The fact that we managed to smuggle a Palestinian girl from Ramallah through an Israeli check-point proves an important point; the Wall that they have built around the West Bank is not for security, and never has been. It is purely a symbol of the system of apartheid that Israel is imposing on the Palestinians. The fact that she was pretending to be my sister, and “pushing” me in my wheelchair, may have also helped.
It was a first for both of us. Apart from some districts of Jerusalem, neither of us had ever ventured into Palestine ’48. I can’t say that I liked what I saw. From rooftops of certain villages in the West Bank, you can see the port of Haifa, but on rooftops in Haifa, the occupiers only stare out into the sea, choosing to ignore the suffering that their very presence here entails. They come in their droves from Russia and eastern Europe, without a thought for the refugee camps on the other side of the Wall. Ghettos, perhaps not dissimilar to the ones their grandparents used to live in.
So no wonder I saw tears in this Palestinian girl’s eyes when we arrived. She is a refugee from Fallujah; not the Iraqi town, but the Palestinian village… although both have suffered at the hands of imperialism.
We were staying with a Palestinian friend’s family, the only Arab family in the entire area. The neighbours have taken them to court to have them evicted, but through their steadfastness they have stayed. For once, racism hasn’t succeeded in the racist state.
It was the night of my twentieth birthday, so we walked down to the beach to swim in the warm, clear sea. One of the few places where all of life’s problems can be forgotten…
I’ll leave you hopeless like a /
Ethnic cleansing on the coast of Haifa /
My thought-stream flows in words so you know I’m a writer /
But not the type to… /
Spill ink I’d rather spill blood so I’m a fighter /
Not a scholar or a martyr /
Olive oil in my skin give me zeit or zartar /
Fight for equality, not for supremacy /
Dig a grave, bury our government’s legacy…