Amoula il Majnoona

Amoula's blog from Ramallah

Friday, August 11, 2006

This One Is For The Poets

August 11, 2006
"I heard you in the other room asking your mother, 'Mama, am I a Palestinian?' When she answered 'Yes' a heavy silence fell on the whole house. It was as if something hanging over our heads had fallen, its noise exploding, then - silence.

Afterwards...I heard you crying. I could not move. There was something bigger than my awareness being born in the other room through your bewildered sobbing. It was as if a blessed scalpel was cutting up your chest and putting there the heart that belongs to you...I was unable to move to see what was happening in the other room. I knew, however, that a distant homeland was being born again: hills, olive groves, dead people, torn banners and folded ones, all cutting their way into a future
of flesh and blood and being born in the heart of another child...Do you believe that man grows? No, he is born suddenly - a word, a moment, penetrates his heart to a new throb. One scene can hurl him down from the ceiling of childhood onto the ruggedness of the road."

-Ghassan Kanafani, in a letter he wrote to his son

this email is for the poets....
it is poetry and only poetry that has ever helped me make it through in the darkest hours of my life.

but first two links.....
An incredible video made right here in Bushwick directed by Waleed Zaiter and crew
It is being presented on Electronic Lebanon.

and Patti Smith wrote a song about Qana (you can download it)


- a poem written by my homegirl Suheir Hammad.... last November we were together in beirut. that was the last time i was there.....November....

wind (break) her

fairuz turquoise dawn ears ring
voice diwan detroit divine
smoke full lips fall on back baalbek
museum mezze sabra jordan black
june in jersualem

bi albek
almonds coffee darwish
the eighties the ground the zeroes
tabla in brooklyn air so thick beat hung there
hips reflected the breath someone was drumming
to accompany the dying and the living
somewhere far and somewhere close

a sweeping
find shelter in a cross
a reckoning
find none at all
people looking to be seen
even if the last moments
even if after life

last fall her birthday
i ask my homegirl what she wants
bi albek
she leaps to fall in love
i offer earrings and we kiss the beirut
sky color of bruised healing

kiss it born
kiss it ill
kiss it youth
kiss it prison
kiss it collective
kiss it punishment
kiss it viral
kiss it infected
kiss it missing
kiss it childhood
kiss it water
kiss it dignity
kiss it burning
kiss it alone
kiss it so alone
kiss it kiss it

habibi wants the moon
but the moon is far away

a city in exile

bi albe ana nar

curl of flame jeweled arms
flash smile flash flesh perfect cut damage is tapestry vintage
design with no weapons dress to kill
it means you don’t die
from the powerlessness of it
from the leap to fall in love
from believing in rebuilding

the other night i re-read this poem by Mahmoud Darwish. i read it silently. i read it out loud. i re-read and remember all the other countless times i have read it. the words slippery. the weight heavier. the sky smaller now....

The Earth Is Closing on Us

The earth is closing on us, pushing us through the last passage, and
we tear off our limbs to pass through.
The earth is squeezing us. I wish we were its wheat so we could die
and live again. I wish the earth was our mother
So she'd be kind to us. I wish we were pictures on the rocks for our
dreams to carry
As mirrors. We saw the faces of those to be killed by the last of us in
the last defense of the soul.
We cried over their children;s feast. We saw the faces of those who'll
throw our children
Out of the windows of this last space. Our star will hang up mirrors.
Where should we go after the last frontiers? Where should the birds
fly after the last sky?
Where should the plants sleep after the last breath of air? We will
write our names with scarlet steam.
We will cut off the hand of the song to be finished by our flesh.
We will die here, here in the last passage. here and here our blood
will plant its olive tree.


and lastly Aissa Deebi, a Palestinian artist from Haifa sent me this poem written by Taha Mohammed Ali, a poet from Nazareth
(er I cam including two slightly different versions for translations sake....)

Revenge: This poem was written by Nazareth poet Taha Mohammed Ali and translated from Arabic by Sasson Somekh. Line breaks have been replaced with dots in the version below due to space limitations.

Sometimes…I wish to hold…A duel…With the man…Who killed my father…And demolished my home…And turned me into a refugee…In the narrow land of man;…If he kills me…I will find my rest…And if I take his life…I will have taken my revenge.

But…If I learn…In the duel…That my adversary has a mother…Who awaits his return…Or a father…Who presses his right hand…To his chest, over the heart,…Whenever his son is late in coming--…Then I will not kill him, if…I should gain the upper hand.

By the same token…I will not slay him…If it comes to my attention…That he has brothers and sisters…Who love him…And miss him…At all hours,…Or he has a wife who anticipates his arrival…And children who suffer from his absence.

And his gifts gladden their heart…Or if he has…Friends and comrades…Or neighbors and acquaintances…Friends he met in prison…Or lay beside his hospital bed…Or old schoolmates…Who ask after him…At every opportunity…And send him regards.

But if he is alone…Like a branch chopped from a tree…Neither friends, comrades nor neighbors…No acquaintances, not a father, not a mother…And no partners to his path…I, then, shall not add anything of my own…To the pain of his solitude…The suffering of his demise…The bleakness of his oblivion…I will be content to ignore him…If I encounter him on the road,…And will convince myself…That ignoring him…In itself…Is a kind of revenge. (Ha’aretz, Culture and Literature, 6/23/06)


At times …
I wish I could meet
in a duel
the man who
killed my father
and razed our home,
expelling me into
a narrow country.
And if he killed me,
I'd rest at last,
and if I were ready—
I would take my revenge!


But if it came to light,
when my rival appeared,
that he had a mother
waiting for him,
or a father who'd put his
right hand over
the heart's place in his chest
whenever his son was late
even by just a quarter-hour
for a meeting they'd set—
then I would not kill him,
even if I could.


Likewise …
I would not murder him if
it were soon made clear
that he had a brother or sisters
who loved him and constantly longed to see him.
Or if he had a wife to greet him
and children who
couldn't bear his absence
and whom his presents thrilled.
Or if he had
friends or companions,
neighbors he knew
or allies from prison
or a hospital room,
or classmates from his school …
asking about him
and sending him regards.


But if he turned
out to be on his own—
cut off like a branch from the tree—
without a mother or father,
with neither a brother nor sister,
wifeless, without a child,
and with no kin or friends or neighbors
and neither colleagues nor companions …
then I'd add not a thing to his pain
within that aloneness—
not the torment of death,
and not the sorrow of passing away.
Instead I'd be content
to ignore him when I passed him by
on the street—as I
convinced myself
that paying him no attention
in itself was a kind of revenge.

Nazareth, 2006


Sunday, August 06, 2006

What they did to Maysoon

August 6, 2006
I want to tell you the story of what happened to my friend Maysoon Zayid when she left Ben Gurion Airport a few days ago to fly back to NYC.
Since she told it to me, it has grown from a little hole inside me into a huge gaping wound. I have become consumed with it, this one detail of one woman's crossing.

I want to write it to you particularly because I have no right to tell this story.
There is always a worse story, so we never have the right to tell our stories.
Stories which are all part of the Israeli matrix of occupation and touch every aspect of all our lives and our bodies. These stories are not to be told because there is always someone whose home has been demolished, someone whose family member was shot before their eyes, someone who was imprisoned, detained and tortured....there is always the bunker bombs, cluster bombs, civilians crushed under the rubble of buildings, families killed while picnicking on beaches..... do I need to go on?
Can I still tell this story in the face of such large scale horror?
Can I resist?
Can we hear, mourn and acknowledge Maysoon's story for what it is, what it was, and how deeply damaging and brutal something like this can be?
How calculated every arm of the Israeli machine is.

She called me when she landed in NYC and said "Emily you won't believe what happened to me at Ben Gurion Airport."
The ugliness of the occupation and the years of damaging experiences reared their ugly head inside me when my first thought was a bitten and ironic "What?"
Big deal! I thought. What could she possibly tell me that is so horrific?
My own experiences flashed through my mind....the time they smashed my G4 laptop in half so a huge chunk was hanging off of it, the countless tapes, film, pictures and more that they have ever confiscated, the strip searches, the humiliation of being strip searched by a man, when they emptied the vodka bottles I brought back for my peeps in Ramallah and filled them with dear sister who left Ben Gurion a few months ago and had everything she was carrying confiscated. She was only allowed to board the plane with her passport. She is a writer and filmmaker and loves to write on planes but they would not allow her a pen and paper. The sandwich she made in her home in Ramallah was taken from her. She made it because she has blood sugar issues and she needed that sandwich to make it through without getting sick and weak. She explained this to the Israeli security who looked at her with stealy eyes and told her to drink sister. My uncle with cancer whose prosthesis they forcibly removed and on and on and on....

Before I continue, just a note that Maysoon has cerebral palsy and went through this whole process in a wheelchair at Ben Gurion airport.

Maysoon began "Emily I was strip-searched"
Me: "Oh yea so? Everyone gets strip searched." A disgusting reaction I know. I couldn't help myself. Yes it is shameful when you are so damaged that that is your first thought.
I can not forgive myself for that reaction.
Maysoon continued "They took everything. They left me naked in the room and when they returned with my clothes they had taken my maxipad."
"Yes and then I told them I need one and they said they didn't have any."
She proceeded to tell them she had more in her hand carry-on. They wouldn't let her touch her stuff for "security reasons".
Nor would they give her one maxi-pad from her bag.
They would not let her travel with her carry-on luggage on the plane.

My friend Maysoon was made to bleed for hours in the airport all over herself in a wheelchair.

As if that wasn't enough. She was also not allowed to touch her medication(also in her hand carry-on). She has cerebral palsy and needs to take special medicine or else she will throw up on the flight.

Several hours later she finally boarded Continental Airlines. The stewardess looked at her in disgust when she entered the plane.
Maysoon looked up at her and said "They took my maxi-pad."
The stewardess' ramaged through their belongings and managed to produce a pair of shorts etc for her to wear.

She threw up 7 times on the flight as she was not allowed to take her medicine.

Are there words for such horror and brutality?
The policy of treating Palestinians in the most dispicable manner at border crossings has been in place for years in an effort to brutalize people to such an extreme that they will not return.
I remember it all.
Every crossing from Jordan when I was a kid in the 70's, and later through Ben Gurion in the 80's. I will not forget.

I will never forget what they did to Maysoon.

Maysoon who is a comedian, an actress and an activist.
She herself is writing down this story in greater detail when she is able to. And I will forward it to you then.
See her website:

Here is a link for a recent border crossing story written by a European-American.
A European-American, not a Palestinian-American, can visit Palestine


Friday, August 04, 2006

Cultural Boycott of Israel

YOU can do something.
Also see:
Edinburgh Film Festival Returns Israeli Money

Greece Withdraws from Israel Film Festival
Palestinian Filmmakers, Artists and Cultural Workers Call for a Cultural Boycott of Israel
August 4, 2006

Dear Filmmakers & Artists,

During the past few weeks we have borne witness to the escalation of Israeli
aggression into open war on both Palestine and Lebanon.

With Israel’s invasion of Gaza on June 27th, 2006, ministries and educational institutions have been destroyed, as has the plant that supplies nearly 50 percent of Gaza's electricity. Bridges, roads, dozens of homes, and hundreds of dunams of agricultural land have also been destroyed. Sixty-four elected Palestinian legislators, cabinet ministers and officials have been detained without charge.

On July 12th, Israel brought its campaign of collective punishment and military violence to Lebanon, with "Operation Just Reward". A complete assault, via land, sea, and air, of the Lebanese population and infrastructure has led to total destruction. In just 3 weeks, almost 1 million Lebanese civilians have been displaced and the death toll has reached 900 Lebanese and 160 Palestinians, with a UN count saying one-third of the dead are children.

Additionally, in violation of international law, Israel continues to occupy Gaza, the West Bank (including East Jerusalem), and Syria’s Golan Heights. In violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention, Israel continues to hold 9,600 Palestinian political prisoners in Israeli jails and detention centers without due process, among them 130 Palestinian women and 388 children, many of them taken from their homes in the middle of the night.

We, the undersigned Palestinian filmmakers and artists, appeal to all artists and filmmakers of good conscience around the world to cancel all exhibitions and other cultural events that are scheduled to occur in Israel, to mobilize immediately and not allow the continuation of the Israeli offensive to breed complacency. Like the boycott of South African art institutions during apartheid, cultural workers must speak out against the current Israeli war crimes and atrocities.

We call upon the International community to join us in the boycott of Israeli film festivals, Israeli public venues, and Israeli institutions supported by the government, and to end all cooperation with these cultural and artistic institutions that to date have refused to take a stand against the Occupation, the root cause for this colonial conflict.

We call upon you to take a stand in order to appeal to the Israeli people to give up their silence, to abandon their apathy, and to face up to their responsibility in the destruction and killing their elected government is wreaking. To the Lebanese and Palestinians terrorized by this Army's planes, bombs and missiles, this silence, apathy and lack of action from Israelis, are regarded as complicit in the ongoing war crimes, as for those Israeli artists, academics and intellectuals who continue to serve in the Israeli army they are directly implicated in these crimes.

We call upon you to give way to action that would replace words spoken too often and forgotten too quickly. We call upon you to make your voices heard in calling for an end to this bloodshed and an end to this oppression that has lasted too long.

To endorse or answer this call for a cultural boycott of Israel please send an email with your name, position and country to

Wednesday, August 02, 2006

hey guyz this is a WEIRD lebanon video for real

this so SOOO strange!