I tend not to write in English in the last year, thinking of the importance of what I have to say for the Arab reader, specifically, the Palestinian. Somehow, as my writing turned from a blogging style to more of a journalistic- public opinion reflections and analysis, I found the need to address local, and internal topics, of great importance, not to mention, need.
I also needed to be courageous, since it is easy to address important local topics to a nonlocal audience. You become the only bearer of the truth, and the effect of what you say is more balanced in its views. However, the challenge has been in addressing what I discuss in English to the locals. Those whom the topic of my discussions concerns them and affect them directly.
I admit it was fulfilling, and of course very challenging. In no ways, you cannot take a stand of an observer anymore. You become part of the discussion. Part of the problem, and part of the solution. In many ways, you become part of the mess…. if not the mess itself.
As I was digging in the issues of graves inside Jerusalem, later to seeing a friend’s post whose family grave was stolen, more and more stories were emerging, into what seemed to be a frightening level of destruction we are living in, as a nation.
In a society, that cannot move much, living under occupation from all sides, and on all levels, suffering from social and cultural fabric destruction, becomes more painful and harder to bear.
You realize soon, that what we practice as self-censorship becomes a holistic approach that everyone on all levels practice. Censorship becomes who you are and what you present.
Each time I stirred in a topic that arouses public opinion, I swear to myself that I did not mean it. Each time, however, I think, this might be the article that brings me to my end.
Each time anyone warns me that I should be careful and take more cautious of myself, I smile and a spot of fear drops inside my soul. I collect my strength and remind myself that fear cannot be what rules me. It is fear that I need to conquer first and all the time. I remind myself that it is not a matter of what I am afraid of, but it should be a matter of my having nothing to be afraid of. Between the two lines of fear lies my life that is in no one’s hand but with whom created it, God.
The first thing I felt when I received warning on my articles on the graves in Jerusalem, after raising the question of “Where is the role of whoever is in charge of the matter from the different levels in the Palestinian authorities”. I did not know that the issue could be as deep as the graves go. A series of the corrupt mindset that ends up in a mafiose style of behaviour that is practiced on all levels.
It was not the first article on Jerusalem related “properties” owned by Waqf. It was on a softer matter that concerned the involvement of the University in one of the properties with the Israeli Municipality and authorities that stirred a wave of anger and resulted in the removal of the article from the news outlet. It felt frightening to think of who could be behind the removal of an article that addresses such a “needy” topic, in times, we Palestinians are in a serious state of panic as our city – Jerusalem- is systematically Juadiased and Israelis. It felt like a knot tightening its edging on my neck, but I pretended I did not see where the pressure was coming from… after all, I did not touch the “president” in such articles!
As the nex articles “passed” censorship, I knew something would go bad. After all, I am raising a very serious issue. Silence or not responding did not necessarily mean that the articles passed unnoticed. It meant a different level of pressure.
It was not the threat or the warning that bothered me. It was the media censorship on the issue that scared me. I got used to my articles being blocked or removed for security reasons on the Palestinian side. All these rules of not having to mention anything wrong regarding the president, his sons, etc… a censorship that can gradually reach to a level where you become the topic of censorship if you disturb the interest of the editorial people themselves. As I was knocking my head in all directions trying to knock on doors of those who can really save the situation, I felt trapped more and more. I still trusted the media to do something. I was compelled when an international media outlet said clearly: we don’t write about what palestinains do to themselves when it comes to harm. We only write about topics that show Israeli violations. I was thinking, so what do we do since Palestinians themselves are violating our basic rights in such a matter, and when the international country in this sense is a major supporter to the Palestinians and specifically to those who violate the graves. the guy I spoke to not only said it was not their editorial line but also started mobilizing against my approach by contacting or warning others about my intention to stir the issue.
Whom can the Palestinians go to in such matters, when they are not supposed to go the israeli side because this will show our “bad” sides to the enemy. We cannot go to the Palestinian MEdia because when things are not censored they are violating personal interests.
I felt like living inside a mob. A gang. Among gangsters. Something my uncle’s call reminded me of bluntly: “where do you think you are living. we are in a stateless affair of everything where all is a mess. There are no rules. No laws. There are only gangsters. this is the reality of all. Wake up!”
It was kind of sarcastic, as my uncle was calling me from the phone of the official whom I disturbed with my article. He was reminding me of course, of something similar that occured to my cousin some years ago when she interacted with a post on facebook regarding a road she was working on, with an instruction company in Silwan. Those who were distrubed – I would say furious- , brought the family into months of tribal sittings and asked them to pay a hundred thousand dollars in compensation to their loss!!! Apparently, those people prospered from confirming violations that Israelis do and the assurance of my cousin that the road was just a road disturbed their advocacy plan in soliciting Gulf and Muslim money!!
In the case of the graveyard in Jerusalem, where apparent gangsters are functioning with the protection fo the Waqf – or despite- them is another similar case. A place that is se
riously threatened with land grabbing and orchestrated change in the identity of the city by the Israeli occupation. These people are actually unintended-ly or maybe intending-ly helping the Israeli occupation in their master plan of control.
In a time when we race with the Israeli Occupation propaganda in controlling our lives and land under religious justifications of the claim. Some people are voluntarily helping the Israelis to announce such claims. When graves that date to five hundred or some even to seven hundred years of history are ruined and replaced to be sold for new graves to people who pay to bury in Jerusalem is nothing but an internalized form of colonolization.
Somewhere it is terrifying to see that we got this far… a pedagogy of colonolization is what these people are implementing on their own people.