Friday, May 15, 2009

Sabreena da Witch on Israeli Apartheid and Fighting a "Personal Occupation"

Sabreena da Witch recently wrote this poignant post on her blog that I'm reposting below. For those who don't know, Sabreena da Witch, aka Abeer Alzinaty, is a Palestinian hip-hop artist and was featured in the documentary Slingshot Hip-Hop. I won't say much about the post as it speaks for itself. It definitely resonated with me based on some of my own experiences as a black woman with patriarchy and racism. It's a reminder of the need for young women to stay defiant, to persevere despite the odds and break out of the confines that our families and society try to impose on us. For many of us, hip-hop has been an important source of community for such "personal" struggles which should never be fought alone. Yet, as Abeer's experience shows us, we still have a long way to go even in hip-hop.

Men from the west GET THE FUCK OUT OF OUR LANDS, men from the east GET THE FUCK OUT OF OUR MINDS!

Israel celebrates today 61 years of Independence. It's sad how so many people can celebrate the independence they built on the bodies of freedom fighters they have murdered.
As if there is a universal permit for some specific people in this tragic world, to occupy others and call it a fight for independence.
you would think that as a Palestinian I would be out there, demonstrating against Israel's brutal, bloody independence. But I'm after all just a WOMAN! Occupation is suppose to be all I know!

So many people will fight for Palestine and never mention it's women. So many people will fight for Iraq and never mention it's women. So many people will fight for Africa and never mention it's women.
So many people will fight for freedom; become famous and rich for their fight; become heroes; icons on t shirts all over the world and never mention the women they oppressed on the way to stardom. Just like a million and a half Israelis will celebrate freedom right next to a huge concrete wall separating them from other people.

Here is a timeline of my personal occupation from the years I can remember ;

When I was 12 I went to the mall alone for the first time with my friend. She said we should speak in Hebrew so people wouldn't know we were arabs. When I asked: what about everything else like our names and accents?
She said : salesmen don't care about names!

When I was 13 my mom told me I cannot be in love unless I'm engaged. Since I was too young to get engaged, I automatically lost my right to have any emotions for boys until I was older. When I asked -what do I do with the butterflies in my belly?
My mom said : society doesn't care about teenagers' stupid feelings!

When I was 14 I was expelled from school because I refused to stand respectfully on memorial day for Israeli soldiers who died in wars against the arab world. I had no idea what it meant to be a Palestinian yet, but to stand silently for a whole minute for a man who died in a war after he was trained to go to war did not make sense to me. When I asked -what about the people those soldiers went to kill?
my teacher said: Israel doesn't care about other people and that's the way it is. We have rules to follow!

When I was 15 I had my first boyfriend. He said I shouldn't tell other people we were together and that he loved me, but he didn't care if I said I loved him.

When I was 16 my father said that I couldn't go to demonstrations against Israeli soldiers who shot 13 Palestinian men inside of Israel and so many more in the West Bank and Gaza. He said he knew that I was going to meet boys.
I tried to explain that I did not plan to meet anyone there, and I was going only to express my feelings about violence and injustice.

When I was 17, one of my classmates said: Palestinian "Muslim terrorists" should stop using Christians churches to hide from the Israeli army.
I said : but the Palestinian christian priest cares for his Palestinian land too, and is helping Palestinian freedom fighters to survive.
He said : We christians do not care about lands; we want peace, you should learn something from us and stop being a greedy muslim!

When I was 18, a girl I knew from school was killed for honor. I collected all the newspapers with articles which included the conclusion of investigations into the murder; that the killer was one of the girl's brothers. I took the articles to school to talk about the incident with other people. Sadly the sister of the victim was in my class. She saw the papers,and began to cry and curse me. I apologized to her for bringing the paper with me and she said she didn't care about the newspaper. It was me who should have just shut up and stayed out of it.

When I was 19, after years of fighting with my parents to be able to do Hip-Hop music, I was scheduled to go on a local tour. My participation was canceled because my relatives said they would shoot me if I stepped on stage. When I asked the male artists involved: what about my part of the song?
They said : who cares about that, the important thing for you is to stay alive.
They all went on that tour, and another tour in Europe a week later. They had pre-recorded playback for my part and I did not sing publicly for 4 years.

When I was 20 I was fired from MacDonald's after 3 years of work. My supervisor said I spoke Arabic way too much during my shift and that it was bothering other employees and customers. According to their policy, Arabic was not even allowed, so I had gone way past the line. When I said: what about Russian being spoken all the time?
He said : The company doesn't care about the Russian language, it's just Arabic.

When I was 21, in my third year of Film school at Tel Aviv university, I had my first cigarette. one of my classmates told me it was not attractive for women to smoke. I said: I thought it would be health issues to cause people not to smoke. He said he had been smoking for 15 years and he was fine, so he didn't care much about that anymore, but when he kissed a woman who smoked he felt like he was kissing an ashtray.

When I was 22 I went to Bethlehem to do some creative workshops at a refugee camp. Just before leaving Jerusalem we were stopped by what is called a "Flying Check point". Two Israeli soldiers boarded the mini bus and checked everyones IDs, Passports and permits. Four people were asked to get off, two of them women. They started crying right away to the soldier (probably their eleventh attempt to go to Bethlehem that day alone). They cried that their mother was very sick and might be dying and that they just wanted to say goodbye. They had not seen her since getting married 10 years ago. They also said that they had tried countless times to get permits but they were never approved because their names on the birth certificates do not match the names on the IDs! The soldier said he didn't care about reasons, all he cared about was doing his job. we continued on without them!

When I was 23, in my second year in Photography school at Bezalel art Academy in Jerusalem, I hung on the wall photos I had taken during my first visit to Baltimore. The teacher asked for a "new experience" project. All my photos showed black kids I had met at a block party.
The teacher said he could not accept this project since it was not produced specifically for the assignment, and the photos were taken on a summer vacation.
I insisted on getting feedback since I had gone through a new experience and met new people from a completely different community. My classmates said the project wasn't relevant and that they didn't care if it was my first visit to Baltimore or to the Americas. They said i had dark enough skin to walk in that hood, and because I am an arab I probably wasn't scared to be in what they decided was the ghetto; and therefore there was no new experience. Nothing was said about the photos themselves.

When I was 24 I had my first public performance after 4 years of not being on stage. People said I was good but not professional. That I didn't have enough energy, the songs were not mixed, and the quality of the sound was bad. I responded: I'm very aware of that. I never had the chance to work on my music professionally. I was told: NOBODY CARES, you just need to get better now that you can; stop complaining and start working!!

I am 25 now, and I'm fucking sick and tired of being the victim; but what else am I. What else can you fucking be when you are all the time OPPRESSED! If it's not an Israeli soldier in my way, it's my neighbor who is worried for my good name!
It seems like Israelis and other zionists want me to never complain about my experience as a Palestinian!
and It seems like men and other chauvinists want me to never complain for my experience as a woman!!
It is as if I'm supposed to naturally shut up every time somebody tells me I can't do something because I am a Palestinian and I am a WOMAN!!!

61 years under occupation and Israelis still do not understand what we Palestinians are fighting for. Zionists act totally surprised when they hear criticism of Israel and lash back with responses like: what's your problem?
BITCHES! You are our problem. You took over our lands, our homes, our streets , our history, our dignity, our passion, and you even took over our culture too, adding insult to injury. You call it all your own when you never worked hard for it. WE DID!!

From me personally, on top of everything listed above, you occupiers took my right to complain as an oppressed woman. Every fucking bastard who is comfortable enough in this man's world, thinks I should shut up about women's rights, so the West won't jump on the scoop! and so the East can fight the western evil occupation without being disturbed by another fight!

Women are not less important!! Equality is Equality everywhere !!
OCCUPATION IS OCCUPATION no matter how pretty you try to make it look!
Although you do not care about my anger and my frustration, and although you wait for me to make a mistake, so you can criticize me , I fight for freedom, I always will, inshalla for another 61 years to come and forever more!


[Original post here]

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