“. . . My roots have gripped this soil since time began . . .” (Mahmoud Darwish)

  • Umm_al-Fahm_2014
    Umm al-Fahm (Photo: Wikipedia, 2014)

    Umm al-Fahm is located 20 kilometres (12 miles) northwest of Jenin in the Haifa District of Israel. In 2015 its population was 52,500, nearly all of whom are Arab citizens of Israel. “The people of Um Al-Fahm are proud of their long history of resistance and rejection of colonialism and occupation, during which the city continued to breed revolutionaries in defense of Palestine” (Palestinian Information Center). Umm al-Fahm was the home of the three Palestinians killed in the attack on/by Israeli police in Jerusalem on July 14, 2017.

❶ Thousands of Palestinians march towards Al-Aqsa to denounce Israeli measures

  • Background: “Resisting ‘Israelization’: The Islamic Movement in Israel and the Realization of Islamization, Palestinization and Arabization.” Journal of Islamic Studies

. . . . . ❶ ― (ᴀ) Israeli forces violently suppress Al-Aqsa protests in West Bank, Gaza
❷ President asks US to intervene over Al-Aqsa Mosque tensions
. . . . . ❷ ― (ᴀ) Israeli forces detain 10 Palestinians, including Fatah officials from Jerusalem
❸ Opinion/Analysis: Um Al-Fahm: Always in defense of Al-Aqsa, Palestine
❹ POETRY by Mahmoud Darwish
` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` ` `
Ma’an News Agency
July 21, 2017.  Tensions were running high in occupied East Jerusalem on Friday as thousands of Palestinians were marching towards the Old City to denounce increased Israeli security measures in the Al-Aqsa Mosque compound, which Israeli authorities decided to maintain early on Friday, despite recommendations from Israel’s own security agencies.
___The Waqf, the Islamic endowment administering Al-Aqsa, called earlier this week on all mosques in Jerusalem to be closed on Friday and for all Muslim worshipers in the city to head towards Al-Aqsa to denounce the installation of metal detectors, turnstiles, and additional security cameras in the compound after a shooting attack on July 14 left the assailants, three Palestinian citizens of Israel, and two Israeli border police officers killed.   MORE . . .

JOURNAL OF ISLAMIC STUDIES, vol. 23, no. 3, Sept. 2012, pp. 325-358.
Since the 1970s the Islamic Movement in Israel has sought to (re)create and promote an Arab Palestinian Muslim identity among its constituency of Palestinian citizens of Israel. Through educational and religious institutions the Movement aims to teach Palestinians in Israel about Islam and ancient and modern Palestinian history, as well as their current predicament as indigenous non-Jewish citizens of the Jewish state; and to improve their level of Arabic. These aims are vocalized in many of the religious and political speeches by the Movement’s leaders; reiterated in the content of the material distributed by the pupil and student organizations; and demonstrably present in the Movement’s social and political activities around the country.
___Established by shaykhs educated in religious institutions in the Israeli-occupied West Bank, the Islamic Movement in Israel grew from a movement of grass-roots activism into a player on the local political field during the mid-1980s
. . .  [the movement bases] their activism on the inter-related agendas of Islamization, Palestinization and Arabization, which are formed and disseminated via the Movement’s state-wide network of mosques, educational and social institutions and organizations.
[. . . .] In order to educate new local religious leaders the Movement now runs an Islamic College in Umm al-Fahm and it also sends students abroad, mainly to Jordan.
[. . . .] According to Dumper and Larkin, it is widely believed among the Muslim Palestinian community in Israel that al-Aqsa is under threat from settler groups, right-wing Israeli politicians, and aggressive military forces. The settler groups are understood to be the main propagators behind the controversial archaeological excavations near and/or under the site. This fear is the motivational force behind the organization of an annual event called ‘al-Aqsa is in danger’ hosted by the Northern branch in Umm al-Fahm. The festival attracts tens of thousands of Muslims from all over the country. At this festival the leaders of the Movement give emotional speeches about liberating al-Aqsa, which are loaded with religious content and strong statements. For example, Khatib has stated at the festival that, ‘ . . . the sweep of the sword will start a fire that will burn the enemies of al-Aqsa.’    SOURCE . . .

Ma’an News Agency
July 21, 2017.   Israeli forces violently suppressed demonstrations in the occupied West Bank and Gaza on Friday, injuring scores who had gathered in solidarity with a massive protest in occupied East Jerusalem to denounce increasing Israeli security measures at the Al-Aqsa compound.
[. . . .] The witness said that some 300 demonstrators had gathered in front of an Israeli military base set behind Israel’s illegal separation wall in northern Bethlehem to pray, with a dozen of protesters chanting slogans.
___As the majority of demonstrators began walking away from the separation wall, Israeli forces began spraying skunk water — a strong, foul smelling liquid — towards the crowd, and shot tear gas.   MORE . . .
Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA
July 21, 2017.  President Mahmoud Abbas Friday asked the US administration to intervene to compel Israel to back down from its measures in East Jerusalem’s flashpoint Al-Aqsa Mosque compound.
___Abbas discussed the spiraling tensions in East Jerusalem in a phone call with US President Donald Trump’s top advisor and son-in-law Jared Kushner.
___He asked the US administration to immediately intervene in order to compel Israel to back down from its recent measures in East Jerusalem and the mosque compound.  MORE . . .
Palestine News and Information Agency – WAFA  
July 21, 2017.   Israeli forces Friday detained at least 10 Palestinians, including Fatah officials and activists, during multiple raids across East Jerusalem.
___Israeli police detained former Minister of Jerusalem Affairs and member of Fatah Revolutionary Council after storming his home in the city.
___Police also detained Fatah movement’s Jerusalem Secretary-General Adnan Ghaith and his brother, Hani, after storming their homes in Silwan.   MORE . . .
RELATED: Father Musleh [Spokesman of the Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Jerusalem]: “What is happening at Aqsa premeditated plan.”
The Palestinian Information Center   
July 18, 2017.   At the courtyards of Al-Aqsa Mosque, three Palestinians from Um Al-Fahm city carried out a shooting attack on Friday morning, July 14, killing two Israeli occupation officers, before they were killed at the hands of Israeli policemen. This shooting was only the latest manifestation of a revolutionary spirit of an Arab-Muslim thought in the hearts of the people of this [Um Al-Fahm], located in the heart of the northern 1948 occupied Palestine, which for nine decades had shown outstanding courage in defense of Palestine and Al-Aqsa Mosque.
[. . . .] [At the time of the Nakba] Um Al-Fahm was the largest city in Palestine, with an area of 150,000 dunums, of which only 22,000 dunums remain today. An estimated number of 52,000 Palestinians live there today. The city has the second largest Palestinian population in the 1948 Occupied Territories after Nazareth.
[. . . .] Following its occupation by Israel, the city remained a hotbed of constant tension that disturbed the occupation and its security apparatuses, because of the strong national spirit and its people’s refusal of subjugation to the occupiers. [. . . .]   MORE . . .

[Note: Mahmoud Darwish wrote this poem in 1964 when he was 22 years old. He was imprisoned for it―his first imprisonment. The poem became rallying words for the Palestinians. Note, it was written before the 1967 War and before the First and Second Intifadas and remains germane in today’s Palestine.]

Write down:
I am an Arab
my I.D. number, 50,000
my children, eight
and the ninth due next summer
―Does that anger you?

Write down:
I work with my struggling friends in a quarry
and my children are eight.
I chip a loaf of bread for them,
clothes and notebooks
from the rocks.
I will not beg for a handout at your
door nor humble myself
on your threshold
―Does that anger you?

Write down:
a name with no friendly diminutive.
A patient man, in a country
brimming with anger.
My roots have gripped this soil
since time began,
before the opening of ages
before the cypress and the olive,
before the grasses flourished.
My father came from a line of plowmen,
and my grandfather was a peasant
who taught me about the sun’s glory
before teaching me to read.
My home is a watchman’s shack
made of reeds and sticks―
Does my condition anger you?

There is no gentle name,
write down:
The colour of my hair, jet black―
eyes, brown―
trademarks, a headband over a keffiyeh
and a hand whose touch grates
rough as a rock.
My address is a weaponless village
with nameless streets.
All its men are in the field and quarry
―Does that anger you?

Write down:
You have stolen my ancestors’ vineyards
and the land I once ploughed
with my children
leaving my grandchildren nothing but rocks.
Will your government take those too,
as the rumour goes?

Write down, then
at the top of Page One:
I do not hate
and do not steal
but starve me, and I will eat
my assailant’s flesh.
Beware of my hunger
and of my anger.

About Mahmoud Darwish
From WHEN  THE  WORDS  BURN:  AN  ANTHOLOGY  OF  MODERN  ARABIC  POETRY:  1945-1987.  Translated and edited by John Mikhail Asfour. Dunvegan, Ontario, Canada. Cormorant Books, 1988.

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