Book Review: Struggle & Survival in Palestine/Israel

‘Struggle and Survival in Palestine/Israel’ book is an incredible read by all means, I actually can not wait to start reading it all over again and copy out the quotes that I found to be informatively mind changing.

For those of you who wish to lean about the Palestinian/Israeli conflict, and for those who know enough but wish to learn more ethnographic stories collected from pre Ottoman to the recent situation, this book is highly recommended. It is a collection of stories/essays about individuals who set an example of many who follow, be it Palestinian or Jewish, the authors are mostly scholars, anthropologists and specialized in the Israeli Palestinian conflict as well as Middle Eastern studies and they bring together a wide perspective juxtaposed to form a some kind of 360 historic view upon the situation. Israelis who were immigrants and how their immigration reflects upon them and how it slowly translates into their recent development into different ideologies and perception, sided with vis versa stories of Palestinians and their evacuation making them refugees or revolutionists or with shattered identities. This book is massive explosion of information, and what I love mostly about it is the diversity in its selection to collect stories that include the refugee, holocaust survivor, the zionist understanding in different perspectives from murder fanatics to just lovers of the land, the person behind Rabin’s assassination and the Leftist who bought a Palestinian home to the humanitarian who joins Palestinian protests and revolutionists, while stories of the Palestinians include, the modernists, the educated, the farmer, the refugee, the suicide bomber, and the activist. The book ends with the tragedy of the present day, the ongoing injustice and blind folded Zionists who continue to make this reality and long living tragedy.

On May 15 the world all together will remember the Nakba; marking 70 years this year for the 700,000 Palestinian made refugees who have become today around 7,000,000 stateless, homeless, with minimal to no human rights and we still continue to live recognizing the state of Israel who happen to be the reason behind this catastrophe.

This book, helps us understand a better picture of the conflict, a sided view of understandings, and a to understand the stories in this book is a step closer to a more free humanity.

From the book:

Page 93: ‘From then on, Yizhar seemed to have lost his naive faith in the wisdom and sound judgment of political leaders… Page 95: There seems to be no doubt as to his innocence, and the storyteller hopes his commander will let the man go, yet ‘security’ has the upper hand, and at the end of the day the shepherd is taken away. There is no big drama in the stories; they are but a glimpse into the reflections of a single soldier who sees things differently.

Page 117: ‘Canaan’s biographers underline his nationalism and the connection between his ethnography and his political involvement during the mandate, linking his interest in popular culture with a desire to defend Palestine against the political, demographic, and cultural challenge of Zionism.’

Page 145: ‘Abul Rahim became aware at a still young age of the danger the Zionist project in Palestine and the British Mandate’s commitment to support it. Jewish colonies were built on the coastal plains not far from his lands. He saw peasants evicted from sold lands becoming homeless and unskilled laborers in towns.’

Page 166: ‘In American Hillel discovered that nations were in fact political and civiv entities rather than organic cultural communities, as they were understood to be in Eastern Europe and Palestine; one could, for example, be both American and Jewish without the one identity threatening the other. For Hillel, distinguishing between Jewish as a religious adulation and Hebrew as national affiliation both reflected reality and provided solution to the problem of dual loyalty. The Jews in America were Jewish by religion and American by nationality. In Palestine, they were Jewish by religion and Hebrew by Nationality. The tragedy of European Jewry was that they were denied the liberty of choosing their nationality and were frequently not accepted into the body politics. The entire raison d’etre of Zionism became cleat to Hillel: to grant this freedom of choice to Jews.’

Page 193: ‘Walid told us what had happened to him. We knew that he had fled his village as a boy in 1948 amid the chaps and dear and found himself alone in Lebanon. He thought his family had preceded him there, but instead they had hidden in the mountains and returned to their village after the fighting stopped, becoming citizens of the Israeli state… Page 194: ‘In keeping with his greater life philosophy, his struggle for him as a Palestinian was about positive change, redemption, and humanity.’

Page 234: ‘My mother came running from the kitchen to find an Israeli army unit handcuffing her children and dragging them into the street. The event was customary. Soldiers often stormed into homes people’s homes and broke the arms and legs of men and boys so as to send a stern message to the rest of the neighborhood that they would receive the same fate if they continued with their intifada.’

Page 302: ‘Israeli advertisements for homes in Abu Tur and other formerly Palestinian neighborhoods of West Jerusalem henceforth employed this tern as a means to identifying the value of the property in question: “authentic Arab-style house in Baka… with original tiled floors and high ceilings”; “superb Arab house completely refinished in the heart of New Tzedek”; “Arab house for sale in the Jewish Quarter of the Old City of Jerusalem… with lots of arches.”…Page 393 ‘I just want to make a Zionist statement before I go on, in terms of living in an Arabic house. This did not bother me in the slightest. I mean, if it had bothered me, I wouldn’t have made aliya. And because we had contact with the Kurdish family who lived here before us, I actually associate the house more with their period than with the previous Arab owners, none of whom I had any contact with. This isn’t to say that I am not interested in the history of this house, the question of why there was a cistern underneath the property, and so on. As an archeologist and ancient historian, I’n very interested. But politically speaking, it’s not a problem for me.’

*Aliya in the above context mean immigration to the State of Israel

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

We Will Always Remember

A photograph of Nazareth, Palestine, before the Israeli Occupation

Maru’s Well – Photograph by Karima Abboud

Nazareth, Palestine, Israel

It is time to pause & reflect 

I see #Jerusalem “Let us give everything the time that it needs” there is nothing wrong about rushing things to happen, as there is nothing wrong in taking our sweet time. One situation is different from another. We can not have it one way, always. But we can learn to listen to life responding to us. Sometimes changes storms into our lives, and sometimes we need to take our time to change things. But I like the #quote by #MarkTwain that says “whenever you find yourself on the side of the majority, it is time to pause & reflect.” 

Our rights to return home.

“We will return” those keys are symbolic to the Palestinian Nation … They represent houses in Palestine that once were left & locked and when returned to, locks were changed & strangers were living in the homes of ours. Those keys are symbolic to our hearts and souls, they represent the evasion of our homes, identity & land, those keys represent our rights of return… Those keys are the original keys to homes that we only left because we were forced to, because our ancestors feared the lives of their children who today are our grandparents who gave birth to our parents & to us with a lost identity. Those keys are our keys back in search of our identity .. The Palestinian identity the Palestinian culture… Thousands of homes that are stolen are still stolen today by the Israeli goverment… And we ‘the Palestinians’ are staying here, on earth, we are going nowhere and we will carry those keys around forever telling our stories over & over until our rights return. To a Free Palestine, a Free World💚   

Al Aqsa-Jerusalem is under attack 

Today & Yesterday AlAqsa is under attack, and it should be headline news & the leaders should be doing something to stop it & the world should stop & pray for it to be protected & the Israelis need to find some sort of faith in them & stop their constant terror & violence. Al Aqsa is a holly mosque that has been situated in #oldjerusalem since 705CE it is a temple for muslims to go worship God in & must never be terrorized or attacked. Let us spread awareness today & let us all pray for Al Aqsa Jerusalem & for the Palestinians to be protected from the attack by Israel – May God & the Angels be there to protect you #alaqsaunderattack   

My visit to Jericho and the Mount of Temptation – زيارتي الى اريحا و دير القرنطل منزار قرنطل

May 16 2015,

“Enough for me to die on its ground and be buried therein, To dissolve and vanish in its soil, And to resurrected as grass, as a flower, With which a child of my country plays, Enough for me to remain in the bosom of my land: A soil, a grass, a flower. -Fadwa Tuqan”

It felt great to walk into a city knowing it is possibly the oldest city in the world. We drove through the empty desert heading towards the city, it looked all carmel hills and felt very warm as it is located right next to the Dead Sea (the lowest point on earth). We then decided to head towards the Mount of Temptations “In Arabic: Jabal al-Qarantal” to discover and see the magical existence of the Greek Orthodox Monastery of Temptation “In Arabic: Deir al Qarantal”. It looked magnificent, a church carved from the hill it self, overlooking the full city if Jericho.

Trying to imagine yourself back in time, back to the beginning of the 1900, how life seemed to be, how they worked through making such a church, and how it is constructed to protect you from the heat of this city. There were no AC’s in there and yet the temperature felt perfectly cool. And apparently, the temperature is perfect at both winter time and summer without the need of heat or air conditions. Isn’t that just amazing and strange? Welcome to Palestine, where experiencing and discovering is on a total different level. Knowing the history of Palestinians will make all the difference for your visit.

The irony in Jerusalem; Trying to catch up on the journeys that were left unfinished, stories that were left half told. We cannot breath the same air without understanding those who breathed it just before us.

Walking on the face of the earth. Starting our own journey yet continuing the journey of many before us. Trying to catch up on the journeys that were left unfinished, stories that were left half told. We cannot breathe the same air without understanding those who breathed it just before us. It looks like a cycle with people walking around it, only with different haircuts and uniforms. We try to ask for details but they give us what they remember and continue with their own journey, we walk upon the streets over the footprints of those who walked before us as we wonder about the stomps of their feet, we look into the old houses, trying to study the architecture, the choice of art and geometry used, hoping they can tell us a little bit more about the taste of their time, and the style of their hearts. Just like a puzzle, and we are part of this puzzle, we either try to fit the right pieces together or we just become a new piece piled up on top of all the other pieces.

So don’t wonder, when you see us walking with wide eyes questioning the earth that our ancestors walked over. Building upon the patterns that were left yet before them forming a culture filled with art and literature. Memories make stories; stories make tales, those tales that are told to us to help create our future. We cannot be who we truly are without understanding where we come from. Our creativity yearns towards the art that was once created before us and about us. Parents dream about their children and they work to create a life filled with security and love for their protection. This work of art is what makes a difference in our lives. Appreciating the past and looking forward to the future.

Palestinians today are victims, limited from their freedom of walking upon the earth that their ancestors walked over and built. Limited to learn about their stories and history, limited from walking their own homes and gardens, limited from reading their old books and writings. How can we stop fighting? We fight to learn about our own selves and about our past. How can you not wonder about yours? You came from somewhere other than here. Your ancestors came from somewhere other than here; they are what make you yourself. Have you no wonders? Have you no interest in self-search and self-discovery? Have you no interest in what makes your creativity a unique one? We have our interest of our own history and culture. We cannot be limited from our own curiosity and freedom of being human. So let us all dance wherever we want to dance, let you and I all live the life we look forward to living.

So here I am in Jerusalem, as I search and discover, as I walk between the old streets and houses, wishing everyone else gets the chance to do the very same. I walked between old city of Jerusalem, head towards my mosque, my temple to pray for the freedom of peace for humanity, I walked to read history on the tiles of the ground, I walked to see stories on the walls. I walked from the east side to the west side, and back to the east side. From the east side I walked towards Mamilla Avenue, outside through the streets towards the YMCA, I walked inside to watch its stunning architecture then headed towards the King David Hotel, I read signs and looked at photographs hang on the walls, then headed towards the traces of the first train station in Jerusalem, it is located between the east side of the Old City and the west side of the German Colony “they once were like one”, walked over the old track of the train, into what used to be the ticket station and what today is a small restaurant, walked the Bethlehem road, and walked the Hebron road, I walked the German Colony ,towards the Baka neighborhood, where you will see the most ancient and authentic houses that tell all the tales from just staring at the windows, I walked back towards Yafa street, and visited homes to discover the oldest maps of Palestine and Jerusalem, I walked back towards the old city again into the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood, cried my eyes out of injustice, and went straight to Al Buraq Wall or what is known as the Western Wall.

If only we are all free to move back and forth from the west side of Jerusalem to the East side, how beautiful life would be if I felt safe around my own neighbor, how beautiful life would be if we stop teaching our sons to hate and instead teach them to love. Jerusalem is an adventure, an experience of irony, an experience of life, an experience of faith. Jerusalem can be our hope, if the people decide to really open their eyes and see.

Which side of Jerusalem do you know ? Part 1

From my visit in the summer, around May 16 2015,

I titled this post as “Which side of Jerusalem do you know?” because Jerusalem has been split into 2 sides, unfortunately. If you ask why? Then I will answer you to ask the Israelis, ask the Jews in Jerusalem. Ask them: Why is Jerusalem split into half?

But then I will advice you, to ask the Palestinians right after. Ask the Palestinians why is Jerusalem divided into half? Ask them how do they feel about it? Ask them how much do they have freedom living in the city of Jerusalem? Ask them how safe is it to move around from the East side of Jerusalem into the West side of Jerusalem?

It sounds crazy. When I first learned about this whole city split into two, the Jews on one side and the Palestinians “Arabs” on the other, I went crazy. I said people are crazy, power is evil, money is complete devil. This can not be real. But, it is.

The east side of Jerusalem; is where the Palestinians live. It is where the old city is, where the Arabs live, the Arabs of Jerusalem, although those Arabs are Palestinians, but of course we have to follow what the state of Israel like to refer them to. You might think the Palestinians are living in complete freedom, peace, and serenity, but of course not. They must be threatened every day. The State of Israel wants all of Jerusalem. So imagine what sort of life the Palestinians are living. Feeling safe only in half side of the city, being watched by Israeli armed men, being chased by Jewish boys, and being chanted at “prayers of death” into their faces.

And so what is in West of Jerusalem? Why do they still want the East side of Jerusalem? Isn’t the most beautiful authentic, houses in the west side? Didn’t the richest of Jerusalem live in the west? What happened to the West side of Jerusalem? It was taken by force like the rest of Palestine. Palestinians who lived in the West side before the 1948, lost their homes, their right of return, and their freedom to even visit where they were once born, where their ancestors lived. I will be sharing photos from the west side of Jerusalem in my next post.

But today, and here, I have shared photos from the border. You will notice the wall, and at the end of the album, you will notice a sign that is between Ramallah and Jerusalem, stating that if you enter the West Bank area, where the Palestinians live, then you are in danger. Sounds ridiculous, but hilarious to the Palestinians. Dangerous? Why? What are Palestinians? Last I checked, I am one. Why am I dangerous? Am not sure again. Politics create terror, they create racism, they create hate, they create violence, and then we follow them and call ourselves Israelis! Proud to be a racist? or Proud to be a creator of terror?

I have also shared a lot of the architecture in Jerusalem. Arabian. Authentic, Historic. Arabesque. Ottoman. Jerusalem is Arabic. You can never change culture. You can never change history. Jerusalem is Arabian. I shared photos of architecture and dates that date back to way before the 1948. Streets names that are all in Arabic. And the architecture, the architecture speaks it all. It speaks the truth, reality. How can the bricks lie to us? Until when will the Jewish immigrants live in lies? When the Palestinians are only asking you to live in Peace?

I then shared photos from the Wind Mill Street. It is a very wealthy Jewish quarter as well. Jewish Israelis living in Arabian houses. Authentic beautiful Arabian houses. If they say they have been living there from before the 1948, then they must be Jewish Palestinian, and if not, then those houses must belong to Palestinians who were evacuated by force somewhere else. Do they never wonder? Or question? Dream? Or think for a moment or two? I am sure they do, just for a moment and then they would wash that thought away. How can they live with the ugly truth. But I keep my slight thread of hope. I keep it and I share it with the Jews and the Palestinians I know, and I pray that one day, humanity will be back into all our hearts, and we find away to fight the terrorist state and bring peace to the people of the land.

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?