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January 14, 2015

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Ramiya: Invisible in the Galillee

February 24, 2014

Edited version originally published on Middle East Monitor

Interview with Salah Swaid

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An historic burial ground containing generations of the Swaid clan surrounded by suburban villas and a road connecting the neighborhood named after celebrated assassinated Israeli army general turned “peacenik” Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin which began construction in 1991 on the lands and dwelling of the Palestinian village Ramiya, positioned in the valley which separates the Upper and Lower Galilee between the Palestinian towns of Ba’ne and Sha’ab.

There used to be a water well here but they’ve destroyed it too” tells me Salah Swaid or Abu Nazih as many refer to him, 49 year old construction worker and father of 6 who’s been organizing much of the legal and popular struggle initiatives against the displacement of the unrecognized Palestinian-Bedouin village Ramiya by the ever expanding Jewish city of Karmiel. “We have documents pertaining all of this territory as belonging to Ramiya in the Tabu[1]”, Indeed Ramiya is registered in both Ottoman and Israeli records as a village with a name and defined borders.

Karmiel, the city which now surrounds it, was founded in 1964 as part of David Ben Gurion’s plan to “Judaize The Galilee”. In the 1950s Israel’s first prime minister toured the northern part of his newly founded state extensively and was very troubled by seeing Palestinian life carry on post-Nakba largely without the presence of Jewish colonies, he remarked that it felt distressingly like traveling through an Arab country.

Karmiel was first constructed as a settlement, to use the term which describes it in its own founding charter, on largely agricultural lands confiscated by the State of Israel from the Palestinian villages of Ba’ne, Deir Al Assad, Nahef, and Majd Al Krum for “Public’s purposes”.

they’ve confiscated the lands for public’s purposes even though there was already a public living on these lands because they don’t recognize the Arab public as a public as a population they only recognize in the Jewish public” reminds me Abu Nazih as it is indeed the unwritten law in the State of Israel with which the term “Public’s Purposes” has been used repeatedly inside what is internationally referred to as “Israel Proper” to drive the native Palestinian population off of their lands and livelihood in order to replace it with an immigrant-settler Jewish population.

 

My daughter asks me ‘the homes over there they are watching TV why can’t we turn the TV on?’”

 

The Story of Ramiya is a story of continual land theft and home demolition. No other town’s or village’s battle with land confiscation by the settlement of Karmiel is as extreme as Ramiya’s. Karmiel, along with Natzeret Illit otherwise known as “Upper Nazareth” are the flagship projects of the State of Israel’s “Judaization of the Galilee” plan.

The struggle of Ramiya is much more comparable to the struggle of other unrecognized Palestinian villages in the Naqab, the Jordan Valley and South Hebron Hills than to any other struggle of neighboring Palestinian towns and villages in the entirety of the Galilee against Israeli land confiscation.

Ramiya was a home to 1000 with its territory stretching 98 acres when today a mere 160 persons remain on land stretching only 10 acres, all of which has been confiscated during the biggest land-grab in Israel’s history since 1948, a day which has been commemorated as Land Day on March 30th 1976. Even the area on which 45 families remain to this day is considered JNF property according to Israeli law and the village is not recognized and remains without connection to electric or water grid. Karmiel’s police officers make periodic visits to deliver evacuation orders as none of the homes have any addresses on them. The city of Karmiel also contains no school or a kindergarten in the Arabic language and all of the children ride a bus to nearby villages for their education.

Today we get water from a dirty pipe, half of the people are sick because of this faulty pipe it’s not up to any legal standard but what can you do, the people have to drink

Are they billing you for this water?

We put a dial on the hose, you have no choice, the city will not let you take water without a dial” referring to the device which counts the amount of water that comes through this pipe which the villagers have to pay for at the end of every month.

My daughter asks me ‘the homes over there (pointing to their Jewish neighbors blasting stereos and TV noise out of their homes) they are watching TV why don’t we have the TV on? Their place is all lit up why don’t we have light like them?’ what can I tell her?” interjects Abu Nazih’s friend and Ramiya dweller Kheir Swaid.

Electricity we get with the generators, but let me tell you about these generators, a man works 2 full days to be able to buy the Diesel which will light up his house for a few hours” explains Abu Nazih.

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Ramiya on the left, Rabin neighborhood on the right

A number of months ago City inspectors arrived in Ramiya with a warning to not work the generators past 11pm as some of their Jewish neighbors in the surrounding neighborhood of Rabin have been complaining about the noise.

 

The Scream of the Invisible

 

Ramiya’s legal and popular battle with the city of Karmiel came to the fore in mid-2013 when Israel’s best and brightest thugs. The Special Patrol Unit otherwise, known as “Yasam”, broke into the village early in the morning, attacking residents and demolishing several steel shacks which most of Ramiya’s residents live in, threatening to crack more skulls if the villagers wouldn’t evacuate the entirety of Ramiya and promised returned “visits” otherwise. They’ve left with their loot which included several adult men and an elderly woman all trying to protect their homes.

The struggle for Ramiya has restarted that very day, for the first time in 20 years. Such shenanigans from Karmiel’s municipality were not seen here in over 20 years when construction began on the Jewish-only neighborhood of Rabin on the collective head of every Ramiya resident in 1991, demolishing the greatest bulk of homes, tents and steel shacks the villagers call homes.

most have had to flee, they now live in nearby towns of Ba’ne and Deir Al Assad, but a core few hanged on with endurance, they want to continue their life” Abu Nazih alluding to the 50 families which have remained in the village after the first sweeps of home demolitions and displacements by the municipality of Karmiel.

The struggle on the street began in conjuncture with the legal battle in 1991 culminating in a central Land Day march which took place in 1993 where over 2000 Palestinians were in attendance from all over the territory occupied by Israel in 1948. Following that over 5000 have marched against the demolition of Ramiya in a special protest organized by The High Follow-Up Committee[2] in 1995. The march went from Majd Al Krum to Ba’ne to Nahef and through Karmiel concluding in Ramiya.

The Legal struggle is a long one, they submit one unjust deal after another and we refuse it and sometimes they would send an order to us and we would refuse to follow it. We know that the right is on our side here and we wouldn’t forgo our right even though the courts are crooked. For us there’s no justice in the courts. These courthouses are not courthouses they are racism they are houses of racism they give backing to racism in Israel. It’s not justice, it’s not democracy.”

1995 also saw the first glimmer of hope for the people of Ramiya from its nearly 5 year legal battle in the Israeli courts against the Jewish National Fund, one of the State of Israel’s most important devices in executing Zionist ideology on the ground.

The High Court has decided to strike a deal with a number of Ramiya’s families in making them forgo claims to their current lands in favor 30 building plots to be given to them by the JNF inside the municipal territory of Karmiel with added farmland plots outside of the city, as the great majority of the residents’ economy was agricultural.

The deal was negotiated with the hearty recommendation from The High Follow-Up Committee For Arab Citizens of Israel. “They didn’t have contact with us following the agreement, as far as they were concerned our issue was resolved.”

 

Divide and Conquer

 

The JNF was not quick to begin committing its part of the deal and instead instructed its lawyers to begin a campaign of assembling signatures of evacuation from family elders imploring them to sign their family’s respective lands away and resettlement. The very first 3 families which JNF lawyers have signed with were incidentally owners of the biggest land plots in Ramiya.

In favor of this beside-the-court agreement the 3 families were handed 29 building plots ceded to them by the JNF while the remaining families were left empty handed, waiting for what was promised to them for 8 more years when in 2003 the building plots were finally made ready, but now they were only 29 plots and they were all registered as belonging to 3 families. when contacted for breach of contract JNF’s reply was that 29 was all that they were getting and if they had desired to build on those plots they now had to speak to the registered owners of these plots and JNF is the wrong address since those plots were signed off to 3 other families from Ramiya.

Hoping to instill divide and conquer strategy on the people of Ramiya JNF’s legal departments’ aims were partially impeded when some families united and filed for breach of contract with the Magistrate Court. The decision of the Magistrate Court came no later than November 24, 2009 implicating the JNF in breach of contract imploring them to add the full 30 plots inside the municipality of Karmiel.

By the time however almost 15 years have passed and the generation of schoolchildren now became parents increasing the amount dwelling space needed. Since the agreement of 1995 has been delayed for a decade and a half today it appears an implausible solution to the living demands of the new generation of Ramiya.

For me that agreement doesn’t exist anymore it isn’t applicable for the public anymore it isn’t applicable for any resident anymore.”

Despite the ruling imploring them to commit to the 1995 agreement 4 more years dragged on with no movement from the JNF until another court decision in a case involving 2 families from Ramiya who’ve filed a separate suit against JNF for their dwelling crisis.

On August 5, 2013 the judge in the latter case ruled against the two families imploring them to evacuate their lands and gladly capitulated to JNF’s demands in a ruling which states that all the families of Ramiya must sign their evacuation orders. Of any resident who wouldn’t sign the evacuation order within 90 days will then be considered as giving up his or her rights to the lands voluntarily and will be evacuated by force.

The residents, now collectively united due to this draconian court ruling, have filed an appeal which has not been heard in court yet. Despite that the judge refused to grant suspension for the evacuation order until the appeal was heard.

The people need to have a roof to live under there’s no other solution, there needs to be an agreement because the people cannot live without a roof they aren’t animals, the state needs to grab JNF and tell them ‘this is not right’ if it wasn’t a racist state. But this state is a state of discrimination a disrespectful state, a state with utterly no shame at all. that’s my opinion.”

 

Rightist Public

 

2013 was tumultuous year for Karmiel as it was the year of the municipal elections where incumbent mayor Adi Eldar, who’s remained unseated in the mayoral office for the past 24 years, faced off ideologically and factionally splintered opposition for another seemingly easy road to victory.

The majority of the opposition to the incumbent mayor, who became allied to Avigdor Lieberman’s rightist party Yisrael Beiteinu since the last municipal election, came largely from the right with a noted exception being one small party called Rainbow For Social Justice which was represented by the old and rusted Zionist and post-Zionist left in Karmiel.

But this time their number 2 on the list was a native of Ramiya, Kheir Swaid, a big burly and jolly taxi driver who lives in a 10 by 5 meter steel shack that has a drape in place of a door with his wife and daughters. He implores me for boycotting this municipal election “Rainbow is not perfect but it’s the only vehicle we’ve had to bring our hardship to the public’s eye”…”You see me I’m not a politician this is a foreign field for me completely but the other people from the village asked for me to step up and so I did. We had a big failing in the last election so this time we decided to add Meretz[3] to the list.”

When asked about the ties of the Rainbow party to Ramiya Abu Nazih explains: “Ramiya’s struggle and the Karmiel Rainbow party are two different things, Rainbow is the left, they ran for city council and they’ve contacted us. They’ve had supporters but it had nothing to do with Ramiya. Right they’ve had a representative from Ramiya in their second sit but this is one thing and that’s another”

Throughout the years you’ve been attempting to address the Jewish public of Karmiel?

Of course, we’ve addressed the Jewish public from the very beginning. The pubic in Karmiel is a rightist public and there is a public which these matters don’t interest them, doesn’t interest them what happens, their interests are like someone staying in a hotel, eat, drink, sleep and goodbye, the crisis in Ramiya doesn’t matter to them.”

In what ways did you address the Jewish public?

All of our flyers were in Hebrew, we went door to door, I’ve personally disseminated over 10,000 flyers for 10,000 homes in Karmiel, we’ve  ran from one home to another, from one neighborhood to another but what can I do most of the population is very rightist and the mayor is a rightist and a liar. He’s not content only with living on the lands of Ramiya, his house is 50 meters from here on my land. how do you want me to be? It’s a cancer he implanted a cancer in this place.”

Rainbow for Social Justice failed to grab a sit on the city council with only 650 votes out of a population of over 45,000. The core of its voters were Arab Palestinian residents of Karmiel which make up about 10% of the city’s population.

No actually This was a big achievement,” Abu Nazih adds ” they were only 100 votes away from a sit at the city council. The last election the party’s name was Karmiel for All, it got only 200 votes but it was a party of real cooperation between Jews and Arabs, it didn’t have Meretz”.

 

The Last Stand of the Invisible

 

The first order of business was organizing a big demo to announce the return of the popular struggle in Ramiya for the first time since 1995: “we’ve sent an invitation to the Follow-Up Committee, please oh sheikh oh representative come, everyone come in you’re welcome to join us and play the field, help us with what you can, you can kick with the lefty? Then kick with the lefty if you’re a righty? then kick with the right.”

The plans came to head with the first national rally for Ramiya in more than a decade on December 19, 2013. The rally took place in the center of Ramiya village surrounded by the Israeli neighborhood of Rabin with attendance of representatives from all Palestinian political parties and NGOs from the territory occupied by Israel in 1948 as well as grassroots Palestinian activists and mayors of Palestinian towns in 48.

There was as well a small bulk of left wing Israelis who’ve threatened to stage a dramatic walk-out unless all the speeches were translated into Hebrew.

Following the day of a rally a protest sit-in tent was opened for the public: “The purpose of the tent is for activity, its duty is that of a guarding post, there should always be people in the tent as they(Municipality) send the evacuation orders they know there are people here, that if they come to evacuate us then there’s going to be a war here, there are going to be clashes in the Galilee, in Karmiel too of course, there will be rioting between the two peoples, I don’t think this government needs this kind of crisis at all.”

Today activities continue to be held in the protest tent almost every day and special events planned for Fridays; Cultural and political events for children, as they are the majority population of Ramiya today, and for adults.

An open Palestinian grassroots group named Friends of Ramiya has been formed and holds frequent meetings in the tent to be updated on the situation of Ramiya and planning of weekly events and bi-weekly demonstrations which take place in various locations in Karmiel outside Ramiya.

Today it’s not like in the past, history has changed, mentality has changed. Today I’m sitting on this chair and tomorrow I’ll be in the ground and someone else will be in my place they don’t understand it”…”they keep calling our lawyers threatening that if we won’t sign the evacuation orders then that would mean voluntarily giving up of our rights but the people they have nothing to lose anymore. I don’t deserve this and I won’t go to the courthouse and they can do whatever they want. If they want to come and demolish then come and demolish. Do they want to come and kill us? Come and kill us, end of story. A person who’s lost everything what more does he have to lose? Hear me I don’t want to speak harsher words. The desperation has reached such heights it’s indescribable the people won’t give up. I think that the JNF is in trouble.”

                                                             

 

 

[1] Tabu refers to Israeli Land Registry which takes its name from the Ottoman Land Registry

[2] A national committee that is represented by all Palestinian political parties and mainstream NGOs to deal with matters pertaining to Palestinians who live in the territory occupied by Israel in 1948.

[3] Meretz a left-Zionist political party in the Israeli knesset

Syria: The Uprising That Made Intellectuals Talk To Walls

February 13, 2012

It has been 10 months and 25 days since that fateful march took place in Daraa (March 15) where tens of thousands of protesters marched to the city’s center, tearing down street posters of the Syrian head of state & stomped down the statue of his father, the former ruler of the country, and without knowing plunged the globalized radical left into a perpetual episode of neurosis & aberration not witnessed since the brutal crack down of Prague spring 1979 by the Soviet bureaucracy (especially if we are to overlook the events of the recent uprisings in Iran and Libya for a moment).

Since Arabs began taking to the streets en-masse in Tunisia soon to be followed by the inimitable Egyptian masses all was well with the state of the affairs, we have been witnesses to virtually universal celebrations in the worldly radical penmanship. Activists in far away lands took even time out of their busy schedule & capital from their meager savings to travel to Cairo and Tunis to witness for themselves the place where Mohamad Bouazizi’s kiosk used to stand, to march and chant with the people of Tahrir square. Flags of the Tunisian red crescent & the Egyptian republican hawk were waving outside the White House gates with activists swearing in their solidarity with the oppressed nations struggling for freedom in the face of unmitigated power.

That was the moment all of us were waiting for, the great vindication of the struggle against Neo-Colonialism and Imperialism, for Egypt was the foremost example of a bloody regime which stayed afloat for one reason only, because it was receiving unmatched monetary and military assistance from the wickedest global powers history has yet to produce. The global western-Capitalist hegemony who edges nations for war, who bleeds nations off their nutrition economies, who builds an army bases on every corner of the world and launches bloody wars of occupation under fictitious pretexts, digging a colossal graveyard for the atmosphere we breath and live in, and all only for one goal, naked profit.

Soon to be joining Yemen and Bahrain, both suffering for centuries under the Imperialist boot, whose tyrannical leaders are paid and fed agents of western-Capitalist Imperialism. As’ad AbuKhalil went so far as to claim in his blog that these uprisings are proof that the usual Human Rights complaints leveled at anti-Western/Imperialist regime like Syria were gross exaggerations fabricated by the Saudi oil axis and Zionists, especially compared to the pro-Imperialist regimes who were fighting their  peoples at the time, concrete proof given at the time was that the Syrians haven’t began revolting yet, this was prior to the massive popular outpouring in March 15 and the Syrian uprising wasn’t yet in its visible, crowning stages.

The celebrations in every corner of the globalized left were mounting. We have finally been vindicated, history was pushing its gears with all the might in the Arab world and the big bad western-Capitalist hegemony was facing its biggest challenger since the Chinese Communist revolution of 1949. This was the dawning of the age of Anti-Zionism and Anti-Imperialism in the Middle East ever since that uncomfortably confusing schism in Iran 2009. It was just like the atmosphere we watched in Latin America, totally incapable in fathoming at the time that such things could be happening in the Middle East so soon!

As with all celebrations this one came at an abrupt end as the Libyan people took to the streets in Benghazi and the Syrian people joined them in the streets of Daraa, Hama, Homs and Idlib. These people were watching the events unfold in Tunis, Tahrir and Manama just as the principled western leftists were and they’ve decided to take their celebrations to the streets following the same example. That very same day 20 were slaughtered in Daraa alone but this did not convince the people to turn their uprising into an armed rebellion. For months on end Syrians in Daraa, Hama, Idlib, and Homs later to be joined by Aleppo and Damascus amongst other central cities, marched through city centers to be met with overwhelming force of the Syrian military. They weren’t even facing cops! This regime, which is unfriendly to western-Imperialist interests, was treating unarmed citizens as one would imagine it should treat an invading Zionist army from the south! Despite these extreme responses by the regime, which make the tactics used by Mubarak’s police, now SCAF, against the revolting masses pale in comparison. Yet armed elements remained completely below surface, even talks of armed reply to the regime was a highly controversial topic for months on end.

All throughout these events our friends of the globalized left were deteriorating with poorer and poorer health. The folks at MRZine, the Zine section of the Monthly Review digital leftist publication, were up to their usual tricks as with their unflinching support for the Iranian regime in its brutal crackdown of the unarmed uprising in 2009. It was argued that Syria is too much of a crucial regime in the fight against Imperialism in the Arab front, for decades US and Israel were working to destabilize this regime as it’s the only Arab regime to stand against the Saudi oil axis which seeks to normalize relations with Israel and help the US enslave the region so much more smoothly. Syria is the focal point to all that in the Arab world. Of course such ideas are not original researched but are unsophisticated variations on the public positions of the Iranian regime as is customary for the zine.

First of all, it’s a complete lie that Syria is the roadblock to the Saudi oil axis, especially since Bashar Al Assad took power Syria has been carrying out a strong accommodation policy with the Saudi regime while trying to balance its historic Iranian ally. Second of all, come  the launching of the 2nd gulf war, Bashar al Assad’s regime, much like his father’s in the 1st gulf war, allied itself with the US & Saudi gulf oil axis in the “Coalition of The Willing” for the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Adopting lines directly from the regime’s own talking points menu has its certain charms. We often hear similar lines coming from “moderate” anti-Imperialist pundits. Lets take Liane Ross for example. In an extensively studied article Syria: It’s Not What We Should Do Now, It’s What We Should Have Done Then Ross looks into the mistakes of the world’s conflict-mending bodies in their response to the “Syrian situation”. The article begins with enumerating the “wrong” ways for foreign bodies to deal with a situation of conflict between a government and a revolting population citing numerous studies done by members of various western liberal “conflict resolving’ institutions.

Now this is particularly novel idea, where were these alienated studies done with a cool air of distance about the unresolved “conflict” between the Egyptian and Yemeni people and their respective governments when they were pushing their leader-oppressors off the sit of power? Oh right! It was done by liberal Imperialist magz like the New York Times and Time magazine, well, you cant be really blame them since they are only defending the interests of the western Capitalist/Imperialist class they represent.

Ok where were we? Oh of course! Syrian opposition activists being called liars and fabricators by the regime and their “moderate” anti-Imperialist hasbara pundits. The neatly enumerated study points, all carefully cited, bemoan the idea that handing any assistance to rebelling groups from outside can solve anything and bemoan the idea that an armed struggle can solve anything at all (seriously haven’t these people heard of the Suez struggle launched in coordination with Tahrir?). Illuminating is the argument against foreign intervention, we know from the recent past that such actions have not had an ending that was less than a catastrophe (Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya nudge nudge..) but the argument given by Ross is that it pushes target regimes to be “less peaceful”. We are also given many instances that any assistance to the rebelling side against the regime “prolongs conflicts”. So now we are aware that the interest of all moderate peace-seeking parties is to end the “conflict” and so we are made sure to know that supporting the “weaker side” prolongs it.

The accusations leveled at the opposition activists in Syria from many points of the globe have become so bad that as of little more than a month ago we saw a gigantic inflation of citizen journalists armed with hand held digital & smartphone cameras, pacing the streets of besieged cities like Homs and Idlib filming the hourly horrors that befall their many neighborhoods and homes while risking life and limb unprotected from constant bombardment from tanks and missile launchers of the military which  answers to president Bashar Al Assad. Each day tens of new videos are posted on Youtube by citizen journalists placed in neighborhoods like Baba Amro and Karm Al Zaitoon in Homs alone! Each is prefaced by the amateur journalist  announcing the date, time and the place of what we are seeing.

Seasoned globalized anti-Imperialist activists are made sure to hear the words of the attacked side in global conflicts, in this instance, they see the Syrian regime naturally as the attacked side, here Bashar Al Assad’s own point of view rings most crucial. I tend to agree with the notion that the junior Al Assad is not another dictator numbskull like Mubarak or Qadhafi, in every speech on every podium, in every interview Bashar is the most rational, thoughtful orator. He is a moderate head of a moderate state, he is surprised by the uproar in his region about his decisions, after all, he is having an extremist terrorist insurgency on his turf and all he desires in the world is to preside over a peaceful end to the conflict and calls on the opposition for dialog through negotiations.

This stuff is eaten up like morning pancakes by the seasoned “moderate” anti-Imperialist pundit, and so they parrot the call for “peaceful resolution” to the “conflict” through the medium of negotiations with the regime and see the opposition’s stern rejection of dialogue with the regime as proof that foreign imperialist “regime change” elements puppeteer the opposition, which makes them little more than stooges of US-Saudi-Zionist destabilization plot against the “imperfect” lone Arab roadblock to smooth Imperialist control over the region. That’s what we have and the right side of history is forever the opposite side to Imperialism.

While the brutality of the regime mounts as fast as the bodies pile up we also see more principled left thinkers stumbling over themselves to reach a coherent position that is in line with their previously pronounced world view while being unable to be hypnotized by Bashar’s calculated demeanor. In mid November of last year Dr. Joseph Massad published a usually thought provoking article on Al Jazeera’s English website succinctly titled The struggle for Syria. In the article he gives an account of the catastrophic results seen in warring countries that had a “helping hand” through a military strike by NATO and its allies in the past, he also correctly points out that Qatar is now NATO’s new brother in arms since the kingdom’s intervention in the Libyan war, but the conclusion of the article is hazardously acidic.

In the last paragraph Massad correctly claims that the dominant Syrian opposition body the Syrian National Council has already been hijacked by forces that are loyal to the Saudi crown and are strongly in favor of NATO intervention in Syria, which is unthinkable that such action would lead to results we have not seen before in Iraq, Afghanistan and the still civil war torn Libya, where large groups of fighters and civilians keep dying every week since the then allies in the struggle against Qadhafi are now warring in the streets and wrecking havoc, the new leader of the country is now poised to repay NATO for its “assistance” in bombing Tripoli into rubble. Massad asks: “Is the aim of their ongoing uprising the overthrow of the Asad regime in order to bring about a democratic regime, or is it simply to overthrow Asad?” and following to the argument that we live in a US-dominated world in which struggles against repressive anti-US regimes face hijacking by those very same US-dominated interests & their allies like the Syrian Muslim Brotherhood and the National Council in exile which has allied itself with the former Massad warns: “the revolt will only bring about one outcome, and it is not a democratic one” namely a US sponsored dictatorship like we see today in Saudi-Arabia, Bahrain, Iraq and Afghanistan. With that artfully constructed warning Dr. Massad sheds his protective shell of worry for the future of the Syrian nation with a single toxic proclamation: “they must face up to the very difficult conclusion that they have been effectively defeated” for if they choose to continue their struggle to free themselves of the murderous Mafia like rule of the Assad family they will unarguably face the situation where poor Bahrainis and Iraqis find themselves in nowadays and Egyptians found themselves under the repressive rule of Sa’adat and Mubarak.

This proclamation is very crucial in understanding the psychosis preying on the globalized left since March 15, 2011 till this very day, but really it has a long history in the Arab world. Especially since the defeat of the secular-nationalist Pan-Arab forces by the Israeli army with gargantuan support by European and American Imperialist powers in the late 60s such as France and the United States the Arab peoples have been facing unmitigated repression from their rulers. Republican regimes were no less repressive than monarchic regimes. Any attempt at people power were brutally repressed, parties who were not puppeteer by the Arab republican regime were forbidden and forced underground. Anti-Imperialist leftists of the time argued vigorously for total support of the republican regimes who were antagonist to the US hegemony against the backwards monarchic regimes. All that to the detriment of their socialist comrades and student activists in those “left-leaning” Arab republican who were jailed in filthy cells for decades, exiled or executed (not to mention the prevalent position of criminal softness in regard to the crimes of the Zionist regime from leading European and American radical intellectuals of the time). This stance had a decisive hand in alienating the Arab left and many left-leaning people in the world just like it does now such as the unapologetic and “Moderate” anti-Imperialist “explainers” of the vicious and mass murdering regime of Syria like MRZine and Liane Ross respectively, a regime which produces close to 100 martyrs each and every day, shelling civilian towns and neighborhoods as was done by the Israelis in Gaza just over 3 years ago and repeating on a smaller scale to this very day.

This form of proposed anti-Imperialism is making the left increasingly irrelevant and leaves it sterile. What is the use for us if we can’t even decide to support the people undergoing daily massacres on the streets of Homs, Hama and Idlib? When we argue this rogue form of anti-Imperialist we argue ourselves straight out of the discussion! We can write and argue till our tongs dry up and this discussion would be ghettoized between our peers. These days we are witnessing the gears of history, those very same ones that began in Tunis little over a year ago, the Syrian people decided to launch a partial armed struggle in several regions of the country primary to defend strongholds of the uprising such as Homs and Zabadani and is growing in other regions. This struggle is being lead by the forces defecting off the regime’s military and joining the Free Syria Army which has strong ties to those pesky bureaucrats in the Syrian National Council in exile, and so we see scholars like As’ad AbuKhalil saying no to the regime and no to the FSA which is the only party currently protecting the welfare of Syrians besieged by their own government and Liane Ross saying that the uprising Syrians should lay down their guns.

You are the losers, it is time to admit it! You who have been parroting regime talking points when it suited you and discarded them when what suited you more became citing western liberal institutions on conflict-solving from Washington DC. It is the left’s responsibility to act to defend the oppressed and abused from the powerful, not the UNSC or NATO nor regime “moderates”. Its too late, yes, it is too late for us to lecture Syrians on how to conduct their struggle, we must unequivocally send our absolute support for the struggling Syrians being slaughtered right now in Homs, Hama, Zabadani, Aleppo, Douma, Daraa, Damascus and any corner this blasted regime abuses people fighting for a just and civil life.

Haifa: Palestine in Solidarity with the Syrian Uprising

A Friday Afternoon Under The Boot of The IDF

January 2, 2012

It was something similar to a typical Friday afternoon in the West Bank village of Nabi Saleh, since December of 2009 the village has been holding weekly peacful demonstrations against the continual land grab by adjacent Jews-only settlement of Halamish which was established on the village lands. The initiation of the weekly demonstrations was sparked when settlers from Halamish rushed & occupied the Al Qaws under full protection of the occupation forces natural water spring belonging to the village of Nabi Saleh which, like a majority of West Bank villages, has a serious problem with shortage of water due to Israeli Civil Administration (which is nothing short of a centralized IDF martial command post in the West Bank) strict forbiddance for West Bank Palestinians to drill for underground water wells on their own property.

As pointed out earlier this Friday wasn’t just another typical Friday demonstration on the village’s lands, for this was the first weekly demonstration following the targeted fatal shooting of an unarmed demonstrator Mustafa Alrazaq Tamimi who was shot in the face with a metallic gas canister from the distance of a few meters from a small opening in the back of an armored IDF jeep.

Prior to the start of the demo some solidarity activists had the idea to drive up to the occupied Al Qaws spring in a minibus with Israeli license plates and stage a silent disruption, since the spring has become a tourist attraction for Jewish Israeli visitors at the settlement. I was offered to join the ride, which was to be taking place prior to the demonstration proper that is taking place on foot from the village’s main road, I declined, preferring to spend more time with pals who were going to march to the spring on foot, as is done every Friday. As expected the ride-up demonstrators who staged the silent sit-in on the road by the spring were violently arrested & dragged off into jeeps which then rode into the Halamish settlement IDF base. This is not an unusual response by the occupation army in these non-violent mixed demos at which Israeli & international solidarity activists are participating along with Palestinians. The army tries to remove the sitters as quickly and as smoothly as possible to avert any growing inconvenience to the Israeli tourists at the occupied spring.

I myself have been taken to custody by the occupation army a number of times in the past in the midst of peaceful demonstrations in the West Bank, there is always a colossal separation between how the occupation army treats the Israeli & international detainees and the way it treats Palestinian Arab detainees. Palestinian detainees receive a quick separation treatment from us Israeli & international activists, they will be the first to be handcuffed & blindfolded while Israeli & international detainees will often spend their entire detainment unbounded. Another crucial difference is the Palestinian detainees are immediately charged with “throwing rocks” by the soldiers & captains while the Israeli & internationals are merely charged with “disturbance of the peace” or “being located in a closed military zone”. Getting detained or arrested with Israeli or international activists the Palestinian detainees will receive a much lighter treatment than they would if they are detained without the leering eyes of detained Israeli & international observers.

I have had many Palestinian friends who have been brutally beaten, spat at, kicked while they’re bound on the ground moments after their arrival at their detainment location. Often the soldiers will occupy a house in the village, force all the residents outside or lock them in a small room in the house, afterwards they will bring their “catch” Palestinians who they’ve detained without charges, march them into the house and administer torture right there behind closed doors, while their relatives hear their shouts & screams of pain! Moments, JUST MOMENTS before they take their detained Palestinian Arab victims  out of view of Israelis & internationals they make it look as if these fellers are just going on a short trip! A show for the ever present cameras accompanying the weekly demos. I remember vividly the first time I was arrested & held captive in one of their barracks with a group of other detained friends I was feeling very cocky knowing full well & doing all my book learning about the separate treatment of Jewish Israeli flesh & Palestinian Arab flesh by the occupiers, I refused to follow orders, refused to stand up, refused to sit where they wanted me to sit, the response of the occupation soldiers was: “c’mon this is not like you see in the movies, we don’t beat anyone here, just get up and sit over there” I knew this was a joke, a week earlier the Coordinator of the popular unarmed struggle Bassem Tamimi was beaten to a bloody pulp right here! Right at this very base before being let go! They had no charges against him, they beat him just to scare him, this is what they do, its done on a daily basis all around the West Bank where unlucky Palestinian are being detained without non-native observers, they are being taken from their homes and brutally beaten often even stripped naked throughout the entire ordeal! If they’re lucky they will be allowed to return home and seek medical treatment instead of being hauled away to one of the dreaded stinking occupation detainment camps where their wounds will not get proper treatment and they can expect weekly/sometimes daily repetition of physical violence from camp guards & forced nudity!

Now, my stubbornness often lands me in trouble, as it is not once that I’ve been  “taken aside” for a “a few good words” with the batons of the soldiers or being the only Israeli detainee to be blindfolded throughout the entire period of detainment (which just lasts for a number of hours until the occupation captain decides to send you to police station or free you) but I was not expecting what was in store for me that Friday at the weekly demo in the grieving village of Nabi Saleh which has just experienced the slaying of its first martyr, first casualty of the popular struggle.

As I mentioned before I joined the main march down the village’s main road to the occupied natural water spring, as always we were met with a barrage of tear gas canisters, shot directly as bullets, & plastic covered metallic marble bullets which locals like to nickname “rubber bullets” which don’t contain any rubber whatsoever.. All this is taking place following the violent mass arrest of the riders to the spring, after they have been unloaded at the base a civilian settler has attacked one of the Palestinian detainees amongst the riders while he was handcuffed as the soldiers were watching and not lifting a finger to pull the settler away, leaving a bloody gash on the victim’s face, another example of that colossal separation in the treatment of Palestinian and non-Palestinian detainees.

As we were picking our wounded from the main road we decided to change course and head to the spring via the rocky valley down the hill, another group of marchers were detained down the valley as we marched downward as the captain and soldiers shooting, cussing at us & sharing sickening sexist remarks to our sisters whose chants lifted our spirits & blew away our fears as in every demo. Finally the dirty captain decided we had enough and began gunning up to the remaining protestors which scurried away up the hill running after one of my friends who, if caught, will receive the typical “justice” saved only for the Palestinian Arab. I decided to make a stand and remain standing there proudly with my Palestinian flag, last thing I know the dirty captain yells “catch him!” I didn’t even move.. really had nothing to “catch”.. the captain grabs me by the collar and commences to chock me while dragging me down the valley to the jeeps, meanwhile the other soldiers kick are kicking me in the shins, all so slightly so the media cameras from behind wouldn’t catch. All this time they attempt to make me drop the flag unsuccessfully cheering to themselves “aah we finally got him!” realy again.. I was standing right there, I didn’t even run away. At one point the captain is chocking me so hard I black out for a moment & fall on the rocky ground, captain screams “GET UP!” as the other soldiers kick me on the ground as the captain finally pulls me up by the collar. Someone grabs my flag and I lose it. The captain then scoffs at the soldiers “NOT here! not here!” then lays onto me “you want to be one of them? You want to be like them? You’ll receive the Palestinian treatment!”

The captain

The captain then proceeds to push me up the road and another soldier sticks me behind the jeep and smashes my head against the metal jeep doors then yells in Arabic: “spread your legs!”,”give me your arms!” as he’s cuffing me 2 other soldiers come up and punch me in the head and body, 3 more jump in and begin to repeatedly bash my head on the metal doors all the while kicking me in the legs and feet, beating my torso with the blunt ends of their rifles. Screaming in pain that only made them hit me harder with repeatedly threatening “shut up , SHUT UP!!” for fear my screams were to be heard by media persons & demonstrators stationed up on the hill. I’m standing cuffed fearing that if I am to fall then that would be the end of me! More and more soldiers are lining up to repeatedly punch the dirty traitor in the stomach as hard as they could, some of them take a running start and begin ramming their metal helmets crushing my face and head against the metal jeep doors, all this time laughing and goading: “you’re not so tough right now are you?”

What pathetic cowards? The 5th strongest army in the world! They wouldn’t get close to me while I was standing few feet from them holding up the flag taking in their sexist dirty remarks, their interjections “if you’re a man come here, come, come” yeah, you are truly brave brother even your face is covered with a protective facemask! Following the beating, I guess every one of them got a turn, the captain grabs me again and throws me inside another jeep, the driver, in civilian clothing, most likely a settler who works there, peeks in “oh ho ho! Look what we have, now you’re not as loud as you were over there!” I guess he heard the chanting from the settlement. A soldier throws my bag into the jeep as well as the flag! Then grabs the flag back and removes it from the poll leaving me a nice white poll while he’s stomping the flag to the ground. Another soldier lays in with the camera, by that time I still had my kaffiya on, the other soldier wants to remove my Kaffiya before taking a picture of their catch, but the others interject: “he looks more like a terrorist with this on, leave it on him!” The jeep drives a few meters where im unloaded into the main base barracks where I meet other comrades who were detained earlier with a look of bloody horror on their faces “are you ok? Do you need a doctor?” I did need a doctor, besides hurting everywhere I felt a particularly sharp pain in my chest that wouldn’t go away, but I declined, I do not trust my captors to bring me a doctor or anything that wouldn’t aggravate my situation. I did recall how when I was blindfolded once I’ve gotten thirsty and a guard gave me something to drink which tasted like piss, that was months ago, but I did not forget.

I do not regret my stance, and I am prepared to make it again and again! Every blow from the blunt end of their rifles felt nothing compared to the pain of the last Friday afternoon when we lost you Mustafa! There is no life under occupation that’s worth living without resistance.. I was lucky to come off that afternoon with an assembly of swollen bruises on my head and shins and a cracked rib it felt like what was in store for me was much more then that, but I would do it again! For the bones will heal but your mother’s pain will never heal! It was my pleasure standing beside you on all those runs around the zaitoon, I have set it for my self to be a friend a comrade of the oppressed, the ones struggling for freedom and dignity well you have already received your freedom and dignity and in the process inspired us all to march on!

In Memory of Mustafa: The End of Another Demonstration

January 1, 2012

It was in the hours of early afternoon, another weekly Friday demo in Nabi Saleh drawing to a close as Israeli soldiers begin to retreat from the hill which stretches from the upper levels of the village to the heavily guarded Al Kaws spring which was violently overtaken by neighboring Halamish settlers exactly 2 years ago.

In the distance we saw a huge armored caterpillar tractor speeding its way inside the village accompanied by 2 armored jeeps. Everyone knew what this meant. It meant carrying out the destruction orders put upon several houses in the village as punishment for their residents participating or organizing the weekly Friday demos. We rush towards the road to try & face the tractor while its operator is busy plowing into some rocks on the side of the village’s road, as we get closer to the tractor we are overwhelmed by a rain of teargas which covered the road completely in an unbearably painful choking fog, even a tiny whiff of which renders one blind, with irritating skin & unable to breath minutes after it passes. The brave & brazen youth of the village begin barraging the armored tractor with rocks from a hill next to the road as soldiers poking their steel marble bullet rifles & aluminum teargas canister launchers flinging bullets & canisters which whistle centimeters by the protestor’s ears, breaking the limbs of some.

As the gas gets overwhelming the youth descend onto the road, at which point, the tractor & armored jeeps are making their slow exit out of the village & towards the army checkpoint located just outside the village homes at the eastern extremes of the village. The smothering fog begins to clear as I hear disturbing screams coming from further down the road. The screams get louder, the last remnant of the poisoned smoke clears the view & I see Loay Tamimi screaming, jumping up & down with a madcap look on his face, not a few meters from him I see a body of a man laying on the road next to the makeshift checkpoint made out of roadside rocks which the village youth use to try and block their village out of reach from marauding IDF armored jeeps, skunk water trucks, teargas cannon mounted trucks, deafening “Scream” jeeps & massive armored trucks which are used to carry armed units in and cuffed, blindfolded & humiliated villagers out.

It is far from unusual to witness a protestor passed out cold on the ground, it is most commonly caused by asphyxiation on the highly potent teargas used by Israeli soldiers to disperse any and all demonstration taking place in the West Bank which are not organized & filed with Jewish settlers. As I try to catch my breath I notice Zi’ad, Loay’s brother is weeping hysterically, the screams get louder I took off running as fast as I could I hear screams of “His face is gone!”, frightened male & female crying resounding in unison as if made by a ghost which descended on this stretch of road to immolate any vibrating strain of nerve it was sensing in my paralyzed knees which just kept on gliding me forward without any sensation whatsoever by that point.

As I get there I see Zi’ad kneeling next to the unconscious man, his whole body shaking, his eyes flooded blood red, attempting to clean the man’s head with his Kaffiya holding it like a mother cleaning a baby after a bath, that’s when it hit me: “Oh no, it is one of Abd AlRazek sons..” as I rush to the body I looked in the face of a dead man.

“Oh My god.. it is Abd Alrazek’s eldest son who is engaged to be married soon!”

Flashback

I am sitting on Abd Alrazek porch with Abd’s two sons & solidarity activists, its completely dark outside at the edge of this typically hot Palestinian autumn day after a long & hectic peaceful demonstration which was met with a typical out of proportion violent response  by the IDF which, at one point, calmly apprehended two of   Abd’s sons Ziad & Mustafa from a street corner, later taken them to an army checkpoint & cruelly beaten with the blunt edges of their weapons. Ziad was there on the porch with us that late evening but Mustafa was not. I told Abd about the time Zi’ad virtually saved my life during one of my first demos in the village I almost passed out scaling the hills around the town with the IDF on our tail, I could have easily fallen off the if it wasn’t for Zi’ad’s constant pulling my ass up another stretch above sea level. After serving us watermelon appetizer for the meal to come shortly I began buggering Abd about his 2nd son which was not present. With a calm manner he confessed his oldest son was visiting with his bride to be & he was unlucky to be released with his brother & that he is most likely on his way to the dreaded Ofer military prison then proceeded to regale a bunch of gawkish, mouth breathing Israelis (us) about his own shocking experiences under Israeli military captivity while his wife & sons piled more food on the plastic table.

Unlucky

Abd Alrazek AlTamimi, father of 7, is a dialysis patient who has been looking for a kidney donor for many years. As of late his situation has began to deteriorate rapidly at which point he could no longer physically participate in the villages weekly peaceful demos to protest the occupation and increasing encroachment on the villages land by settlers of the adjacent settlement of Halamish. Abd Alrazek owns two ford West-Bank taxies and is a taxi driver for a living, but since the stark deterioration in his condition he spends most days hooked up to an old dialysis machine which was installed in his home and leaves him barely able to stand & even sit for long periods of time. Due to his condition all family income duties have been unloaded upon his 2nd eldest son Ziad with the help of Abd’s own brother to taxi the fords up & down the West Bank.

As with such blessed burden which a 23 year old finds himself under comes an unexpected benefit. If Ziad goes to Ofer the family lose their only source of income & Ziad was spared for that day.

Uday, Abd’s 20 year old son & one of two twins has been sitting captive in Israeli military prison for 8 months for taking part in the weekly demos in the village, few months ago it has been revealed that Uday has been transferred to hospital for a broken  jaw after being beaten by the blood thirsty beasts who man Israel’s special prisons for West Bank and Gaza Palestinians since the time Abd himself was captive in them.

Uday is set to be released within the next week.

The Fortunate Son

As a crowed was gathering around the Mustafa I was unable to figure out my place in this scenery. Politically active, highly stubborn, independent “know it all” drained of all meaning & purpose. I am surrounded by Mustafa’s brothers, a few of his friend & his sister, all of whom were in a state though as if the world was melting all around them. I’m the one who received the privilege to be in the company of these iconic men & women in this historic period of a struggle which has the entire world on its tipping scales. The sole reason for that is absolutely NOT a vehicle to wash off my guilty settler conscious! I was entrusted with a blessed burden. The burden which helps me sustain my self worth & my very existence as a loyal comrade of the oppressed. To prove that is not an easy task, I am filled with a purpose to be an accessory in the most important revolutionary struggle in the region where I reside and I attempt to contrast my biological based standing as a privileged being of the colonial-settler caste under the Zionist entity which I loath with all the blood that is coursing behind my eyes for making me, the son of a Russian “Aliya” migrant single mother, the spazzy tourrettes kid who was cursed & beaten every day in Israeli school & despised by Israeli teachers for being a hyperactive, jokish, spazzy “foreigner”.

I could not bare to stand a politicization & realize that according to all the social maths I am  a colonial privileged member of this human pile they like to call “Israel”.

I began a labor which continues to this very day, that labor was critically wounded as I looked into Mustafa Tamimi’s eyes right there on that stretch of road on which he fell.

Voices began emerging as if out of a bottomless canyon, a ford taxi was pulling next to us & I couldn’t make any sense of the voices urging me to quickly pull Mustafa, with a deep gaping hole on the half of his face, into the taxi.. to my eternal shame I snapped a picture as another shabab quickly took my place and lifted Mustafa to the taxi driven by Mustafa’s uncle urging it to go to “Tel Aviv!!” where such mortal injury had a chance to be treated successfully unlike the provocatively understaffed & undersupplied Ramallah hospital.

This moment lasted hours in my head. I replayed & replayed it hundreds of times in a matter of minutes, as I was wondering aimlessly throughout the screams and panic I saw a friend of mine, completely loosing it with a number of people trying to get that big rock man under control. He has just come back from the hospital right back into the chaos. He was shot earlier on his head with a plastic covered steel marble bullet, being a Palestinian and one who never backs down in the face of an army he gets injured shockingly often with an injury more gruesome and bloody than the last one. All he does is smile as the Israelis in uniforms pellet him with everything they’ve got. This is a very common sight in the demos in Nabi Saleh! These are the people that fill the ranks of every important peaceful demonstration in the West Bank, no matter how shamefully small! shockingly many of whom are of the same little village of 500, the mass of a villager with a common name: Tamimi, and I was the worthless little worm standing next to these assembly of giants mourning over a fallen fellow giant.

At which point i wanted to bury myself, I wanted to hurt.. I have been pouncing around the aluminum teargas canisters, sound bombs & plastic covered marble steel bullets in front of the soldiers for 4 hours while ppl I officially count as my comrades but in reality consider to be my betters, were falling left and right with bleeding ears, broken arms & ankles, I was the fortunate one! I don’t get just as emotionally involved as a native Palestinian would to risk his flesh to defend the honor of his homeland and I appear “international” or “Israeli” and the army has a proven policy in effect to harm ONLY Palestinian Arabs. This is well known and the main reason why Palestinians under violent occupation would think to invite us Israelis into their hallowed turf of martyrs.

I couldn’t even consult the grieving friends & family of the fallen giant as I don’t share a common language with most of them. That’s when the blood streamed back in my veins reaching my knees and I began to march forward in the chaos, with absolutely no destination at all. The Israeli Army, universally unbeaten in shameless displays of power in the face of their defenseless victims, set up a number of “mobile checkpoints”, files up with soldiers, at the site of their gruesome crime.

The soldier screamed “Stop! I told you to STOP!” I walked on determined to face in the direction of the jeeps that shot Mustafa without any plan in my head or a reason. A commander walked up to me, grabbed me by the collar & repeated “go back or I will have to arrest you” at this moment, tearing up, I exploded with a barrage of insults aimed at the unhuman scum facing me: “you will not tell me where to stand or go! You S.O.B you scum of the earth, murderer! You’ve murdered someone today! You piece of shit you!!” at which point he ordered one of the soldiers to cuff me as I tried to walk on, I kept screaming “how do you feel? you criminal murderer? You murdered a human being! You feel proud?” his response: “Yes ,I feel very proud of that!” after that  I turned mute. Standing handcuffed the soldier ordered me to come along with him, I refused, he then pushed me ever so slightly forward, repeatedly, as I kept stopping he grabbed my coat & continued pulling me to the villages army checkpoint.

“Sit Down here!”.. “What are you DEAF?? SIT DOWN HERE!!!”..”YOU DON’T WANT TO ANGER ME, SIT DOWN!!” as I stood motionless staring aimlessly at the cloudy skies trying to wrestle the pain down the soldier noticed a number of press cameras  pointed to my direction, he pulled me behind the large prisoners jeep & again ordered me to sit down..

Afraid to risk an “international incident” he just let me stand.. I rly wanted him to beat me right there.. I  wanted it soo bad.. my insides were rotting with shock & grief I wanted to anger them to beat me right then and there! As I was “escorted” inside the mini barracks of the checkpoint I was getting unbelievably cold, but I didn’t utter a word to the guarding soldiers.. I was shivering and they felt cocky asking me in English “what what you do here? Why you come photograph Arabs.. Stinking Arabs?” as I stayed mute they commented in Hebrew “this one looks touched in the head”, “yeah this ones got crazy written all over him”, “an Arab gets shot in the eye & all hell breaks loose…” returning to English: “its good you know, its good that we shoot stinking Arab in the eye” resuming to Hebrew: “I just want to kick him in the head so bad bro.. so bad” I wished it! coming out of there with a big bruise, I deserve it! Fucking useless idiot!

The wind blew stronger through the mini barracks pores & I was beginning to shiver more intensely & felt dead inside until I heard the villagers banging away at the metal checkpoint gate just outside, it made me feel warm, a warmth I did not deserve.

The Hospital

As I arrived late at the hospital where Mustafa was moved to after being cut free I was told of police violently denying the few relatives who’ve received permits to see Mustafa at the hospital from entering the premises. Mustafa’s sick father and any of his brothers and sister were denied permits to leave the west bank at all to see their mortally wounded brother & son. Mustafa’s mother, his uncle who drove the taxi & his son were all who were given permits. The family were subsequently allowed to enter the premises of the hospital out of that famed goodness of the Jewish heart presented by the hospital security administration. After making our way in under false pretences due to hearing that a number of solidarity activists were violently kicked out of the premises for “crowding” Me and my friend found the other solidarity activists who’ve made it in via similarly deceptive means. Bits of Information about Mustafa’s condition were sent to us via the family members who sat outside emergency room where we were all afraid to ascend to for fear of sparking another row with security guards who will not hesitate to violently remove Mustafa’s mother from the premises. We sat patiently as unbelievable news began reaching us.. “his eye is intact!” “he is in recovery, they’re going to clean the blood and try to save the eye!” It seemed totally fantastical compared to the scenes of Mustafa burned into my mind. But I believed every word that came out of that hospital staff.. it seemed so incredible I kept flashing images of Mustafa with a huge facial scar, sitting on his father’s porch smoking nargilla, feeling of guilt & worthlessness slowly ebbed to the back of my mind where they stay vigilant at all times until they are desperately needed or decide to invite themselves without warning.

The Last Time I Saw Mustafa’s Mom before Writing This

Surrounded by activists & supporters sat Umm Mustafa with a blank stare which seemed as the bravest blankness I’ve ever seen! I was taken aback and began to calculate what to say.. and if I can say that?.. will she understand me? do we even have a common language? I chickened out..

As the activists were leaving I saw Umm Mustafa walk away into the darkness of the emergency ward, sat down on the floor and began weeping quietly. It was unbelievable… all this, all this brave face and attention she gave to the supporters and activists it was all just a face.. I drove the 2 hours home with my friend in total silence and went to sleep thinking sweet thoughts of bandaged Mustafa, sitting on his dad’s porch smoking nargilla safe in the knowledge that Uday is playing football in the town’s field.

Rest in peace

My dear better Mustafa

originally published on http://frontlineecho.blogspot.com/