Wednesday, April 23, 2008

World, meet Ahmed...




A picture paints a thousand words they say and in this picture there is no exception. Last year I was creating a small video clip for Youtube for Marcel Khalifeh's "Kaffanaho" song. One of the pictures I found of the Intifada and the Palestinian struggle was of this boy poised to through a rock at the Israeli occupation. It has never been far from my mind since that first time I saw it and I have to say, it is my favourite. It is so powerful, so evocative and it stirs up a deep strength and encouragement when I see it. I don't know the boys name or who took this picture, but there is something about him, something amazing. You might expect to see him selling chewing gum at traffic lights or maybe smudging your car window and asking you for payments in one of our Arab capitals. He is unphotogenic, scruffy and, for me, beautiful...

My little hero, I shall call him Ahmed, is the bane of the beautiful denizens who think they dominate this world. The photogenic and vulgar many who judge a 'revolution' by how good looking the women parading are. They look at him in shock and horror, at his dirty and cheap trainers and jeans, his old scruffy jacket, his face twisted in determination as he prepares for that effort to launch the stone. With Ahmed there are no dramatic award winning photo opportunities, no dramatic glossy magazine covers. Ahmed and his ugly unkempt self are to be conveniently ignored for more fashionable faces of the revolution.

That's ok, Ahmed does not care about them. He does not care about how he looks and takes each day as it comes. He does not understand the sophisticated discourse of the strategic application of 'peace' which will bring him his stolen rights. The only Coca Cola he has seen is on the cans he collects to sell on for a meagre amount. He raises that stone, a modern day David against Goliath - mighty in spite of weakness, righteous. It is this righteous fury at a stolen right, against oppression, against injustice which gives Ahmed the beauty that captivates and inspires, that endears his little hands grabbing those rocks, his small jeans and the trainers which protect his feet from the grime of the dusty streets. Ahmed has no designer logo on his clothes and he is not interested in being accepted by the so-called "civilized" world. I think Ahmeds rock was thrown over 20 years ago, yet it is still heading towards its target. Still flying.

24 comments:

Serene said...

Beautiful.

Arima said...

Gorgeous post ya Wasim :)

qunfuz said...

great post, great last line in particular.

Lirun said...

ahmad's rock was thrown much earlier.. whether it was when we were shuffled into the malah in every arab town or when our people were persecuted in every arab country last century or when the arabs declared a regional boycott against jews in the 30s last century or when the mufti got chummy with the nazis over a final solution..

as you can see sticks and stones DONT break our bones and words hardly hurt us..

maybe its time you tried a different angle rather than relying on stones.. maybe the civilised world offers some solutions to your plight.. not just the palestinian one but also the syrian impending national disaster.. with mad food shortages.. not nearly enough water or the money to buy any.. ailing infrastructure.. demographic insanity.. global isolation.. a poisenous alliance to the world's craziest regime.. increasing distancing of the arab world with regional leaders not even attending key meetings in damascus etc

Lirun said...

if ahmad's parents loved him.. this photo wouldnt exist..

Nicolas said...

Yes, little Ahmed is my hero too.
Albeit the emotional strength of these kind of pictures is also its weak spot.
Without proper context these kind of pictures can be easily used to sell us an other war. Only appealing to our spontaneous gut instinct or even enhance the massage of a dramatic photo by copy doesn't comply as what I would consider decent blogging.
It would be easy for me to find a picture of despaired little Sarah in front of her family-house destroyed by a Katyusha strike burring her two sibling under the rubble, or hysterical Ibrahim in a refugee-track having lost his parents in the chaos of the escape in Kosovo or the defiant Kurdish old Zerya on a stick confronting Turkish police in riot-gear on Newroz, or the starved young mother in Darfur unable to take care of the sick baby-child in her arms...
Don't get me wrong, I respect your efforts and the insight you provide us with on a regularly basis, I guess there is a place for strongly opinionated emotional features still I miss facts in this article.

Nicolas said...

@lirun
"maybe the civilised world offers some solutions to your plight."

The "civilized world"?
The one that occupies other countries at will?
The one that throws atomic bombs on cities?
The one that takes part in the starving of a society?
That talks of Democracy and means '"free" markets'.

"if ahmad's parents loved him.. this photo wouldnt exist"
I promise you all parents in the world love their children and disputing this can only be a measure to dehumanize a people to make it easier to one self to kill them.

poshlemon said...

Lirun,

how could you look at this boy with such disregard...your words are very callous. I would have found it much harder had you been one of those nice Israelis who admit that their government since its inception has been brutal and atrocious in claiming something that did not belong to it in the first place. I really would have found it harder because then I'd have to like you. But your attitude makes it much easier for me to dislike you just as I do for the rest of your people.

Wassim,

the photo is definitely expressive. But your words add the deeper dimension to it.

Ibn Bint Jbeil said...

Ahmed is indeed beautiful. His most beautiful feature, as you describe, is his face glowing with will.

He is not scared of any LARGER zionist sticks and stones that only crack bones, but not determination. He is indeed loved by his mother who weeps for him before he is born, as he heroically stands up for himself, and after he falls in all the glory of being a resister to the loathsome zionist occupier. He is not scared of the intimidation of a crass, oppressive occupying people who threaten him and his Arab brethren with isolation, starvation and military terror. He has never ceased to be courageous, despite the vile supremacist doublespeak that comes out of the occupier's mouth. The occupier is the only defeatist, defeating his own objectives first and foremost with his blind confusion that only offers death.

Ned said...

Hi Wasim,
may I add some facts about "Ahmad". Actually his real name is Ramzi, he's from A Ramallah Refugee Camp. This picture was taken for him during the first intifada. Ramzi, grew up to love music which he studied in France. Now he runs Al-Kamdjâti Association which teaches music to young Palestinians. It is quite famous in Palestine. And Ramzi makes sure to include this picture in the publications to show his personal transformation. You see he's a little proud of himself.
But I think he makes a good point, that to be a Palestinian, and to fight for justice in Palestine, can take different forms, and does not necessarily entail violent means of struggle. Culture, arts and music can be as effective platforms for our struggle just as much as the battlefield itself (that's if there is one in Palestine now- as u know we stand in a quite depressing situation with all this separation that is emphasised by the israeli, the world, and even our own leaders).
I could go on for ages. I just wanted to add a little spice to your story. Ta!

Ibn Bint Jbeil said...

ramzi may be palying the kamanja, and that's good, but ahmad still has to face tanks, bulldozers, soldiers, and helicopter bombers with his precious rocks.

Lirun said...

thanks ned

and thank you ramzi

not every one is insane and in love with war..

its time you stopped assuming all palestinians were like you wassim.. its time you stopped dictating to them that hatred is the way that they will establish the nationhood amongst arab states..

you are hurting our neighbours/your brothers and ultimately you are hurting yourselves..

Ibn Bint Jbeil said...

holding on to one's right to liberty and self determination (despite massive military intimidation and terrorizing from Israel and shameful cowerdice and abandonment of gluttonous corrupt arab regimes) is not hatred. it is rather bravery, dignity and love, despite the confused double-speak of the desperate deceitful zionist shadow, who has proven to be as fierce and as determined as smoke, except when it comes to his primary skill of wily deceit.

Lirun said...

IBJ cut the poetic crap.. seriously - dont u guys take yourselves a little more seriously?

teaching a 4 year old to throw stones and fight your wars for you is cowardly and pathetic.. putting your kids on the alter for some press is a joke..

and more than anything it hurts the many palestinians that dont seek to sacrifice their children for the political tragedy that is embodied in our conflict..

you my "friends" are fuelling the fire of child rights violation.. what a shame that you are delighting in this child's misery to write some love story.. there is no way a 4 year old can rationally or even emotionally grasp whats going on.. he is being trained to hate and risking his life for the gory quasi-pornographic circus that is costing the lives of children women and good men all over israel and palestine..

shame on you for feasting on it..

Ned said...

Lirun,
Yes I am sick of war, and I know I speak for most Palestinians when I say that. But, it was not Palestinians who forced little Ramzi to throw stones. It was teh Israelis that put him in a refugee camp to start with, and then started attacking it every day, and killing those who live in it. He might not comprehend what he does. But he sure knows that these men in khakis he's throwing stones at are the same men who come shooting and arresting his family at night.
I wish Israelis can come to terms with the fact that they have a better life because of the misery of Ramzi and his fellow Palestinians.
I wish this can happen soon so that we can both stop fighting and start living.
Wassim is not living in Palestine, but I know he's passionate about the cause. I don't know why, maybe because of his patriotism, maybe because he believes in justice. I might not agree with all he thinks, that's his right.
After all, he is not flying F16s over Gaza, neither is he shelling Jenin. But your people, Lirun, or those you defend are. That's what I stand up against. We don't love war, but what do you do when you are left in the battlefield? I sincerely hope that one day you will understand that when you celebrate 60 years of Israel's existence, you are also celebrating 60 years of the dispossession of Palestinians. Without going into this trivial argument of whose fault it is, this dispossession is wrong, and should be stopped. Wassim might believe that war can do. I believe we have tried this option for 60 years now, and all it has brought is more misery for us.

Ibn Bint Jbeil said...

lirun, the crap you speak of flows amply from your own hypocritical mouth. before you school anyone in any damn thing, be it big or small, look at your own colonialist genocidal society that indoctrinates its own children in the idea that others are worthless when it comes to zionist prerogative to land/water/air/desires, thereby justifying the theft of an entire people's homeland, history and humanity, and perpetuating the brutal bloody terror by making sure that every drafted citizen takes part in the military occupation.

your vile, toxic attempt at twisting reality does not pass, especially past the children that you militarily occupy, who stand up against your tanks with their glowing stones.

just because the truth accidentally sounds poetic, and its poetry makes you sick, does not prevent it from being the truth.

go get sick by yourself.

Lirun said...

doesnt make me sick at all..

the "truth" is sad..

your opinions of it are dillusional..

these are two different things..

when wassim writes that yaffo like haifa like sinai like golan etc etc need to be liberated - u cant blame me for recognising the "throw them in the sea" melody that he's humming at the same time..

its old - its familiar and frankly not nauseating at all.. simply stupid and self destructive..

i know that i lead a good life.. and i am not ashamed of it.. no palestinian has funded my lifestyle.. nor has uncle sam..

on the contrary.. your average israeli works three times as hard just to fund the stupid war we're fighting.. life would be even better.. more abundant.. more plentiful and certainly less stressful with this dumbass war..

no one came here to conquer..

until the day that you wake up to your own shortcomings (and by you i mean your nation and its leaders).. until that day.. you are doomed to remain miserable.. and no hilucation of my country's imminent demise will feed your children and water your fields..

i am involved in a cross-conflict music project with children for peace building.. i attend countless other projects and seek to partake and promote them where i can.. i have many palestinian friends both israeli and refugee.. i am not your enemy..

you are..

Lirun said...

*without this dumbass war.. :)

Ibn Bint Jbeil said...

lirun, you struck the nail right on the head: delusinal is the apt discription. only problem is, you're too delusional to see that you've your own head.

Ned said...

Lirun,
I think you are evading the facts when you say that no Palestinian has funded your life style. The only reason you have such a life style is because of the fact that Palestinians have lost their properties back in 1948. Those same properties were transfered to the KKL and JNF marking 93% of the land in Palestine/Israel as Jewish only.
I understand you have an interest in peace, just as I do, and just as Wassim and IBJ. But this peace will not materialise just by doing joint music projects with Palestinians. The same way it will not materialise by continuing to throw rocks.
Only when both our people can accept that we both went wrong at many points in the conflict, that we killed the other side, only we we learn to accept that we all learn that we have equal rights as humans, not as jew or muslim or ... that we can live in peace.
You can't say that you are not living this life style because of Palestinians' dispossession? where is your house built? wasn't it built on "state land" or KKL land which was acquired after the Palestinians were forced to flee Jaffa?

Lirun said...

my family splits into two.. mum's side has been here time immemorial and dad's side came here before the establishment of israel.. no one i know in my family lives in dispossesed palestinian land.. if anything my grandma's family was chased out of their yaffo home by arabs who then proceeded to burn it to a crisp as they took refuge in telaviv in the middle of the night as everything they owned turned to ash..

i acknowledged that both sides have done aweful things.. that is quite aside from dealing from blame is an issue of its own that we can spend the rest of the future or should i say waste trying to figure out.. and never agreeing..

interesting that you compare my projects to throwing rocks as if to say that they have the same impact..

maybe i can learn from you Ned or you IBJ - what do you guys do to encourage peace.. i already know what wassim does.. he writes one-sided stories..

Ibn Bint Jbeil said...

I would never encourage peace with an apartheid nazi regime.

as far as individuals, i only encourage peace - and engage in peace - with israelis who acknowledge and reject the brutal apartheid nature of the zionist regime and the occupation that is at the very core of its identity. and i have collaborated with jewish israelis who have come to this conclusion.

before this is acknowledged and rejected, and the right of the palestinians to self determination and return accepted, talk of peace would be first of all unjust, and secondly deceitful.

Lirun said...

i support palestinian self determination..

i guess it doesnt interest you that jews in the west bank and in gaza were expelled in 1948 as well and their homes confiscated..

the infamous har homa is just one of these places..

i guess u dont care that the palestinians demand the explusion of all jews from their homes in those territories whether or not purchased personally or expropriated.. and no i dont support illegal land confiscation..

ibn bint jbeil - look to your own country and your arab neighbours for apartheid.. in my country arabs go to universities and can study what they like.. they run for my parliament and they legislate and can even commit treason with practical impunity..

my palestinian friend in lebanon cant study engineering because its one of the 70 forbidden professions for muslim palestinians..

do you like lebanon? would you have peace with lebanon?

http://refugees.resist.ca/document/situationlebanon.htm

peace isnt made to confirm friendships young man.. its made to better the region and progress relationships between nation states into zones where conflict can be resolved in a safe and productive manner while synergies can be developed for the greater good of the parties..

go make peace with your friends.. u'll be very successful..

:)

irrespective of you and your poison.. i hope we do all make peace..

Ibn Bint Jbeil said...

my wise momma taught me:

I would never encourage peace with an apartheid nazi regime.

as far as individuals, i only encourage peace - and engage in peace - with israelis who acknowledge and reject the brutal apartheid nature of the zionist regime and the occupation that is at the very core of its identity. and i have collaborated with jewish israelis who have come to this conclusion.

before this is acknowledged and rejected, and the right of the palestinians to self determination and return accepted, talk of peace would be first of all unjust, and secondly deceitful.