Think of Others: In Gaza’s darkness, Mahmoud Darwish’s words provide inspiration

It is 10 pm, time the for the power-cut in our region of Gaza city. Guess what? This time I didn’t sigh. I laughed thinking of one of my friends who mastered guessing if I have power at home or not, just from hearing my voice’s tune when he calls on the phone. He always teases me by saying, “Is your body connected to an electrical wire? You turn off whenever power cuts off!” Usually, I would just escape from the darkness to sleep. This night, I’ve decided not to allow my frustration to take over and instead to immediately make use of the charge left in my laptop.

I put my headphones in my ears to listen to Sameeh Shuqair’s song “Think of Others,” trying to cover the horrible noise of generators that already took over the region. Think of Others is originally a poem written by my favorite Palestinian poet and my teacher of life and humanity, Mahmoud Darwish. “You’re such a dreamer.” Many of my friends describe me this way, but I am not sure whether it is a good or bad thing. What I know is that Mahmoud Darwish is one of the people who had a deep impact on my life as his words always took me to my fantasy world that I always dreamed to live in, a pure world that is full of love, peace and people of conscience .  

While listening to the beautiful lyrics of Think Of Others, my thoughts were for our political prisoners in the Israeli jails. I translated its lyrics not only for you to share with me the joy of the song, but also to demand you to listen to our detainee’s appeals to think of them.

As you fix your breakfast, think of others. Don’t forget to feed the pigeons.

As you fight in your wars, think of others. Don’t forget those who desperately demand peace.

As you pay your water bill, think of others who drink the clouds’ rain.

As you return home, your home, think of others. Don’t forget those who live in tents.

As  you sleep and count planets, think of others. There are people without any shelter to sleep.  

As you express yourself using all metaphorical expressions, think of others who lost their rights to speak.

As you think of others who are distant, think of yourself and say “I wish I was a candle to fade away the darkness.

The mass hunger strike that was launched by more than two thousand of our political prisoners ended on 14 May. Ending the policies of detention without charge or trial, and solitary confinement was on the top list of the strikers’ demands. I was lucky enough to witness that emotional scene of people’s reaction to that victorious news of its end in the sit-in tent in Gaza city. I can recall clearly their happiness that was mixed with tears of pride and joy.

Sweets were being distributed all over, even taxi drivers dropped by to get their share. The songs of victory didn’t stop playing in the background while people were waving Palestine’s flags, chanting, and dancing, celebrating our detainees’ success in forcing the Israel Prison Service to endorse an agreement that was supposed to be enforced. It was one of the best moments I lived in my life.

Despite that, I learned a very important lesson for life: I shouldn’t get too excited over anything before I see it happening in front my eyes, especially when it comes to promises or agreement that Israel endorses as Israel is the last to stick to any.

Hearing that the isolated detainees will be moved from solitary confinement cells to normal jails fills me with joy. My happiness reached its peak as I heard that Hassan Salameh, who spent 13 years of his detention in a solitary confinement where he ended up having intimate relation with cracks on the walls or the insects, has been moved to Nafha Prison and has eagerly registered at Al-Aqsa University in the Gaza Strip to study history.

But later I got frustrated when I heard of the story of the Gazan engineer Dirar Abu Sisi, the only one left in isolation. After seeking details of Dirar’s case, I became sickened with Israel. Dirar was kidnapped from a train on 18 February 2011 in Ukraine, his wife’s country where he was seeking citizenship. After weeks of mystery, he later showed up in an Israeli prison.

He has never been engaged in resistance or in any political party. Israel has nothing against him but fear of his genius. Israel has accused him of “conspiring” with Hamas, however even his professors in Ukraine — were he studied — have refuted Israel’s claims that he studies weapons systems with them.

However, I feel that Israel is trying its best to fabricate any accusation against him. They are very concerned with devastating his mentality. His family has said that Israel fears him because he managed to modify the turbines in Gaza’s sole power plant, so they can run on a cheaper form of diesel that comes from Egypt, rather than on fuel imported from Israel.

He was just “the brain of the power system” who managed to light up Gaza when he repaired the sole power plant in Gaza, which produces 25% of its total electricity needs, after getting destroyed by the Israeli occupation forces during the so called Operation Cast Lead in 2008-09.  Due to that, cowardly Israel fears Dirar Abu Sisi despite his detention and continues to practice its inhumane policies of solitary confinement against him, which exemplifies an open violation of the latest agreement reached with Egypt regarding our prisoners.

Amnesty International says that Israel has renewed at least 30 administrative detention orders and has issued at least three new ones since the deal was signed. Due to these continuing violations, the battle of empty stomachs continues, led by Mahmoud Sarsak, a 25-year-old Palestinian national footballer who’s playing now the hardest match of his life, the match of defending his life’s dignity.

Sarsak has been on hunger strike for 84 days. He was captured at Erez checkpoint when Israel stepped in his way toward achieving a dream he was always longing for: participating in a national team contest in the West Bank, in Balata Camp. This was on 22 July 2009. Since that date, he has been held without trial and without charges and was banned from family visis just like all other detainees whose families are in Gaza.

Even after the release of the Israeli prisoner who was held in Gaza, last October, and the deal that Israel signed after the last mass hunger strike, nothing new has happened regarding coordinating family visitation for the families of detainees from Gaza. Mahmoud Sarsak is in grave condition according to an independent doctor from Phyisicians for Human Rights - Israel who examined him. However, the sporting world and the international community in general are barely paying attention.  

I appeal to you to deeply, ponder the words of Mahmoud Darwish’s poem and think of others! Whatever insignificant support you can contribute at easing the life of Dirar Abu Sisi and rescuing the life of Mahmoud Sarsak will help. And remember, their victory won’t be only theirs, but a triumph for humanity!

Comments

How this is possible a man not accussed of anything 3 years in prison. He is dying maybe now...

Thank you, Shahd, for translating a poem that should be shared with all of the world's political leaders. They remind me of Sara Thomsen's song, Is it for Freedom? The lyrics, in part:

Rulers of the nations, as you fuss and fight,
Over who owns this or that and who has the right,
To design, to build, to sell and store and fire
All the bombs and guns to defend your holy empire.

There are children, hungry children, sick and dying.
There are mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers crying.
They're only pawns in your play of power and corruption,
Slowly starve them, your new weapon of mass destruction.

And prove to me, America, that you care.
And prove to me, America, you're aware.
Who's dying for your freedom in this land?
Who pays the cost for the liberties you demand?

Is it for freedom or our comfort and convenience?
Is it to profit for big business we pledge our allegiance?
Are we prisoners in the land of the brave and the bold?
Held by indifference, our hearts grown hard and cold?