“. . . is it my country or the source of my exile? . . .” (Zuhair Abu Shaib)

Wall in Bethlehem (Photo: By Michaela Whitten, Nov. 26, 2014)

❶ PLO condemns international complicity on 12th anniversary of ICJ ruling on Israel’s separation wall

  • background from Palestine-Israel Journal Of Politics, Economics & Culture

❷ Jordanian Government Rejects Israeli Settlement Policies in Occupied West Bank
❸ Palestinians, International Peace Activists, Hold Weekly Protest In Bil’in

  • background from Social Movement Studies

❹ POETRY by Zuhair Abu Shaib
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
Ma’an News Agency
July 9, 2016
The 12th anniversary of a decision by the International Court of Justice (ICJ) that deemed Israel’s separation wall illegal under international law was marked on Saturday, as the PLO released a statement criticizing the international community for their complicity in Israel’s continued annexation of the Palestinian territory.
___The ICJ issued an advisory opinion in 2004 stating that the wall was illegal under international law and its construction must stop immediately, adding that reparations should be paid to Palestinians whose properties were damaged as a result of the construction.
___Twelve years later, the construction of the wall has continued unabated . . . MORE . .

From Palestine-Israel Journal Of Politics, Economics & Culture
The Wall powerfully reveals the current geopolitics in the West Bank as it has created a Kafkaesque reality that challenges the sustainability of its natural and built environment. It is a constituent part of “the matrix of control” that established enduring “facts on the ground”. The “matrix of control” extends under, on and above ground, constituting “a vertical occupation.” This “politics of verticality” has fragmented the Palestinian environment, giving Israel control not only of large parts of West Bank territories (while the Palestinian Authority controls only isolated territorial islands), but of the air space above and the subterranean sphere beneath, including water aquifers. The Wall is also part of an extensive “Western Segregation Zone” that extends beyond the Green Line — the 1949 armistice line   and penetrates up to 22 kilometers into the West Bank. This “seam zone   the area trapped between the Green Line and the wall — represents 9.9% of the West Bank territory. The “Western Segregation Zone” is mirrored on the Eastern side of the West Bank, where an “Eastern Segregation Zone” is de facto established through a web of military checkpoints and physical obstructions, which include 29.4% of the West Bank.

  • Leuenberger, Christine, and Ahmad El-Atrash. “Mosquitoes Don’t Carry Visas:Walls, Environments And The Hope For Cooperation In Palestine/Israel.” Palestine-Israel Journal Of Politics, Economics & Culture 19/20.4/1 (2014): 68-78.

Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA
July 8, 2016
The Jordanian government expressed its utmost rejection to the Israeli government’s settlement policies and repetitive decisions to build and expand [illegal] settlements in the occupied West Bank, according to Jordan’s news agency, Petra.
___The Jordanian government’s spokesperson, Mohammad al-Momani, said these Israeli policies Constitute an assault on the Palestinian territories and the rights of the Palestinian people.      MORE . . .    

International Middle East Media Center – IMEMC
July 9, 2016
Dozens of Palestinians, Israeli and international peace activist participated, Friday, in the weekly nonviolent protest against the illegal Israeli Annexation Wall and colonies, in the village of Bil’in, west of the central West Bank city of Ramallah.
___Members of the Italian Parliament and activists from The Netherlands visited the village and participated in the weekly nonviolent protest.
___The Popular Committee against the Wall and Colonies in Bil’in has reported that the protesters raised Palestinian flags and marched chanting for national unity, steadfastness, the liberation of Palestine and the release of all political prisoners.     MORE . . .   

From Social Movement Studies
This was, and still is to the Palestinians involved, about the survival of their communities and their way of life, it is a social struggle as much as apolitical one. . . It is of course linked into the wider struggle against the occupation more generally in the rhetoric used by many Palestinians from the villages, yet what is clear is the primary goal of saving their land from the bulldozers and the route of the separation Wall. It is also of fundamental importance that the struggle is led by the Palestinians and predicated on practices of solidarity . . . .  Also what was, and remains most notable, is the lack of institutionalisation of the struggle. While the villagers appeal to the authorities to stop building the Wall, they know that this is futile. They have been radicalised by years of being ignored, therefore, they have decided to undertake direct action facilitated by the presence of the Israelis . . . to force the authorities to stop building the separation Wall. They also undertake this direct action as they know that the authorities to whom they would appeal in a traditional hegemonic, hierarchical relationship are manifold. This is especially true in the village of Bil’in, the villagers have been struggling for three years against the Wall in a situation that is inextricably linked with the expansion of the neighbouring settlement Modi’in Illit. Thus, other interests . . .  are all involved in the subjugation and oppression of the people of Bil’in. Claims cannot be made to all of these interests and so direct action becomes the tactical choice.

  • Pallister-Wilkins, Polly. “Radical Ground: Israeli And Palestinian Activists And Joint Protest Against The Wall.” Social Movement Studies 8.4 (2009): 393-407.
Weekly demonstration  in Bil’in West of Ramallah continued on April 20, 2014. (Photo: hamde abu rahma)

what is its name?
what is the name of the soil
that falls from my withered body?
what is its name as it drifts and gathers
under my clothes
while, slowly, I build wall after wall?

I picture a sky full of clouds
I see it as I wish it to be

when night falls, I gulp my fill of springs
in darkness I lift my latch
to wise men

I ask my guests
who imprisoned the soul in rock?
who left prophets spread-eagled on doorsteps?

who risks everything to capture the earth?
a man who does not know his own shadow

what can I call this rug of soil?
is it my country or the source of my exile?
is it my miracle or my cross?

what is its name?
――Translated by Tom Pow

Zuhair Abu Shaib was born in Deir al-Ghusun, a town near the city of Tulkarm in the northern West Bank. and studied at Yarmouk University. He was a teacher and journalist in Yemen, and a book designer. He was also editor of the journal Awraq.
From A  BIRD  IS  NOT  A  STONE:  AN  ANTHOLOGY  OF  CONTEMPORARY  PALESTINIAN  POETRY (Glasgow: Freight Books, 2014) –available from Barnes & Noble.

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