Monday, October 09, 2006

we are not to mourn the martyrs

Contributed by Michael from http://OccupiedLove.blogspot.com

salam alaikum,

i write now in much lower spirits then when i drafted the grape email a little over two hours ago. as i was browsing the news sites for media pictures of our actions, i saw site all to familiar, but painful none the less. i saw another friend, eyes closed, wrapped in a flag, lying on his back being carried through the streets.

the story was also the same, an occupation invasion, this time in balata camp. the reports differ. but 3-6 palestinians were injured, and one, Osama Saleh, 22 years old, was shot dead. the reports said that osama was a fighter with fatah's main military wing, the al-aqsa martyrs brigade. it said that osama was seen with a gun. the reports said that while occupation forces invaded balata camp, they were engaged by palestinian fighters. the report said that osama was shot dead in this exchange, two bullets to his chest.

this all sounded normal to me until i saw the pictures. i lived in balata camp for nearly two months, and never met osama saleh, though i did meet skipper, a smiling and bright, skinny young man who was never without his baseball cap, which made his skinny face look even more angled. i never met osama, but skipper was a friend. always good for a hug, and always good for a laugh and a smile, despite his lack of english and my lack of arabic. when i saw the pictures, i learned that skipper and osama saleh were one and the same. my friend skipper, who would amuse a room by dancing the moon walk or the robot with a shy grin, is dead, his body carried through the streets as yet another one of balata's martyrs.

i saw skipper only a few days ago, when i was leaving nablus. i was walking through balata camp, and as it was ramadan, the kids were throwing fire crackers at every passerby. two of these landed under my shoe before exploding, and after the harrowing walk through the kids and the camp, i was in desperate need of a sense of safety, and there it was. i saw skipper, in his baseball cap, and he smiled warmly. 'peace be upon you,' he said, wherein i responded, 'and unto you.' we talked for a few minutes, and he hugged me tightly as if he knew it would be our last meeting. when we parted, i never thought that i would see him next being carried through the cracked streets of balata on reuters photo wire.

skipper was murdered, in defense of his family, of all the families of balata, of nablus, of the west bank, of palestine. he was murdered doing what any person in his position would do. he was murdered fighting an invading occupation force that sought to kidnap and kill his friends and family. he will never be my age, never marry, never have a child, never go to university. skipper will never again smile at a nervous international. he will never again laugh when the kids teased us. he will never again greet me in the late hours of the evening. i will never again see him sitting on the ledge of the corner shop where i buy snacks, and he will never again call out to me. i will never run into him as i walk through the camp. i will never see him and be invited in for tea.

they say in palestine, that if you die as a martyr during ramadan that you go straight to heaven. it is the best time to die a martyr. they say that you do not morn for the martyrs for they are in heaven with god. they say that you are not to cry for the martyrs for they are not dead but in paradise. with all of this, i couldn't help myself from crying. i cried at the computer. i cried on the roof seeking solitude. i cried on a friend's shoulder. i cried in the shower trying to cleanse myself before recognizing his memory before god. i cried, even though i know i shouldn't have. in the same day, in the same refugee camp, another palestinian was murdered, this time shot dead at huwarra checkpoint. i did not cry for this man who's name i don't even know. i didn't cry because when i close my eyes, i don't see his face, smiling at me with his arms out.

the papers called him a militant, a fighter, a soldier. i called him friend because he was kind to me and he showed me welcome and love. skipper is the third friend to die a martyr, and the closest to me yet. i love you skipper and i hope you are in Paradise now, smiling with your cap, while we carry on your name and your work in this life. you died so that others might be free. this is the greatest sacrifice one can give.

bismala rahman rahim, accept skipper as a martyr for freedom and allow him to finally find peace in the next life.

skipper, already you are missed.

in memory, with all my love from occupied palestine:



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