The Two Sides of Qalandia Part 17: We are Jerusalem.

The unfolding of events in Jerusalem seemed to occur pretty quickly for those of us watching them on television/computer/phone screens. Two Israeli police were killed. Three Palestinian men were killed. The Friday prayers were canceled for the first time since 1969. Security measures, in the form of  metal detectors and cameras, media seemed to focus their lens closely on Jerusalem, ignoring – or at least, for the most part – not mentioning the greater context these events took place in. It wasn’t an instance. It was – is – a result of the occupation.

The gates to Al-Aqsa and Dome of the Rock compound remained closed for about two weeks, and those who want to pray would have to go through the humiliating measures. The protests resumed for two weeks. Hospitals were raided in order to arrest the injured and capture the dead. Yes, the dead. Bodies had to be smuggled out of the hospital to be buried – quick mourning.


Then, after about two weeks, I was watching the very first moments of the security measures being taken down and the gates finally opening, welcoming the people of Jerusalem and all around. The mosques – even the ones in Al-Bireh/Ramallah – began performing takbeerat. My eyes filled with tears watching my fellow brothers and sisters in Jerusalem celebrate this victory. Yes, it was a victory.

My mind drifted to far places, as it often does. It drifted to a good place. That morning was one of them. I imagined the first few moments of a Palestine that is rid of the heinous occupation. I don’t know what will happen before or even after this, but that morning, I received a taste of it. I think many Palestinians did, and that is all thanks to our brothers and sisters in Jerusalem.

My friend asked a taxi driver on our way home from an adventure in Sebastia, “Do you have hope?”

He said, “If we didn’t have hope, would what happened in Jerusalem have happened?”


Image credit:


Generations Past and Pass: On Change

Donald J. Trump came to visit Palestine a week after I flew in. I turned on the television and sat across, watching Trump’s every move and hearing his every word. On the issue of Palestine, he was not going to be any different than his predecessors. Palestinians know this even before he utters a single word…even before he was sworn into office. Again, on the issue of Palestine, he was not going to be any different than his predecessors.

“That’s Donald Trump.” My youngest sibling walked into the room and sat next to me.

“The very one,” I replied.

“What’s he doing here?” She asked.

I didn’t know how to answer that. I silently hoped that when she was my age, a different, better story would be told.

I watched him speak and glorify the state of Israel and ignore the facts on the ground. I watched him meet with Palestinian leader Mahmoud Abbas and not utter a word about Palestine, the hunger strikers at the time, or anything he should have said. It was all about him wanting to combat terrorism and make the world great again.

As he shook hands with Abbas and left the podium, I thought to myself. How many generations have passed watching different United States presidents stand on a podium, preaching the same thing with no tangible….with no acknowledgement of the facts on the ground?

I thought of my grandparents, parents, myself, and my youngest sibling. We have all seen this two-podium-scenario with different presidents.

Today, there was a gathering in Ramallah in protest of the heinous measures Israel is taking against Palestinians in Jerusalem, especially in regards to Al-Aqsa Mosque. The protest was made up of a gathering of no more than 40 people.

“If this were to happen back in the day, everyone would have taken to the street,” my aunt, in her 40s, noted.

I nodded.

We rode a taxi, and as the taxi driver dropped us off, he said, “God help this generation. Darker times are yet to come.”

Darker times are yet to come. I wondered across how many generations this sentence has been uttered. 

The Two Sides of Qalandia Part 15: The Aftermath

Qalandia checkpoint is a human-sized birdcage. I have said this before, and this is the only way I will ever see it. I rode the Ramallah to Jerusalem bus excited – except I would not be dropped off in Jerusalem. I would be dropped off at the Qalandia checkpoint.

I have not been to Jerusalem in two years. At the bus stop and on Qalandia, I heard stories of women and old men who have not been there in over twenty. I know people who haven’t been there since they were born and who are now having children of their own. I am lucky. It had only been two years since I have visited one of the holiest cities in the world.

Walk to Qalandia

A woman walking towards the Qalandia checkpoint. Photo credit:   Author

As I walked, I reserved great attention to my footsteps. I looked down at my blue Converse as I stepped on stones and the remains of burnt tires.

A few weeks ago, there were protests at Qalandia for the hunger strikers who have had their basic rights stripped away from them. Tires were burnt. Smoke rose in the air. I, however, was not witness to this. I only found stones and the remains of burnt tires.

This is the aftermath of protests. Black skies and ground. Black. Darkness until one day, when we see light.


The Trip Home: Anniversary June Part 2

The trip home does not end when the airplane lands in Jordan. It begins.

The taxi radio was on. The radio talk show host was talking about how the next day marks 69 years since the occupation of Palestine. She began talking about the problems in Palestine, the negotiations that died long ago but politicians keep bringing up – as if there is a hidden message we have failed to catch – , the prisoner hunger strike, the, the, the…the list went on.

I was still in Jordan. I would be for a while. I wondered how, for the past 69 years on May 15th, things have not changed…not for the better. I wondered how many more generations will come and hear that for so and so years, things have not changed…not for the better. I will wonder this again, around a week later, when President Donald Trump comes to Palestine.

The next day, I get a message from a dear friend:

“How ironic you arrive on the day we were displaced.”

And my thoughts continued to struggle between the past and the future…when Palestinians were displaced and when they…if they will come back.

Podcast Episode: “Um Kulthoom Sang Here”

I am very pleased to announce the release of our very first podcast, “Um Kulthoom Sang Here” for AnOther Story. Get ready to be taken on a journey through Nablus’s coffeeshops that attracted artists, including Um Kulthoom, and hakawatyya from all over. In this story, you’ll meet some of Nablus’s locals with the most interesting stories!

I hope you enjoy this story as much as we enjoyed working on it. Thank you to Nicholas TurnerHalima Awad, Mustafa Azizi, Bara’ah Ab, Ramsis, Tahir Baker, Abu Ahmad, Abu Emad, the Kalbouna brothers, Deema, Ghaith, and everyone else who contributed and encourage the story. Below, you can find the links to the podcast in Arabic and English.



Apology Turned Euology: A Poem


Reading your name

it took me a few moments to realize

we have met before.

We have spoken months ago.

And I wish I had given you an apology.

I apologize that it has taken us more than the years

you’ve lived to end this occupation.

I wish I had given you an apology

every time you called me khalto 

on the ten-minute drive home

before I wrote you this euology.





“What happens when the green is gone?”

Ask many Palestinians not in Palestine if Palestine ever comes up casually, and they’ll probably tell you that, yes, we often mention Palestine in our introductions about ourselves, and somehow, political conversations branch into conversations about Palestine for us. It just does, and we have every right to do so.

Throughout the past few months, I have pulled up this map to “explain” where Palestine is and what is happening to it.


Source: The Map: A Palestinian Nation Thwarted & Speaking Truth to Power

But yesterday, I was asked a question I did not see coming when I was showing the map to a colleague who asked where Palestine was.

“What happens when the green is gone?”She asked.

My heart sank. The green can’t go! I wanted to cheer. I knew she’d ask – or her facial expression would give away her thought – “but how can’t it go?”

“Well…” I started a sentence that I did not know how to finish.

I wanted to say that the world would not allow that to happen. It would not make room for an indigenous population to be displaced from their land. Then, I remember that it has.

I wanted to say that World War 3 would erupt. Then, I remember Syria.

I wanted to say that we, Palestinians, wouldn’t let it happen. We just wouldn’t. I know people that wouldn’t. It’s enough to know people that wouldn’t, right?

But I started the sentence with, “Well…” and I couldn’t finish it because, well…







When You Open Up Your Own Bakery

I always say that when it comes time for me to retire, I’d open a little bakery with an outside seating area.

Well, a friend of mine beat me to it and is running her own bakery. Check out her story here, a piece by myself on Barakabits:

From Unemployed Palestinian Psychology Graduate to owner of Asal Bakery

Birzeit Politics: Wolf packs and flags

Around this time of year, Birzeit University looks like Hogwarts in preparation for the annual game of quidditch. Flags of the different political affiliations and colors (green, yellow, white, red, the occasional Palestinian flag) wave on rooftops, tieds to fences, and even raised to the tips of trees (and here’s where a dear friend comments and says, “They race to see who will hang the flag the highest as if they are racing to free Palestine.”) You also have your students from different parties huddling in groups like wolf packs.

If anything, those colors signal the beginning of election week. Actually, no. What signals that BZU’s student council election week is coming are the university security guards that start asking for your student ID each day from the beginning of the month before you enter the university.

The next day, after the colors go down, is the debate. The university – or whoever – suspends classes for two hours, and students and professors alike stand (or sit) under the sun and listen to six different groups plead their cases.

The debate is usually sponsored by eight things (I’m sure there are more):

  1. Who Can Yell The Loudest Through The Microphone
  2. Who Can Answer The LEAST Amount of Questions Asked By The Moderator
  3. Who Can Bring Out The Biggest Basket of Dirty Laundry For The Other Party
  4. Who Can Make The Most Empty Promises
  5. Who Can Shame The Other Party More
  6. Who Is The First To Go Over 5 Minutes
  7.  Whose “Followers” Can Cheer The Loudest
  8. Ignoring The Smaller Parties

The Islamic Bloc (commonly known as Hamas) debators and the Martyr Yasser Arafat bloc (commonly referred to as Fateh) debators stand at either side of the stage – with the other parties in the middle – and start with the “big” politics of Palestine, mentioning all that goes on in Gaza and the West Bank…and how Gaza will turn into a bed for ISIS and how the West Bank will make room for traitors. They call for the continuing of the “3rd intifada” that seems to have died down. It only escalates from there. Lemons and other fruits are introduced to accompany analogies I couldn’t comprehend. Also, the Martyr Yasser Arafat Bloc’s debator promised 1,000,000 Jordanian Dinars to go as student financial aid for the next 5 years if they win the elections. And if they don’t, where does this 1 million go? No idea if it even exists.

The two blocs stand there and call for unity among the parties. They even hug it out, and they go back to their shaming each other and calling out each other for not answering the questions asked and not making women a part of their parties.

And the students get so hyped! I’m pretty sure the revenue for the koffiyeah factory went up, with all the koffiyeahs, in all its colors, on students’ shoulders. The media gets hyped! It’s rumored that BZU student council elections get more coverage than any other political election in Palestine.

Today was voting day. There are five different spots students vote in according to their student ID numbers, and then, everyone waits for the results. How were the results this year?

The voting turn out was 76% out of the students eligible to vote. The Islamic Bloc won 25 seats compared to a 19 seats won by the other bloc out of a total of 51. Note that the Islamic Bloc won last year, making this a two-in-a-row win for them.

This is my last year attending BZU Student Council elections. What have I learned? People call for change and conformity and unity and division at the same time every damn time.






Backpacks On The Sidelines

March 11th marked the 2nd anniversary for Saji Darwish’s death, a student from BZU university who was murdered in 2014.

Still, Palestine remains to be going downhill in terms of the political situation. Violence ensues.

Check out my latest article on Fair Observer at