“. . . The raging conflict rests in my heart . . .” (Kamal Nasser)

Church of the Nativity, Bethlehem. (Photo: Pietro Pecco, Jun. 20, 2013)

❶ Dozens of Israeli settlers stormed Monday morning al-Aqsa Mosque

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

❷ Israel imposes ‘general closure’ on Palestinian territory for Jewish holiday
. . . ❷― (a) Israeli forces detain 15 Palestinians in Jerusalem ahead of Jewish holiday
❸ 13 Palestinians killed, 170 others wounded last month
❹ POETRY by Kamal Nasser
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
The Palestinian Information Center
Oct. 3, 2016
Dozens of Israeli settlers stormed Monday morning al-Aqsa Mosque under the protection of Israeli forces in coincidence with the Jewish new year. According to Quds Press, Israeli forces were deployed in large numbers in the holy Islamic compound in order to pave the way for the settlers’ break-in via al-Magharibeh gate.        More . . .  

  • “Religion And The Conflict.” Palestine-Israel Journal Of Politics, Economics & Culture 20/21.4/1 (2015): 129-144.  Source.  

On July 29, 2015, the Palestine-Israel Journal (PIJ) convened a roundtable discussion at the PIJ offices in Jerusalem on the topic of “Religion and the Conflict.”  [Note that the panel did not include a Christian.]
Hillel Schenker [Co-editor of Palestine-Israel Journal]: Look at the origins of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and the two national movements: On the Palestinian side, the PLO [Palestinian Liberation Organization] advocated a democratic secular state — there was no religion in the formulation; on the Israeli side, the 1948 Declaration of Independence did not mention God or Jerusalem, and the founders were all essentially secular. Yet now we seem to be at a very different point in both societies and in the region. So, to begin, how do you look at the history, versus where we are today?
Hillel Cohen [Professor of Islamic and Middle Eastern Studies at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem]: The Jewish people is defined by its religion. There is no other definition that I know, and there was no other when the Zionist movement was established. You can invent or change the definition, but this was the original definition. People were not invited to be a part of the Jewish national movement. People were Jews by religion. The Palestinian national movement was different because Palestinian Arab national movements were secular in the sense of what we used to say, al-din li-llah wal-watan lil-jami, meaning there should be a separation between religion and nationalism — also because it was a national movement of Muslims, Christians and Jews. But the developments in Muslim societies also caused the Palestinian national movement to become more and more religious. If we take the Mandate period, it’s not a coincidence that the leader of the Palestinian national movement was Haj Amin al-Husseni, the head of the Supreme Muslim Council. The most serious and bloody events of 1929 were a religious intifada; the Al-Aqsa intifada of 2000 was a religious intifada again. So any attempt to separate religion and nationalism in the Israeli-Palestinian case misses an important component in both societies.
Azzam Abu Saud [novelist, playwright and columnist and former head of the Palestinian Chamber of Commerce in East Jerusalem]: I don’t agree that Haj al-Husseni was a religious leader; he was a nationalist. If you look at his history, he was a schoolteacher in Jerusalem. He was not a sheikh, nor a religious figure. He unexpectedly was chosen as mufti while his elder brother was the mufti. I want to emphasize that al-Husseni came from a nationalist movement, not from a religious movement. True, the Arab national movements were started by three sheikhs, by three religious people, who began the movement known as the Arab National Movement. At first, the Arab national movement was directed against the Turks. This movement arose nearly at the same time as Zionism, and we know it was not religious in the beginning. I don’t agree that the Arab national movement has any relationship with religion.

Ma’an News Agency
Oct. 2, 2016
Israeli authorities announced Saturday evening that a general closure would be imposed on all passage between the blockaded Gaza Strip and Israel, as well as between the occupied West Bank and Israel, over the Jewish holiday of Rosh Hashanah.        ___According to a statement from Israeli police spokesperson Luba al-Samri, the closures began one minute after midnight on Sunday Oct. 2, and are to last until one minute before midnight on Tuesday Oct. 4.        More . . .   
Ma’an News Agency
Oct. 2, 2016
Israeli forces raided several homes in occupied East Jerusalem’s Old City before dawn on Sunday, detaining at least 15 Palestinians for several hours before releasing them and banning most of them from the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
___Nasir al-Qaws, the director of the Palestinian Prisoner’s Society (PPS) in Jerusalem said Israeli forces detained Zahra Qaws, and 14 other Palestinian youths who were later released. Of the 15 who were detained, 12 were banned from Al-Aqsa for 15 days. More . .

Christmas Lutheran Church, Bethlehem (Photo: Harold Knight, Aug. 2008)

The Palestinian Information Center
Oct. 2, 2016
13 Palestinians, including three children, were killed and 170 others were wounded by the Israeli occupation forces (IOF) in the West Bank, Jerusalem and the Gaza Strip during last September. 10 of those victims were killed in cold blood at Israeli checkpoints, according to a recent report released by Abdullah Hurani Center for Studies and Documentation. The IOF also arrested and detained about 380 citizens, many of them children, during the same month.    More . . .

“O  GOD,  NOW  I  KNOW,”  BY  KAMAL  NASSER  (1924 – 1973)

O God, why have you inspired me? To rejoice and to suffer?.
Why have you baptized me with vision? To laugh and to cry?
Why have you imbued me with ambition?
To elevate me and to humiliate me

I wish I were heartless, soulless, aimlessly living life, observing it from a far. Approaching eternity with a new heart, a new soul which affirms my wandering, subdues my passions and crucifies me in the void.

O God, why have you tempted me, awakened me, inflamed my passions and with sublimity infused me?

Why have you cleansed me, aroused me?
Why have you crowned me with hope, plunged me in greed and recklessness. Why?

How I long for silence, for stillness
I am lost, questioning
Who am I?
Numb my heart is, lifeless, my visions blind
I drift in the darkness of futility and despair.

O God why have you nourished me, starved me and appeased my hunger
Why have you deprived me, defiling and cleansing me?
Why have you defeated my purpose?
Enlightening me, then leading me astray

I am both free and a slave amongst men
I am a grave and cradle in the hands of fate
Miserable in what I need
Born of reality
Born of chains
Led by wounds, by the years
Who am I?
And life cries out at God
Embarrassing Him in His heaven
Lips screaming:
You, have given me life – created me.
And I ask the void
Why O God have you created me?

Storms of life roar within me
Paths are flooded with blood
Our days shake with pain and helplessness and beauty wanders away from my paradise.
Crucifying my homeland in the wilderness

Wounded are hope and dignity
In my waking hours, deprivation rose, shaking me, pulling me from the depths of darkness.
Guiding me to goodness, devotion, self-sacrifice and giving.
My eyes are opened – I find the way
The raging conflict rests in my heart
The wounds are cleansed with my tears
And in my eyes, You rise, O God
For I know why You have created me!
― Prose translation by Tania Tamari Nasir

Tania Tamari Nasir is Kamal Nasser’s cousin. Unpublished translation.
About Kamal Nasser, was a much-admired Christian Palestinian poet, who due to his renowned integrity was known as “The Conscience.” He was a member of Jordan’s parliament in 1956. He was murdered in 1973 by an Israeli death squad whose most notorious member was future Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Barak.
A family memory of Nasser written by another of his cousins, is at page 35 in her memoir:
Khoury, Samia Nasir. REFLECTIONS FROM PALESTINE: A JOURNEY OF HOPE – A MEMOIR. Limassol, Cyprus: Rimal Publications, 2014.

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