Friday, December 02, 2005

Strange Bedpartners

Today I feel sad. And no, it is not because of the Arabic midterm that I took today – although I would like to complain about having a midterm two weeks before the final . . . Today is Dec 1, and I will be traveling across the border to Jordan in exactly one month. I think that during the last three months, my emotions regarding the occupation have pretty consistently ranged between outrage, anger, frustration and helplessness. Now, I’m starting to feel worn out. I am looking forward to seeing everyone at home, but I am disappointed by how little I’ve done during my time here. I’ve been busy, but I feel that there is so much work that needs to be done . . .

I’d to share a story with everyone that another student told me about his teacher. One of the teachers at Birzeit wrote a poem that has been nominated to become the national anthem of Palestine if/when it becomes an independent state. The poem is about one of her experiences while she was imprisoned in an Israeli jail for three years. Apparently, the prison was overcrowded, so for a while she was sharing a cell with a Palestinian man. They each spent 12 hours in the cell, but never the same twelve hours. He had the cell during the day, while she was moved to a separate part of the prison, and she had it at night, while he was being tortured. She never met him during her time in prison, but she shared a bed with him, and she heard him screaming every night while he was tortured. At some point during their imprisonment, she starting singing Palestinian revolutionary and folks songs at night, so that he could hear her voice and know that he wasn’t alone.

Tonight I went to an art exhibit in one of the cultural centers in Ramallah. The artists were all local people who participated in a workshop this semester. During the workshop the artists were exposed to the stories of Palestinian women who suffered from abuse, both domestic and from the occupation. The students used the stories to create images around the theme of women and abuse in Palestine. There were some really moving pieces, especially since each print was inspired by a real woman’s story. I thought it was an interesting way to address the very serious problem of domestic abuse. Many of the artists concentrated on images that highlighted the strength of women survivors, although there were also images of pain and suffering. I bought a print that shows a line of women marching across the bottom of the page in single file. The women are vague stick figure shapes, and an ominous crimson sky is pressing down on them. I think the figures represent generations of women following in each others steps, and the sky represents the repressiveness of society on women’s individuality. Of course, I could be wrong . . .


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