* this was originally an email that i send to friends
i only debated for a minute whether it is ok to send you this today. to me, it is, because this is what is happening. it turned out pretty long, for that I apologize. first off, happy holidays to those to whom this means anything. i would like you to watch this video that my friend anne made about what exactly happened the day mustafa was murdered and in the following days (read more on her blog).
i began watching the video yesterday morning at the house of a family that has sort of
adopted me almost ten years ago. i was sitting on the sofa in the living room, watching it it on my laptop, wearing headphones. i was crying, holding myself.
h. (the father of the family and the one who decided one day that i was his “daughter”) came over, turned off my computer, hugged me and said “i thought you were used to this by now, don’t watch it if it hurts you”. and then we had a long discussion.
better not live in palestine?
wouldn’t it be better if i stayed in (western) europe, gave talks, lectures, made people understand? haven’t i done enough? haven’t i lived long enough in palestine? wasn’t it time to think of myself and my own life? …
variations of this conversations hit me very often around here, and they usually are exasperating. what was really nice this time with h. (who fled turkey/kurdistan for his activism on kurdish rights, who still has friends who are activists and freedom fighters) is that unlike my (actual) father, he really did hear me when i said i am not doing anything “for” palestinians, that I do not feel obligated to live there, that i am not sacrificing myself. that i live in palestine because for some reason, i am miserable everywhere else.
the truth is i cannot stand being in western europe, particularly in this country here where i’m spending these months due to shitty circumstances (of course this rant is all in reference to mainstream western europe, which effectively is the europe i move in when here).
i cannot bear how stubbornly and aggressively all the oppression and exploitation and violence that make the kind of life styles that people are accustomed to possible are being denied. when i bring it up, it is me who is “causing problems”, it is me who cannot just leave things “in peace”. the oppression, violence, racism, (neo)colonialism etc. are being denied, ignored, THEY are not the problem, it is people who react with anger to them that are a problem. REALLY? i will tell you honestly, i hate this.
food coming from all parts of the world, available ALWAYS, for so little money…
the assumption that buying unnecessary new clothes, new furniture, new electro gear, new mobile phones etc. is “normal”, is ok, is sign of a desireable/successful/peaceful etc. member of society is SO OBVIOUSLY WRONG to me and yet, i cannot even begin to explain this to most i come in touch with. on the contrary, often, the general idea seems to be that it is them (most people i come in touch with here) who are exhibiting some commendable tolerance in trying to accommodate my presumably crazy lifestyle and ideas.
if you recognize yourself as one of the them, let me tell you that as much as i might even love (i do love some of you), YOU are NOT TOLERATING some craziness and complicatedness and aggressiveness on my part; it is ME trying to hard tolerate your blindness to so much violence for the sake of our relationship and your violent “peace of mind”.
the idea that you do not bear any responsibility for your consumption, that “you cannot change it anyway”, that “it won’t be you that will change this world” and that, therefore, you of course buy clothes at H&M and GAP and furniture at IKEA and food at LIDL and DIA and NETTO and ALDI and CARREFOUR and SPAR where the products are only offered all year around at these prices and in these quantities because the agricultural lands, forests, groves, lakes, rivers and seas, the air, people – including children – and animals are systematically, brutally, and often irrevocably exploited or worse, is so hard to stomach for me i could puke.
that so many of you believe that the criminal propaganda that is your mainstream news is “more or less” accurate is impossible to understand for me.
that you think you need to consume cheese, meet, milk etc. in THESE QUANTITIES and apparently think that the constant abuse and killing of animals for the sustenance of your life-styles is legitimate ….
and that so few actually bother to check in what ways the factories whose goods you keep consuming or the service providers whose services sustain your life-styles are actively involved in/financing/profiting from war in other countries (including palestine), thereby making you a financier of the killing and humiliation and exploitation of and systematic violence against others….
that so few understand that mustafa concerns you not because i know him, because his sister and brother are my friends, but because his murder is the direct result of global power-dynamics and industries that you feed and finance, because HE COULD HAVE BEEN YOUR BROTHER HAD YOU BEEN BORN ELSEWHERE OR WITH DIFFERENT SKIN OR AT A DIFFERENT TIME OR WITH A DIFFERENT NAME…
that so few understand that your lifestyles are a reason why mustafa and others like him are murdered in this way…
that you fail to see that YOU/WE/ALL OF US could do much to change this from right where we are….
seeing all that racism and discrimination here and seeing that it is actually being denied (“no, come on, this is not racism, this is common sense/the truth/stating the obvious”) …
seeing that so many can’t even believe the economic/political/environmental/etc. justice for all is even attainable, can’t imagine that the other ways of living, the other worlds that we all need to fight for – that some of us or many of us are fighting for – is even possible…
… makes me almost despair and very very angry.
believe me that i often have difficulty suppressing tears of anger, of extreme frustration, of overwhelming hopelessness, and other feelings when i’m faced with these attitudes (and i guess i try to suppress them only because i desire to somewhat maintain my relationship with (a) given person(s) and think that they are so entrenched in this capitalist way of life-and-death that there’s little chance of them getting my point; that they’d likely think it’s just me going off on another senseless rant; that they’d attribute my anger/etc. to some dominant power trip where i am trying to “always be right”; that they’d either take offense at my perceived arrogance/aggressiveness/pushiness or end up secretly/openly wishing that sometime in my life, i may “calm down” and “find happiness”; that, basically, they’d refuse to acknowledge the context for my anger/etc.
museum with my father
recently, my father took me to a museum that exhibited his line of field, the very hard labor that has ruined his health and body (like the health and body of thousands/millions like him). my father was proud to show me what he spend decades doing to provide for my siblings and me, he was excited and happy that i finally wanted to know more about this field that is definitely his expertise. we were both really looking forward to him explaining these things, these horrible machines, to me.
i don’t remember the wording, the details, but when my father with his immigrant’s accent and suspiciously dark complexion approached the receptionists (two middle-aged white males), he was answered to in a condescending, supremacist and racist way that made me very fuckin angry.
i had such an urge to tell these men off, i knew i would have the upper hand in an argument with them, but i also sensed that my father would feel uncomfortable and embarrassed on my behalf if i responded to this routine oppression. to my father, like to the two men, their behavior was not racist, it was “normal”, and therefore expressions of anger on my side would have been not-ok.
for my the sake of my father’s ummediate comfort, i suppressed the anger, i strolled to the other end of the room to hide hot tears, i went to the bathroom, and all through the tour of the museum – while looking at these monstrous machines and mechanisms that my father struggled with for so many years, starting when he was way younger than i am today, as part of a money-making industry that exhibits no respect for its workers – i kept turning away, kept falling back to hide more tears.
i feel unhealthy here. this is not to suggest that there are no people and communities living differently here, fighting for alternatives here, or that capitalism/consumerism/ etc. don’t dominate in palestine, either. (they do, though palestine is not a dominant promotor/beneficiary of these policies, palestinians don’t call the shots)
instead, the violence that these policies/ways of life etc. necessitate is much more visible there, people are in some ways more aware of these links, and – although they are rapidly being extinguished, there are still the traces or memories of more sustainable, more just, less profit-/expansion-oriented ways of life. it is christmas eve, and there are some of you here that i love, for whom i wish happiness and security, for whose needs i wish to be met. it pains me a lot that i cannot feel more comfortable living around you here. but i wished you thought you had different needs, that’s the truth.
i don’t live in palestine for the reasons you think
to return to that discussion with h., there is a lot to fight for/fight against in palestine, as well – and not all is directly linked to zionist/western colonialism/imperialism etc.
i do think that i AM fighting (alongside many many others), but i am not fighting for “their” freedom or justice;
i KNOW that freedom/justice/etc. is connected for everyone, that none of us can be free as long as any one of us is oppressed/exploited/occupied/colonized/etc. – and certainly not while its done ostensibly in my name and through my resources.
the assumption that my living in palestine must stem from some possibly unhealthy need for self-sacrifice, some mother-theresa-style think-of-others-not-of-myself attitude, is in itself based on a series of un-humanizing imaginations of palestinians.
if my life-choices were indeed determined by the question of where/how i might most efficiently contribute to the struggle for freedom and justice for palestinians specifically, i would likely have chosen to fight while living in europe.
but the truth is, in spite (and not BECAUSE!) – of all the crap that is happening in palestine (including a lot of inner-palestinian shit), i feel more coherent there than here. i feel more at home there than i have felt anywhere else in the last 15+ years (and no, that isn’t saying that much about me, but it is saying a lot about palestine and its indigenous people and about dominant europe). i LIKE my life in palestine and i do not at all like living here (or even being here for more than two weeks). i prefer many aspects of my life there (community, food, climate, rythms, …), etc.
i often wished it wasn’t that way, because it’s not easy to stay living there for many reasons, because i do wish could enjoy living closer to my original family and friends, and because there are always a range of problematic power-dynamics at work when non-palestinians visit/live in palestine: not being the express target of racist/colonial/imperialist policies; having more rights in their country than palestinians themselves; playing a major role in maintaining or worsening the status quo for palestinians; and BEING ABLE TO SET FOOT IN PALESTINE WHEN SO MANY PALESTINIANS ARE DENIED THIS RIGHT, etc. etc. etc., but that is how it is. i live in palestine because i want to and because, so far, i can. (it felt less isolating that his time, h. understood and said “go” – which i will as soon as i can).
don’t try to pacify
and i cry, because mustafa’s murder is terrible, because so much that happens is terrible. if anything, i am glad and relieved that i still cry like this, that i still get angry like this. there is nothing about such shit to “get used to”, and in my opinion, there is no heroism in indifference. i know great activists who care strongly without crying, maybe without feeling this much pain. I don’t know. for me, it is inevitable, and the pain and the anger are part of the motor that – as long as i am pressured to ignore its causes or pretend it isn’t there, if I am not actually attacked for my REACTION to shit – I draw my strength and passion from. of the many things that I wished I could change about me, this isn’t one. so please, please don’t attempt to pacify me! don’t push some white-man’s understanding of what MKL had to say about non-violence on me, don’t “worry” about me feeling this anger and pain – but know that i worry about your lack of it. if anything, feel your own anger instead, and work to change its causes.
jp wrote an email from the drc
last night i received an email from my friend jp. he wrote that he thought of my post about mustafa one night this week when while driving through the bush in DRC with two others, a few copper diggers forced them to stop the car and demanded the miserable sum of 1US$ (!) so that they could build a coffin for one of them who had “suffocated to death in red dirt”. jp wrote that these young men risk their lives because digging copper is the only because way to make any real money. it made jp think about how insane it is that the detail of whether you are born here or there decides your entire life and the amount of suffering you are likely to live or cause. it felt very good to me that jp shared this with me (merci, jp).
the real bethlehem
this is pouring out of me, that is why it’s so long. i can feel how this stay in here is changing me, is radicalizing me; it’s very hard on me, although i love seeing many of you, and do miss you when i am not here. please watch the video and talk to someone else about it. and please, read up about the bethlehem that will be mentioned in many churches and whatnot tonight (really, how CAN PEOPLE CELEBRATE THIS while ignoring what is HAPPENING there?!).
on the radio, i heard a piece about christmas in bethlehem just now, it was infuriating. not a word about military occupation, not a word about the illegal apartheid wall or the checkpoints that make life in the city that has come to be my home hell. not a word about the three refugee camps and about what life there is like, especially at nights. not a reference to a UN research paper from may 2009 that stated that only 13 percent of the bethlehem district (which is palestinian land) is accessible to palestinian use. not a word about attacks by colonial settlers on palestinian civilians, about displacement and imprisonment and torture and and and. as its often been said, if jesus was born today, he wouldn’t be allowed in.
remember these facts on about very real, very bleak bethlehem when you hear of celebrations of some fiction tonight. i do wish you lovely days and evenings,