I am a Palestinian writer and poet who is being held in an Israeli prison somewhere in the desert. I have been told that my “crime” flows from the ink of my pen and if you have ever heard the expression, “the pen is mightier than the sword,” it must be true, for the Israelis apparently think my words are a threat to all their power, their money, their weapons and the backing of their greatest friends, the Americans.
My first name is Taha but in order to make me nothing more than a statistic, I have been given the number 39. My fellow inmates are writers too. We all share the guilt of trying to form a link with our Israeli counterparts who also write what they believe in.
Under the blistering sun of the desert, the burning sand is my bed and the prison camp I dwell in is an extermination camp, which exterminates all that is human in Man. If Hell exists, this prison would be its main gate of entry.
Let me make it clear that I am not a terrorist. I have never bombed anyone nor in any way taken a human life. I have never even struck anyone in anger. I only write for the freedom of my country and for the human rights that all mankind are entitled to.
My inmates and I live on crumbs of bread, bits of butter and jam and tiny portions of beans and warm water. Worms, snakes and scorpions share our foul beds with us. For over 60 days we have not been allowed to change our clothes. Whenever we suffer from intense pain, we go to the doctor. He only prescribes for us water and an herb that eases nothing. Since my only crime is being a freedom writer and hence, a warrior poet, I somehow derive strength from this charge.
My words have more influence than the Uzi submachine gun. Some of my Israeli counterparts who write the truth understand the need to reach a comprehensive peace agreement, one that will ensure the future of both Palestinian and Israeli children and one that will ensure the future of the region as a whole. So far the various peace agreements such as Oslo and Wye, have not ensured anything at all. It is obvious that any progressive culture whether Israeli or Western, cannot flourish in the shadow of violence and the violation of human rights. The slogan that my fellow inmates and I have put forward is culture versus racism and an end to all occupation of Palestinian land.
Yet, the champions of racism and those who would kill all that is human in Man have attacked me and my fellow inmates, have shut down our progressive press and intensified censorship restrictions. There are about 15 of us, writers and poets, living in tragic conditions which run counter to basic human values.
Arabs have been famous for their poetry and their writing abilities even before the advent of Islam. In fact, the Holy Koran is the most beautiful poetry every written. Though I am imprisoned in the desert and in spite of the blistering heat, the ink in my pen will not run dry. I will continue to write for the sake of justice and peace, for the sake of a smile on a child’s lips. I will continue to write so no tear will fall from a child’s eye for a slain brother or father and I will always write to express my true aspirations. I will continue to write so that one day I can see Yitzhak and Ahmed playing together rather than see Yitzhak leading Ahmed to prison in the middle of the night once both are grown. My fellow writers and I are in prison while our Israeli counterparts are free. Through the bars of my prison window, I see the same stars that our Israeli counterparts see, and the same moon shines down on us all.
The value of any writer is not judged by the quantity of his work but by his humanity. Though I have been beaten for my words, tortured and placed in solitary confinement, my faith in God lives on, and one day the freedom I seek will find me, either in life or in death. I am a Warrior Poet and with my pen, I fight for the freedom of my people.