“I heard the conqueror on the high roof under the naked sky. . .” Reja-e Busailah

NEWS FROM PALESTINE

Release of long-delayed UN settlement database significant step towards holding Israel accountable 

Feb. 12, 2020 / Palestinian BDS National Committee (BNC)
Palestinian civil society welcomes this long-awaited UN list of companies that are complicit in Israel’s illegal settlement enterprise, which constitutes a war crime under international law. We thank all human rights organizations that worked tirelessly for the release of such an important instrument of transparency and accountability. Upholding international law is the one appropriate response to attempts by authoritarian and far-right regimes, led by the Trump White House and Israel’s extremist government, to undermine human rights and the rule of law and enforce domination by the most powerful instead.  More . . .

  • Israel freezes ties with UN rights chief after release of settlement blacklist 
    FM Israel Katz says he ordered ‘exceptional and harsh measure’ in retaliation for Commissioner Michelle Bachelet’s office promoting the anti-Israel boycott movement.  More . . . 

Trump Administration Nixes Funding for Palestinian Security Forces From 2021 Budget Plan

Feb 11, 2020/ Haaretz
The Trump administration excluded funding for the Palestinian Security Services in its budget request for the 2021 fiscal year, after 27 years of bipartisan support and Israeli backing.
However, the budget request does include $200 million for a “Diplomatic Progress Fund” that could be used to support the administration’s Mideast plan, unveiled two weeks ago. According to the State Department, some of that money could go toward an “agreement to resume security assistance in the West Bank.” But such an agreement would likely require the Palestinian Authority to accept the Trump plan.  More . . . 

BACKGROUND INFORMATION/ ACTION NOTICES

In Palestinian culture, the olive tree enjoys an almost sacred status

Feb. 9, 2020 / Al-Bushra, by Barbara Green  
Last year I wrote a Peace Parsha for Tu B’Shevat in which I asked: When did we go from being a people who plant trees to a people who cut them down?

I didn’t mean ordinary every-day Jews who go about their business without thinking much about trees. Or ordinary Jewish Israelis who have a long tradition of planting and caring for trees. The Torah commands us to refrain from picking fruit from trees until they are three years old. When we go to war against another people, we are commanded to leave fruit-bearing trees intact to ensure a source of food.  No, I’m talking about Israeli Jewish settlers in the West Bank — the occupied territories.  More . . .

POEM OF THE DAY

ALI OF LYDDA, by Reja-e Busailah

Before the conqueror shot him dead
from the top of our roof,
Ali had on his head,
as he walked homeward in the morning sun,
a tray made of straw, of circles,
none vicious though:
Each circle flowed into the next
from small to large to larger rounds:

The first bore the transformation
of the dream of wheat, its ears still close to the ground,
into loaves of exciting breath;
the second of a humble communion
of young and old breaking bread into lasting bond
under the sanctity of one roof;
the third of modest hopes
which rose and tossed like one vast field shedding green
in the wind and the ripening sun;
the fourth of a dream beyond,
half formed, half grasped —

After he shot Ali dead,
and the tray fell in manner undignified
and the bread tumbled and scattered on hot, hard stone
in shapes of heads rolling about a sanctuary,
I heard the conqueror on the high roof
under the naked sky,
I heard him snort,
I heard him clear his throat,
I heard him spit on the ground,
I heard him piss
through the eye of light.

In his ninety-first year, Reja-e Busailah looks back on growing up in a small Palestinian town in the 1930s until the turbulent upheaval of 1948, when over 700,000 Palestinians were expelled from their homes by the Israelis, and the author was forced to join the Death March from Lydda. Although blind since infancy, Busailah recalls with stunning detail a boyhood shaped by disability, education, family and friends, British soldiers and Zionist settlers. Poems of a Palestinian Boyhood is an extraordinary book: unapologetic, unflinching, raw and beautiful.

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