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Thursday, October 19, 2000

Dear Diary:

The e-mails keep coming. From women I know, and from women I've never heard of before.....From male friends, and from men I've never met before. E-mails from as far away as Japan, Iran and Pakistan and even an email from someone I don't know in Turkey. It seems, my dearest diary, that so many people out there read you and they leave me no choice but to fill your pages each day......I laugh and cry both at the same time. I write these pages to keep my wits about me, and people out there read them to keep their wits about them too. Their daily emails of encouragement and support push me forward, and my words help them understand..... And here I am, the writer who's been wanting to write a book for years and even managed to get a contract from a London publisher, but always found one excuse after the next as to why I couldn't do it. Here I am writing each day when my excuse for not writing has always been lack of time, fear of failure, fear of not meeting the challenge....... Oh how I sit here and laugh at myself now. I sit around in the same pair of pajamas for two of three days before remembering that I've forgotten to change my clothes.....I don't even comb my hair any more.....and I all I want to do is to sit here to send and receive emails and to write. say it all, to bring it all out... Funny what happens to you when you live in this sort of situation...when you don't know when all hell will break loose and whether or not this is going to be your last day, your last meal, your last words.....your last laugh. Funny how time becomes urgent and how getting things done when you want to do them becomes imperative. Will there be a tomorrow for us??? Maybe yes and maybe no....who knows. As I write, I hear a heavy exchange of gunfire nearby. I don't even leave my chair. There are clashes a few meters away in the town of al-Khader.....oh what a familiar sound it has become these past three weeks..trrrr...tak tak tak.... trrrr....tak tak tak......and now I hear the choppers too. So things haven't calmed down even though Barak has given us an ultimatum of 48 hours to bring the Intifada to an end.

48 hours or what Monsieur Prime Minister??? More tanks, more shelling, more death.....more death!!!!! One of the TV stations advertises the air-time tonight for 'Cry Freedom'.....remember that Denzel Washington and Kevin Klein movie? Sure you do. Remember how when we watched it while apartheid in South Africa still existed....remember how we all cried? Well! Apartheid in South Africa is no more.....done, finished....Black South Africans didn't die for nothing......those who remained alive are now free. Do you hear this Mohammed al-Dura???? Do you hear?? They may yet make a movie about you. So what if some Israelis say that your father didn't protect you well enough and this is why you died....So what if an Israeli official - was it Dani Yatom? - who said that you had it coming because you were part of the Intifada......They say you deserved to die Mohammed. Even our death they try to distort.....blaming the victim instead of asking why did the soldiers shoot a helpless boy and his helpless father to begin with. Oh! open up my heart, for there is still more pain to come. Open up my soul, for there is still more human tragedy to absorb......Open up damn you......they're not finished with us yet. Tomorrow if I am up to getting dressed and leaving the house, I may go visit Grandpa Attalla's grave over at the Lutheran Cemetery in Beit Jala. What a serene place they buried you in Grandpa, right under a huge pine tree......and the smell of the pines is so great too. Oh Grandpa! Remember your house on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem? The one you moved to after the 1948 war...I remember it. Remember your beautiful piano and all the music you used to play for us? I sure do. You're lucky you're not here to see what the occupation has led to.....your land in Beit Jala is all confiscated. An Israeli family lives in your old house, in what they now call West is all gone grandpa and you left us here to fight for it alone.......alone..and you took your tenderness with you, and your gentleness and even your music too. But South Africa is free now Grandpa, and one day when I come to visit you, you're spirit will be able to tell if I and everyone else have been set free. I just know that you'll be able to tell......the sky will be bluer, the trees greener, and more birds will be flying around than usual....oh and yes! the sun will even be brighter and it'll shine down on us so hard that it'll penetrate our skin and suntan those spots where the chains of occupation have left their marks.....and you'll hear the music....and I'll learn how to play the piano just for you...just for you! There was an explosion just now at the headquarters of the Palestinian Force 17 military unit in Bethlehem. Three people are dead and scores more are wounded. Reports say that a gas canister exploded and some ammunition was caught in the fire and led to a bigger explosion. Other reports say the Israelis shelled the place and that there have been Israeli threats since this morning to even shell Radio Bethlehem 2000 if it doesn't stop airing "anti-Israeli propaganda".....the cause is still unclear considering all the commotion at the location right now.

Imagine....threatening to shell a radio station because it broadcasts anti war propaganda......!!!! If I were a devout Muslim, I would pray five times a day and read the Quran. If I were a Christian, I would kneel at church, say a few prayers and read the Bible......but being secular, I continue to have faith in the human race and its ability to take a stand and make this world a better place to live....without nuclear weapons, without guns.....without force or violence....and most of all, without the oppression and occupation of one nation of another. The choppers are back......flying closer....circling. They're bombing the village of al-Khader nearby. It is going to be a long evening. I feel like throwing up, but friends called and are coming over and the dishes are waiting to be washed, and the laundry to be removed from the lines......and I should remember to eat too. Marianna and her sisters are out in the alley playing. Their giggles soothe carefree....but the sound of the chopper flying overhead suddenly deafens all other sounds....and I hear some ambulances going by on the main road. Bleed to the last drop Palestine and let the world watch and cry....... Bleed rivers and seas and oceans Palestine. You've been bleeding for 52 years and still no one sees your flood......

-Muna Hamzeh-Muhaisen
Dheisheh Refugee Camp, Palestine

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