Si chiama Sumud

Forse è vero che non possiamo comprendere pienamente la dimensione della nostra umanità senza aver prima conosciuto la sofferenza. Forse non possiamo veramente dire di aver intuito che cos’è, molto in fondo, ciò che ci rende umani, senza aver prima compreso il significato del dolore.
L’umanità non è forse senso di incompletezza, bisogno degli altri esseri umani?
Una costante necessità di raccontarci, spiegarci, interpretarci, dirci l’un l’altro chi siamo e chi vogliamo diventare, di condividere le nostre visioni sul senso della vita e sul vivere comune.

Siamo relazione, e viviamo forse più intensamente e più consciamente l’incontro con gli altri proprio quando facciamo esperienza della sofferenza.
Non voglio fare, con questo, del romanticismo. Non pensiamo mai che il dolore sia bello finché ci stiamo dentro e cerchiamo di liberarcene. Proveremo sempre ad uscirne, lotteremo sempre per allontanarlo da noi, intraprenderemo esperienze e viaggi, interiori ed esteriori, spirituali e fisici, per poter porre fine alle forme di sofferenza che viviamo.
Le nostre capacità di liberarcene, tuttavia, dipenderanno fortemente da fattori molto più forti di noi, dalla possibilità di accedere a risorse che ci vengono negate o concesse, da poteri politici, sociali ed economici che determinano fortemente i rapporti in cui viviamo con gli altri.

È qui, nell’intersezione di questi poteri e degli effetti che producono sulle nostre esperienze del mondo, che vivere la sofferenza e il dolore ci permette di accedere ad una comprensione più approfondita della nostra umanità. L’ingiustizia, l’oppressione, la marginalità, l’esclusione, la deprivazione materiale e/o spirituale, quando vengono riconosciute come tali da chi le vive, riescono a scoprire quello che i discorsi delle varie forme di potere offuscano e obliterano dalla coscienza delle persone e delle collettività in cui queste vivono ed interagiscono. Via le categorie, via le dicotomie, via gli slogan vuoti e senza senso.

Vivo questo dolore, questa deprivazione, questa perdita dei miei cari, questa espropriazione della mia terra, questo danneggiamento delle mie risorse, questa morte delle mie possibilità e delle mie capacità di dare qualcosa al mondo e agli altri, di essere attiva, di decidere per la mia vita, di poter scegliere, agire, parlare, perché vivo all’interno di determinati rapporti, che informano e definiscono i livelli della mia esistenza, dal macro al micro.
Vivo nel mondo, in un momento storico preciso, in uno specifico territorio, con una particolare storia personale e collettiva alle spalle. Sono continuamente attratta dal passato, nella speranza di comprendere il presente, di poterne trarre una saggezza perduta, una conoscenza chiave che sveli sempre più chiaramente perché vivo questa realtà, nella convizione di poterne trarre qualcosa per liberarmi dalla sofferenza.
Appartengo a tutte le parti del mondo, a nessuna, mi sento a casa, non mi sento capita. Nessuna delle lingue che parlo riesce a dire interamente quello che penso. Le parole sono già cariche di significati che non mi appartengono.

In tutto questo, che io lo sappia o meno, interagiscono gli interessi e le azioni di un’infinità di attori e soggetti attorno a me, che agiscono da ben prima di me, e lo continueranno a fare ben dopo.
Quando vivo l’ingiustizia e l’oppressione, riesco ad intravedere meglio questi rapporti che producono i privilegi e le deprivazioni della gente vicina e lontana dalla mia realtà, riesco a riconoscere che le diseguaglianze di forza e di potere globali, che si riversano sulla mia esperienza particolare e personale, sono il risultato di visioni, decisioni, teorie e azioni di esseri umani, che hanno più o meno potere nelle loro mani.

Mi guardo accanto, un’altra donna, un altro uomo… vivono qualche altro tipo di dolore, prodotto di quelle stesse intersezioni di potere che ritengono che le vite dei miei fratelli e delle mie sorelle, dei miei bambini, delle mie amicizie, siano meno preziose delle vite di qualcun altro, o che gli interessi di chi detiene la ricchezza materiale nel mondo, sia a livello locale, che regionale, che globale, siano più urgenti della realizzazione delle aspirazioni e delle necessità di tutti gli esseri umani che appartengono allo stesso identico modo a questa Terra.
Alla storia ufficiale passeranno le cronologie dei loro trattati, delle loro guerre, delle loro colonizzazioni e delle loro parole vuote. A noi, alla nostra memoria, l’esperienza reale del mondo.

Quando il mio dolore e quelli degli altri dialogano, le nostre rivendicazioni si incontrano, scoprono quello che hanno in comune, e come possono sostenersi a vicenda, nonostante spesso possano non concordare su altri aspetti delle nostre vite diverse tra di loro. Questi incontri rafforzano le memorie collettive, le articolano, le rendono più ricche e collegate tra di loro, e permettono di scoprire sempre meglio le radici e le diramazioni delle nostre storie.

Qui nasce forse il nostro bisogno di raccontarci. Abbiamo sempre l’impressione che raccontare le nostre sofferenze passate possa contribuire al miglioramento delle esperienze altrui, che possa aggiungere qualcosa, una nuova, ulteriore sfumatura, alle tante altre già trasformate e comunicate in arte, musica o parola, e che compongono la nostra conoscenza di noi stessi come esseri umani.
Ma tutto questo è significativo in primo luogo perché non è fine a se stesso, perché risveglia in noi la domanda sulla giustizia, e ci interroga sui nostri rapporti con gli altri, e sulla nostra umanità.
Ci impedisce, in tal modo, di ritenerci irresponsabili delle nostre condizioni e di quelle degli altri, e non ci permette di dichiarare che non abbiamo a che fare con le sofferenze che non ci toccano personalmente.

Rimane, per me, sempre aperta la domanda su come è possibile trasformare questa consapevolezza in azione e cambiamento. Cosa significa sfruttare gli spazi ritagliati nella tela intessuta dal potere per rivendicare la propria azione nel mondo, e per elaborare modi diversi di vivere assieme? Come possiamo realmente muoverci all’interno dei rapporti per modificarli nella loro reiterazione, fino a renderli veramente diversi da ciò che erano?

Ci muoviamo già all’interno di queste strette reti di potere, tutti i giorni delle nostre vite, e facciamo già quest’operazione ogni qualvolta elaboriamo modi di realizzare gli obiettivi più disparati, dal più semplice ed immediato al più ambizioso, nonostante gli impedimenti che ci vengono imposti da queste reti di potere. Si chiama resilienza, si chiama Sumud.

Ma ciò che sento di dover focalizzare in questa riflessione è che queste autorealizzazioni individuali, o delle nostre singole comunità dirette, non possono modificare i rapporti in cui viviamo nel mondo finché non sono accompagnate dalla necessaria consapevolezza più ampia e articolata di come funzionano i rapporti di potere all’interno dei quali siamo immersi, e di come informano dunque le nostre realtà e quelle degli altri.
È proprio questa coscienza, che spesso nasce proprio quando tocchiamo con mano l’oppressione e l’ingiustizia anche nelle nostre realtà, e non le guardiamo solo da lontano, incise sulla pelle degli altri, che deve costituire la spinta a far sì che la nostra resilienza, e il nostro Sumud, siano collettivi.

olive trees

Olive Trees

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A New World – by Maisoon Bashir

From Mo3 Blog

#Stories from Photo from Mo3 Blog

Absolutus Storyteller is pleased to share Maisoon’s story from Gaza, (originally published on: http://justiciaparagaza.blogspot.de/2014/09/a-new-world-by-maisoon-bashir.html)

Sharing #StoriesFromPalestine:

The desire to detach myself from the world for a long time and to enter a new world, a private one, overcame me.

I switched off my mobile phone that had begun to show signs of its impending slow death and cut off contact with all persons through all mediums of communication. In short, any link that I have with the real world. We all need time to ourselves, free from the unrelenting distractions of this world.

I felt that I needed to get far away from everything, from every voice I did not want to hear, for I will not allow myself to be killed via means to which I have not acquiesced. I wish to die with dignity, with my head held high; does man actually exercise any control over the manner of his death ?

Call me crazy, for it is my best feature, but I hate to feel weak and powerless because it kills me and tears me apart. Sometimes I wish to die a thousand deaths just so that I can escape this feeling; I would do anything, just one thing to rid myself of this cursed poison.

No more the role of ‘loyal friend’, no more the role of ‘caring mother’ as my friends call me; everything has stopped but I have not died!. The person inside me does not die, sickness and pain cannot touch the person inside me. Inside me is a woman borne of the womb of determination.

I agonised from pain in my back and my leg and could not move easily, I had an urge to enter into a deep sleep. I felt pleasure at that moment and wanted to enjoy the taste of sleep, for which I have been thirsty for a long time. My mother came after she was urgently called to give me my medicine, hoping that it would ease my pain for some time so I could sleep. The pain, however, would not go away, for it is stronger than any drug known to modern medicine.

My private world. O’ merciful bullet that has saved my soul and given me a new lease of life, even if it was only for a few minutes or a few days !

I rested my thoughts, my aching body and wandering dreams. So I took to reading and writing, unaware that my fingers were even moving. I am a different person now. So when I came to and tried to read what I had written, I was astonished and wondered who had written this, to whom, when and how ? The answer was I do not know.!

I always thought that reading and writing were my enemies, as I had always said that I did not enjoy either of them. I would complete my academic obligations as requested by my professors, a chore that had to be done, nothing more.

Don’t ask me how because I do not know ,but everything changed; I found myself floating, flying or even swimming in an another world. Moving from one book to another, from literature to poetry to religion, from here and there, travelling around the world like Ibn Battuta. I moved through the pages of a novel like a musician along the strings of his world ! In your realms there is no concept of time, shackles have been broken and borders have been crossed; floating and flying, no matter where, the only important thing is that I fly.

I used to always try to cut all ties between these two worlds as each of them is different; the first, distorted and poisoned with its damned thoughts and ideas; the second, I cannot find the words to describe it, its most beautiful feature is its innocence.

Imagine me reading a novel in one day?! How beautiful you are my private instrument.

How can I return to this wretched world from which I am running away, looking for another world, where I hope to find what I have been searching for a long time, where I hope to find peace, “peace” my dear friends!

For an unknown reason, I felt the urge to open a narrow passage to this world when I read that someone had written “Weeping is a remedy for women, they weep in order to forget their worries, to cope with a greater burden; while men can erupt before they break into tears. Women are strong because they weep. Men cannot withstand an equal burden to women, who weep to find the strength required to deal with the situation. As such, you must weep men and feel no shame, weep in order to cope, learn from women”.

I was startled by the trail of images surrounding me, women and children crying, but what really struck me were the weeping men and I found the following words coming from me like a burning flame:

“Here, in Gaza, there are real men,

They have wept because the pain has exceeded all limits,

Because the pain has torn the hearts,

Because the voices have become throaty”.!!

I wish I could have caught their magnificent tears with a little handkerchief to make a crown to be placed on the heads of the free !

Here, dear writer, you find what you were wishing for has come true; as here everything is different, here everything exists beyond all limitations, beyond written words.

My regards,
Maisoon — August 5th, 2014.

“I am Maisoon.Bashir, 22 years old . A simple Palestinian girl. a freelance Translator, a journalist and activist in human rights. I studied English Language Translation at Gaza University. I am writing from my heart, my feeling inside me, Writing to laud my voice and flying like a bird in sky. My dream is to be star in sky, a start and a voice of truth, of my beloved country..! I love photography , because I believe that the picture takes more words…  As a Palestinian I believe in peace and tolerance among all people. I am a Palestinian and I believe in peace. My father, who passed away four years ago, taught me to always look at the future and not to be distracted by the painful present as it is my only way to reach my goals in life as a student. The people in Gaza also have dreams and high hopes for the future just like me, teaching the world about the values and principles that I learned in Gaza, in my school, and in my house.”

A letter to Falasteen

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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 —

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“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”

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” 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.

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“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,
mint-flavoured,
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.

***

“Strong”tumblr_n4xsxyuIb51s77x2po1_500

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 —

Italiano:tumblr_m3imjvO8DM1qfjxoio1_500

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.

— ENGLISH VERSION —

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.