Mahmoud Ghanim
Pacifism is a cliché, I shoot people with my camera, cut their heads in Photoshop

The following phrase is what worries the Palestinians most if the PA dissolved

“Do you know who you are talking to?” 

This is not a phrase quoted from Walter White, from the show “Breaking Bad” season 4 showing his wife Skyler that he is a bad guy, saying: “Do you know who you are talking to? Do you know how much money I make? I am the danger”. This is also not the British boxer Ronnie Pickering in the popular video fighting with a motorist in a road rage rant.

The brilliant scenarist succeeded to show Walt as a scary character with all his contradictions. He was addicted to Meth even though he had never tried it. Even when the only one who could kill white was Heisenberg (himself). The show ended with Walter’s death, the fight on the road with Ronnie Pickers was solved. 

Going back to reality; after the second intifada, there was more than one group which if you talked to one of them, you would be going the deep end, or as we say, woe to you if you did the mistake of your lifetime of talking with one of them, you’d hear the phrase “Do you know who you are speaking with?” This was common, and the truth to be told, it was very effective, because, people usually preferred to not be interested in this piece of knowledge, and therefore they would waive their rights, which the citizens daring to ask for was the cause to use the term mentioned by the “anonymous prestigious figure”. 

On one occasion, there was a theatrical party, by an “unknown group”, in a remote town, and the director of the district, as usual, put a police detachment at the door of the hall to prevent the intruders from entering. The policeman grabbed the tie of a skinny young man, as if he held a halter, pulled the man’s neck down with one hand slapping him on his curved neck with the other hand, asking him:- With whom am I talking?

The skinny citizen with the necktie answered:

– An ordinary citizen, sir. I swear to God, an ordinary citizen.

Someone explained with a sarcastic, sadist smile extending from his right ear to his left one:

– He wanted to enter without a card… and when the policeman asked him about the card, he responded with “Do you know with whom you are talking?”

The policeman knew very well that no one significant lives in this town, and who were invited to this celebration are the people who have the power to ask: (Do you know who you are talking to?) and it seems that the policeman as well was not from a small family, therefore this phrase did not arouse fear, so the policeman asked back:- With whom I am talking?

It was unfortunate for that skinny young man, that he was wearing a tie. 

Away from the cinema, and stories, Palestinians in reality are considering their future daily life in the image of the recent past. The threats of the PA’s disintegration makes the future uncertain for the youth, and being without citizenship kills the hope for the ones who have dreams, the fragile economy daunts the ambitious, volatile sovereignty, precarious security situation cripples all aspects of life and buries every chance towards improvement.

After the 3rd round of Israeli elections, negotiations went back and forth for a year, without having a government which gave the PA space and time to prepare its papers or rally an international rejection of the American-Israeli move to annex West Bank. The two rival parties disagreed on so many things but agreed on Implementing Trump’s Plan for the region.  

Jordan Valley and other agricultural lands considered the Palestinian food basket witnessed annexation procedures that took place right after the announcement of Trump’s Plan by cutting down plants and preventing farmers to enter the land. While the high population in unannexed cities are facing a different kind of threat: after the PA removed police stations near Jerusalem, these cities and villages witnessed a refusal to comply with the PA’s curfew orders as thousands of Palestinians in Kufr Aqab went out to the streets despite all the warnings. The PA police and national security in Hebron tried to absorb the situation by spreading sweets to people in the streets as a holiday greeting. Hebronites celebrated the police and national security officers, lifting them on shoulders, dancing as opposition radicals who were trying to take advantage of the prevailing situation to ride the wave but the PA was smart enough to act quickly and break it.

Meanwhile in Qalqilia, unknown attackers burned the tent at the main road, officers made checkpoints to limit the mobility during the curfew.

The First Intifada, the so-called “stones revolution” (before it was militarized,) started as a spontaneous social demonstration from people asking for their basic human rights under the Israeli military administration. It was sparked by an Israeli killing four Palestinians with his van. No soldier was killed by a stone so far but the recent sergeant Amit Ben Yigal two weeks ago in a Palestinian village. On the other hand, the IDF couldn’t stop settlers from killing Palestinians by throwing rocks on Palestinian cars. In the Second Intifada, especially after 2005, rampant (in)security measures in the West Bank injected fear and distress into Palestinians hearts, since over a thousand Palestinians were killed, and almost the same number were killed by the claim of betrayal, while more than half of the cases were settling “personal scores”. 500 Palestinians were killed by Hamas after the coup in Gaza. with different parties in power Israel, the IDF, the PA, the armed forces of different political parties, big families, and tribes, all these power groups, the compass spins announcing the connection is lost with one official party people can refer to in cases of conflict. What is right? Who owns it? How to implement it?

The questions arise from these numbers and stories is: if only one law needed to be applied to Palestinians in West Bank, is it the Palestinian or the Israeli one? Since the Military law does not fulfill the intended demands.

Palestinians had to choose either to be involved in the militaristic operations to affiliate to a group of protection. Or to be ordinary people and scared. And if one didn’t maintain his faith and composure he would not be able to know who he is talking to.

About the Author
Mahmoud Ghanim, 29, Bethlehem/Palestine: a peace and environmental activist. A poet and writer part of Yala Young leaders for citizen Journalism a project of Peres center for peace and innovation, which connects young leaders from across the middle east and north Africa online.
Comments