From the River to the Sea
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
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.
The White Eraser
This pain will not be for nothing, you said
“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:
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.
Oggi sarà il tredicesimo giorno
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
che mai più sa
chi sono io e perché l’ha fatto
la vita l’amore
e la morte
s’appende ai nostri piedi
dobbiamo ancora cominciarla questa pace
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
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
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
Mai in vita avevo
tanta attenzione a non calpestare
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.
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,
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.
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.
This is a task for today, and an endeavour for all days to come.
From the river to the sea.