This is the video of a poem I performed last November for Words And Strings event here in Doha, Qatar.
This is the second time I perform at a poetry event. I am overcoming the anxiety of performing in front of audience. I hope next performance will be better.
You’re not missing anything, and you are missing everything.
No sunshine to relieve your AC-frozen bones,
No summer breeze that reminds you of the beauty of the shades.
Familiar faces are everywhere.
but to them, you can’t relate.
Hibernation is the new luxury.
An opportunity to afford
And you fight for it,
Nothing makes you yield
A comfort zone.
There’s only home on hold.
A fortresses of concrete.
A window to haze.
A meal of gratefulness.
And a feast of loneliness.
And a desert that extends as far as the eyes can see,
As exile runs deep.
Existence and not living.
Missing everything and nothing.
The emerald-colored ocean, the wind orchestrated waves, the greened mountains touching the zenith and beyond made South Africa’s Cape Town one of the dearest places to my heart. (I didn’t visit many).
Lying at the bottom of the continent, hearted between the Atlantic and the Indian oceans, this African pearl is one destination that definitely worth visiting and coming back to.Post apartheid Cape Town is a celebration of freedom and peace. I maybe having some euphoric feeling towards the city, but I did really love everything about it.
However, all this charm couldn’t stop my heart from thinking that I am seeing Africa’s beauty, what about the beauty of Palestine? The caramel sunset upon the Atlantic was breathtaking; it looked very much like Gaza’s. And every time the beauty of Cape Town took me, I couldn’t help but to think that if Gaza wasn’t besieged by Israel, it would look the same.
Gaza, a real tourist attraction
Gaza Strip, believe it or not, naturally, is a very beautiful city treasuring some real touristic attractions. The yellowish sands, the warm Mediterranean, and the hospitality of Palestinians make it a nice place for a vacation. There are some historical sites from different eras. The sea cruises feel so freshly cool, and I am sure there are many more hidden potentials. But Israel’s siege destroys any chance for this sector to thrive. Israel’s control over crossings kills the domestic tourism, the least. (Hardly any Palestinian from the West Bank can visit Gaza and vise versa). Let alone keeping the Strip a war zone doesn’t encourage people to visit. Though Cape Town and Gaza are distinctively different geographically, I keep thinking that if Gaza was free, It’d look like Cape Town.
I want to visit Palestine,
Apartheid Israel prevents Palestinians from visiting Palestine. I heard thousands of times stories about how beautiful the city of Acre is. However, I never saw any of its beauty. At school, we studied the different names of cities and what they were famous for. I learned that Jericho is the best in winter, as it is warm. Ramallah and Jerusalem were the best in summer, as they are mountainous cities. But, what we studied remained pictures in textbooks. In a free Palestine, we’d go there for school trips.
Stunning South Africa makes me yearn to see the beauty of my own country that’s deliberately is kept away from us, so we our sense of belonging is killed. I wish I were able to tour Palestine from the very north to the very south. Palestine is not so big like South Africa, so a road trip would be enough to go everywhere in there. That trip would include the scenery of the green hills, the sea, and the mountains. It’s a trip where I can stop to pray in Al-Aqsa mosque and spend as much time as I wish. A trip where there would be no checkpoints, no walls, no Israeli apartheid.
But for now the reality is different, going to South Africa is more possible than going Jerusalem. I remember there was one sign at Cape Point that shows the distances from that point to various cities around the world. Jerusalem was one of them. 7468km is the distance from Cape point to Jerusalem; I thought if I were a South African, I’d take a plane and end up in Palestine. 78km is the distance between Gaza and Jerusalem, but being a Palestinian makes Cape Point a more possible place to travel than Jerusalem.
South Africa is very dear to my heart. This Cape of Good Hope sign as much sorrow it draws, it’s also brings hope. As South Africa freed itself from apartheid, so will be Jerusalem, so will be Palestine.And then we, all, will enjoy the beauty of Palestine.
The idea of writing about something very personal is haunting me. As a Palestinian, it’s really hard to know where to draw the line between the political and the personal. But, in Palestine, the personal is political and the political is the personal. I’ll keep the political away and dig down into the personal. This blog has been the vent for me to write some simple and humble accounts coming from a very ordinary person living under extraordinary circumstances. I can’t exclude Gaza; Palestine from anything happened-happens and will happen in my life. Simply put, being a woman from Gaza formed the person that I am today. Proudly and luckily, I consider myself born and raised in Gaza though I was actually born in Kuwait and moved to Bolivia before coming to Gaza. I feel like that I discovered my voice between the digits of these electronic pages, so it’s so much like a small note where I write a blend of the heartily minded digests of my life. I feel now that I am getting married, it’s the time to share my story, a life story, a love story, a Palestinian story.
In the past few months, I’ve been living very fast-paced events. I’d be lying if I say that I 100% fathom all of them. But all I know is that they look like everything I hushed to myself in my sleepless dreams but ironically never thought they would happen. But they did happen!
I’m a few days away from reuniting and getting married to the man that I really respect, admire, and love. Our story proves that love knows no borders, no siege, no time, and no occupation. It all started by a tweet debating whether the loud bang that was heard across Gaza was an Israeli bomb or just some thunder.
We started as friends who shared the same interests. We tweeted together as Egyptians were toppling Mubarak in Tahrir square. After a while of chatting online, Mohammed became my best friend. Long chats about Palestine, the world and the future dreams led us to feel that we can build a future together.
Mohammed is Palestinian South African working in Qatar, Allah (SWT) brought us together through , I am listing all the social media tools we used to communicate, Twitter, WordPress, Facebook, and Gtalk, then later on Skype. He left Gaza just a few days before I first knew about him. The last thing I expected in my life is to be engaged and married to A Palestinian South African! Even my parents when I first told them,(yea am a Muslim woman who didn’t have arranged marriage, get over your stereotypes), they were like SOUTH AFRICA?! And I was like “CAN U BELIEVE THAT?!” But love knows no difference between South Africa and Palestine. Actually between South Africa and Palestine there’s the love of freedom and dignity.
April, we were officially engaged. But it was without meeting Mohammed in person. From April to September, our chats were often cut by the electricity outages, bad internet connection, and the Israeli siege on Gaza. Hearing the ghastly stories of Rafah crossing, the continuous closures and the difficulty of going out and in Gaza, made us more determined to meet. But there were times when I used to tell Mohamed: “being engaged to a Palestinian is a pain, isn’t?” “I love you more because you are a Palestinian” that answer was enough for me to stand the days, weeks and months of talking on Skype.
Palestinians don’t have airports, to travel anywhere, so we have to cross a 6 hour trip though Sinai to Cairo then from Cairo’s international airport to the intended destination. So, a trip to South Africa took about 6 hours in car and 8 hours in plane, but the result was totally worth it.
Finally I met my future husband. I enjoyed South Africa for the richness of its history. I just need to mention going to the Apartheid Museum where similarities between the Israeli occupation and the former Apartheid system are striking. I felt like I was home in South Africa. And indeed, now, it’s my second home.
After a 40 day trip between Gaza, Cairo, South Africa, Cairo again, Jordan then Cairo again, I came back home with my parents. Mohammed went back to Qatar. Going back to Gaza was like sending me back to the prison. We both felt the fear of not being able to go out again. But I’m from Gaza-Palestine, and our wedding must be in Palestine, too. Time flew by, very soon I’m uniting with the man that I love in the country that I love, but I’m also a few days away from leaving my family and Gaza. Though I’m moving, I know that no matter where I go, I’ll carry Gaza, Palestine and the struggle along with me. Home is where my heart is. And my heart, mind, and roots will be in the country and the city where I grew up.
As I am starting my new life in Qatar, I’ve been buying Palestinian crafts, Gaza mugs, Palestinian embroidery, Palestinian traditional dress and kufeyiahs. I am moving a part of Palestine that I really cherish into my small house. And I know that I’ll be telling stories about the sea, the war, and the contradictions of life in this part of Palestine.
The goodbye will be difficult. Leaving my family, especially my mum, will be the hardest thing I’ll do in my life. The fact that Gaza is not free makes it difficult to visit it whenever I want. Any trip would take me to cross a desert and withstand the humiliation of Rafah crossing let alone the possibility that it can be closed anytime. So, I’ll live on the hope that I’ll be seeing them again, in sha Allah.
I wrote this post to the man that I want to spend the rest of my life with, to the city that gave me so much, to the family and friends that I will aguishly miss.
I’ll leave you for love not for not loving you.
And as we met through a tweet, some of my friends will be tweeting from our wedding, and maybe Mohammed and I will be able to tweet from inside the wedding hall :D.
You can check my Twitter account :
my friend Amal
For people cut off from the rest of the world from the sea, air, and land, mobile services and internet are virtually the only proxies to communicate with the virtually “outside” world. Yesterday around seven pm, I noticed that the internet was logged on, but there was no connection. The router at my house has its moments where it stops working, so I thought to myself “the thing is having issues again”. I tried to outsmart the little device, so I rebooted it. The problem was not solved. Along with the internet outage, my brother was telling me that signals in his cellphone were down, and indeed I looked at my cellphone it was, too, out of service. Israeli bulldozers cut off Gaza from communicating with the world for almost 16 hours.
At that stage, I didn’t know that Israel was behind the blackout. I thought it was just the usual technical failure. My brother jokingly said: “they’re coming”, meaning Israel is preparing for invading Gaza. Of course, I laughed on his comment thinking I’ve a lot of dishes and pans to wash! After one hour of the blackout, still it did not seem serious. However, after the outage extended to almost 2 hours the cyber dose in my blood started going alarmed. No twitter, no Facebook, no e-mail, no G-talk, no Skype, no Google+ NOT even a cellphone network to get access to those sites. The irksome and unsettling feeling of isolation started creeping to my de-internet body.It is hard to see yourself going backward to the mid-ages, the television-ages. Ironically, the television’s signals were also down. Even watching tv was not available at that moment. And for almost 15 minutes the electricity went off. The circle was full…!
However, when the world is out of reach, something much more valuable, but often neglected is felt again. Without the noise of television and without clicking and typing, a warm laugh-full conversation made me feel how these fast-paced communications are taking away these small moments of family bonding. The internet-outage paranoia was soon alleviated. My only concern was how to tell my fiancé, who lives outside Gaza, that I am fine. It’s just an unknown and sudden internet, mobile, landline, and electricity blackout. And you don’t have to worry.
After a merry time with my family, I went to sleep. I did wake up several times to check whether we were plugged to the world or still living in cyber darkness. After twelve hours, I checked t.v searching for any news about the cut off. The PA owned television, the Palestine channel, referred to the blackout in the news banner.
Around 8 am, I went to work where the first question before “Good morning “was “do you have internet at home??” The answer was No…
However, in a fraction of a second, I saw what electrically shock my sleepy self, and swiftly opened my semi-closed eyes, MOZILAFIRE FOX IS WORKING! IT’S BACK! The internet is back! My heart was tweeting!!
And while I was giving the class, I looked at my once-was signally dead cellphone and then I jubilantly told the students: “It’s back!” the beautiful small dashes signaling that the mobile network is operating again. After 16 hours of disconnection, life is connected again! As I left work, people in streets were checking their cellphones making sure that the network is back. Many were wondering about the causes. Gaza has not experienced a major blackout where mobile networks and internet connection were down since the Israeli assault on Gaza (2008-2009)
The internet is increasingly used by Palestinians to counter the Israeli narrative and also to break, at least, the mental siege. Was Israel testing the cyber world’s response in case of a future major communication blackout? Isn’t enough for Israel to block the sea, the land, and air it blocked the internet and cellphone services, too?
As one friend wrote on Facebook :
The NO list in Gaza:
Electricity : NO
Internet : NO
Cell Phone : NO
I would love to thank everyone who reported that Gaza was drowning in a cyber-darkness.
August the 3rd of the year 2011 marks a historic day as the despotic leader Husni Mubarak along with his two sons appeared before court .Mubarak held Egypt captive under his undemocratic ruling for more than three decades. During these thirty years, Egyptians were not the only victims of his regime. Palestinians were also affected by his policies as Israel considered him the most important ally in the region.
It’s well-known that Israel depended on Mubarak and his cronies to keep Gaza under strict siege. The Mubarak’s complicity with the Zionist state cost many Palestinians their lives and their hopes. The only outlet for the Palestinians to the outside world, the Rafah border crossing, was firmly closed keeping thousands of Palestinians locked up in an open air prison. Thus, limiting the charges which Mubarak will be facing to just killing the protestors won’t be enough. As a fellow blogger,Omar Gharieb ,puts it, “Why didnt we Palestinians assign a lawyer 2 accuse Mubarak of supporting the Israeli Apartheid & #Gaza ‘s siege??? #MubarakTrial”
The reactions of Palestinians in Gaza ranged from cautious sympathy to relief. Abeer Ayoub a 24 year journalist and human rights worker says about the trail:” when I saw Mubarak first in the court, i burst into tears” She adds:”My mind says he deserves it…my heart makes me feel as if he’s my dad who’s being treated this way”. However, blogger Ola Anan, the author of “From Ghazza” ,explains that it is about Mubarak facing justice for the crimes he committed not about schadenfreude. And for those who expressed their rejection to the trial, Ola responds “If it’s not for what he did for the Egyptians, then just think about he did to us [the Palestinians]”.
Ola is not alone in her views. Mubarak’s name is directly associated with his blunt reaction to the Israeli attack on Gaza. Mohamed Suleiman, a 21 year old writer and a Masters student recalls some of Mubarak’s crimes:” he remained coldly silent and went on to tighten the siege preventing the Palestinian civilians from escaping the 18-day massacre.” Mohamed adds:” Now, until he’s put in jail, I feel court is his most befitting place for every crime he has committed against both Egyptians and Palestinians.”
The implications of the first trial of an Arab leader are many. But for Palestinians in Gaza the situation on the ground in the post-Mubarak Egypt remains quite the same. Abeer express her doubt” the trial was supposed to come with some great effect on Palestinians in Gaza, but it has been a while since he stepped down. The Rafah border was to open permanently but nothing much has changed.” But still Osama Shomar, a 25 year old English Literature student, sees some great significance in the trial. “it certainly has implication on Palestinians because let’s not forget, thart Mubarak was complicit in the siege on the Gaza strip, and seeing him in that cage, has very much fulfilled my dream and many others, who were wronged by the Egyptians at Rafah border crossing. “ Seeing Mubarak facing justice ignited Osama’s hope that someday Israeli officials will be facing the same fate. :” as a Palestinian living in Gaza, i felt for the first time that justice is being served and that ignited hope in me that one day Israeli criminals will appear before the international court of law for fair trails.”
In the costal enclave, Mubarak and regime were considered a hand for the Israel. Seeing the people’s power in Egypt bringing down the pharaoh gave the Palestinians in Gaza a glimpse of hope that their situation may eventually change. Though the road is long and difficult, for now seeing the symbol of injustice facing justice will offer the Palestinians and the Egyptians alike some relief.
In that corner of the Mediterranean Gaza lays…
In the arms of a contained sea
and boundless dreams
Gaza wakes up, Gaza sleeps..
In hope that it will be free