By Karin Friedemann, TMO
Itâ€™s hard to believe that tomorrow is the first day of Spring, I think as I trudge through slippery snow and slush. It seems almost like time has stalled, as the world waits for hope. This week marks ten years since Rachel Corrie inspired the world with her act of selfless martyrdom to (unsuccessfully) defend the home of a Palestinian doctor.
Since then, the news of the day continues to be painfully frustrating.
Palestinian hunger striker Ayman Sharawna has been released but deported to Gaza. He is banned from visiting with his family in the West Bank for the next ten years.
Meanwhile, Palestinian prisoner Samer Issawi waits for death. He stopped taking liquids on the 241st day of his hunger strike. He refused the Israeli offer to deport him to Gaza:
â€œWe are fighting for the sake of freedom of our land and return of our refugees in Palestine and diaspora, not to add more deportees to them.
This systematic practice through which Israel aims to empty Palestine from Palestinians and bring strangers in their place is but a crime.
Therefore, I refuse being deported and I will only agree to be released to Jerusalem as I know that the Israeli Occupation is aiming to empty Jerusalem of its people and turn Arabs to become a minority group of its population. The issue of deportation is no longer a personal decision, it is rather a national principle. If every detainee agrees to be deported outside Jerusalem under pressure, Jerusalem will eventually be emptied of its people. I would prefer to die on my hospital bed to being deported from Jerusalem.â€
The Israeli Magistrate Court of Jerusalem issued a sentence of 20 months in prison for Medhat Issawi, the brother of Samer Issawi, on charges of organizing solidarity activities with prisoners inside Jerusalem and being a member of the DFLP (Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine).
Their mother wrote a moving plea for help to President Obama on the occasion of his visit to the Holy Land:
â€œI am a Palestinian mother. Like thousands of other Palestinian mothers I ache and suffer. I am the mother of Fadi who was assassinated by Israel in 1994 in the spring of his life, and the mother of Medhat who is now in Israeli prison and the mother of Raâ€™fat whose home Israel demolished and left his family homeless; I am the mother of Shireen, Firas and Shadi who could not avoid the repeated detention and torture. We are a family that Israel deprives from water and would have deprived us food and medicine if they could.
â€œYou, who comes to the land of Peace after being crowned with a Nobel Peace Prize and whom through his long four years of presidency failed to accomplish a single pursuant for peace or lift the grievances off a person, this is your chance to save Samer from the canines of this brutal occupation. So as not to wonder with millions of others in the world (I ask): Why did you come to us?â€
To her earnest plea, there is no response, just bitter news that the US is planning on boycotting the UN Human Rights Councilâ€™s debate on illegal Israeli settlements.
Two young sisters, Sawsan and Nasim Shaheen began hunger striking together on February 20 in a tent in front of the United Nations building in Ramallah. They have joined the Palestinian hunger striking prisoners in order to demand the liberation of political prisoners incarcerated by Israel, reports Palestine Monitor.
While westerners debate the pros and cons of boycotting Israel, the mother of Ibrahim Baroud protests alone on a road in Gaza. Traffic drives around her but a message is sent by her eyes: â€œPlease dear world, feel for a mother whose son is in prison for more than 25 years, what is still left in my life but to hug him, tell me?â€
Israel has suspended family visits to prisoners from Gaza for three weeks for Jewish holidays, the International Committee of the Red Cross said Monday.
â€œVerily, with hardship, there is reliefâ€ (Quran 94:6).
A British convoy to Gaza, named after the Turkish humanitarian aid ship sank by Israeli gunships in 2010, is now stranded. Activist filmmaker Iara Lee reports:
â€œMavi Marmara is sailing on wheels from UK to Gaza. Our convoyâ€™s members are stuck at this moment at Libya/Egypt border, suffering extreme heat during the day, extreme cold at night, with no food nor water… They left London and drove south through France and Spain, crossed to North Africa and travelled through Morocco, Tunisia, Libya, and finally tried to cross Egypt to reach the Rafah crossing into Gaza. The whole trip was expected to take about two weeks, but as past experiences, we have been encountering a lot of delay!â€
â€œLibya has granted the UK aid convoy exit and no return, but Egypt doesnâ€™t want to grant them entry!!! After traveling over 4,000 miles so far, there are neither toilets nor shower facilities… only a cafe nearby… Convoy crew is stuck in no manâ€™s land since they canâ€™t return to Libya nor proceed to Cairo/Rafah in Egypt. The saga continues…â€
Ten years ago, Rachel Corrie demonstrated that there is no power in the world greater than Patience. When the Israeli bulldozer came towards her, she did not flinch. She stood there like a beautiful flower facing a lawnmower.
The late Edward Said explained in 2003 that â€œthe Meaning of Rachel Corrieâ€ is that victory comes to those who maintain their dignity.
â€œPalestinians have refused to capitulate or surrender even under the collective punishment meted out to them by the combined might of the US and Israel… Under the worst possible circumstances, Palestinian society has neither been defeated nor has it crumbled completely.â€
And so we wait, and we wait for freedom. The silent endless nothingness of the stalled life, the isolation, that cramped feeling, needing to stretch, wanting to explode, wishing to wake up in a life that we could enjoy, but not knowing how to escape the pressures closing in, the darkness, the damp cold. Hopes and dreams postponed for a future time when we might find a way forward. One might feel like one is being crushed to the point of disintegrating. One might feel like one is about to crack! Yet this must also be the feeling the seed goes through as it comes to life, pushing through the cold mud.
Just remember in the winter
Far beneath the bitter snows
Lies the seed that with the sunâ€™s love
In the spring becomes the rose.