Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

It's the occupation, stupid

Mohammed Alhammami | 16-10-2015

Photo by Ahmad Gharabli 

Peleg is a young Israeli man. And like many Israeli youth coming of age, Peleg joined the army. He did not have a choice, but after 20 years of Zionist institutionalization, of systematic brainwashing, Peleg was ready to act as the spear and the shield of the Zionist state. He is a proud soldier and a good human being (according to his own “human decency standards”; after all, he loves his family and friends, and he worries about them whenever a phase of “unrest” erupts.)

But Peleg, like most Zionists, is unable to put himself in another person’s shoes. He does not understand why the Palestinians would be upset. Why would they feel so desperate and frustrated, so compelled to take things into their own hands and hurt Israelis?

Well, Peleg, I do not want you to ask the Palestinians you lined up like animals, trapped in small cages, as they tried to cross the military checkpoint you are assigned to operate. I also do not want you to ask those young children you terrorized when you raided their homes at 2 in the morning to take their pictures; they are too scared to answer. What about the owners of the olive groves the Jewish settlers burned the other day as you watched and did nothing? No, they are busy wailing over their lost livelihoods. And the Palestinian homeowners you kicked out to make space for new Jewish settlers? They are still bawling their crying inconsolably, so no.

What can we do, Peleg, to help you understand? If only we could ask the dead what drove them to take such measures. Or wait; we can, thanks to wonderful 21st century technology. With the invention of social media, we can attempt to understand the last thoughts of the dead. So let’s do that; let’s visit some Facebook profiles.

Muhannad Halabi was a law student, active on college campus, and wanted to be a lawyer. His profile picture was of his best friend, Deyaa, who the Israeli army killed when he took part in a protest against the occupation. His cover photo is a map of historic Palestine covered in a kufiyyeh pattern. Next to it is a paragraph that says, “My only wish is that when I die I get buried in [historic] Palestine, so that you can write on my grave ‘he’s no longer a refugee’.”

His last posted picture is of a Palestinian woman being dragged by a dozen Israeli soldiers and police; the caption read, “Contemplate, then imagine her being your mother or sister. How do you feel now?”

His last post said, “As I see it, the Third Intifada has begun. What is happening to Al-Aqsa [mosque], to our sacred places, to the women of Al-Aqsa is what is happening to our mothers and sisters. I do not think our people should be subjugated to humiliation. The people will rise; no, they have risen.”

On October 4, Muhannad killed two Israelis.

Bahaa Allyan was a graphic designer, active in his community in Jerusalem; he was part of Scouts of Quds, helping to build libraries and organize cultural events, as journalist Najwa Al Hamdan explains in a post. Many of his photos and posts are related to his cultural activities and the impact the scouts are making in his community. In March 2014, he participated in an attempt to break a Guinness record, constructing the longest human chain of people reading books surrounding Jerusalem’s Wall, an event meant to promote the culture of reading.

Bahaa’s most recent posts attacked the Israeli occupation, the lack of the Palestinian narrative in the media, and the futility of the Palestinian Authority. One of Bahaa’s last posts read, “patience, Dawabsha family,” referring to the Palestinians burned alive by illegal Israeli settlers on July 31. Another post read, “God have mercy on us; life is unbearable.”

On October 13, Bahaa killed three Israelis.

So Peleg, next time you enjoy clubbing in Tel Aviv, watching a movie at the cinema, or a taking a walk at the beach in Acre, remember that your country is still occupying and oppressing another people, making their lives a living hell. Next time you enjoy a trip to Mexico, remember there are students in Gaza who have lost numerous scholarships abroad, jeopardizing their prospects for a productive life, and patients who died because they could not get medical operations overseas. And it is all because of your country’s inhumane siege, which you help enforce.

Ultimately, Peleg, if you are reading this, I just have one thing to say: “It is the occupation, stupid!”

From October 1-16, Palestinians have killed seven Israelis, and Israelis have killed 38 Palestinians, including seven children—many who posed no threat, according to Euro-Med Human Rights Monitor. In addition, Israeli forces have injured more than 3,700 people in the same period (compared to 107 Israelis injured by Palestinians). 

Posted October 16, 2015

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