“. . . What should I do with the fence of fire . . .” (Samih Al-Qasim)

❶ Palestinians fear Al-Aqsa closure following attack could affect status quo at holy site

  • Background: “The Druze in Israel: Questions of Identity, Citizenship, and Patriotism.” Middle East Journal.

. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴀ) YESTERDAY’S EVENT:  3 Palestinian citizens of Israel, 2 police officers killed in Jerusalem shooting
. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴃ) RELATED: Israeli plan for minorities slammed as bid to ‘divide and conquer’
❷ 18-year-old Palestinian killed during Israeli raid in al-Duheisha refugee camp

  • POETRY by Samih Al-Qasim

` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
❶ PALESTINIANS  FEAR  AL-AQSA  CLOSURE  FOLLOWING  ATTACK  COULD  AFFECT  STATUS  QUO  AT  HOLY  SITE  
Ma’an News Agency
July 14, 2017.  Following a deadly shooting attack in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem on Friday that left two Israeli police officers and three Palestinians dead, Israeli forces imposed widespread closures on the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound and wider Jerusalem area, sparking widespread condemnation from Palestinian officials who called the moves “terrorist procedures.”
___Hundreds of Israeli soldiers were deployed across streets around the Old City, preventing people from entering or leaving the area . . .
___Unable to access Al-Aqsa, worshipers performed Friday prayer in the streets and alleyways leading to the compound inside the Old City.
___Firas al-Dibs, Head of the Public Relations and Media department at the Islamic Endowment (Waqf) — which administers the compound — told Ma’an that dozens of Israeli soldiers and intelligence officers raided and completely surrounded Al-Aqsa following the armed confrontations . . .    where the two police officers, both Druze citizens of Israel were killed — and ended inside the compound where the three Palestinians, also citizens of Israel, were shot and killed.   MORE . . .

Nisan, Mordechai. “THE  DRUZE  IN  ISRAEL:  QUESTIONS  OF  IDENTITY,  CITIZENSHIP,  AND  PATRIOTISM.” Middle East Journal, vol. 64, no. 4, Sept. 2010, pp. 575-596.
The Druze community of Israel enjoys a special place alongside and in-between the Jews and the Arabs. Accounting for less than 2% of Israel’s population, numbering just 122,400 people of a total of about seven million, the Druze community is marginal . . . Yet unlike the predominant non-Jewish Arab minority population, overwhelmingly Palestinian by national identity and Muslim by religious affiliation, the Druze have preferred a more insular identity . . . .   the Druze have, bilingual, shown no readiness to identify with the Arab narrative of Palestine. . .  The call for reconstituting Israel as a “democratic multi-cultural” state, effectively a bi-national entity that recognizes the Palestinian Arabs as nationally equal to the Jewish people of Israel, did not evoke Druze solidarity or enthusiasm.
[. . . .] The Druze, sandwiched between the Jews and Arabs of Israel, by their collective identity and public stance have nonetheless made a discerning mark on Israel’s ethnic and political map. For Israel to accept and integrate, but not homogenize, the Druze into the Jewish matrix of society in what is sometimes referred to as the Israeli “melting pot” is a formidable challenge . . . Israel would have to advance a policy of inclusion and the Druze would have to show willingness to absorb the Israeli reality with its sweeping Jewish character. A most powerful expression on the path toward adhesion is the Druze Zionist Movement initiated by Yusuf Nasr al-Din of Daliat al-Carmel, who believes that the Arab-Israeli Conflict is a monumental historical struggle between Zionism and Arabism, recommending that the Druze show complete solidarity with Israel by going as far as to adopt the national Zionist ideology of the Jewish people.
___A contrasting conception identifies the Druze as a branch of the so-called Arab “nation,” brothers on the cultural and political battle-lines against the Jewish state. A typical portrayal, as articulated by the journalist Nazir Magali from Nazareth, identifies the Druze as sharing with the Arabs the same language, traditions, and customs, to the extent that the Druze can be considered Muslims the Koran.” Moreover, a common dismal fate binds the Arabs and the Druze as victims of Israel’s land expropriations policy, deficiencies in the Arabic-language state educational system, and a host of other disabilities that, it is claimed, discriminate against all non-Jewish sectors of the population. However, when the army draft rate for Druze males constitutes an impressive figure of 83% of eligible draftees, it is clear that this minority community’s commitment to Israel’s national security offers a picture radically different from the Arabs’ sense of alienation from the state. Druze patriotic Israeli sentiments and sacrifices put into question the notion that the Druze are as “Arab” as the Muslims (or Christians) in Israel.   SOURCE . . .

. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴀ) Yesterday’s Event:  3  PALESTINIAN  CITIZENS  OF  ISRAEL,  2  POLICE  OFFICERS  KILLED  IN  JERUSALEM  SHOOTING
Ma’an News Agency
July 14, 2017     [. . . .]   Rosenfeld reported early on Friday afternoon that the two critically injured officers had succumbed to their wounds while in the hospital, identifying them as Hail Stawi, 30, and Kamil Shakib Shinan, 22 — two Druze citizens of Israel from the villages of Maghar and Horfish respectively.
[. . . .]  Unlike Muslim and Christian Palestinian citizens of Israel, Druze and Circassians with Israeli citizenship are subject to mandatory military service in the Israeli forces, one of a number of distinctions made by the Israeli government between indigenous residents of Israel that have been denounced as “divide and conquer” tactics. MORE . . .
. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴃ) ISRAELI   PLAN  FOR  MINORITIES  SLAMMED  AS  BID  TO  ‘DIVIDE  AND  CONQUER’  
Ma’an News Agency
Jan. 15, 2016.  A plan approved by Israel’s cabinet last week to provide half a billion dollars worth of assistance to Israel’s Druze and Circassian minorities has been denounced by leaders of Israel’s Palestinian community as a “divide and conquer” tactic.
[. . . .]  Israeli law differentiates between Jewish and Palestinian citizens of Israel, and forms further distinctions between various Palestinians minorities.
___Druze and Circassians are subject to mandatory military service in the Israeli army, whereas Muslim or Christian Palestinian citizens of Israel are not. Israeli identification papers do not recognize Christians, Druze and Circassians as Arabs, unlike Muslims.   MORE . . . 
❷ 18-YEAR-OLD  PALESTINIAN  KILLED  DURING  ISRAELI  RAID  IN  AL-DUHEISHA  REFUGEE  CAMP 
Ma’an News Agency 
July 14, 2017.   An 18-year-old Palestinian was killed by Israeli forces during a detention raid in the al-Duheisha refugee camp in the southern occupied West Bank district of Bethlehem on Friday morning.
___The Palestinian Red Crescent told Ma’an that the teenager succumbed in the hospital to wounds sustained in his upper body, after Israeli forces raided the refugee camp seeking to detain two residents.
___The Palestinian Ministry of Health identified the slain youth as Baraa Hamamda.
___Locals told Ma’an that Israeli forces detained Muhammad Ubeid and Muath Abu Nassar during the raid, adding that they then fired live bullets, tear gas, and stun grenades at al-Duheisha residents.
___An Israeli army spokesperson told Ma’an that during a detention raid in al-Duheisha, Palestinians threw “explosive devices and blocks” at Israeli forces, who fired towards the youth.   MORE . . .

“THE UGLIEST OF WORDS,” BY SAMIH AL-QASIM  (Palestinian Druze Poet)
What should I do with the narcissus?
The apricot?
The crowns of rugged trees?
What should I do with the finest
of my wildflowers? What?
What should I do with the strongest, fiercest,
and cruelest wild flowers and thorns?
What should I do with the strongest
of English words?
Foreigner?
The fiercest of French traits:
Etrangé?*
The cruelest of German blows:
Ausländer?*
The ugliest of Hebrew terms:
Oivim.*
The most horrible sound in Arabic:
Kuffar.*
What should I do with my pain
over my ignorance of Sanskrit
and Esperanza?
My fondness for wildflowers
runs deep.
What should I do
with the fence of fire
and with my being caught―
between the ugliest and the finest?
What should I do?
What?
What should I do?
–Trans. by Nazih Kassis

*Etrangé: Stranger
*Ausländer:
Outlander/Foreigner
*Oivim:
Enemies
*Kuffar:
Infidels

From Al-Qasim, Samih. Sadder than Water: New & Selected Poems. Nazih Kassis, Trans. (Jerusalem: Ibis Editions, 2006.)   Available from Amazon
About Samih Al-Qasim

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