From the River to the Sea

Palestine will be free: in solidarity

Illustration by Golrokh Nafisi.

Many of us are completely horrified over what has been unfolding in occupied Palestine for the past four months, and for the last seventy-five years. For many of us, Palestine is the beginning and the end of all our struggles, the image our minds tend to, when we think of liberation, of land, of belonging and return. Since we are all witnessing and mourning the escalation of the horrors unleashed by the most unbearable and blatant colonial and patriarchal imperialism, the only weapon and relief we have at our disposal is writing. So, we invited several writers to quickly draft some short texts in solidarity with the occupied and wounded land—people, poets of Palestine, and all the martyrs of this white bullyism, as we want to condemn the hypocrisy of Western media and governments. We would still like to extend this invitation to any friend who wishes to join us into this grieving and utter rage and disgust, send us your writings at [email protected].

For anyone who needs to read more, and to access news that are unbiased, here a list of links and Instagram profiles to follow:

Syllabus No Justice No Peace pad 1 & pad 2 by Maddalena Fragnito and Sandra Cane
Palestine is Free (If You Want It) on The New Inquiry
FramerFramed‘s mixtapes, reading lists, podcasts and others
Country of Words: A Transnational Atlas for Palestinian Literature
Palestinian Youth Movement‘s depository
Settler Colonialism For Beginners a guide written and curated by @rowankatba
Palestinefilms.org Palestinian films and films about Palestine
Palestinian Feminist Reading List
Palestine Poster Project

On Mourning and Statehood: A Response to Joshua Leifer on Dissent Magazine
To say and think a life beyond what settler colonialism has made on MadaMasr
Vengeful Pathologies: Adam Shatz on the war in Gaza on London Review of Books
Hopeful pathologies in the war for Palestine: a reply to Adam Shatz on Mondoweiss
At the threshold of humanity by Karim Kattan on The Baffler
Can the Palestinian Mourn? by Abdaljawad Omar on Rusted Radishes
Farewell Germany by Ismail Fayed on Al-Jumhuriya
Once Again, Germany Defines Who Is a Jew | Part I by George Prochnik, Eyal Weizman & Emily Dische-Becker on Granta
Poetry in the face of history: Keep counting by Sharif S Elmusa on MadaMasr
Comparison is the way we know the world: Masha Gessen’s speech at the ceremony of the Hannah Arendt Prize in Bremen on Zeit.de
Palestine and Our University by Sumayya Kassamali on SocialTextOnline
How womenandchildrenandqueers and the Palestinian male monster-terrorist are deployed to justify genocide by Nisrine Chaer on Untoldmag
Notes on Craft: Writing in the Hour of Genocide by Fargo Nissim Tbakhi on Protean
Palestine’s Martyrdom Upends the World of Law by Bassem Saad on Protean
Can We Talk About Palestine? On Speech by Bishnupriya Ghosh on Jadaliyya
ICJ case ‘opens new era between the Global North and South,’ says UN expert by Alba Nabulsion +972mag
On Mourning as a Motive Force: Grief and Black-Palestinian Solidarity by Malkia Devich-Cyril on Narrative Initiative
Revolution For Kids—Dar El Fata El Arabi, Recollected on Bidoun

EN
@mohammedelkurd
@nouraerekat
@radioalhara
@eye.on.palestine
@middleeasteye
@democracynow
@novaramedia
@wizard_bisan1
@workersinpalestine
@motaz_azaiza
@hiddenpalestine
@mariambarghouti
@aljazeeraenglish
@savesheikhjarrahnow
@mondoweiss
@propagandavstruth
@palestine.academy

IT
@dinamopress
@valerionicolosi
@leila.belmoh
@randa_ghazy
@giovanipalestinesi.it
@karem_from_haifa
@chrelia

This doc is meant to be updated with the incoming contributions and new references. We would like to thank Maddalena Fragnito and Sandra Cane for the work they are doing on the syllabus, Golrokh Nafisi for the banner illustration, and everyone who’s resisting and countering narratives.

1.

The White Eraser

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Any silence is deafening.
None of us is safe when the white man comes, he’s such a disgrace, he comes to tell us what to do and how to feel, he’s such a curse the white man, so much so he’s not even a man, he’s an eraser. He can’t stand colors, his head is like the tip of a pencil, blurs everything and writes over as he likes, often with the help of a ruler. He wants to see everything straight. Such a disgrace, such a disaster for us all when we stand on his way. The white eraser is such a disgrace he’s not even a man, he doesn’t have feelings but hatred, and he nurtures this sense, he pushes it onto others, he wants every other man to hate. And this hatred—he gives it a direction, he gives it to other men, and to women, and to children, because the white eraser wants the land, and the water, and the trees—to cut them off, because the white eraser doesn’t like colors, he likes to build grey walls to separate a father from his child, the white eraser’s heart is full of death and concrete, he wishes to erase history with. The white eraser came to steal the land, and in one night he broke the heart of everyone, then kept going. Yet from those debris, from the river to sea we will resist to see how we can defeat the man and demolish his wall. Again and again we will remember each tree and we will return to plant them back. Our dream is the seed and the placement, our abode. With all our strenght we will keep faith to our dream—for freedom, to bend with tenderness all the bullies, because the white eraser is made of many men and many lies. The white eraser comes with some hypocrisies he calls faith, to blind the eyes of those who see, desensitize. All our grief we must hold dear, to not surrender to what the white eraser says and does, to whisper and shout into the deafening silence that what he erased is still very much vivid in our mind, written on our skin and stitched on our vests. He’s such a disgrace the white man who wants the empire, feeds the news with lies to abstract his violence, and we must even invest to remember that war is a solid thing, weapons are man-made, and it’s always men who steal the land. The white eraser is made of many of these men and of all these lies. The hands of these men fabricated those lies, sold the weapons, dropped the bombs, and stole the land, forcing other men to fight for them, for them to die. Although the white eraser is not a man, but a disgrace, the white eraser has a name and he can and must be held accountable. Even before that he can and must be stopped. From the river to sea, the people will live in peace. The land must be returned and the tree replanted. The water too shall be left free to spring and follow its course. It shall never belong to anyone but those but take care of the seeds. And if our dreams are the seed, and the placement and the abode, then the water belongs to us. From the river to the sea, so does our freedom, Palestine will be free from the white man, and the land will belong to her children, those who take care of a dream full of colors. In our dream Palestine is a generous mother, Palestine is a woman, is life, is freedom. And we plant our seed in every hole caused by the eradication of a tree, and the fall of a bullet, every crater caused by a bomb sent by the white eraser. We shout our dream in his face, we whisper it at night, until we become his curse, his disgrace. Until we demolish his walls, and we return to wear our colors, to our prayers and place of worship, to our table and our songs. Until our dream will be a flourishing olive tree, from the river to the sea, we will chant until we will be free.
2.

This pain will not be for nothing, you said

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“In one minute the entire life of a house is ended. The house as casualty is also mass murder, even if it is empty of its inhabitants. A mass grave of raw materials intended to build a structure with meaning, or a poem with no importance in time of war.” (Mahmoud Darwish, The house as casualty in A River Dies of Thirst, 2009)

 

Breathing the vast dimension and scale of oppression, while flesh cries out for life in days of unbearable violence. The body rejects the present. It is not about the current conditions, but the threatening absence of alternatives to them: the imposed deaths and the furious dominion of power in the silent complicity of the surroundings. Words remain empty, devoid of meaning in front of the pain of inevitability. They crash into the depth of violence, forced into margins that are too narrow and oppressive. The responsibility of death flares up in me along images of unspeakable sufferings, while life seems an exasperated shadow of a world that burns out. 

Nothing will be as before, ‘cause there’s no coming back from the trauma inflicted on an entire people. We are not allowed to stop watching the land bleeding innocent souls, we are not allowed to stop praying for Palestine, we are not allowed to turn away our faces from the massacre, ‘cause we are responsible for every single death imposed by us. Today, we are not allowed to find a place for relief and comfort in the wake of obscene and perpetual violence, in front of the denial of liberation and justice, in front of the denial of Palestinian humanity. No words can bring these lives back. No words can be spoken about the counting deaths.

How can we love each other in the midst of devastation?
I wrote to you at night that my love and pain are with you.
This pain will not be for nothing, you said.
Out of this immediate realm of death, you belong to freedom.
In the uncharted territory of time, hope draws a map.
As the poet Sarona Abuaker wrote: 

“we are
stretching
beyond

their wildest dreams”
You carve out a path through burdens imposed by others,
by the colonizers, by the exhausting rhythm of death.
Your words assemble a fragile body
from the shattering rubbles of oppression.
This pain will not be for nothing, you said,
bringing life again in the current numbness.
How many ways to resist beyond comprehension?
Beyond political violence? Beyond nauseating despair?
We will be free, you said,
Palestine will be free, and my love is with you, Dina. 

3.

Everlasting Waters

v
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Oggi sarà il tredicesimo giorno
Lo so
oggi è per niente
come tutti i giorni
Che neanche se fosse ancora il 1948
noi siamo la sirena che non smette
ma di cantare
non ne porta più il peso
neanche tuo padre
mio padre
che mai più sa
chi sono io e perché l’ha fatto
la vita l’amore
e la morte
che riluttante
s’appende ai nostri piedi
Ancora corriamo
dobbiamo ancora cominciarla questa pace
ricordo scontato
di un colore che non è più
s’andrà ad allestire l’arte dei nostri giorni
malconcia e mai sofferente
corpi di niente che non sanno di niente
come tutti i giorni che non resto in pace
che non voglio più sentire le sirene
che non posso più ascoltare
le tue parole che non sanno di lotta

come una madre che non sa prendersi cura delle cose
vorrei essere abolita
le compagne parlano di tenera aggressività
io non sento questo caldo lamento
vedo
che non c’è empatia
non che io la richieda
la capisca l’abbia mai imparata.
non imparo mai niente
questo mi è stato detto sempre detto
sempre sempre sempre.
Fresh as Gilgamesh they said,
a silly one though, what if Gilgamesh were just incapable.
I wonder whether I was when the water came for the first time
at your feet

il sole ci sta lasciando
con lui vanno via le buone cose
le ciliegie che non mi sono mai piaciute
il sale da succhiarti tra i capelli
le ore
poche e stanche
che ci soffermiamo
per guardare un angolo
facciamo finta che sia ancora la nostra vita
qualcuno sa che è già finita

vivo questa luce primitiva che per prima mi ha bagnata e quindi accolta
un sudore battesimale ritorna
niente è stato più confuso e vero
queste acque sempiterne sono piene di noi

4.

Tubi neri

v
x

Rocce, fiori.
Tubi neri.
Serpe, sentiero.
Tubo nero.
Mai in vita avevo
dovuto prestare
tanta attenzione a non calpestare
qualcosa.
Entriamo nella serra.
Qui che è religione e sopravvivenza
Pestare un tubo è un fatto totale.
Rasheed guarda a terra.
Ma si capisce, questo è un altro sole
Che con un raggio nutre
E con l’altro asseta
E la vita lontana prova a scassinare l’eternità con grimaldelli di vento.
Da qualche parte in questo deserto
c’è una pietra chiamata attimo.
In cui Rasheed si è perso.
Quando stacca l’erbacce dalle piante di ceci
Rasheed tiene la base ferma, impreca e guarda a terra.
Quando un pomeriggio inchioda col pick-up e spegne la radio, toglie le mani dal volante per sentire il vento tra le spighe dei campi, portiera aperta,
Rasheed gode e guarda a terra.
Arriviamo oltre il colle fra resti di un villaggio raso al suolo dove un tempo viveva la sua famiglia e ora c’è lui solo. Rasheed ricorda le storie, prende a calci le macerie poi si ferma e guarda a terra.
Il resto della sua giornata
È di un indicibile solitudine.
Lo vedo mangiare da solo,
Dormire da solo,
Lavarsi da solo di fronte al nulla.
Che sta bene così. Che sembra potrebbe sopravvivere al mondo.
Di santo silenzio contadino.
Lui sa di essere nato per questo.
Nel ripetersi diventa eterno e l’eterno porta consegne ardimentose oltre ogni calendario.
Lo fisso nella sua impenetrabile intimità contadina
Spezzata da una sigaretta.
Ogni giorno il suo desiderio si fa una tana dove morire.
Al riparo da tutti gli inverni che il letargo dell’abitudine deposita.
Mentre lo aiuto a riparare i tubi con cui ruba l’acqua per coltivare le zucchine o come la chiama lui “agroresistance”.
Rasheed tiene in bocca una torcia e so già dove guarda.
Perché quella terra gliela stanno portando via.
Rasheed è un contadino palestinese della periferia di Bardala costretto a rubare la sua stessa acqua all’esercito israeliano che la estrae illegalmente.
Lui combatte così. Riprendendosi l’acqua, rischiando la vita per coltivare zucchine.
Volontaria azione, involontaria pulsione.  A volte resistenza è solo provare a vivere come le altre persone. Fare finta sia normale.
Come il fiore si ostina a crescere nell’asfalto,
Rasheed coltiva zucchine nel deserto.
A fine giornata, quando piovono a cascata i canti dei muezzin e i cani corrono in branchi sui tetti a sentirli, dà da mangiare a cani e cavalli, mette a letto le bimbe nella giacca di montone e scoppia a piangere in silenzio; i suoi zigomi sono versanti di colli difesi dall’orgoglio mentre si stende sul pavimento della sua fattoria da solo, avvolto in una coperta. Ma non guarda più a terra. Adesso guarda il cielo. E so, perchè l’ho visto, che gli dà la forza di continuare a ripetere qualcosa di incomprensibile, ma giusto. Come il moto delle stelle. Non lo sapremo, non lo saprete mai. Rasheed vive. Continuerà a combattere nonostante tutto il mondo intorno.

5.

Feet

v
x
Urla ricadere in acqua
groppi di sale che non asciugherà
in fondo ai mari siede la coscienza
i piedi del potere sulla faccia
ribalti ora la luna ogni fondale
possano le piccole unghie care
scordare questo nero poi
quei piedi non siamo noi
non vogliamo esserlo mai
Screams falling into water
lumps of salt that will not dry
conscience sitting at the bottom of the sea
the feet of power on the face
may the moon overturn every seabed
may the little beloved nails
forget this black one day
we are not those feet
will never ever be
6.

Academy

v
x

Approximately ten thousand lives
in thirty days: there
I said the number, bracketed the life
for your (lack of) imagination. Sorry,
I have to speak your language; the numbers,
denizens of the rational world,
are concrete. They cannot dictate
cannot direct, cannot bring back,
or unfold
what you have pleated into time.

The archives confirm: there is a way to knowing
and telling what you know: your eyes.
What you have a beginning and an end to,
what your digits have use for,
what is signified and assigned.

The Academy might not know
the truth, rehearsing
vocabulary for a living
but hey, let me give you another number:
the Crusader landed only 75 years ago.
There is nothing holy about his promise;
the gambler only chose his king of spades.
So don’t talk to me
about memory culture, if you don’t know
how to remember.

7.

Words

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x

I have been thinking about words in these last weeks, maybe more than I ever did.

We—the ones safe in the distance of privilege—have been doing a lot of sharing of those lately. We have been weighing the words of others, as well as the images we chose to share or withhold, the narratives we constructed as individuals, communities, and institutions. Some sought refuge in silence, while others found guilt in it. Some crafted sentences to find sleepy comfort in them, avoiding a call to action.

It was a month yesterday.

I received a DM from someone I fell into an online argument with some weeks back. I disagreed with their use of words and images, as I felt they were eluding, or plastering over, the facts.

The fact of dispossession.
The fact of displacement.
The fact of apartheid.
The fact of collective punishment.
The fact of war crimes.
The fact of genocide.

The conversation got twisted, it moved in circles. Discussing about wording when people are retrieving the remains of loved ones from collapsed buildings, which once were homes and schools and hospitals. Discussing about wording though, when, this side of the screen, this side of the world, this side of the “art world”, words is all we have.

I got a message to reignite a conversation on lexicons and responsibility, one month after it was cut short by an impossibility of shared understanding.

I got a message about words and wording, after 10,022 deaths, and counting, and counting.

The message linked to a video. A video of a well-meaning white European addressing a room of well-meaning white Europeans. In the video a song, whose lyrics invites the audience to find other audiences, and to speak to them about Gaza, about Palestine and Palestinians. However, remember, the song adds, to be steady in the knowledge that you/us have no right to be angry. And the words you’ll use to recount that foreign pain—which is not for you to hold—to others, make them adaptable to stranger ears. Use words that are familiar to them, have them understand, aim at the largest reach. Try to find alliances even in the most desperate of places, make them aware, so that they make them stop.

I have been thinking about words in the last days. More than anything I’ve been listening and reading the words of others. The words of those on the front line, those who are still speaking while standing beneath that falling sky. I too, like the well-meaning person in the video, have wondered whether my own words still held any meaning. I too have considered whether my presence mattered at all. I too have pondered whether I had a right for rage.

They did not, it did not, I had not.

And yet, I believe, I still believe as I still can see, we, who are far from that falling sky, we can be a body on the street, screaming to be heard. We can be a voice in here, writing to be read. We can, still. As we are, still.

And still, I am enraged.

One month has passed. Many conversations were topped by an equal number of silences. Many words will never be spoken again. And now, and always, and forever, you’ll close your eyes, and you’ll see Gaza closing her many eyes. One by one. The rubbles and the noise, the loss, the loss, the infinite loss.

10,569 and counting, and still counting.

Make the abstraction of numbers cut through your tongue. Try to wrap each figure with the complexities of language. Remember names you never knew. Call for them. Let unfamiliar sounds compose something of a recognisable identity until you catch in cold figures the glimpse of a familiar face, the gaze of someone you loved.

And then speak, since you can, as loud as you can, as angrily as you wish. Speak the same words you’d utter if those closing right now were eyes you once cherished.

Demand.
This is a task for today, and an endeavour for all days to come.
Until freedom.

From the river to the sea.

Giulia Crispiani is a visual artist and writer based in Rome, where she is an editor for NERO Editions.
Sandra Cane is a writer and independent researcher of queer studies and Palestinian contemporary culture. Through her research, she examines radical imagination and futurity as cultural practices of queering normative narratives of the present. She writes for magazines and online platforms. In 2023 she published her first collection of texts with Quanti Einaudi.
Maria Luce Cacciaguerra was born in Palermo and lives and studies in Milan where she is specializing in modern literature and concrete and visual poetry. In the winter of 2022 she co-founded Murmur a collective that gathers the words and sound and visual research of artists, thinkers, and anyone who cares about poetry.
Mirko Vercelli is a writer and student of cultural anthropology based in Turin. He collaborates with Centro Studi Sereno Regis in spreading non-violent activism and peace education.
Maura Termite is a teacher and translator based in Milan.
Shorouk El Hariry (1992) is a writer, editor, and researcher. With an academic background in social sciences and the history of technology, her creative practice is informed by her first-generation migration experience in Europe, which she has explored in performance, community arts, and cultural politics. Currently based in Cairo, she now writes on intimate archives and knowledge production.
Chiara Cartuccia is a curator and researcher based in London.