As I was writing this post, I was thinking of maybe turning this blog to a condolences page, since most of what I write about here are martyrs and lost lives. Maybe I will.
On the night of March 10th two Palestinians were shot dead, the following morning four Palestinians got killed, one shot dead by Israeli Occupation Forces, and the rest during an Israeli raid over the Gaza strip. This sounds dry, doesn't it? Six Palestinians killed in less than 24 hours, so what? The world seems to be doing just fine. I seem to be doing just fine, and I’m positive whoever is reading this is doing just fine as well. If that’s the case, then it’s time for this so-called judgment day we’ve been told about over and over again all of our lives to come, where maybe some justice will prevail, if ever. This is not a world to be lived in, when lives are lost this easily and moved on over so easily.
One of the young Palestinians who got killed was Saji, a 19 year old student at my university, Birzeit University. And they've (The Students Council and the University's Administration) prepared a tribute for him, to honor him and say our final goodbye.
All of my life, I’ve been trying to avoid funerals. I’m a coward when it comes to death, it’s not something I can deal with, accept, or understand. Nonetheless, when I heard of Saji’s death, a student at my university, I wore a black blouse, got my Kuffiyeh, and went down to university for his tribute.
Thousands and thousands of students, employees, and professors were there; standing in the middle of the university’s campus, waiting, in complete silence and sorrow. We were waiting for him. For Saji.
I don’t know if “nervous” is the word to use for the waiting part, but all of us were not at ease waiting. We were informed that he’s to arrive soon, everything went silent. Not a breath could be heard, no inhale, no exhale, no chatter, no leaves rustle, nothing but complete utter silence. It was the first time ever I could hear my heart beat this loudly, but then again I wasn’t the only one. All of us, standing there waiting, could hear our hearts beat, the same beat for the first time.
Then suddenly from afar we could hear people chant, I couldn’t make sense of what they were saying, but it only meant one thing, Saji was here and he was close by. Silence, other than our heart beats, dominated the scene.
The chants got closer and closer, and our unified heart beats got louder and louder.
Then there he was. Carried by his friends, colleagues, professors, and students from the university, and they were screaming their hearts out for him.
“Allahu Akbar Allahu Akbar
Saji, the spark that ignited the revolution’s flame
Saji the martyr, shall never go in vain”
At that point we’ve all lost it, those who could find their voices would scream for him with the others, and those who couldn’t would weep in silence. All of us were either crying or yelling or gasping for air or trembling, but him. He was so calm, serene, and solid.
He was so at peace, and that made it even harder for us who were losing it.
He looked so beautiful. Not in a senseless way, no. He was beautiful in every way, in a way that makes you want to become him. So beautiful, so peaceful, and calm, the opposite of all of us, we were these ugly creatures at distress and without any clue as to what the hell we were doing.
"During Saji's tribute at Birzeit University's campus"
Later we found out that Saji was one of these many Palestinians that refused to remain silent, in any way they could manage. If he could throw rocks at settlers who attack his village, he would. If he could go on a demonstration against these pointless negotiations, he would. If there’s a demonstration against the illegal inhumane Apartheid Wall, he’d go no questions asked. When a Palestinian is killed, he’d go for his funeral and scream out his name as loudly as he could, the same that has happened for him during his funeral.
He was not silent. He was not passive. He was a fighter in the best way he could. And if we truly wanted to honor him, the least we could do is portray him as such.
That’s why this photo that has been displayed all over the internet, is choking me.
Till this moment it hasn’t been confirmed if Saji was really throwing rocks at settlements and the soldiers protecting them or not (since you know, most people assume that Israeli Occupation Forces need a reason to shoot and kill Palestinians). But nonetheless, it’s disgusting to use him in such manner, only to impress this “international community” – which this photo is made for- to get their sympathies.
Disgusting doesn't even come close to describing it.
Why is it so important for us to impress or gain people’s support, not all of them of course, who genuinely don’t give a shit about us? You really want to impress your glorified international society? Tell the truth.
There’s no shame in fighting the occupation back. What’s shameful is not fighting back and fabricating stories only to fit the victim role that will never ever help or change the reality we’re living in. Yes, we are victims of the Israeli Occupation, but that does not mean we should be helpless, passive, and hopeless victims. We should be like Saji, do whatever we can to refuse it. If it was throwing rocks at the illegal Israeli Settlements, at Israeli Soldiers, then so be it. If it was jumping over the Apartheid Wall and risk being shot instead of being humiliated over a checkpoint, then so be it. If it was refusing to bring down the Palestinian flag from our houses because the Israeli Authorities, for some reason, are terrified of it, then so be it.
But saying that one of our young occupation-fighters simply got killed feeding his goats to get the approval of people and parties, who could care less, is beyond sickening and so freaking pathetic.
Saji is not the victim here, people who agree with this photo, who share it, who support it; are. Photos like these agree with the assumption that in order to be right and have people's support; we can only be victims. What are the reasons behind this? I don’t know. Maybe we want to be more “peaceful” than "violent", maybe we’re tired of being called terrorists, I don’t know. But none of these ridiculous motives matter, this should stop.
What photos like these only do is make it seem as if it was wrong to resist the Israeli Occupation. As my professor has put it perfectly, “Occupation itself is the crime, not resisting it”.
So Saji and every single Palestinian who refuses the reality of the occupation and fight back on daily bases are not the victims; those who are ashamed of fighting back are. Being a victim is not a choice, but being a passive victim is, so it’s time to decide on which side we want to stand.
May all of your blessed souls rest in and find peace.
"Saji's brother Sa'd during his funeral, and he's put around his neck his Kuffieye filled with his brother's blood of when he got shot"