A letter to Falasteen


A couple of weeks ago, I was sitting in a car driving alongside the Dead Sea, back to Amman, Jordan’s capital, from Dana, a nature reserve close to the city of Tafeela.
While we drove through the red mountains and in the middle of the desert, I looked out of the window and thought to myself: what a beautiful world… How many blessings, alhamdulillah… and how immense is God’s mercy and love for the creation.

The Dead Sea was at my left, as we headed North. It sparkled and glowed under the hot sun. Beyond it was land. Beyond it was Falasteen, looking back at me as I stared at it and wondered if it would have been physically possible for a person to swim that distance.
I could see the land, and it seemed so close. It felt like I would have reached it easily had I simply stretched my arms and hands out towards it beyond that salty lake that separated us.
Oh how I wished to run towards you, Falasteen, and cross over to you.
I had camped the night before with mountains behind my tent, and the Negev desert behind those mountains.

Earlier, at sunset, as I had looked at the horizon, trying to see whatever I could of your sky, Falasteen, I had imagined what it would have been like to just run towards you. Run down those mountains, and through that desert, and be finally there, at the shade of your olive trees.
At night, as the stars appeared in the black sky and the Milky Way floated above my head, I felt small, and much closer to you… Under that sky, the distance between us felt so tiny.

A couple of days later, I was back in Italy, sitting at a restaurant table and having hummus and falafel with about 30 Palestinians and the Palestinian ambassador. As I listened to her, and as I looked at the people sitting at that table, I was grateful to recognize in them the same feeling that filled my heart, a feeling that keeps all Palestinians, wherever they are, scattered around the world, wishing to see you free, wishing to tell everyone about you and about your beauty, Falasteen.

But what is it that makes so many Palestinians that have never met you feel this ‘haneen’, this nostalgia, for you? What is it that enamours people from all over the world with you?
I keep on asking myself this question, and I think the answer is that it’s because you are so intensely intertwined with the question of Justice. Every aspect of your cause is related to the question of Justice, and even more so to the question of Truth.

Speaking about you, Falasteen, constantly requires that we keep on questioning the true meaning of Freedom, that we ask ourselves what it truly means to live with the other, if it is possible to find a way to coexist with another identity while we keep and preserve our own, while we struggle for this identity to be given the right to be. Looking at you and listening to your stories forces us to actually examine what identity means in the first place. How is it connected to the modern ideas and concepts of nation-states? In which way is it connected to the land and to geography? How does it deal with what is put outside of it and therefore, in some way, participates in defining it?

Meeting the struggle of the Palestinian people against oppression, colonialism and occupation brings us inevitably to contemplate the significance of ‘Karamah’, dignity, and to think the concept of ‘people’ in a reversed way, “Every people lives on a land, except for the Palestinian people: their land lives in them”.

tumblr_mm7do9VM461rua5pgo1_500Facing these moral and practical issues when speaking about Falasteen, is what often makes the Palestinian question the metaphor of universal demands of justice, equality, sustainability and rights as it addresses plural questions and conditions of our time and of the past. Palestine seems to envelope and bring together past, present and future: the effects of accords and promises made by colonial powers at the end of the 19th century, the ongoing struggle for freedom and self-determination, the continuous and mutating process of elaboration of future prospects of life and achievements.

When I think of these universal questions and link them to you, Falasteen, and when I try to elaborate my personal idea of your future, I like to think of the achievement of the above goals (justice, equality and sustainability) within the context of what Mahatma Gandhi called and thought of as ‘swaraj’, an Indian word meaning ‘self rule’, a simple yet very articulate idea of what true freedom and justice look like together.

Gandhi didn’t translate ‘swaraj’ with the word ‘independence’, because he didn’t see self rule and independence as synonymous. Getting rid of British colonialism and achieving the independence of the Indian people from their long-time occupier wouldn’t have necessarily meant to have attained swaraj. The first, independence, is actually easy to attain according to Gandhi, while living by swaraj is much more complicated. Self rule means, for Gandhi, true autonomy and self-sufficiency on several levels (political, economic, societal, etc.). But this condition can only be pursued through patience and self-knowledge, through the actions of each and every single empowered individual following one major authority alone, the moral one.

Re-introducing the moral sphere in the public discourse is revolutionary in Gandhi’s days and in our own time as well, in times when power-dominated discourse prevails in every aspect of world politics and international affairs. Putting truth in particular at the center of our reasoning and outlook on global issues would change completely our view of what happens around us in the world.

The question of Palestine draws our attention to this sphere. It sprouts demands of justice and truth in every image of destroyed homes, villages, cities; in every rhyme of poets singing the humanity of their people; in the story of every martyr; in the look on the face of every child; in every rock sent flying like glaring fire against the occupier’s tanks, in every hope for a new intifada… that fascinating and powerful moment in which people allow themselves to finally just focus on the moral stance and believe in it till the end.

But intifadas cannot bear disorganized political plans any longer. They need to be backed up by a unified will and accompanied by diverse and collective efforts aimed at the common goals of self rule and the unveiling of truth, which shall consequently and eventually make it possible to achieve justice.
And that is where self-knowledge and patience are required. We need to know ourselves deeply if we want to act consciously in this world. And to know ourselves demands that we know our other.
And if we know our other, we cannot act unjustly towards him or towards ourselves.
By calling our attention to these issues, the Palestinian cause unifies with those of all oppressed people around the world, and it reminds us that we should think all of these struggles against injustices as one.

Truth is so hard to find today, Falasteen. Thinking about it and trying to organize our debate with global issues around this principle seems somehow utopian and naïve. But it’s not. It actually complicates our understanding of matters, and therefore pushes us to the edges, where knots are formed and the core of problematic situations is often hidden.

The huge amount of news circulating thanks to the internet revolution, on the other hand, makes it so hard sometimes to get things straight and right. Truths seem to multiply in the media and contradict each other, each used and manipulated by power-driven logic and interests which are showing clearly not only in the Middle East, but also in Europe, in Africa, in the United States, everywhere around the world.

“Speaking truth to power”, as Edward Said insisted we should do, is not easy at all. The only way to do so is to keep on questioning the world and the news we are given everyday, and push ourselves to those rocky edges where the knots are gathered. We may realize these knots are extremely difficult to untie, sometimes impossible to solve, but we know ignoring them will not make them disappear either. Acknowledging them can only get us closer to truth.

I always keep on repeating how you make me  analyse the ideas of justice, freedom and autonomy, Falasteen, but I am well aware that you are not the only cause calling on us to change our parameters in looking at humanity. There are so many others, and thinking the intersectionality of struggles can give us a better understanding of the world.


“I Was Born In Gaza” – ” ولدت في غزة”

— Arabic/English —


“ولدت في غزة”

“ولدت في غزة
ولدت لأكون حزينا
ولدت لان أكون شجاعا
ولدت لان أحيا
ولدت لان أموت
عاصرت عدة حروب
رأيت القتل والدمار والجوع والحرمان
رأيت طفل يصرخ
رأيت أم تبكي
رأيت أبا يصرخ
فقدت أحبابي
فقدت أصدقائي
ولكن لم افقد الأمل
استيقظ كل يوم على صوت الموت
أشاهد الموت والمسه
ولكن لست خائفا منه
فقد أصبح الموت ممل…فكثر الحديث عن الشيء ممل
مازلت أعيش في غزة
ومازالت الحرب مستمرة
اتضح لي إن الحب يولد هنا
وان الحب هنا أجمل
حيث شاهدت امرأة تقبل رأس زوجها وهو ميت
فتاة تقبل قدم خطيبها لتوقف نزيفه
وفتاة ترفض أن يخطف الموت حبيبها فتدعو له كل يوم
إذا الحب هنا أجمل
وهنا يولد
و اتضح لي أن الموت هنا بشع
وقذر وخائن
حيث ينام الناس بسلام ثم يخطفهم الموت وهم نيام
كل شارع في غزة ذاق جرم الظالمين
لم اعد ابكي
لأني أصبحت اقوي من الحزن
وأصبح الحزن ضعيفا أمامي
استيقظ كل صباح
لأغسل ألامي بالصلاة
واشرب قهوتي
التي تزيد من آلام الشوق ووجع الفراق
انظر على حال مدينتي
حزين على سمائها
متألم على أرضها
باكيا على جمالها
ولا أريد رثائها
ما زال قلبي يحن إلى الهدوء
وما زلت أتوجع من الحرب
وأريدها أن تتركني فانا لا أحبها
ولا أحب السياسة
مللت من الحزن
مللت من الوجع
أريد أن ارسم الابتسامة على جبين وطني
قلبي يبكي على مدينتي
فلو للألم لسان لاشتكي من وجع شعبي
ولو للحزن اعين لأغمضها
لماذا يقتلون مدينتي
لماذا يذبحونها
لماذا يهجرونها
لماذا ييتمون مدينتي
في مدينتي … تحتفظ الجبال بدموع الأمهات
تحتضن الأرض أقدام أم تصرخ على رحيل ابنها
متى سيبتسم الصباح لمدينتي
متى سيحمي الليل مدينتي
يبكي الألم
يصرخ الحزن
لم يعد قلبي يتحمل
كل هذا الحزن
كل هذه البشاعة
عيوني تبكي على موت أبناء وطني
الحزن هنا لا ينتهي
هنا ولدت وهنا بقيت وهنا سابقي”

“I Was Born in Gaza”


” I Was Born in Gaza”

“I was born in Gaza
I was born here to be sad, heartrending, and heartbreaking
I was born here to be brave, fearless, and daring
I was born here to stay here forever
I was born here to die here
I have experienced many wars
I saw many awful, careful, dreadful, woeful, painful ,and fearful scenes
I heard a child’s screaming calling for a help  for dead mother to wake up
I saw a mother has been praying for God to heal her wounded son
I heard a father’s screaming of the ugliness of pain
I lost my lovers
I lost my friends
But, I did not lose hope , optimism, braveness, confidence and patience
I wake up every day by the sound of death
I watched death and I touched it
So, I’m not afraid from death
Death has become dull, boring, tiresome, tedious, monotonous, and stodgy
I still live in Gaza
And the war continues
But, I’m not scared
Because terror, fear, horror, and panic are weaker than me
I’m fighting for my rights
I’m not fighting for pleasure
I discovered that love was born here
Also it grew up here
It flourished here
And it has been titivated here
And in this city I found the most beautiful kinds of love
In this city, I saw a wife kisses her husband’s head
While he is dead
A girl kissing her fiancé’s  legs to stop the bleeding
A girl prays for God to save her lover from death
So, Gaza is the birthplace of love
This city taught me the actual meaning of braveness and strength
In this place, death kidnaps people while they are sleeping peacefully
Every street in Gaza tasted the nastiness, meanness, brutality ,and cruelty of oppression
Every corner in every street portrayed the pain of massacres in our memories
I wont cry anymore
I wont be sad
I’m stronger than depression, hopelessness, wretchedness, and despair
I was born here to shine as a lightening star in a bleak sky
Grief becomes weak in front of my soul
It can’t invade my soul
Warplanes, Battleships,  and Artillery  can’t challenge my passion and ebullience to dream.
I wake up every morning to refresh my soul by praying
In addition to drink my cup of coffee to increase the pain of longing ,parting, departure and loss of memories
Then I take a look at the saddest city on earth
And I’m crying over its suffering
And I’m still anguishing too
No one could wipe here painful tears which injured her heart
My heart longs for calmness ,safety, and soreness
I don’t like wars
No one like wars
I do not like politics
Silence is calling me
Calmness is missing me
I’m so tired because of grief
I’m sapped due to this painful war
I want to draw a smile on the brow of my city
My heart is crying over this city
Please, don’t kill my city
Don’t burn its greenness
Don’t destroy it
In this city , mountains cry due to the patience of the Palestinian woman
In this city, sands kiss the tears of the Palestinian mothers
When morning will smile to this city
When night will protect this city
Pain cries over this city
Sadness screams over the death of innocent civilians
My heart can’t bear this pain anymore
My eyes crying over the death of my compatriots
Grief does not end here
I was born here
And I will still here
Along with I will stay here forever”

– Mohammed Abdel-Latif Moussa.


“My name is Mohammed Abdel-Latif Moussa. I’m studying English Literature. I live in Gaza for 21 years. I’m a writer, poet, and translator. I dreamed to share the beauty and sorrow of my country with every one. Actually, I aimed to beautify the image of the Palestinian youth in the eyes of this world or reflect the realistic image of the Palestinian youth.”

Falasteeniyyah – She Palestinian

Palestinian women have always played a big role in the story of their people and cause, not only inside of their families, by bringing up generations of Palestinians who believe in their rights and love their land, but also in the struggle for freedom and justice in Palestine. They have always stood side by side with Palestinian men in every kind of resistance, and they have never ceased to teach their children to be free.
They have been through so much in 66 years of occupation, from the dispossession of their lands, to the killing of their families, to the demolition of their homes, and to continuous harassement in all of its shapes by Israel, wether they live in the WB, in Gaza,  in today’s Israel, or anywhere else. But they never give up. And they stay solid and firm at the core of the Palestinian dream of freedom, justice and life.

I have personally met some fantastic, incredibly strong Palestinian women in my own family and society, and have heard so many great and inspiring stories about many others.
These thoughts I’m sharing with you are my personal tribute to these beautiful, strong women who I respect so deeply, inspired by true stories and ongoing struggles.


“Above her head a blue sky”

As she sits between those cold, filthy prison walls, 
her heart cracks at every beat, 106717_7
As they tell her, as they repeat:
“There is no way out of your defeat.
No one cares to get you out of here,
We have decided you shall disappear.”

But she battles their voices
away from her tears,
out of her ears,
far off her dreams
of levigated leaves on thick, ancient branches,
of bright, sweet, freshly harvested oranges,
of amber-coloured,
home-savoured tea.
And she fills her eyes of that shade of green… Palestinian,
on summery mornings, when she was free…
And she embraces her absent children
Above her head a blue sky,
Above the green a sea.
‘When will we be reunited?
Will we ever be?’

When darkness pushes her to the bottom of a mute well,
Conquering time and space in every part of her prison cell,
Her voice breaks out from the bottom of that black hell:
She was not born to fall in the face of oppressors
haunted by a voice that carries the truth to tell.

She is not broken,
she will never be,
No matter how much grief she has had to see.
Above her head a blue sky,
Before her eyes a sea.


“A Mother in Gaza”

Sleep, baby Ahmad, sleep
Close your big eyes and sleep
And fly up to a sky where there is no pain and fear
I’ll sit, and watch you play from here…

No longer will you keep waiting for humanity to awaken in the chests of merciless men
No longer will you fall asleep at the sound of bombs shaking the cribs of innocent children
Sleep, ya habibi, and break free

I’ll sit here…
Thinking of you till the day we meet again
And praying for our land’s children to be given a chance to be.



As soon as she came into this life, the world asked of her to be strong.

Don’t cry. You need to be steady, you need to be tough.
Don’t cry as they take away yet another piece of the land. 
Don’t fall apart when they kill your brother, your father, your love. 
Find hope deep down into your sorrow, 
and mend your broken heart, crushed 
against the unsurmoutable wall that separates 
the olive scent of the hills
from the salty wind of the sea.
Light up your soul in this long separation from home.

There’s no more time, there has never been.
You need to be steady, you need to be a rock,
just like that lady standing there,
in a black embroidered Palestinian thawb
protecting the last brick of her home.
And when they demolish it,
break that brick and pass on the pieces to your father and son
so that they can feel they have not given up.

And don’t you give up either.
Wear your best patient, confident, smile
and go visit your hunger-striking husband
behind the bars.
Don’t cry. tumblr_mq44uji2yw1svt1dio1_500
Promise him there will be a better future
for your children,
for the land,
for the two of you.
Look him in the eyes,
and be young and radiant once again.

Find hope deep down into the sorrows 
set upon your soul by the wild greed of occupation
and give birth to humanity, and peace, and olive trees… 
Give birth to life once again,
and teach your children and grandchildren to be free.


— Tamara Taher.

Ci vuole coraggio / It takes courage

— Scroll down for English version —


Quando penso alla Palestina e alla sua storia, rimango sempre un po’ senza fiato per il primo istante.
Provo quello che si sente quando si guarda qualcosa di estremamente bello e di doloroso al contempo, qualcosa di bello nel pieno della sua sofferenza. Ma la bellezza che vedo non è mai debole e vittima, non è mai indifesa e distrutta. È una bellezza splendente nella sua semplicità, e nel modo in cui mi strugge l’anima e mi spreme il cuore per tirarne fuori un nuovo pezzo di umanità.
La bellezza che mi riempe l’anima quando ascolto la musica del oud, quando leggo di un amore giovane che lotta contro l’occupazione o di uno che è sopravvissuto nonostante i muri di segregazione che si innalzano tra gli amanti, la bellezza che vedo in una dabka vivace e colorita che disegna un sorriso sulle labbra di chi la balla, mi fa pensare a cosa spinga questo popolo a continuare a lottare. Cosa gli da la forza di non arrendersi mai?
Non c’è dolore abbastanza grande da distruggere la speranza nella pace e nella libertà degli abitanti di questa terra straziata.

Nelle macerie di ogni nuova guerra che scuote di nuovo come un terremoto il terreno che ha appena smesso di tremare, nell’ombra di ogni nuovo insediamento, di ogni arresto e tortura, e di ogni famiglia squarciata, c’è un misto di emozioni e di divenire continuo ed ininterrotto di idee, pensieri ed epifanie che spingono questo popolo a creare sempre nuovi modi di esprimere la sua voglia di vivere felicemente e al contempo il suo esser pronto a morire per conquistare la giustizia e la libertà.
Questo è un miscuglio doloroso e dal sapore forte, forse troppo, per i gusti del mondo di oggi. Incute riverenza nel mio cuore e mi fa pensare al significato del coraggio. Come si declinano la vita e la morte assieme?
Il coraggio tinge tutti gli aspetti della vita di un/a Palestinese.
Per continuare a vivere quando la libertà sembra lontana ci vuole coraggio, per realizzare la giustizia e per credere in essa, ci vuole coraggio; e per continuare a sperare, per crescere, per amare…. ci vuole coraggio.

Il punto su cui voglio tentare di gettare luce oggi, quello su cui vorrei concentrarmi, è il linguaggio migliore da adottare per esprimere quello che 65 anni di lotta per l’autodeterminazione e per la libertà significano.
Mi è capitato di pensare a questa questione quando ho letto un passaggio del grande Edward Said in cui discuteva del modo più efficace in cui il popolo Palestinese possa lottare per la giustizia.
Sappiamo tutti che sul piano delle armi e delle capacità belliche non ci sono paragoni tra gli attori coinvolti. Da una parte la quarta potenza militare al mondo, sostenuta dalla prima, e dall’altra un popolo a cui è stato simbolicamente riconosciuto uno stato solo l’anno scorso (uno stato frammentato e senza alcuna delle caratteristiche di uno stato moderno, e cioè la sovranità effettiva su un territorio definito e delimitato).
Quando l’anno scorso ho studiato in diritto internazionale le caratteristiche che definiscono uno stato, all’inizio mi sono trovata in uno stato di negazione.
Se queste sono le caratteristiche di uno stato, quello che resta della Palestina oggi, quello che ne rimane tra le migliaia di insediamenti e quello che ne è divenuto sul piano politico a causa delle divisioni tra fazioni Palestinesi, non è e non potrà mai essere uno stato! pensavo.
E mentre questa scoperta si consolidava nella mia mente, ho anche capito che il diritto internazionale sta ormai cercando di superare da tempo gli stati nazionali.

Ma non voglio dilungarmi oltre nelle questioni di politica.
Le cose vengono sempre raccontate in modo del tutto diverso da come stanno in politica.
Quello su cui voglio invece riflettere è il linguaggio da usare di cui parlava Said.
Said affermava, come dicevo prima, che sul piano materiale ci sono squilibri insormontabili, e che dunque, il piano su cui lavorare deve essere un altro, quello ideale.
Non nel senso del piano dove si disegnano ideali irraggiungibili, ma piuttosto su quello in cui si comunicano e si scambiano le idee.
Sono sempre più convinta ormai che per agire in direzione della giustizia serva un lavoro preliminare di pensiero e di riflessione e che questo debba essere legato al piano pratico.
Solo quando capisco cos’è giusto e dove sta la verità posso agire per realizzare giustizia e verità, ed è solo mettendo in discussione le mie azioni che posso capire dove queste due cose stanno.
Se dovessi disegnare questo processo, mi basterebbe tracciare un cerchio.

Non voglio più divagare! Arriviamo al dunque.
Said sosteneva che il popolo Palestinese deve concentrarsi sulla comunicazione al resto del mondo della propria lotta per la libertà e contro l’occupazione.
Deve dimostrare al mondo che la sua è una lotta di resistenza, ed emanciparsi così dalle rappresentazioni errate che la propaganda del nemico ed i media occidentali ne hanno fatto.
Basti pensare ad Hollywood e al modo in cui per decenni sono stati rappresentati i Palestinesi, cioè come terroristi pazzi e scatenati.
Solo recentemente hanno cominciato ad emergere film come Omar (bellissimo, vi consiglio di guardarlo!) candidato agli Oscar quest’anno, o Five Broken Cameras, che ne ha vinto uno l’anno scorso.
Questi film (e molti altri) si riprendono finalmente la parola e il diritto di esprimersi con la propria voce, e raccontano la Palestina com’è realmente.
Facendo questo, raccontando al mondo la propria lotta e la propria speranza di libertà, il popolo Palestinese si riscatta, rivendica la propria esistenza e la propria storia.
Dimostra la propria dignità ed integrità, ed espone finalmente l’ingiustizia e la brutalità dell’occupazione che sta subendo da 65 anni.
E mentre si esprime con le metafore ed espone quella bellezza struggente che nasce nelle quotidiane conquiste di sopravvivenza di ogni Palestinese, riporta agli occhi di tutti la propria umanità, e ci ricorda che siamo fratelli e sorelle, e che non possiamo chiudere gli occhi e far finta che al mondo non ci siano ingiustizie né oppressi.

Edward Said, Marcel Khalife, and Mahmoud Darwish.

Edward Said, Marcel Khalife, and Mahmoud Darwish.

Quando leggo la parole di Mahmoud Darwish, Ghassan Kanafani, Elias Khoury, Tamim e Mourid Barghouti, Edward Said, e tanti altri scrittori e poeti Palestinesi, quando ascolto la musica della dabka o una canzone che descrive Falasteen, quando una signora Palestinese che ha visto il farsi della storia mi narra i suoi ricordi, e nel momento in cui vengo a conoscenza dei sentimenti e di quello che pensa un qualsiasi Palestinese, mi lascio travolgere dalla bellezza struggente e dolorosa della lotta per la libertà, e lascio che mi avvolga, e spero di esserne espressione anch’io.
E quando la gente indossa la Kuffiyyah (Kefiah) in solidarietà con noi in giro per il mondo, mi sento orgogliosa e speranzosa, perché scopro che dopotutto, nonostante le divisioni politiche e le sconfitte storiche, questo popolo sta comunicando al mondo la sua storia, e dall’altra parte, questo mondo ascolta, e si unisce alla sua lotta morale e lo affianca nel pretendere giustizia.
Questo mondo è ancora umano.

“In quel che resta dell’alba, cammino verso il mio involucro esterno

In quel che resta della notte, ascolto il rumore dei passi rimbombare al mio interno
Saluto chi come me insegue
L’ebrezza della luce, lo splendore di questa farfalla,
Nell’oscurità di questo tunnel.”

– Mahmoud Darwish, “Stato d’assedio”.

“Il più crudele grado di esilio è l’invisibilità. È non poter raccontare la propria storia per sé. Noi, popolo Palestinese, veniamo raccontati dai nostri nemici, nella loro presenza e la nostra assenza. Ci etichettano come li aggrada. Alla parte più debole in qualsiasi conflitto è permesso gridare, lamentarsi, piangere, ma mai le è permesso di raccontare la propria storia…. In questo senso, l’intero popolo Palestinese è in esilio attraverso l’assenza della propria storia.”

– Mourid Barghouti, poeta Palestinese.


Palestinian Dabke

Palestinian Dabke

When I think of Palestine and its history, I always feel a bit speechless at the beginning.
I get the feelings one has when you’re looking at something breathtakingly beautiful and painful at the same time, something beautiful in the midst of its suffering.
But the beauty I see is never weak and powerless, it’s never helpless and broken.
It’s a bright beauty in its simplicity, and in the way it squeezes my heart to give birth to a new piece of humanity.
The beauty that fills my soul when I listen to the oud’s music, read of a young love struggling against occupation or of one that has survived despite all the segregation walls built between the lovers; the beauty I see in a colorful and vivid dabka that draws a smile on the faces of those dancing, makes me think of what helps this people to carry on the struggle. What gives it the strength to never give up?
There is no pain big enough to destroy the hope for peace and freedom of the people living on this tormented piece of land.

In the rubble of every new war that shakes a land that has just stopped trembling, in the shadows of every new settlement, of every detention and torture, of every family torn apart, there’s a mixture of feelings and a continuous and unstoppable development of ideas, thoughts and epiphanies that pushes this people to create time and again new ways of expressing two things at once: the wish to live happily, and the readiness to die in the attempt of achieving justice and freedom.
It’s a painful mix, with a heavy-bodied flavor, one that is too strong for our world today.
It instils my heart with reverence and it makes me think of the meaning of courage. How can life and death be thought of together, side by side?
Courage colors all aspects of the daily life of a Palestinian.
It takes courage to keep on living when freedom seems to be so far away; it takes courage to achieve justice and to keep on believing it is possible; it takes courage to hope, to grow… and to love.

What I want to discuss today and focus on is the best language to use in order to express what 65 years of struggle for self-determination and freedom mean.
I was appealed to think of this when I read a passage of the great Edward Said in which he discussed the most effective way in which the Palestinian people can fight for justice.
We all know that on the material and military level, the stake-holders are in no way comparable.
On one side we have the fourth strongest military power of the world, supported by the first, and on the other we have a people who have been recognized a symbolic state (that has none of the characteristics of a modern state: actual sovereignty over a defined territory) only last year.
When I studied the definition of ‘national state’ in the “International Law” course I went through a phase of denial at first.
If these are the characteristics of a state, then what is left of Palestine today, between thousands of illegal settlements and because of the political divisions between the Palestinian factions, is not and will never be a state, I thought.
And while this awareness slowly got consolidated I also realized that international law has already been trying to overcome the national states from quite some time now.

But I don’t want to talk further about politics here. Things are always said in a way that’s different than how they truly are in politics.
What I want to ponder upon is the language to use that Said talked about.
Said pointed out that on the material level there’s a total lack of balance, and as a consequence, the level to work on is the ideal one.
Ideal not as in idealistic and perfect, not as a level of idealistic objectives that can never come true, but rather as the level on which to communicate and exchange ideas.
Day by day, I become more and more convinced that in order to act towards the achievement of justice we need to develop first a serious and conscious work on the theoretical level, and that we need then to connect it to the practical one.
It’s only after I figure out what justice is and where truth lies that I can act in a way that can truly be directed to these two principles.
And it’s only by continuously questioning my actions that I can understand where they are to be found.
If I had to draw this process, a simple circle would explain it very well.

But let’s get to the point I’m trying to make!
Said affirmed that the Palestinian people need to concentrate on communicating to the rest of the world their struggle for freedom and against occupation.
This people needs to show the world that its struggle is a resistance one, and by doing this it can finally emancipate from the fallacious representations made by its enemy and by the western media.
Just think of Hollywood and of the way it has depicted the Palestinians for decades… they’ve been always shown to the audiences as crazy and wild terrorists.
Movies like Omar, which has been nominated to the Oscars this year, or “5 Broken Cameras” which has won one last year, are only very recent. (Omar is a great movie, by the away, you need to watch it!)
These films (and many others) finally reclaim the Palestinian voice and the right to tell the Palestinian story by its people as it really is.
As they tell their story, the Palestinian people redeem their right to speak and to exist.
They show the world their dignity and integrity, and they finally expose the injustice and brutality of the occupation they have been fighting against for 65 years.
As they express with metaphors the heart rending beauty of daily conquests of survival and affirmation of any Palestinian, they reclaim their humanity and remind us that we are all brothers and sisters.
We can not close our eyes and pretend there are not injustices or oppressed people in this world.

tumblr_mm7do9VM461rua5pgo1_500When I read the words of Mahmoud Darwish, Ghassan Kanafani, Elias Khoury, Tamim and Mourid Barghouti, Edward Said, and many many other Palestinian poets and authors; when I listen to the music of Dabka or to a song that describes Falasteen; when a Palestinian lady whose eyes have seen the happening of history tells about her memories; and when I learn about the feelings and thoughts of any Palestinian, I let the painful beauty of the struggle for freedom overwhelm me and envelope me. Then I hope I am an expression of it too.
And when people from all over the world wear the Kuffiyyah in solidarity with our people, I allow myself to feel proud and hopeful, because I discover that after all, in spite of the political divisons and the historical defeats, this people is communicating its story to the world.
This world, on the other hand, is listening, and uniting with it in its moral struggle and demanding justice by its side.
This world is still human.

“And in the remains of the dawn, I walk toward my exterior
And in the remains of night, I hear the sound of footsteps inside me.
Greetings to the one who shares with me an attention to
The drunkenness of light, the light of the butterfly, in the
Blackness of this tunnel!”

– Mahmoud Darwish, “State of Siege”

“The cruelest degree of exile is invisibility, being forbidden to tell one’s story for oneself. We, the Palestinian people, are narrated by our enemies, in keeping with their presence and our absence. They label us as it suits them. The weaker party in any conflict is allowed to scream, allowed to complain, allowed to weep, but never allowed to tell his own story… In this sense, the entire Palestinian people is exiled through the absence of its story.”

– Palestinian poet Mourid Barghouti

La ferita ereditata / The inherited wound

— English version follows (scroll down) —olive trees

A volte mi piace immaginare come sarebbe stato se fossi nata in un’altra epoca.
Mi chiedo sempre: dove sarei nata?
Se potessi riavvolgere il rullino del tempo.. sarei nata in Palestina, a Nablus?
Se la storia avesse preso un altro corso, e non ci fosse mai stata l’occupazione sionista di quella terra, sarei nata lì?
O sarei comunque nata altrove, per altre contingenze e ragioni?
Avrei giocato all’ombra di un ulivo, imparando ad arrampicarmi sui suoi forti rami? Avrei corso giù per le colline, inventando i giochi che mio padre faceva con i suoi amici?
Se fossi nata in Palestina, avrei respirato quell’aria profumata di antico mentre contribuivo a far fiorire quella terra, a farla crescere, a farla sorridere?
Avrei accolto con la ricca generosità ed ospitalità del popolo Palestinese chiunque avesse amato quella terra come la amava la sua gente?

Di fatto, non sono nata lì, ed ufficialmente, è come se non ci fosse mai nato nessuno dei miei nonni.
Il fatto che mio padre sia nato a Nablus e che ci siano terreni appartenenti ai miei nonni in diverse parti della Palestina, non significa che io possa dire di essere Palestinese.
Io sono Giordana, sono Italiana. Non sono Palestinese.
Farah Chamma, giovane poetessa che vi consiglio vivamente di andare a cercare, ha recitato una bellissima poesia che dice proprio questo: I am no Palestinian.

E allora perché mi riecheggia continuamente nell’anima il desiderio di vedere un luogo che non ho mai toccato?
C’è una nostalgia segreta per qualcosa di sconosciuto nel mio cuore.
“Khafiqi”, come lo chiamava Darwish, questa cosa che mi batte nel petto.. è piena di amore per diversi luoghi della mia vita, ma in un angolo c’è una ferita ereditata che non riesce mai a guarire.
La Palestina è una ferita nel mio cuore.
Quando riabbraccio l’alba di Amman dopo una lunga separazione, un lontano richiamo reclama la stessa pace di quel mattino giordano in Palestina.
Quando i verdi della natura si imprimono nei miei occhi e riempiono i miei polmoni del profumo della pioggia estiva italiana, un angolo dell’anima cerca i colori di un altro luogo e il profumo di una strada su cui non ho mai camminato.

E poi capisco che questa Palestina del mio cuore non esiste.
Se andassi in Palestina non troverei queste immagini romantiche ed idealistiche. Ne troverei altre, più imperfette ed autentiche, più colorate, più eterogenee, più inaspettate, più vere.
Quello che sogno sarebbe solo una parte di quello che è veramente.
Vedrei cadere alcune idee, ma ne vedrei anche nascere di nuove. E farei un passo avanti nel sapere cosa desidero per quello che è rimasto irrimediabilmente nel mio passato.
Forse riuscirei ad integrarlo nel mio futuro.

In Palestina si vive e si muore, si cresce, ci si ama, ci si odia. Si sbaglia, a volte si perde, a volte si vince… In quella terra nessuno è perfetto, proprio come in qualsiasi altra parte del mondo.
In quella terra si è umani.
Se fosse libera dall’oppressione potremmo smettere di idealizzare Falasteen, e potremmo cominciare ad amarla veramente, per quello che è, per quello che era, e per quello che può diventare.
Ma mentre lotta per quella libertà, non posso che amarla per l’umanità di cui continua a sanguinare.

English version:

Nablus, Palestine

Nablus, Palestine

Sometimes, I like to imagine how my life would have been if I were born in another time.
I always wonder: where would I’ve been born?
If I could turn back time… would that be in Palestine, in Nablus?
Had history run down a different path, and had Zionist occupation never occurred in that land, where would I be?
Would I be there, in Falasteen? Or would I be somewhere else because of other reasons?
Would I have played in the shade of olive trees, learned to climb on top of their strong branches, run down the hills, invented the games my father used to play with his friends?
Was I born in Palestine… would I have breathed its ancient scented air, helped make its land bloom and flourish, made it smile?
Would I have welcomed with the typical generosity and hospitality of the Palestinian people all those who visited that land and loved it like its people did?

But I wasn’t born there. And officially it’s as if none of my grandparents ever was there.
The fact that my father was born in Nablus or the fact that there are lands my grandparents owned in different parts of Palestine doesn’t mean I can say I’m Palestinian.
I’m Jordanian, I’m Italian. But I’m not Palestinian.
Farah Chamma, a young poet I highly encourage you to check out, has written and recited a beautiful poem about this: I am no Palestinian.

So why does the wish to see a place I’ve never been to echo so loudly in my soul?
There’s a secret nostalgia for something unknown in my heart.
“Khafiqi”, as Darwish calls it, this beating heart in my chest, is full of love for different places of my life. Yet there is in an angle of it, an inherited grief that never heals.
Palestine is a wound in my heart.
When I embrace the dawn of Amman after a long separation, distant voices reclaim the same peace of that Jordanian morning in Palestine.
When the green shades of nature fill my eyes and lungs of the scent of Italian summer rain, a remote piece of my soul searches for colours of another place and for the air of a street I’ve never walked.

Then I acknowledge that my heart’s Palestine does not exist.
If I went to Palestine, I wouldn’t find these romantic and idealistic images.
I’d find other imperfect ones, more authentic, coloured, heterogeneous, unexpected, true.
What I dream of would be only a part of that which truly is.
I’d see some ideas fall, but others would rise up in their place. I’d make a step forward in knowing what I want for what has irreparably stayed in my past.
Maybe I’d be able to integrate it in my future.

In Palestine life starts and ends, children grow up, people love and hate, some lose, others win… In that land, nobody’s perfect, just like anywhere else in the world.
People are simply human.
Was it free from oppression, we could stop idealizing Falasteen and start loving it for what it is, for what it was, and for what it can become.
But while it struggles for its freedom, I can not but love it for the humanity it keeps on bleeding.

Ad AlQuds – In AlQuds

— Scroll down for ENGLISH —


A Gerusalemme, camminavo sui ciottoli delle strette vie profumate di gelsomino e volteggiavo pigramente nel cielo azzurro, nel fresco venticello che agitava le frizzanti foglioline degli ulivi.
Il fruscio della loro silenziosa danza accompagnava la mia passeggiata.
A Gerusalemme, indossavo un lungo thawb nero Palestinese. Le intricate ricamature rosse sul mio petto non ricordavano il sangue dei miei fratelli e delle mie sorelle ma l’amore di cui pulsava forte il mio cuore, e il velo bianco che portavo sul capo scivolava adagio sulle mie spalle come le ali di una colomba accarezzano il cielo.
A Gerusalemme, le mie parole erano antiche quanto i muri.
Scorrevano sulle mie labbra nella lingua di cui sono fatti i miei occhi, nella lingua con cui hanno cantato l’amore i miei nonni, nella lingua bisbigliata nelle preghiere degli abitanti di AlQuds.
Ad AlQuds mi esprimevo con la bellezza delle intricate rime Arabe che conquistano il mio cuore irrequieto.

Poi un sussurro sinistro.
Introduceva d’un tratto un’ombra stonante nella gialla luce solare che abbagliava il cammino.
Ad AlQuds la pace si infrangeva.
Un fiume emergeva e straripava nelle strade. La sua acqua grigia rifletteva nel cielo il colore del piombo.
A Gerusalemme tutti correvano.
I battiti del mio cuore ripetevano il ritmo dei loro passi frenetici e spaventati.
Gli occhi spalancati dei bambini incontravano i miei nel silenzio generale.
Come lampi nel cielo bruno, andavano e venivano e riempivano l’aria pesante.
Brillavano e scomparivano, lasciando dietro di loro le tracce di sogni prematuramente abbandonati.
Nessuno gridava, nessuno parlava.
La distruzione della pace era cosa più grande delle lacrime e delle urla.

A Gerusalemme, mi gettavo in strada in una corsa scomposta.
La mia voce esplodeva finalmente assieme a tutte le altre mentre un’acqua inquinata riversava sulle strade oggetti sconosciuti ed irriconoscibili.
Nel mio cuore si imponevano i versi di una canzone che cantavo da bambina: “Ci laveremo il volto dell’acqua pura del fiume Giordano.. e cancellerai, o fiume Giordano, i segni del piede barbarico.”
O Gerusalemme, rosa tra le città.
Ya Quds, ya zahrat alMada’en.
Ti proteggerò io!, promettevo in un grido guerriero buttandomi sulle ginocchia a raccogliere dall’acqua del fiume oggetti che non avevano alcun senso per me.
Li raccoglievo e li gettavo via assieme a tante altre donne Palestinesi che indossavano le mie stesse vesti.
Sul quel fiume si raccoglievano le vesti Palestinesi di tutti i villaggi e di tutte le città della Palestina, dal passato e dal presente.
E Gaza collassava su Gerusalemme, Nablus su Jenin, Betlemme su Haifa, Nazaret su Jaffa, e i villaggi si mergevano in quel fiume che tentavamo di ripulire e di proteggere, e in un momento di disperazione al crescere del numero degli oggetti insensati, mi ritiravo in me stessa guardandomi le mani bagnate e piangevo: “Guardate cosa avete fatto della nostra terra..” chiedevo.

Una manina mi picchiettava sulla spalla ed alzavo gli occhi.
Una bambina mi offriva un anello di perline bianche.
“Come ti chiami?” le chiedevo, riconoscente.
“Maha” sorrideva.
La abbracciavo, e la speranza rinasceva nel mio cuore e nel suo.
E sapevamo che avremmo sorriso di nuovo, a Gerusalemme.

Poi AlQuds fu lontana lontana.
Io non avevo mai camminato nelle sue stradine. La mie labbra parlavano tre lingue miste nella stessa frase.
Non avevo mai respirato il profumo dei suoi ulivi, e il rosso di un thawb Palestinese rappresentava anche il sangue di innumerevoli Palestinesi schiacciati sotto le città costruite sulle centinaia di villaggi raccolti tra le braccia delle donne sulla sponda di quel fiume.
Ho guardato il cielo, e ho cantato segretamente AlQuds e la libertà in un misto di tre lingue al contempo.

English:Jerusalem Old City Covered Street

In Jerusalem, I walked on the pebbles of the jasmine-scented small streets. I lazily floated in the blue sky, in the fresh breeze that moves the lively leaves of the olive trees.
Their silent dance accompanied me in my walk.
In Jerusalem, I wore a long black Palestinian thawb. Its red embroidered patterns did not recall the blood of my brothers and sisters but rather the love that made my heart throb.
The white veil on my head slided on my shoulders like a dove’s wings caress the sky.
In Jerusalem, my words were as ancient as the walls.
They flowed in the language my eyes are made of, in the language my ancestors celebrated love with, in the language whispered in the prayers of the people of AlQuds.
In AlQuds I expressed myself in the complicated Arabic rhymes that fascinate my restless heart.

Then a sinister murmur introduced a dark shadow in the yellow dazzling sunlight.
And in AlQuds peace was shattered.
A river appeared and started flooding the streets. Its water reflected into the sky the grey colour of lead.
In Jerusalem everybody was running.
My heartbeats echoed the rhythm of their frenetic and frightened steps.
The scared eyes of the children met mine in the general silence.
Like lightenings in the dark sky, they appeared and disappeared, filling the heavy air.
They shined bright and then darkened, leaving behind them traces of prematurely abandoned dreams.
Nobody screamed, nobody talked.
The distruction of peace was a thing much bigger than tears or words.

In Jerusalem, I threw myself in a ruffled run.
My voice finally exploded along with all the others while poluted water poured into the streets unknown and unrecognisable objects.
The verses of a song I sang when I was a child played through my heart: “We will wash our faces with the pure water of the Jordan river.. and you will, oh Jordan river, erase the barbaric footprints.”
Oh Jerusalem, rose among the cities.
Ya Quds, ya zahrat alMada’en.
I will protect you!, I promised in a guerrilla shout, throwing myself down on my knees on the river bank to take out of the river’s water objects that made no sense to me.
I would grab them and throw them away, along with many other Palestinian women who wore my same dress.
On that river bank the Palestinian dresses of all the villages and cities of Palestine, from the past and from the present, were gathered.
And Gaza collapsed on Jerusalem, Nablus on Jenin, Bethlehem on Haifa, Nazareth on Jaffa, and the villages merged in that river that we were trying to clean up and protect.
And in a moment of dispair at the growing number of nonsensical objects in the water, I retreated from it and cried: “Look what you have made of our land”.

A small hand tapped my shoulder and I looked around.
A girl gave me a ring of white small beads.
“What’s your name?” I asked, grateful.
“Maha” she smiled.
I hugged her, and hope was reborn in my heart and hers.
And we knew we would smile again, in Jerusalem.

Then AlQuds was suddenly far far away.
I had never walked down its streets. I uttered three languages at once in the same sentence.
I had never breathed the scent of its olive trees, and the red patterns of a Palestinian thawb represented also the blood of uncountable Palestinians squashed under the wieght of cities built over hundreds of villages held between the arms of those women on the river bank.
I looked at the sky, and I secretly sung for AlQuds and for freedom a song of three mixed languages at once.

La ricerca della giustizia inclusiva / The pursuit of inclusive justice

— (English version follows – scroll down) —


Photo taken by Ezz AlZanoon,
“A man standing in front of the window
Seen rain falling on Gaza City”
غزة الان”
رجل يقف أمام النافذة
“وينظر الى الامطار المتساقطة على مدينة غزة


La settimana scorsa il Medio Oriente è stato investito da maltempo, piogge e neve.
Ricordo che quand’ero bambina e vivevo in Giordania si respirava un’aria di festa quando arrivava la pioggia o la neve.
Mi viene in mente un giorno di quand’ero in terza elementare.
Stava cominciando a piovere ed io e le mie compagne di classe eravamo incollate alle finestre a guardare la pioggia.
La amavo, così tanto che canticchiavo una canzone di Fayrouz di cui non conoscevo molte parole se non le prime: “Scendi, o pioggia, scendi perché la nostra felicità cresca”.
Quando uscii di scuola, in attesa dell’arrivo di mia madre, non mi misi al riparo, anzi, me ne stetti felicemente sotto la pioggia scrosciante finché non mi inzuppai del tutto. Ovviamente la cosa non piacque affatto a mia madre, e naturalmente mi presi un bel raffreddore.
Quando nevicava poi, l’intera città andava in tilt. Le scuole chiudevano, le strade si bloccavano, ma per i bambini, e anche per gli adulti, era una festa.
Quando la settimana scorsa il tutto si è ripetuto come ogni anno in diversi paesi del Medio Oriente, in città come Amman, Gerusalemme, Damasco, e persino in Egitto (dove non nevicava da circa cent’anni), mia madre mi ha fatto notare qualcosa di divertente che ci ha fatto pensare con affetto al mondo arabo: è strano che ci si sorprenda della neve ogni anno come se la si stesse vedendo per la prima volta quando in realtà nevica ogni anno lì da noi.
Io ora non sono lì ad Amman, ma i social media mi hanno permesso di vedere i creativi pupazzi di neve di tutto il mondo arabo. E mi manca più che mai vivere la neve lì.
Penso con tenerezza a quanto diventiamo bambini quando ci troviamo in mezzo alla neve.

La dolcezza del freddo, della pioggia e della neve laggiù in Giordania, in Siria e in Palestina tuttavia quest’anno era attraversata dall’amarezza nel mio cuore.
In Giordania e in Siria, nei campi profughi dei siriani, i bambini sono morti di freddo, e a Gaza, migliaia di famiglie hanno vissuto un vero e proprio incubo.
Quello che la popolazione della Striscia sta vivendo mi sembra un’assurdità, un dipinto in stile surreale, un racconto macabro che accompagna lentamente i suoi protagonisti da una realtà ardua e scura in un mondo misto di sapori contrastanti e paradossali: dolore, solidarietà, paura, coraggio, un’inesauribile voglia di vivere da una parte e dall’altra il timore di perdere le ultime forze per continuare a resistere e sperare.
Una città che annega prima nelle acque delle fognature e poi nella pioggia, bimbi che muoiono di freddo anche lì, famiglie che si vedono entrare in casa e nei negozi l’acqua sporca che allaga le strade e che arriva all’altezza di 3 metri in alcune zone, e rovina i loro mobili, le loro merci, le loro speranze, il loro futuro.
Le parole non bastano per trasportarci a Gaza con la mente dalle nostre case calde ed accoglienti.
Non basta dire che la gente sta soffrendo.
Allora mi fermo e cerco di andare oltre le parole, oltre il significante, per arrivare al significato (ecco la deverbalizzazione di cui il mio professore di Francese ha parlato per tutto il semestre).
Cerco di sentire quello che la gente di Gaza sta provando, non per fare una predica moralizzante al mondo e a voi che state leggendo, non per impuntarmi sulla tragedia umana invece che sulle questioni politiche e sociali su cui si può discutere e lavorare più ampiamente, ma perché voglio pensare coerentemente diritti umani e dignità umana.
La seconda sta alla base di qualsiasi discorso si faccia sulla prima.
I diritti umani vogliono proteggere la dignità umana. Ma che cos’è esattamente la dignità umana?
Non è una questione da poco. Non è una domanda semplice a cui dare risposta. Che definizione si può dare a questo concetto?
Non basta andare a guardare sul dizionario il significato di ‘dignità’.
Se lo si fa, si può trovare che ‘dignità’ deriva dal latino ‘DIGNITATEM’, astratto di ‘degno’ (dignum), cioè quella condizione di chi è meritevole di rispetto secondo l’opinione comune.
La parola che mi salta agli occhi qui è rispetto.
Ma che c’entra ora l’etimologia della parola ‘dignità’?
Beh, quello che mi interessa semplicemente sottolineare è che alla base della dignità c’è il rispetto: l’essere rispettati, il sentirsi rispettati, il rispettare se stessi.
Quando ho studiato il concetto di ‘dignità umana’ l’anno scorso nel corso di “Diritti Umani” si è parlato della difficoltà di definirne il significato, e mi è rimasto questo di tutto quello che abbiamo studiato, ed è stata la risposta che ho dato alla mia professoressa quando all’esame mi ha chiesto di definire la ‘dignità umana’: al di là delle diverse definizioni che se ne possono dare, la ‘dignità umana’ incarna quel principio che mi impone di trattare e di interloquire con il soggetto ‘vulnerabile’ (quello a cui sono negati alcuni diritti umani o anche tutti) come mio eguale, e di non fargli sentire di trovarsi in una posizione inferiore né provocargli un senso di disagio e di vergogna.
In parole semplici: rispettarlo.
Non mi piace molto il termine ‘soggetto vulnerabile’ perché implica che il soggetto è vittima, il che implica che io e lui non siamo sullo stesso piano, e che i diritti umani gli saranno calati addosso come un dono. E non deve essere così invece.
I diritti umani devono essere intesi come rivendicazioni portate avanti dai soggetti stessi, come conquiste di libertà, perché si possa eliminare quella corrente di pensiero che invece vede una civiltà come salvatrice di altre.
E allora quando cerco di vedere la situazione con gli occhi della gente di Gaza quello che voglio fare è proprio questo: voglio dare voce a loro, per far sì che la rivendicazione dei diritti umani per il popolo Palestinese, al quale io appartengo (nonostante io non sia nata in Palestina né l’abbia ancora mai vista né possa comunque definirmi una Palestinese del ‘Shatat’), sia una nostra conquista comune come popolo che si scuote via le catene di dosso, in un’intifada che non si esaurisce finché non si conquista la libertà.
Se vogliamo essere liberi, non possiamo aspettare che sia qualcuno a liberarci, ma dobbiamo liberarci da noi.
Perciò tento di appoggiare le voci di alcune storie da Gaza, perché la sento parte della mia umanità e spero di essere parte della sua, perché mi sembra il minimo che si possa fare per portare avanti la lotta per la libertà della sua gente.
Dopotutto, raccontare, narrare storie, ha un potere speciale.
Raccontare le esperienze, i pensieri, le proprie paure, le proprie speranze ci avvicina, crea empatia, ci rende umani.
E questo accade ovunque.
In effetti, c’è una storia che ha avvicinato popoli, non solo persone. La storia di una lotta per la libertà e per la dignità umana. Una storia simile a quella del popolo Palestinese.
Ed è la vita di Nelson Mandela.
Tutti i media hanno parlato di Madiba nelle ultime settimane, dopo la sua dipartita lo scorso 5 Dicembre, e molti si sono riempiti la bocca di paroloni per commemorare la sua vita e quello per cui ha sacrificato 27 anni in prigione, ma mi chiedo se la maggior parte di queste persone sia veramente cosciente del significato del termine ‘Apartheid’.
Se fosse così, dovrebbe essere più che lampante per tutti che esso non è stato sconfitto, non solo in Sud Africa, dove agli abitanti del villaggio dove Mandela aveva chiesto di essere sepolto, il suo villaggio, è stato impedito di assistere alla sua sepoltura, ma anche altrove nel mondo, come a Gaza appunto, e in Cisgiordania.
Le parole di molti leader del mondo di cui non farò i nomi hanno chiamato il mondo a portare avanti le lezioni imparate da Mandela, alcuni hanno ricordato soprattutto il bellissimo principio dell’Ubuntu, quel senso di appartenenza all’umanità, di solidarietà e unità umana, e hanno incoraggiato le persone e gli attori internazionali ad agire tenendo in mente questo principio di solidarietà globale con chi le lotte le sta ancora combattendo.
Belle parole. Ma sono vere?
Nella stessa settimana in cui queste parole sono state dette, la gente affogava nella striscia di Gaza, senza elettricità, senza riscaldamento, senza acqua pulita, senza cibo; ad Al-Khalil (Hebron) i coloni facevano le loro gite nella città vecchia scortati dai soldati e camminavano in strade fatte solo per loro mentre i Palestinesi dovevano camminare, come ogni giorno, per altre vie.
Proprio mentre quelle parole venivano dette, il muro che segrega Palestinesi ed Israeliani continuava ad essere costruito, centinaia di persone si mettevano in fila all’alba in stretti corridoi più simili a gabbie per passare il check-point per andare a lavorare. Come sempre le macchine dei Palestinesi e quelle degli Israeliani correvano su strade diverse e di qualità diverse, e i prigionieri Palestinesi nelle carceri israeliane parlavano delle stesse questioni che Madiba affrontò nella sua vita e nella sua lotta, assieme a quella del suo popolo, per la libertà.
Oggi, Samer Issawi, prigioniero Palestinese che ha condotto il più lungo sciopero della fame della storia, 278 giorni, verrà rilasciato, inshaAllah.
Per parlare di lui non bastano alcune righe di questo articolo. Ne servirebbe un altro, per descrivere come lui, e Gaza, siano esempi di dignità umana.
Questo avvenimento comunque mi fa pensare a come veniva dipinto Mandela e pensato trent’anni fa dai governi dei paesi che oggi celebrano la sua lotta, e come vengono dipinti e pensati oggi i prigioni palestinesi.
Mandela era sulla lista nera degli Stati Uniti, era considerato un terrorista, e in Europa si disegnavano volantini che incitavano alla sua impiccagione.
Oggi invece quegli stessi paesi ne parlano come fosse un loro eroe.
Intanto i prigionieri politici Palestinesi sono ancora visti come era visto lui in quella non tanto lontana epoca.
E’ curioso come tutte queste similitudini siano lasciate volontariamente all’ombra in un mondo in cui tutti vogliono la Giustizia e la Libertà di tutti.

Tutto questo mi ha fatto riflettere molto, e mi ha fatto capire che per perseguire la giustizia, dobbiamo cominciare ad agire da noi per realizzarla, un passo alla volta, a partire dalla propria vita.
Se ciascuno di noi persegue la giustizia e la libertà propria e degli altri, tutti assieme perseguiremo la giustizia per tutti.
Dobbiamo essere il cambiamento che vogliamo vedere nel mondo. Dobbiamo spezzare le ingiustizie con piccoli atti che anticipano il miglioramento che vogliamo realizzare.
Dobbiamo aprire gli occhi e le orecchie e pensare con la nostra testa.
E’ molto difficile farlo. Spesso alcuni credono di pensare con la propria testa ma sono ancora guidati dagli altri.
Tra le mie preghiere ricorrenti, chiedo sempre di avere una ‘chiara visione’ delle cose, in arabo ‘Hosn al-baseera’.
Spero di poter sempre riconoscere la semplice distinzione tra ciò è giusto e ciò che non lo è, nel senso di ‘ciò che persegue la giustizia’ da ciò che non lo fa.
Per farlo, dobbiamo pensare agli altri, perché la giustizia non può essere esclusiva. Deve includere tutti per essere tale.


Last week the Middle East was hit by bad weather, rain and snow.
I remember that when I was a child and lived in Jordan I used to feel happiness in the air when rain and snow came.
I remember particularly one day when I was in third grade.
It was starting to rain, and my friends and I were glued to the window to look at the grey loaded clouds.
I loved rain, so much that I couldn’t keep myself from humming a song of Fayrouz, the first words: “Come down, rain, come down, so that our happiness grows”.
When I came out of school, as I waited for my mother to come pick me up, I stubbornly avoided any shelter and proudly stood under the rain until I was totally soaked. My mother wasn’t proud at all of what I had done of course, and I eventually got a cold.
The times it snowed, the whole city would stop. Schools would close, streets would be blocked, but happiness filled the childrens’ hearts, and adults’ as well.
When all of this happened last week, like every year in several countries of the Middle East, in cities like Amman, Jerusalem, Damascus, and in Egypt as well (where it hadn’t snowed for about a hundred years), my mother pointed out a quite funny thing that made us think with love of the arab world: it’s weird that we are surprised by the quantity of snow every year even though it snows heavily every year in our countries.
I am not in Amman now, but the social media have given me the chance to see the creative snowmen of all the arab world. And I miss living snow there more than ever.
I think with affection of how we all turn into children when we are in the middle of the fluffy snow.

The sweetness of the cold, the rain and the snow in Jordan, Syria and Palestine this year was mixed with bitterness in my heart.
In Jordan and Syria, in the syrian refugee camps, children died because of the freezing cold, and in Gaza, thousands of families lived a true nightmare.
What the people of Gaza are living is madness, a portrait in surreal style, a grim tale that takes its characters from a difficult and hard reality into a world of mixed and paradoxical feelings: pain, solidarity, fear, courage, an endless desire to live on one hand, and on the other the fear of loosing the last energies to keep on resisting and hoping.bilde
A city drowning first in raw sewage and then in rain water, children dying for the cold there too, families whose homes are flooded by the water (about three meters high in some areas), which ruined their furniture, goods, hopes and future.
Words do not suffice to take us to Gaza from our warm, cozy homes.
It is not enough to say people are suffering.
So I try to go beyond words, beyond the form, to reach to the meaning (here is what my French professor has spoken about all semester: deverbalization).
I try to feel what the people of Gaza feel, with no attempt of lecturing the world or you who are reading this, and not because I want to insist on the human tragedy instead of the social and political issues that can be discussed more widely, but rather because I want to think coherently human rights and human dignity.
The second is at the core of any reasoning about the first.
Human rights aim to protect the human dignity. But what is exactly human dignity?
It’s not an irrelevent issue. Nor is it a question to which we can answer easily. What definition can we give to this concept?
It’s not enough to check out the meaning of ‘dignity’ in the dictionary.
If we do so, we find that ‘dignity’ derives from the latin ‘DIGNITATEM’, abstract for ‘dignum‘, meaning the condition of who is considered to be worthy of respect by the common opinion.
The word I notice first here is ‘respect‘.
But what has the etymology of the word ‘dignity’ to do with what I was saying?
Well, I simply mean to point out that at the base of ‘dignity’ there is respect: being respected, feeling respected, respecting oneself.
When I studied the concept of ‘human dignity’ last year in the “Human Rights” course, we discussed how difficult it is to define its meaning, and I was left with this answer at the end, and it was the one I gave my professor when she asked me about it during the exam: regardless of the definitions we can give to this concept, ‘human dignity’ is that principle that obliges me to deal and speak with the ‘vulnerable individual’ (who is denied some or all human rights) as my equal, to not make him or her feel on an inferior level nor to cause him/her to feel discomfort and shame.
In other words: it means to respect the individual.
I don’t like the terms ‘vulnerable individual’ because they imply that the person is a victim, which implies we are not on the same level, and it means that human rights are intended to be granted to the vulnerable as a gift. It should not be like that.
Human rights should be understood as claims and demands carried out by the individuals themselves, as achievements of freedom, in order to eliminate that way of thinking that sees one civilization as the saviour of the others.
So, when I try to see things as they are seen by the Gazans I am trying to do precisely one thing: make them speak, so that human rights for the Palestinian people, to which I belong (even if I wasn’t born in Palestine and I haven’t seen it yet, nor can I say I am a Palestinian of the ‘Shatat’), are a common achievement of a people that shakes off its chains in an intifada that doesn’t expire till we reach freedom.
If we want to be free, we can not wait for someone to free us. We have got to free ourselves on our own.
That’s why I try to support some stories and voices from Gaza, because I feel Gaza is part of my humanity and I hope to be part of hers, and because I believe it is the least I can do to support the struggle for freedom of its people.
Telling stories, after all, has a special power.
Narrating our experiences, thoughts, fears and hopes brings us closer, it creates empathy and it makes us human.
In fact, there is a story, that has brought together not only inviduals but whole peoples, the story of a struggle for freedom and human dignity that is much similar to that of the Palestinian people.
And that is the life of Nelson Mandela.
Media have talked widely about Mandela in the last weeks, since his passing last 5th December, and many have made some important rhetorical speeches to commemorate his life and that for which he sacrificed 27 years in prison, but I wonder if many of those people truly know the meaning of ‘Apartheid’.
If it was so, it would be blatant to everyone that apartheid has not been completely defeated, not only in South Africa, where the people of Mandela’s village, where he had asked to be burried, weren’t allowed to assist to his burrial, but also in other parts of the world, like in Gaza and the West Bank.
The words of many leaders whose names I will not say have called the world to cherish the legacy and lessons learnt by Mandela, some have also used the beautiful principle of Ubuntu, a sense of belonging to humanity, a human solidarity and unity, and they have encouraged people and international actors to act keeping in mind that principle of global solidarity with those who are still fighting the battles for freedom.
Beautiful words indeed. But are they true?
In the same week in which they were spoken, people were drowning in Gaza, without electricity, with not heat, no clean water, no food; in Al-Khalil (Hebron), at the same time, settlers were visiting the ancient city, escorted by soldiers, and could walk on specific streets while the Palestinians had to tread, like always, on others.
While these words were said, the separation wall between Palestinians and Israelis kept on being built, hundreds of Palestinians had to line up for hours, since dawn, in a tight corridor that resembles a cage to pass through the checkpoints and go to work.
Like always Palestinian and Israeli cars ran on different streets of different qualities, and the Palestinian prisoners in the israeli jails were discussing the same issues that Mandela had to face during his life and struggle for freedom.
Today Samer Issawi, Palestinian prisoner who went on the longest hunger strike ever, 278 days, will be released inshaAllah.
To talk about him in a few lines here is not possible. I’d need to write a whole new article to describe how he, and Gaza, act with human dignity.
But his release makes me think of the way Mandela was seen and thought of thirty years ago by the governments of the same states that celebrate his struggle in our days, and of how the Palestinian prisoners are still seen today.
Mandela was on the black list of the U.S., and he was considered a terrorist. Fliers were drawn in Europe calling for his hanging and death.
Today instead those same states speak about him as if he was their own hero.
It’s interesting how all these similarities are kept volontarily in the shadows today, in a world where everyone wants Freedom and Justice for all.

All this has made me think a lot, and I realized that in order to pursue justice, we need to start taking action, one step at a time, in our own lives.
If each one of us pursues justice and freedom for himself and the others, we will all achieve these things eventually for eveyone.
We need to be the change we want to see in the world. We need to break the injustices with small acts that anticipate the improvement we want.
We need to open our eyes and our ears and think with our own minds.
And that’s not easy at all. It often happens that we may think we’re being indipendent in our thinking, but we’re actually still lead by someone else.
Among my recurring prayers is that I may have a ‘clear vision’ of things, in arabic “Hosn Al-baseera”.
I hope I will always be able to make a simple distinction between what is just and what is unjust.
In order to do so, we need to think of others, because justice can not be exclusive. It needs to be inclusive of eveyone, otherwise it’s no justice.