last night i was talking to a dear friend in deheishe refugee camp who said “we have a revolution of the full.” he meant that because palestinians have full bellies, meat in their refrigerators there is little resistance here in the west bank. it is an interesting theory to consider: if people resist and fight for their rights more when they don’t have enough to eat than when they do. it is a theory that palestinians in lebanon have uttered many times before, though not quite like this. we had been talking about the day i spent in aqraba. as i wrote last week, there are some nabulsi friends of mine who were organizing to come to aqraba yesterday to join the people in friday prayer. we connected with someone in an najah’s student council and someone in a leftist group called tanweer who was coordinating with the village so we could go and support them. my friends and i wrote a bayan and sent it to the others and at our meeting last week it seemed as if we were all on the same page. they promised at least 100 people would go (which is a paltry sum, i know), but in any case it would be symbolic. here was our bayan:
الساكت عن حقه شيطان أخرس
جماهير شعبنا المناضل,
إخوتنا المتضامنين معنا ومن جميع أنحاء العالم :-
مع استمرار الحكومات الإسرائيلية وإمعانها في سياساتها العنصرية تجاه الشعب الفلسطيني من قتل , وتهجير , وهدم , منذ أكثر من قرن والتي أدت إلى تهجير ثلاثة أرباع شعبنا الى مخيمات اللجوء واستشهاد وجراح مئات الآلاف بن أبناء وطننا .
تأبى الآلة العسكرية الآ أن تثبت السياسة الصهيونية التوسعية على عذابات الشعب الفلسطيني المناضل .
تنفذ الحكومة الإسرائيلية مخططا خطير على عدة مراحل, يستهدف هذه المرة قرية عقربا , وتجبر العديد من المزارعين على الخروج من أراضيهم التي تشكل مرتكز حياتهم ,تصادر عددا من المنازل وتهدد الأهالي بهدم 20 بيتا بالأضافه لمسجد ومدرسة القرية وذلك لإقامة طريق يصل بين المستعمرات الإسرائيلية ( يتسهار , اتمار , جتيت ) .
يبدو أن الحكومة الإسرائيلية توهمت بأن الشعب الفلسطيني قد عدم مقومات النضال,يخشى مواجهة إجراءاتها العنصرية بحق الإنسان والأرض الفلسطينية , مراهنة على عدم اهتمام المواطنين الفلسطينيين بآلام إخوانهم في كل مكان.
ان واجبنا الأخلاقي والوطني والديني يدفعنا إلى تلبية نداء أهالي قرية عقربا ليس بقلوبنا فحسب بل بالمشاركة الفعلية بالدفاع عن الأراضي والبيوت الفلسطينية المهددة بالمصادرة أو الهدم.
و نحن إذ نظهر تضامننا مع إخوتنا فان هذا نابع من أننا على يقين بأن منزلنا قريتنا و حياتنا معرضة لخطر المد الاستيطاني في وقت ما.
ولهذا ندعوكم للمشاركة بفعاليات التضامن مع أهالي قرية عقربا
يوم الجمعة الموافق 27/3/2009.
مشاركتكم , إفشال للمخطط الإسرائيلي الاستعماري العنصري.
نقطة التجمع دوار مدينة نابلس
الساعة التاسعة صباحا للانطلاق نحو القرية المهددة .
ليكن العلم الفلسطيني الراية التي توحدنا والخيمة التي تضمنا جميعا .
إخوانكم لجنة التنسيق الفصائلي وكافة المؤسسات والفعاليات الوطنية في محافظة نابلس.
المرفقات : خارطة مبسطه للقرى المهددة ومراكز التهديد.
If you are neutral in situations of injustice, you have chosen the side of the oppressor
Dear sister and Brothers:- For more than a century the Israeli government has continued to persist in its racist policies against the Palestinian people which led to displacement more than three-quarters of our people to refugee camps, the creation of martyrs and wounded hundreds of thousands others. The Israeli government is carrying out a dangerous plan. This time it is aimed the village of Aqraba where many farmers are being forced from of their land, the essence of their livelihood. They are confiscating a number of homes by threatening to demolish 20 houses including the village school and mosque in order to establish a road between the Israeli colonies (Yitzhar, Itamar, Getit).The Israeli government seems to be thinking that the Palestinian people have lost their resources to struggle, afraid to face its racist actions against humanity, betting on the people’s lack of attention to the pain of their brothers. We all have a national, moral, fair and humanitarian duty to respond to the people of the village of Aqraba, by appealing not only with our hearts, but also with our active participation to defend the Palestinian land and homes. As we show our solidarity with our brothers, we know for sure that next time our village and our lives will be massively threatened by these colonies’ expansion. For this we invite you to participate in the activities of solidarity and to Struggle with the people of the village of Aqraba.
Friday, the 27th of March 2009.
Your participation is step towards demolishing the colonial racist plans of Israel.
Gathering point, Nablus City Center At 9am then to move on towards the threatened village.
Let the Palestinian flag unify and gathering us all.
Your brothers of the Coordination Committee of all factional and national actors and institutions in Nablus
Annexes: a simplified map of the threatened villages and the centers of that threat
the bayan was altered by the people we met with at tanweer as follows:
اتحاد لجان العمل الزراعي و مجلس بلدي عقربا واللجنه المحليه للمقاومه الشعبية ان الاحتلال الصهيوني لا يزال ممعنا في سياسته التوسعيه الاستيطانيه العنصريه والتي لا تعرف حدودا ولا احتراما لايه قواننين دوليه ومشاعر انسانيه.ان ما يحدث اليوم في القدس الحبيبه وفي باقي المواقع وفي بلدتنا عقربا حيث سيتم هدم المنازل وتدمير ابار المياه وقطع الكهرباء وتفريغ الارض من ساكنيها فاننا نتشرف بدعوتكم لحضور مهرجان الصمود و التصدي المزمع عقده في بلده عقربا يوم الجمعه الموافق الساعه الوتاحده والنصف بعد الظهر لمكان مدرسه عقربا الثانويه للبنين حضوركم دعما لاهلكم في عقربا ورفضا لسياسة الاحتلال العنصري
The Agricultural Work Committees Union Aqraba Village Council and Local Committee of the popular resistance
At this time the Israeli occupation continues to move forward with its racist settlement expansion policy, which knows no limits
without taking any consideration of the human right to be free and safe on their own land and without honoring or respecting international law. What is happening today in our beloved Jerusalem is also happening in many other Palestinian sites like our Aqraba village. The racist apartheid regime will start it is campaign by demolishing a number of houses and cut the people off from their electricity to unload the land of its inhabitants. For all that and more, we proudly invitie you to attend the repel festival
that will take place on the threatened land of Aqraba village.
On Friday 27-3-2009 ,1:30 PM
Aqraba Secondary School for Boys
Your attending is a support for people Aqraba and rejection of the occupation racist policy
in the end my friends and i–a small group of about 6–decided to go ahead with our plans to go in the morning to join the people in friday prayer in the mosque that is threatened to be destroyed. we arrived and it seemed that the people from the valley–the area that is under threat–were had come up to the center of the village on the mountain above to join this so-called “festival.” (the word–المهرجان–sounds strange when translated into english in this context and other contexts like the festival of al awda organization in baddawi refugee camp in lebanon.) when we arrived it also seemed that the israeli terrorists knew what was up. in fact, all morning huwara checkpoint in nablus had been closed down and no one was allowed to pass. we had to go through beitiba checkpoint anyway because i had the yellow license plates and did not want to waste time figuring out if we could cross huwara and then spend an hour driving all the way around the other side. but when we arrived we were told that in aqraba’s valley the israeli terrorist soldiers were waiting for us. we spent the morning meeting people in this organization–the union of agrucultural working committees–which seems to do good, non-political party affiliated work. it is helping palestinians to resist by helping them access their lands and continue to farm it even when it is confiscated, even if it exists on the other side of the apartheid wall. apparently, the palestinian authority does not help them at all and does not like their work because they think that this organization wants to steal some power (“they think we want a piece of their cake” was the exact expression used). this is, for me, a sign that they are a group that deserves respect and is doing important work.
it was still unclear what was happening but then they wanted us to move to the school for the “festival.” after that we would go down to the village. so we walked over to the school. i had thought that at least we would be having this “festival” in the school that is threatened, but it wasn’t. when we arrived there were hundreds of chairs and a sound system set up. my friend remarked that this costs a lot of money. and all of a sudden it became clear what this “festival” would consist of: men from the village giving speeches. we obliged because if this is what the wanted to do, we were there to support them. but at the same time my nabulsi friends wanted to meet with the people in the valley and see for themselves what was happening and see how they could support them. we wound up waiting for a few hours. even the nabulsi tv crew that came along wound up having to leave because the story was not these speeches, but the people down below. we did wind up meeting a couple of people while we were waiting, however, who came to talk to us. they brought documents with them showing us the papers, over the years, that have been used to steal the land from the people of aqraba. one of them agreed to come speak in nablus about this: our thinking was if we could not bring nabulsis to aqraba, we would bring people from aqraba to nablus. one of these men also commented that he has had absolutely no support from the palestinian authority.
i did not end up staying for the speeches because after 5 hours of waiting i had to leave. i got to see the scouts marching in with their drums and flags (and thank god they were all only palestinian flags–no political party flags in sight). and i heard the opening speech and someone reciting from the qur’an (though i found it odd that they read something about musa when they could have read a sura about the land, about olive trees, about something that is actually related to the context).
during the 5 hours of waiting we had many discussions with the people in the village. some people kept focusing on the microscopic issues without relating the situation in aqraba to the global problem of land theft in palestine. and i was still fuming over saeb erekat’s statement the other day about his commitment to a “two state solution.” but that so-called palestinian “two state solution,” which is 3 state catastrophe (gaza, 1948, west bank), basically will mean that an ever decreasing part of the west bank will be palestine. but the west bank is a small fraction of palestine. i keep thinking if the erekats fo palestine get their way eventually ramallah will be palestine and that is it. or maybe not even that: maybe the israeli terrorists will finally have their way and all palestinians will be pushed into jordan.
i had been asked to give a speech yesterday and if i had been able to stay i would have said only this: that we must liberate the land. most of the time my mantra is the right of return. and it still is. but that right of return is connected to the land. it is not only about my friends in lebanon who demand and deserve their right to return: and return to their villages NOT to ramallah. but because the israeli terrorist regime is in the business of constantly creating new refugees i think we need to imagine a mantra that is more encompassing. i was thinking about the use of a mantra, too, not in the spiritual sense, but in a secular one. people who pray using a mantra do it to cleanse their mind. if people here had a political mantra that was something along the lines of “liberate the land” then maybe they could get rid of these other words that dominate their thinking: words like occupation and checkpoints and two states. liberating the land has always been the goal of refugees. maybe if we use this mantra to change thinking and then behavior we can renew that commitment.
and i thought about this last night as friends and i watched some old palestinian liberation organization (plo) films that i have from lebanon. the films are striking because no one talks about ramallah or two states: they all talk about exactly this–liberating the land. it is striking to hear this and to see the resistance fighters–especially the one film that i love because it shows the fidayeen and the lajaeen as connected. we see the fidayeen reading letters from refugee children thanking them for fighting for their right of return and for liberating their land. this is a history, these are images that my friends here have not seen before. of course, part of the reason is that most such films were destroyed when israeli terrorists bombed the plo archives in beirut in 1982. but the few remaining films need to be distributed and shared here as it not only shows a history, it can be used to point people in the right direction in the future.
and to be sure: i don’t think that people need to be starving in order to fight for their rights. but i do think it is telling that resistance in gaza and in lebanon have been far different than here in the west bank. at the same time if we look to um al fahm this week we can see that one need not be hungry for anything other than their rights in order to resist. i don’t think this idea about the fact that people are not hungry tells the whole story, but i do think that this forced separation makes it impossible for palestinians to be connected, to learn from one another, and to share each other’s strategies for liberating the land.
liberate the land. liberate the land. see it works…it is a good mantra, sa7?