On Al-Quds Day

Israel/Palestine
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[Editor’s note: Today is Al-Quds Day, an international day of solidarity with the Palestinian people that is held annually on the last Friday of Ramadan.]

Al Quds – Jerusalem: The city of martyrs; the occupied city. A city painted a deep shade of crimson with the blood of the oppressed. A city occupied far longer than I have walked this earth; far long than my father has existed.

This city – I have never seen. Its air – I have never breathed. Its roads – I have never traveled.

I am a stranger at Jerusalem’s gate; I listen to the wailing passerby clutching the remnants of his home between scarred hands, his screams muffled under the background of a demolition. I hear a mother attempting to wash the blood off the ashen bodies of her children with bitter, scathing tears – the deafening sound of bullets boldly echoing within the confines of the occupiers jungle.

I am a stranger at Jerusalem’s gate; My eyes follow an army of worshipers kneeling on occupied ground, impregnated with their supplication, as they raise heavy hands up towards the sky. I watch a rampage emerging in the ‘holy land’ as a barrage of soldiers lay siege upon Al Aqsa, defiling sacred territory with a curtain of America-brand tear-gas canisters and grenades.

Ya Quds, Ya Qiblat as-Saleheen/ Oh Jerusalem, Oh Focus of the Righteous.

You are the perfume of the occupied territories, you are the fragrance worn around the necks of our women accompanied by a string of rocks from which our children use to throw in the face of occupation soldiers; precious pearls in their soft, dauntless hands.

Ya Quds/ Oh Jerusalem.

The thorns of conquest line your streets; our open wounds – inkwells, the gravestones of our martyrs – parchment.

What does Israel fear in the shouting of your name by the occupied youth? What does Israel fear in the acquisition of your stones?

They rejoiced at our abortion from your treasured womb; we cling to your soil as we yearn to feel our mothers touch, we cry to have you wrap us in your arms – even in death.

Jerusalem: This city – I have never seen. Its air – I have never breathed. Its roads – I have never traveled.

Bury me in your arms o’ Jerusalem. If I cannot have you in this life then give me 6 feet of earth wherein I can sleep close to your chest, listening to beating of your heart instead of the drums of war.

Ya Ummi/Oh Mother

I cannot bear to be away from you, an orphan child.

Oh Jerusalem: I am the stranger at your gate, I am the student at your chamber, I am the worshiper at your feet. 

Roqayah Chamseddine is a Lebanese-American humanitarian activist. She is a an undergraduate student majoring in Political Science/Pre-Law and Journalism. She was a member of the Gaza Freedom March last December in Cairo.

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