Always Remember – Photo Series

“Between life and death the most important thing that can happen to a man and to a woman is love. And love has many manifestations: meditation is one of the manifestations of love.” Osho

Let us pray and meditate for love to come around again upon Palestine, For love is Freedom, and when Freedom was living between us in Palestine, life was different.

This is a photograph found online of Yafa Street in Haifa, Palestine before the 1948 Israeli occupation.

Haifa, 1948, palestine, israel

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My last day in Haifa… آخر يوم الي في حيفا

May 12, 2015

My trip is about to end, I have a week left and I feel like I still haven’t seen anything. I decided to spend few more days in Haifa to really get my eyes enough of it. I must admit that Haifa is one of my very favorite cities in Palestine.

This side of the world feels like a dream. People refer to it differently now a days… Palestine, the occupied areas, the 1948 areas, Israel. Palestinians who live here are living the real occupation. It feels like living on a land that is literally raped. All the architecture and the houses are so Arabic, Oriental , Arabesque, it screams the Arabian culture, with Arabic calligraphy, and design that dates back to the 1800’s, yet you see Israeli flags decorated around the entrance, and Europeans coming out of the door. Europeans and Americans who refer to themselves as Jewish Israelis and when they see the Palestinians, they are only known as the Arabs.

I find it hilarious how inside the occupied areas you are either a Jew or an Arab. When all the Jews are from all over the world, and all the Arabs are Palestinian. I also find it hilarious how the Jews go by their religion for being Jewish, and the Arabs can be of any religion except Jewish. For all Jewish Arabs are no longer Arabs but are only refereed to as Jews. And what is wrong with being a Jewish Arab? or A Palestinian Jew? Too much of a privilege to the Jews or to the Arabs?

Since when is freedom jailed. Freedom to express who you truly are? Since when are all the Palestinians only Arabs? Since when is being Jewish a nationality? I last checked it was a religion. Since when have the Palestinians lost their identity and freedom to express that they are Palestinians? It is like telling a little boy, “don’t tell them your real name, or they will find out what we did to you, and then we will have to kick you out of your home again like we have kicked your parents”.

And how much do you know about the Palestinians? They are Arabs from the Middle East living in a land that has been chopped up into many little scattered Israeli settlements. Practicing any religion, with the churches and the mosques lined one next to the other, even the synagogue were once lined next to them before their own people decided to isolate them and conquer. The Palestinians, both Christian popes and Muslim sheikhs walk side by side as they go to pray. The Palestinians, who make hummus for breakfast and mjadara for lunch and shakshuka for dinner. They listen to the sound of Arabian oud, and they smoke shesha during their free time. They are known to have great farmers, love everything organic and self-made, from olive trees, to cactus, fig and roses. Small carriages of ka’ek and zaatar, turkish coffee and tea with mint and lots of sugar. They love to play chess and bargees, welcoming every stranger and guest as they pass them by, friendly is within their nature. Warmth and security is what they like to transmit from their energy. And this is all just a glimpse of the Palestinians.

But today, what have the Israelis done to our Palestine? And what are they continuing to do? And how long will the world allow them to? When will it end?

Morning Diary: All about Haifa & It’s architecture.. And what about the freedom of Palestinians? | اليوم العاشر: في حيفا و جمال بيوتها … وين راحت حرية الفلسطينية؟

April 30, and a little bit of May 1st 2015

I spent the whole day in Haifa. Between the streets of Haifa, the houses of Haifa.

I couldn’t resist walking around with my camera. The architecture speak to me. The Arabesque design incorporated with Ottomans and Islamic Art is just beyond incredible. Walking into the Bahai Gardens and looking at the maze they have created in it makes me wonder for what reason did they pick to build the temple in Haifa?

Walking up the Carmel mountain to see the Mediterranean sea from anywhere at all is just breath-taking. Finding treasures in Haifa is so special. You see lots of details on the streets, and shops that come out of nowhere that speak Art and Culture.

I just spent so much time wandering around trying to imagine how it used to be back before the occupation. When all the houses were lived by their original owners, who built them up and decided on their exterior design. There is so much words coming out of each house, screaming out arabic names, and arabic culture. Those houses look sad, and feel sad as they are splashed with Israeli flags, as if to scream back to the houses, “Keep silent, by force”.

The street art of Haifa speaks its anguish. Artists spray their frustration on the walls. Craving peace for all the people living over the land. They had enough of discrimination and constraint. Limitation to freedom of speech from one side, and complete freedom of speech and attacks on the other. These are things most of the world have no idea about, but it is true. Israel is all about discrimination. Jews have all the right to attack, Israelis both Arabs and Jews, have more rights than Palestinians who refused the Israeli occupation. Not that the Palestinians who are under the occupation accepted the Israeli laws, but the land with its people was all attacked by force. Palestinians with Israeli nationalities, are also discriminated and haves much more less rights and say from the Jewish Israelis.

People who are 5 minutes away from one another, have no right to see each other unless they get permission from the state of Israel. Who in the world accepts that. A piece of the land is turned into an open air jail with people deprived from the freedom of living at all. Gaza. Give it a search, a little beyond what the Israelis have to say about them. Let us hear both sides, let us hear outsiders. Let us stop following the media for once, let us stop falling into the holes that were only plotted by the superior. Let us try and listen to the underdogs, let us try to be wiser, and more earth connected.

History books have changed, chapters and chapters of Palestinian proof of existence have been burned or thrown away. March like a robot, obey the state and gaze to the ground with very little voice or no voice at all. And the people march. Not knowing where they came from or where they are going. But waking up when it is too late to realize that without true and honest past, to who you truly are, where you come from, what your blood and genes crave and lean towards, you will never be happy, never live in peace with yourself.

Give the freedom to the people, to the souls that were born freely, to float upon space, to dance in life, to love one another before looking at their identification. Who are you, is what you bring with you, is what you choose to say, and how you decide to act. Let the world live in harmony, because it only laughs harmonically. Like the trees that surround the houses, like the houses, and how they ache with time. The aches are stains of culture and history, leaving them to change color like the trees change color. This is life’s nature, the change of color. The change of generations. Don’t change their colors by force, don’t cut their leaves by force, don’t take away the rain and the sun. Let them be free, let them grow to be what they were born to grow up to. “For a free Palestine”.

 قد ما حيفا حلوة حسيت إنو يوم واحد مش كافي فحبيت أقضي يوم تاني فيها.

كنت بس بدي أمشي على أراضيها، مع كاميرتي لأشوفها بعدستي وعيوني وأتفرج على كل صغيرة و كبيرة من بيوتها وأشجارها. العمارة والبيوت بحيفا ما بنشبع منها. فيها الفن الإسلامي و العثماني، والأرابيسك وإبداعات مرسومة على بيوت حيفا. روحت لفة على حدائق البهائيين، و تأملت بشغلهم و تألقهم و فكرت كتير ليش اختاروا حيفا ليبنوا فيها معابدهم؟

المشي بين جبال الكرمل و الطله على البحر المتوسط اشي بياخد العقل. بين شوارعها و بيوتها مليان آثار و مجوهرات صعب ما يلفتو نظرك. بيحكولك عن الفن و الثقافة الموجودة.

كنت أمشي و أصفن، أفكر بالبيوت و أهاليها. وينهم هلأ؟ و مين موجود فيها؟ و شو بيخطر على بالهم؟ كيف بتكون الحياة اذا أهلها الفلسطينية لسه فيها؟ كيف بدو يكون ذوقهم جوا البيت إذا البيوت من بره لحالها جمالها بجنن؟ البيوت بتحكي معك و بتبكيلك من الأعلام الاسرائيلية اللي مرشوشة عليها.

الفن اللي بشوارع حيفا بحكي معاناتها. الفنانين برسموا مآسيهم على حيطانها. الناس عطشانة سلام و آمان على أراضيها. مشتاقين لآهليها اللي في الشتات و اكتفت من الحياة اللي كلها عنصرية و أنانية. تعبت من الحقوق المفرقة بين اليهودي و العربي. تعبت من سكوتها و حرمانها من التعبير. نفسها تحكي و تبكي و الناس تسمعها. هي شغلات ما حدا بعرف فيها. أو خليني أحكي الأكترية ما بتعرف. اليهود بيقدروا يحكوا و يبكوا و يهجموا و يسبوا، بس العربي مش مسموح إلو. الإسرائيلية عندهم حرية التحرك بكل فلسطين الداخل و الضفة، بس أهل الضفة ممنوع، إلا بموافقة من إسرائيل. و حتى الفلسطينية المتجنسين إسرائيلي، فهدول لساتهم فلسطينية بس مجبور عليهم العنوان الإسرائيلي، و حريتهم محدودة مقارنة باليهود.

في ناس بعاد عن بعض ٥ دقائق، و مع هيك، ما فيهم يشوفوا بعض من غير موافقة من الحكومة الاسرائيلية. و في ناس بالسجن. لا بيقدروا يروحوا و لا ييجوا، و لا مسموحلهم زيارة من أهل البلاد كمان. مين بسمع فيها أو بيرضاها؟ غزة! اقرؤوا عنها! بس مش من طرف اليهود، حاولوا اعرفوا عنهم و كيف عايشين. بكفي جهل و همل. بكفي نعيش تحت الاحتلال الصهيوني. خلينا انبلش نقرأ و نفكر شوي. خلينا نحكي مع الأقلية و اللي مأكول حقهم، خلينا نكون من الأرض و نقرب الشعوب بالتواصل إنساني.

التاريخ اليوم اتغير، و اللي بكتبوا التاريخ بغيروا في. الأثر الفلسطيني يا حرقوا يا كبوا، الناس عايشة زي الآليات بس بتطيع أوامر الدولة و بتمشي على خاطرها و قراراتها. لا بيعرفوا من وين أصلهم ولا فصلهم. ولا من وين أهاليهم و شو هي عاداتهم. ضايعين أكتر من العرب، ممنوع يبحثوا عن تقاليد أجدادهم. زي الرجل الآلي… بس بيمشي ورا هالسياسة الوسخة. و في منهم بصحوا، متأخرين على حياتهم، ضايعين و مش فاهمين، بس بدهم يتواصلوا مع حالهم. يبحثوا عن تاريخهم، لانو من غير تاريخه الواحد بضل شاعر بالضياع.

أعطي الناس الحرية. خلي الناس تتراوح مع مشاعرها زي ما إجت و كيف ما إجت. خلي الناس تعيش و تشوف شو إلها و شو عليها. خلي الروح طلقة و حرة، زي ما خلقت حرة، خلي الإنسان حر. خلي يدور على اللي لإلو وخلي يلاقي اللي مخلوق عشانه. خلي الناس تلاقي بعض من غير عناوين قبل ما يتعرفوا، يحبو بعض على شان حبوا أرواح بعضهم مش هوياتهم. عشان مين إنت بتكون وكيف بتحكي و شو بتسوي. مش من وين لجأت و شو ديانتك.  هيك خلي الحياة زي الطبيعة ما حدا يقص وراقها متعمد ولا يغير ألوانها. لا يحرمها من الشمس و لا من المطر. خليها تغير ألوانها لحالها زي ما الله خلقها، خليها تبين عيوبها و جمالها من غير ما أي حدا يدايقها أو يغير فيها.  هيك الدنيا أحلى بحريتها بس وين حرية فلسطين؟

Morning Diary: Visiting the most beautiful: Haifa and a Palestinian artist and architect in neighboring village | اليوم التاسع: زيارتي الى اجمل مدينة في العالم “حيفا” و زيارت بيت الفنان الفلسطيني احمد كنعان في قرية طمرة

April 29, 2015 Yes, it has been almost one month, since I was able to sit and upload my photos, and work on a new blog post of my unforgettable trip to Palestine, while it is still under the occupation of Israel. Yes, I believe one day, the occupation will be over, and people will live in peace, Palestinians will get their right of return, and the land stops being mistreated with racism and discrimination. I hope I live to witness the change of love. A short trip to Haifa, and the photos below is just a sneak peek of what Haifa is all about, I will be uploading more on Haifa in my upcoming posts, Haifa can not be well described, because as much as you try to describe its beauty, you fail to achieve it. Yes, this is how much Haifa is beautiful, and what is more beautiful, is how much the people of Haifa love Haifa. Arabs, Muslims, Christians, and Jews, both whom consider themselves Palestinian or Israelis, are all obsessively in love with Haifa. The only main problem about Haifa, is that it has lost it’s very original real citizens or what are also known for “El Haifawieh”. The city is no longer lived by its native citizens, but instead is lived by immigrants from across the world and people from all over the rest of occupied Palestine. Which is pretty sad, because without the real citizens, you lose value of the real culture and rituals. So a call out from Haifa: “Ya Haifawieh, Wenkom?” “To the true people of Haifa, Where are you?” What I have also admired the most about Haifa, is entering the city. A splash of magical emotions just storm right into you. You feel you have suddenly arrived somewhere very very special. A place where you do not need to speak any longer, but instead you only want to listen. I then decided to go visit a friend in a village right next to Haifa, Tamra. I was very lucky, to accept this invitation and meet one of the most admiring family ever. I unfortunately was not fortunate enough to meet with the Artist who is the father of 4 talented kids. But I think I was lucky enough to meet them, meet his mother who is also their grandmother, and be nourished by his art and work. As soon as I got to his home, I remembered Barcelona, Parc Guell, Gaudi, and I was right, Ahmad Kanaan, the artist, is very much inspired by Gaudi, and his work is just as inspiring.

حيفا، حيفا، حيفا، يا حيفا،

الناس لما تغزلت فيكي، و نشدت، و كتبت أشعار، ف هاد أقل شي ممكن ينعمل عشانك. قد ما أوصف أو أي حدا يوصف جمال حيفا، فهو وأنا مقصرين بالتعبير عن جمالك.

الكل بحب حيفا و من أجمل اللي في حيفا لما تسمع سكانها بيحكوا عنها. الكل ساكن فيها و بعشقها، عربي، أجنبي، مسلم، مسيحي، يهودي، بهائي، درزي، فلسطيني، إسرائيلي، الكل بحب فيكي يا حيفا.

الشي الوحيد المحزن بحيفا غير إنها لسه تحت الاحتلال الصهيوني الإسرائيلي، بس إنو حيفا بطل من سكانها اي حيفاوية. سكانها مش أهلها. مزبوط كلهم بدهم يكونوا أهلها، بس همه مش الأصل، اللي ماخد عاداتها و طقوسها. و سكانها بيسألوا عن أهلها. و بنادوا “وينكم يا حيفاوية؟”

في شي غريب و عجيب في حيفا. مدخل حيفا عنجد بيعطيني شعور ما في بلد تانية بتعطيني ياه…. إشي بخليني أقول، انتي غير يا حيفا. و بس بدي أسمع و ما أحكي. إن شاء الله الكل يطلعلوا نصيب يشوف حيفا.

اما غير حيفا، ف أنا كنت محظوظة انعزم ع بيت الفنان الفلسطيني “أحمد كنعان” في قرية عربية مجاورة. للأسف ما صحلي إني أتعرف عل فنان، بس حظي كان حلو إني التقيت بأولاده اللي ماخدين من مواهب أبوهم بالفن، وكمان تشرفت بالتعرف على إمو وسمعت قصصها اللي إن شاء الله بقلكم ياها. وأكلت من أصابع زينب اللي بشهوا كتير من إيدين الجدة، يا ريت لسه عندي منهم. هاد غير إنو البيت إشي تحفة، مشغول بدقة و فن من أوله لأخره حلو كتير بطير العقل.

Morning Diary: Attending Al Nakba Protest versus Israel Independence Day Celebrations |اليوم الرابع: مسيرة العودة يوم احتفال اسرائيل لعيد استقلال

April 23 2015

As soon as I told my mother that I will be in Palestine during the day the Israelis celebrate their independence day, she replied to me saying, “Independence from who or what?”. Seriously. What independence are they celebrating? Our Nakba? The Palestinian occupation? Are they celebrating winning over a land that was never theirs? For those who are not aware of what Nakba is: In 1948 750,000 Palestinians were forced to leave their homes along with 31 massacres, and 531 Palestinian villages destroyed. Unfortunately house demolishing, village destroying and more Palestinians are being forced to leave until today. And this is what Israel is celebrating.

Oh well, there are so many things in this country that just sound crazy, to those who are well exposed to the truth of it all. Anyway, on that very same day, Palestinians who are in occupied Palestine “known as Israel” join a protest in one of the 1948 destroyed villages, demanding the rights of all the Palestinian around the world to return home. Not only do most Palestinians around the world have no rights to return home, but yet worse than all of that, most Palestinians around the world (including the West Bank) are not allowed to even visit their own home. And this is a fact. So Palestinians in the West Bank are unable to join the protest, unless they have permission from Israel.

I was unable to make it all the way to where the protest took place, but I did go half way, and I was very much touched to see children and elders join the protest. A woman who was in her late 70’s said, “I have joined this protest since they started 18 years ago, and I will join it every year until we get our rights to return home.”

Besides the storming politics of my day, I had a wonderful Palestinian breakfast prepared by one of the most generous and warm Palestinian mother who lives in occupied Palestine. She made me a dish called “Shakshoka” and it is just like “Alayet Bandoura with eggs”. Delicious. I was very lucky to meet such a warm family.

Later in the evening, we headed to Haifa, one of my favorite cities in Palestine. I had a walk around the neighborhood and was invited for dinner: a great dish of Kofta with Tahini at the German Street.

Al Bahai Garden Architecture houses and nature of Haifa Palestine IsraelAl Bahai Garden Architecture houses and nature of Haifa Palestine Israel