Imagining Palestine: On Barghouti, Darwish, Kanafani and the Language of Exile

February 24, 2021

An archive photo of Mourid Barghouti with his late wife Radwa Ashour. (Via: Mourid Barghouti’s Twitter account)

By Ramzy Baroud

For Palestinians, exile is not simply the physical act of being removed from their homes and their inability to return. It is not a casual topic pertaining to politics and international law, either. Nor is it an ethereal notion, a sentiment, a poetic verse. It is all of this, combined.

The death in Amman of Palestinian poet, Mourid Barghouti, an intellectual whose work has intrinsically been linked to exile, brought back to the surface many existential questions: are Palestinians destined to be exiled? Can there be a remedy for this perpetual torment? Is justice a tangible, achievable goal?

Barghouti was born in 1944 in Deir Ghassana, near Ramallah. His journey in exile began in 1967, and ended, however temporarily, 30 years later. His memoir “I Saw Ramallah” – published in 1997 – was an exiled man’s attempt to make sense of his identity, one that has been formulated within many different physical spaces, conflicts and airports. While, in some way, the Palestinian in Barghouti remained intact, his was a unique identity that can only be fathomed by those who have experienced, to some degree, the pressing feelings of Ghurba – estrangement and alienation – or Shataat – dislocation and diaspora.

In his memoir, translated into English in 2000 by acclaimed Egyptian author, Ahdaf Soueif, he wrote, “I tried to put the displacement between parenthesis, to put a last period in a long sentence of the sadness of history … But I see nothing except commas. I want to sew the times together. I want to attach one moment to another, to attach childhood to age, to attach the present to the absent and all the presents to all absences, attach exiles to the homeland and to attach what I have imagined to what I see now.”

Those familiar with the rich and complex Palestinian literature of exile can relate Barghouti’s reference – what one imagines versus what one sees – to the writing of other intellectuals who have suffered the pain of exile as well. Ghassan Kanafani and Majed Abu Sharar – and numerous others – wrote about that same conflict. Their death – or, rather, assassination – in exile brought their philosophical journeys to an abrupt end.

In Mahmoud Darwish’s seminal poem, ‘Who Am I, Without Exile’, the late Palestinian poet asked, knowing that there can never be a compelling answer: “What will we do without exile?”

It is as if Ghurba has been so integral to the collective character of a nation, and is now a permanent tattoo on the heart and soul of the Palestinian people everywhere. “A stranger on the riverbank, like the river … water binds me to your name. Nothing brings me back from my faraway to my palm tree: not peace and not war. Nothing makes me enter the gospels. Not a thing …,” Darwish wrote.

The impossibility of becoming a whole again in Darwish and Barghouti’s verses were reverberations of Kanafani’s own depiction of a Palestine that was as agonizingly near as it was far.

“What is a homeland?” Kanafani asks in ‘Returning to Haifa’. “Is it these two chairs that remained in this room for twenty years? The table? Peacock feathers? The picture of Jerusalem on the wall? The copper-lock? The oak tree? The balcony? What is a homeland? .. I’m only asking.”

But there can be no answers, because when exile exceeds a certain rational point of waiting for some kind of justice that would facilitate one’s return, it can no longer be articulated, relayed or even fully comprehended. It is the metaphorical precipice between life and death, ‘life’ as in the burning desire to be reunited with one’s previous self, and ‘death’ as in knowing that without a homeland one is a perpetual outcast – physically, politically, legally, intellectually and every other form.

“In my despair I remember; that there is life after death … But I ask: Oh my God, is there life before death?” Barghouti wrote in his poem ‘I Have No Problem.’

While the crushing weight of exile is not unique to Palestinians, the Palestinian exile is unique. Throughout the entire episode of Palestinian Ghurba, from the early days of the Nakba – the destruction of the Palestinian homeland – till today, the world remains divided between inaction, obliviousness, and refusal to even acknowledge the injustice that has befallen the Palestinian people.

Despite or, perhaps, because of his decades-long exile, Barghouti did not engage in ineffectual discussions about the rightful owners of Palestine “because we did not lose Palestine to a debate, we lost it to force.”

He wrote in his memoir “When we were Palestine, we were not afraid of the Jews. We did not hate them, we did not make an enemy of them. Europe of the Middle Ages hated them, but not us. Ferdinand and Isabella hated them, but not us. Hitler hated them, but not us. But when they took our entire space and exiled us from it they put both us and themselves outside the law of equality.”

In fact, ‘hate’ rarely factors in the work of Barghouti – or Darwish, Kanafani, Abu Sharar and many others – because the pain of exile, so powerful, so omnipresent – required one to re-evaluate his relationship to the homeland through emotional rapport that can only be sustained through positive energy, of love, of deep sadness, of longing.

“Palestine is something worthy of a man bearing arms for, dying for,” wrote Kanafani. “For us, for you and me, it’s only a search for something buried beneath the dust of memories. And look what we found beneath that dust. Yet more dust. We were mistaken when we thought the homeland was only the past.”

Millions of Palestinians continue to live in exile, generation after generation, painstakingly negotiating their individual and collective identities, neither able to return, nor feeling truly whole. These millions deserve to exercise their Right of Return, for their voices to be heard and to be included.

But even when Palestinians are able to end their physical exile, chances are, for generations they will remain attached to it. “I don’t know what I want. Exile is so strong within me, I may bring it to the land,” wrote Darwish.

In Barghouti too, exile was ‘so strong’. Despite the fact that he fought to end it, it became him. It became us.

– Ramzy Baroud is a journalist and the Editor of The Palestine Chronicle. He is the author of five books. His latest is “These Chains Will Be Broken: Palestinian Stories of Struggle and Defiance in Israeli Prisons” (Clarity Press). Dr. Baroud is a Non-resident Senior Research Fellow at the Center for Islam and Global Affairs (CIGA) and also at the Afro-Middle East Center (AMEC). His website is www.ramzybaroud.net

في ذات اليوم: المعلِّم … مقابل لطخة عملاء – عادل سمارة

سوريا تودّع الدبلوماسي الصلب وليد المعلم - YouTube

 

  الصفصاف

لا تكتب عن رجل السياسة حتى يرحل فما أكثر منزلقات الكتابة عن الأحياء. أما من بدأ ورحل نموذجا عروبياً فرثاؤه واجب بل إن رثاءه تحدِ للسقوط ومنارة للصمود.

وليس أجدر من سوريا لولادة مثله ولا أجدر منه بحبها.  فليتمدد في عينيها وليعلو قاسيون.

مقابلة خاصة مع وزير الخارجية السوري وليد المعلم - YouTube

رحل الذي كانت سبابته كلاشنكوف في عين وزير خارجية العدو الأمريكي بينما كان من يزعمون أنهم ذوي سيادة وفخامه وعظمة وسمو جميعهم خراف تحت نعله، قطَعا من السجاد الرخيص تتمنى ان يدوسها وهو يمشي خَيلاء.

في زمانه قال دوقلة المنبجي: “والضدُّ يُظهر حسنه الضدُّ”

ففي يوم رحيل المعلم كان 200 عميل فلسطيني من نسل بلفور يُقدمون الوطن الذي لا يملكون ليتملكه الصهاينة. عقد تمليك لا يملكون من شرف ملكيته شيئاً.

وكأن التاريخ على إصرارِ بان يُعلي من موقف الرجل فسخَّر هؤلاء بسقوطهم ليُعلنوا مساواة الضحية بالجلاد، المالك بالسارق والثابت بالعابر والمُقاوم بالغازي، وهذا أدنى انماط التطبيع. إنه سباق العملاء إلى القاع. فمن يُملِّك وطنا للعدو بل أدنى من عميل.

مئتان ممن يُقال بانهم مثقفون وأكاديميون ووووو يرسلون للكيان رسالة خائنة، فيدوسها الكيان كما داس مبادرة عبد الله بن سعود ومعه مختلف دُمى الغرب والصهيونية في سلطات فرضها على  الوطن الكبير.
يريدون دولة للعدو ومع العدو بينما يأنف العدو، وهو عدو وغازٍ، حتى ان يُشير لما فعلوا بإصبعه الوسطى،  يحملون إليه الطيب، فيبول عليهم.

أيُّ حق رُفع وأي باطل وُضع” كان ذلك يوم رحل عمر بن الخطاب حيث وُلد الشاعر الفوضوي عمر بن ابي ربيعة. واليوم اي بطل اعتلى واي لفيف من العملاء اندلقوا يلعقون أحذية الكيان بينما الكيان يزيد على أحذيته طيناً. لفيف كلفيف دُعاة دولة مع المستوطنين، فالمرض الخبيث يُجتث  ولا يلبث أن يُفرِّخ.
ليس المعلم اول بطل سوري عربي فلسطيني يرحل وليس هؤلاء أول رشقة/لظخة أحذية تُقدم نفسها لمن يرفض انتعالها. ما قالوه قاله قبلهم عملاء كثر: إميل حبيبي، عزمي بشارة، يحي غدار، وسلامه كيله، وخمسة وخمسون صاغوا بيانا وضيعا كهذا ضد العمليات الاستشهادية.

في ذكراها الخمسين: "الحركة التصحيحية" إذ تودّع وزير خارجيتها ! - الحل نت
انقر الصورة

أما سوريا، فأنجبت وليد المعلم ويوسف العظمة وسلطان باشا الأطرش وجول جمال والكثيرين.
رشقة العملاء هذه لن تمحو مجد فلسطين من أبطال الثلاثاء الحمراء إلى غسان كنفاني إلى دلال المغربي إلى وديع حداد إلى عز الدين القسام.

أما الحدث الثالث فهو ما يقوله متحدث من أوساط العدو (شاهدوا). لم يقل ذلك في يوم رحيل المعلم، ولا في يوم كتابة عريضة المذلة للمئتين: شاهدوا كيف ينفي اي “حق” للغاصب، وبه يرد على من يقدمون اجسادهم للاغتصاب، لأنهم لا يملكون الوطن الذي يقدمون.

حاشية: بينما نعيش زمن الصد والرد لا بد أن يحرك العدو لحظة السقوط. فالصد والسقوط والمقاومة والمفاوضة في تناقض تناحري.

فتح وإقفال الصندوق وحامل المفتاح – عادل سمارة

هناك أكثر من درس وعبرة يفيدنا بها الصراع الانتخابي في الولايات المتحدة الأمريكية. وقد يكون موقف ترامب ومؤيديه، ا ي حزبه وناخبيه هو الخلاصة الأكثر وضوحا لنا وبالتالي الأكثر فائدة. وليس هدفنا مجرد التمتع بتآكل الديمقراطية اللبرالية في الغرب الراسمالي بقدر ما نستفيد بفهم جذورها التي لا بد أن تقود إلى ما هي عليه من ثمار لصالح أقل عدد ممكن من الناس على حساب أكثر عدد ممكن منهم. . هذا من جهة ومن جهة ثانية كي يكون لدينا السلاح المناسب، وهذا الأهم في التصدي للطابور الثقافي السادس في الوطن العربي والذي يُراكم آلاف مرتزقة الثقافة حيث يتم تجميعهم، في الدوحة/بقطر أو دُبي في الإمارات والتي تضيف لهم مافيا الكوكب، لغسيل وجه هذه الديمقراطية الدامية. فربما من المدهش والصادم للمواطن العربي حين يرى كُتَّابا ومثقفين ومفكرين ومناضلين سابقين/ات يتم تجميعهم تحت فرج حاكم يُدعى أميراً فقط لأنه ورث منصباً اسس له الاستعمار لا أكثر ولا أقل. ويتراكم هؤلاء هناك بلا وخزة من ضمير وذلك فقط لسببين:

الأول: إنه لمعان الذهب أخضر أو اصفر لا فرق​​
والثاني: لأن المثقف المشتبك والاحزاب الثورية ترددت في معاقبة من سقط وخان وباع. وطبَّع، فصار تخريب الثقافة العربية أمر عادي بل ويبدو كمالو كان عملاً “مفيداً” .

وأحد أخطر آليات التخريب هو الترويج للديمقراطية اللبرالية الغربية في الوطن العربي وخاصة وهي تأكل ، مثلا العراق، ويحمل لوائها متخلفين من حكام العرب، وتتآكل ذاتياً.
دور هؤلاء المثقفين هو الخدمة التخريبية الثقافية في الوطن العربي باستيراد الديمقراطية المتآكلة وهذا الجزء المكمل لخدمة هؤلا ءالحكام للاقتصاد الراسمالي الغربي المتآكل ايضا حيث تقدم الصناديق السياية وربما حِلْي نسائهم لإسعاف تلكم الاقتصادات. هي خدمة مزدوجة: المثقف يروج للديمقراطية اي يستوردها والحاكم يروج لها نفسها بأن يدفع ثمن استيرادها للغربي!

من دروس تجربة ترامب وحزبه في “الديمقراطية” تعميم الحرب على صعيد عالمي حرب التجارة أي التقشيط وحرب السلاح وخاصة بالإنابة حيث تقوم كيانات الخليج بتدمير الوطن العربي داعية لدمقرطة سوريا والعراق والجزائر واليمن وليبيا…الخ. وعولمة الشعبوية حيث انتقلت من نطاق البلد القومي إلى صعيد عالمي. وهذا في الحقيقة تعبير عن جوهر الديمقراطية اللبرالية الغربية خارج بلادها كاستعمار وتخليق أدوات لهذا الاستعمار من بنية البلد الخاضع نفسه.

بكلام آخر هذه الديمقراطية فراخة ومولدة للاستعمار بالضرورة. وهي إذا ما حوصرت من التمدد الى خارج بلدانها سوف تعاني من تحارق ذاتي داخلي وهذا ما يجب ان تعمل لإنجازة قوى الثورة العالمية اي نقل الصراع إلى داخل الدول اللاستعمارية.

تجربة ترامب ركلت تبادل السلطة بالحذاء، هذه المفخرة التي أهلكونا بالترويج لها، فإذا بها كفُخَّار يتم كسره باقدامهم. لقد أعلن قبيل الانتخابات وخلالها وبعدها بانه مالك السلطة وسيقاتل لحصرها بيده. وبغض النظر عن مآلات هذا الموقف، فإن المهم هو كشف أكذوبة تبادل السلطة والتعددية وخاصة التعددية “الثنائية” بين حزبي أمريكا.

ومع ذلك لم يتوقف مروجو أو باعة “بُقج” الديمقراطية الغربية الراسمالية في وطننا العربي ولن يتوقفوا. والحقيقة أن هؤلاء الشغيلة لدى “بن سلمان وبن زايد وبن حمد، هم أخطر من سادتهم المًسوْدين من الاستعمار طبعاً.

و لمن يقرأ جيدا اصبحت ديمقراطية الانتخابات الغربية هي دعوة الفقراء لانتخاب اغنياء ثم وضعهم في صندوق لحين انتهاء دورة المجلس “المنتخب” ليُفتح الصندوق ثانية وينتخبوا ويُعادوا إلى الصندوق مجددا.

ولا شك أن الناس أخذت تعرف جيداً، بأن من يمكنه الوصول لبرلمان في الغرب الراسمالي خاصة حيث الترشُّح هو مشروع راسمالي مكلف هو:
1- إما ملياردير
2- أو ممثل اللوبي الصهيوني

لذا، نجح ترامب سابقا، ولم يعد بوسعه تخيُّل ان لا يفوز لآنه يجمع بين الإمكانيتين. لكنه عجز عن رؤية بأن نفس هذه الماكينة المتحكمة بالانتخابات يمكنها فرز خصم له. كيف لا وهي التعددية بين ما نسبته 1 بالمئة من المجتمع.

Jared Kushner, here are 25 more books you should read about Palestine, Israel relations

Donald Trump’s senior advisor says he has looked at 25 books relating to the conflict – here are some more he might also want to consider
Jared Kushner, special adviser to US President Donald Trump, is regarded as a key figure in the US administration’s policy towards the Middle East

By 

Earlier this week, in the wake of the announcement of Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” for Israel and Palestine, Jared Kushner, its chief architect explained to CNN’s Christiane Amanpour just how much he had studied the region.

“I’ve been studying this now for three years,” Kuchner said. “I’ve read 25 books on it, I’ve spoken to every leader in the region, I’ve spoken to everyone who’s been involved in this.”

Most interest focused just on which 25 books Kuchner had read: some sleuthing by The Forward revealed several titles, including State of Failure and Hamas vs Fatah, by Jonathan Schanzer; and Thirteen Days in September, by journalist Lawrence Wright.

The impression from those few titles to emerge is that they are broadly written from a Washington perspective, and not necessarily that insightful about the lived experiences of Palestinians, who Kushner on Wednesday called “foolish” for rejecting his plan.

In the spirit of a geo-political book club, the editors and writers at Middle East Eye would like to offer Mr Kushner the following reading list to maybe deaden his echo chamber.

Our choices are, we suspect, more eclectic than those he has read so far, and include poetry, fiction and graphic novels amid geo-political analysis and discourse. The list, presented here in no particular order, is by no means exhaustive. We have restricted ourselves to books originally written in or translated into English.

But we hope that Mr Kushner and others engaged in securing the “deal of the century” might obtain a different perspective from the reading list below. Please let MEE know on Facebook and Twitter (@MiddleEastEye) which titles you think we have missed.

Twenty-five books, after all, barely scratches the surface when it comes to explaining what has become the Middle East’s most intractable problem.


1. The Question of Palestine
by Edward Said

"

For a long time, Edward Said was the most high-profile and internationally recognised of Palestinian intellectuals. His untimely death in 2003 was a blow for Palestinian advocacy, especially in the US, where few prominent Palestinian voices have been able to rise to prominence.

The Question of Palestine was published in 1979, a year after Said’s better-known volume Orientalism, and discusses the situation of the Palestinians, including the history of the Nakba, the dispossession and scattering of the Palestinian diaspora, and the misrepresentation of the Palestinian cause in the Western world.

Said also examines the development of Palestinian political movements, particularly the Palestine Liberation Organisation led by his then friend Yasser Arafat, and the changing perceptions of Palestinian groups towards the question of Jewish identity and Israeli statehood.

Towards the end of his life, Said espoused a humanist vision of a unified secular state between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean, based on equal rights and universal suffrage. The reality on the ground in Israel-Palestine suggests a one-state reality is already playing out. The result, more than ever, is that Said’s ideals need to be pushed to the fore.


2. The Gun and the Olive Branch
by David Hirst

"

Few volumes during the past half-century have been as contentious about the Israel-Palestine conflict as David Hirst’s The Gun and the Olive Branch. First published in 1977, it was initially savaged in the UK and ignored in the US (the first 14 pages of subsequent editions detail this).

Hirst’s narrative was the first of international note to question the pro-Israeli orthodoxy about the state’s creation as well as highlighting how Washington and other Western capitals had fuelled the conflict.

That Hirst, a reporter for The Guardian, had meticulously researched and presented his argument – the book comes in at more than 600 pages – only seemed to inflame his critics more.

But Hirst is even-handed in his coverage: he apportions blame to both sides, but is especially adept at examining the Israeli role in the conflict. Through this he pre-dated the later work of Israel’s New Historian revisionist school of academics, including Illan Pappe (below), who challenged the until-then accepted view of the state’s formation and past.

The most recent edition of The Gun and the Olive Branch was published in 2003, near two decades ago, during which so much has come to pass between Israel and Palestine. But Hirst’s work is still as relevant as ever: his analysis of the routes of the conflict, going back as far as the 1880s, are peerless and set the groundwork for what has come to pass since.


3. Palestine
by Joe Sacco

"

Palestineby Joe Sacco, is one of the best reads for a novice attempting to understand the situation in the land between the River Jordan and the Mediterranean – and not just because it is a graphic novel, a medium historically dismissed as juvenile by many.

Based on reporting by Sacco from Israel-Palestine during 1991 and 1992 (the tail end of the first Intifada and before the Oslo Accords), it goes into uncompromising detail about life in the occupied territories and the daily occupation and injustices faced by Palestinians.

Sacco doesn’t shy away from the personal: although a self-professed sympathiser with the Palestinian cause, he notes that a formative moment in his understanding of the conflict was the news in 1985 of the murder of Leon Klinghoffer. The 69-year old disabled Jewish-American was killed by the Palestinian Liberation Front after it hijacked a cruise liner, something which Sacco says angered and discomforted him.

Throughout, Sacco presents the lives of real people – both Palestinians and Israelis – with unflinching honesty, resorting to neither polemic nor hyperbole.


4. Palestine +100: Stories from a Century after the Nakba
edited by Basma Ghalayini

"

In the introduction to Palestine +100: Stories from a Century after the Nakba, a powerful collection of short stories in which 12 Palestinian writers imagine life in 2048, editor Basma Ghalayini considers why Palestinian writers in general eschew the genre of science fiction.

“The cruel present (and the traumatic past),” she writes, “have too firm a grip on Palestinian writers’ imaginations for fanciful ventures into possible futures.”

Palestine +100 is a collection informed by catastrophe – the forced expulsion of 700,000 Palestinian Arabs in 1948 to create the state of Israel – that triggered a refugee crisis, the consequences of which reverberate to this day.

The ideas are myriad and eclectic: they include Saleem Haddad’s Song of the Birds (the teen sister of an older brother who killed himself sees her world disintegrate – literally); Anwar Hamed’s The Key (Palestinian ghosts defy technology to torment the Israel of the future); and Ahmed Masoud’s Application 39 (Gaza City hosts the 2048 Olympic Games)

A worthy collection that excavates and probes, reacquainting the West with the horrors of Palestinian existence right now.


5. The Butterfly’s Burden
by Mahmoud Darwish, translated by Fady Joudah

"

The oeuvre of acclaimed poet Mahmoud Darwish is too large to simply select one collection over another. With more than 30 published books and poems translated into 35 languages, he is deservedly one of the Arab world’s most famous and prolific writers.

The Butterfly’s Burden pulls together three of his previously published collections: The Stranger’s Bed (1998); State of Siege (2002), his response to the second intifada; and Don’t Apologize for What You’ve Done (2003), all published in Arabic following his return to Ramallah after 26 years in exile.

In much of his work he mixed modern poetry with Arabic rhythmical meters: subjects included the Palestinian revolution of 1965-1993 and the mass exodus of 1948

The Butterfly’s Burden was awarded the Saif Ghobash-Banipal Prize for Arabic Literary Translation in 2008, the same year that Darwish died.

It’s also worth tracking down Palestine as Metaphor, a collection of interviews with Darwish. Published last year, it includes an incisive piece with Israeli poet and magazine editor Helit Yeshurun which explores exile, memory, history and belonging through Darwish’s clear, just and poetic vision.


6. A History of Modern Palestine: One Land, Two Peoples
by Illan Pappe

"

During the 1980s and 1990s,  a new generation of Israeli historians sought to challenge long accepted narratives about the creation of the Israeli state and the nature of Zionism.

Arguably the most famous among these New Historians, as they are known, is Ilan Pappe, who more than anyone else broke with the establishment’s account of what happened to the native Arab population of Palestine in 1948 during Israel’s “independence war”.

He is one of the few Israeli voices to question the legitimacy of the Israeli state in its current form, for which he has earned much opprobrium from Israelis, while attracting also acclaim and support from activists, intellectuals and academics worldwide.

In A History of Modern Palestine, Pappe depicts a land which, rather than being made to flourish by intrepid pioneers, was subjected to ethnic cleansing and premised a project of demographic and cultural superiority. He rejects the viability of a two-state solution and instead offers a state where all the inhabitants of the land are on an equal footing.

Also see The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine, where Pappe demonstrates how Zionist leaders planned the expulsion of Palestinians from March 1948 onwards through intimidation and destruction, challenging the official Israeli account currently accepted by many in Washington.


7. Returning to Haifa
by Ghassan Kanafani

"

Read Donald Trump’s “deal of the century” and one thing soon becomes very stark: the US administration has no conception of what Palestine means to Palestinians.

Washington has no idea why a return to their homes is such a core tenet of Palestinian identity today – even among the younger generations who have never been able to set foot on the lands of their elders.

Ghassan Kanafani’s short story Returning to Haifa, which features in his collection Palestine’s Children, sets this into perspective with its focus on a Palestinian couple coming back to the home from which they had to flee 20 years earlier

Its poignancy comes in how Kanafani demonstrates what Palestine means for refugees, including their grief for what has been lost and their steadfast determination of fighting for a future.

Also see Kanafani’s short fiction story The Land of the Sad Orange, which focuses on the journey of one Palestinian family from Jaffa, expelled from their homes during the Nakba, and the consequent strain on their mental health, not least how Palestinian children cease being children as they carry the weight of displacement.


8. The Palestinians
by Elias Sanbar, translated by John Tittensor, Nigel Palmer

"

Palestine is one of the most frequently photographed places in the world – yet, according to Sanbar, real life is almost always missing from photographs taken mainly by visitors, with their focus on conflict.

Sanbar’s avowed intention with The Palestinians is to reconstruct their history in a book which he titles a “private album”.

The result is an alternative and in-depth vision of Palestine over the course of two centuries, a highly symbolic place whose people have been both captured and abstracted by the camera.

The contents of the book include themes such as pilgrims and tourists, intermingled with coverage of everyday life and uprisings.

A 2015 winner of the Palestine Book Awards, The Palestinians offers what writer Amelia Smith called “an alternative way to look at Palestine, a glimpse beyond the headlines. But it also leaves you with a question: How do these “alternative” images come to be adopted as the “normal” lens through which the world views Palestine?”


"

9. Gate of the Sun
by Elias Khoury, translated by Humphrey Davies

Although a work of fiction by a Lebanese author, Gate of the Sun is informed by Elias Khoury’s extensive interviews and research with refugees, lending the novel its humanity and spiritual resonance.

A meandering journey alternating between the fate of Palestinians in their homeland post-Nakba, and those exiled in refugee camps in Lebanon, it is a moving testament to those who have suffered occupation and mass expulsion.

Indeed, no less than Edward Said described this epic and its 1,001 nights-style tapestry as giving “voice to rooted exiles and trapped refugees, to dissolving boundaries and changing identities, to radical demands and new languages”.

In the wake of the “deal of the century”, it makes for a moving testament to those who have suffered occupation and mass expulsion.


"

10. Palestinian Walks: Notes on a Vanishing Landscape
by Raja Shehadeh

It is impossible to address the Israel-Palestine conflict without considering land and the occupied West Bank’s changing landscape. Shehadeh addresses this through his love of “sarha” – walking or roaming in Arabic.

Through a series of seven hikes in the West Bank hills, which span 27 years, Shehadeh describes the wildness, abundance and beauty of Palestine.

But then there is the sadness, frustration and injustice of that land being snatched, severed and seized.

Palestinian Walks, which won the Orwell Prize in 2008, is also notable for the contemplations that Shehadeh weaves through his wanderings, from Oslo’s inherent failures to the growing realisation that two peoples must come to terms with one another.


"

11. My People Shall Live: The Autobiography of a Revolutionary
by Leila Khaled

Leila Khaled’s autobiography was published when she only 29, usually a premature age for someone wanting to document their life’s achievements. But by then Khaled, who gained notoriety as a plane hijacker and icon of Palestinian resistance, had already experienced more than most people manage during a lifetime.

Published in 1973, My People Shall Live details Khaled’s early years with her family fleeing the catastrophe that engulfed the Palestinians after the creation of Israel.

She then lives as a refugee in Lebanon and Kuwait, joins the left-wing Arab Nationalist Movement in Beirut at 15, and later becomes part of the Marxist-Leninist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestinian (PFLP).

Some of the strongest moments are the interaction between her life and that of her family, such as her mother’s disbelief when she is jailed for a hijacking: “I know my daughter … she’s not like they are saying, all this beauty!”

More than anything My People Shall Live depicts the events, tragedies and injustices that create a “terrorist” in the eyes of the Israeli government and its allies.


12. A Child in Palestine: The Cartoons of Naji al-Ali
by Naji al-Ali

"

If there was ever a book that Kushner needs to read then it’s A Child in Palestine, which beautifully presents Naji al-Ali’s illustrations of Handala, an innocent refugee boy who has become a symbol of Palestinian resistance.

For anyone who’s visited the Middle East, Handala is a common sight in souks and bazaars, his likeness adorning keychains, necklaces and T-shirts among other regalia. He’s also graffitied on the Separation Wall in Palestine, the pyramids of Cairo and the famed old city of Sanaa.

Shoeless and in tatters, Handala’s face is never shown to the audience. Like his creator Ali, who was also a refugee, Handala is forced to confront the tragedies of the region at a terribly young age.

Through his creation, Ali’s sharp and critical commentary on regional politics and the inhumanity of war has left an indelible mark, which few cartoonists have been able to replicate.

The book is short, with Ali’s cartoons filling up most of its 117 pages. But it resonates, along with the memory of Naji al-Ali: the brilliant cartoonist was gunned down in London in 1987, three years after fleeing Kuwait, where he had received death threats. His killers have never been caught.


"

13. Mornings in Jenin
by Susan Abulhawa

Susan Abulhawa’s novel is an angry and sad work that insists you see the Palestinian experience, from the 1948 Nakba to the Lebanese civil war, from a deeply personal perspective.

At the centre of the narrative is Amal, orphaned during the 1967 war and the victim of multiple displacements.

There are also her twin brothers, one brought up as an Israeli, the other a proud Palestinian embittered by tragedy.

The contrasting scenes of bucolic pre-Nakba village life and refugee camps in Jenin and Beirut are described in Mornings in Jenin in stark relief by Abdulhawa. And while Palestinian life and culture are enjoyed and treasured, they are eventually torn apart by Israeli attacks.


"

14. Teaching Plato in Palestine
by Carlos Fraenkel

Neo-conservatives are famously fond of the ancient Greek historian Thucydides –  but perhaps Kushner might find another fifth-century Athenian a better frame of reference when it comes to the Middle East.

Plato has, unfairly, a pretty poor reputation thanks to the philosopher Karl Popper. But in this essay, Carlos Fraenkel suggests several of the Greek thinker’s notions can help untangle the natural biases that each side has in Israel and Palestine.

Who decides what justice is? Have you truly examined the experience of another? Is non-violent resistance helpful in attracting support – or does it merely make you a doormat for more powerful forces?

Teaching Plato in Palestine posits these kinds of questions and others in the context of the occupation, post-classical Arab philosophers’ own reception of Plato, and how they relate to Islam and Judaism. Required reading for those wanting a different take on the conflict.


"

15. Shatila Stories

Shatila Stories is a collaborative novel written by nine Palestinian and Syrian refugees (names below) from Lebanon’s Shatila refugee camp, described here as “a prison without walls”.

Initially set up in 1949 to house Palestinian refugees, it has also come to house a recent influx of Syrian refugees from the conflict of the past decade.

Its population is now estimated to stand at more than 40,000 for a space that covers barely one square kilometre.

The authors are mostly novices, who use real life experiences – such as the very real risk of being killed by low-hanging electricity cables, which are tangled with water pipes – to inform their fiction. Through this they present a startling and vivid idea of life in the camp.

The co-authors are Omar Khaled Ahmad, Nibal Alalo, Safa Khaled Algharbawi, Omar Abdellatif Alndaf, Rayan Mohamad Sukkar, Safiya Badran, Fatima Omar Ghazawi, Samih Mahmoud, Hiba Marei, with translation by Nashwa Gowanlock.


"

16. Hamas Contained
by Tareq Baconi

You’d be forgiven, after reading the “deal of the century” proposal, for thinking Hamas is to blame for the humanitarian crisis in Gaza rather than, say, the Israel-imposed siege that has now lasted for more than 12 years.

In that case, read Hamas Contained: The Rise and Pacification of Palestinian Resistance, Tareq Baconi’s groundbreaking history based on interviews with leaders and the group’s own writings, for an informed and critical take on the movement and a deeper understanding of what has motivated it over the past 30 years.

Most people learning about Gaza from the mainstream media, Baconi argues, will either see it as a strip of land destroyed with unprecedented humanitarian suffering; or a haven run by an unruly organisation that has taken its people hostage in order to run a campaign of terror against Israel.

Both views are reductionist and unhelpful in understanding either the movement or why two million Palestinians are crammed into a land mass the size of Philadelphia today. Reading Baconi’s history is a perfect remedy.


"

17. The Woman from Tantoura
by Radwa Ashour, translated by Kay Heikkinen

Ruqayya is a young Palestinian girl, who somehow survives the ethnic cleansing of her small village, Tantoura. It shapes her life as she ultimately carries the weight of that experience into her old age.

With The Woman from Tantoura, Egyptian novelist Radwa Ashour has crafted a beautiful story that captures the essence of the Palestinian experience through Ruqayya’s existence.

The story takes as its focus the cross-border, multi-generational trauma to which Palestinians refuse to succumb in their relentless search for meaning.

The result is a haunting story about loss, survival, memory, identity, and the persistence to return home – no matter how long it takes.


"

18. I Saw Ramallah
by Mourid Barghouti, translated by Adhaf Soueif

In his forward to this memoir, Edward Said calls I Saw Ramallah “one of the finest existential accounts of Palestinian displacement that we now have”. There are few higher endorsements.

A renowned poet, Mourid Barghouti here tries his hand at prose, with natural poetic flourishes of course. Barghouti was locked out of his homeland by the 1967 war while studying in Egypt.

His memoir chronicles the strangeness of his return 30 years later: the diminished waters of the River Jordan he crosses, the absence of lost relatives and a people forever coming to terms with the violence that has cost them so much.

Ramallah, too, is a much-changed place. Barghouti finds some humour in this, but also there is an enduring melancholy that with so much time passed, home is not what it once was. Though he has returned, the poet will be eternally homeless.


"

19. Words Under the Words: Selected Poems
by Naomi Shihab Nye

Any of Nye’s books are a pleasurable and informative introduction to the Palestinian experience, but a good place to start is Words under the Words.

It’s a collection of selected poems from her previous books: Different Ways to Pray, Yellow Glove, and National Poetry Series winner Hugging the Jukebox.

Having grown up both in Palestine and the US, and travelling the world to deliver workshops and talks, Nye calls herself “the wandering poet”. She writes in English about subjects close to her heart, including her mixed heritage (she is the daughter of a Palestinian refugee father and an American mother) and being Arab American.

A Palestinian Might Say is as good a place as any to sample her work

A Palestinian Might Say
What?
You don’t feel at home in your country,
almost overnight?
All the simple things
you cared about,
maybe took for granted..
you feel
insulted, invisible?
Almost as if you’re not there?
But you’re there

Nye also writes for children and is a professor of Creative Writing at Texas State University.


"

20. Baddawi
by Leila Abdelrazaq

For younger Palestinians in the diaspora, much of their connection to their homeland and understanding of the traumatic events is understood through the recollections of their elders.

In the graphic novel Baddawi, Leila Abdelrazaq draws from her own father’s tales of childhood in the eponymous refugee camp in north Lebanon as well as his youth growing up in Beirut.

Somewhat controversially, Israeli and Lebanese aggressors are depicted only abstractly: this is a piece whose focus is very much on the Palestinian experience alone.

Threaded throughout this occasionally bleak work are patterns based on tatreez Palestinian embroidery, a poignant symbol of Palestine’s enduring folk culture.


"

21. The Sea Cloak & Other Stories
by Nayrouz Qarmout

The Sea Cloak & Other Stories is a deceptively short volume – but while the 11 stories initially appear easily digestible, they are likely to leave a sour taste.

Here Qarmout portrays daily life in Gaza, “the world’s largest prison” for a band of mostly female characters.

For anyone looking to experience what constitutes “normal life”, this collection is an introduction to what it feels like to come of age in this charged environment. There are the games played by children, such as “Arabs and Jews”, but also the traditions and heritage of a culture so often misrepresented.

A writer, journalist and women’s rights campaigner, Qarmout doesn’t portray her characters as victims: nor does she shy away from expressing the restrictive realities of her traditional upbringing either.


22. The Earth in the Attic
by Fady Joudah

"

And the sea, each time it reaches the shore,
Becomes a bird to see of the land
What it otherwise wouldn’t.
And the wind through the trees
Is the sea coming home.

The plight of Palestinian refugees, those who’ve inherited the intergenerational trauma of displacement, is often hard to articulate.

Poets like the great Mahmoud Darwish encapsulated the subtlety and pained beauty of exile, and of trying to retain the soil, both literal and metaphorical, carried by those forced to leave their homes in the Nakba of 1948 and subsequent migrations thereafter.

His work also gave birth to a second, a third and a fourth generation of Palestinians dreaming of return, and transforming that yearning into a romance of words.

Fady Joudah is one of those voices, and a powerful one. The Palestinian-American is the child of refugees and grew up between Libya and Saudi Arabia, before pursuing his career as a doctor in Texas.

His poetry – such as The Earth in the Attic – is adorned with references to his humanitarian missions, bringing him in contact with painful stories that mimic those of his own parents. Like Darwish, he leans on a connection with trees, birds and sea allowing them to speak on his behalf.

His painstaking translation of the great works of Darwish and Ghassan Zaqtan has earned him accolades, as well as a reputation for bridging the rooted tradition of Palestinian poetry-as-testament with a new audience who needs to hear and read it.


"

23. Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak
edited by Norma Hashim, translated by Yousef M. Aljamal

The Israeli justice system has long been accused of being one-sided and unsympathetic to Palestinian citizens of Israel, with a conviction rate of between 85 and 93 percent.

In occupied Palestinian Territories however, the reality is grimmer. Palestinians arrested by Israeli forces in Gaza, the West Bank and East Jerusalem are mostly tried in military courts, with a conviction rate of close to 100 percent, according to Human Rights Watch.

Many of them are children, detained and charged with “security violations” that can include throwing rocks, waving Palestinian flags or simply protesting.

Once they’ve spent time in Israeli jails, these juveniles, and often their family members, are then denied work and travel visas, leaving them economically and politically vulnerable.

The story of Ahed Tamimi, the 16-year-old activist from Nabi Saleh sent to jail for attempting to stop Israeli soldiers from entering her home, shone a light on the systemic practice of child detentions.

Dreaming of Freedom: Palestinian Child Prisoners Speak, which includes a forward by Richard Falk, is a powerful collection of first-hand accounts from other Palestinian minors told from inside prisons in their own words.

Their harrowing stories of torture, humiliation and repeated incarceration tell of a generation confined within a punitive system that criminalises their existence. But there are also stories of hope, of the dreams only children can retain against often insurmountable odds.


"

24. Before Their Diaspora
by Walid Khalidi

Walid Khalidi, a Jerusalem-born Palestinian historian, takes the reader on a visual journey into the lives of Palestinians in their homeland before they were expelled in 1948.

Here he has carefully handpicked 500 photographs depicting different aspects of Palestinian society between the Ottoman rule of Palestine in 1876 until the end of the British mandate in May 1948. Their subjects include not only inhabitants of the region but also others among the diaspora in the UK and the US.

Each photograph, sourced from public or private collections, is accompanied with well-researched captions from Arabic, English and Hebrew sources.

There are few better volumes for a visual record of the rich history of the land and its people than Before Their Diaspora, from children in schools and farmers in their fields to busy city centres and acts of resistance. A must-read if you wish a better understanding of Palestinian heritage.


"

25. The Book of Disappearance
by Ibitisam Azem, translated by Sinan Antoon

For her novel The Book of Disappearance, Azem takes an interesting hypothesis: what if Israelis woke up one day to discover that all the Palestinians had disappeared?

Instead of instant celebration, what follows in her novel is initial chaos with no one left to drive the buses, deliver the newspapers or run the cafes. Palestinian prisoners are also no longer in their cells.

Azem’s narrative is a work of fantasy, but one which features historical context in the form of stories from 1948, as told to one of the protagonists by his grandmothers, which he then records in a notebook.

This record eventually lands in the hands of his Israeli friend and neighbour who then makes initially hesitant steps at usurping his disappeared friend’s home.

The Palestinians may be gone, and their houses claimed, one by one, by those who remain – but what The Book of Disappearance leaves the reader with is a sense of palpable eeriness of the ghosts and memories which do not go away.

Ghassan’s Prediction and the Emerging New Palestinian Reality By James Zogby

Note to James Zogby:  
The cause of Ghassan Kanafani was Right of Return to Palestine Liberated from River to sea, not the so-called “equal rights”
His Cause was Beyond PALESTINE
Image result for ghassan kanafani quotes
The title is often translated as Return to Haifa but that would be العودة إلى حيفا in Arabic. The actual title promises and describes the action of returning, and at the end Said tells Dov and Miriam they can keep the house for now, and admits or asserts that returning to it would mean war.

Ghassan’s Prediction and the Emerging New Palestinian Reality

Global Research, September 02, 2016
Arab American Institute 1 September 2016

During the past year, I’ve had the pleasure of receiving visits from Ayman Odeh, logements PalestineAhmad Tibi, and most recently Basel Ghattas—as they passed through Washington. All are Palestinian citizens of Israel. And all are Members of the Israeli Knesset, part of the Joint Arab List that won a record 13 seats in the last Israeli election. It was a delight to sit with them and learn from them not only about the difficulties they face, but the progress they have made.

I have written about how I first became attached to the Arab community in Israel. It was the insightful Palestinian novelist, Ghassan Kanafani who caused me to divert my doctoral dissertation research from the Palestinian refugees in Lebanon to the Palestinian Arabs who remained in their homes after Israel was created in 1948. He gave me two reasons. While much had already been written about the refugees, there was an absence of good literature about the Palestinians “inside” and, he said,

they are the most promising component group of the Palestinian people since they have been forged like steel in the hearth of Israel. Facing enormous difficulties, they have developed a uniquely progressive identity and, he believed, the day would come when they would be in a position to provide real visionary leadership for the entire Palestinian people.

My meetings with Odeh, Tibi, and Ghattas have given me the sense that Ghassan may have been right. These are remarkable individuals, part of a larger movement that has faced down the increasingly repressive, ultra-nationalist Israeli government while defending their rights and securing their political role.

For the first three decades, the Arabs in Israel couldn’t form political parties or join unions (these were reserved for Zionists or Jews). They lived under a draconian and discriminatory legal system. They lost their lands to widespread confiscation. The Israeli educational system forced them to study Hebrew and Jewish history instead of their own language and history. And those who resisted, were imprisoned or forcibly expelled from the country.

Like other civil rights movements, these Palestinian citizens of Israel used every available opening to win their rights, facing down arrests, expulsions, and lethal violence. While tremendous problems remain, Palestinian citizens in Israel now form political parties, join unions, and teach their language and history. They still face systemic racism in housing, employment, education, allocation of the state’s budget, and many other areas—and yet they have built and sustained a fighting force that continues to press their demands for justice and equality.

In creating their Joint List, the Palestinian citizens of Israel have forged a remarkable national unity bringing together diverse political currents: nationalists, traditionalists, and progressives—Muslims and Christians, alike. Netanyahu’s far-right governing coalition has stepped up its assault on the Arab community in an effort to divide them and break their resolve. Israel has created a fake new identity for Christians—in an effort to divide the Arabs on the basis of religion. They have charged some Arab Knesset Members with “incitement” for advocating on behalf of their Palestinian brethren living under the suffocating economic embargo imposed on Gaza. Israel has passed laws prohibiting Arabs and progressive Jews from supporting the non-violent boycott movement protesting Israel’s settlement policy and making it more difficult for them to receive grants from the EU to promote democracy and human rights. None of these repressive measures have broken their resolve or unity.

In addition to my earlier studies, I have, in recent years, polled the Palestinian Arab citizens in Israel, as well as the Palestinians living under occupation and those in exile. Of all of the component parts of the Palestinian people, the Arabs in Israel are the most forward looking and the most committed to achieving justice for the entire Palestinian people. And as I have watched Odeh, Tibi, and Ghattas in action, I have been impressed by their political savvy. Unlike the divided and visionless leadership of the Palestinian Authority and Hamas, the members of the Joint list have vision, a sound political sense of tactics and strategy, and a demonstrated ability to connect with the people they serve. While it is correct to acknowledge that Israel has done everything it could to weaken, punish, discredit, divide, and tie-in-knots the Palestinian leadership under occupation, the Israelis have been no less harsh in the treatment meted out to their own Palestinian citizenry. In this context, it is significant to note that while the efforts of several Arab states have failed, it is fallen on the shoulders of the High Follow-Up Committee for Arab Citizens of Israel (the collective leadership of the Arab community in Israel) to launch an initiative to bring about reconciliation between the Palestinian factions of Fateh and Hamas.

I have just finished reading a compelling Haaretz article

”Stop with the Nonsense that Palestinians Are a Minority In Israel”.

The writer Gideon Levy argues that since Israel has refused to separate from the occupied territories and continues to entrench its settler colonies deeper into the heart of the West Bank and the Arab areas of what they call “Greater Jerusalem”, the “era of the two state solution [is drawing] to a close” and has been replaced by a de facto “bi-national state” in which the numbers of Jews and Arabs are roughly equal. In this new reality, Arabs are not a minority, they are half of the population.

If this is to remain the case, and I see no evidence that the Netanyahu government will change direction or that any outside power will compel them to do so, then the Palestinian struggle will inevitably be transformed from one demanding independence into a movement demanding equal rights. This will merely be an extension of the fight that the “inside” Palestinians have been waging for seven decades. If this is to be the case, we may well see the day when the Palestinian citizens of Israel will emerge, as Kanafani predicted, as the new leadership of a unified Palestinian community fighting for justice and equality.

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not reflect the position of the Arab American Institute. The Arab American Institute is a non-profit, nonpartisan national leadership organization that does not endorse candidates. 

Erdogan and travel in a time machine .. for the treatment of political impotence! نارام سرجون: أردوغان والسفر في آلة الزمن.. لعلاج العنانة السياسية

27625 غزة تذبح وسط تصريحات المتاجرين بدماء ابنائها

غزة تذبح وسط تصريحات المتاجرين بدماء ابنائها

نارام سرجون: أردوغان والسفر في آلة الزمن.. لعلاج العنانة السياسية

وكالة أوقات الشام الإخبارية

بالرغم من أنني أعرف أن رجب طيب أردوغان شخص مراوغ ومحتال لكنني عندما قرأت خبرا بأنه يراسل موقع عرب تايمز.. لنشر مقالة ينشرها بين القراء العرب اكتشفت أن الرجل مجنون ومختل وأنه لا يعرف حتى الحفاظ على كرامته الشخصية.. كما أنه لا يحفظ الوعود والعهود والمواثيق.. وهذا التصرف في الحقيقة إما أنه يعني أن الرجل انفصل عن الواقع أو أن مستشاريه منفصلون عن الواقع.. أو أنه بالفعل متأثر بقصص الخيال العلمي ويعتقد أن هنالك شيئا اسمه آلة السفر عبر الزمن إلى الماضي.. الرجل لاشك يعاني من عنانة سياسية.. وعقم سياسي.. ولم يعد قادرا على الإنجاب سياسيا.. ولكنه لايزال يطلب الزواج السياسي على سنة الله ورسوله..

 فقد تلقى مكتب رئيس الوزراء التركي صفعة مهينة وقاسية برفض رئيس تحرير موقع عرب تايمز نشر مقال لرجب طيب أردوغان أرسلته السيدة بيانكا مسؤولة المكتب الصحفي للطيب اردوغان.. ولا أدري من صاحب هذا الاقتراح والعبقرية في العلاقات العامة لأن توقيت الرسالة الآن بالذات فيها صبيانية وولدنة..

فالرجل لم يفعل شيئا لغزة وهي تذبح وتخسر 10 آلاف شهيد وجريح في زمن قياسي في حسابات المجازر والتطهير العرقي.. ولم يطرد السفير الإسرائيلي ولم يفقد أعصابه ولم يطلب حظرا جويا.. ولم يرسل بعض الذباحين إلى غزة لينحروا الجندي الإسرائيلي الأسير كما يفعل أشاوسه الإسلاميون مع جميع الأسرى العرب والمسلمين والأكراد.. ومع هذا يريد إقناعنا أنه مشغول على غزة والمسلمين..

لكن هذه المحاولات من أردوغان تعكس شعورا حقيقيا لدى مكتب رئيس الوزراء التركي وفريق مستشاريه بأن اللعبة التركية في التلاعب بمشاعر العرب والتمثيل لهم تمثيليات البطولة انتهت.. وأن الأتراك دخلوا في مرحلة العيش على الأنقاض في العلاقات مع الشعوب العربية ونخبها.. وهناك إدراك عميق أن تركيا تحولت إلى أكثر دولة مكروهة لدى شعوب المنطقة تماما كما كان عليه الحال عندما كان هناك جيش انكشاري يسرق البلاد وينهب العباد ويسوق شباب العرب إلى السفربرلك ومغامرات السلاطين وحروبهم ليموت أبناؤنا جوعا وتعبا وعطشا قبل أن يموتوا برصاص المعارك.. ويدفنوا دون أسماء..

من الواضح أن هناك حملة علاقات عامة تركية محمومة وحملة استحمام لاستعادة الثقة بسياسة تركيا التي صارت مثقوبة ومثيرة للاشمئزاز بدليل الاتصال بمواقع عربية مؤثرة.. وهناك شعور واسع بالخسارة الفكرية والثقافية والأخلاقية على نطاق واسع.. حيث يسعى الساسة الأتراك بوضوح لاسترداد المعجبين بثلاثي تركيا وإسلاميي حزب العدالة عبر عملية تنظيف الأيدي من الدماء وسكب العسل في الأطباق والصحون وإقامة ولائم الكلام المنافق واختراق حاجز الكراهية الكبير بينهم وبين الشعوب التي عانت من مغامرتهم في سورية ومصر والعراق وليبيا ولبنان وفلسطين.. هذا النشاط والسعي المحموم تحرك بعد أن شاهد الأتراك أن المعجبين بتركيا في حالة هروب جماعي من تلك الأوهام.. وبدا المسرح الواسع الذي يقف على منصته أردوغان خاليا من الحضور التفاعلي بخلوه من العلمانيين العرب والمثقفين الحقيقيين وبدا مهجورا.. ولم يبق في مسرحه إلا ذوو اللحى.. وهؤلاء معظمهم منتفعون ومنافقون يميلون مع كل مائل وينعقون مع كل ناعق وعندما تميل الريح سيميلون معها.. أما خارج المسرح فغضب وحجارة ومظاهرات صاخبة.. وبيض وبندورة وأحذية تنتظر خروج الممثلين الاستعراضيين الأتراك..

المكانة التي بنتها تركيا باللعب على العواطف تحطمت وتتعرض لنزيف صاعق.. ولا يجد الكثيرون في النخب العربية الفاعلة والمؤثرة فرقا اليوم بين دور إسرائيل ودور تركيا في المنطقة فرغم تكامل المشروعين منذ بدأت العلاقات بين الطرفين فإن الربيع العربي كشف أن المشروعين التركي الطوراني والصهيوني متفقان على تدمير الشرق ولكنهما يتنافسان في نفس الوقت على ابتلاعه كل على طريقته.. فقد حول الساسة الأتراك تركيا إلى إسرائيل الشمالية.. فلا فرق بين مشروع إسرائيل ومشروع تركيا.. كلتاهما تريدان السيطرة على الشرق لبناء إمبراطورية على حساب شعوب المنطقة.. تركيا تريد بناء تركيا الكبرى العثمانية.. وإسرائيل تريد إقامة إسرائيل الكبرى.. والمشروعان يقومان بالضبط على حساب سورية الكبرى وشعبها.. من العراق وحتى غزة..

تركيا تنزف بسرعة من رصيدها وأحلامها.. ومستشارو أردوغان يضمدون ثقوبها.. ويحاولون بيأس إعادة إنتاج الكذب والوعود والمبررات.. ولكن رد رئيس تحرير عرب تايمز كان لكمة على أنف أردوغان.. وركلة على قفاه.. حيث يقف أردوغان على الأبواب التي يصفعها الناس في وجهه.. لأنه نذير الشؤم ونذير الشر.. ورئيس الكنيست الإسرائيلي في أنقرة.. الذي يريد أيضا أن تكون إمبراطوريته.. من الفرات إلى النيل..

هل يعتقد هذا المجنون ومستشاروه أن شيئا في الدنيا يعيده إلينا؟.. وهل يعتقد هذا الخائن للعهد أن شيئا في الدنيا يعادل دم شهدائنا؟.. هل يظن هذا المجرم أننا سنغمس أصابعنا في طبق العسل الذي يقدمه لنا بعد أن تذوقنا السم الزعاف في أطباقه..؟؟ هل يمكن أن يراود هذا الأفاق الكذاب شك أن آلة الزمن لن تعود به ثانية واحدة إلى الوراء.. وهل يجرؤ أن يتصور أن يجد من يلبي الدعوة لولائمه وأعراسه وحفلات الزنا التي يقيمها..

موقع عرب تايمز عامل رجب طيب أردوغان بما يستحق من الاحتقار.. ورفض لعب دور المحلل لمجاهد النكاح واللص الذي سرق أساور حلب وضفائرها وحليها وأقراطها.. ورفض رئيس التحرير أن يسمح بهذه الملوثات البصرية والأخلاقية أن تؤذي مشاعر وعيون القراء..

الدكتور أسامة فوزي صاحب موقع عرب تايمز هو مثقف فلسطيني من قرية ترشيحا لا يعرف المجاملة ولا النفاق الذي يجيده المتثاقفون العرب وما أكثرهم.. لم يتردد في الرد على رسالة أردوغان برسالة توبيخ وازدراء قاسية تشفي الغليل وتعكس حالة من تضامن النخب الحقيقية والصافية مع هموم المنطقة وحقيقة أن الدم لا يكون ماء.. فدم السوريين الذي نزف كان دما من عروق فلسطين وشرايينها أيضا.. والعكس بالعكس.. وأن شجرة فلسطين محملة بالشرفاء..

فلسطين ليست خالد مشعل ولا إسماعيل هنية ولا الجاسوس عزمي بشارة ولا عطوان ولا وضاح خنفر.. بل هي كرمة ودالية حبلى بالعنب والثورة إثر الثورة.. وهي خزان من خزانات الوعي المشرقي  والمناضلين.. وحق لا يموت.. منذ زمن غسان كنفاني الذي كتب شعار “حق لا يموت” وناجي العلي.. وكمال عدوان.. وكمال ناصر.. ومحمد يوسف النجار.. ووديع حداد.. وجورج حبش..

قولوا لهذا العنَين رجب.. إن العنانة في السياسة لا دواء لها ولا شفاء ولا تنفع فيها حبة من هنا أو حبتان من هناك.. وأن العنانة السياسية أعيت من يداويها.. فاحمل رسائلك الغزلية وقصائد غرامك وحبوبك المقوية الزرقاء.. فالحبوب والعقاقير والغزل الرقيق واستدعاء الفحولة ربما تنفعك مع “أمينة” في سريرها.. ولكن ما ينفع “أمينة” في السرير ويسعدها لا ينفع السياسة في سرير الشرق.. العنانة السياسية بلاء ليس له دواء.. يا رجب..

وفيما يلي الخبر ورد الدكتور أسامة فوزي على رجب بنيامين نتنياهو:

رفضت عرب تايمز نشر مقال لرئيس الوزراء التركي رجب طيب اردوغان بعثت به إلى عرب تايمز السيدة بيانكا مسؤولة المكتب الصحفي للطيب اردوغان… وكانت السيدة بيانكا قد اتصلت مرتين بالهاتف وطلبت التحدث مع الدكتور أسامة فوزي ولما لم تجده بعثت إليه برسالة تطلب فيها نشر مقال لاردوغان أرسلت نسخة منه باللغتين العربية والانجليزية

وقد رد الدكتور فوزي على مكتب اردوغان الصحفي رافضا نشر المقال مبينا أسبابه.. وقال فوزي في رده:

لقد عمل رئيس الوزراء رجب طيب اردوغان دورا مخزيا في التآمر على الشعب العربي السوري حين جعل تركيا مقرا ومعبرا لآلاف الإرهابيين من مختلف دول العالم الذين يتباهون بقتل السوريين وحز رقابهم بعد أن سرق اردوغان ثروات السوريين وفكك آلاف المعامل والمشاغل من حلب ونقلها إلى تركيا.

وأضاف الزميل فوزي: يلعب اردوغان اليوم دورا تآمريا مماثلا ضد مصر والشعب المصري  كما قدم اردوغان ضمانات أمنية وأسلحة للإرهابيين الذين يفجرون المدن العراقية هذه الأيام

لكن الدور الأبرز لاردوغان -يقول الزميل فوزي في رده-

هو التآمر على الشعب الفلسطيني والمتاجرة بدماء الفلسطينيين وكان اردوغان يوم أمس أول من فك حظر الطيران لإسرائيل وهو ما لم تفعله حتى الولايات المتحدة نفسها هذا عدا عن قمع اردوغان لأبناء شعبه التركي وهو قمع رأيناه على شاشات التلفزيون عقب الكشف عن فساد اردوغان المالي وابنه وعدد من أعضاء حكومته.


وختم فوزي رده قائلا: لهذا لا يمكننا نشر مقالة اردوغان في عرب تايمز انطلاقا من مبدأ أخلاقي أولاً ثم حتى لا نساهم في الترويج لأكاذيبه وإساءاته للعرب ومحاولاته اليائسة لبناء مجده الشخصي على أجساد أبناء شعبنا العربي.

——-

فيما يلي رسالة السيدة بيانكا ننشرها كاملة بعد حذف العناوين وأرقام الهاتف منها.. كما ننشر رد الزميل فوزي على الرسالة

Dear Dr. Osama,

 In light of the current turmoil and divide within the Muslim community, Prime Minister Erdogan has written the below Opinion Editorial (Op-Ed) piece to communicate the virtues and fundamentals of Islam and the humanity and peace that are its founding principles.

 The Op-Ed comes a few days after the completion of the ‘World Islamic Scholars Peace, Moderation and Commonsense Initiative’ conference which took place in Istanbul. Erdogan emphasizes the need to bring about peace stating “we must follow the path of peace and unity” and stressing the importance of the Quran in its teachings, reminding all that Islam rejects extremism of all forms.

 Please find below in the body of this email the English version of the poignant Op-Ed which can be published. Please feel free to contact me directly either via my cell at  xxxxxxxxxxx or by email at xxxxxxxxxxx should you have any questions. Thank you once again.

 Sincerely,

 Bianca Bahary

 on behalf of the Turkish Prime Minister’s Press Office

***************

رد الدكتور أسامة فوزي

Dear Ms. Bahary,

 Prime Minister Erdogan has played a shameful role in conspiring against the greater Syrian population. He has given thousands of terrorists, hailing from around the globe, safe harbor in Turkey and passage into Syria through Turkey to kill and terrorize the Syrian people. This of course is not Prime Minister Erdogan’s first foray into victimizing the Syrian people, seeing as how he expropriated many factories from their owners in Aleppo and elsewhere.

 Prime Minister Erdogan to this day plays a similar role in Egypt and Iraq, supporting with weapons and security those who would seek to throw those countries into chaos and violence.

 But, Prime Minister Erdogan’s leading role is to conspire against the Palestinian people in his vain efforts to restore Turkey’s relationship with Israel at the expense of Palestinians.

 Perhaps one should not be surprised, however, at Prime Minister Erdogan’s treatment of the other in light of his persecution of his own countrymen, as we recently witnessed on international television, and the rampant corruption within his family and his government.

 For all the above reasons, and more, Arab Times chooses to exercise its editorial discretion and, respectfully, decline to publish this Op-Ed. We are uncomfortable providing Prime Minister Erdogan a pulpit from which to preach his false narrative.

 Best Regards,

 Osama Fawzi

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Ghassan Kanafani 50 years ago: A Letter from Gaza To Mustafa: Come back, to learn from Nadia’s leg..

Letter from Gaza by Ghassan Kanafani

Dear Mustafa,

I have now received your letter, in which you tell me that you’ve done everything necessary to enable me to stay with you in Sacramento. I’ve also received news that I have been accepted in the department of Civil Engineering in the University of California. I must thank you for everything, my friend. But it’ll strike you as rather odd when I proclaim this news to you — and make no doubt about it, I feel no hesitation at all, in fact I am pretty well positive that I have never seen things so clearly as I do now. No, my friend, I have changed my mind. I won’t follow you to “the land where there is greenery, water and lovely faces” as you wrote. No, I’ll stay here, and I won’t ever leave.

I am really upset that our lives won’t continue to follow the same course, Mustafa. For I can almost hear you reminding me of our vow to go on together, and of the way we used to shout: “We’ll get rich!” But there’s nothing I can do, my friend. Yes, I still remember the day when I stood in the hall of Cairo airport, pressing your hand and staring at the frenzied motor. At that moment everything was rotating in time with the ear-splitting motor, and you stood in front of me, your round face silent.

Your face hadn’t changed from the way it used to be when you were growing up in the Shajiya quarter of Gaza, apart from those slight wrinkes. We grew up together, understanding each other completely and we promised to go on together till the end. But…

“There’s a quarter of an hour left before the plane takes off. Don’t look into space like that. Listen! You’ll go to Kuwait next year, and you’ll save enough from your salary to uproot you from Gaza and transplant you to California. We started off together and we must carry on. . .”

At that moment I was watching your rapidly moving lips. That was always your manner of speaking, without commas or full stops. But in an obscure way I felt that you were not completely happy with your flight. You couldn’t give three good reasons for it. I too suffered from this wrench, but the clearest thought was: why don’t we abandon this Gaza and flee? Why don’t we? Your situation had begun to improve, however. The ministry of Education in Kuwait had given you a contract though it hadn’t given me one. In the trough of misery where I existed you sent me small sums of money. You wanted me to consider them as loans. because you feared that I would feel slighted. You knew my family circumstances in and out; you knew that my meagre salary in the UNRWA schools was inadequate to support my mother, my brother’s widow and her four children.

“Listen carefully. Write to me every day… every hour… every minute! The plane’s just leaving. Farewell! Or rather, till we meet again!”

Your cold lips brushed my cheek, you turned your face away from me towards the plane, and when you looked at me again I could see your tears.

Later the Ministry of Education in Kuwait gave me a contract. There’s no need to repeat to you how my life there went in detail. I always wrote to you about everything. My life there had a gluey, vacuous quality as though I were a small oyster, lost in oppressive loneliness, slowly struggling with a future as dark as the beginning of the night, caught in a rotten routine, a spewed-out combat with time. Everything was hot and sticky. There was a slipperiness to my whole life, it was all a hankering for the end of the month.

In the middle of the year, that year, the Jews bombarded the central district of Sabha and attacked Gaza, our Gaza, with bombs and flame-throwers. That event might have made some change in my routine, but there was nothing for me to take much notice of; I was going to leave. this Gaza behind me and go to California where I would live for myself, my own self which had suffered so long. I hated Gaza and its inhabitants. Everything in the amputated town reminded me of failed pictures painted in grey by a sick man. Yes, I would send my mother and my brother’s widow and her children a meagre sum to help them to live, but I would liberate myself from this last tie too, there in green California, far from the reek of defeat which for seven years had filled my nostrils. The sympathy which bound me to my brother’s children, their mother and mine would never be enough to justify my tragedy in taking this perpendicular dive. It mustn’t drag me any further down than it already had. I must flee!

You know these feelings, Mustafa, because you’ve really experienced them. What is this ill-defined tie we had with Gaza which blunted our enthusiasm for flight? Why didn’t we analyse the matter in such away as to give it a clear meaning? Why didn’t we leave this defeat with its wounds behind us and move on to a brighter future which would give us deeper consolation? Why? We didn’t exactly know.

When I went on holiday in June and assembled all my possessions, longing for the sweet departure, the start towards those little things which give life a nice, bright meaning, I found Gaza just as I had known it, closed like the introverted lining of a rusted snail-shell thrown up by the waves on the sticky, sandy shore by the slaughter-house. This Gaza was more cramped than the mind of a sleeper in the throes of a fearful nightmare, with its narrow streets which had their bulging balconies…this Gaza! But what are the obscure causes that draw a man to his family, his house, his memories, as a spring draws a small flock of mountain goats? I don’t know.

All I know is that I went to my mother in our house that morning. When I arrived my late brother’s wife met me there and asked me,weeping, if I would do as her wounded daughter, Nadia, in Gaza hospital wished and visit her that evening. Do you know Nadia, my brother’s beautiful thirteen-year-old daughter?

That evening I bought a pound of apples and set out for the hospital to visit Nadia. I knew that there was something about it that my mother and my sister-in-law were hiding from me, something which their tongues could not utter, something strange which I could not put my finger on.

I loved Nadia from habit, the same habit that made me love all that generation which had been so brought up on defeat and displacement that it had come to think that a happy life was a kind of social deviation.

What happened at that moment? I don’t know. I entered the white room very calm. Ill children have something of saintliness, and how much more so if the child is ill as result of cruel, painful wounds. Nadia was lying on her bed, her back propped up on a big pillow over which her hair was spread like a thick pelt. There was profound silence in her wide eyes and a tear always shining in the depths of her black pupils. Her face was calm and still but eloquent as the face of a tortured prophet might be. Nadia was still a child, but she seemed more than a child, much more, and older than a child, much older.

“Nadia!”

I’ve no idea whether I was the one who said it, or whether it was someone else behind me. But she raised her eyes to me and I felt them dissolve me like a piece of sugar that had fallen into a hot cup of tea. ‘

Together with her slight smile I heard her voice.

“Uncle! Have you just come from Kuwait?”

 Her voice broke in her throat, and she raised herself with the help of her hands and stretched out her neck towards me. I patted her back and sat down near her.
 “Nadia! I’ve brought you presents from Kuwait, lots of presents. I’ll wait till you can leave your bed, completely well and healed, and you’ll come to my house and I’ll give them to you. I’ve bought you the red trousers you wrote and asked me for. Yes, I’ve bought them.”
 It was a lie, born of the tense situation, but as I uttered it I felt that I was speaking the truth for the first time.
 Nadia trembled as though she had an electric shock and lowered her head in a terrible silence. I felt her tears wetting the back of my hand.

“Say something, Nadia! Don’t you want the red trousers?”

 She lifted her gaze to me and made as if to speak, but then she stopped, gritted her teeth and I heard her voice again, coming from faraway.

“Uncle!”

 She stretched out her hand, lifted the white coverlet with her fingers and pointed to her leg, amputated from the top of the thigh.

My friend … Never shall I forget Nadia’s leg, amputated from the top of the thigh. No! Nor shall I forget the grief which had moulded her face and merged into its traits for ever. 

I went out of the hospital in Gaza that day, my hand clutched in silent derision on the two pounds I had brought with me to give Nadia. The blazing sun filled the streets with the colour of blood. And Gaza was brand new, Mustafa! You and I never saw it like this.

The stone piled up at the beginning of the Shajiya quarter where we lived had a meaning, and they seemed to have been put there for no other reason but to explain it.

This Gaza in which we had lived and with whose good people we had spent seven years of defeat was something new. It seemed to me just a beginning. I don’t know why I thought it was just a beginning. I imagined that the main street that I walked along on the way back home was only the beginning of a long, long road leading to Safad. 

 Everything in this Gaza throbbed with sadness which was not confined to weeping. It was a challenge: more than that it was something like reclamation of the amputated leg!
I went out into the streets of Gaza, streets filled with blinding sunlight. They told me that Nadia had lost her leg when she threw herself on top of her little brothers and sisters to protect them from the bombs and flames that had fastened their claws into the house. Nadia could have saved herself, she could have run away, rescued her leg. But she didn’t.

Why?

 No, my friend, I won’t come to Sacramento, and I’ve no regrets. No, and nor will I finish what we began together in childhood. This obscure feeling that you had as you left Gaza, this small feeling must grow into a giant deep within you. It must expand, you must seek it in order to find yourself, here among the ugly debris of defeat.

I won’t come to you. But you, return to us! Come back, to learn from Nadia’s leg, amputated from the top of the thigh, what life is and what existence is worth.

 Come back, my friend! We are all waiting for you.
 ——-

50 Years later


Dramatic photographs and footage capture the moment a Palestinian woman ran into a firing zone to rescue a youth injured during relentless Israeli gunfire and shelling.

Meanwhile, another video has emerged showing Israeli soldiers and religious mystics dancing as they adorn artillery shells with blessings.

On Wednesday, the UN Human Rights Council voted by 29-17 to “launch an independent inquiry into purported violations of international humanitarian and human rights laws” during Israel’s attack on Gaza. Many European Union states abstained in the vote and the United States was the sole country to vote against an inquiry.

Rescue

The above video of the rescue incident was posted on YouTube on 20 July, the day dozens of people were killed in heavy Israeli bombardment of the eastern Gaza City neighborhood of Shujaiya.

Writer Refaat Alareer, who comes from Shujaiya, was able to identify the exact location of the incident in the video above and the photographs below.

“The video took place in the main street of Shujaiya, near the eastern edge of the border” with Israel, Alareer told The Electronic Intifada. “The area is highly populated and a little bit far from the borders.”

“I am amazed how the Israelis managed to hit them while this far into Shujaiya,” he said of the images and video showing shelling of the area.

Four photos that have been circulating online were posted on Sami Kishawi’s blog Sixteen Minutes to Palestine.

They were apparently taken moments before the video was shot and show the woman running into a firing zone to rescue the youth.

Kishawi said that although he has conducted searches he’s unable to find the original photographer:

It is unclear if the woman is the youth’s mother. In the video, she is deeply distraught as she cries in Arabic “ibni raah” – which translates as “my son is gone!”

It is a phrase that could mean something dreadful already happened to her son, or that something dreadful very nearly happened.

In the video, the youth is first seen sitting on the ground covered in blood as the woman runs to fetch help. She brings another man who carries the injured youth to a taxi as she follows.

The taxi takes them to an ambulance. As the youth is placed on a stretcher and put into the ambulance, it is clear that his left leg has been severely injured.

The ambulance crew tries to reassure the youth, telling him, “don’t be scared” and “you are fine” as they tend to him and head for al-Shifa hospital.

Twenty-two shells in four minutes

Another video, which Sami Kishawi also blogged, shows approximately four minutes of intense shelling in Shujaiya during which 22 shells land – a rate of about one every ten seconds.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian   

The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

 

Israel’s Four-Decade-Long Assault on Palestine

Derek Ide I Social Movement Studies I Commentary I July 16th, 2014

Ghassan Kanafani, the famous Palestinian journalist, novelist, and short story writer, whose writings were deeply rooted in Arab Palestinian culture, inspired a whole generation during and after his lifetime

In Beirut on July 8, 1972, thirty-six year old Ghassan Kanafani entered into his Volkswagen for the last time. The prolific writer and editor of Al Hadaf (“The Goal”) was headed to the newspaper’s office. His seventeen year old niece Lamis Najm was with him. Not long before, he had penned these words to her:

“Dearest: You are rising now, while we start to fall. Our role is almost complete. The role of this generation was the shortest for any generation in history. We live in crucial times for the history of humanity and people are divided between participants and spectators… The battle is harsh and human capacity cannot tolerate this much. I, young one, chose not to be a spectator. It means that I chose to live the crucial moments of our history, no matter how short…”[1]

It was around 11 a.m. that Saturday when the explosion occurred, judging from the watch later found on what remained of Lamis’ hand. [2] Kanafani was a leading member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, the heart of the left-wing secular opposition to Israel. He was a noncombatant, and although pictures of Ho Chi Minh and Che Guevara adorned his office, he never personally picked up a gun against his Zionist enemies, despite having every right to resist to the ongoing occupation by whatever means necessary. Yet, he still became a victim of Israeli terror.

The car bomb attached to Kanafani’s vehicle killed him and his teenage niece on July 8, 1972. The assassination was part of a secret operation known as God’s Wrath. The plan, carried out under the tutelage of Prime Minister Golda Meir, was intended to murder leading militants and officials within the Palestinian resistance movement carried out by Israel’s “Institute for Intelligence and Special Operations,” more commonly known as Mossad.

Operation God’s Wrath was a covert operation that utilized methods, such as car bombs, akin to what Arundhati Roy once referred to as the “privatization of war.”[3] Forty-two years later, to the day, after the car bomb killed Ghassan and Lamis, the terrorist state of Israel began a new public operation of a different sort. On Tuesday, July 8, 2014 Israel unleashed Operation Protective Edge onto Gaza, a much more hasbara-friendly initiative. This spectacle of sheer force – conventional terrorism, it might be called – had indiscriminately slaughtered nearly 200 Palestinians within the span of one week.[4] Seven days in and Israel’s casualties had reached a stunning zero.

Unlike the names of the three Israeli teenage settlers who were kidnapped and murdered not long before Operation Protective Edge was initiated, the names of the 192 victims of Israeli aggression have not yet been plastered on the front pages of every newspaper or the headlines on every television set. Sa’ad Mahmoud al-Hajj was 17, the same age as Kanafani’s niece Lamis, was murdered along with seven members of his family when an Israeli bomb destroyed their home in Khan Younis. Sa’ad’s brother Tarek, age 18, and his sister Fatima, age 12, died with him. Ziad Maher al-Najjar, 17 years old, was also killed in Khan Younis days later. 17-year-old Anas Youssef Kandil was murdered by Israeli terror in Jabalia, and 17-year-old Mohammed Isam al-Batash was killed in Gaza city. 10-year-old Bassim Salim Kawareh, 11-year-old Maryam Atieh Mohammed al-Arja, 12-year-old Qassi Isam al-Batash, all victims of this most recent terrorist attack. These names may not find their way onto the pages or television screens of major news outlets in the west, where Palestinian blood has always been worth less than Israeli blood, but they, along with all the other names of victims of Israeli barbarity, should grace the lips and enter the hearts of those engaged in the struggle for a free Palestine.

Thus, forty-two years after the terrorist state martyred Kanafani, its reign of terror continued. The world is a different place from 1972, however, and the voice of worldwide opposition is growing. Just as the movement against apartheid South Africa took decades to build, so did the opposition to the settler-terrorist state of Israel. Today, however, the movement for boycott, divestment, and sanctions (BDS), put forward by Palestinian civil society in 2005, is growing at an even more rapid pace than did its predecessor. Across US campuses, student governments have passed resolutions calling for divestment, and victories in the name of a free Palestine have been on the rise.[5] While the puppet Arab leaders, sheikhs and Israeli pawns wring their hands, donate a pittance of their enormous wealth to clean up the aftermath, and send fighters off to die in Iraq or Syria, they cannot be the face of the Palestinian resistance.

As Ghassan Kanafani explained: “If we are failed defenders of the cause, it is better to change the defenders, not to change the cause.”

 Since his time, the defenders have changed more than once, but Kanafani’s cause lives on. For those of us who live outside the “harsh battle,” we too should “chose not to be a spectator.” Let us, like Kanafani, “chose to live the crucial moments of our history” and contribute to the struggle for a free Palestine. For those of us who face no imminent threat of retaliation, no fear of bombs dropping onto our homes while we eat with our families, no chance of a car bomb detonating as we head to our offices, it should not only be our choice, but our obligation, our duty, to support the movement to boycott and divest from the terrorist state of Israel. As Alice Walker, who refused an Israeli publisher’s offer to publish “The Color Purple,” once said, “Activism is my rent for living on this planet.” Indeed, when it comes to Palestine, it is time for Americans to pay some rent.
Notes

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Remembering Ghassan Kanafani through the watch and the Volkswagen

Palestinian writer and activist, Ghassan Kanafani. (Photo: Archive)
Published Wednesday, July 9, 2014
Forty two years have passed since the martyrdom of the writer and militant Ghassan Kanafani by the Mossad in Beirut. But the author of Men in the Sun transcends time as the spiritual essence of our positive anxiety. He is here as a masked boy in the streets of Nazareth, in his portrait over the gate of Akka, ringing the clock’s bell with the fists of men marching on Palestine’s time.
Every time you look at the clock, it is not necessarily to know the time. Sometimes, it is an attempt to sense what is happening around you. It signifies the calculation of the usefulness of time through an obvious question: Who benefits from the passage of time? Once, Ghassan Kanafani (1936-1972) became more present by the sound of death. It was 11 am on the morning of Saturday July 8, 1972 , as indicated by the watch on what remained of the hand of a young woman called Lamis Najm laying on a rooftop in Hazmieh.
But the clock on the wall seemed as if it were still ticking at that time. He was determined to be the hero once depicted in All That’s Left to You and the pendulum walking with the casket at the funeral. The clock continued to symbolize the acrimony of time and its elusiveness. “Time cannot be against us both, equally. They might be closer to you than I think, but closer to me than they think,” said the hero of that novel. Time could be on the side of Palestinians as long as they resist, not knowing death and never getting tired of life.
He rings the clock’s bell, with the fists of men who walk in the time of Palestine, the living archetypes of creativity and revolution. They may be forced to leave, but are the most present in its endless time. They are the image, spirit, and truth of Palestine, without deception or illusion. You know that time will never go backwards, yet it might race forward.
He is there next to a burning tire at the gates of Shafaat camp, as a masked boy in the streets of Nazareth, as burning rage in Baqa al-Gharbiyye, or a picture of Ghassan Kanafani above the wall of Akka, listening to its fearless uproar and scattering as a mosaic on the children of the camps.
All periods failed to extract him from his Palestinian time. Kanafani’s time erupts every time to knock on the wall of helplessness without hesitation, to curse Abu al-Khaizaran and promise the dawning of real men, the generation of revolutionary upheaval, affording them the creative anxiety, which refuses to falsify time or appropriate righteousness. A giant alarm clock chiming like the conscience of an organic intellectual, who remained in the moment and did not leave. He marched ahead, as the spiritual essence of our positive anxiety and the sentimental embodiment of our dreams, when the murderer committed his preemptive crime to stop the advance of the good times and assassinate, in cold blood, a different future, fearing a new tomorrow before it was born.
Many sands of time passed. Humans are no longer divided between spectators and fighters. Watching has become a paid profession in international funds, to turn the cause of the fight into something which is not noble, the probability of struggle without avail or the absurd passage into the stage of impracticality. This is how critical time operates, so you would not be a trivial spectator, but a real and decisive presence, a fighter and a resistor.
“Dearest: You are rising now, while we start to fall. Our role is almost complete. The role of this generation was the shortest for any generation in history. We live in crucial times for the history of humanity and people are divided between participants and spectators. But the spectators will not live their entire generation or drink it all. The participant, however, will quickly fall. The battle is harsh and human capacity cannot tolerate this much. I, young one, chose not to be a spectator. It means that I chose to live the crucial moments of our history, no matter how short,” Kanafani wrote in a letter to his niece Lamis Najim.
The damned Volkswagen explosion echoes pain and bitterness, each time we hear of an incident of obscurantism putting out a candle or violating culture, in its collective and national heritage. Maybe this is what made the late [Palestinian Arab writer and intellectual] Dr. Anis Sayigh envious; Kanafani was happier than all of us. He left before seeing the reality of defeat. “The Volkswagen explosion liberated you from this world. It took you away from the tragedy we live and hid the flaws of the present, its crimes, and defeats. You closed your eyes on a beautiful picture of struggle, faith, revolution, and values.”
Ghassan’s eyes were not meant to see the latest scandals in politics, the lowered expectations, the deformation of the cause, and what the adulterers did. The deterioration of everything, led to this void and terrifying impotence, which toppled the national values and major aims in which he believed wholeheartedly. The Volkswagen explosion was an example of allowing fools to steer the ship and after them the deluge, as long as they remain in power. They let the homelands drown in symbols, slogans, and rituals evoking the war of Dahis and al-Ghabra. They allowed backwardness to conquer progress and the triumph of confessional, tribal, and ethnic factionalism over what remained of the living fabric of our society.
The clock is the challenge of the new age. The emancipatory project cannot rise without leaders of political thought, a cultured mind, and the beauty of revolutionary creativity. We need leaders to fill the vacuum in the face of ruin. This is at a time when tribal instincts reign supreme, crushing the spirit of national culture, as a necessary precursor to spread the plague of ignorance and letting the takfiri wave sprout idols, not leaders, looking for their lost paradise in the strife stamped by the new caliph, under “Shlomo’s” orders and the commandments of the swordsman, who cuts down the head of justice by the fatwas of petrodollar sultans.
Kanafani was not silenced by the explosives in the Volkswagen. He was an intellectual who believed that remaining silent about the transgression against a single person’s dignity is akin to the violation of all humanity. Those who give up a part of their rights do not deserve the other part. Their presence in the smallest corner of the homeland will not be secure as long as the biggest part suffers from a terminal disease. This difference will remain distinctively patriotic, between the duty of resisting occupation as part of the battle, the duty of spectators who watch as if it was a football game, and that of negative spectators who serve the occupation under the title of “security coordination” or even the lack of ability to defend themselves.
The following is just an anecdote. During the Mongol invasion of Baghdad and the end of the Abbasid Era, the swordsman began to cut down heads. Getting tired at the end of the day, he would tell those waiting in line to go home and come back tomorrow to continue. As if in a trance, people would come back the next day to get their heads chopped without the smallest resistance. The human disposition to rebel inside them was already dead. Time, which transcends the moment, knew what it meant to detach Palestinians as humans from being active to achieve the legitimacy of survival and build a national self.
Ghassan Kanafani captured the Palestinian tragedy in its grief and joy. He kept longing for the men and the guns, because resistance is not an end on its own or a mere option. It is a cry for the rays of joy to shine again around the world and for a revolution of hope, an olive season, and a return to the land of sorrowful oranges. The clock will not stop. The time of revolution continues with the children playing a game of “fidayeen and occupiers” on their besieged beach. Ghassan remains in a camp at home over there, looking for a home, and one here in the diaspora, fleeing to a new diaspora and does not knock at the sea.
—————————-
Some of what he said:
The question of death is not a question of the dead at all; it is a question for those who remain.
Treason is in itself a wretched death.
To die with my gun in my hand and not to live with my gun in my enemy’s hand.
All the worth of my words were an impudent and silly compensation for the absence of weapons… They now tumble against the dawning of real men who die every day for everything I respect.
If we are failed defenders of the cause, it is better to change the defenders, not to change the cause.
In the clarity of the masses’ vision, revolution is an integral part of water, bread, toiling hands, and heartbeats.
He will remain implanted here
Pulsing alone in the wilderness…
Until he dies standing
We might not be generation prepared for success, but we are preparing the next one for victory.
Marwan Abdel-Al is a Palestinian novelist and politician
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

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The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of the Blog!

Lebanon: Tripoli Library Torched, Owner Relocates to Monastery

A man inspects burnt books on January 4, 2014 in north Lebanon’s majority Sunni city of Tripoli a day after a decades-old library owned by a Greek Orthodox priest was torched after “a pamphlet was discovered inside one of the books that was insulting to Islam and the prophet Mohammad” (Photo: AFP – Ibrahim Chalhoub)
Published Saturday, January 4, 2014

On January 3, Tripoli’s Saeh Library was torched and its owner, Father Ibrahim Sarrouj, was assaulted. Contradicting information surrounds the incident, and the motives behind the attack remain ambiguous. Here is the story of Sarrouj’s library.

As you push your way through the crowd to the old souks in Lebanon’s northern city of Tripoli, just follow the calls of vendors and the nagging of irritated shoppers. Let the merchants and their carts, the smell of coffee, smoke, and bread, be your guide.

This gentle wave of people and their noise will certainly lead you to the Saeh Library, located between the soap khan and the thrift clothes market. There, you will arrive at a basement door, a bit similar to a wine cellar in an old monastery, where hundreds of books are stacked.
As you enter the large, maze-like space with high walls, the cold of the city is behind you and a warm voice asks how he may serve you. He has a beard and wears a black bandana on his head. He introduces himself as Father Ibrahim Sarrouj of the Tripoli Orthodox Church.
I ask him about a book collection of Palestinian author Ghassan Kanafani. He comments that the number of people interested in his works decreased in recent years. Then, he starts talking about Palestine, pan-Arabism, and progressive revolutions in the world, almost like a monologue. The man aspires to a new flock of activists, ones that would liberate the whole of Palestine.
He is passionate about Syrian, Egyptian, and Tunisian Arab democrats. A voracious reader of their articles, he archives their writings and raises them as a weapon in the faces of those doubting the Arabs’ ability to rule themselves. Then, he moves on to discuss the corruption among the clergy. All of the sudden, he comments that there are fewer book readers in Beirut and Tripoli than there are in Homs, Aleppo, and Damascus.
If you are searching for a certain book, then waste no time, you are sure to find it in his library. This old paper reservoir holds the vast majority of Arab publications from the last 70 years.
Sarrouj took me on a tour of the neighborhood, showing me how a Christian interacts with his conservative Muslim neighborhood and how the city lovingly shows him its affection.
Tripoli has changed a lot, and it keeps on changing. Every day, photos of so-called heroes are torn from walls and new ones emerge. The poor become poorer and fanaticism intensifies. There is no place for dialogue here, not even a place to tell a joke.
“All this will turn into a roaring river that would sweep away Israel. Never mind this fanaticism – I know Tripoli quite well. This is our city, and these are our young men” said Sarrouj.
As Tripoli archbishops change, Sarrouj stays in his place. He declared, “I am against the clergy. Democracy should be restored to the Orthodox Church for the people to elect bishops and the patriarch.”
I ask him his views on some of the recent violence in Syria – the burning of religious shrines and the kidnappings of nuns – as well as the chaos rampant in his own city. He evaded answering the question, instead searching for a piece of fruit to offer.
This Christian-Marxist will never admit that his ambitions have failed him. There’s no young man or woman in the city who doesn’t know Sarrouj’s political position: He is against the regime, any regime, whoever is the president.
Sources told Al-Akhbar that Salafi young men in the library’s neighborhood spread a rumor about finding a book insulting Prophet Mohammad that Sarrouj was intending to reprint. Unknown assailants later shot an employee working for Sarrouj in the foot. Then, during the night, the library was set on fire, and no one intervened to stop it.
Sarrouj was insulted by a city whose residents did not rush to protect his library from barbarians.
You cannot possibly have a dialogue with those those people. They weren’t just targeting his library when they shot his aide to protest a certain political position or the selling of some books that contradict with their faith.
Sarrouj tried to hide his broken spirit under his usual smile. He said he worries about his library far more than he worries about himself. Then, he remembered that the security forces forbade him from giving statements, and he stopped talking.
“I am closing the library in a few days and moving to a monastery,” Sarrouj said. For the first time, he didn’t seem willing to elaborate.
“The city is fine. This river of anger will finally reach Palestine. I know Tripoli. This is our city and these are our people,” he said.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

Israel’s History of Assassinating Palestinian Leaders

The IMEU, Nov 6, 2013

On November 6, several news outlets reported that the widow of former Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) Chairman Yasser Arafat announced that the results of a Swiss investigation into her late husband’s death concluded he was poisoned with polonium, a radioactive substance.
In November 2012, Arafat’s body was exhumed in order for medical examiners to take samples of his remains to test for polonium, part of a murder investigation launched by French authorities at the request of Suha Arafat following the discovery last summer of traces of the highly toxic substance on some of his personal effects. In October 2004, after enduring a two-year siege by the Israeli military in his West Bank headquarters, Arafat fell seriously ill. Two weeks later he was transported to a French military hospital where he died. Doctors concluded he died from a stroke caused by a mysterious blood disorder.
At the time, many Palestinians suspected that Arafat was murdered. Over the years, he had survived numerous assassination attempts by Israel, and just six months before his death then-Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon said that an agreement he had made with US President George W. Bush promising that Israel wouldn’t kill Arafat was no longer valid, stating: “I released myself from the commitment in regard to Arafat.”
Two years prior to that statement, in an interview published in February 2002, Sharon told an Israeli journalist that he regretted not killing Arafat when he had the chance during Israel’s invasion of Lebanon in 1982, stating: “I am sorry that we did not liquidate him.” In 2002, current Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, then in the opposition following his first term as prime minister (1996-1999), told the Likud party Central Committee: “We must completely and totally eradicate Arafat’s regime and remove him from the vicinity… This one thing must be understood: If we do not remove Arafat and his regime, the terror will return and increase. And only if we do remove them is there any chance of turning a new leaf in our relationship with the Palestinians.” When Arafat died, Netanyahu was serving as Minister of Finance in Sharon’s government.
PARTIAL LIST OF ISRAELI ASSASSINATIONS OF PALESTINIANS

2012 – On November 14, two days after Palestinian factions in Gaza agree to a truce following several days of  violence, Israel assassinates the leader of Hamas’ military wing, officials know that Jabari is in the process of finalizing a long-term truce, and that he is one of the few people in Gaza who can enforce it, they kill him anyway, marking the start of a week-long assault on Gaza that kills more than 100 Palestinian civilians, including at least 33 children, and wounds more than 1000 others.
Ahmed Jabari, threatening to escalate the violence once again after a week in which at least six Palestinian civilians are killed and dozens more wounded in Israeli attacks. Although Israeli

2012 – On March 9, Israel violates an Egyptian-brokered ceasefire and assassinates the head of the Gaza-based Popular Resistance Committees, Zuhair al-Qaisi, sparking another round of violence in which at least two dozen Palestinians are killed, including at least four civilians, and scores more wounded. As it usually does, Israel claims it is acting in self-defense, against an imminent attack being planned by the PRC, while providing no evidence to substantiate the allegation.

Following the assassination, Israeli journalist Zvi Bar’el writes in the Haaretz newspaper:
“It is hard to understand what basis there is for the assertion that Israel is not striving to escalate the situation. One could assume that an armed response by the Popular Resistance Committees or Islamic Jihad to Israel’s targeted assassination was taken into account. But did anyone weigh the possibility that the violent reaction could lead to a greater number of Israeli casualties than any terrorist attack that Zuhair al-Qaisi, the secretary-general of the Popular Resistance Committees, could have carried out?
“In the absence of a clear answer to that question, one may assume that those who decided to assassinate al-Qaisi once again relied on the ‘measured response’ strategy, in which an Israeli strike draws a reaction, which draws an Israeli counter-reaction.”

2010 – In January, suspected Israeli assassins kill senior Hamas leader Mahmoud al-Mabhouh in a Dubai hotel room. As in the past, the Israeli agents believed to have carried out the killing use forged and stolen foreign passports from western countries, including Britain, France, Ireland and Germany, causing an international uproar.

2009 – On January 15, an Israeli airstrike kills Said Seyam, Hamas’ Interior Minister and member of the Palestinian Legislative Council.

2009 – On January 1, an Israeli airstrike on the home of senior Hamas military commander Nizar Rayan kills him and 15 family members, including 11 of his children.

2006 – On June 8, Israel assassinates Jamal Abu Samhadana, founder of the Popular Resistance Committees and Interior Minister of the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority government, killing three other members of the PRC in the process.

2004 – On April 17, Israel assassinates Abdel Aziz Rantisi, a co-founder of Hamas and its leader since the assassination of Hamas spiritual leader Sheik Ahmed Yassin a month earlier. Rantisi is considered a moderate within Hamas.

2004 – On March 22, Israel assassinates the 67-year-old wheelchair-bound spiritual leader and co-founder of Hamas, Sheik Ahmed Yassin, as he leaves prayers at a mosque in Gaza, killing nine innocent bystanders in the process.

2003 – On March 8, Israel assassinates Ibrahim Maqadma, one of the founders of Hamas and one of its top military commanders.

2002 – On July 23, hours before a widely reported ceasefire declared by Hamas and other Palestinian groups is scheduled to come into effect, Israel bombs an apartment building in the middle of the night in the densely populated Gaza Strip in order to assassinate Hamas leader Salah Shehada. Fourteen civilians, including nine children, are also killed in the attack, and 50 others wounded, leading to a scuttling of the ceasefire and a continuation of violence.

2002 – On January 14, Israel assassinates Raed Karmi, a militant leader in the Fatah party, following a ceasefire agreed to by all Palestinian militant groups the previous month, leading to its cancellation. Later in January, the first suicide bombing by the Fatah linked Al-Aqsa Martyr’s Brigade takes place.

2001 – On November 23, Israel assassinates senior Hamas militant, Mahmoud Abu Hanoud. At the time, Hamas was adhering to an agreement made with PLO head Yasser Arafat not to attack targets inside of Israel. Following the killing, Israeli military correspondent of the right-leaning Yediot Ahronot newspaper, Alex Fishman, writes in a front-page story:

“We again find ourselves preparing with dread for a new mass terrorist attack within the Green Line [Israel’s pre-1967 border]… Whoever gave a green light to this act of liquidation knew full well that he is thereby shattering in one blow the gentleman’s agreement between Hamas and the Palestinian Authority; under that agreement, Hamas was to avoid in the near future suicide bombings inside the Green Line…”

2001 – On August 27, Israel uses US-made Apache helicopter gunships to assassinate Abu Ali Mustafa, secretary general of the leftist Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine. In response, PFLP members assassinate Israel’s Tourism Minister and notorious right-wing hardliner, Rehavam Ze’evi, who advocated the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the West Bank and Gaza.

2001 – On August 15, undercover Israeli soldiers assassinate Emad Abu Sneineh, a member of the Fatah linked Tanzim militia, opening fire on him at close range.

2001 – On August 5, Israeli forces assassinate Hamas member Amer Mansour Habiri in the West Bank city of Tulkarem, firing missiles at his car from helicopter gunships.

2001– On July 29, Israel assassinates Jamal Mansour, a senior member of Hamas’ political wing.

2001 – On July 25, as Israeli and Palestinian Authority security officials are scheduled to meet to shore up a six-week-old ceasefire amidst the violence of the Second Intifada, Israel assassinates a senior Islamic Jihad member, Salah Darwazeh in Nablus.

1997 – In September, the Israeli government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attempts to assassinate Khaled Meshaal, the chairman of Hamas’ political bureau, in Amman, Jordan. Israeli agents using fake Canadian passports attempt to kill Meshaal by injecting poison into his ear. The would-be assassins are quickly captured and in the ensuing diplomatic uproar Jordan’s King Hussein threatens to cut off relations with Israel and publicly try and hang the Israeli agents unless Israel provides the antidote to the poison. The Netanyahu government turns over the antidote, saving Meshaal’s life. As part of the deal, Israel also releases Hamas spiritual leader Ahmed Yassin from prison.

1996 – On January 5, Israel assassinates Hamas military commander Yahya Ayash, known as “The Engineer,” detonating explosives in a cell phone he is using. Over the next two months, Hamas responds by launching four suicide bombings that kill more than 50 Israelis. Israeli intelligence later concludes: “the attacks were most probably a direct reaction to the assassination of Ayash.”

1995 – In October, Israeli gunmen assassinate Fathi Shiqaqi, a founder of Islamic Jihad, in Malta, as he leaves his hotel in Valletta.

1994 – On November 2, Israel assassinates journalist Hani Abed, who has ties to Islamic Jihad, using a bomb rigged to his car.

1988 – On April 16, Israel assassinates senior PLO leader Khalil al-Wazir in Tunisia, even as the Reagan administration is trying to organize an international conference to broker peace between Israelis and Palestinians. The US State Department condemns the murder as an “act of political assassination.” In ensuing protests in the occupied territories, a further seven Palestinians are gunned down by Israeli forces.

1986 – On June 9, Khalid Nazzal, Secretary of the Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine, is shot dead by Israeli agents in Athens, Greece.

1983 – On August 21, senior PLO official and top aid to Yasser Arafat, Mamoun Meraish, is shot and killed by Israeli agents in Athens, Greece. According to later Israeli press reports, future Foreign Minister (currently Minister of Justice) Tzipi Livni  is involved in Meraish’s killing.

1978 – On March 28, Wadie Haddad, a senior member of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, dies in East Germany from slow-acting poison ingested several months earlier. It is later revealed that Israeli agents were behind his murder.

1972 – On July 8, Palestinian author and intellectual Ghassan Kanafani and his 17-year-old niece are killed in Beirut by a car bomb, believed to have been planted by Israeli agents. A member of the left-wing Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Kanafani was considered a major literary figure in the Arab world and beyond.

1972 – During the 1970s, Israel carries out a series of assassinations against Palestinians they accuse of being involved with the Black September militant organization, which is responsible for the hostage taking of Israeli athletes at the 1972 Olympics in Munich, Germany, resulting in the deaths of 11 Israeli athletes and officials. On October 16, 1972, Wael Zwaiter, a renowned Palestinian intellectual and the PLO representative to Italy, is shot and killed by Israeli agents in Rome. Israel accuses him of being involved with Black September, a charge strenuously denied by PLO officials and those who knew him, who pointed out that Zwaiter was a pacifist.

Gaza 2012: Palestine’s Long Walk to Freedom

Haidar Eid argues that ” The only option for Palestinians is to follow the same route as the South African struggle.” consequently, no problem in Sharing Our House with Settlers, and  Equal Rights for serial killers…?! The so-called one state solution can be reached by popular reistance and and global citizens rejecting the crimes committed by the ugly apartheid system.

Gilad Atzmon: “I am convinced that most of the scholars who insist upon calling Israel a “settler state” are fully aware of the problems entangled with the “colonial paradigm”. They must be aware of the uniqueness of the Zionist project. It is indeed true that Zionism manifests some symptoms that are synonymous with colonialism — however that is not enough: Zionism is inherently a racially oriented “homecoming” project driven by spiritual enthusiasms that are actually phantasmic. It intrinsically lacks many of the “necessary” elements that we understand as comprising colonialism, and cannot be defined in solely materialist terms.”

 
Gaza 2012: Palestine’s Long Walk to Freedom

A Palestinian school girl walks past members of al-Qassam brigades, the armed wing of the Hamas movement, as they take part in an anti-Israel parade in Gaza City 2 December 2012. (Photo: Reuters – Mohammed Salem)
 
Published Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Injustice is human; but more human still is the war against injustice.
Bertolt Brecht

The long walk to South Africa’s freedom is marked by two immensely tragic events: the Sharpeville massacre in 1960 and the Soweto Uprising in 1976, both of which led to the galvanizing of internal and international resistance against the apartheid regime. Ultimately, these events would lead to the long-called for release of Nelson Mandela and to the end of one of the most inhumane systems the world has ever seen.

Without Sharpeville and Soweto, among other landmarks towards victory over settler colonialism, South Africa would still be ruled by a minority of fanatic, white settlers claiming to fulfill the word of (their) God.

Palestine’s long walk to freedom has gone through similar harrowing events, beginning with the 1948 Nakba to the latest eight-day onslaught on Gaza.

Click to view caption

In order to understand Gaza in 2012, one ought to trace its origin back to 1948. Two thirds of the Palestinians of Gaza are refugees who were kicked out of their cities, towns, and villages in 1948. In After the Last Sky, the late Palestinian thinker Edward Said argues that every Palestinian knows perfectly well that what has happened to us over the last six decades is “a direct consequence of Israel’s destruction of our society in 1948…”

The problem, he argues, is that a clear, direct line from our misfortunes in 1948 to our misfortunes in the present cannot be drawn, thanks to “the complexity of our experience.”

At 139 square miles, Gaza is the largest refugee camp on earth, a reminder of the ongoing Nakba. The inhabitants of Gaza have become the most unwanted Palestinians, the black heart that no one wants to see, the “Negroes” of the American south, the black natives of South Africa, the surplus population that the powerful, macho, white Ashkenazi cannot coexist with.

Hence the calls to “flatten” Gaza and “send Gaza back to the Middle Ages.”
 

In 2008-9, Gaza was bombed by Apache helicopters and F-16 jets for 22 days, killing more than 1400 civilians. As if that was not enough, Israel decided to return to Gaza in 2012 and repeat the same crimes in eight days, this time killing more than 175 civilians and injuring 1399. These are massive losses for a population of just over 1.5 million people.

Israel’s airstrikes, which damage essential infrastructure and terrify the civilian population, are a form of collective punishment against the Palestinian people. Even more, they are war crimes forbidden under international humanitarian law, specifically the Geneva Conventions.

Yet Israel consistently gets away with war crimes. The official, government-based “international community” does not seem interested in the suffering of the native Palestinians. The much-admired, “better than Bush” American president, Obama, thinks that “Israel has the right to defend itself.” The same right does not apparently apply to Palestinians.

Likewise, the British Foreign Secretary William Hague believes that Hamas is “principally responsible” for the current crisis, as well as the ability to bring it most swiftly to an end. This is in spite of the deadly siege imposed on Gaza for more than five years, so much so that Israel even used calorie counting to limit the amount of food that entered Gaza during the blockade.

The fact that Palestinians in Gaza are not born to Jewish mothers is enough reason to deprive them of their right to live equally with the citizens of the state of Israel. Hence, like the black natives of South Africa, they should be isolated in a Bantustan, in accordance with the Oslo terms. If they show any resistance to this plan, they must be punished by turning the entire Strip into an open-air prison.

Both the US and the UK display deliberate and unconscionable ignorance in the face of the brutal reality caused by Israel to Gaza. As a result of Israel’s blockade on most imports and exports and other policies designed to punish Palestinians, about 70 percent of Gaza’s workforce is now unemployed or without pay, according to the UN, and about 80 percent of its residents live in grinding poverty.

But don’t Obama and Hague know this?!

As Hamid Dabashi put it:

Obama is fond of saying Israelis are entitled to defend themselves. But are they entitled to steal even more of Palestine, terrorise its inhabitants and continue to consolidate a racist apartheid state…? Was South Africa also entitled to be a racist apartheid state, was the American south entitled to slavery, India to Hindu fundamentalism?

The only option for Palestinians is to follow the same route as the South African struggle. The South African internal campaign aimed to mobilize the masses on the ground rather than indifferent governments around the world. What hope could they have gotten from the likes of Margaret Thatcher, Ronald Reagan, and Helmut Kohl? It was left to ordinary South Africans and global citizens to show their moral rejection of crimes committed by the ugly apartheid system.

In South Africa’s long walk to freedom, there was no compromise on respect for basic human rights. Apartheid’s attempts to point fingers at “black violence” and “intrinsic hatred” toward Western civilization and democracy, did not hold water.

Similarly, international civil society, and some governments, have seen through Israel’s propaganda campaign where the aggressor is turned into the victim. Across the years, Palestinians have been completely dehumanized. Instead of Reagan and Thatcher, we have Obama and Hague, blaming the victim and condemning resistance to occupation, colonization, and apartheid.

But South Africans did not wait for the American administration to “change its mind.” The global BDS campaign, steered by South African anti-apartheid activists, coupled with internal mass mobilization on the ground, was the prescription for liberation, away from the façade of “independence” based on ethnic identities. Similarly, the Palestinian call for boycott, divestment, and sanctions has been gathering momentum since 2005. Gaza 2012, like Soweto 1976, cannot be ignored: it demands a response from all who believe in a common humanity.

Gaza 2012 has, undeniably, given a huge impetus to this process by making all Palestinians inside and outside of historic Palestine realize that “Yes, We Can!” We are no longer the weaker party, the passive victim who does not dare bang on the walls of Ghassan Kanafani’s trunk in Men in the Sun, but rather Hamid in All That is Left To You, the Palestinian hero who decides to act.

Haidar Eid is Associate Professor of Postcolonial and Postmodern Literature at Gaza’s al-Aqsa University and a policy advisor with Al-Shabaka, the Palestinian Policy Network.

The views expressed by the author do not necessarily reflect Al-Akhbar’s editorial policy.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!
 

Mohammed Abul-Haija: “All the Arab countries refused to host us, fearing the Israeli reaction. Only Syria welcomed us,”

Mohammed Abul-Haija: Believing in Armed Struggle

Egyptian President Gamal Abdul-Nasser intervened in the negotiations for their release.

 By: Anas Zarzar

Published Monday, October 1, 2012
 
Palestinian freedom fighter Mohammed Abul-Haija has dedicated his life to the Palestinian cause, but despite losing his home and many of his comrades in arms, he still believes that the liberation of his homeland can only be achieved through armed resistance.

Abul-Haija was three years old in 1948 when he and his family were driven out of Haifa, eventually landing in Syria by way of Jenin in the West Bank and Jordan.

“My father worked as a farmer in the city of Daraa [southern Syria],” Abul-Haija recalls. “Then we moved to Dummar in western Damascus. After that my older brothers found work in quarries and finally we moved to old Damascus when my father and brothers started working in the Hashimia Printing Press.”

As a child, Abul-Haija would sell kaak bread in the streets and alleyways of Old Damascus before school.

“I still remember al-Ballour Cafe in Bab Touma. I used to spend hours wandering between its tables selling kaak,” he says.

Ghassan Kanafani: In Our Memory

He remembers meeting Ghassan Kanafani at the Palestine Institute when he was a high school student. The famous Palestinian writer then taught Abul-Haija and his friends after they graduated.

“We learned from the martyr Ghassan the real meaning of the Palestinian cause,” Abul-Haija says. Kanafani was assassinated by Israeli intelligence in Beirut in 1972. “He instilled in us refugee children the notions of resistance and armed struggle.”

Years later, Abul-Haija would meet Kanafani again in Beirut where they would work together in the resistance movement alongside Wadih Haddad of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP).

Abul-Haija was deeply influenced by Kanafani, who encouraged him and his friends to go out and protest in the streets of Damascus.

“I still remember his words to us to this day. We used to shut down roads, schools and markets with our protests,” he tells Al-Akhbar.

At the age of 15, Abul-Haija was driven by his revolutionary fervor to join the Arab Nationalist Movement (ANM), and insisted on becoming a full-fledged member despite not being 18 yet.

When the Palestine Liberation Organization (PLO) was launched and raised the banner of armed struggle, he volunteered in the Palestine Liberation Army (PLA). He continued his political work with the ANM until the PFLP was founded, then was among the first to join it.

“I met the martyr Wadih Haddad secretly in Daraa,” he says. “He was wanted by the Syrian intelligence and he asked me to accompany him.”

After the Arab defeat in the 1967 Arab-Israeli war, his meetings with Haddad became more frequent. The latter tried to control the young fighter’s impulsiveness and Abul-Haija resented his teacher because he was excluded from the hijacking of the Israeli plane that was rerouted to Algeria in 1968.

“This operation took me by surprise. I was angry at Haddad for not including me. So I decided to carry out a similar operation,” he remembers.

He goes on to describe the resistance operations he carried out in Palestine with such enthusiasm and emotion, he appears as if he just came back from Bissan or the Tubas-Jenin road.

Eventually, he received the instructions he had been waiting for: It was a letter from Haddad asking him to come to Beirut, and christening him with the nom de guerre Adnan.

After months of training, Abul-Haija carried out an attack on an Israeli El Al plane at an airport in the Swiss city of Zurich in 1969.

“The purpose of the operation was to let the world know the truth about the Palestinian cause during the trial [that would follow their arrest],” he says. “Haddad’s instructions were clear. He warned us against harming any of the civilians on the plane.”

Abul-Haija was arrested along with his comrades Ibrahim Tawfik and Amina Dahbour, while Abdul-Mohsen Hassan was killed by an Israeli security guard.

“The hardest moment in the operation was when the zionist Mordechai Rakhamim from El Al’s security fired three shots at Hassan after he had handed his weapon to the Swiss security,” Abul-Haija says.

“I agreed with my comrades to boycott the trial and not to recognize its legitimacy because we have a political cause and we demanded to be treated as political prisoners,” he explains. “The judge refused a blank check to release us while he released Rakhamim on bail.”

Abul-Haija and his comrades were sentenced to 12 years. While in prison they received thousands of letters expressing solidarity with them. The operation had achieved its goal after all by highlighting the plight of the Palestinians.

“Before the operation, no one in Switzerland or Europe knew the real meaning of the word Palestine, but during and after the trial the whole world came to know the Palestinian cause,” he says.

During his imprisonment, which did not last more than a year and few months, Abul-Haija remained in contact with PFLP founder George Habash, as well as Kanafani and Haddad.

“They used to always ask me if detention still had the desired publicity effect or whether it had lost its glimmer,” he says.

In 1970, the PFLP carried out a number of hijacking operations, taking the planes to the “revolution airport” in Jordan. One of their demands was the release of Abul-Haija and his friends.

Even former Egyptian President Gamal Abdul-Nasser intervened in the negotiations for their release.

“I finally arrived with my comrades in Cairo accompanied by a high-ranking German officer in a military plane to protect us,” Abul-Haija remembers. “I did not attend Abdul-Nasser’s funeral. He died hours before my release from prison.”

After a short stay in Cairo, he headed to Syria to resume his activism.

“All the Arab countries refused to host us, fearing the Israeli reaction. Only Syria welcomed us,” he says.

He remembers the details of the reception he received in the Yarmouk camp and his emotional reunion with his family, wife and daughter.

But the call of resistance quickly led him to the PFLP offices in Beirut. He helped Haddad with special military training and preparing for six militant operations inside occupied Palestine, the most famous of which was the Lod Airport Operation in 1972 in which 26 people were killed by members of the Japanese Red Army.

“I am proud of this operation. I still remember Golda Meir’s face when she cried as she viewed the dead,” Abul-Haija says.

But Israel would have its revenge.

“The Israelis decided to assassinate those responsible for the Lod Airport Operation. Kanafani was assassinated and Bassam Abu Sharif survived,” he says, but denies the popular story that Haddad was killed by poisoned chocolate.

“I knew him well and he did not like chocolate,” he says.

After the Lod Airport Operation, Abul-Haija semi-retired from fighting, and went to the Gulf where he spent many years simply working to support his family. He returned to Syria six years ago to work with his old comrades in the PFLP.

Today, he dreams of carrying out another militant operation in which he would wield his rifle once more in the service of his cause.

“I am certain of the inevitability of the Palestinian people’s victory,” he says, “but this victory will come through the barrel of a gun, with bullets and resistance, not through political solutions.”

This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Ghassan Kanafani: A School of Palestinian Literature

Talal Salman, founder of As-Safir newspaper, speaks during the Ghassan Kanafani memorial in Babel Theater in Beirut, 11 July 2012. (Photo: Marwan Tahtah)
Published Thursday, July 12, 2012
In 1967, Ghassan Kanafani participated in a debate on “The Current Position of the Arab Novel” with Halim Barakat, Zakariya Tamer, Yahya Haqqi, and Sabri Hafez.

Their contributions were published in Issue 127 of the Egyptian magazine, al-Majalla (Summer 1967).
There, Kanafani presented what should be considered a “Palestinian approach” to the definition of what it means for a Palestinian to be a writer. In commemorating the fortieth anniversary of his assassination on 8 July 1972, the following section particularly stands out.

“The Palestinian writer is able more than anyone else to explore the very special character of the Palestinian cause. This is particularly true if he belongs to the young generation who left Palestine when they were around ten years old. Now (in 1967), he is about thirty years old, and is therefore part of the productive generation. This means that when it comes to his roots, he is a true Palestinian.”
“He actually lived in the stolen land, after which he spent five years of homelessness and true suffering…Also during this time, he continued his studies, had contact with the Arab world, and would have read literature until he turned twenty.”
“Between the ages of twenty and thirty, he experienced the developments of the cause from a different angle, became aware of foreign cultures but never severed his roots with the Palestinian cause. This meant that he still worked for the cause politically or socially, perhaps visiting some relatives in refugee camps, observing them and hearing their stories …”
“His friends are Palestinian, his milieu is Palestinian and therefore there is a Palestinian pulse in what he has to say that I fear no writer who is not Palestinian can emulate in anything he writes about Palestine.”

One can find within this paragraph a series of visions which form the essence of the literary framework constructed by Ghassan Kanafani, not only for himself, but for all of us.

Two of these visions particularly seem fundamental to establishing the foundations of literary writing on Palestine.

The first vision can be seen in the way a writer – in particular, the Palestinian writer – should approach, first and always, the question of the meaning of Palestine.

This approach is communicated in Kanafani’s early writings. His rise as a writer began with the publication of Men in the Sun (1963).

the story of three Palestinians trying to escape from
their miserable lives in refugee camps by travelling to Kuwait in search of jobs.
The difficulty of obtaining a visa forced them to pay a “smuggler” to transfer
them to Kuwait in his tank.
At the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border, they entered the tank and under the heat of the
desert sun, they died inside the tank.
Their story reflects the political and social conditions that surround

The novel came out in a cultural and intellectual atmosphere in the Arab world where the Palestinian cause was nothing more than a “hollow backdrop” to the concerns of the Arab cultural elites.

The result of this was that their writings were consumed by generalized concepts which stripped the conflict with Israel of its historical and national context and reduced it to laments over the “tragedy” or “catastrophe” of Palestine.

As for the literature inspired by this preoccupation, it manifested itself in a sea of abstraction. In this atmosphere, Kanafani pioneered the process of guiding the Palestinian down from these lofty abstractions to the solid ground of specificity.

Kanafani’s essence lies in the second vision, apparent in his expression: “There is a Palestinian pulse in what he has to say [i.e., in what a Palestinian writer has to say] that I fear no writer who is not Palestinian can emulate in anything he writes about Palestine.”

Kanafani worked hard on writing as an art form. Focusing on him as a political preacher, as some people do, is akin to continuing attempts to assassinate the art form of his project, a vital link in the whole framework of his creativity.

Emile Habibi
Jabra Ibrahim Jabra

Arab and Palestinian critical writing considers Ghassan Kanafani, along with Emile Habibi and Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, to be the founding fathers of the Palestinian novel, not in the chronological sense, but in the deeper meaning of foundation.

As the late Palestinian critic and poet Hussein al-Barghouti pointed out, they are the spiritual founders of the art of the novel itself.

In order to elucidate Kanafani’s visions further we have to examine what he says about the ability of the Palestinian, as a writer, to explore the very special character of the Palestinian cause.
It places us before the essence of writing, by considering it as a complex structural process, which has a special role when it comes to understanding life.

Months after the publication of Men in the Sun, Kanafani wrote to a friend explaining his method of writing:

“At the moment, my friends are showering me with advice not to spend too much time on journalism. Because — they claim — in the end it will destroy my artistic ability to write stories.”
“Frankly, I do not understand this logic. It is the same logic employed in the advice given to me in secondary school: ‘Ignore politics and concentrate on your studies.’ And advice I later heard in Kuwait: ‘Abandon writing and take care of your health!’”
“Did I really ever have a choice between politics and school, between writing and health, so that now I have a choice between journalism and writing novels? I have something to say. Sometimes I can say it by writing the lead story in al-Ghad newspaper, sometimes by writing the editorial…Sometimes I can only say what I want to say in a novel.”
“The choice they speak of…reminds me of an Arabic teacher who at the beginning of each academic year asked his students to write an essay on his favorite subject — ‘Which do you prefer, life in the village or the city?’ — when most of his students lived in a refugee camp.”

Antoine Shalhat is a Palestinian writer and critic. The above is an adaptation of his contribution to a seminar held in the gardens of the Khalil Sakakini Center (Ramallah) on the 40th anniversary of Ghassan Kanafani’s assassination. The seminar was organized by the Palestinian ministry of culture and al-Hadaf magazine.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Ghassan Kanafani: A School of Palestinian Literature

Talal Salman, founder of As-Safir newspaper, speaks during the Ghassan Kanafani memorial in Babel Theater in Beirut, 11 July 2012. (Photo: Marwan Tahtah)
Published Thursday, July 12, 2012
In 1967, Ghassan Kanafani participated in a debate on “The Current Position of the Arab Novel” with Halim Barakat, Zakariya Tamer, Yahya Haqqi, and Sabri Hafez.

Their contributions were published in Issue 127 of the Egyptian magazine, al-Majalla (Summer 1967).
There, Kanafani presented what should be considered a “Palestinian approach” to the definition of what it means for a Palestinian to be a writer. In commemorating the fortieth anniversary of his assassination on 8 July 1972, the following section particularly stands out.

“The Palestinian writer is able more than anyone else to explore the very special character of the Palestinian cause. This is particularly true if he belongs to the young generation who left Palestine when they were around ten years old. Now (in 1967), he is about thirty years old, and is therefore part of the productive generation. This means that when it comes to his roots, he is a true Palestinian.”
“He actually lived in the stolen land, after which he spent five years of homelessness and true suffering…Also during this time, he continued his studies, had contact with the Arab world, and would have read literature until he turned twenty.”
“Between the ages of twenty and thirty, he experienced the developments of the cause from a different angle, became aware of foreign cultures but never severed his roots with the Palestinian cause. This meant that he still worked for the cause politically or socially, perhaps visiting some relatives in refugee camps, observing them and hearing their stories …”
“His friends are Palestinian, his milieu is Palestinian and therefore there is a Palestinian pulse in what he has to say that I fear no writer who is not Palestinian can emulate in anything he writes about Palestine.”

One can find within this paragraph a series of visions which form the essence of the literary framework constructed by Ghassan Kanafani, not only for himself, but for all of us.

Two of these visions particularly seem fundamental to establishing the foundations of literary writing on Palestine.

The first vision can be seen in the way a writer – in particular, the Palestinian writer – should approach, first and always, the question of the meaning of Palestine.

This approach is communicated in Kanafani’s early writings. His rise as a writer began with the publication of Men in the Sun (1963).

the story of three Palestinians trying to escape from
their miserable lives in refugee camps by travelling to Kuwait in search of jobs.
The difficulty of obtaining a visa forced them to pay a “smuggler” to transfer
them to Kuwait in his tank.
At the Iraqi-Kuwaiti border, they entered the tank and under the heat of the
desert sun, they died inside the tank.
Their story reflects the political and social conditions that surround

The novel came out in a cultural and intellectual atmosphere in the Arab world where the Palestinian cause was nothing more than a “hollow backdrop” to the concerns of the Arab cultural elites.

The result of this was that their writings were consumed by generalized concepts which stripped the conflict with Israel of its historical and national context and reduced it to laments over the “tragedy” or “catastrophe” of Palestine.

As for the literature inspired by this preoccupation, it manifested itself in a sea of abstraction. In this atmosphere, Kanafani pioneered the process of guiding the Palestinian down from these lofty abstractions to the solid ground of specificity.

Kanafani’s essence lies in the second vision, apparent in his expression: “There is a Palestinian pulse in what he has to say [i.e., in what a Palestinian writer has to say] that I fear no writer who is not Palestinian can emulate in anything he writes about Palestine.”

Kanafani worked hard on writing as an art form. Focusing on him as a political preacher, as some people do, is akin to continuing attempts to assassinate the art form of his project, a vital link in the whole framework of his creativity.

Emile Habibi
Jabra Ibrahim Jabra

Arab and Palestinian critical writing considers Ghassan Kanafani, along with Emile Habibi and Jabra Ibrahim Jabra, to be the founding fathers of the Palestinian novel, not in the chronological sense, but in the deeper meaning of foundation.

As the late Palestinian critic and poet Hussein al-Barghouti pointed out, they are the spiritual founders of the art of the novel itself.

In order to elucidate Kanafani’s visions further we have to examine what he says about the ability of the Palestinian, as a writer, to explore the very special character of the Palestinian cause.
It places us before the essence of writing, by considering it as a complex structural process, which has a special role when it comes to understanding life.

Months after the publication of Men in the Sun, Kanafani wrote to a friend explaining his method of writing:

“At the moment, my friends are showering me with advice not to spend too much time on journalism. Because — they claim — in the end it will destroy my artistic ability to write stories.”
“Frankly, I do not understand this logic. It is the same logic employed in the advice given to me in secondary school: ‘Ignore politics and concentrate on your studies.’ And advice I later heard in Kuwait: ‘Abandon writing and take care of your health!’”
“Did I really ever have a choice between politics and school, between writing and health, so that now I have a choice between journalism and writing novels? I have something to say. Sometimes I can say it by writing the lead story in al-Ghad newspaper, sometimes by writing the editorial…Sometimes I can only say what I want to say in a novel.”
“The choice they speak of…reminds me of an Arabic teacher who at the beginning of each academic year asked his students to write an essay on his favorite subject — ‘Which do you prefer, life in the village or the city?’ — when most of his students lived in a refugee camp.”

Antoine Shalhat is a Palestinian writer and critic. The above is an adaptation of his contribution to a seminar held in the gardens of the Khalil Sakakini Center (Ramallah) on the 40th anniversary of Ghassan Kanafani’s assassination. The seminar was organized by the Palestinian ministry of culture and al-Hadaf magazine.
This article is an edited translation from the Arabic Edition.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

Ghassan Kanafani: In Our Memory



Ghassan Kanafani taught me that we write in blood for you Palestine,
that we will die standing and that there is always enough place in this sacred soil for another martyr.

You would not know it. If you navigate in all the English language blogs, websites and newspapers dealing with the Middle East, you would not have known that Arabs in cyberspace around the world are commemorating the anniversary of the terrorist murder of Ghassan Kanafani at the hands of Israeli terrorists in Beirut. He was murdered in cold-blood by an explosive device under his car, which also killed his niece. Facebook pictures carried his portrait and lines from his writings were being circulated.

 

Western media had other concerns: they were busy covering a buffoonish Sunni cleric in Sidon, all in the hope of elevating his stature to compete with Hassan Nasrallah.

Ghassan Kanafani never carried a gun, even though he was entitled to carry more than one given that it was the guns of Zionism that took over his homeland. Ghassan Kanafani was a writer, artist and a dreamer. He also was a lover: his love letters to Ghada Samman were some of the best love letters one can read – interestingly Ghada only released his letters to her but not hers to him.

Kanafani was a major figure in the Kuwaiti and Lebanese press and his articles were published under a pseudonym in al-Hawadith magazine, among others. Kanafani was gifted in the media and his political posters were one of the best in the 20th century.

Israeli terrorists have killed scores of our writers, scholars, scientists, poets, artists, in addition to scores more of our leaders and commanders. Israel pioneered the art and practice of terrorism and it can be said to be the real inspiration for al-Qaeda.

If Ghassan Kanafani was not a Palestinian, his story would have been told in movies, plays, and novels. Instead, Israeli terrorists are portrayed as dreamers and humanitarians, while our dreamers and artists are turned into terrorists. Golda Meir who has blood of many Arab children on her hands is portrayed in American popular culture as some doting grandmother with feminist inclinations – while in fact she was not only a terrorist but an enemy of the women’s movement as well.

Ghassan Kanafani represents all the passion of Palestinian struggle. Israeli terrorists are threatened by every act of Palestinian defiance – whether in arms or in words. In April 1973, Ehud Barak led a command of terrorists who killed Palestinian poet Kamal Nasser, another man who never held a gun in his hand. But Israeli calculations are flawed: they kill one Palestinian (or one Arab) after another on the assumption that his death would kill the dream or extinguish the flame, or end the project. Israeli calculations are so foolish that they seem to be premised on the notion that Palestinian mothers can’t give birth anymore.

I grew up hearing stories about Ghassan Kanafani. He was a close friend of my uncle Naji, who knew him from the Movement of Arab Nationalists. And when Kanafani was murdered, George Habash said, “he took my half with him.”

For some reason, I always missed Kanafani. My school bus when I was a boy, passed daily in front of the al-Hadaf magazine offices. Here was the truly pioneering revolutionary magazine that was founded by Ghassan Kanafani. I still have some of the early issue. I touch them carefully knowing that they were designed and produced and written by this talented man.

The West does not know of our scientists or artists or writers. They only know of our “terrorists”. In the US, I often ask college students around the country if they have heard of Bin Laden. They all have, of course. I then ask them to name any Palestinian or Arab poet or writer or scientists. None can (in the UK, the experiment produces different results and the college students there are certainly more knowledgeable).

Mahmoud Darwish was only covered in the Western media when he wrote a poem that offended Israelis. The New York Times only then covered him and provided a translation of the “offensive” poem. Darwish merely asked the invaders to leave his lands.

Year after year, we prove that we have not forgotten Ghassan Kanafani, and that we have not forgiven his killers. Year after year, we look at his pictures and stare at his eyes and know that something big happened when Kanafani was killed.

Year after year, we re-read his word and insist on the continuity of the project that he represented. Israelis habitually cover up their war crimes and massacres by lies, fabrications and distortions. They lied to the world and claimed that Ghassan Kanafani wrote his novels and painted his posters with a gun. Yet, his pen and brush proved to be stronger than the Israel gun that killed him.

In Memory of Ghassan Kanafani, The leader, the writer, the martyr 

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian  
The views expressed in this article are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of this Blog!

The left’s double standards on Libya

>By Jeffrey Blankfort

29 March 2011

Jeffrey Blankfort highlights the hypocrisy of some leftists in Europe and the USA who, in the struggles they wage from their armchairs or behind their computers against the bogeyman of US imperialism, are happy to treat Libyan civilians as expendables and to support murderous Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi – as long as he appeared to be opposed by the West.

While the odds are that this so-called “humanitarian intervention” will end badly for the people of Libya, one factor that has been studiously ignored by its opponents and that effectively was used to justify the intervention in the first place was the repeated threats by both Muammar Gaddafi and his playboy son Saif al-Islam to carry out a door to door bloodbath against the people of Benghazi. Dictator and son declared them to be foreigners in the pay of Al-Qaeda, and Libyan tanks and armored personnel carriers were on the road to Benghazi to carry out their threats when they were attacked by French aircraft and destroyed.

Whether they would actually have carried out what they promised we will never know – neither Gaddafi nor his offspring are known for their mercy. But it must be understood that their threat to carry out a bloody massacre of major proportions was the equivalent of an engraved invitation to the Western countries to intervene in the name of, but not for, humanitarian reasons.

The belief that any country, and I mean any country, ever bases its foreign policy on humanitarian principles is belied by history and, in this instance, the records of the US, UK and France are certainly proof of that.

France’s Nicolas Sarkozy acted quickly because he stood to be embarrassed by the close relationship he had with both the colonel and his son which reportedly included the latter contributing considerable sums to his election victory. British ties to the Gaddafi regime also included payoffs to important Britons and the report that part of the deal to allow BP to obtain a lucrative exploration contract with Libya was the release from a Scottish prison of the man convicted, probably wrongly, of the Lockerbie bombing.

There is strong evidence that this intervention was not something the Obama administration wanted or needed at this time, just as he was taking off on a long-postponed trip to Latin America and his party was engaged in a major budget fight with the Republicans. Moreover, it was Defence/War Secretary Robert Gates who first publicly objected to the no-fly zone because it could not be enforced without taking out Libya’ air defences, which would be an act of war. The French and British positions, however, made it difficult for Washington not to participate and in a major way.

Over the years Gaddafi and his sons have not only spread their oil revenues throughout Africa, buying support through various projects, including funding the military force of the African Union, but they have also hosted a number of well known American activists. Like those who travelled to the Soviet Union and its East bloc satellites in past decades, these saw the equivalent of Libya’s Potemkin villages and came away sincerely believing that he was a progressive “socialist” while ignoring the fact that he was a dictator who tolerated no political dissent.

Once one commits oneself to the belief that certain individuals are beyond criticism, as we saw first with Stalin when otherwise intelligent people set aside their critical thinking faculties, it should not be surprising that there has been no mention by those defending Gaddafi of his collaboration and that of his intelligence services with the CIA in Bush’s and now Obama’s so-called “war on terror”, and of reports that Libya was part of Bush’s “extraordinary rendition” network.

Nor have we heard about his ordering the murder of 1,200 prisoners in Benghazi in 1996.

This sad state of events exposes a glaring problem that has characterized a significant segment of the US and Western left going back to the days of Stalin, and that is its tendency to see everything in black and white terms.

For this segment, which has been out in full force on this issue, the only criterion necessary to judge a dictatorship or a dictatorial central committee is where it stands in respect to US and Western imperialism.

If it is opposed by the US and its allies, it must be defended, regardless of the fact that it might be a police state which denies to its peoples the right to dissent politically from official government policies and practices and to organize opposition to that government – that is, free speech, freedom of the press and freedom of association. How different, in the end, are the double standards of that segment of the left from those wielding power in Washington? Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent statements to the contrary, the White House doesn’t care about what the dictators who collaborate with the US do to their people. As President Franklin Delano Roosevelt once said of the Nicaraguan dictator, Anastasio Somoza, “he may be a son of a bitch, but he’s our son of a bitch!”

The double standards of that segment of the left was, without a doubt, one of the reasons the peoples of the former Soviet satellites, all of which were police states, when they were struggling for their liberation, turned to the likes of Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher who opportunistically reached out to them and not to the left in the US and the West that had shown them their backs as they are doing to the people of Libya today.

To add to this, well before the Libyan situation developed, numerous websites and many bloggers, most of whom know next to nothing about the region, stated, as if it were fact, that the uprisings throughout North Africa and the Middle East have all been orchestrated by, take your pick, (1) the US through the National Endowment for Democracy and a handful of non-governmental organizations or (2) George Soros, through his Open Society programmes or, if you wish, both.

I suspect that if these movements had avowed what these “experts” considered to be a “socialist” or “anti-imperialist” agenda instead of making demands for such bourgeois concepts as free speech, freedom of the press and the right to organize politically, they might have considered their uprisings indigenous and legitimate. Since they didn’t, they obviously must be manipulated by nefarious outside forces.

Let’s face it. The Libyan situation provides us with no easy answers, and perhaps, with no answers at all. Human problems are not mathematical problems and, more often than not, there are no good attainable solutions – emphasis being on the word, attainable.

The die on Libya has been cast. Now we will just have to see how it plays out.

Jeffrey Blankfort is a US-based radio producer and campaigner for Palestinian rights.
A former editor of the Middle East Labour Bulletin and co-founder of the Labour Committee of the Middle East, he is founding member of the November 29 Coalition on Palestine.
In February 2002 he won a sizable lawsuit against the Jewish Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for its vast illegal spying against him and other peaceful political groups and individuals, including anti-apartheid activists.

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

In Memory of Ghassan Kanafani, The leader, the writer, the martyr

Ghassan Kanafani: The leader, the writer, the martyr

 Comrade Ghassan Kanafani was born in Acre in 1936, and his family was expelled from Palestine in 1948 by Zionist terror, after which they finally settled in Damascus. After completing his studies, he worked as a teacher and journalist, first in Damascus, and then in Kuwait. Later he moved to Beirut and wrote for several papers before starting Al Hadaf, the weekly paper of the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), in 1969.

He was the spokesperson of the PFLP and a member of its Political Bureau, as well as a great novelist and artist whose immense contributions cannot be overstated.

To begin with, Kanafani was an active member of the Arab Nationalist Movement, the forerunner of the PFLP, but later, along with his comrade George Habash, he became a Marxist, believing that the solution to the problems which faced the Palestinians could not be achieved without a social revolution throughout the Arab world.

Kanafani was killed when his car exploded on July 8, 1972: murdered by Zionist agents. His sister wrote:

“On the morning of Saturday, July 8, 1972, at about 10:30 am, Lamees (Kanafani’s niece) and her uncle were going out together to Beirut. A minute after their departure, we heard the sound of a very loud explosion which shook the whole building. We were immediately afraid, but our fear was for Ghassan and not for Lamees because we had forgotten that Lamees was with him and we knew that Ghassan was the target of the explosion. We ran outside, all of us were calling for Ghassan and not one of us called for Lamees. Lamees was still a child of seventeen years. Her whole being was longing for life and was full of life. But we knew that Ghassan was the one who had chosen this road and who had walked along it. Just the previous day Lamees had asked her uncle to reduce his revolutionary activities and to concentrate more upon writing his stories. She had said to him, “Your stories are beautiful,” and he had answered, “Go back to writing stories? I write well because I believe in a cause, in principles. The day I leave these principles, my stories will become empty. If I were to leave behind my principles, you yourself would not respect me.’ He was able to convince the girl that the struggle and the defense of principles is what finally leads to success in everything.”

In the memoir which Ghassan Kanafani’s wife published after his death, she wrote:

“His inspiration for writing and working unceasingly was the Palestinian-Arab struggle…He was one of those who fought sincerely for the development of the resistance movement from being a nationalist Palestinian liberation movement into being a pan-Arab revolutionary socialist movement of which the liberation of Palestine would be a vital component. He always stressed that the Palestine problem could not be solved in isolation from the Arab World’s whole social and political situation.”

This attitude developed naturally out of Kanafani’s own experiences. At the age of twelve he went through the trauma of becoming a refugee, and thereafter he lived as an exile in various Arab countries, not always with official approval. His people were scattered, many of them making a living in the camps or struggling to make a living by doing the most menial work; their only hope lay in the future and in their children. Kanafani himself, writing to his son, summed up what it means to be a Palestinian:

“I heard you in the other room asking your mother, ‘Mama, am I a Palestinian?’ When she answered ‘Yes’ a heavy silence fell on the whole house. It was as if something hanging over our heads had fallen, its noise exploding, then – silence. Afterwards…I heard you crying. I could not move. There was something bigger than my awareness being born in the other room through your bewildered sobbing. It was as if a blessed scalpel was cutting up your chest and putting there the heart that belongs to you…I was unable to move to see what was happening in the other room. I knew, however, that a distant homeland was being born again: hills, olive groves, dead people, torn banners and folded ones, all cutting their way into a future of flesh and blood and being born in the heart of another child…Do you believe that man grows? No, he is born suddenly – a word, a moment, penetrates his heart to a new throb. One scene can hurl him down from the ceiling of childhood onto the ruggedness of the road.”

“To our departed and yet remaining Comrade; you knew of two ways in life, and life knew from you only one. You knew the path of submission and you refused it. And you knew of the path of resistance and you walked with it. This path was chosen for you and you walked with it. And your comrades are walking with you.”

Comrade Kanafani’s ability to illustrate, beyond any. shadow of doubt, the deprivation and sufferings of his people, as well as to transform an ideology and political line into popular literature made him a grave threat to the Zionist entity.

The following are excerpts from a tribute to Ghassan by one of his colleagues, a Palestinian author, S.Marwan, published in Al Hadaf on July 22, 1972.

THE STRUGGLE OF THE OPPRESSED OF THE WORLD

“Imperialism has layed its body over the world, the head in Eastern Asia, the heart in the Middle East, its arteries reaching Africa and Latin America. Wherever you strike it, you damage it, and you serve the World Revolution.”

Imperialism is not a myth or a word repeated by the news media, a motionless picture that doesn’t affect the human reality. In Ghassan Kanafani’s conception, it is a mobile body, an octopus which colonizes and exploits, spreading itself over the world through western monopolistic enterprises.

Imperialism is directing various forms o€ aggression against the toiling masses of the world, and particularly in the underdeveloped countries.

Based on the slogan: “All the Facts to the Masses”, raised in Al Hadaf, Ghassan Kanafani put his clear intellect in the service of the masses and their objective class interests, leading him to state: “The desire for change which is sweeping through the Arab masses, must be motivated by ideological and political clarity, which is absolute. Thus, Al Hadaf devotes itself to the service of that revolutionary alternative, as the interests of the oppressed classes are the same as the goals of the revolution. It presents itself as the ally of all those carrying on armed and political-ideological struggle to achieve a liberated progressive nation.”

The natural base for Ghassan’s intellectual and artistic work was adopting and defending the interests of the toiling masses, not only of the Palestinians, but also the Arabs and the international oppressed classes. Because of this fundamental base for all of his work, Ghassan Kanafani, as a Marxist, adopted the path of armed struggle as the only way to defend the oppressed.

He was himself part of them; he lived and experienced the poverty caused by capitalism and imperialism and he remained within the ranks of the oppressed masses, in spite of the capitalists’ temptations and their attempts to encircle his journalistic life. He remained a humble man who worked day and night to raise and develop the quality of human life out of the adversity imposed by history.

Addressing himself to a group of students, Ghassan said: “The goal of education is to correct the march of history. For this reason we need to study history and to apprehend its dialectics in order to build a new historical era, in which the oppressed will live, after their liberation by revolutionary violence, from the contradiction that captivated them.” Ghassan Kanafani had not only achieved the knowledge of historical materialism, but he applied it in his work. The concept that he believed in and lived for was shown clearly in what he said and wrote. The primary contradiction, is the one with imperialism. Zionism and racism. It is an international contradiction, and the only solution is to destroy these threats by a united and steadfast armed struggle, he encouraged and raised the spirit of internationalism among all the people he addressed or knew.

This belief made him reject all compromises, all bourgeois or divisive solutions, which do not encompass or apply the thesis and development of the revolution and its long path towards liberation, striking the Interests of imperialism and consolidating with the masses. He said in a comment about the martyred Patrick Arguello: “The martyr Patrick Arguello is a symbol for a just cause and the struggle to achieve it, a struggle without limits. He is a symbol for the oppressed and deprived masses, represented by Oum Saad and many others coming from the camps and from all parts of Lebanon, who marched in his funeral procession.”

In discussions about the imperialist reactionary schemes against the revolutionary forces, he stated:

“The results of the imperialist assault will be directed against the oppressed masses to prevent them from mobilizing and fighting.”

This position was based on the analysis of the stand of the Arab regimes and the regimes of the underdeveloped countries in general, which retreat under the strokes of imperialism.

In the context of international revolution, he said:

“Vietnamese revolutionaries have been struggling against imperialism for tens of years. They will transfer their revolution to other places; first, because their revolution is continuous, second, because they are internationalists . . .”

“The Palestinian cause is not a cause for Palestinians only, but a cause for every revolutionary, wherever he is, as a cause of the exploited and oppressed masses in our era.”

As the struggle of the international proletariat against imperialism was the main issue for Ghassan Kanafani, the conspirators behind his assassination feared his clear and logical confrontation stand, which was revealed in his works and through the western news media. This drove imperialism and its reactionary allies to stop the pen which refused to surrender to their temptations or warnings. Ghassan Kanafani transformed the Palestinian and Arab cause to a cause through which we adopt the struggle of all the exploited and oppressed in the world.

Ghassan’s commitment will remain a monument for the struggling masses. He said in a meeting with the staff of Al Hadaf: “Everything in this world can be robbed and stolen, except one thing; this one thing is the love that emanates from a human being towards a solid commitment to a conviction or cause.”

Comrade Kanafani’s literary work

Selected works:

Mawt Sarir raqm 12, 1961
Ard al-burtugal al-hazin, 1963
Rijal fi-al-shams, 1963 (Men in the Sun)
al-Bab, 1964
Alam laysa lana, 1965
Adab al-muqawamah fi filastin al-muhtalla 1948-1966, 1966
Ma tabaqqa lakum, 1966 (All That’s Left to You)
Fi al-Abab al-sahyuni, 1967
al-Adab al-filastinial-muqawin tahta al-ihtilal: 1948-1968, 1968
An al-rijal wa-al-banadiq, 1968
Umm Sad, 1969
A’id ila Hayfa, 1970
al-A ma wa-al-atrash, 1972
Barquq Naysan, 1972
al-Qubba’ah wa-al-nabi, 1973
Thawrat 1936-39 fi filastin, 1974
Jusr ila al-abad, 1978
al-Qamis al-masruq wa-qisas ukhra, 1982
‘The Slave Fort’ in Arabic Short Stories, 1983 (trans. by Denys Johnson-Davies)

Towards a Better Future – Kanafani and the Culture of Resistance by Dr. Ahmed Masoud

In 1977 a local theatrical group in Nazareth was banned from performing an adaptation of Ghassan Kanafani’s novel Men in the Sun (1962).
The Israeli authority prevented the actors from going on stage and threatened imprisonment. The script was written by a Palestinian writer who was assassinated in a car bomb by Israeli agents in Lebanon in 1972. It is not surprising for governments to censor literature if it does not comply with its propaganda, but assassination is something which needs more careful examination.
Why would the Israeli government feel threatened to go as far as killing Ghassan Kanafani?
In order to find the answer for this question, one must look at not only the life and works of this writer but also delve deep into his mindset and how his writing has become a manifesto of the new Palestinian revolution.

Born in Acre in 1936, Kanafani witnessed the struggle of his people during the Nakba (catastrophe) in 1948 which led to the establishment of the state of Israeli and the deportation of over 800,000 Palestinians from their homes and many thousands killed. After he was expelled from his village near Acre, he settled with his family in Damascus. Kanafani continued his education to study Arabic literature at the University of Damascus while working as a teacher in the United Nation Refugee Working Agency (UNRWA1). Like many other Palestinians, Kanafani saw a new world opening in the Gulf with more countries discovering oil and becoming richer. He moved to teach and work as a journalist in Kuwait between 1955 and 1960 until he went to Lebanon to work with George Habash, Chairman of the Popular Front Liberation of Palestine (PFLP), as an editor of Al-Hadaf (The Goal) Magazine.

What differentiates Kanafani from other Palestinian writers is his progressive thinking whereby his writing urges people to resist their circumstances and employ their capacities to work towards a better future. This can only be obtained by continuously seeking new avenues to make life better for Palestinian refugees. In the years following the Nakba, Palestinian refugees were looking for their family members and establishing connections with those who remained. Kanafani was the first to criticize this status and wanted his people to be ready to face the coming challenges.

The only thing we know is that tomorrow will be no better than today, and that we are waiting on the banks, yearning, for a boat that will not come. We are sentenced to be separated from everything – except from our own destruction.2

This statement comes across as a pessimistic view of the Palestinian situation; however, it is a reminder for those who are suffering to stop being pre-occupied with their current circumstances as their future will be no different if they carry on the same way. Post Nakba Palestinians held a romantic view of Palestine, lamenting their separation from their villages, families and lost land. This natural reaction to the disaster was fuelled by the rough conditions in the refugee camps in Lebanon, Syria, Jordan and other parts of the world. To Kanafani, however, it was important not to get obsessed in a vicious cycle of grief which would bring no change but further mourning.

Thus, Kanafani’s mission was to create a culture of resistance which would depend on two levels; firstly, a rejection of any attempt to normalize the refugee problem, either by offering citizenships in the countries they are in or compensations. This view is clearly presented in his masterpiece Men in the Sun, which tells the story of three Palestinians who try to cross the desert border between Iraq and Kuwait in an empty water tank in search for work. As well as the anger on Arab regimes and the way they treat Palestinians, the novel suggests that a progressive future can be only achieved at home. The way the three men die in the water tank at the end of the novel reflects Ghassan’s ability to arouse his reader’s dissatisfaction of their status.

Secondly, once a certain level of denunciation is achieved, Kanafani prepares his readers to the next step which is to start working towards a better future. This can be done by joining the resistance movement which was developing in Lebanon and other parts of the Arab world under the leadership of the PFLP and other organizations. To Kanafani, the resistance movement is the only way forward given that Palestinians have nothing to lose but their misery. His second novel Returning to Haifa (1970) shows the importance of joining/supporting the resistance movement when presenting the story of Said and Saffiya, the couple who go back to Palestine to look for their home.

The story of the novella is set on two different timelines: during Al-Nakba in 1948 and almost 20 years later, a few days after the June war in 1967; keeping the dates of the Nakba and Naksa3 in the readers’ consciousness. Returning to Haifa tells the story of a married couple who go back to find their old house in Haifa after leaving it for twenty years, looking for more information about their son, Khaldoun, whom they were separated from during the flee. As the journey progresses more stories are unfolded about how the 1948 disaster happened and how Palestine became Israel. When Said and Safiyya reach their old house, they find that it has been inhabited by a Jewish woman called Miriam. To the couple’s surprise, they discover that their son was still alive and was adopted by Miriam who gave him the name Dov and brought him up as an Israeli, becoming a reserve army officer. The novel ends with the couple returning back from their journey having realized that Palestine is not what it was but it is what it will be. The novel finishes with Said wishing that his other son Khalid has joined the resistance movement.

He used to know Haifa stone by stone, intersection by intersection. How often he had crossed that road in his green 1946 Ford! Oh, he knew Haifa well, and now he felt as though he hadn’t been away for twenty years. He was driving his car just as he used to, as though he hadn’t been absent those twenty bitter years…The names began to rain down inside his head as though a great layer of dust had been shaken off them: Wadi Nisnas, King Fisal Street, Hanatir Square, Halisa, Hadar.

Suddenly, the house loomed up, the very house he had first lived in, then kept alive in his memory for so long. Here it was again, its front balcony bearing its coat of yellow paint. Instantly he imagined that Safiyya, young again with her hair in a long braid, was about to lean over the balcony toward him. There was a new clothesline attached to two pegs on the balcony; new bits of washing, red and white, hung on the line. Safiyya began to cry audibly. He turned to the right and directed the car’s wheels up over the low curb, then stopped the car in its old spot. Just like he used to do – exactly – twenty years ago.4

In the first few chapters, Returning to Haifa appears to be a more romantic novel about a couple who wants to go back to their beautiful life before the disaster. The main reason why they are heading back to their old home was to find out what happened to their child whose fate has haunted them for twenty years. The description of the way Said and Safiyya felt emphasises this conception of the novel. However, Returning to Haifa is a progressive novel, inviting Palestinians to get rid of the past and work towards a better future. This is very clearly illustrated when Said S. asks himself and his wife a crucial question “What is homeland?”5 and the answer comes from Kanafani’s rejection of the reality of Palestinians “Do you know what the homeland is, Safiyya, homeland is where none of this can happen”6. Said realizes in the end that what he went for was not strong enough to claim homeland; he went back searching for his dusty memories and did not find what he expected.

For us, for you and me, it’s only a search for something buried beneath the dust of memories. And look what we found beneath that dust. Yet more dust7.

The shock of the parents when seeing their lost son dressed up in an Israeli military suit and defending Israel is perhaps one of the most powerful scenes in the novel. Kanafani uses the conversation between the father and the son to emphasize his message that what happened in 1948 should not only be remembered romantically. “My wife asks if the fact that we’re cowards gives you the right to be this way. As you can see, she innocently recognizes that we were cowards”8. At the end of this conversation, Said announces that he has another son called Khalid and who has joined the Fidayeen (Freedom fighters). It is this line that offers hope to Said and to most Palestinians; it is the resistance movement

Said rose heavily. Only now did he feel tired, that he had lived his life in vain. These feelings gave way to an unexpected sorrow, and he felt himself on the verge of tears. He knew it was a lie, that Khalid hadn’t joined the fidayeen. In fact, he himself was the one who had forbidden it. He’d even gone so far as to threaten to disown Khalid if he defied him and joined the resistance. The few days that had passed since then seemed to him a nightmare that ended in terror. Was it really he who, just a few days ago, threatened to disown his son Khalid? What a strange world! And now, he could find no way to defend himself in the face of this tall young man’s disavowal other than boasting of his fatherhood of Khalid – the Khalid whom he prevented from joining the fidayeen by means of that worthless whip he used to call fatherhood! Who know? Perhaps Khalid had taken advantage of his being here in Haifa to flee. If only he had! What a failure his presence here would turn out to be if he returned and found Khalid waiting at home9.

As well as resistance, place is equally important in Ghassan’s culture of resistance. The refugee camp appears to always be the core of Kanafani’s works. The stories of Men in the Sun, All That’s Left to You (1966), Um Sa’ad and others all relate to the refugee camp which is a symbol of Palestine. In the refugee camp, then, some sense of place is maintained by the presence of community living together. This dual quality of camp life also dominates its portrayal in Ghassan Kanafani’s work. Despite its impermanence, poor housing, and insanity conditions; the refugee camp has become a living symbol of struggle. It is not a homogenous space, alien and meaningless like desert and city. The Palestinians who live in the camps have shaped them into their own places10.

Life in the refugee camp is more strongly portrayed in his novel Um Sa’ad (1969). Based on a real character, according to Kanafani, the novel is formed of conversations between Um Sa’ad and the narrator. Um Sa’ad represents the Palestinian strong mother who rebels against the norms which her people have come to accept, like life in the refugee camps. The capturing element about this novel is the way Um Sa’ad celebrates the fact that her son has joined the resistance movement believing that it is only then change can happen, appearing as an example of the revolutionary Palestinian woman. Kanafani, in his preface to the novel, describes her as an example of the Palestinian woman who was affected most by the conflict and now living under tough circumstances looking for a change to come.

Um Sa’ad is not only one woman…her voice to me has always been that voice of a certain layer of our Palestinian society which paid a high price for the defeat and who now lives under the roof of poverty and keeps defending their life11.

Finally, Ghassan Kanafani is an influential nationalist as well as a talented writer even though his views are translated into literary works and not political agendas. In fact, it is because of this that he was able to help the resistance movement become more popular amongst the ordinary people who might not necessarily think of resistance as a way of changing their future. As well as becoming a manifesto of the Palestinian revolution, his writing has become classic in modern Arabic literature which is often described with a mixture of style, content and a vibrant language. Kanafani’s novels certainly combine those three elements eloquently. Ghassan Kanafani’s contribution to modern Arabic literature lies in his legacy as a founder of the literature of resistance. His works have been translated into many languages worldwide, including English and French.

Footnotes
1.UNRWA was, and still is, the main source of aid to Palestinian refugees in camps inside and outside Palestine. It offers food, healthcare, education and sometimes housing for very poor families.
2. Ghassan Kanafani, “Diary 1959 – 1960” Quoted from Palestine’s Children: Returning to Haifa and Other Stories by Ghassan Kanafani, Biographical Essay by Karen E. Riley, p. 5.
3.Naksa is the Arabic word for “setback” when Israel occupied West Bank, Gaza, Jerusalem, Golan heights and the Sinai desert
4.Ghassan Kanafani, Palestine’s Children: Returning to Haifa and other Palestinian Stories, translated by Barbara Harlow & Karen E. Riley, Lynne Rienner Publishers, London 2000, pp.152/161
5.Ibid, p. 186
6.Ibid, p. 186
7.Ibid, p. 187
8.Ibid, p. 186
9.Ghassan Kanafani, Palestine’s Children: Returning to Haifa and other Palestinian Stories, translated by Barbara Harlow & Karen E. Riley, Lynne Rienner Publishers, London 2000, p. 182
10.Barbara McKean Parmenter, Giving Voice to Stones – Place and Identity in Palestinian Literature, University of Texas Press, Texas 1994, pp. 65-66
11.Ghassan Kanafani, The Complete Works: The novels, volume 1, Arab Research Association, Beirut 4th edition 1994, p. 242 (translated by the author)

River to Sea Uprooted Palestinian

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