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Morning Came

The following letter was sent from Palestine. Please forward widely.
============================

Morning came and we found that 90 of the nation's best men were
captured
by Israel from their homes in the night. Our mayor, who was released
from
four years in prison just a month ago. Someone for whom I have the
utmost
respect and admiration, as do his people here, political allies and
opponents alike. And our vice mayor, too. The last time I talked with
him,
earlier this week, he was struggling a lot with chronic back pain. I
wonder where they are now. If they have been fed today, or tortured. If
they will sleep on beds tonight, or not at all. If they will be home
tomorrow. If we will never see some of them again alive.




It's the first time Palestinians have captured an Israeli soldier in a
long time; families of prisoners have begged the resistance not to
release
him until there is a prisoner exchange no matter what the consequences
to
the community -- being well acquainted with the suffering that
implies.
Everyone went about their business today, wedding processions in the
streets, families eating icecream and watermelon in the sticky heat.
Some
with the heavy numb shock of loved ones vanished suddenly, shock
without
surprise; they expected that the price that has been paid, and paid,
and
paid, for keeping one's spirit from being broken, must be paid again.
Myself, I couldn't keep from crying from time to time, although for me
it
is just a very small taste of the shock, seeing two good men that I
know a
little, powerful in their community with the power the community has
entrusted them with, suddenly made helpless, pieces of meat for Israeli
intelligence officers somewhere to enjoy, and knowing that if I knew
them
more, if I knew others, the sense of anger and sorrow and disbelief
would
be multiplied. I know that for the people around me these tears fell
years
and years ago. The anger and sorrow and loss and disbelief have
happened
too many times to count, but it does not diminish, to the world it is
one
more added to a large number, for each mother and sister and wife it is
an
unconsolable agony, an irreplaceable loss, an unimaginable theft, a
violation of a family, a marriage, that might never be able to recover
from the traumas and abuses that are being suffered, will be suffered
in
the days ahead. Israel has over 10,000 Palestinian hostages, hundreds
of
them children, and slaughters Palestinians of any age on a daily basis.
When Palestinians take 2 Israeli hostages and kill two soldiers,
Israeli
bombs Gaza. Bombs out the power stations, the water reticulation; no
electricity, no water, bridges blasted severing cities from each other.
Gaza Strip, the most densely populated area on earth on account of
Israel
using it as a specially designed human garbage can where refugees are
disposed off and hermetically sealed off from the rest of the world..
Brilliant, but unsuccessful. If you treat humans as garbage and they
know
that they are humans and not garbage, they will not quietly disappear.
You
will never sleep safe at night. You will never have the right to sleep
safe at night. May you never sleep safe at night.




A young woman in my neighborhood asked, can you believe Israel
kidnapped
most of our government last night? Imagine waking up to hear that
Palestinian forces had kidnapped 90 Israeli government leaders. It's
hard
to imagine that Israel would leave one house standing, one person
uninjured.




Imagine if Palestinians had the military capacity to punish Israel on a
comparable scale for every 2 hostages it takes and 2 it kills. Imagine
if
Americans, and Europeans, valued the blood of Palestinians and Iraqis
as
much as their own blood. Imagine if the nations of the world used their
armies to protect the lives of the innocent and bring to justice
thieving,
raping, murdering states.




A couple days ago I sat with someone I know, who was taken hostage last
night. He explained part of Hamas' interpretation of the Qur'an as
follows: there are three kinds of people that Muslims have to deal
with.
1) Those who treat you with respect. In this case, it is a crime
against
God to treat them with anything but respect, kindness, and hospitality.
In
other words, if a Jew wanted to immigrate to Palestine with full
respect
for the people here, wishing to become a member of Palestinian society,
he
should be welcomed. 2) Then there are those who do not respect you, and
oppose you. You have no obligation to extend hospitality to them. 3)
Then
there are those who have no respect for your humanity, your property or
your religion, they take power over your land and your lives, destroy
your
land and kill your people. In this case you have an obligation to fight
against them to protect your land and your people. If they kill your
people, you can kill their people.




Today I visited with another friend who thinks he may be captured
tonight;
so many of his friends were captured last night. He said, Israel
doesn't
care too much about the lives of the Israeli hostages, in the past
there
were cases of them killing the hostages themselves by indiscriminate
bombing of communities. But Israel has been waiting since Hamas'
election
for Hamas' first military operation, and so they knew this massive
attack
on the community would come, sooner or later. Even though different
groups
have participated in the Palestinian military operations in the past
few
days, all of Israel's targets are Hamas leaders. Israel wants to see
Hamas
destroyed, Europe and America want to see Hamas destroyed, and Abu
Mazen
seems to be trying his best to join them. Many of those arrested were
among the Hamas members that Israel exiled to the no mans land between
Israel and Lebanon, a decade ago. He told me some of his friend's
stories
from those three terrible years, living in tents through snowy winters.
He
talked about the warm spirit that thrived in the tents during freezing
months. He told of how hungry men went to an apricot orchard and
couldn't
find the owner, so they took some fruit and then tied some money in a
handkerchief to the tree. When the owner found it, he tracked them
down,
and said to them, with tears coming down his face, what kind of men are
you, starving and rejected by the world, who have such principles that
you
will not even take fruit that you find on a tree. I give you my fruit,
I
give you my orchards! I felt the poverty of being from the West, where
the
media can say nothing about these men except to endlessly regurgitate
simpleminded slander… of those captured I know just a few names, and
little of their stories. For anyone here, each of these names
represents a
rich story, decades of struggles, of suffering, heroisim, years of
prison,
of pain, of courage, of trying again, of hopes betrayed, of
disappointment
and endurance that continues forward to find new hope. We had this
conversation over lunch in his daughter's home. She and her husband
were
active with Hamas and he was seized by Israel and killed in prison,
leaving her with their 3 small children. Don't forget, it is America
that
gives Israel everything it needs to do this to us, she said. When we
left,
she and her three boys kissed him over and over, not knowing if
tomorrow
they will wake up to hear that her dad, their grandpa, has become a
prisoner.






This week I spent with a French student, an orphan of war in
Bangladesh,
who is doing research on women's views of dignity. Dignity is a word
thrown around a lot in international law but without definition; people
have a "right to dignity" but since no one knows what it is, when it
comes
right down to it violations of this right cannot be prosecuted. I
helped
her interview dozens of women this week, from Fatah, Hamas, PFLP, poor
and
wealthy, educated and illiterate, young and old. We would sit down with
strangers and as soon as dignity, al karame, was mentioned, the room
burst
into life with passionate opinions, terrible stories, and incredibly
brave
and inspiring statements. Here are some of the things I heard about
dignity.




There is no dignity in Palestine; we face humiliation at checkpoints,
restriction from visiting our families or going to school, soldiers in
our
homes during the night, prison… Israel's war is first of all against
our
dignity which Israel attacks from every angle and with every means
possible, because if it can succeed in destroying our dignity, we will
not
be able to resist anymore. There is tremendous dignity in Palestine;
perhaps more than anywhere else in the world, because the occupation
with
all its mechanisms for humiliation makes us aware of our dignity; the
more
they try to destroy our dignity the stronger our dignity becomes; they
are
getting the opposite results that they want. There are two kinds of
dignity: one that you get from others, when you are treated with
dignity,
the other comes from inside of you, from what you know about who you
really are before God,, and no one has the power to take this away from
you unless you let them. Even if as women we are captured by Israel,
stripped naked and raped in the prisons, if we resist every attack upon
our dignity it will not be lost. A woman was told at a checkpoint to
remove her scarf. She refused, and the soldier showed her a metal rod
and
said he would drive it through her eyes if she did not take it off. You
can have your eyes, or you can have your dignity. She refused. He drove
it
through her eyes. She survived, but she is blind. And she did not lose
her
dignity. A friend of the Prophet Mohammad, a woman, was tied to the
ground
by a man who made her choose between her dignity or her life. The only
thing she was able to do was to spit in his face, and she did. He
killed
her. But he did not destroy her dignity.




Arab people have a great source of dignity from the rich and deep
history
of our culture. But now all Arab lands are captive and only in Iraq and
Palestine are we free within ourselves, because we do not accept the
enslavement that is forced upon us; our resistance gives us great
dignity.





We get our dignity from our land. It is our life. As long as we are in
our
land, no matter how much we suffer, we will have our dignity. If they
succeed in expelling us to Jordan, our dignity will be lost forever. I
have my family's olive trees. Every year I used to have precious olive
oil
from my own trees that I could give generously to my friends and
neighbors. Now Israel has killed half of my trees and imprisoned the
rest.
These trees are like my own children. It is a terrible, terrible sorrow
and shame for me each day to know that I am powerless to help them.
Now,
when we need olive oil for ourselves, we have to go to the store and
buy
it. But I was one who could generously give olive oil to my friends and
relatives.




We get our dignity from Islam, as women, and as human beings. In our
culture, before Islam, women were just seen as property, baby girls
could
be buried alive. We see women in many parts of the world who have no
dignity. Islam has given us our full rights as women in every sense,
and
full equality with every other human being. In the Qur'an God says that
he
has given the same dignity to every human being " it does not depend
on
whether you are male or female, or whether you are Muslim or from
another
religion, each of us has the same worth.




What do you expect and hope for in the future?


Things will get much, much worse. It is written that we will suffer
like
this until near the end.


Our hope comes from knowing that Jesus will come back and will remove
all
injustice from the earth, and at last the race of mankind will be free
to
live in peace and equality.




What do you believe should be the political outcome for Palestine?


If only they would all go back where they came from, we could live in
peace in our homes and land again.


We can never live with them; if someone has killed your children, can
you
accept them as a neighbor?


We already live with them, of course we can in the future.


We cannot live with them, we must have a state, and they must have a
state. About all the refugees who have their homes and lands in Israel,
I
don't know……..


We can live with them in one state, the refugees must be given back
their
homes and their land.


If we have an Islamic state on all of Palestine, it is the only way we
will be able to live together, us and them, because Islam is the only
system where equality between people of different religions is
protected




Do you think negotiations or armed struggle is the best strategy at
this
time?


Of course, if we could get our rights back without violence, that would
be
the best way. If negotiations ever worked, then we should use that
instead
of armed struggle, but they have never produced anything. We have to
keep
fighting to protect our land and our community. How could it be right
to
do nothing when daily they are attacking our lives and our land?




As a woman would you participate in armed struggle?


I admire women who do, but I myself don't think I'm capable of it. My
contribution is to study and be a good mother to my children.


No, I don't think women should carry weapons.


Yes! It would be a great honor to fight for my country!


Yes! How I wish we had the chance to be trained as soldiers like all
the
Israeli women are.


I am not married yet, but I hope that one day I will have a son who
will
give his life for our country to be free.




The Americans, Europeans and Israelis place more value on the blood of
their dogs and cats than they do on the blood of Palestinians. None of
us
can ever forget the sight of little Huda screaming for her father on
the
beach of Gaza, throwing herself on the sand next to his dead body over
and
over. No one in the world has expressed their outrage, or even sorrow,
to
us about these atrocities against us. They care deeply about the
Mundial,
and Huda's agony is an interruption, a distraction, from the soccer
score.
Our blood is so, so cheap to the world, and Israeli blood is so
valuable.
They do not see our humanity at all.




How do you find your sense of your own humanity, when all the world is
telling you your life, your death, your blood is worthless?


When it comes down to that, we know that God sees us, even if we are
suffering in an Israeli torture chamber and no one in our family knows
if
where we are or if we are alive or dead, we know that God sees us and
knows our value, our humanity. We belong to him, and in that is our
worth,
and our hope, our fates are in his hands and our lives are very
precious
to him, no matter how worthless they are to our brothers and sisters in
the human race, and in the end, that is what matters. We know who we
are.
Our lives, our deaths, our suffering, our hopes, our disappointment,
are
not insignificant.




.Yesterday I met a new appointee from the German government in
Jerusalem,
a young guy with an American accent. He was happy that Hamas and Fatah
had
agreed on the Prisoners' Document. Great, we've gotten Hamas to
recognize
Israel, he said. Now we just have to get them to renounce armed
struggle,
and then get rid of these ideas of an Islamic state. The problem is
when
we bring democracy to the middle east, we always have to deal with the
challenge of making sure there is a secular state when so many people
want
an Islamic state. (Jewish states, apparently, are just dandy.) What
these
Palestinians just don't understand, he said, is that armed struggle
won't
get them anywhere. Haven't they learned anything, after all these
years?
It's really hurting their image in the international community. Well, I
said sarcastically, since you understand this so well, and none of the
Palestinians have been able to grasp it, maybe you should explain it to
them then. Oh, I am, every Palestinian I meet, he said with sincerity.




And what is that dazzling offer that Europe will extend, if
Palestinians
promise to sit on their hands and open their mouths? In exchange for
your
dignity, what? Maybe longlife, lifelong food rations? Maybe the chance
to
clean toilets in Israel, and the dream that your grandchildren could do
the same?




I have not been here too long, but it is long enough to be sure of one
thing: It is the Europeans, the Israelis, and the American who fail to
grasp the central truth, after all these decades of trying to finetune
the
catastrophe they have engineered in Palestine: these women and men and
children, who carry their heads so high, know who they are. They are
prepared to sacrifice their lives, but they are not prepared to
sacrifice
their dignity. While the world discusses the moral or strategic
aspects
of armed resistance, there is no confusion about these issues here.
Undefended, dignity, and the land, would be lost, and death would be
better. With or without your permission, they will continue to fight.






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