When I saw photos of my son Mahmoud by chance on the page of a journalist, taken last Friday in Hebron, it was not surprising to me that I saw the Israeli Zionist occupation soldiers trying to humiliate and abuse a Palestinian child. How many children were martyred, their mothers and families traumatized. How many children were arrested and imprisoned, and forfeited years of life despite their soft bodies, despite their childhood, which was stolen by the occupation before their births.
When I saw my 16-year-old son, I did not hit him as some might have expected because I caught him smoking in the picture. I rebuked him because there were those who were able to take pictures of him so easily. If a journalist was able to take such pictures of Mahmoud during a protest, it means that the soldiers also took pictures of him. It does not matter that my son wasn’t throwing stones, the Israeli soldiers can keep the pictures at a military checkpoint. Then Mahmoud could become a target to be humiliated by them.
I do not want my child to be a cheap and easy target. I am from a school that believes that if the Israelis are fishing for us, we should not be small fish, easy for them to catch. As the Palestinian writer and comrade Ghassan Kanafani said, “Don’t die before you become an adversary.” And today is the 48th anniversary of Kanafani’s assassination.
But when I saw the picture, I thanked God for his mercy that they did not beat him in the place where he’d had an operation in his abdomen. Where his appendix had burst in his body, and he underwent two operations and spent a month and a half in the hospital for treatment, because toxins had spread in his body.
Once again, I praised God that the cigarette remained in his mouth and did not fall to the ground, so that one of the soldiers would call on him in his innocent childhood to pick it up from the ground so that he might shoot and kill him on the pretext of him attempting to stab a soldier– or any other lie and story that could be fabricated.
Then, in another contradiction, I was pleased that there are people who document how childhood is assassinated in Palestine.
Many of the feelings that parents feel concerning their sons are mixed with misery, and the misery of this national life for children and the lack of a decent life for them, as for children in the rest of the world. There are some families who cooperate with the Israelis. They are keen to steal the loaf of bread from the poor. They call themselves builders, but they have given nothing to the homeland. They were brought up only to take, while we fight every day for the sake of the homeland and on the other hand for the sake of a loaf of bread that turned into a dream because of those who stole our dreams. This difference is embodied by another Khanafani saying, of the two tents. There is a tent for those for those who were raised to give to their homeland and sacrifice, and a separate tent for those who were raised to plunder the homeland and use it as slogans for personal interest-only.
This transforms the scene with its contrasts and manifestations, into a violent challenge, into a black comedy embodying the mosaic of our lives. All of us, as parents, hope that our children will live in peace and happiness, and have a comfortable future. None of us wishes imprisonment or death for his children.
I come back and look at the picture until all the images, fantasies and fears fade away from it, and only one image remains stuck in my mind. That is the image of my son Mahmoud, who stood tall before the Israeli soldiers, armed with the latest weapons, without batting an eyelid and without his cigarette falling from his mouth, like the glory of the Hebron Mountains and the mountains of Galilee. The glory of the Palestinian people throughout history in front of all invaders.
The coming generations of Palestine are our hope and hope for the future of Palestine. Hope is renewed in them, like the Palestinian phoenix. Whenever some say that Palestine died and ceased to emerge again, the phoenix rises from among the ashes announcing the revolution of life again.