Thursday, March 25, 2010

You begin to take it for granted.....

You begin to take it for granted... that there is an 8-meter high wall next to you, surrounding you. "This is a confined land that we inhabit and that inhabits us.  A confined land, not big enough for a short meeting between a prophet and a general…" (Mahmoud Darwish, "A Shameful Land")  You begin to take it for granted… that there is an Apartheid Wall snaking through the countryside, carving out destinies. ("A huge metal snake coils around us, swallowing up the little walls that separate our bedroom, bathroom, kitchen and living room.  A snake that does not move in a straight line, to avoid resembling us as we look straight on."  Mahmoud Darwish, "The wall").  You begin to take it for granted… that your brother is in jail. "He's in prison because he was working illegally in Jerusalem and got caught.  But his family speaks to him every day on the phone.  It's normal.  He'll be out in 7 months."  You begin to take it for granted… the head-aches, the anxiety, the depression; you are relieved to talk about your feelings at your lifelong learning class for women in Ethics and Psychology. You begin to take it for granted that you dress up and smile and wear makeup and heels and make light of things that are heavy, that you don't want to hear about heavy things anymore. You begin to take it for granted that people leave … ("My uncle and his family moved to Canada and now they are in the Emirates of Dubai."  "I have a sister in Pennsylvania."  "My daughter lives with her husband in Germany." "My brother ran away to Greece.") You begin to take it for granted that they can never return.  ("My husband's brother and his family live next to us but it is on the other side of the Wall and we need a permit to see them so we never see them.") You begin to take it for granted that no one comes to help you defend your land anymore—because there have been too many "after's,"  there is always an "after." ("After the Oslo agreement, they began constructing Route 60 from Jerusalem…After, they dynamited… After, you weren't compensated for your land and the damages to your house.  After, they put you in Area C where you can't build anything or change anything because you're a threat to their security. After, they won't grant you a permit.  After, this road is used by Israeli settlers.  After, you are a threat to the soldiers at the checkpoints, to the settlements. "Because we live in a very critical road. This road is used by Israeli settlers–who go to Hebron, Har Gilo… and by the Israeli army who are stationed at the checkpoints..." After, "they closed all the roads to downtown Beit Jala, isolating us completely from our friends and these checkpoints covered all the roads and you could not enter your home for 4 yrs." After, people died in their homes who tried to run away from the shelling. After, the plan for the Wall was to go from Route 60 to reach the border of the houses and confiscate the surrounding land.  After, "the Wall would be 5 meters from our home and would confiscate from all 3 sides – so we would be trapped in a box."  After, "we weren't notified by the Israeli government or any soldier.  If you're lucky you're find this paper telling you that they will be taking the land and you have 2 weeks to file for an appeal…"  After, you hear gossip that they will be building a new settlement behind you…..) You begin to take it for granted that it will always be like this.  That there are no jobs as there used to be and that you are at your wits end to figure out how to support your family.  You begin to take it for granted that you must pass through turnstiles and checkpoints, that you must leave at 6 in the morning to get to Birzeit University or line up at 5 at Checkpoint 300 because you are one of the fortunate ones to get legal work in Jerusalem.  You begin to take it for granted that everything that seems normal is not normal.  You begin to take it for granted that…  "They have special schools for special needs because the children cannot function as they used to – special needs for slow learners and hyperactivity  -- They couldn't control their urination –they would become aggressive to other kids." You begin to take it for granted that the land that was once yours has eroded, that it is sealed in concrete, that the life that was once yours has been taken away from you.  You begin to take it for granted that to resist seems hopeless.  You begin to hope and you try not to take "hope" for granted.


"What will they take next?"  Yes, that's the general understanding... "What will they take next?"  Yet underneath lies the fear "And how?"  "And when?" 

    So.... they live with it.  You live with it. 


You begin to take it for granted.


"And he said: 'But indifference is a philosophy

It's one aspect of hope.'"  (Mahmoud Dharwish, "The indifferent one")


(from talks with Raneen, Nora, Taha, Christie, Jala, Claire, Rania, Johnny amidst

 countless other voices)



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