Equality in Martyrdom

Last year I wrote a reflection on Equality in Humiliation inspired by my crossing at the Qalandia check point and which reminded me of the rhyme we used to chant as children “tinker tailor soldier sailor rich man poor man beggar man thief, doctor lawyer merchant chief.” Everybody was equally humiliated at that horrific check point. Of course by now the Israeli Occupying Forces are getting more and more innovative in their humiliating procedures. Stripping a man naked on a wet and cold day in Nablus was the latest of these measures. Over and above he was forced to crawl in the mud like an animal and bark like a dog while the soldiers were amused. Many of you have seen this photo which was widely circulated on the internet and in our local papers. If it reflects anything; it is how sick and dehumanized these soldiers have become in the process of oppressing and humiliating the Palestinians for the last thirty five years.

Last night a 95 year old woman, Fatimah Sarahneh was shot dead by the Israeli Occupying Forces inside a van at the JAWWAL crossing near El-Bireh. This came shortly after a deaf man Ashur Salem was killed under the rubble of his home which the Israeli Occupation Forces demolished in Beit Lahya in the Gaza Strip. He did not hear the alert, and the Israeli army refused to allow members of the family to check him out on the sixth floor of the building. The first thing that came to my mind is another form of equality; equality in ” Shihadah” ( martyrdom). Activists, policemen, school children, laborers and farmers; passivists, elderly people, men, women, and babies. All have joined the long list of ” Shuhada” (martyrs). A martyr is somebody who is willing to suffer or die for his faith or principle. But all those people have earned their “shihadah” for being victims of a brutal occupation which very often considers these victims as a “collateral damage”. Even at the age of 95, Fatimah was deprived of the privilege of dying in peace in her own bed. As the Muslim world celebrates Eid Al-Fitr today, the breaking of the Fast after the Holy month of Ramadan, so many Palestinian families will be missing their loved ones. I know my granddaughter Zeina will be missing her maternal grandmother Shaden Abu Hijleh who was shot in her own home in Nablus almost two months ago. And I know Malak Hammouri will be missing her husband Haytham, a YMCA staff member who is still in jail with thousands of other young men and women.

In this Holy Land, holy to the three monotheistice faiths this is also the Advent season for the Christians and Chanukah for the Jews. But how will the Christians be receiving Christmas when Bethlehem, the city of the birth of Christ is under curfew, and the memory of those dear ones who were shot dead by the Israeli Occupying forces is still fresh and very painful. At the same time many Israeli families will be missing dear ones as they light the Chanukah candles. My only hope is that those families will remember that their dear ones and our dear ones would have been spared had Israel not chosen to be an occupying military machine for the last thirty five years. All being against the wishes of the occupied Palestinian population and in defiance of United Nations resolutions.

Let us hope Jews, Christians and Muslims of this Holy Land, will soon be able to celebrate their feasts in peaceful times where both Palestinians and Israelis are liberated from this brutal occupation which is “killing us all.” Happy Eid, Merry Christmas, and Hag Sameach.