My first visit home

Guest contribution by Mohammad Horreya

This is long overdue, I’ve meaning to put my visit to Palestine, which has been sitting heavily on my mind, into a post since I got back. It’s not an easy thing to do, to find words for a 14-day-long trip that I’ve been dreaming of since I was eleven. I don’t even think I have the words for it, but I will try.

I’m 23 years old now, so Palestine has been permeating my mind for twelve years. Each year that passed saw more books that I consumed, more poems that I drank, and more pictures I dreamt about. But I think I should first start off with a bit of background. Contrary to what a lot of people believe about me, Palestine in my household was more of a centerpiece than the topic of discussion at the breakfast table. The only discussions I remember hearing of Palestine growing up were ones my parents had with each other or with old guests who would come over with pipes as thinking props in hand and vocal chords as megaphones.

The first time I asked my mom about Palestine was when I was ten. I had just come back from school and was sitting at the dining room table, excitedly pointing to flags in a book and asking my mom to which countries they belonged to. My teacher had assigned the class a national identity project. I reached a blue and white flag with a star in the middle and asked my mom about that one. My older brother, who was sitting with me, interjected with a teasing laugh and told me that’s where I’m from. My mom gave him a well-deserved smack on the head and confidently retorted, “inta falasteeni” — you’re Palestinian. [Read more...]

Photo of the Week: Before his demolished home

Photo credit: Oliver Weikin
Date taken: July 26, 2014
Location: Beit Hanoun, Gaza Strip, Palestine

A young Palestinian man cries in front of his home in the northern town of Beit Hanoun after it was destroyed by Israeli air strikes. His home was among the nearly 18,000 destroyed by Israel during a fifty-day assault on the Gaza Strip that began on July 8, 2014. [Read more...]

Illustrated poetry: ‘Oh rascal children of Gaza’

Rafah-born author and poet Khaled Juma wrote a heartbreaking tribute to the children of the Gaza Strip amidst the missiles striking his hometown. At least 506 Palestinian children have been killed since Israel commenced its latest invasion of Gaza on July 8, 2014.

[Read more...]

Death in Gaza

Guest contribution by Amir Hussain

In the bruised streets of Shuja’iyya,
covered in rubble and smoke,
bodies are carried to the hospital
on the arms of a thousand men.

Near the harbor, boys play soccer.
Suddenly, shells break into bones
from a ship docked near sandy waters.
A man rushes in. A woman falls to her knees.

“Shuja’iyya,” they cry in one voice,
“Here lie your sons and daughters
without hands, fingers, and arms.”
Their voice is a song without end.

Consider now a family at home,
burned and blackened in sleep.
The sun falls over their heads
as blood-water seeps from the land.

From wet rock to stony harbor,
green shrouds lie in the streets of Shuja’iyya,
with faces uncovered and mouths
tipped open to the white sky. [Read more...]

The marriage that defied Israel’s invasion of Gaza

Guest contribution

A United Nations school in the Gaza Strip is the most unlikely wedding venue for the most talked about wedding of the year. Over 88 UNRWA schools across Gaza are currently sheltering nearly 250,000 internally displaced Palestinians who have lost their homes during Israel’s latest military offensives. About 150,000 more Palestinians are displaced, seeking refuge in NGO offices, hospital gardens, and homes belonging to family friends, distant relatives, and even strangers.

Two of these displaced Palestinians decided that they would no longer allow Israel’s invasion to put their lives on hold. One week ago, Heba Fayad and Omar Abu Namar found unimaginable strength in such exceptional circumstances and held their wedding at a UN school in Gaza City’s Shati Refugee Camp.

Heba, 23, did not get the wedding of her dreams. This was a ceasefire wedding in the final hours of the temporary truce — the threat of air strikes still loomed overhead. She did not get to leave for her wedding from her home in Beit Lahiya — a warplane destroyed it. Heba did not get to obsess over every detail of her big day — destruction and shattered lives surrounded her, and everything she had prepared for the wedding was covered in soot. She did not get to make a playlist with all of her favorite songs — she wanted to respect the two thousand dead in Gaza. [Read more...]

List of Middle East governments critical of Israeli human rights abuses in Gaza

What did you expect? [Read more...]

Photo of the Day: ‘Oh rascal children of Gaza’

Note: Due to the sheer amount of evocative and telling photography coming out of Palestine, we have transitioned our weekly photograph features into daily photograph features and will continue uploading images on a daily basis until further notice.

Photo credit: Mohammed Salem
Date taken: July 31, 2014
Location: Jabalya Refugee Camp, Gaza Strip, Palestine

A Palestinian boy, who fled with his family from their home during Israeli air strikes, bathes his brother at a United Nations-run school in the Jabalya Refugee Camp in the northern Gaza Strip. The school is a designated shelter for Palestinians who were displaced by Israel’s offensive. [Read more...]

Why Stones Matter: On Palestine ‘Solidarity’ and ‘Sumud’

Guest contribution by Alexander Abbasi

“Solidarity does not assume that our struggles are the same struggles, or that our pain is the same pain, or that our hope is for the same future. Solidarity involves commitment, and work, as well as the recognition that even if we do not have the same feelings, or the same lives, or the same bodies, we do live on common ground.”

— Sara Ahmed

I was thinking of the Palestinian concept of sumud recently in relation to the notion of “solidarity”. Why do we call it Palestine “Solidarity”? How does sumud play a part in our solidarity, or actually act as our solidarity?

Sumud is an Arabic word that translates to “perseverance through staying” or “steadfastness.” Contextually in Palestine, it has developed into an ideology of resistance over the decades by way of persisting on the land, not leaving it, clinging to it by any and all means necessary. With a rock in one hand and mother Falasteen underneath you.

The etymology of the word solidarity contains at least two sub-roots: “solid” and “arity.” Solid can be defined as “firm, whole, undivided,” and “to be solid” visually implies the notion of a rock or stone — a symbol familiar to Palestinians and many indigenous resistors. To be solid is the action of being firmly grounded. [Read more...]

Photo of the Day: Racism wears the face of death

Note: Due to the sheer amount of evocative and telling photography coming out of Palestine, we have transitioned our weekly photograph features into daily photograph features and will continue uploading images on a daily basis until further notice.

Photo credit: Khalil Hamra
Date taken: August 5, 2014
Location: Rafah, Gaza Strip, Palestine

The Abu Louli family returned to their home in the southern Gaza Strip city of Rafah where they were greeted by a drawing of a menacing skull left by Israeli soldiers who had used their home as a base for many nights. Israel pulled its soldiers out of many areas in Gaza earlier in the week but has resumed its aerial bombardment of the coastal enclave. [Read more...]

Photo of the Day: Praying in the shadows

Note: Due to the sheer amount of evocative and telling photography coming out of Palestine, we have transitioned our weekly photograph features into daily photograph features and will continue uploading images on a daily basis until further notice.

Photo credit: Khalil Hamra
Date taken: August 8, 2014
Location: Gaza City, Gaza Strip, Palestine

Palestinians attend Friday prayers under the minaret of a mosque that was destroyed by an Israeli air strike. [Read more...]

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