Deema Dabis

Internationals create human buffer around Palestinian farmer

July 26, 2009

Editor's note: Below is a first-hand account by my friend Neda Mustafa of an attempt to help a Palestinian farmer pick his grape leaves in the face of belligerent Israeli settlers and an aggressive Israeli military. Unfortunately the following story is all too common here in Palestine. Yet it also shows the power of human solidarity across all borders at work!


This morning I woke up at 5:45 a.m. to head to Beit Ummar to help Palestinian farmers there reap the benefits of their land. (Today it was grape leaves.) The reason they need help (and so early in the morning) is because there is a Jewish settlement next to their land now, which makes their farmland a "closed military zone."

This means that the farmers who own the land are not allowed on it, thus making it difficult to reap their harvests. We went early because the army usually gets there later in the day. So we arrive and walk down to the farm where two Arab families are already picking. We quickly join them and begin picking the grape leaves.

Finding Tony’s house in Jerusalem

June 14, 2009

“Blanket German support for Zionism is wrong as well as foolish; it’s not good for Germany or for the Jews in the long run, and it’s an insult to the Judaism that flourished in Germany for many hundreds of years before the Holocaust. It’s also a sign that the lessons of the Holocaust have not really been learned except in the most vulgar way: Never Again should this happen to the Jews -- is that all we’ve learned?” -- Jeremy Milgrom


We made our way into Jerusalem with a picture of a picture from an old newspaper clipping and some vague directions. Go past the YMCA, make a right at the olive groves, walk for five minutes and the Minerva (or Shiber) house is on the corner on the right hand side. We did not know whether the house still existed or would be recognizable from these 60-year-old directions. Yet finding the home my friend Tony’s father was born in, and forcibly kicked out of in 1948, was easy and full of surprises!

Tony’s father was around the age of 11 when Zionist soldiers came to the doorstep and informed his family that they had 48 hours to vacate the home in the West Jerusalem neighborhood of Talbieh. Many of the events surrounding this pivotal moment in Tony’s history are vague and unknown. This seems to be typical of many refugee families. It almost seems that the trauma is too painful to remember.

Refugees of consciousness

May 31, 2009

Walking around the city of Jerusalem I am often amazed at how seemingly normal everything is. It is like an image of a picture-perfect family. Everything appears to be okay on the outside, but on the inside there is self destruction and violence.

May 15, 1948, is a day that has been forever branded in the Palestinian consciousness. It is a day that symbolizes a massive uprooting that sent about 85 percent of the native population into exile. There were invasions and massacres that killed around 13,000 and caused 800,000 to flee in the months leading up to and after this day. As I walk through the streets of Israel, I can't help but feel haunted by the sorrows of these misplaced voices.

And being here and so close and intimate with this Nakba, or Catastrophe as it is called in Palestine, I am beginning to understand first-hand what happens when a trauma is not dealt with. Over 500 Palestinian villages were destroyed, many of which became Israeli cities with different and, sometimes, similar names. Others became national parks Generations later, Palestinian refugees still try to return to their homes.

Resisting confiscation in Palestine

May 17, 2009

Friday May 1 was Workers Day here in Palestine, and I got the day off. So I decided to follow a group of friends to a march happening from Solomon's Pools in Al Khader village to Artas village for the Annual Lettuce Festival. When we arrived at Solomon's Pools there was a Dabkeh dance troupe there dressed in white.

They started off the pre-march atmosphere with flute-driven dabkeh beats, stomping and spinning down the street. Our guide Awad led us through the windy hillside. Solomon's Pools were built in the time of Kind Herod 2,000 years ago. At one point they were full of water reserves, but now they are mostly filled with litter.

At the third pool, Awad tells us about two little boys who drowned the day before. They were playing on the ledge when one slipped and the other tried to help him. The pool is not deep, and had the children known how to swim perhaps they would have survived.

Re-membering, Part II

April 19, 2009

"Cowardice asks the question - is it safe? Expediency asks the question - is it politic? Vanity asks the question - is it popular? But conscience asks the question - is it right? And there comes a time when one must take a position that is neither safe, nor politic, nor popular; but one must take it because it is right." -- Martin Luther King, Jr.


Living in Occupied Bethlehem you see such a variety of faces and people from all over the world -- pilgrims who come to see the holy sites, internationals who come to be with the locals. In the distance, Jewish-only settlements sprinkle the hilltops.

One of the most shocking things about being witness to the situation here is the normalness with which things happen. Every day someone is killed, beaten, jailed, harassed, humiliated; homes are demolished, their occupants (often extended families) left to wander and relocate. Not only does the Israeli state demolish their homes, it charges them for the cost of the demolition.


March 22, 2009

Editor's note: Deema Dabis has moved to Bethlehem and is now a resident of the occupied West Bank.


“Asks the Possible of the Impossible, ‘Where is your dwelling-place?’ ‘In the dreams of the Impotent,’ comes the answer.” -- Rabindranth Tagore

On the eve of the six-year anniversary of the death of Rachel Corrie, I am reminded of the importance of re-membering! Rachel Corrie stood in front of an Israeli bulldozer in a civil disobedience attempt to prevent yet another demolition of a Palesitnian home in Gaza. She was wearing a bright orange vest, and she had blond hair and blue eyes.

She was confident that the driver of the bulldozer would stop. To the horror of all eyewitnesses, the soldier drove forward and crushed her with his CAT bulldozer, reversed and then drove over her again.

What may come of the tragedies?

February 8, 2009

Below is an e-mail from Anna Baltzer, a Jewish American woman who has traveled extensively in Palestine and Israel and written a lot about it. She is a Fulbright scholar and is currently in Damascus.


Last week I sent out a story about a Gaza woman being asked to choose which five of her children would live and which five would die — an unmistakable parallel with the famous story of Sophie, a woman who had to choose which of her children to give to the Nazis to kill. When I first heard the story from Gaza, I could hardly believe it, and indeed many readers have responded incredulously to my post over the past week.

Honor the dead, light a candle for the living

January 11, 2009

As I sit here in this new year, I am at a loss for words about the recent happenings in the Gaza Strip. For days my inbox has overflowed with horror stories and pictures.

With a moment’s notice, a mother loses five daughters, their small bodies wrapped in white like mummies next to one another as if they were sleeping peacefully, away from the chaos that was once their existence. More than 700 Palestinians killed and over a thousand injured. Homes, mosques, hospitals, markets, cultural centers and universities crumble to the earth.

A ship leaving from Cyprus, steered by Internationals of the Free Gaza Movement, including doctors, human rights activists and former U.S. Congresswoman Cynthia McKinney, attempted to bring much overdue medical supplies. The boat was rammed by Israeli military boats and almost sunk with everyone on board, but it was eventually rescued by Lebanon.

The fire of resistance

December 28, 2008

This latest post is a statement made by a young Israeli refusing to serve in the Occupied Palestinian Territories. It is a bold and powerful statement. I was moved by his courage and wanted to pass it on. Also, there is a movement happening right now trying to get some Israeli youth out of prison for their conscientious objection to what the Israeli military and associated authorities are doing in the Palestinian Territories. -- Deema


Name: Raz Bar-David Varon Age: 18

In a brief statement made on the day of her arrest, Nov. 3, Raz said:

I have witnessed this army demolishing, shooting and humiliating people whom I did not know, but have learned to respect their ability to go on dealing with these horrors on a daily basis. There’s supposed to be a good reason for all of this. This reason is supposed to be my defense. I feel like screaming: “This does not defend me! It hurts me!”

Bullets to bubbles

November 22, 2008

“At critical moments in history mythic sense tries to return to awareness in order to indicate life’s inherent capacity for renewal. When the end seems near and nothing seems to make sense anymore, the sense of myth tries to return to make sense of all the endings and to hint at ways of beginning again.” -- from The World Behind the World by Michael Meade


A couple of months back, before I even knew that I would be going to Palestine with a circus or that the Olive Tree Circus even existed, I had a vision. A waking dream I guess one could say.

Syndicate content