Thursday, March 5, 2009

the veil of normalization

Two weeks ago today i was still anticipating release. i feel i remember considering asking my interrogators if there was any hope for me to be out by my birthday a few days later. i am glad i never did. i never asked them for anything.

At the police station this past week a few uniformed men returned my things to me. They pretended they had caught the “thief” who had stolen my things, he was locked away now, they laughed. The frenzy of my release has finally passed, things are meant to return to normal at this stage. But in Gaza- the reality of which had driven me to the street that Friday- nothing has changed. A friend calls from Rafah, a tone of hopelessness in his voice, replacing the fear that was there during those weeks of terror of Israeli generals, pilots and soldiers, tanks, phosphorous gas and F16s the means to their ends. My friends in Jabalya have long since moved back into their home deemed unlivable by some housing authorities and yet there is no where else to go for this family of eleven; three generations under one asbestos roof and four cracked walls.

During those raids Raed lost his house for the second time. The Israeli soldiers ordered him and his family out of the house, blew it up with dynamite and then bulldozed his and his father’s taxis- their only source of income. Does this sink in. Their only source of income. Their home. They could be yours. Again Raed and his daughters and sons, wife and father are on the street, in a bitter cold in a strip of land demarcated by an occupying power that would not permit even glass into the prison to repair blown out windows much less steel and concrete to repair a home in ruin. And who would afford him such a luxury. His 15-year old daughter- the top of her class- refuses to return to school, and for what.

It is the mundane that reminds me of my abduction. Today on the bus i reset the settings of my ipod as they used to be after some employee of the Egyptian state security forces erased its content. I can’t express enough my gratitude to all those around me- far and near- who reached out, cooked a meal for my family, set up a site calling for my release, held a sign in the cold, brought me my class readings, uttered a prayer, welcomed me home. And these acts and voices somehow pulled me out of that cell and rescued me from beneath my shackles. But the voices for these others cry out into the void. Why are there not more, why can they not draw to freedom the bodies that deserve more than i do. Release them, release the bodies of those now in cells here calling out for their release, and release the ones so longing to breathe beyond the bounds of fear and death.

I realized today that i too had forgotten Gaza. In these past days in the elation of freedom i forgot why i had marched, i forgot why i am- to live for the other. That other is still as is, kept from life while the gatekeeper retains her position at the gate and the world looks on.

This cannot go on. No.

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