality of Occupation’s continuous efforts to exterminate the Palestinian people, or to take an assertive stand in resistance; some joining Izz ad-Din al-Qassam to fight to protect Gaza and the people of Gaza against Occupation forces.

This is an entire population of people who have know nothing other than extreme conflict, loss, tragedy and torment.  More than two generations of people.  The most amazing observation for me has been in the incredible capacity of the Gazans to survive with strength, dignity, determination, undying resistance and hope that they will see Palestine free and Gaza once again open to thrive as a sea port and entry for the world.

Abdul KarimI have spoken for many hours to an amazing Gazans, Abdul Karim, one who I consider a dear a friend, who managed to get out of Gaza, out of Palestine, to study Middle East Politics at the University of Exeter in the UK and has in the face of so much inhumane adversity made a success of his life through higher education and hard work.

He lives and works abroad still, but his family remains in Gaza under siege.  He spoke of living through the Intifadas, and additional war conflict, of walking and running through the streets of Gaza while bombs were exploding around him.  The traumatic experiences of seeing friends, neighbors and families killed, shot, burned and blown to pieces; of being part of recovery teams to collect the dead.  In the face of all of this, he never once gave up hope for his future and has never given up hope that Palestine will be free so he can one day come and go freely to see his family and his dearest friends.

Abdul’s story is but one of so many.  It is humbling to speak to Gazans that have managed to find success, some more so than others, in the midst of utter inhumanity, against insurmountable odds.  I speak of those who I have the honor to know, teachers, photographers, journalists, university students, and humanitarian workers.

Iyad AbuHewella3I have learned and seen first hand that those who have the least, work to give the most to those who suffer greater than themselves throughout Gaza. Such as Iyad Abu Hewella, another content contributor to this site and ongoing project, who strives to help through humanitarian efforts and donations to help the displaced children and families in Gaza.  Iyad is a recent graduate of Al-Hazar University in Gaza earning a Bachelor’s Degree in English Literature and Education and did so within four years during the last two major war conflicts in Gaza at times where he had little to no resources.  During this time Iyad also worked to help support his family and volunteer many hours to humanitarian aid efforts and press agencies.

Ahmad HasaballahThere is a spirit of resilience that words alone do not do justice in describing when speaking of the Palestinian people.  Young photographers, like Ahmad Hasaballah (pictured), who is a content contributor to this site, who risks his life to document through his photography the ongoing, constant conflict in Gaza along the Apartheid wall and fences that serve to enclose the population in what is internationally known as the world’s largest open air prison; as well as journalists that put their lives on the line in Gaza to capture ongoing conflict and share their work, photos and videos with the outside world via social media and writers, and activists like myself, in the hope of continuing to keep the plight and suffering of the Palestinians in the eyes of the world.

12717654_597912320364965_8392424495705107041_nTo put life into perspective through the eyes of Gazans, that even in such horrific existence, they all still find reasons to smile, to exude great dignity, pride, and to live, to love, to resist occupation and hold on to hope for the future of a free Palestine.  I see this side of Gaza most through the photography of my partner in this project, Fadi Thabet.  Fadi is both a skilled and experienced professional photographer and teacher in Gaza.  Fadi strives to keep the true inner beauty and spirit of Gaza and her citizens alive and shining bright.  Fadi’s spirit and energy expressed in his work is compelling and moving, drawing the viewer closer into the lives of his subjects.  Fadi’s photos draw us, the viewer, to want to know more about the people, their lives and their hope for the future.

12647508_595618550594342_3097947244721155719_nThe history and heritage of Gaza is rich in culture and diversity of race, faith and beliefs.  Once a major thoroughfare of trade and commerce, one can still observe the remnants of this once thriving and successful city in the beautiful people of Gaza.

These are the faces you will not see on the nightly news of mainstream media, especially media in the Western world.  The Palestinian people are alive, strong, and are struggling every day to exist, and they do so with an unprecedented level of dignity, warmth, pride, and indestructible resistance against the illegal occupation of their lands and over their people, believing that Palestine will know freedom and gain independence.

*Intifada (انتفاضة intifāḍah) is an Arabic word literally meaning, as a noun, “tremor”, “shivering”, “shuddering”.