Twani Sun

Posted on 5th August 2014 in Poetry, Reflections, Stories

by H. Gibrain
for Manal

 

Five minutes
at least five minutes she said
you can’t touch it before that

When I smell cardamom
carried by the winds from Canada
or the Sea of Galilee

Then I leave home
walk across the water
until I reach you

Returning days later
allowing enough time
to make sure its done

Drinking the years
this fenjan
crossroad to civilization

I have to leave now
but these cloths and skin
are yours

Bedouin deeply ensconced
made of sand and sun
our dust ground
aromatic

Adam Roufberg interviewed by Activist Radio about his experiences in the West Bank and on The Jenin Freedom Bus

Posted on 22nd April 2014 in Interviews, Reflections, Self Determination

Fred Nagel of Activist Radio interviews Adam Roufberg – peace researcher, human rights activist and former radio host at WVKR (RadioActiveLunch), to discuss his experiences in the West Bank and on the Jenin Freedom Theater’s Freedom Ride. [the interview begins at 24:00]

  

Listen to the interview >>

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The Freedom Theatre
The Freedom Bus
Youtube Videos from Nabi Saleh >>
Alrowwad – Beautiful Resistance >>

 

 

 

The Gods are Tired

Posted on 9th April 2014 in music, Poetry, Reflections
by h. Gibrain

 

the sky is tired

your resilience

earth shattering

exhausting the heavens

 

the walls are tired

standing so long

family of stones

daughters of suns

 

the streets are tired

wearied feet of soldiers

exhausted from humiliating

honor and soil

 

the lands are tired

heard it all before

the occupation, assassinations

summary executions

 

the mothers are tired

children arrested and tortured

their crime

Palestine

 

the bullets are

tired of being fired

sky rife with tears

air ripe with jasmine

 

the gods are tired

Allah wrestling Yahweh

for a dose of heaven on

a small piece of desert wasteland

The Magical Self-Cleaning House of Al Twani, Occupied Palestine

Posted on 26th March 2014 in Notes, Reflections, Stories

for Luna

by H. Gibrain

 

Sometimes the strangest things happen in the most ordinary places. Normally such happenings would be classified as miracles because they seem to defy logic and the laws of nature, but there are no miracles; there is an explanation for everything, sometimes it is just so foreign to the capacity for understanding and located in so remote a region on Earth that it is experienced by so few within that context it seems so entirely normal to the indigenous. Yet, it is never elevated to the status of miracle because only a handful of people – in the hands of god, of course – bear witness to it on a regular basis so to them it seems entirely normal and it requires that more than one person at a time experience it to qualify it as such. This is the case in the remote village of Al Twani, Occupied Palestine.

 

It was on such a rare occasion when a small group of unsettled people came to occupy a space in this place, albeit for a very short period of time. These people fit into the broad category of “people who know things are not right.” They know, somehow, that there is a way to change the shituation and they are looking for that magical key to open up the door to the past – the door of to the house of return, discovering the twisted history of a land, a peoples, a narrative and so much more than those things: a reality of collective trauma and suffering injustices imposed upon them by another tribe of collectively traumatized individuals so entirely disconnected from their karmic debt they created a story of triumph for their future to convince themselves they were not victims but victors. This is one way to deal with the past sufferings of a people. There is no justice in this method since, by the very same laws of nature that prevent miracles from happening, such stories require a new victim.

 

An alternative would have been the long and arduous process of understanding what went wrong, where and at whose hands were they bloodied so when their time came to assume a position of power their hands would be clean of the guilt and shame which brought them to this place of despair they had to dissociate from. It would be odd, and violent, to say that their success required someone else to suffer – though this is the story of the collective trauma of human history, there are alternative paths to a peaceful resolution absolving anyone and everyone of the guilt, shame and blood that have soiled the collective hands and lands of human history – perhaps elevating the species to a collective status of demigods and goddesses running wild and free in the Garden.

 

In the world of theater objects can speak, breath and take on lives of their own. “All the world is a stage,” it has been said so you can imagine that when a group of weary travelers seeking to unlock and unleash the past from the enchanted prison there is not limit to the mysterious, fascinating and frustrating things that one, or a group of ones, may encounter. To arrive at such a place as Al Twani there seems nothing mysterious at all. One might measure a simultaneity of humility and generosity wrought of the kinds of humiliation that an inherently peaceful people, thinking as one mind and breathing as one body, are subject to. To walk into an unwitting house in such a place seems normal enough: gravity is the same, floors are horizontal, there are sinks and beds and chairs and windows. The real magic comes in the middle of the night when most normal, decent, god fearing people are sleeping so the village dogs and cats can do the dirty work of restoring the loving order of the confused psychic energy that occupies the small spaces between olive trees, chamomile, cactus and clover; diffusing the air around goats, sheep, chickens and millipedes that accumulates as a result of peoples unaware enough to attribute the blood sweat and tears of loving hands and lands – working behind the scenes – to miracles. Such people are fools.

 

To wake up in the morning to a clean kitchen, for example, would make it seem like the kitchen cleans itself. After all, when some 30 people are occupying such a small house, each of them leaving their little item behind thinking, “hmm, there are some olive pits and a candy wrapper in the sink, the sink must be the garbage in this magical town” or “yesterday that garbage pail was empty and now it is full and I will now place on top of this pile the critical mass from my ass that will make it all magically disappear.” Cigarette filers, empty bottles and cups – no problem. There are little faeries which double as hotel servants in first world countries who, in their spare time, flit their wings just once and will themselves across oceans, through valleys, over mountain tops and through the vast network of caves carved from time immemorial to come to towns like Twani to do the dirty work of mischievous fools who are traversing the nether regions of their spiritual life somewhere between lost and wandering. These faeries, if they could, they would no doubt wipe your ass for you but most of you have figured out, since a time not long after birth, when the diaper was ready to come off, that the ass does not clean itself. In fact, it requires some semblance of careful attention, a gentle hand and a versatile wrist skilled in the martial art of wiping. So you get to your ass before the faeries leaving them to clean the mound of human waste accumulating next to the inadequate toilet that somehow seems to be enough for the peoples of Al Twani.

 

Different cultures have different customs. Humans are amazingly adaptive creatures. One can move from, say, a modern full on exquisitely decorated bathroom built on the occupied lands of North America – where the indigenous peoples once live freely as inhabitants of the land – to modernish yet humble hills on the Occupied Territories of the West Bank of Palestine, come across the need to cleanse themselves of the dust and dirt that inevitably accumulates on human flesh, and re-figure out what soap is. This is an easy task. Soap has both a universal appeal and a small set of universal shapes that make it highly identifiable as soap. However, certain structures are seemingly so out of the realm and context of privileged peoples that common sense seems to catch a ride on the rising smoke from cigarettes and the vapor from coffee and dissipate into the air we all breath. Where in the lands named after an Italian explorer, collecting land for Empire abroad – stolen from the indigenous, not a single soul would spill a bottle of olive oil on their kitchen floor and walk away thinking it, too, would magically vaporize into the air we breath or somehow sop itself up and find its way to dress their salad; these same people will, when they come to the occupied lands – collected for Empire abroad from where they began their lost wandering, come to the conclusion that wet floors will mop themselves, that shelves will self organize and replace absconded goods. The only way for such things to occur, of course, is that such a house, such a small house occupied by such a small, intelligent, and good willed people, must be a magical house.

 

Where magic fails due to little flaws in the divine plan, simple tools can be used to accommodate such inconveniences as wet floors, soiled toilets, garbage piles, dirty dishes, blood stained floors and any matter of clutter, accumulation and a lack of organization. Where magic fails, common sense mixed with a little logic and extrapolation can remove hard to get out stains, dry wet dish towels, empty dish racks stacked with clean dishes, and evacuate the foul air of human animals splayed out on cushions clustered into corners of rooms as they sing their midnight madrigals. When all of the faeries have gone back to their hotels to serve Wasichu (“white man as occupier”), when logic has returned to its rightful place in the sky, when the people of good intention decide to step out of the enchanted prison to which they, themselves, hold the key in the palm of their hand and decide to realize that they are not lost and are only wandering amid the endless beautiful diversity of beings and spirits, the collective shame, guilt, trauma and discord will rise into the skies on the back of mister nice guy and humiliation will be restored to humility, the hatred and anger wrought of denial will be replaced by love, the occupied land will once again be inhabited land and all of the magic that took care of the shit people were too lazy or too stupid to come to terms with will be replaced by gentle hands skill in the art and craft of caring for the land and each other as if everything were a baby just born and still covered by whatever it is that covers babies when they leave the comfort of those wonderful substances that keep us comatose as we get ourselves ready to prepare for a life in the enchanted prison.

Too Many Tear(gas canister)s: The Freedom Bus Hits Nabi Saleh – Occupied Palestinian Territories, West Bank

Posted on 23rd March 2014 in Reflections, Stories

 

Tear gas knows no political boundaries, regardless of its political origins, its distribution and dissemination. American tax payers purchase it for the Israeli Occupation forces and some of them/you can be lucky enough to get a tax rebate in the form of respiratory inclusion and ocular incursion. Other internationals, in this case about 30 persons mostly from Europe get a sort of tax bonus from US taxpayers. US nationals can consider it the gift that keeps on giving. Needless to say, the indigenous population, in the regions that are not typically traveled to by the proxy occupation forces (that would be foreign nationals working for NGO’s who live in the more ‘isolated’ regions of the West Bank like Ramallah, Ramallah, Ramallah and maybe Bethlehem and Nablus and other peoples whose governments support the occupation through funding and provision of military equipment and training), experiences tear gas, stun grenades, encondomized bullets, bullets, and hollow points on a regular basis. [Take a look at some videos posted by Bilal Tamimi from Nabi Saleh; what you will see will shock you - but nothing like experiencing it for yourself].

 

One of the things that I find striking is that the Israelis shoot indiscriminately on a group of internationals while they are being filmed. They must realize that it doesn’t look good for them when we, in this case those of us on the Freedom Ride, will be broadcasting our experiences, recordings, videos, photos through news media and social network outlets. It doesn’t look good for them at all and the more you people pay attention and begin to get organized with your local BDS organizations and, more importantly, break in/out to/from Israel on the human roulette wheel and, if you get in, make your way to Nabi Saleh, Al Tuwani, Jenin, Beit Jala and many other places in the West Bank and Gaza and experience for yourself the ritual abuse and humiliation that many of you are responsible for funding and, therefore, bear a great responsibility to transform the shituation through the normative means of the boycott divestment and sanctions movement, international law, and other forms of activism and solidarity. If you’re a US citizen you should also BDS the USG, become a tax resister, and again, come stand in solidarity with the Palestinian peoples who are the warmest, most welcoming culture I have yet to experience.

 

Tear gas evasion can be a tricky game. If you’re an Israeli soldier standing at the base of a hill preventing people from going to their spring or olive trees and you’re firing into the hills, you may well end up tear gassing your own ass. You have to be smart as an Israeli soldier being able to predict subtle shifts in pressure gradients. If you’re a demonstrator participating in acts of non violent popular resistance to the occupation forces you have to do much more than note the direction of the wind. You have to watch the the soldiers, note the aim of their weapons of identity destruction, predict trajectories to avoid getting hit by a canister as you navigate the rocky terrain, look out for your cohorts to make sure they’re not stuck in a plume of irritant, keep your eyes peeled for snipers in the back of jeeps firing live rounds or condom encrusted bullets, and try not to step on the indigenous flora which scatters the decimated landscaped burned by tear gas canisters, stun grenades and settlers nearly a stones throw away as the magpie flies.

 

You would think and hope being a foreign national that you would not be targeted during demonstrations. And, as I am starting to understand, most of you/us will not be directly targeted. Targeting civilians is, of course, a violation of international law and is considered a war crime. For the most part, the IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces) is protected from war crimes because they shoot indiscriminately a type of weapon that disperses its shot – be it rubber bullets or tear gas, so that if you are ‘accidentally’ hit, it can and will be claimed that you were not targeted. Otherwise, be you a 72 year old female from Denmark, a 65 year old American Frau, or a 25 year old Spanish women legitimizing your activist credentials you will certainly get a hefty dose of the rather nasty irritant. The only antidote I have found thus far which serves as panacea is hashish. Thus, when walking into the certitude of friendly fire (friendly because the soldiers and the villagers all know each other… for the most part) you should definitely spark up.

 

Breaking In/Out to/of Israel

Israel, a w(W)hite W(w)estern Jewish democracy (Orwellian Newspeak), is not always that easy to get into. You have to be crafty to break into such a fortress (aka Enchanted Prison). Those amongst we holy wanderers, political dissidents and ignorant travelers have different types of preparation to perpetrate. Some just have to pack their clothes and get on and off of a plane or two. Others have to clean up their facebook accounts, look tired, and prepare names and phone numbers of friends or friends of friends or acquaintances of friends and/or family and their friends and/or associates who might lend a phone number and rough location along with a corroborative report. Others, I’m certain, spend a little extra money on the latest grunge fads to like they are already a part of the Tel Aviv hipster crowd.

 

When you arrive, your boyfriend may not be allowed to enter. He will call you when he is at the gate departing with the news that he is being sent back and he is not exactly sure why and neither were the Israeli’s who are making him go back. You might get asked a series of questions pertaining to your travel intentions, who you’re staying with, and how long you’ll be there. You might have to provide a phone number and an address or two and watch as they call the number to make sure your story holds water. If you are a known activist or know any known activists you might likely be taken to another room and undergo an interrogation. You may be asked to strip. You may be asked to open your computer and login to your accounts so they can see what you’ve been up to. You might get a stamp on your passport indicating you are not welcome back to Israel for a decade – presumably when the social and political order is a bit more chill.

 

Whether you are entering or leaving, if you are actually acting with dubious intentions (maybe you’re an intellectual studying Palestinian Art as a form of resistance, or your teaching Pal children to build skateboard parks and learn how to skate, or your a young German girl working for the UN in Ramallah), you’ve gotta do a minimum of two things to enter safely: you have to have a viable story worked out and you’ve got to de-arabize or de-palestinianize your travel articles. Maybe you won’t abring Said’s book on the Question of Palestine or the book on Dabka but would rather grab yourself a copy of Hertzl’s Jewish State and pretend your coming to visit the holy sites and explore your Jewish or Christian roots. Maybe your contemplating Aliyah to get some of your tax dollars back. You’ll learn a couple of Hebrew words to pretend your on in being in on the know. Most of all, deep down inside, you’re prepared to be carted and cordoned off, questioned, cross examined, caressed, and sent back across the Mediterranean lest you be suspected of seeking a dialogue with like minded humanists (Allah forbid they be Arabs), learning a little bit about the cultures of both sides: the indigenous Arab populations and the mostly white implants (read colonizers) in Israel proper. [Note: everyone should have the right to a decent and safe place to live but the history of colonization implies dispossessing others of their homes and land and that tends to piss people off and cause protracted conflicts – something Hertzl was well aware of and wrote about].

 

Then, of course, there is a sort of un-re-decolonizing of the mind/heart/spirit triad that has to take place. It goes something like this: you realize that your spending so much time coming up with stories so that you can continue to enter and exit Israel. You realize that realizing how much time and energy realizing it takes up more time and energy. You realize that it is this way intentionally. You realize that for a brief period of time you are Israel’s bitch because they’re forcing you to make unethical decisions – you feel boxed into lying. You invent the term “flying ethics” (once again, to mock the flying checkpoints that Palestinians are subject to): literally ethics on the fly, a tactic used to avoid telling incriminating truths in the face of arbitrary and unreasonable searches and seizures such as: I was in Hebron, I visited the Darwish Museum, I purchased olive soap and sweets in Nablus, I ate felafel in Birzeit, there is a really beautiful human being that I’ve fallen in love with that lives in East jerusalem, and/or I am an ardent supporter and promoter of human rights and I support the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement.

 

You realize its fuck all that you’re forced into this shituation to begin with and you can’t just smile and be honest and travel freely to visit a beautiful peoples in a beautiful culture in a not too beautiful circumstance. You realize that if you make it in or out you might not make it in or out again. You realize that this cycle is precisely what your being forced into again and you argue the virtues of honesty versus the virtues of lying knowing full well that they’re just toying with you and they know where you’ve been in any case and since they can’t really do to you what they do to the Palestinians at least they can have some fun with you, own your ass, watch you sweat, catalog the inventions that you’ve come up with, and determine whether or not you should be made an example of.

 

They know you’ve spent countless hours with your friends telling stories of what happened to them or people they know. They know you’ve been busy coming up with stories of your own. They know it doesn’t matter what you say, where you’re from or your station in life. If they want to fuck with you, in many splendid ways, they will. So, for just a little amount of time you are their bitch.

 

You can imagine the kind of intellectual tai chi chuan that is required to skate flawlessly through the system of checkpoints, questions and border crossings. It is, in many ways, however, like roulette. The outcome is seemingly random.