"They call us now.
Before they drop the bombs.
The phone rings
and someone who knows my first name
calls and says in perfect Arabic
“This is David.”
And in my stupor of sonic booms and glass shattering symphonies
still smashing around in my head
I think “Do I know any Davids in Gaza?”
They call us now to say
You have 58 seconds from the end of this message.
Your house is next.
They think of it as some kind of war time courtesy.
It doesn’t matter that
there is nowhere to run to.
It means nothing that the borders are closed
and your papers are worthless
and mark you only for a life sentence
in this prison by the sea
and the alleyways are narrow
and there are more human lives
packed one against the other
more than any other place on earth
We aren’t trying to kill you.
It doesn’t matter that
you can’t call us back to tell us
the people we claim to want aren’t in your house
that there’s no one here
except you and your children
who were cheering for Argentina
sharing the last loaf of bread for this week
counting candles left in case the power goes out.
It doesn’t matter that you have children.
You live in the wrong place
and now is your chance to run
It doesn’t matter
that 58 seconds isn’t long enough
to find your wedding album
or your son’s favorite blanket
or your daughter’s almost completed college application
or your shoes
or to gather everyone in the house.
It doesn’t matter what you had planned.
It doesn’t matter who you are
Prove you’re human.
Prove you stand on two legs.
Jon Stewart gets it right on Gaza. This is the reality. It doesn’t matter if Israel tells them beforehand that they’re going to drop bombs. The Gazans have literally no place to run.
"Last night just before 9pm, they sent us a warning over the phone that ‘We will bomb the hospital, so you need to evacuate. We insisted that we cannot leave the hospital. Our patients are, all of them, paralyzed, they’re unconscious. They’re unable to move, so we need to stay in this hospital…
But just few minutes after the call, shells start falling down on the hospital — the fourth floor, third floor, second floor. Smoke, fire, dust all over."
"I found peace
sitting at the back of a city bus
having a conversation
with a man about
It started when a a drunk belligerent man got on the bus yelling about this being his country and immigrants turning it to shit.
The man beside me turned to me and told me that his country
was a woman.
A woman who left him in the middle of the night for open hand and cheap champagne.
Twenty three years later
and he still says goodnight to her as if she was still laying beside him.
He said that pretending she still loves him keeps him sane.
His beard was long but maintained,
grey almost white, more salt than pepper.
His hands were pale and his blue veins looked like they might push through his skin at any moment.
“Where is your country?” He asked, putting his hands away in his pockets.
Probably trying to protect them from my documenting eyes.
“This is my country” I said pointing down to the floor of the bus “Canada is my country”
He looked away from me, almost as if he was disappointed by my answer.
He looked out of the window as we passed fields of snow and nothing else.
He didn’t ’t say anything for a while, he only sat in silence watching the white.
I stared at the length of his neck and the only visible part of his jawline.
It was so defined.
I wondered what the woman looked like, and immediately as if he had read my mind he said to me without turning, still looking out of the window,
“She is beautiful you know, my country. She has dark dark hair and bright bright eyes, her hands are so soft, I am convinced that God maimed an angel to give them to her.
But it isn’t her beauty that I love, it’s her spirit.
She is so flighty and spontaneous, she’s like the wind.
She fills you up in such a way that leaves you almost high”
He stopped talking and turned to me,
it was only then that I noticed how beautiful he was.
Probably a lot younger than I had originally thought.
“Where is your country” he asked again, looking directly into me
I glanced down at my hands, he was too intense, this was too intense to be a sane conversation.
I opened my mouth to say Canada again but he grabbed my fumbling hands before I could.
“This is not your country, this (he said pointing to the floor of the bus), this is not your country. This is nobody’s country anymore, this land has seen too much blood to be anyone’s home. You might occupy space here but this is not yours, no part of you is in this air or on this bus, where is YOUR country?—”
His desperation was building upon itself and he was squeezing my fingers so tight in his cold pale hands I thought my bones might pop.
I stared at him for a moment.
Trying to understand, trying to make sense of it all.
I was over thinking it, it was simple.
Boarders on a land soaked in blood are meaningless.
They distract you from the truth…
You don’t belong here,
vagabonds have no home.
“I guess.. I have no country” I answered finally.
He nodded relieved, brought my hands up to his lips and kissed them.
I looked around and noticed that the bus had begun to fill and people were watching us.
Concerned and afraid to see a strange man kissing the hands of a obviously unearthed woman.
I turned forward in my seat, as did he.
We didn’t say another word to each other or anyone else for the entire ride.
Instead I was consumed with this new idea of country.
The questions I had seemed inappropriate to ask him at this time.
And before I knew it he stood up and squeezed himself through the sea of people, to the rear bus doors.
He didn’t say anything only a glance as he got off at his stop.
The peace I found that day was in permission to stop trying to fit myself into spaces where I was never meant to fit.
I learned to stop tagging my name over tombstones,
I learned that people can be entire countries,
and that you can be your own home."
what are your thoughts about the white house iftar?
I could turn this into an all out thesis, but I’ll spare that today.
This country is hostile towards Muslims. So much so that those who are even ancestrally associated with or have been mistaken for Muslims (Arab Christians, Sikhs, Hindus etc) are also subject to Islamophobic backlash. Islamophobia is not merely an unfortunate social byproduct, its a state sanctioned form of bigotry and hatred that’s been utilized to export unprecedented amounts of violence to Muslim majority nations. This violence is deployed by direct combat and siege, funding dangerous militias and coups, stunting economies by ways of sanctions, installing puppet dictatorships or supporting occupation and genocides (Palestine and Somali Galbeed by bankrolling Israel and Ethiopia respectively, for example).
Given the deliberately nefarious relationship American politicians have cultivated around Islam and towards Muslims, one should be innately inclined to wonder what the motives of a White house iftar is. Who gets invited? Why? What conversations can and can’t be had with a group of people whose jobs it is to destabilize countries many of us are from? There’s a sharp cognitive dissonance with the fact that some elite Muslims in more lofty positions can attend iftar dinners in the same structure that hosted the most devastating and patently Islamophobic political measures. Drone strikes are signed off in the White House. Sanctions have been approved in the White House. Muslims have been spied on and have had their phones tapped because of decisions made in the White House. How can anyone faithfully say that White House iftars are made in good conscience and with pious intentions when after the plates are cleared, the violence resumes as normal.
In fact, this year, they didn’t even wait to clear the plates. Obama’s pivotal statement was his assessment that Israel had the right to defend itself, thus asserting that Palestinian slaughter was not only justifiable, but necessary. Because when you allow the colonizer further access to massacre the colonized, but extend no sentiment vice versa, that’s what you’re saying. It doesn’t take a genius to understand the dynamic and insidious nature of statements that legitimize settler colonialism and worse, masquerade as if they are victims of brutality in any meaningful or relevant capacity.
Think about why he chose that particular moment to enable Zionist violence. Of all the months of the Islamic year and in the history of Palestinian genocide, using this time to utilize Islam to reinforce the brutality against a Muslim majority region was an egregiously sadistic act. And the cherry on top? No one walked out. So here we have a dinner that is caught on video for millions to see, (which is supposed to hold immense spiritual sentimental value), but instead is used as a platform in which a long standing genocide is endorsed and congratulated and the appearance speaks as if it was approved by the Muslims who attended, because they didn’t walk out.
What does that say to the world about the neutral approach towards Palestinian genocide? What does that say to Muslim Palestinians who have to deal with the instrumentalization of their faith (probably one of the few things that allows them hope to withstand violence) used as a tool against them? What does that say about the disgustingly privileged and opportunistic nature of certain Muslim leaders in the West to our brothers and sisters back home, who are oppressed by both the very apparatus of American politics and our unwillingness to speak out?
This was a reprehensible act of violence. Towards Palestinians first and foremost, and secondarily to all Muslim activists who put their heart, time, soul and efforts in BDS movements. Who have been victims of nonconsensual videotaping, relentless harassment, assault, lawsuits, fired from jobs and expelled from schools to stand up against Israel’s brutality against Palestine.
This is the neoliberal hell we live in. Where liberal governments can pay meaningless lip service and empty gestures towards brutalized minorities, but encroach upon them and utilize them as agents against their own. And franky, anyone who attends White House iftars should be completely ashamed of themselves.