Saturday, October 31, 2015

"Can We Not Sacrifice Ourselves?"

“The people must defend themselves, but they must not sacrifice themselves. The people must not let themselves be destroyed or riddled with bullets, but they cannot be humiliated either.”
- Salvador Allende

This is what we always wish for here - Palestine - to defend ourselves without sacrificing ourselves.  Now the Intifada is being documented with phone-cameras every second of every day. We can see everything! When people are being shot, are being arrested, are being paralyzed, are dying … and sometimes when they’re lucky enough to survive. And it’s then we say, “Can’t this always happen? Can’t they live and cheat death every time?”
Why can’t they live every time ...

A while back when this whole Intifada or uprising erupted, a video of a young Palestinian rolling under an Israeli Military Jeep and getting up to run to his comrades afterwards astonished all of us. They tried to run him over and he lived!

He lived!

He was lucky. Tens of Palestinians like him were run over by Israeli military jeep, but were severely injured. Yet that moment of him surviving meant the world to me, and probably to a lot more people. The second I saw it I kept repeating it over and over again, and kept saying, “He lived! He lived! He lived!” and I could not tire of it, I was even scared that I might’ve said it out loud too much that something might happen to him. We’re surrounded with so much death that it’s a miracle when a life doesn’t perish.

Everytime I hear of another stabbing “allegation”, and I’m not using the term "allegation" to assume that as Palestinians we don’t stab Israelis but because in most of the recent events most of them were fabricated by the Israeli police or military who shoot Palestinian youth dead without even blinking twice, but everytime I hear about such incident I keep hoping and praying that maybe they just injured him\her lightly, or maybe he\she ran away, or maybe he\she was just shot in the leg and will survive. But that’s rarely ever the case.

In most cases they bleed to death on the cold cement streets, all alone and abandoned regardless of the fact that they’re surround with tens of Israeli soldiers and police.

I could describe such murders as “cold-blooded executions”, which is the obvious, but honestly what else do we expect from our occupiers? Truthfully, these cold-blooded murders aren’t what’s surprising me; it’s my people’s reactions that are. It’s amazing how much room for humanity they - my people - still have, they always give our occupiers second, third, fourth, hundredth .. excuses and chances. “They didn’t have to kill him, they could just shoot him in the legs,” they say, or “they left him there to bleed for hours before letting paramedics get to him. They left him there to die!

Seriously, what do we expect? Murder is not a peaceful act. Murder is murder, and yes they were aiming to murder them, they were aiming to eliminate the “threat” and not simply stop it. If they wanted to shoot a Palestinian in the leg to stop him\her, they could, of course they could, but they DON’T WANT TO. They’ve been operating on a policy to kill ever since they occupied Palestine almost 68 years ago, so why are we still surprised by their inhumanity and monstrous nature?

Do they have to wipe us all off the face of the earth for us to be convinced? How many more Palestinians need to be killed for it to sink in! They’re not really concerned with keeping Palestinians alive, as they would say “A good Arab is a dead Arab.” I think once we realize this fact, maybe we’ll start changing our methods in dealing with this monstrous military occupation.

Maybe then we would stop “sacrificing” ourselves as Allende has said, and I shouldn’t even dare say “ourselves”. I haven’t sacrificed anything, here I am sitting behind my computer writing about other people’s sacrifices and losses. But maybe then we’ll start defending “ourselves” without sacrificing ourselves .. that is, if such thing is possible.

These are beautiful words, aren’t they? “The people must defend themselves, but they must not sacrifice themselves. The people must not let themselves be destroyed or riddled with bullets, but they cannot be humiliated either.” This is coming from a man who killed himself so he wouldn't surrender to the capitalist occupiers of his country.

It feels like this all the time, revolutionary words are just that; words. Very poetic, very alluring, and very powerful but they’re not true. They’re good only for fiction. Because people still die, people are still hurting, are still being burnt alive, are still being suffocated by tear gas canisters, are still being held as political prisoners, are still being tortured, and they are still sacrificing their lives on daily bases for a chance of a decent life.

Great women and men always had powerful words and last speeches, but that doesn’t make their loss or death any less tragic. On the contrary it’s so much harder.

With everything that’s been going on lately, you see us promoting the same empty scenarios over and over again. There were stories about Palestinian teenagers committing stabbings against Israelis, particularly settlers. Some were proven to be true while others were also incidents fabricated by the Israeli police, and right there and then you’d find us protesting and saying, “The knife was planted! He didn’t do anything! He’s the victim here!”

After almost 68 years of Zionist and Israeli military occupation it’s about time we realize the fact that whether he was the one who committed the stabbing or the one being stabbed; he’s STILL the victim in all of these scenarios. “Violence begets violence.” Does this mean going around stabbing people is okay? Of course not, some would even argue this is “unethical”, but I’m honestly not going to waste time discussing ethics in times where Israeli Police and Soldiers are running around executing anyone (anyone Palestinian or looks like one) for barely breathing “funny” to them. When they are arresting people randomly, beating them, and demolishing their houses. When collective “punishment” is forced on Palestinians for the sake of being Palestinians. What are ethics anyway under a brutal inhumane Israeli Military Occupation? But such acts by Palestinians aren’t a matter of ethics, or right or wrong, or inhumane .. these are not the correct discussions to have here.

We’re always victims of such arguments, we get lost discussing whether this was right or wrong or whether this kid was innocent of the crime or not and forget the main issue, we forget to ask the “why” and who's the real culprit here (if you need a hint, it's the Israeli Military Occupation), and we end up lost in this international pointless whirlwind of bullshit. It’s always funny how ethics and human rights matter when it’s concerning Israelis (within the Israeli-Palestinian context)  but means nothing when it comes to us.

Us - the collateral damage of this all.

We should let this "winning over international opinion" scenario go. This has been going on for far too long to keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again.

We DO NOT have to prove our humanity or ethical standards to anyone but ourselves. We should stop expecting anything from International Community Institutions or the United Nations, if they wanted to do something, they would’ve done something to help ages ago, what’s happening now isn’t new to them. We should stop politicians from speaking in the youth’s name, these youth don’t need anyone speaking in their names on TV stations, radio, or written articles; their stones made a much louder and vigorous statement. If it itches the news channels to host “representatives” to what’s happening, they either bring a representative of these youth spending day and night in the streets fighting Israeli Military Occupation or no one at all. 

I’d rather hear nothing but complete silence then sit for hours listening to some retired Fateh or Hamas or Popular Front or whatever politician with a huge belly barely making room for us to see his face, where his pockets are full of our - the people's -money and he doesn't even know how to throw a rock or is able to bend down to pick up one to throw anyway, while he’s talking about the amazing revolutionary work these young men and women are doing, or listen to one of them while sitting comfortably sipping their coffee in London or Washington while they’re criticizing the “escalation” of events in the “region” and providing out-dated “solutions”. They have no right to represent the Intifada in any way possible.

And when possible, if ever, we should stop sacrificing ourselves.

Let me rephrase, these young men and women, or even kids, “should” (I’m not issuing orders here, this is a request from the heart, more of a secret desire) stop perceiving their death to be the only route to the liberation of Palestine. They could live too, maybe in a brief second in a parallel world this could actually happen. Maybe they could defend themselves and their country and survive. Maybe they couldn’t be destroyed by riddled bullets, and they couldn’t be humiliated. Maybe in this lost second in some parallel universe they will win.

And somehow, instead of walking down the cemetery road five times a day to bury martyrs, they could run the streets celebrating the survival of all. Maybe they could celebrate their birthdays every time amidst the rain of tear gas canisters and bullets, where such event represents the greatest manifestation of life to ever exist. Maybe they could roll under a moving Israeli jeep and survive every time. Maybe they could dance Dabkeh in the midst of the clashes and not get shot every time.

Maybe they could live and not sacrifice their lives.

But until then .. until we’re able to snatch this lost second in the perfect parallel world, these youngsters will continue to sacrifice their lives in every second of the real world. They are not out there for the poetic words and powerful speeches, and they are not out there to die; they’re out there putting their lives on the line to have a chance of living. The life we all aspire for, but no one deserves the most but them.

And for them I’ll keep praying that there comes a day where they won’t have to sacrifice themselves for me, their families and loved ones, or their country.

                             "Young Palestinians taking a short break to celebrate one of their friends' birthday 
                                                    during the clashes with the Israeli Military at Beit El settlement"