Why I am saving up for a punching bag

By: Jehan Alfarra

Imagine a tumor, a big lump of frustration muddled up with helplessness settling inside your heart and getting pumped through your veins and the entirety of your body, and it has no cure. You only wish you can reach down, thrust your hand into your heart and squash that toxic chunk of aggravation between your wobbly fingers. Eradicating it, though, is a treatment you are denied; the only eradication that you can have is the Israeli termination of your life, and along with it the termination of your despair. You may only resort to immunotherapy, which very much depends on your creativity in enhancing your immune system and endurance levels. It would be safe to say that every Palestinian is, one way or another, inflicted with this malignant cell. Where I live in Palestinian Gaza, people are inflicted with this helplessness and hopelessness , but to make matters worse, there is also a time bomb planted inside of their chests as well, ticking away and ready to detonate any passing moment. Life is a mere existence rather than real living. At times, escapism and absolute indifference are your only means of relative happiness.

In Gaza, men have ‘learnt at a very young age what it was to be angry- angry and helpless’. They are encompassed by a cloud of vulnerability and are impelled  to watch their integrity being ripped out at every uncertainty and inability to do and be, but as Gaza men are transported with rage, the defiance and struggle against the nasty tumor knows no break. It is a full time job.

In Gaza, even the most moderate and serene women are intensely preoccupied with a paradoxical desire and passion for ranting, cursing, and at times, simply crying. Watching their lives, and if married the lives of their children and their husbands preordained and constrained by what Israel, coordinating with Egypt, permits.

At times even the Israeli withdrawal from Gaza contributes to this blazing fury. The disengagement and isolation from even your occupier contributes to this agonizing helplessness, where the simplest forms of Palestinian resistance and expression of dissatisfaction with Israel’s ruthlessness and severe injustice is denied- that of hurling stones at the reason behind your misery and destitution.

In Gaza, the level of deprivation is bottomless. Being careful not to compare it, as many so ignorantly and idiotically do, with Somalia or the like famine-hit areas. No, Gaza is a different story. It is a beautiful place where large fragments of contradictions, and a struggle to be, blend to create a chained splendor, a troubling aesthetic. Gaza is not a poor place, it is a made-poor and isolated-from-the-world place. In one area you will find Gazan refugee camps’ alleys flooded with stories of horror and torment, and in another, you will find an extravagant villa and a blooming luxurious hotel where tunnel-smuggled-goods nosh its restaurants. It is an economy kept by Israel at the brink of collapse. It is a place of so much competence and potential, subjugated and suppressed by Israel on a daily basis, and thus crushing every ambition, every dream, and every attempt at blossoming. Water theft, trade constraints, electricity control, and movement restrictions are all but few practices by Israel aiming at turning the life of every Gazan into what a friend would put it- a coping mechanism.

To me, and to many Gazan Palestinians I know, my coping mechanism resides in my virtual world. Ranting and venting can indeed be therapeutic, and dwelling in the twitter world of mine could suffice to chase away the angry being lurking in my heart. This anger has been enhanced with so much fear and uncertainty, not only from Israel’s hidden plans for us, particularly after the recent blackout, but also from our obtuse leadership who might be blowing our decades-long struggle and butchering every dream of return in a dull-witted and selling-out move.

For my own emotional safety, I will be saving up for a punch bag- a pink one too. Something I can confide in and unleash my wrath at every unfairness, especially when I am denied even twitter by Israel. This is what Gazans really do need. For those who are thinking of forming a new convoy to Gaza, I once suggested a convoy of books, but now I say a convoy of punch bags. A more dignified stance of solidarity, and a true remedial aid.

17 responses

  1. Jehan, are there any martial arts classes near where you live? It sounds as though something like that could be really helpful and therapeutic for you. Plus, you would learn some pretty skilled moves to practise on your poor punch bag!

    August 14, 2011 at 8:44 pm

    • There are martial arts classes, I haven’t seen one for girls though I want to check. Usually it’s for children, and some for guys etc
      A Gaza talent show is underway btw, stay tuned! ^_^

      August 14, 2011 at 9:18 pm

  2. Thanks for writing about Gaza. I used to visit there, when I would travel to the West Bank from the US for research purposes, but I haven’t been in years to Gaza, and I like hearing from people who are there. You also write very very well.

    August 15, 2011 at 4:44 am

  3. i like ur language, and ur writing style,
    after reeding this i would thnk that people in Gaza r like containers of frustration, tension, and anger.
    its true .. 🙂 , but to some extent.

    u write good

    regards

    August 15, 2011 at 12:21 pm

    • Thanks Abed, but don’t you really find that those that are not are exactly the ones who do not give a crap about anything at all to begin with? I don’t know how they do it, how they manage to be so indifferent it’s incredible; I guess they are lucky🙂

      Notice what I said?
      “You may only resort to immunotherapy, which very much depends on your creativity in enhancing your immune system and endurance levels….At times, escapism and absolute indifference are your only means of relative happiness.”

      August 15, 2011 at 6:23 pm

  4. love these talented young writers coming out of gaza. such a strong powerful voice. stunning.

    go JeJe.

    August 15, 2011 at 12:30 pm

  5. My dear woman, you have just proven the very point that Israeli policy strains so hard to become reality: you are AGRESSIVE and VIOLENT at heart and you are admitting it – freely – for all to see. Do you understand why they have to cage you? You are a danger to all Israelis! You may punch them!

    Which reminds me of a joke ( which I may have read in Mondoweiss):
    A Russian Jewish mother is preparing her son for campaign against Turks, as he has been drafted to Imperial Russian Army:
    ” Please take care of yourself. Kill a Turk and rest. Kill another Turk and rest” she is saying over and over again.
    ” Muter, but what is Turks would want to kill me?” asks the son with a worry in his voice.
    “Vos? Why would those shrekleh Turks want to kill my boy? What have you ever done to them?

    (/sarcasm)

    August 15, 2011 at 12:31 pm

    • “Which reminds me of a joke”…

      I just heard this one (which apparently circulated in Nazi Germany):

      three things don’t ever go together: Nazi, decency, intelligence.

      You can’t be intelligent and decent, and be a Nazi.
      You can’t be intelligent and a Nazi, and be decent.
      You can’t be decent and a Nazi, and be intelligent.

      Works well with ‘Zionist’, too.

      August 15, 2011 at 4:18 pm

    • And then a video like this one falls in my hands http://www.facebook.com/video/video.php?v=10150118493181438&comments
      and I wonder if they are scared of me punching them- after all the horrifying things they do. I cry when I watch this stuff, I wonder how they manage not to shed a single tear while they freaking COMMIT these atrocities. I cry for my people, and I do understand the level of anger Nelson Mandela had in his heart.

      I am not whom I want to be, but I am left with no choice: https://palinoia.wordpress.com/2011/07/21/the-straw-that-broke-the-camel%E2%80%99s-back-an-ipod/
      “And often I wonder if even having my blog and writing about my experiences and Palestine is a gain or an attainment, seeing that I by and large think of it as just another a loss on the list. This has never been something I wanted to do. I never thought I would write anything, I despised writing. But I guess this is my pre-determined life as a Palestinian who wants to do something and change whatever it is that can be changed with so little a power. But at least I do like video-taping and editing.
      Now, I just want to be selfish and there is nothing wrong with that. I want one thing for myself. The most trivial things seem precious to me at this point and I keep thinking at things I wish I am doing, but still… I don’t want to think of my long-time-ago paintings and my art, that is fine. I don’t want to think of my dream of becoming an interior designer, not only because I don’t have the chance of studying or doing that, but also because it is not something that would contribute to justice in this world. I also don’t want to think about playing the piano or working on becoming better. I don’t want to think about swimming. I don’t want to think about my lost dignity at airports for having a Palestinian ID. I don’t want to think about having spoiled little children whose lives are much more fun and war-free. I am willing to sacrifice anything I love and want to have, and will continue to do anything noble that would contribute to justice and support it as much as I can with the same spirit I had. But, there is only one thing I don’t want to lose or give up on. There is only one thing I want to be selfish about, and I hope everybody would pray for me. Please, pray that I won’t lose it, and lose my mind, my life, my happiness, and my faith along the way. When life gives me lemon, I do make lemonade. But if it gives me gall, then what do I do?”

      Bless you,
      Jehan

      August 15, 2011 at 4:27 pm

      • Jehan,

        I don’t want to think about my lost dignity at airports for having a Palestinian ID.

        Hold your head high in all things you do. Holding a Palestinian ID card should be a constant reminder of your character and resilience, and one day, inshallah, it will be looked upon with envy by others as it signifies a proud, intoxicating and vibrantly blossoming nation.

        August 15, 2011 at 5:17 pm

      • i’m so sorry you lost your ipod jehan. ;(

        …you still have your vision and your talent. ipods come and go but talent and vision are two things some people don’t ever have.

        August 15, 2011 at 5:21 pm

  6. Pingback: Why I’m saving up for a punching bag

  7. [Gaza] is a beautiful place where large fragments of contradictions, and a struggle to be, blend to create a chained splendor, a troubling aesthetic. Gaza is not a poor place, it is a made-poor and isolated-from-the-world place.

    This reminds of a piece published by Electronic Intifada by Sami Kishawi recently, in which he writes: “Until the headlines stop focusing on just the devastation and systematic oppression perpetuated by the Israeli occupation and start recognizing or at least acknowledging Gaza’s audacity to become what the occupation is designed to prevent it from becoming, the population of the Gaza Strip will continue to harbor feelings of discontent towards foreign journalism and justifiably so.”

    http://electronicintifada.net/content/theres-more-gaza-broken-slabs-concrete/10144

    And, when Jehan Alfarra writes this…

    This anger has been enhanced with so much fear and uncertainty, not only from Israel’s hidden plans for us, particularly after the recent blackout, but also from our obtuse leadership who might be blowing our decades-long struggle and butchering every dream of return in a dull-witted and selling-out move.

    …it only strengthens my belief that UN recognition of a Palestinian state on 22% of historic Palestine would be a decisive blow to Palestinian pursuit of true justice, equality, and peace destroying once and for all the hope that Israel may some day be held accountable for its deplorable history of oppression and occupation. As Ilan Pappe writes, “A voluntary Palestinian appeal to the international community to recognize Palestine as a West Bank enclave and with a fraction of the Palestinian people in it, may intimidate a Likud-led Israeli government, but it does not constitute a defining moment in the struggle for the liberation of Palestine. It would either be a non-event or merely provide the Israelis a pretext for further annexation and dispossession.”

    http://electronicintifada.net/content/grumpy-diplomats-rogue-state/10201

    For those who are thinking of forming a new convoy to Gaza, I once suggested a convoy of books, but now I say a convoy of punch bags. A more dignified stance of solidarity, and a true remedial aid.

    I applaud your spirit, Jehan, and your sense of humor.

    August 15, 2011 at 4:01 pm

  8. I want that pink Barbie® punching bag!
    I need it in the worst way.
    I really do!

    August 15, 2011 at 4:43 pm

  9. We may get some good literature and poetry, the fruits of patience, out of this interminable situation. But that’s not good enough, is it?

    August 15, 2011 at 5:08 pm

    • it’s those minds behind that good literature and poetry that’s most valuable and irreplaceable.

      August 15, 2011 at 5:24 pm

  10. Pingback: مسابقة المئة تدوينة من فلسطين | The contest of 100 Blogposts from Palestine » Why I am saving up for a punching bag

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