Saturday, September 26, 2009
embodied experience of occupation
My last nights was added to the many nights that made me live once again the attack on my body, family, home, privacy, including the attack on my own bed and bedroom.
It was late at night and since it is Ramadan, Gaby goes to work in his clinic in Wadi El Jozz at 8:30 pm and comes back home at midnight, while I was home, working on finalizing the last touches of a paper that will soon be published in Jadal- an electronic journal of Mada al-Carmel. Gaby called around midnight to say that he was on his way home, but was stuck in traffic. It took him over an hour to find a parking spot for his car, mainly since for the last 9 months, the non-Jewish residents of the Armenian quarter were prevented (I mean kicked out) of the parking lot that is exactly opposite to our building. He called, cursing, while asking me to look from the window – maybe I could detect an empty spot for him to park. At around 1:30 am, he finally succeeded in locating a place, parked the car and walked home. We sat in the kitchen, drinking tea and talking about our daily survival. I went back to my bed, and as usual put my laptop on my lap and continued my work, while Gaby tried to sleep beside me. He was very tiered, and I turned down the light, so as not to bother him. But, it is the Jewish holiday season, and Jews from all over Israel were visiting the Wall, so sleeping was hard, for they were noisy, singing Yerushalayem shelh Zahav ( Jerusalem of Gold); and many other songs, while using musical instruments. They not only were singing and speaking in a very loud voice; they were also ringing our doorbells. It was a very noisy night, were my home, my bedroom, and my serenity was invaded by songs that praise Israel, Jews and Jerusalem. At around 3:00 in the morning, my neighborhood was calmer, Gaby fell asleep, and I decided to reply to the last emails, shut down my computer and go to sleep.
At around 3:40 am, when I turned off the light and went to sleep, I heard very loud noises, but was too tiered to get up. But, again the singing and the noise was too loud, and worried that Gaby might wake up, I jumped from the bed to close the window to prevent him from hearing the clamor. I was so shocked to see, a large group of people, a group of maybe 40 of 50, singing for almost 10-15 minutes in such a loud voice “Mavet La Aravim” Death for the Arabs, while banging their drums. They were singing, in such a loud voice, with such boldness that made me once again tell myself….no Nadera….it is not fear…it is boldness, rudeness, inhumanity, it is their voice that said, “I have the right to live, and you Nadera and your people…you should die.”
Gaby woke up, very disturbed, then said: “why are you surprised? I told him, that these are young soldiers that are visiting the old city, they must have their leaders and captains with them, how could they sing such a slogan, as a group, openly, in such a loud voice, at 3:40 am – how? I know that people might say it, but this way?
Here in the old city, scrawled on the city walls in graffiti you might read “Death to the Arabs”; “Death to Armenians” and more, but singing it so loudly not only attacked my family, home, bed, sleep, and serenity, it also violates all moral codes, measures and mores Israel could claim.
Within this highly oppressive militaristic regime, the home is one of the few places where women can find solace from the exigencies of a domineering government. As the only place for refuge, the home is a place for personal growth and community-building. As such, the home is an oppositional site within a military-state patriarchy and a place where Palestinian women can be safe from the “dual spheres of racism and sexism.”
Our home is one of the greatest powers that produce thoughts, memories; it is our past that was violated, our present and future. In the life of women, the house thrusts aside contingencies, and maintains us during and through hardships and uncertainties. It is an individual’s first world, and ours was attacked and violated.
So, how can I, a Palestinian woman living in the Old City feel safe in my home space? Home time? Homeland? In my own home bed?