Once when I was a much younger man (1992) I went back to my father’s village Nabi Saleh and was able to have an unbelievable conversation with my cousins who were born and raised into and under occupation. All they knew at that time was resistance and intifada! They spoke with pride and honor about Abu Ammar and how he was close to making Palestine and independent vibrant nation, with self determination and shedding the ilk of Israel once and for all! We sat on a hill that overlooked the land that was taken directly from my father and Uncle. Although we could see the land with our own eyes it was now considered a town in Israel called Halamish!
As we sat there many nights during zeitoon season, we fantasized that one day we would have our land returned to us. We imagined that we would be able to build our own houses and return to picking the olives that have been denied us since 1978. The olive’s that fed our family for centuries. We all imagined that this would be when Yaser Arafat finally secured a just and lasting peace for all the people who were living under this occupation.
I remember during this visit how we were still able to raise our own chickens and were not dependent on any markets or stores to feed our selves. Hummus was always made fresh and the protein we ate that night, usually was walking around shortly before it was on our plate! Grape leaves were picked right from the vine and stuffed that night with the most delicious combination of rice and lamb your taste buds would ever experience.
In 1992, I was young, idealistic and thought there was still hope for us to be a independent nation, fully realized, as the diaspora Palestinians would return from Chile, the United States and the rest of the world they had been calling home for the pass fifty plus years and build an amazingly diverse country.
Well life happened, United States Army Service. I later became a cop in Newark NJ and a family was built. During that time I was not able to make it back to Nabi Saleh for twenty years.
My first homecoming in twenty years was significantly different from 1992. Two decades of failed negotiations, a second intifada, the death of multiple cousins and the expansion and embolden of the citizens of Halamish aided by the IDF, provided completely different optics of Nabi Saleh. The occupation became very violent and oppressive with restriction on movement and a very heavy handiness by the IDF when dealing with the youth of Nabi Saleh. Now being a Soldier in the Army and a cop I was not a stranger to CS/CN (teargas), but nothing can prepare you for a two in the morning dose of it while you sleep.
Let me restate that, nothing can prepare a law abiding American Citizen for this! It goes against everything we stand for! You know Truth, Justice and the American way! We are not used to Army units rolling into a quiet village in the middle of night and begin to pepper its inhabitants with Tear Gas! Sure, we may see that on T.V. when reporters are covering full scale riots, but not a sleepy town while everyone slept, it would be an outrage!
Yet, this is what happened to me personally in Nabi Saleh during my stay in 2012. Most people would take this lightly, especially Palestinians who have known this scent and intrusive encounter with the IDF since they were babes in their cribs! Not me! I was really troubled by the whole thing and for the first time in my adult life I felt that I could get injured or killed! Now remember I am a cop in one of the toughest cities in New Jersey which is not for the faint of heart! I have stared down violent situations in the past and came away somewhat unscathed! But, this was different! This was a man trained to protect and serve, to fight and neutralize all threats against other humans, who felt as helpless as that babe in the crib.
That’s not all. As I sat there at night enjoying the summer breeze I was hit with a very unfamiliar and extremely nauseating smell! When I asked what the smell was, I was told Skunk Water! This was explained to me that the IDF would spray our fields with sewer water, close to the roads, in order for us not to have the ability to grow any produce or have animals graze.
This is when I realized we were slowly being placed on a reservation with the intent to make the Palestinian way of life disappear from the landscape. We were becoming the Augustine Band of Cahuilla Indians as the IDF took their charge and encroached closer and closer up the hill making the village more Halamish and less Nabi Saleh! I also observed we no longer made our own hummus and our chicken came prepackaged and cleaned from a store in Biet Rima! We were no longer self sufficient! We were dependent!
As I spoke to my cousins this time around there was no hope of Independence! As a matter of fact I heard more than once (from everyone I spoke with) that we should just be part of Israel! One State! My young cousins who were fiercely proud of their Palestinian heritage were ready to call themselves Israeli’s. They now imagined being able to live in Halamish with it’s swimming pools and guarded gates! It’s basketball courts and accessibility to the beaches of Tel Aviv! These young people wanted what every other young adult wanted, internet access and video games where the violence was virtual, not reality! I heard them say they would join the Israeli Army gladly! Their thought was that if we were part of Israel we would have full protection of the government as citizens. They were tired! That was 2012.
Fast forward to today and the next generation who now have been living under occupation for 70 years have a more bleak outlook of peace in Palestine. They watched as our family has been attacked by Michael Oren calling us (The Tamimi Family) actors because we have light eyes and light hair!
We watched the systematic targeting of our most beautiful and handsome children who were placed in prison! We screamed for help as we watched the IDF shoot one of our children in the head and then imprison one of our daughters for reacting like any other human being would after seeing such violence. We sat helpless as the IDF sprayed Skunk water on one of our children who has Down Syndrome! We sat in horror as we witnessed the IDF shot then let our son Izz Al Din bleed to death, in the back of an Army jeep, only to be discarded like trash once his life had ended.
So back on the reservation called Nabi Saleh, the natives are being painted, as savages who have no respect for or love of life, just as the Native Americans were described by the colonialist of the nineteenth century! The difference is the intellectuals who see this horrible and brutal occupation through the gaze of twenty-first century eyes! These eyes have the advantage of real time video and live stream horror! Your eyes do not tell lies, no matter how many times Bibi tells you not to believe them! These intellectuals will not allow the nihilistic regime of Netanyahu and his locomotive derail their humanity! He woke them up!
The result of this awakening is the Palestinians reality finally being seen. This is a hard reality and if it makes you uncomfortable to watch, good, this tells me that you still have your humanity where it supposed to be!
When I first saw the murder of this beautiful young woman my first thought was the same one I had about my young cousin Ahed. I thought it is a shame what the Israeli’s and their supporters are going to do to smear this child in attempt to cover up their vile murder! Well they have not disappointed. Almost immediately the Israeli sycophants and apologist made videos denouncing Razzan as a threat to Israel and a Hamas terrorist.
Some of the most heinous accusations were made and are now being certified by the Zionist ilk at the New York Times. One of them was that Razzan professed to be a human shield for terrorist who are trying to kill the poor IDF Soldier perched on a dune and killing at will and with glee. The IDF allowed a video to be released that stops just short of hearing the young medic’s full statement of “ I am acting as a human rescue shield to protect the injured inside the armistice line”. Reasonable enough statement for sound people who are Health Care Professionals. But, this is the Palestinians we are talking about so the world view gets a little eschewed.
Curiously, these heartless journalists, who have become tools for a movement, who are on the wrong side of history, are painting the Palestinians, no matter man, woman or child, as nothing more than nihilist who have no value for human life.
This practice makes it easier for the Israeli’s to sell to their Soldiers that they are on the moral high ground. They say look the New York Times even agrees with us! If the Palestinians are not looked at as humans it is just target practice and nothing more.
You see if the Palestinians are nihilist and have no value for life, why then should the IDF have value for the Palestinians lives? If the Palestinian sees another human shot by the IDF, they should just allow them to die as it was intended for them to die when the IDF soldier shot the person. If and when that Palestinian decides to save that wounded person, well they are now aiding and abetting a known terrorist and are fair game to be terminated also.
This is not a manufactured lie thought up by the ingenious leaders of Hamas. No this is an accepted practice of the IDF that we all have witnessed too many times over the past months during the Great March of Return.
The IDF makes no bones about not having a role as human rights defenders. On the contrary, they will tell you they have a role, just they will say what humans they will defend whether threatened or not. As opposed to what humans they will exterminate regardless of the threat or non-threat.
This is unprecedented behavior! Never in human history have we seen such complicity on such a large scale where no one and I mean no one, will call out the IDF for their atrocities and war crimes. They ( the MSM) all have deemed the IDF, 007’s with a license to kill, whomever they damn well please.
The Yellow journalism that is going on in respect to Israel and the IDF, across the board in the mainstream media, not just in the New York Times, truly harken back to the time when people thought that Hitler wasn’t a threat because he had a high shrill voice and made funny hand gestures.
Every time I hear a report on Palestine and Israel, it becomes a litmus test on how honest of a journalist the reporter is, or if he is just another mouth piece for the hateful Israeli regime that now sits and dictates to the world what should shock them and how they shouldn’t believe their own eyes! They shouldn’t believe the images of children running away and being systematically murdered by Israeli Soldiers from their very safe positions!
Don’t believe what you see is becoming the Likud Mantra and the fact that a world-renowned paper like the New York Times is playing their stooge is frightening on so many levels. There is something very nefarious about the way the New York times is handling anything Palestinian. This article is just one of the many examples that they no longer have the Journalistic integrity or the intestinal fortitude to be a honest journalist and a true friend to Israel who is becoming unchecked tyrants who murder at will as if there are no other options.
I try not to let my Palestinian heritage dictate the artist I enjoy watching, listening to or reading. I have been a fan of Howard Tzvi Stern since i was 15 years old I am now 46 and watched Adam Sandler as the Zohan with a chuckle or two. Despite Howard’s Zionist diatribes I still love listening to him and do so religiously, sometime with sadness when he won't even say the word Palestinian when talking about the conflict.
However, as for Natalie Portman, I have been a fan of hers since I watched her in Leon the Professional. She has always had the chops as an actress and I enjoyed her acting in more than one film. Being that she is a Sabra, I wasn’t shocked to hear her in interviews, when she praised the country she was born in. She was surely a Zionist, but a well measured one! It is only right that she would have these feelings towards the country of her birth and express them when she was asked about it. I was probably more shocked when Scarlett Johansson came out and did the Soda Stream advertisements, because unlike Portman she sat on the dais and championed human rights for everyone but Palestinians. Natalie Portman never really did that! She was consistent in her apolitical ways and I felt that she was always measured in her responses.
That being said this is an amazing development. The fact that the scales of racism in Israel have tipped so far right, that a Sabra like Portman, would look to make a statement to the government that is now representating itself as the most righteous government in the world, must have other young Sabra’s taking notice. This may be a flash in the pan, whereas we will see the Hasbara Corps beat this woman into submission so that she will be on a Mea Culpa tour in the next couple of days saying that she apologizes for her bad behavior. Or Ms. Portman stands her ground and states the obvious. That more than Palestinian lives are being lost at the fence in Gaza, but the Jewish soul is also being killed with every moral bullet sent by the most moral army in the world.
My first visit to Nabi Saleh was when I was a young child in 1978. My uncle had told my father that he needed to come back home because the Israelis were trying to take our land to build a settlement. When we got there I spent the best summer of my young life with my family. I was not aware of the politics surrounding our village and the effect this seizure of land would have on my relatives and the amount of land that would be taken!
As I got older back in the USA people would ask me what kind of name Tamimi was and I would state Palestinian. This would usually be followed by where is that? Or is that near Israel? No matter who I spoke to it felt like no one knew we existed! It felt like maybe we were like the people of Atlantis, a mythical place and people, that had sunk into the ocean millennium ago! But, I knew this couldn't be. I was there and my father birth place was Nabi Saleh Palestine! I drank from the spring in the summer. I watched my family walk peacefully through the Zeitun without harrassment or concern and I rode eevry donkey there was to ride!
These memories only made me more driven to find referrence or anything that said Palestine or Palestinian anywhere I could. I would see the name Palestine in old bibles and it would have the whole picture of what I was taught was Palestine by my father in a Holy book. I started wondering how this worked. How is it that a bible from 1940 had the word Palestine printed over its map of the Holy Land yet, whenever I told someone what my background was they seemed puzzled and confused as if they never heard of it? Then came the intifada!
I was fifteen years old when it started! Now when I said I was Palestinian I would get an immeadiate response of "oh aren't they all terrorist" and "why don't you people leave those Israeli's alone" or that war has been going on for thousands of years! But, now people actually knew who Palestinians were and that there once was a place called Palestine.
However, things never seemed to get any better for Palestinians and we were always the bad guy and trouble maker of the story.
Going back to Nabi Saleh in my teens years after my first trip was a SHOCK! The land that was confiscated from my father and Uncle was now a full town, on our land! Halamish is what it was called and they now said it was in Israel! In Israel! How? I asked my father why they were allowed to build on what was not theirs and I was told that the Israeli Government did not recognize my father and Uncle as the rightful owners of the land. They said because the documents were controlled by the Ottoman Empire that showed ownership they would have to get those documents to prove it was their land.
I was outraged! How could this be! How come there is no one speaking up for us! Where were the singers and song writers who helped topple aparthied in South Africa! Why weren't they singing for us and against the Occupation that my family had to endure? Why weren't these things being reported? It was then I became a cynic and started not believing the things I read in the News! I knew what was being done to Palestinians and it was never reported that the Palestinian was the victim in the narrative.
Many times over I thought to myself in anger and sadness there is no fair or impartial reporting in the Palestinian/Israeli narrative when dealing with the MSM. I remember thinking to myself how can the Jewish people, the ones who went through so much pain throughout the world, inflict so much punishment on Palestinians! I would think why are Jewish people so liberal here in America and when reporting about the American military, yet such war hawks when talking about Palestine and Israel? All you ever heard was the Michael Orens and Neftali Bennets very right wing hard lined narrative of killing Palestinians is what we need to do to keep Israel secure and if you are Jewish you should never criticize that notion! I can tell you as a person who's father lives there under occupation it is a very frightening thing to hear!
Then I started seeing great things like Mondoweiss and JVP! Great people like Miko Peled and Gideon Levy calling out the hypocrisy of the media and Politicians both in America and abroad! These corageous people are not walking in formation and are questioning the Orens and Bennets of Israel calling them out on their savagery!
I have always felt that when it came to the Jewish people that they were the most amazing thinkers and debaters in the world. And because they questioned everything, we as a world have benefitted from their inventions and ideas. I just hope that this stream of conscience that we are seeing from places like Mondoweiss can be the beacon of light for good Jewish people to find their way back to questioning and debating what is being done in Palestine by the Israeli's.
For years I've been told that I don't look Palestinian because I am fair skinned and have green eyes and for years I replied: "in Nabi Saleh were my family comes from this is what we look like". Sure I have cousins that are darker or lighter than I am but, for the most part, you can tell we are Tamimi's. Nabi Saleh is a close-knit family whether we are there or in the states. I was born in the New Jersey but, the story of my ancestors I knew by heart since I was a small boy.
My first trip to Nabi Saleh from America was in 1978, I was eight years old and had never been out of Paterson before. My father had to go back to contest the seizure of our land. This seizure of our land would eventually become Halamish and the catalyst of most of the problems for Nabi Saleh and Deir Nitham.
Once there I truly fell in love with this tiny village. I was amazed that everyone there was related to me some way or another. I was young and asked my father how we were related? He didn't hesitate at all. For each house, he could trace back the lineage and how we were related. Back then there may have been two hundred and fifty or so people in Nabi Saleh but, my father knew how we were all Tamimi's and most important of all we were all Palestinian's.
As years went by more cousins made it to the states and became productive citizens of America. We, of course, would still go back to visit our family in Nabi Saleh really with no issues, except maybe a five-hour delay in the airport as always occurs to Palestinians, especially ones named Mahmoud when flying into to Ben Gurion. But, once you were home in the village everything was ok. We would see our cousins dressing more western every time. Sometimes they would look more American than the Americans who visited. We were able to watch as the youth of the village embraced our culture in dress and most of all in spirit. These cousins of ours saw our facebooks posts and our freedoms and they thirsted for the same.
This didn't last long. Becuase they embraced the ideologies of the western cousins and felt that because we were able to be free they marched and wanted to be free. That didn't sit well with the Occupiers. A slew of murders at the hands of the IDF, were to follow. From children to adults, there was no discretion to the pain inflicted on the Tamimi's of Nabi Saleh and Deir Nitham. All the while we sat in the States in shock and horror yet incapable to do anything.
Then to add insult to injury you have this person who is supposed to be part of the mainstream, Oren, make a statement that is as outlandish as it is stupid. I am a Tamimi of Nabi Saleh and have always been proud of being one. I am also an American who has served my country proudly and diligently. A public servant who has protected the citizens of New Jersey with my life for over 23 years now. But, the things I have taught my children to be most proud of is their name, Tamimi, This man has assaulted our family and honor for generations by simply stating we may not be a real family. We are and we will be marching and protesting on two continents against the brutal occupation and apartheid in our village.
I have been a cop for 23 years in Newark NJ. You can rest assure if a person was throwing a rock at me and I shot and killed him, I would be put in prison for murder. Trying to find parallels between the IDF's action and the NYPD is comical at best! But, what is really troubling is the justifying and rationalizing of the murder of this boy by the IDF, by you Boris.
Imagine if there was no occupation, then this young man would still be alive! As an American who's father comes from Nabi Saleh, I find it so disheartening when I see a comment like yours Boris.
If Saba was just another boy, from an unoccupied country, he would be finishing his studies in some University or Trade school, however, he was unlucky and born a Palestinian, so now he is dead. Never to enjoy marriage, never to feel the joy of being a father. No just another dead Palestinian, already forgotten and not a tear shed by the West for this handsome young man.
I always felt that we were a punished lot simply because of our heritage as Palestinians and your language sort of confirms that sentiment. I have been singled out many times because of it and it is those words that are a distorted narrative and completely one sided.
I was a Soldier in the US Army and as I said before I am still a cop. As I watch the IDF commit atrocity after atrocity, I wonder how the world allows them to go so unchecked. They are not a security apparatus any longer. What they are is a menacing presence, an occupier in every sense of the word. An Occupier who is happy shooting fish in the barrel.
There is no bravery in what they are doing. There is no honor in killing people with no arms and only stones! Shame on anyone who feels there is a reason for the IDF to be in Nabi Saleh killing its residents and having a good time at human target practice!