University of British Columbia
Vancouver, Unceded Coast Salish Territories
May 3-5, 2013
The following piece, by Reham Alhelsi, was published at A Voice from Palestine. We re-publish it here today with greetings, salutes and love to all of the Palestinian mothers who nourish children and the land, nurture Palestinian society, and lead, march and fight in the struggle.
Dear Mother Palestine,
On Mother’s day, as the Hannoun wakes up, and as the almond tree blossoms and you wear your green and red dress, we celebrate you. On this day, we celebrate the land, our heritage and our home, we celebrate you mother Palestine, the mother of us all. We celebrate your daughters: our mothers, our sisters, our comrades, who have carried the flame of resistance, protected it and kept it burning. We celebrate your daughters: the martyrs, the prisoners, the injured, the revolutionaries, the workers, the farmers, we celebrate Palestinian mothers. We celebrate your daughters: the mother of the martyr, the mother of the prisoner, the mother of the injured, the mother of the revolutionary, the mother of the worker, the mother of the farmer, the mother of every Palestinian. On this day, as we celebrate the mothers of Palestine, I write to you and to your daughters who are now with you, who have become part of you. On this day, I write to Palestinian mothers who sacrificed their lives for you mother Palestine, those who sacrificed their lives for us. Today, I write to the mothers who were killed while protecting their children, their homes and their land. On this day, I write to the mothers who were killed by Zionist terror gangs, by the brutal occupation with its bullets, tanks, drones, its dungeons, siege and its network of death-traps. I write to the mothers who are always on our minds, whose names we have printed in our memory, whose stories and sacrifices tell your story mother Palestine.
On Mother’s Day, tell Hilweh Zeidan that we remember her on this day and every day. Tell her that we remember her courage, defying the bullets of the Zionist terrorists, standing by her husband and her son as they defend their home, as they defend Deir Yassin from the killers. Tell her that when she took her son’s gun, when she stood near her fallen husband and son, when she continued the struggle against the Zionists, Hilweh not only fought to defend her home, she fought to defend every one of us. Tell her that her spirit that feared no death, was our guide over the decades. Tell her that her blood which watered the land, paves the way for liberation. Tell Saliha Al-Halabi that the Zionist criminal who emptied his bullets into her body, killing her and her 9 month old unborn child, has not been brought to justice yet. Tell her that the Zionist criminal who afterwards ripped open her stomach and took out her slaughtered child is considered a hero by the terrorist entity that was built on where her village once stood. Tell her we still mourn her and the pregnant mothers bayoneted in the abdomen while alive. Tell her we still mourn the children maimed in front of their mothers before having their heads cut off. Tell her that 64 years later, her killers still kill Palestinian mothers, still commit massacres, still ethnically cleanse Palestine. Tell her that 64 years later, the Arab brethren still cry crocodile tears over our pain, still sell our blood to the highest bidder and still betray you mother Palestine. Tell her that 64 years later, we remember every victims of every Zionist massacre and every Zionist crime, we repeat the names of every Palestinian massacred, every village demolished, every field uprooted. Tell her that we are united by the pain and the blood of Deir Yassin, Beit Darras, Dawaymeh, Khisas, Sa’sa’, Balad Il-Sheikh, Abu Shusha, Beit Daras, Tantoura, Kufr Qasem, Qibya, Sharafat, Azazmeh, Beit Jala, Qalqilia, Jenin, Gaza, Bethlehem and every massacre committed by the Zionists. Tell her that 64 years later, we have not forgotten, have nor forgiven. Tell her that every day we tell the hypocrite world that it might turn a blind eye, but we will never cease until every single victim receives justice, until Palestine receives justice. Tell her that the march never stopped, and even though some have derailed, the majority has the map imprinted in their hearts, and with every march we come closer to Beisan, to Acca, to Tabariya, to Safad, to Jerusalem. Tell her, dear mother Palestine, that 64 years later, Palestine is as precious as ever, Palestine remains our home forever.
On Mother’s Day, tell Umayyah Imran that we remember her on this day and every day. Tell her that the Zionists still kill Palestinian mothers and their born and unborn children at the European-paid military checkpoints. Tell her that her children place flowers on her grave every day, that they sing their kindergarten songs to her. Tell her that her children and the children of every Palestinian mother killed at Israeli checkpoints don’t fear these death traps, but repeat the oath given to their mothers; to remain steadfast, to continue the struggle. Tell her that on the spot where she was left to bleed to death, the poppies defy the death traps and bloom every spring, brining a promise of hope and justice. Tell her that students, workers and farmers are still humiliated at the checkpoints, are still hunted down by killers hiding inside towers. Tell 16 year old Fahmi Al-Darduk, that his mother still cries over her only son, shot at an Israeli checkpoint and left to bleed to death, his only crime was listening to music from his cell phone. Tell 22 year old Bahsar Al-Qadiri, who was stopped at the death trap, tied and thrown into a pit and forced to stay there under the scorching sun until he died, that his mother has kept his room and his university books as he had left them, that she kisses his picture every day. Tell Nada Hussein that her 8 children celebrate Mother’s Day every year at her grave. Tell her that the Israeli soldiers who killed her still prevent patients from reaching hospitals, still delay them at checkpoints, leaving them to die a slow and a painful death. Tell Kamla Ash-Sholi that her two children keep asking about her, keep asking their father why the Israeli soldiers who shot their mother at the checkpoint for no reason were not punished. Tell her that Nahil Abu Raja still mourns her stillborn baby Zaid, killed by the checkpoint. Tell her that the mother of Khalid Mousa, the mother of Jamila and Huda As-Safadi, the mother of Aminah and Fatima Al-Qadi, the mother of Rawan Hreizan and many others still mourn their children, still remember them playing with their toys, still remember the day they were born, still remember the day they were stopped at Israeli checkpoints, prevented from reaching hospital and their children left to die while Israeli soldiers laughed. Tell 18 year old Kifah Zu’rub that his screams and cries still ring throughout his home, that his mother remembers every minute and every second of that day when her son was attacked by Zionists’ dogs, and prevented at the checkpoint from reaching hospital, how despite the injuries he was turned back home to die a painful death. Tell her that while Palestinian mothers and grandmothers are humiliated and killed at Israeli checkpoints, Arab brethren extend their hands to the killers. Tell her that while Palestinian pregnant women are forced to deliver at the roadside under the eyes and laughs of Israeli occupation soldiers, Arab brethren continue to talk about dignity, about “honour”. Tell her their cries for help and their screams of pain are music to the Zionists and fall on the deaf ears of the Arab brethren. Tell her that as life slips away, as they close their eyes, the world turns a blind eye. Today, on Mother’s Day, tell her dear mother Palestine and tell every Palestinian mother, that their cry for justice will never be silenced. Tell them that we won’t rest until we seek justice for Aisha Nassar, Rihab Nofal, Laila Baheiri and Rana Al-Jayyousi and every Palestinian victim. Tell her that we mourn with ever mother who lost a child, mourn with every child who lost a mother. Tell Fawziyyah Ad-Darak we remember every patient prevented from reaching hospital, every patient killed at Israeli checkpoints. Tell her we mourn her and mourn Khadra Mustafa, Fatima Ash-Sharafi, Basim Ar-Rimawi, Aisha Hasan, Safia Qandil, Khatima Abdel Rahman and every Palestinian patient left to die at the Israeli checkpoints.
On Mother’s Day, tell Wujdan Khalid that the Zionists still kill us with their American-paid poisonous gas. Tell her they still kill unborn Palestinian children, like they killed her 9 month old stillborn son Sa’d. Tell her they celebrate killing Palestinian mothers and their unborn children, they promote it and sing of “killing two for the price of one”. Tell her their racist minds see Palestinian babies as a “threat” that should be eliminated, and see Palestinian mothers as “weapons’ factories” that should be “demolished”. Tell her that they still throw gas canisters into homes, into crowded refugee camps, shoot them directly at protesters. Tell her that they still drown funerals with poisonous gas, that they still target schools and hospitals. Tell her that their poisonous gas still strangles mothers while in their kitchens baking bread. Tell her that their poisonous gas still kills the trees and silences the birds. Tell her that we mourn her, remember her, and remember Aziza Jabir, Dawlat Al-Masri, Amira Abu Askar and Nabila Al-Yaziji, Shukriyeh Faris and their unborn children. Tell her that we mourn and remember Amnah Darwish, Fatma Al-Walidi, Shamieh Jarrar, Fatma Salman, Kamleh Sharaf, Subhiya Mankush, Watfa Farajallah, Na’ima ‘Adi, Fatma Al-Khawaja, Rabi’a Ash-Sharafi, Khadra Abu Salameh, Khayriyah Alawneh and every mother killed by Israel’s poisonous gas.
On Mother’s Day, tell Wafa’ Ad-Daghmah that her children still see her lying on the ground in a pool of blood, still tremble at the memory of that day when Israeli occupation forces blew up their home and killed their mother in front of their eyes. Tell her that her blood refuses to be forgotten, her pain refuses to be silenced. Tell Manal Al-Batran and her 5 children that the Zionists still occupy the sky over Gaza, still occupy the land and the water. Tell them that Gaza homes are shelled by bombs and missiles while the so-called PA talks about freedom and liberation. Tell them that Palestinian schools in Gaza are targeted with illegal weapons while Arab brethren race to normalize with the Zionists. Tell them that Palestinian children in Gaza sleep to the noise of drones, and mothers don’t sleep at all, hug their children and try to protect them from the next missile. Tell them that Gaza says farewell to her children almost every day, while those who claim to represent us fight over chairs and imaginary posts. Tell them that Gaza stands alone and defies the daily Zionist terror while Arab brethren meet to coordinate new NATO invasions of Arab land. Tell Zeina Al-Awawdah and her 3 children that the world remained silent when the Zionist missile blew her and her children into pieces. Tell them that world leaders did not announce that they “cry with the people of Palestine”. Tell them that the so-called PA sold their blood without a wink of an eye. Tell them that the Arab brethren don’t even condemn Israeli crimes anymore. Tell Hayat Sheikh-Khalil that Gaza is still besieged. Tell her that the siege still kills Palestinians, still makes widows and orphans. Tell her that Palestinian mothers have to watch their children die a slow and a painful death, and fathers have to hear the cries of their children and not be able to do a thing. Tell her how young people, once full of hope and determination, wither in front of their parents. Tell Huda Al-Khawaja that her killers are welcomed in every world capital. Tell her that leaving her to bleed to death in front of her 5 children and preventing medical treatment was termed “a mistake”, for whom no one is to be charged or punished. Tell her that the world saw her die slowly, saw her children plead for help, heard the Israeli soldier say in front of the camera that they were doing “purification” work in the refugee camp, and the world remained silence, turned a blind eye. Tell Mariam Ayyad and Wajiha Rabay’a that their children have a million mothers now. Tell them that Palestinian mothers continue to protect their children from Zionist missiles, bombs, bullets and dungeons. Tell them that Palestinian mothers continue to rush and save Palestine’s children from the Zionist kidnap gangs and the death squads. On Mother’s Day and on every day, tell them, mother Palestine, that we mourn them, we remember them, we remember their sacrifices, we won’t forget the crimes. Tell them that we continue the fight for our and their freedom, for our and their rights, we continue to seek justice for us and for them, no matter how long it takes, because justice will prevail.
On Mother’s Day, tell Maryam Makhtoub and Najla’ Syam that Al-Aqsa is still in danger. Tell them that Zionist raids have increased while the actions of Arab brethren in support of Al-Aqsa remain non-existent. Tell them that Jerusalem is being ethnically cleansed, Judaized while those who claim to represent us “negotiate” over the colour of their VIP-cards. Tell them that Palestinian mothers still dream of the day when their children will be free, when Palestine will be free. Tell them that Palestinian mothers are forced to give birth inside Israeli dungeons while “PA” and Arab officials dine and wine in Tel Aviv, and while the whole world whines over the violations of human rights committed everywhere, but not those committed by the Zionist entity. Tell them about Intisar Al-Qaq, Majida Salaymeh, Umaymah Al-Agha, Samiha Hamdan, Mirvat Taha, Manal Ghannam, Samar Sbeih and Fatima Az-Ziq. Tell them that Palestinian mothers are kidnapped from the midst of their children, dragged away from the warmth of their homes and thrown into dungeons. Tell them how Palestinian mothers are harassed, tortured, isolated and threatened with their lives and the lives of their loved ones. Tell them about Iman Ghazzawi, Ibtisam Il-Isawi, Ireena Sarahneh, Qahira As-Saadi, Latifa Abu Thra’, Muntaha At-Tawil, Kifah Jibril, Hanan Al-Hmouz and Samha Hijaz. Tell them that the Zionist entity holds trials for the victims it killed, sentenced them and keeps Palestinian martyrs hostage. Tell them about Dala Al-Mughrabi, Darin Abu Eishah, Zeinab Abu Aalim, Hanadi Abdel Malik, Wafa’ Idris, Ayat Al-Akhras and Hiba Daraghmeh.
On Mother’s Day, tell Fatma Ghazal and Fatma Abu Dayyah and all your daughters that Palestinian mothers continue to be the spearhead of resistance, continue to be the guardians of the land, continue to be the teachers of the revolution, continue to the leaders, the marchers, the freedom-fighters. Tell them that Palestinian mothers don’t fear the machine gun of the Zionist colonists, don’t fear the tank of the occupation soldier, don’t fear the interrogation cells of the dungeons. Tell them that Palestinian mothers are the martyrs, the prisoners, the farmers, the workers, the protectors. Tell them that Palestinian mothers still cry for their children, still talk to their children’s pictures on the wall, place a Hannoun over their children’s graves. Tell them that Palestinian mothers hold back the tears, but can’t hold back the waves of longing, can’t stop the pain. Tell them that when a Palestinian martyr is carried to our mother, to Palestine, over the shoulders of thousands of comrades, every martyr becomes the child of a million Palestinian mothers, and a million tears fall for him/her, and a million zaghroota are sung for him/her. Tell them they are our mothers, the daughters of Palestine.
Dear Mother Palestine,
On Mother’s Day, tell my grandmother Mariam that I remember her every word and her every song about the land. Tell her that her smile is my constant companion, her courage and dignity my protecting armour. Tell her that I walk with her in Jrash, I hold her hand where my grandfather’s house once stood, I see her apple tree and her flowers. Tell her that the keys have not rusted, they are sacred and that the return journey to Jrash began the minute she was forcibly expelled from her home under the rush of bullets. Tell her that Jrash is closer than ever, though it might seem far away. Tell her the road to Jrash is clearer than ever, though it might seem blocked with so many obstacles. Tell her that her grandchildren are loyal to her legacy, carry her will in their hearts next to Palestine. Tell her that their compass points only towards Jrash. Tell my grandmother Aishah that I remember our walks up the hills, remembers her singing traditional songs. Tell her that her fig tree is still steadfast on the hill, standing in defiance, facing the illegal Zionist colony and the military checkpoint. Tell her that the olive trees that were burnt down to ashes have grown, have defeated death and are reborn, have defied uprooting and still cling to the land. Tell her that the land beyond the checkpoint and the barbed wire misses her, asks about her. Tell her that the lands asks: when will freedom come?
Dear Mother Palestine,
On Mother’s day and on every day, tell your daughters who have become part of you, whose bravery guides us, that we remember them, that we see them in the eyes of every Palestinian child, in the smile of every Palestinian mother, in every Hannouneh and in every olive tree. Tell them that the mothers of Palestine will continue to raise freedom-fighters, martyrs, prisoners and revolutionaries. They will continue to raise Palestinians, sing to them the songs of Palestine, tell them about Haifa and Beisan and Safad, teach them that Palestine will always be one from the River to the Sea, that rights are not begged for but are taken. They will continue to lead the struggle for a free Palestine, free from the River to the Sea, for they are your daughters, mother Palestine.
During the First Intifada, one song we often sang, chanted in marches and protests says:
Oh my people, the revolution has grown and we are her revolutionaries
In my village and in my town, from her River to her Sea
Oh my people, my family, join the revolution oh my people
The house they demolish, it’s our duty to rebuild
The child whose father they imprison, it’s our duty to embrace
Oh mother of the martyr ululate, all the young people are your children
Oh mother of the prisoner rebel, death but not humiliation
Salute the revolting sister, salute the patient mother
We choose the time and we decide the place
Our words are our deeds and our souls in our palms
And if we die, our children continue the march