Life in Occupied Palestine
vol. 37, no. 2, Spring 2014
Guest Editors: Cynthia G. Franklin Morgan Cooper & Ibrahim G. Aoudé
Cover image © and used by permission of the photographer, Eloise Bollak (Elo B).
In memory of Mohammed Alareer, and every Palestinian whose life was cut short in the summer of 2014, and in the decades before, struggling against Israeli colonization.
“A house of four floors but thousands of stories is no more. The stories, however, will live to bear witness to the most brutally wild occupation the world has ever known.” —Refaat R. Alareer
“Life in Occupied Palestine: Three Cafés and a Special Issue” by Cynthia G. Franklin, Morgan Cooper, Ibrahim G. Aoudé
Against the backdrop of Israel’s invasions of the West Bank and the Gaza Strip during the summer of 2014, the coeditors introduce this special issue: its formation, and the importance and power of the contributors’ writings about life in Palestine under conditions of occupation, apartheid, and settler colonialism.
Section One: Borders, Journeys, Home
“Exiled at Home: Writing Return and the Palestinian Home” by Nadera Shalhoub-Kevorkian and Sarah Ihmoud
Drawing on our personal histories navigating the violence of Israeli settler colonialism and militarization, we theorize the Palestinian home space as not only a physical, but also a psychological and epistemological space of yearning, of belonging, and of radical thinking and becoming. In light of the colonial state’s continued attempts to further fragment and dislocate indigenous Palestinians from their homeland, we posit an analytics of returning to our home/land as a space of reconstructing Palestinian socialities and identities, of re-rooting through a radical praxis of love that can give birth to new forms of resistance.
“After the Nakba in Nuba: A Palestinian Villager’s Diary, 1949” by Alex Winder
This article uses diary entries recorded by a Palestinian villager from outside Hebron to explore individual Palestinian subjectivities and experiences in the immediate aftermath of the 1948 war; tropes of village life and displacement in Palestinian national narratives; and the difficulties and possibilities presented by diaries in approaching Palestinian history and life writing.
Through the lens of picnics, this article narrates the social and political history of a village in Galilee and its residents since 1948, which serves as a picture for the larger Palestinian experience and the consequences of the rupture created by the Zionist colonization of Palestine.
“Locked Out” by Lina Hesham AlSharif
Cut off from home and family, the author pays witness to the way the occupation affects the ability of Palestinians to return and to see their loved ones.
This article explores how the Palestinian residents of al-Marja, a village adjacent to the Green Line, experienced the first appearance of the “borders” in their lives in 1949, and the traces left by the partition of their spatial sphere amongst enemy forces, separating them from the organic world to which they were accustomed. Based on stories from the villagers, the article focuses on the arrangements, techniques, and tools that residents developed to “recapture” their ordinary life.
Section Two: Invasions, Incarcerations, and Insurgent Imagination
“Incidental Insurgents: An Interview with Ruanne Abou Rahme” by Morgan Cooper
Abou Rahme talks about her work with Basel Abbas on Incidental Insurgents. Structured like an audio visual novel, the project focuses on the figure ofc the bandit, investigating archival and oral histories while insisting on the recovery and import of incidental insurgents in the history of revolutions and particularly in the history of Palestinian resistance against oppression.
“Towards a New Language of Liberation: An Interview with Raja Shehadeh” by Cynthia G. Franklin
Raja Shehadeh discusses the poetics of writing and the role the writer can play as witness and seeker of justice.
“Gaza Writes Back: Narrating Palestine” by Refaat R. Alareer
In Palestine, stories are sacred. In trying times, we turn to story-telling for solace. Mothers and grandmothers are the major source of stories in the families. And just when you are old enough, you realise that you have been shaped by these stories and that they go far beyond entertainment. As a Palestinian, I have been brought up on stories, and I learned early in my life that it’s both selfish and treacherous to keep a story to myself. If I allowed a story to stop, I would be betraying my legacy, my mother, my grandmother, and my homeland. This essay describes the creation of a collection of stories by young Palestinian authors that whet the much-needed talent for life.
“Write What You Know” by Lina Hesham Alsharif
“Write what you know …
I know that I am a Palestinian ….”
“Dreaming of Never Land” by Sonia Nimr
This essay focuses on the author’s journey to and three years incarceration in Maskoubiya prison, situating the experience in the broader context of Palestinian life under Israeli Occupation.
“‘Food is not our issue’: Reflections on Hunger Striking” by Sa’ed Omar
The author discusses his reasons for going on hunger strike while in prison, attempts by Israel and the Palestinian Authority to break his spirit, and his refusal renounce his vision for a free Palestine.
Section Three: Reciprocal Solidarities and Other Revolutionary Relations
“From the West Bank: Letters and Acts of Resistance” by Yassmine Saleh Hamayel and Islah Jad
Highlighting excerpts from letters written by Islah Jad at the height of the 2002 Israeli invasion of the West Bank cities, in this essay her daughter, Yassmine Saleh Hamayel, reflects on the letters as a daughter, as a high school student at the time of the invasion, and as a participant in the 2011–2013youth activism against the occupation in Palestine.
“Life in Abu Dis Continues Quietly” by Rima Najjar
“Life in Abu Dis Continues Quietly” explores how Rima Najjar makes strategic use of different forms of life writing on Facebook to communicate the human costs of the Israeli occupation and to foster resistance to the dehumanizing representations (or erasures) of Palestinians upon which the Israeli government’s continued human rights abuses depend.
“Traveling as a Palestinian” by Yousef M. Aljamal
This article documents the difficulties a Palestinian from Gaza faces when travelling. It sheds lights on the main obstacles and challenges Palestinians face when obtaining visas and at borders and airports. What is taken for granted by many people in the world is not considered as such by Palestinians who have been living under Israeli occupation and siege for decades.
“Reciprocal Solidarity: Where the Black and Palestinian Queer Struggles Meet” by Sa’ed Atshan, Darnell L. Moore
In this article, two queer men, one Black American and the other Palestinian, theorize “reciprocal solidarity” as a model of solidarity that thrives on love, friendship, storytelling, reciprocity, shared experiences, struggles, and queer kinship.
Section Four: Forging a Just Future
“The ‘I’ in BDS: Individual Creativity and Responsibility in the Context of Collective Praxis — an Interview With Omar Barghouti and Falastine Dwikat” by Ibrahim G. Aoudé, Morgan Cooper, Cynthia G. Franklin
Omar Barghouti and Falastine Dwikat reflect on the personal experiences and contributions of activists, artists, and academics in the Palestinian-led BDS movement, a vibrant example of a movement that embraces the dialectic between the individual and the collective, balancing individual responsibility and creativity with collective decision-making and action.