Artwork by Israa Tariq
The Palestinian Rhetoric is Occupied: Injustice, It Screams
by Nour Al-Ali
Bethlehem, the biblical city of David, the birthplace of Jesus, surmounts the wall of apartheid, yearning for justice.
Before the Israeli soldiers uprooted Mohamad Mousa’s olive trees to build their wall, they left a notice on the trees themselves because they could not find his house.
They had already demolished it.
“Can you believe it?” an old man exclaims. “Who leaves warnings in trees?”
The trees—cut, defiled, and tarnished—kneel at the base of Mount Hebron as if narrating a story of loss in silence. First, the Israelis took the land. The Palestinian exodus followed. But those who remained would not falter. The land, its acres, fields of green and sloped mountains is theirs. It is theirs.
The trees, now bent towards a history of failures, rustle for justice across the wall, through the pistols of crass soldiers and the voices of the multitude of nonchalant Arabs, who are only proverbially angered by injustice, into the classrooms of generations to come.
The trees shall be avenged. Justice will arrive, perhaps late, perhaps in the afterlife. But it will be served.
The old man is wearing a black jacket, layered on top of two other shirts that almost cover his vitiligo, but not quite. His right eye constantly twitches above the fading de-pigmented patches beneath. His lips, sheltered by an ageing mustache, pout for a justice that is arbitrary to those who stole his land. He walks towards the barbed wire at loss for words. This land is his.
“Olive trees that are seventy years old,” he says while pointing across acres and acres of lost hopes. “All gone.”
He turns his face around, perhaps remembering, reiterating, and reshaping fragments of the land in his mind: It was green—almost tickling the horizon—as far as the eye could see; the olive trees must have clashed with sunrays against the wind. They soared. They must have soared.
“They cut everything.”
How would the olives taste now, if they were left to grow until harvest season?
Will they ever grow?
25,000. That is how many trees it took the Israelis to build their wall around Bethlehem.
Priceless forever remains their value.
Bethlehem in West Bank, the ever-green city of David, lost its shades of green, brown, and blue. It is now in greyscale. The color it harbors is injustice. The gust of wind that once fondled with its trees has departed. Or perhaps it too requires a visa to pass beyond the wall to visit the city.
Nature’s melodic silence is not only interrupted by shelling, fire, and helicopters. It is also invaded with the sounds of bulldozers running over its grass, cluttered crates clashing with its waves, and the echoing footsteps of injustice.
Nature broods in ache. It is escaping Bethlehem.
They came in the morning, the Israeli soldiers. They put warnings on the trees before cutting them for courtesy. Then they began fencing the acres of Palestinian land with barbed wire and poles wrapped in red ribbons.
No one knew what they were for. The Palestinians did not know. How could the Israelis do this in the city Jesus was born? How could they?
They would have resisted had they known. They are in disbelief. It cannot be true, but it is. It is not fiction.
The rhetoric is occupied. It is biased. It is blind to injustice. The land remains. She remains. Palestine remains. Mohammad Mousa, the old man, and thousands like them narrate their story every day—of loss, of injustice, of occupation, motifs of their modern lives. Who listens to them, if nature itself is no longer there to listen?
What have they done to experience such irreparable loss?
Which of the seven sins have they committed to deserve such injustice?
Nour Al-Ali is a Syrian senior at the American University of Sharjah, pursuing a double major in English Language and Literature, with a concentration in Literature, and Mass Communication. She is an advocate of women’s rights, justice, and human rights. She has been published by several local and online news outlets. Her research interests include, but are not limited to: post-colonial discourse, exile, Arab identity, and Syrian modern history. She often publishes poetry, short stories, and blog posts on a wide array of issues at http://blog.nouralali.com.