tale of 2 nasras

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well, not really. but there are two. one is the original one. the palestinian one. the other one is the colony built on top of nasra’s hill as zionist colonists always build on top of the hill so they have easier access to surveillance as well as offensive actions against palestinians.

nasra (also known as nazareth–you know, that town where jesus was from) is a town that is in a sort of valley/mountain area that is surrounded by mountains that lead into syria and lebanon if you keep driving north. this is where some of my friends’ families fled during an nakba in 1948, but compared to most areas far less palestinians fled nasra. but unlike a lot of areas in palestine this area as somewhat protected as david ben-gurion was worried about what the world’s christian community would say if they destroyed and expelled nasra. but most of the surrounding villages, of course, did face expulsion and destruction. many of those refugees fled to camps. others became internally displaced people in side 1948 palestine. many came to nasra. initially 20,000 internally displaced people (what the zionists called “present absentees”–don’t you just love their way with words?) fled from surrounding villages to nasra. some were able to return home some 7,000 found refuge in other villages nearby, and 5,000 remained in nasra.

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one of the palestinians who was cut off from his nearby village, taha muhammad ‘ali, is a famous palestinian poet from saffuriyya. i saw signs for this village driving around today. his village is now a jewish colony called zipporia. here is one of his poems–“thrombosis in the veins of oil”–and like many of them it shows the steadfastness of survival:

When I was a child
I fell into the abyss
but didn’t die;
I drowned in the pond
when I was young,
but did not die;
and now, God help us—
one of my habits is running
into battalions of land mines
along the border,
as my songs
and the days of my youth
are dispersed:
here a flower,
there a scream;
and yet,
I do not die!

lower nasra is where i believe ‘ali still lives today. and it is also where my friend lives who i’ve come to visit. we are all staying at her grandma’s house which has a gorgeous view of the mountains and the valley. and this area is entirely palestinian. but my friend’s mother lives in nasra ilit (apparently ilit is the hebrew word for higher indicating their inclination to be above). this jewish population is not indigenous to the area and consists mostly of russian jews. it was established specifically to create a jewish presence in nasra. it kind of reminds me of those sniper towers looking over nablus. or the settlements surrounding nablus. the physicality of it is different, but it’s about domination all the same.

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we spent the day at my friend’s mom’s house making ka’ak al eid (okay, well i was working/reading all day while my girlfriends all slaved in the kitchen). they made enough ka’ak to feed an army and the photographs here are of the process of their ka’ak making. and let me tell you it was delicious. as was the eid eve feast we had tonight of mafouf and kibbe that we later had at her grandparents’ house. but the living spaces and their differences are striking. at her mom’s house, for example, you see israeli terrorist soldiers walking home from “work” (read: terrorizing palestinians somewhere sometime today). you see jewish graffiti of stars of david scribbled on walls to mark their dominance. it doesn’t feel safe and it definitely feels different. it’s not like a settlement because there is more fluidity between the communities–the drive between houses is about five minutes–and obviously my friend’s family lives in both places. but one definitely feels safer than the other.

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the ka’ak making took all day so this is mostly what we spent the day doing, talking, listening to music. it was a lovely afternoon. as we ate our eid eve feast the television was on in the background and we talked about the fact that there are 3 million people on hajj in mecca. imagine if each one only gave $1 zakat to gaza? or even better imagine if each one pressured their respective governments to do something about what is happening all over palestine? we also saw this tonight on al jazeera–a program called “lessons in conflict”. it is at once heart wrenching and infuriating. i recommend that you watch this and think about who you are affecting (yes you reader wherever you may be) by your complicity in the form of silence.

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