Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Annemarie and Emily

i have been absent for a while.

the war ended. maya's condition grew worse. she passed away and i have been left with a stain on my heart. what now? i have been living the past few weeks in total darkness, not know what lies ahead. not knowing if things could get any worse.. if i was going to lose anyone else... and today it almost happened in Palestine. i almost lost two more friends.

below i have posted an email i just received from Annemarie Jacir:

>Four hours ago my sister, her curator Carolyn and I were shot at by the Israeli army. My nerves are still shaky. We’ve been drinking every since. My legs are weak. I feel I can’t stand on them.

Today in downtown Ramallah at around 4:15 pm as we were driving down Ramallah’s main street….we had just bought kanafa to eat ….after spending the day at ‘amari camp.

I was driving down the main street. A taxi driver cut me off. I rolled down the window and cursed at him. We pulled over and Emily and Mohammed jumped out to buy kanafa. Then we continued, dropping off Mohammed at his car…which he had left in the center of town. We agreed to meet at Mohammed’s place down the street.

I was alone in the front seat. Emily and Carolyn in the back. Suddenly there was a van directly in front of our car. He veered a bit towards our car. I slowed down, wondering how I was going to pass him. And then he emerged from his window…pointing an m-16 across the street and spraying bullets.

The three of us hit the floor of the car. All around us…shooting, shooting, shooting. So close. So close.

And then on the other side of the street, another van – looking exactly like the first….men with guns spraying bullets everywhere.

Next to us a man with his 5-year old daughter… Like us, stuck between all the shooting. He opened his door and tossed his daughter to the ground with him.

I lifted my head…the man shooting was around 6 feet from me. Shooting away. Israeli secret service…dressed up like an Arab. They do this all the time…so they come into town and no one notices. Then I saw tens of Israeli soldiers crawling the streets all around us. Did they come out of the vans? They were in full uniform, unlike the two van ‘drivers’ who had dressed as plain clothes Arab men. “Mustarabeen”…Israeli agents who dress like Arabs.

Shooting shooting. I covered my head. All I could think about was Emily in the backseat and Carolyn. Emily…my precious sister…my beautiful sister… Kamran in Scotland… the man who escaped with his daughter. I braced myself at the shooting continued. Told myself calmly that if the windows of the car were hit. Which they surely were about to be. That it was nothing. To remember that all that meant was the window was broken and not necessarily that one of us had been hit.

Mohammed called…I picked up the phone…my voice broke. Crumbled. I hadn’t realized my fear until that moment. Why couldn’t I speak? Why? I didn’t recognize my own voice. I knew I sounded hysterical. I didn’t want to sound like that.

Took another peak. Army everywhere. The men shooting shooting shooting shooting….god, that sound.

Emily. Emily in the back. We made eye contact. What could we do. We were stuck in the middle of a shoot out ..right in the middle of it…with no where to go.

We couldn’t even get out of the car and make a run for it. We’d have been shot down.

I wondered if they’d kill us. I wondered if someone on the street might duck into our car for cover. But the streets were empty.

We stayed on the floor of the car for 20 minutes like that. I thought, really truly felt I was going to die this way. And I didn’t want to die like that. Totally helpless. In a trapped car.

The more the shooting went on, the more I felt my nerves turn to jelly. And then…

Bam. Our car was hit. I heard glass break. I covered my head. My head was covered anyway I think. For fear of the car windows being hit.

We were ok. Emily was ok. Carolyn was safe.

More time passed. How stupid to have my hands on my head. what would that do? Where is Emily? I think i will die today. I am going to die today.

I peaked out. I saw the Israelis grab a man off the street and shove him into the other van.

Then the undercover Israeli closest to us, in the van, …decided to leave. Operation over. He pulled towards us. The criminal. I stared at his face, my head on the passenger seat…he didn’t have enough room to get by us,…so he smashed into our car and scraped his way by. The whole time I couldn’t take my eyes off his face. He didn’t even notice us I think. Three women so close to him, stuck to the floor of the car…

We are all ok. Nothing happened. There’s a bullet in the car. It hit the back of the car. It didn’t hit the gas tank. It didn’t hit the gas tank. We are ok. But three young men tonight are not. And many, many more are not. This is nothing new, nothing out of the ordinary.

A man disappeared this afternoon. Two men were killed. It won’t even make the news.


"Nothing much is happening in Beirut, we go on from day to day looking forward to that moment when we can come and go to our homeland without any restrictions or special permission. Regards to all in Bethlehem. Yours, Edward"

- June 12th, 1968 (letter from my uncle to his family)

Annemarie Jacir


Blogger Kara Melissa said...

I read your blog through the summer and periodically check back to see how you are doing and hope that you've written.

I am so sorry to read about your friend. I have lost my brother and a very good friend as well and I know that pain and emptyness. I hope that you are able to find solace in other friends and family to get you through this time.

I also wanted to say thank you for posting the email from your friend in Ramallah. I spent some time in Ramallah as well as other areas in the West Bank and I can imagine it happening in my head, but it is happening for others right in front of their faces. It's important for the world to know about it. Thank you.

I hope that you are able to continue on with your artwork. After my brother died, it was a few years before I could paint again. Take care.

8:27 PM  
Blogger vitty100 said...

Hi Zena,

it's been a while since I've written, but I've been reading every word since we last spoke just after the Isreal attack began.

You'll be pleased to know Al Jazeera has just started broadcasting an English-language channel here in the UK and it's had a wonderful has overtook BBC News as my preferred news station.

To finally be able to find out what is happening in Palestine and Lebanon is wonderful, even if the reality is not.

I am going to write to you personally (via email) this weekend, but I wanted to ask you something before then.

Despite our Foreign Office website advising against all but essential travel to Lebanon, I really want to visit in March when I next get time off work.

What do you think? Is it a ridicukous idea or would I get through a few days okay.

It would be good for my writing as well as my own self awareness.

Take care of yourself, Zena,

speak soon

3:49 PM  
Blogger karlos said...

Sorry about your loss.
Allah Yirhama.

And thanks for posting information about Lebanon & Palestine. It is useful many ways.

11:43 AM  
Blogger Thomas said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

9:55 AM  
Blogger Thomas said...

We will go through this whole bullshit together and whenever we fall, we will get up aganin and again and again...

I am only 25, but already expereinced Gaza-Intifada 2004 and Beirut 2006...

The more they hit us the stronger we'll get!

Salam, Schalom, Friede, peace...

10:55 AM  
Blogger dfs said...

Dear Zena,
I was devasted when I read about Maya's passing away. And although there is nothing I can say or do to soothen the pain, I would like to let you know, that I care and am really sorry for all the things you and your family have been through.

I have been reading your blog from the start. And it is so important that you keep blogging. Please, it is essential! As your friend in Palestine said: "It won't make the news."

I have spread word about your blog with all my friends here in Munich, Germany. We need you to continue.

Take care and we think of you,

4:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

so sorry about maya habibty...

i'm thinking of you a lot, sending you love Bob....

love love

7:21 PM  
Blogger Happy Arab said...

Beirut 2006 = Teheran 1979 + Berlin 1933

Religious Nasrallah + Fascist Aoun are manipulating the people.

Hitler and Khomeini did the same and they were very popular. Hitler led his nation to disaster.

The Democrats in the US waited for the elections to gain power. Why can't these two wait for the next elections? Can Lebanon afford more turmoil right now?

10:13 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hello. You don't know me, but I've read your blog because I want to understand what's going on. It's been a very long time since you've posted. I hope that you are all right - or at least as close to all right as you can be under the circumstances.

3:39 AM  
Blogger Julie Vulcan said...

Dear Zena,
It has been a long time since you posted and I can only wonder at the re-building that you are doing in your life, and the stages of grieving for your dear friend Maya.
It was a year ago that I performed an edited version of your blog text at a small performance gathering in Sydney. This was an action to address the situation in Beirut and my editing of your blog text was done in such a way that it could locate any of us in this situation. It was an attempt to show that we are all linked and all vulnerable that security is tenuous, so we must not get apathetic about it. Finally that the power of love and strength of soul can be a true path.
It struck a chord for so many people that night and still the ripples spread. Of course as an artist/writer/performer I am always so aware that time fades memory and know that even though Beirut is no longer front page news the ramifications of last year are still very much in the foreground.
SO Zena, next time you check your blog and if you read this comment, I would like to invite you to respond to me about a possibility of continuing a dialogue of what is urgent for you now? what is life like now? with the possibility of me co-developing another chapter to follow up on the piece I did this time last year. I don't want it to fade into corridors of out of mind out of sight apathy.
a fellow world traveller and artist
ps of course if you would prefer that it just remains as is that is fine, I respect that, but it would be nice to have an email conversation with you.

4:48 AM  
Blogger What is "Occupation" said...


it sounds like a controlled attack and arrest..

but why are you alive if the evil criminal israelis were shooting at everyone?

you should have been executed..

but wait, maybe the israelis AINT the criminals you claim

every been in a fire fight between arabs?

here is a hint, you would not be alive...

4:48 PM  
Blogger F. said...

It's so nice to read your blog from the US. You haven't written in a while. I have a blog, a lot of it nostalgia and some politics, a lot personal, like a diary:
... if you have some time. Hope all is well with you there.

3:44 AM  
Blogger BlackBarook said...

Oh my Allah! I'm so sorry to hear that! God, is there anything we can do to help?

10:52 PM  
Blogger Enámbar Danza said...

Hello Zenna,
I have been reading your blog.
I am really sad about the war diaries. It´s so terrible.

I am spanish, I am gonna live in Beirut for the next 3 months and I would like to know you, if you are around?
Take care.
And see you soon maybe!

1:51 AM  
Anonymous Di said...

So many years after following your blog, I found your book in London, not even realising it was you. At some level I must have ... and I brought it and found you again. I'm so glad.

7:43 PM  

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