Marcel Khalifa – The Child and the Kite

In Arabic a kite and plane are the same thing, Tayaara, which means a thing that flies. So when the title says “The Child and the Kite” it could be also “The Child and the Plane” and both would be appropriate for this poem. In other words, there is an ambiguity in Arabic that is lost in translation.

    Marcel Khalifa – The Child and the Kite

    There was once a little child
    Playing in the village, searching for a string to fly a kite
    He looked around and said, “I don’t know what that is shining”
    “Look, look the plane”
    “It’s coming towards me”

    “It’s a big plane (kite), I don’t need a string”
    “And its wings are bigger than the neighbors’ house”
    His heart fluttered and flew on the wings of the plane
    And the whole sky told him its secrets

    He stopped in the square and called to his friends
    This roar of the plane was more powerful than all the voices

    The boys gathered and stopped their game
    And the country shook, a story like a lie
    And the roar became a big cloud of smoke, I don’t know what happened
    The siren sounded
    The plane carrying stories and poems
    Set fire to the land and destroyed the home
    It destroyed the home, destroyed the home

    And flew off into to the borders
    The borders that birthed me, lightning and thunder bombarded the world
    The game flew away, and with it the story
    And the boys became shards of the story

    The story written on the village terraces
    The timid village lit like a candle

    And the candle shone bright, and the scream reverberated
    Aaaaaah! Aaaaaah! Aaaaaah!

American Muslims for Palestine — Milwaukee Rally

American Muslims for Palestine — Milwaukee Rally to Defend Jerusalem and Palestine, May 12, 2021

“Over 1,000 people showed up for Wednesday’s AMP-Milwaukee Rally. Milwaukeeans sent a loud message they will not stand for the continued violent occupation of Palestinian lands by Israeli forces.”

All photos: Joe Brusky. More information: AMP-Milwaukee


Emergency Aid Appeal


First of all, thanks to those who turned out for yesterday’s banner drop and today’s demonstration at the Capitol covered by Channel 27 News. Demonstrations were held all over the world yesterday and today, even in France where they were prohibited by the Macron government at the last minute.

As I write this, live media coverage out of Gaza by Arabic channels is showing the constant bombardment of Gaza that takes place every night. As you may have heard, Israel destroyed yet another high rise building in Gaza, this time the one that also houses many press agencies including AP. Here is a video of the building owner pleading for just 10 extra minutes.

This was preceded by the destruction of 17 media offices and the wounding of 3 journalists in Gaza. Clearly Israel does not want anyone to know what is really going on.

Israel also destroyed a house in Shati (Beach) Camp and killed 10 members of one family.

And there were many injuries as Palestinians protested across the West Bank. Yesterday, 11 were killed by Israel.

The U.S. media is barely reporting and certainly not showing the extent of the damage and casualties. If you want know the reality including pictures please go to Al Jazeera English and Middle East Eye.

Also, the Palestinian Center for Human Rights (PCHR) in Gaza issues daily reports documenting in excruciating detail the damage, deaths and injuries, including what is happening in the West Bank and to Israel’s Palestinian population.

And for direct, personal experiences and perspectives on life in Gaza be sure to regularly check out We Are Not Numbers.

WHAT CAN YOU DO?

Emergency Relief: At this time the Middle East Children’s Alliance recommends donations to the Paliroots Food Project.

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Running Orders

Running Orders
BY LENA KHALAF TUFFAHA

They call us now,
before they drop the bombs.
The phone rings
and someone who knows my first name
calls and says in perfect Arabic
“This is David.”
And in my stupor of sonic booms and glass-shattering symphonies
still smashing around in my head
I think, Do I know any Davids in Gaza?
They call us now to say
Run.
You have 58 seconds from the end of this message.
Your house is next.
They think of it as some kind of
war-time courtesy.
It doesn’t matter that
there is nowhere to run to.
It means nothing that the borders are closed
and your papers are worthless
and mark you only for a life sentence
in this prison by the sea
and the alleyways are narrow
and there are more human lives
packed one against the other
more than any other place on earth
Just run.
We aren’t trying to kill you.
It doesn’t matter that
you can’t call us back to tell us
the people we claim to want aren’t in your house
that there’s no one here
except you and your children
who were cheering for Argentina
sharing the last loaf of bread for this week
counting candles left in case the power goes out.
It doesn’t matter that you have children.
You live in the wrong place
and now is your chance to run
to nowhere.
It doesn’t matter
that 58 seconds isn’t long enough
to find your wedding album
or your son’s favorite blanket
or your daughter’s almost completed college application
or your shoes
or to gather everyone in the house.
It doesn’t matter what you had planned.
It doesn’t matter who you are.
Prove you’re human.
Prove you stand on two legs.
Run.

Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, “Running Orders” from Water & Salt (Red Hen Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha.

This Must End

A Letter from Gaza as Israel’s bombs fall


Gaza, 2018 Photo: AFSC

Dr. Yasser Abu Jamei, American Friends Service Committee, May 13, 2021

I am writing this letter looking at my terrified 6-year old son, who keeps putting his hands over his ears trying block the sounds of Israel’s bombardment, my two daughters, aged 13 and 10, and my wife. These faces show the anxiety of not knowing where they can be safe now. My two older sons, 16 and 15, sit stunned and silent and I know they are reliving the memories of the previous three offensives on Gaza Strip and the family members we lost. These are the feelings that every family in the Gaza strip are living through.

We Palestinians have lived decades of humiliation, injustices, and maltreatment. In 1948, we were expelled from our land; over 600 villages were fully destroyed; hundreds of thousands of us were killed or uprooted. Nearly eight hundred thousand ended up living as refugees in different places around the globe.

This happened under the eyes of the International Community, who have promised us, a sovereign State over about one fifth of our original homeland. That decision was only accepted in the 1990s by Palestinians believing in a two-state solution. 

Twenty-six years later, we look at the conditions in the promised State of Palestine and we see a West Bank divided and occupied by hundreds of thousands of settlers living in settlements built on the rubble of Palestinian homes, and who are making the lives of the Palestinian people living hell.

Protest in support of Palestine, Chicago, May 2021Protest in support of Palestine, Chicago, May 2021

We see the Gaza Strip under blockade for more than 14 years, leaving us deprived of basic living conditions. Not only that, but having suffered three large offensives in this small area which killed, destroyed and traumatized thousands of our people.

And we see East Jerusalem, with its holiest sites for Muslims and Christians alike continuing to be under constant threat as settlers take over Palestinian homes and neighborhoods.

A week ago, Israeli settlers started to attack Sheikh Jarrah trying to seize more homes of Palestinian families. Everyone saw it. No one intervened.

In one of the holiest Ramadan evenings, Israel decided to evict tens of thousands of worshipers who were just praying at Al-Aqsa. These were mostly Palestinians who live in Palestine ‘48 – now Israel. Everyone saw the brutal use of military power by Israel. No one intervened.

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Update: May 15, 2021
Palestine Can’t Breathe Demonstration

And a Facebook video

Reshaping Madison Together

Occupation is a CRIME!

Right now, near the 73rd anniversary of the Nakba and during Ramadan (Muslims’ most sacred time of the year), the Palestinian village of Sheikh Jarrah is being forcefully “evicted” by Israel as settlers try to STEAL the Palestinian homes. The government-sanctioned theft-in-progress sparked a Palestinian uprising against their brutal oppressors. Since then, at least an estimated 70 Palestinians, including dozens of children, have been murdered by Israel’s death squad, otherwise known as the IDF.

Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere. Our struggles are all connected and none of us are truly liberated until the oppressed are liberated worldwide.

We can’t breathe in part because Palestine can’t breathe. Did you know that American police are trained to use the very same disgusting, inhumane tactics that IDF (Israeli soldiers) uses to terrorize Palestinians on a daily basis? Police brutality in America is directly linked to our government’s unwavering military, financial, and political support of Israel’s fascist regime — and we can stand for it no longer.

Join us as we stand with our comrades in Palestine fighting for their right simply to exist and to live free from Israeli tyranny. Bring your Palestinian flags, signs, and banners. Don’t forget to wear your keffiyahs!

#SaveSheikhJarrah
#FreePalestine
#EndTheOccupation
#Nakba73

Hosted by Reshaping Madison Together

Barbara Olson and Tsela Barr: Let’s stop funding Israel’s campaign of oppression


Smoke rises following Israeli airstrikes in Gaza City, Thursday, May 13, 2021. Weary Palestinians are somberly marking the end of the Muslim holy month of Ramadan, as Hamas and Israel traded more rockets and airstrikes and Jewish-Arab violence raged across Israel. (AP Photo – Adel Hana)

TSELA BARR AND BARB OLSON, The Cap Times, May 15, 2021

For the past few weeks, Israel has intensified a provocative campaign of oppression and ethnic cleansing against Palestinians, focused largely but not exclusively on occupied East Jerusalem.

You can be forgiven if you are unfamiliar with the details, since most of the mainstream U.S. media has studiously ignored them.

Among the major provocations were: looming theft of more homes in Sheikh Jarrah, a Palestinian neighborhood in East Jerusalem long targeted by Jewish settlers for “demographic change;” bulldozing homes in adjoining Silwan; protecting a mob of far right Jews as they walked through East Jerusalem chanting “Death to Arabs”; and repeatedly, violently and for no good reason driving Palestinians out of public areas surrounding the Al Aqsa mosque during the holy month of Ramadan, several times even invading and damaging the mosque itself while beating and gassing those inside.

Things got so bad that the Palestinian citizens of Israel marched in the thousands past roadblocks into Jerusalem and rallied in their towns and villages, even launching running urban revolts that very much resemble anti-police violence protests here at home.

Eventually, the Israelis got the response that they foresaw and many probably wanted: rockets fired from Gaza. Now they can unleash their vastly superior, U.S. funded and supported military upon the citizens of Gaza, inflicting damage and casualties in the hugely disproportionate ratio that they are accustomed to. This practice of assaulting the Gaza inmates in their open-air, blockaded prison every few years is publicly referred to in Israel as “mowing the grass.”

As soon as the first rocket left Gaza, the mainstream press suddenly discovered that “tensions are increasing” and that the “conflict,” which by the way was just labeled by Human Rights Watch as an apartheid system, calls for “restraint on both sides.”

And then came the predictable pronouncements from the pundits and politicians of all stripes that Israel has “the right to defend itself.”

Do the Palestinians have a right to defend themselves? Do they have the right to declare, like Black Lives Matter protesters and all human beings the world over, that they have a right to freedom and dignity? That with no justice, there is no peace?

Underwriting this injustice is massive U.S. aid to Israel, currently $3.8 billion annually, which doesn’t include, for example, private tax exempt donations to Israeli “charities” that are funding and driving the expropriations from Palestinians like the residents of Sheikh Jarrah.

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