Palestine wishes you a happy new year

Israel/Palestine
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Tomorrow is the 1st of January 2013. A new year, a new beginning and a new everything or so it may seem.

I still remember how we celebrated the beginning of 2009. I remember fireworks, I remember candles, I remember screams, I remember children scattered in the streets. I remember seeing parents’ faces with stains on their faces, ketchup stains, and children with iron bars in their heads. It wasn’t Halloween nor were these things what they seemed. We were under the attack of the Israeli military forces, operation Cast lead as they called it. It started few days before the beginning of the year and kept on going until the middle of January. We all thought that we will die and that there won’t be a new year for us. New, what does this word even mean? We have been occupied ever since… it’s been so long that I can’t remember when exactly. Fireworks were bombs, candles because we didn’t have electricity, screams because children were afraid, scattered because they were parts and not whole. The stains of ketchup were stains of blood and the iron bars were not customs, they were real. New, yes, new. A new year will start, a new beginning, but our years still haven’t ended. We have been in the same year ever since they have intruded and stolen our lands. Although the dates and figures keep changing, that year seems to be endless. Every day, they kill more, steal more, imprison more and the days seem endless, as well.

In 2009, people were still traumatized and puzzled. No one was able to understand or cope with what had happened. 1,417 were killed; most of them were civilians, children. In that war, everyone lost someone, family, friends, or neighbors. If we survived the war physically – a lot of people lost arms, legs and sight- we surely didn’t survive it psychologically. After the war ended, we had to go back to our normal life again: a few bombs every now and then, a few martyrs every now and then, and a few destroyed houses every now and then. What a normal life, right? For the next few years, people were trying to put their agony aside and try to live. It wasn’t easy for anyone. How can mothers let go the memory of those whom they have carried in their wombs for 9 months? How can children live without their parents? How can a man live without feet? Yet, as my teacher, also a poet, says,

“We dream and pray,

Clinging to life even harder

Every time a dear one’s life

Is forcibly rooted up.

We live.

We live.

We do.”

— Refaat Alareer

In 2012, Israel wanted to end it with another war, another operation. On the 14th of November, artificial earthquakes would be felt every couple of minutes. Artificial thunder would be heard. We could feel the floor shake and beds move; we could see houses on fire. We were able to sense new weapons, after all these days of bombings – and I say days because our year still hasn’t ended- we became really good at knowing what weapons are being used. People, this time, were able to control their feelings. They were scared, but because of the continuous killing and destruction they have went through, it wasn’t something ‘new’ or abrupt. In this war, Gaza fought back and hit Tel Aviv; we won this round. Tomorrow, how will tomorrow be like? Will 2013 be surprising enough that we won’t go through another war? Operation? The electricity always on? Newly born children will still have their parents with them? 2013, why should we celebrate your beginning? Why should we embrace your coming? Will you be different? I do, however, wish a year to happen, another year other than the one we are still living. I wish you all, out there with new years not just different figures, a year better than the previous and worse than the coming.

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