Tag Archives: Palestine

Safeguarding our children

This summer, the day after baby Ali Dawabsheh was burned to death in the West Bank village of Duma, I met Eman Dawabsheh, her husband and their 5 precious boys. Their home, which neighbored Ali’s home, had also whose been firebombed by Israeli settlers and was burned. Fortunately, Eman and her family were not at home. I returned to Duma several times while in Palestine to visit Eman and her boys, spending the night on one occasion and enjoying the warmth and humor of her children. Warmth and humor and children who might have suffered the same fate as Ali, his parents (who later died from their injuries) and his 3-year old brother Ahmed.

I hope you will take a moment an op-ed that Eman wrote about what she and the other residents of Duma need first and foremost: protection for their children–protection they still do not have, despite the recent indictments of the perpetartors.

After extremist settlers killed my neighbors in a West Bank arson attack, we still can’t get the one thing we want from the Israeli military: Protection

By Eman Dawabsheh

In the early hours of July 31, my husband, Mamoun, received a phone call from his brother: Our home in the West Bank village of Duma was on fire. Mamoun and I jumped in our car and drove from Nablus (where we had been spending the night with our five children) to Duma, where we found the first floor of our two-story house entirely decimated by fire.  Our neighbor’s house (Sa’ad and Reham Dawabsheh, distant relatives and close friends) had also been burned. Hebrew graffiti on our walls reading “The Messiah King lives” and “Revenge” indicated that the fire had been set by extremist Israeli settlers.

My immediate family was lucky: We were not at home when the settlers doused the two houses in flammable liquid and threw Molotov cocktails inside. Tragically, Sa’ad, Reham and their two children (18-month-old Ali and 4-year-old Ahmed) were home. By the time Mamoun and I reached Duma, Sa’ad, Reham and Ahmed had been pulled from the blaze, but neighbors were still searching for toddler Ali. His tiny, charred corpse was located in the house soon thereafter.

Read the rest HERE.

Bedroom where firebomb was thrown

A man from Duma peeks into the bedroom in which toddler Ali Dawabsheh was burned to death

 

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Filed under Human Rights, Palestine/Israel, Uncategorized

Set the Stage for Justice!

Dear friends and supporters,

You make possible all that we do at Donkeysaddle Projects—and we cannot thank you enough.

In 2015, you supported the premiere of our documentary film Witness Bahrain at the Seattle Transmedia & Independent Film Festival (where it won the Audience Award, with later screenings on Capitol Hill in DC and at Seattle’s Arab Festival); you helped us report from the ground in Palestine/Israel, producing several short videos and feature pieces in The Nation, AlJazeera America, TomDispatch, +972Mag, Mondoweiss, and Yes! Magazine; and you supported our ongoing efforts to expose the violence of the death penalty and its connection to all forms of state violence, including police killings.

Amer Jen Nada

Witness Bahrain won the Audience Award at the Seattle Transmedia & Independent Film Festival

The past year has brought into stark relief the interconnection between universal struggles for liberation and equality–in Palestine, in the U.S. and beyond. 

For that reason, we are asking your support to set the stage for justice in 2016, as we produce a college/university tour of our new documentary-style play, There Is A Field

Based on interviews and primary sources collected over fourteen years, There Is A Field is a story of how a Palestinian family journeys through grief after the Israeli police killed their teenage son, Aseel. While offering an intimate view into the racism and violence faced by Palestinian citizens of Israel, the play transcends any particular time or place to reflect on oppressions in Israel/Palestine, the United States, and around the world.

We are working with a growing coalition of organizations to steer the tour of the play; including Adalah, 50 Shades of Black, Students for Justice in Palestine, Dream Defenders, Jewish Voice for Peace, the U.S. Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and Code Pink.

The play emerges at a critical juncture of not only escalating state violence, but also unprecedented mobilization for the rights of Palestinians, for Black-Palestinian solidarity, and for transnational movement-building.

from ferguson to palestine

The story of Aseel’s life and murder accentuates the stark similarities between entrenched inequality and impunity, both in the State of Israel and in the U.S., and contributes to the vital and growing national conversation around the systematic devaluation of Black life in the United States. Through the performance and post-play discussions, audience members will grapple with unequal systems of justice, and together consider ways to strengthen intersectional movements for social transformation.

Your donation today will allow There Is A Field to travel to 20 universities in the United States this spring (including several Historically Black Colleges and Universities) and will enable us to end the tour with three days of performances and workshops in the St Louis area, culminating in a performance in Ferguson, MO.

Please support donkeysaddle projects with a contribution that feels meaningful to you this year. Just click here to make a tax-deductible one-time (or monthly) donation, or click here for information on sending a check!  

In doing so, you will be supporting a vision of the world in which every person’s humanity and rights is equally respected and equally protected.

Towards justice, freedom and equality,
Jen Marlowe & Amer Shurrab
Donkeysaddle Projects

www.donkeysaddle.org

derry, north of ireland1

Witness Bahrain won the Audience Award at the Seattle Transmedia & Independent Film Festival

[Donkeysaddle Projects is a sponsored project of Fractured Atlas, a non-profit arts service organization. Contributions for the charitable purposes of Donkeysaddle Projects must be made payable to Fractured Atlas and are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.}

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Filed under Asel Asleh, Human Rights, Palestine/Israel, Uncategorized

There Is A Field

October 2, 2015

Fifteen years ago today, I got an early morning phone call.  It was Adam Shapiro, my boss at the Seeds of Peace Center in Jerusalem.

“Aseel was killed this morning.”

Aseel.  Aseel Asleh, 17-years old, Palestinian citizen of Israel, star participant of Seeds of Peace.  What happened?  I almost didn’t ask, it felt like a stupid question.  The Second Intifada had just erupted, the whole region was engulfed in violence, what did I think happened?  But was he at a demonstration?  Was he shot accidentally?  What were the specifics?  Aseel was dead?  Impossible.  How?  Aseel?

Adam didn’t know the details yet. He didn’t yet know that Aseel had been standing on the outskirts of a demonstration outside his village of Arrabeh in the Galilee, when two police officers chased him for no discernible reason. Adam hadn’t yet learned that one of the officers hit our young friend in the back with a rifle butt, and that Aseel stumbled and fell face first in the olive grove. He couldn’t yet tell me that Aseel’s parents (who had gone to the demonstration to bring him home) saw all this, but then could see no more because the olive trees were blocking their view. They could, however, hear the shot. The doctor who later examined his body said the bullet wound suggested that Aseel had been shot point blank in the back of his neck.

But Adam didn’t know any of that yet. All he knew–all he could tell me–was that Aseel had been shot and killed.

I hung up the phone and sat on my couch.  I didn’t know what to do.  What do you do when you find out that a kid you love was killed?  What’s the proper thing to do?  I had just made coffee and it was sitting on the table in front of me.  All I remember thinking: Do I still drink the coffee? What do I do?

I realize now that I was in deep shock that morning.  Yet, the question of “What do I do?” has stayed with me the past 15 years. It took root as I watched Aseel’s family and friends deal with their grief and traumatic loss. It grew as I realized that the events of October 2000, in which 12 Palestinian citizens of Israel were killed, were a collective trauma that sent deep and reverberating shock waves through the entire community.  It pushed me when it became evident that there would be no justice for Aseel, or for the other martyrs of October 2000.

Making sure that Aseel’s story is told, impacting and educating others: This is what I can do.

And I invite you to do it with me.

For the past six months, I have been further developing There Is A Field, a documentary-style play I wrote, based on years of interviews with Aseel’s family, emails that Aseel left behind, court transcripts, and other sources.

In March 2016, There Is A Field will tour to up to 15 U.S. colleges and universities, culminating in a short run in New York City.  In each campus we visit, the play will be a tool of advocacy and activism. If we’re able to raise enough funds, we will expand the tour even further.

As we confront brutality, state violence, systemic injustice and oppression here in the U.S. and in many parts of the world, I know many of us continue to struggle with the question of “what do I do?”

I hope you will choose, as part of your response, to support There Is A Field, so that Aseel’s story can continue to impact, to educate, and to challenge. So that Aseel’s story can support efforts to build a world where inequality, racism, state murder and injustice have no place.

Please click here to learn more about There Is A Field, and how to support the play.

With love for my friend, and for every young person we have collectively lost,

Jen Marlowe
Playwright/Producer, There is a Field

Aseel Asleh, age 16

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Filed under Asel Asleh, Palestine/Israel

What I learned touring the rubble piles of Gaza

My latest piece (article + video) in +972mag on the physical, psychological and political challenges of defending human rights in Gaza during – and in the aftermath of – war. :

I crouched on the floor of the beat-up Mercedes yellow cab, so that I could film Yaser Abed Alkhafor at a better angle.  We were driving slowly through Khuza’a, a town near the southern Gaza Strip city of Khan Younes.

“We can see that the destruction in Khuza’a didn’t target only one place, but it is mass destruction targeting the whole area,” Alkhafor said, pointing to the destroyed homes lining the road.

Read the rest here!

And, watch the accompanying video below!

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Filed under Gaza, Human Rights, Palestine/Israel

What a Week of Extremist Violence Reveals About Israel

My latest piece in The Nation:

Duma, West Bank–Eman and Mamoun Dawabsheh’s five children might have burned to death in the early morning hours of July 31, when Israeli settlers snuck into Duma, the West Bank village where they live, and tossed firebombs into their home. Fire entirely decimated the room where the boys usually sleep. The heat of the blaze melted the television that 17-year-old Moatasem sometimes falls asleep watching. Fortunately, the family was in Nablus.

Read the rest here.

Ahmed house2

8-year old Ahmed Dawabsheh surveys the burnt remains of his home in the West Bank village of Duma, after it being firebombed by Israeli settlers on July 31

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He bred animals, played piano and loved soccer

I spent a few hours this evening with the family of Laith al-Khaldi, the teenaged boy who was killed by the Israeli military on Friday in the protests that erupted after the arson murder of 18-month old Ali.
Laith was not 17 as the media reported–he was only 15 years old. He loved animals, and bred dogs, cats and rabbits. He loved to play soccer with his friends, and was good at all subjects in school but was especially good at math, and at music. He played piano.

I was talking to two of his aunts this evening, about the important role they will be playing (and already are playing) in supporting Laith’s sisters and brother.

I started to say, “I’m an aunt, too, and I can’t imagine…”

And then something happened in my throat, and  I couldn’t finish the sentence.

My nephew is also 15 years old.

Here is a photo of Laith as a small boy-he’s in the middle, and his older brother and sister (who are twins) are on either side of him.

Each time a child is killed, his future is killed, along with his dreams, and his family’s dreams for him.laith small child

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“We saw the fire eating the house”

“This was the kitchen,” the young man who led my friend Tovah and me to the house told me yesterday as I entered. “The bedroom is in the back.”

The smell of burnt debris penetrated before I had the chance to process what I was seeing. A simple white stucco doorway, charred at the top, led into an interior so thoroughly scorched it was impossible to determine what I was looking at.

I was in the Nablus-area Palestinian village of Duma, where, earlier yesterday morning, Israeli settlers had poured flammable liquid into the window of the home in which I now stood, and then tossed molotov cocktails inside.

The mother (Reham) and the father (Sa’ad) and their 4-year old son (Ahmed) sustained severe burns and are currently fighting for their lives.

Their 18-month old son and brother, Ali Dawabsheh, was burned to death.

The young man led me to the bedroom where the family had been sleeping when the firebombs had been thrown in through the window he now pointed out to me. I stood in the middle of blackened detritus, unsure of whether to photograph, film, or just be in silent witness. I tried to imagine, and then tried not to imagine, the terror that must have gripped Ali’s mother and father when they realized their home was burning around them and their children. I tried to imagine, and then tried not to imagine, the screams of panic that must have emanated. I imagined, and then tried not to imagine, toddler Ali alive, playing, beginning to walk and to talk in this very home whose scorched remains surrounded me.

Hakam Dawabsheh, a distant relative and a teacher in a neighboring village, was one of those who rushed to the house shortly after the blaze began. He had been using internet on his computer at 2:30am when his younger brother alerted him that there was a fire in the village. At first, Hakam assumed it was a grass fire that had grown out of control. Approaching the site of the fire, he heard people screaming that a house was burning.

“We ran as fast as we could, and came here,” Hakam told me, exhaustion and grief etched onto his face. “We saw the fire eating the house.” The parents had already been removed from the inferno before Hakam arrived. But, “[People] said that there is a little boy in [the house.] And many people tried to save the boy but they couldn’t enter the house because of the big fire. And we tried our best but no one could reach the boy.”

Hakam realized that the fire was caused by arson only after he saw the graffiti that had been spray painted on the walls next to the house. “Revenge” and “Long live the messiah.”

“The boy is dead,” Hakam said. “May Allah accept him in the top of paradise.”

Sixteen-year-old Lina, who lives in the house neighboring Ali’s, was sleeping when the smell of the smoke and sounds of shouting and crying woke her. She ran to her roof, where she could see the burning house, the police and emergency vehicles, and her panic-and-grief stricken neighbors. “I was crying,” she said. When I asked her to tell me about Ali, she described him as a kind and sweet 18-month old.

Horrific as this individual incident was, Lina had a point she wanted to make to me, and to the world: violence from Israeli settlers is all too familiar for Palestinians.

“We live this action every day. We want to live. We have children, the same as you. We have people who want to live, the same as you. We are humans, just like you are.  For all those who can hear me: We want to live. We deserve to live…Enough is enough. Enough with war.”

A man from Duma peeks into the bedroom in which toddler Ali Dawabsheh was burned to death

A man from Duma peeks into the bedroom in which toddler Ali Dawabsheh was burned to death

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