Love Under Apartheid



Louay and Areen in their wedding in Jordan

Love is never sure to go smoothly, but at least you’re not in Palestine where love can get a whole lot more complicated. Love is one of the most beautiful and purest emotions in the world and yet here it is often deliberately restricted due to the apartheid checkpoints and racist laws that ‘Israel’ has imposed on the Palestinian people. Unfortunately in Palestine, we are even denied the right to love. Love under occupation is especially complicated when one’s lover has a different Hawiyyeh (ID card) from that of the other. It is simply because Palestinians in different places within Palestine have different IDs which identify where we live, in Gaza, or West Bank, or Jerusalem, or 48 lands.

IDs are a symbol of occupation and apartheid. Israel imposed these polices to make our lives more difficult, to control and restrict our movement, to make warm and connected feelings like love more painfully elusive. In Gaza and West Bank, we have the same green Hawiyyeh. However, it is virtually impossible for a Palestinian from Gaza to visit another Palestinian in the West Bank and vice versa. Our people in Jerusalem hold a blue Hawiyyeh ( Israeli Hawiyyeh). This Hawiyyeh is a temporary residence card. It has an expiration date and it can be withdrawn any time by the Israeli Occupation Forces. Israel uses these policies whenever they like which put our people in Jerusalem under permanent threat of being deprived the right to exist on their lands.

I’m writing this after spending one week with a beautiful Palestinian couple (Louay Odeh and Areen Sweetat ) in Istanbul and their family who came from Jerusalem to visit them. Louay, who is originally from Lifta, one of Jerusalem’s villages, served 10 years in the Israeli prisons before he was released in the Shalit swap deal. His happiness of physical freedom was incomplete as he was expelled to the open-air prison in Gaza.

I had the honor to meet with Louay during a festival of freedom in Gaza right after the prisoner exchange took place on October 18, 2011. I can still remember how excited my dad was when he insisted on us accompanying him to that festival. “It is very much like those popular festivals of freedom that were organised for us when I and my comrades were released in 1985 swap deal,” Dad recalled. Dad knows Louay’s uncle as they served 13 years together in Israeli jails. He also met with Louay’s parents during the 70s in prison as they also experienced imprisonment in Israeli jails like tens of thousands of Palestinians.

Louay’s partner Areen who is a Palestinian from 1948 occupied lands waited for him during his entire imprisonment, clinging with hope that the dawn would come when his chains will break for them to unite together in peace and harmony. After two years of Louay’s release, they finally got married on August 25, 2013 despite all the obstacles they faced. Their marriage is a victory against Israel’s apartheid regime. It wasn’t easy for them to re-unite together. They had to find somewhere else outside to celebrate their wedding and live. Louay is no longer able to even enter his homeland Jerusalem after his expulsion to Gaza. Areen as well couldn’t enter the Gaza strip which is for Israel “a terrorist zone”. Therefore, if she did enter the Gaza Strip, Israel would confiscate her Israeli passport, and that means that she would never be able to see her family and homeland again. The sole solution they could find was living in Turkey until Palestine is free.


Louay, Areen, Oday and their cousins in a party one before the wedding in Jordan.

I also met one of Louay’s brothers, Oday, during his visit to Istanbul. He has become a good friend of mine. He lives in Jerusalem and I’m a refugee living in the Gaza strip but studying currently in Turkey. We hold different IDs which means that it is almost impossible for us to meet within Palestine. Isn’t it insane that I and any friend from the other side of Palestine can only meet face to face in any country other than Palestine? And on the condition that we the lucky few who manage to be granted a visa to that country? Isn’t it inhumane that the only way to talk with friends from the other side of Palestine is through social media?

On the day Oday’s flight to Jerusalem was scheduled, he tried to tease me as we were saying goodbye and said jokingly: “I’m going to Jerusalem but you are not.” This sentence brought me tears. But he didn’t realize how painful his “joke” was. I went back home along with another friend from Jerusalem. I kept cursing borders, checkpoints, distance and occupation all the way back home. He tried to calm me down and said: “ One day we will wake up from this nightmare and live the life we want; in dignity and freedom.” I smiled and remembered Rafeef Ziadah’s poem, “We, Palestinians, wake up every morning to teach the rest of the world life, sir.”

I wonder why only us, Palestinians, must think a billion times before letting our hearts open up to a Palestinian living on the other side of Palestine? Why should our love stories be so complicated, be so agonizing  When can we stop saying: Fuck the checkpoints and the apartheid wall? When could we love wherever and whenever we want without worrying about apartheid checkpoints and the restrictions on our movement that Israel imposes on us? When will the words, “human rights” mean anything on the ground for us Palestinians? When will the international human rights organizations and people worldwide have the conscience to speak out and act against the racism and oppression that we endure on a daily basis? When will all people learn that love is the solution? When will we, Palestinians, be able to live and love in circumstances that you reading this have had your entire lives, but that I have never experienced for a single moment?

It was published on Mondoweiss and Beyond Compromise.


“Kadın ’hoca’ Oxford’da cuma namazı kıldırdı “ haberine yorumu

Haberin başlığını okurken ilk dikkatı çektigi şey ‘ Kadın “sözcüğünu kullanıldığı. Okurun dikkat çektirmesi için yazar kadın sözcüğü başlıkta yazmıştır cünkü toplumsal ve kültürel gelenekler ve adetlere göre erkekler sadece hutbe verir ve namaz kıldırır. Okurun dikkatı aldırmak için yazar hoca sözcüğü tırnak içine koymuştur. Haberin başlığında hoca sözcüğünden sonra namaz değenlenerek hoca sözcüğü başka bir anlama gelebilir çünkü cemaat ablasına genç olmayınca ‘ hoca ‘ denir. Aslında haberde hoca söcüğü iki anlamı olabilir. Birincisi önce dediğim gibi cemaat ablası ama ikincisi yüksek eğitim alan kişi. Yazar ‘muhafazakar müslüman çevreleri kızdırdı ‘ yazarak hutbe verildiği ve namaz kılındığı yerdeki bütün müslümanlar aşırı dindar olduğunu genelliştirmiştir. Yazar kadına destek veren insanlardan söz etmemiştir. Ayrıca, bütün müslümanlar hocaya karşı olduğunu belirlettiği için yazarın İslama karşı olduğunu ve destek vermediğini görünebilir. Böylece haberde dini ayrımcılık mevcut olduğunu öğrenebiliriz.

الشّقي ابن المخيم



سأحاول أن لا أكتب بشكل رومنسي. أعشق أخي الذي يصغرني بسنتين فقد عشت معه تفاصيل طفولتي التي ما زلتُ أعيشها حتي هذه اللحظة. لم أذكر أننا نادنيا عليه يوما بإسمه الحقيقي فنُفضّل دائما أن نجد له لقب (اسم دلع ) يليق بكل مرحلة في حياته حتي لا يتمسخر عليه أصدقائه وجيراننا. أطلقنا عليه العديد من أسماء الدلع منها ” ميدا , حمودة , حمادة ” وغيرها والآن رسينا علي “ميدا ” رغم عدم مناسبته للمحيط الاجتماعي من حوله وربما حولنا. لا أستطيع إنكار احساسي بالغيرة حينما يقولون أن ميدا هو ” آخر العنقود والدلوع “. كنت أتخيل في صغري أن لو لم يأتِ ميدا لكنتُ أنا الأكثر دلالاً ودلعاً منه. أنا وميدا كنا ننتظر شهر رمضان علي أحر من الجمرِ حتي نحتفظ بمصروفنا اليومي لشراء سلك جلي وقنابل بسيطة , نسهر ليالي رمضان شوقا لمجئ العيد, نستيقظ الساعة الخامسة صباحا من كثر حبنا للمدرسة فقد أذكر في مرة من المرات أن ذهبنا إلي المدرسة قبل البواب فانتظرناه لمدة ساعة حتي يفتح لنا باب المدرسة, نعيش في نفس الغرفة لوقت ما قبل سفري الي تركيا,و نضرب بعضنا البعض مستخدمين المكانس والقشّاطات و الأدوات الحادة في وقت اختلافنا. ميدا هذا الطفل الذي ننسب دلعه إلي دراسته المرحلة الابتدائية في مدرسة مختلطة في مخيم جباليا للاجئين, يكره الدراسة فحين يأتي وقت الدراسة ستسمع هذه العبارات ” يمّا,بدي أروح عالحمام, بدي آكل , صاحبي كلّمني, زهقت” وغيرها من الحجج , يعشق الأعمال المهنية حيث يفتح ورش تصليح دراجات هوائية و تصنيع طائرات ورقية وغيرها في حديقة المنزل, يكره الجلوس في مكان ما لمدة طويلة, يحب المشاركة في انطلاقة أي حزب وطني لاقتناعه التام بأن كل الأحزاب واحد وذهابه لمثل هذه المهرجانات سيساعد في التحام شعبنا المنقسم. ميدا هو فرد العائلة الذي نفتقده دائما في حال غيابه ولا نتحمل عدم وجوده في البيت اذا غاب. ميدا ربما الأذكي في إخوتي لكنه دائما يحصل علي أدني العلامات وذلك لأنه مثل الزنبرك دائم الحركة والحيوية. ميدا ذاك الشخص العصامي الذي بدأ العمل هنا وهناك والاعتماد علي نفسه منذ طراوة أصابعه. ميدا الشخص الذي لا يرد طالباَ للمساعدة فيُلبّي الطلب ولا يتردد في تقديمها حتي في أواخر الليل. ميدا الذي يملك أقوي العلاقات الاجتماعية مع الجيران والأقارب والأصدقاء ويتعامل معهم كإنهم وُلِدوا من نفس البطن. ميدا هو الوحيد الذي يتعامل مع بابا كإنه أخيه أو صديقه فدائما يتشاكسان ويتجادلان بدون تعب. ميدا هو الشخص العفوي الكاسر لحاجز الخجل والعيب. ميدا هو ذاك المراهق الذي يقضي ساعات أمام المرأة قبل خروجه إلي أي مكان ليظهر في أجمل صورة. ميدا هو الكاسر لتعقيدات الذكورية في مجتمعنا فيجلي ويطبخ ويغسل ويشطف ويكنّس. ميدا شخص بسيط جداً فهو علي عكس منّا ليس له نشاط جاد وواضح بالقضايا المعاصرة في هذا العالم. ميدا الطفل الذي يإمكاني أن أطلق عليه بشكل رسمي ” ابن مخيم جباليا ” ربما لا يعرف معني الليبرالية والعلمانية واليسارية والثورية والنسوية وغيرها من المصطلحات الرومنسية الكاذبة في هذا العصر. أُفكر كثيراً في أفعاله وأقواله فأجده هو الأكثر تقدما وانفتاحا فينا. ميدا هو الوحيد منّا الذي لم يخرج من حدود هذا السجن الصغير الكبير ولكن عندما قّلت له لا أريد لبس حجاب الرأس فأنا غير مقتنعة به بتاتا فغمز لي وقال ” اضربِ كَّفّك, إنت قلق “. ميدا هو القلق والحريقة كمان فهو لم يكذب علينا كما يكذب الآخرين بنعت أنفسهم بإنهم تقدميين وديمقراطيين ونسويين وغيرها.

في النهاية وبغض النظر عن الموضوع يسعدني أن أُبشّر نفسي بأن كل محاولاتي للكتابة رومنسية وعاطفية للغاية.

ماما الحُب


أمي هي الطفلة الشقية التي قضت طفولتها في أزقة مخيم معسكر جباليا, المراهِقة التي لم أتذكر أنها سردت لنا عن هذه الفترة المضحكة من العمر فذهبت ركضا لأسألها عن مراهقتها, فأجابتني: “إحنا كنا وطنيين ومقضيينها بالمظاهرات ومش فاضيين للهبل”, الشابة التي تركت خطيبها الأول لإنه رفض دراستها للتمريض وخارج قطاع غزة أيضا,الطالبة التي تمردت علي الثقافة الاجتماعية الفلسطينية لتحقق طموحها في دراسة التمريض في القدس, الناضجة التي وقفت في وجه أهلها الذين رفضوا مقدما بأن يزوجوها لحبيبها لإنه في ذاك الوقت كان المشرف العسكري السري للجبهة الشعبية لتحرير فلسطين في شمال قطاع غزة, الثورية التي تم أسرها لعدة ساعات في السجون الاسرائيلية بتهمة رميها للحجارة علي الجيبات الاسرائيلية, الصبية التي لم يعتب عليها شبرا من فلسطين بتنانيرها القصيرة وفساتينها المورّدة وبناطيلها المرفوعة حسب موضة ذاك الزمان, الزوجة التي ولدت ثلاثة من أبنائها حينما كان زوجها محكوم عليه مؤبد وسنوات في السجون الاسرائيلية,انقطع حليب صدرها من شدة تأثرها بدخول أبي السجن ولم تستطع ارضاع أختي المتوسطة بشكل طبيعي حتي لهذا الوقت ننسب مازحين ضعف أختي الجسدي لهذا السبب, العروسة التي باعت ذهبها في يوم صباحيتها من أجل دعم أبي في شراء بيت مستقل عن العائلة الكبيرة, المرأة التي بدأت عملها منذ لحظة تخرجها في العيادات التابعة لوكالة الغوث لللاجئين في مخيمات قطاع غزة, العاملة المخلصة في عملها حيث تخرج في أي عدوان علي غزة الي المدارس المحيطة ببيتنا حتي تقدم الاسعافات الأولية لمن يحتاج ,الجارة التي فتحت بيتها كعيادة صغيرة لجيران المنطقة, الأم التي تنام وتستيقظ فجرا حتي تنظف البيت وتطبخ لنا قبل خروجها للعمل, في أي وقت تراها ستجدها تصلي او تسبّح لالهها لتدعو لابنائها, تملك أجمل وأنعم يدان و أدفي حضن , اذا ذكرت لها أي اسم من أبنائها ستبكي بدون أي سبب. أمي المتمردة الحرة هي نفسها التي تثير جنوني لرغبتها الشديدة بلبسي للحجاب , تتعامل معي في بعض الأوقات وكإنها لم تكن في يوم من الأيام كما أنا الآن و تناقضني بهذه المرحلة من عمرها في الكثير من الأفكار. أمي ببساطة الحُب الحُب


هذه أحد المكاتيب التي أرسلتها أمي لأبي عندما كان في السجون الاسرائيلية

Images from Gaza-Palestine


0 DSC_0131

We quote “ There is a great woman beside every a great man “ . The Palestinian woman is unlike other women in this world. The Palestinian woman could be the daughter, wife, sister or mother of a prisoner, martyr or injured. She is a stone thrower, living martyr and freedom fighter. She is an inspiration for every woman as she smiles,works hard, revolts, rebels and dreams despite all what all difficulties she does through.

PS: There are 10 Palestinian women in the Israeli jails and 460 Palestinian women got killed by the Israeli occupation.


DSC_0171 DSC_0141

This photo can show me two things; The first beautiful thing is the Palestinian children still achieve successes and try to draw smile in their lips despite all what they go through. They smashed the Guinness World Record for the largest-ever hand print painting , kites-flying and dribbling soccer balls.

The other painful part is the smokestack that exists in the Occupied Palestine. This other part of my country that every Palestinian dreams of going there. This part of Palestine that I can see but I can never reach. This doesn’t mean that Palestinians may loose the hope of moving one day freely in my country without Israeli checkpoints and borders.



This civilian home has been targeted by the Israeli warplanes. This home was a place for safety and peace. Seeing it on this way is now like a nightmare for its owners that they wish to wake up from. The continuous Israeli attacks on Palestine bring many images and memories from Nakba 1948 when Palestinians were forces to leave their houses with nothing but their keys and much hope of returning back to their homelands someday. This hope is still eagerly waiting.

DSC_0191 DSC_0151

Beach is the only possible destination to escape away from the reality . However, the beach became a dangerous place, and you may lose one of your family members there. Huda Ghalyeh witnessed the danger of Gaza beach while she was sitting with her family peacefully and enjoying the beautiful waves hugging Gaza shores. Her happiness was disrupted as Israeli navy shelled the beach. Huda Ghalyeh was the only survivor of her family due to the aggressive attack.



This image reminded me of some of every human being’s rights that every Palestinian is deprived from. “ Freedom and Peace “ have been always names for a song or headlines in a newspaper no more and no less. Everyone on this earth can tell you passionately about what freedom feels like but no Palestinian can do so. Palestinians live in an open air prison with Israeli checkpoints and borders. Every Palestinian is sick from hearing the repeated word “ YOU CAN’T “ . Palestinians will keep fighting until they figure out what freedom means.


Author’s Note : All the photos have been taken by Reham Ghazali . She is a photographer living in the Gaza strip.

Despite our difficulties, we keep on saying "On this land what is worth living""


I spent 4 hours alone at home today without electricity, listening to the awful sounds of the Israeli drones hovering over Gaza Sky and the generators. Being in such a situation makes me think deeper so I brought my mobile phone to write on as I had no charge left in my laptop. After writing many things about my life as a young woman living in the besieged Gaza strip, I came out with a personal theory which is ‘living in the Gaza strip is an inspiration to every Palestinian.’

Scales overturned in Palestine especially in Gaza. People outside use candles to create a romantic atmosphere but Gazans use them to give some light to escape the darkness that we live. Candles in Gaza burn themselves in order to give light to Gazans just as so many Gazans are so generous in their self-sacrifice for their citizens. When I was In Stockholm, my friend used to turn candles on whenever we have dinner. I used to make fun of the symbolic differences between candles in Gaza and Stockholm. I wanted to bring some of her candles back home with me so I use them in as she did, for a nicer atmosphere, whenever I want to, not whenever I have to!

Most of the people outside are addicted to music and songs which make the person relaxed and makes his mood better. However, as usual, things are different in Gaza. The Israeli drones would have a louder volume than our songs do. Therefore, we won’t be able to fully enjoy listening to music and separate ourselves from horror hovering above us outside. (PS: You will never be able to imagine how annoying their sound is until you try it.)

Ordinary people stay the whole night up to work, watch movies, or chat to friends and family and so on but Gazans have a sleeping clock which depends on the daily power-cut schedule at their homes. Two days ago, we heard six loud explosions nearby and it made me traumatized especially that they were one after another. After that Israel attack, I was very sleepy but I couldn’t sleep, fearing more bombs might fall at any moment and might target our house. Having these fears in mind didn’t let me go to sleep until I saw the daylight.

Two days ago, The United Nations published a report saying that Gaza will not be a ‘liveable’ place by 2020 due to the problems it has in water, electricity, health and education. It reminds us of a famous line of poetry that every Palestinian living in the besieged Gaza still quotes from the Palestinian poet Mahmoud Darwish, ‘On this land what is worth living’.



I was staring at my laptop’s screen and seeing people status about love ,politics and so on . I imagined how the true Palestinian love would be so I kept tweeting about it using the hashtag #PalestinianLove . Here are some of my tweets .

love 2

and here Joe Catron "@JnCatron" who is an American activist  tweets also about Mahmoud Sarsak and girls who would fall in love will him .

love 89

and I still tweet about #PalestinianLove.



and I started to imagine how my Palestinian traditional wedding will look like when I find my revolutionary man .



and even the Palestinian flirt is unlike any flirt in the other world .


and also the Palestinian gift is different .


It’s normal that everyone would like to be a Palestinian. Here are some of the replies which are related to my tweets about #PalestinianLove.





Finally , I would make this promose .


See you all in a free Palestine.