The Reality of Life in Occupied Palestine

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(RINF) – “My interests (as an old man) are directed towards keeping truth, based on facts (of course) from disappearing beneath the dust that accumulates on ‘reports (relevant to situations as they now stands)’ that may be consigned to the bottom drawer, or worse, the vault.

“The International Federation for Human Rights (fidh by its French acronym), is one such report that should not be buried beneath the dust of history. The Report is available at corporatewatch.org. It reveals a grim picture of depredation and is therefore used as the basis for this story.

“The purpose in writing this story, is to remind those who already know that these condition exist and that they are as unacceptable now as they were when first reported.”

Saul Fire used to sing his own version of ”Dem Dry Bones” as he did the rounds of Ofer Prison, an adjunct of the Israeli Prison Service, checking on the condition of the juvenile Palestinian prisoners in his custody. His hobby was Palmistry.

The Head Line connected to the Life Line
The Life Line connected to the Heart Line
The Heart Line connected to the Destiny Line
The Destiny Line connected to the Fate Line
The Fate Line connected to the Intuitive Line
The Intuitive Line connected to the Gospel Line
The Gospel line connected to the God Line
I hear the word of the Lord!
Dem bones, dem bones gonna walk aroun’
Dem bones, dem bones, gonna walk aroun’
Dem bones, dem bones, gonna walk aroun’
I hear the word of the Lord!

It was the practice to handcuff the juvenile prisoners before they were taken from their cells to the interrogation center. Saul would sometimes handcuff the hands of those prisoners he thought had interesting or distinctive lines on their palms at front, otherwise he automatically secured their hands from behind. Being enemies of the State of Israel they were of little consequence. But Palmistry was Palmistry and palms were for reading.

Saul’s received his passion for Palmistry from his grandmother, a convert to Judaism. His grandfather had married a fiery Turkish woman whose name Sanez meant ‘unique’, and after deciding to bestow his family name ‘Fire’ on the bride he ever-afterwards referred to her as his lily from Antioch. With this union a window of opportunity was opened onto a vista most splendid, one his introverted and homogeneous pedigree had hitherto know little of. Life acquired a strange miasmic mood that postulated uniqueness as the norm henceforth, enabling Saul recourse to a proxy mobility of thought that otherwise would not have awakened his imagination. The ensuing union was partly religious and partly heretical, possessing the power to discombobulate generations of the family without limitation for ever and ever.

Sanez’ father gave her a book entitled ‘Physiognomy & Palmistry’ dealing with Pythagoras the ancient Greek mathematician and tracing the history of palmistry back to 497 B.C for her 21st.birthday. Shortly afterwards she had entered a booth at an Antioch fair to have her palm read. As she sat before an old man, hand and arm outstretched for inspection, his piercing eyes periodically moved to make eye contact with her. He ran his index finger back and forth across the palm of her right hand for what felt like an eternity while muttering ‘the head line’ to nobody in particular. After a long period of silence he told that her head line suggested that her future was in mathematics. “Your head line is so long it crosses the entire palm with criss-crossing wrinkles” he blurted out while attempting to describe something unique to Sanez by way of slicing and dicing the data contained in the inconceivably rare phenomena now before him. “You have two destiny lines, one hard and one soft. Mathematically speaking, only one in five million people possess such a rare thing”, he shouted in his excitement. “You are an un-wrinkler”, he mysteriously said to her by way of concluding the session.

There afterwards Sanez identified herself as a mathematician to the consternation of her family. In subsequent confrontations with her husband, she would chastise him for his lack of philosophical or mathematical insights, claiming that his religious convictions were the result of gossipy-gospel narratives that insulated him from discovering the truth beyond the old dry texts he so revered. She nicknamed him ‘polystyrene’ so as to tease him. “Conviction in the mind of the self-esteeming zealot is no different to the conviction a fool might possess”, she would throw at him.

Sanez was the seminal influence in Saul’s life. He was in awe of her spirit and ability to recreate her approach to everyday affairs like her yesterday’s were merely the stepping-stones to tomorrow’s discoveries. The magic she found life to possess had no apparent downside. She was uniquely upwardly mobile in an indefatigable way which led her husband Raul Fire to attribute these qualities to her Greek and Persian ancestry. It was his grandmother’s lightness of being that Saul wished to emulate more than anything else, so as to offset the troubling ‘polystyrene’ gene he imagined he had inherited from his father’s and grandfather’s conservative patriarchal side of the family.

Saul’s grandmother Sanez was opposed to him working in the Ofer Detention Center. She had read an authoritative report revealing the gross injustices that were perpetrated on Palestinian children as young as twelve years of age at that place of infamy. Testimonies had revealed that the majority of children were being detained in the middle of the night in what was typically described as terrifying raids conducted by the army. Most children had their hands painfully tied behind their backs and were blindfolded before being taken away to an unknown location for interrogation. The arrest and transfer processes were often accompanied by verbal abuse, humiliation and threats of physical violence. All of this led to the children finding themselves in an interrogation room, alone, sleep deprived, bruised and scared, she discovered.

Saul had received instruction to go to the Zamir Interrogation Section of the prison and transfer prisoner 211 to a cell in the eastern quarter of Ofer. As he walked along the bleak corridors intoning his version of the “Dem Dry Bones” spiritual, the piteous cries of children’s pain and distress seemed to seep from every nook and cranny of the prison. To some degree he had become inured to their pain. Bureaucracy had a strange way of absorbing individual emotions into the sovereign power of authority. Orders existed only for the protection of a system of governance that regarded subordinates as useful idiots in the exploitation of human resources, he believed. That hierarchies of the patriarchal kind were little more than elites that fed off those below them…as morsels within a food chain…had managed to escape Saul’s attention because of his innate respect for authority.

Saul Fire’s mood was verging on the rebellious as he waded ankle-deep in the river of tears the stone-throwing juveniles had shed while imprisoned in solitary confinement. Israeli pettiness had the power to kill and it did so, blithely unaware of its inhumanity. It had come to a pass that his grandmother’s words concerning hard and soft lines were now ever present in his mind. “Your destiny is under the influence of murky forces because your hard lines override your soft lines, causing them to wrinkle and confuse issues relating to your journey”, she repeatedly told him. “Someday, something will happen to challenge your understanding of yourself…but as your destiny line is so weak, there is no telling which way your development will go “ was the prognosis.

Arriving at the Zamir Interrogation Section, Saul encountered a 14 year old sleep-deprived, bruised and scared individual handcuffed at the front…prisoner 211… tried his best to avoid making eye contact with him. Saul approached him with more curiosity than compassion and out of habit, lifted his handcuffed hands so as to inspect them for insignia of the palm-reading sort. Spotting something unusual in the child’s right palm, Saul pulled it towards himself for the purpose of closer inspection, causing the abused youngster to reel backwards. With what soothing words he could muster, Saul slowly coaxed the Palestinian boy to let him inspect his hand. There below the boy’s destiny line he saw the unmistakable symbol of the Star of David.

The existence of the Star of David on the prisoner Ahmed Tawfeek’s hand triggered a metamorphosis in Saul Fire. Overnight he found it difficult to see the Palestinian boy as an enemy of Israel. Each night he returned home he conferred with his still lucid grandmother Sanez on the sudden strangeness and disbelief at finding such a symbol on Ahmed’s hand. Sanez listened intently to Saul while peering into the lines of his right-hand before addressing him, “something will happen that will challenge your understanding of yourself. Strangeness is the norm and we invent rules of identity to deal with it”, then focusing on his destiny lines once more, she remarked, “you are experiencing an awakening and it’s reflected in your palm”. On releasing his hand she said finally, “find a way for me to see the boy”.

Sanez understood the mechanisms of the abstract male womb…it was defensive! It was the realm in which maleness found its raison d’etre in formulating rules, be they the rules applied to games or warfare. Fertility has a weaponised component; clearly, it is a question of developing the means to annihilate the seed of the other. She clearly understood that if strangeness was cock-o’-the walk, she would use mathematics to prove that she was the queen of Hellenistic Judaism. She was aware of the engineering footprint in her male progeny that had evolved the supplanting stages that took the humble catapult to heights of lethality in making it to nuclear fission and beyond to the mega boom-boom of full spectrum dominance. At this point the comedic could only be tolerated so long as it operated as a subtext to the art of projecting male ‘strength’ through arms.

Saul passed another week in the house of horrors known as Ofer Prison. His taste for authoritarian rule had waned, leaving him ill at ease in the company of colleagues he had until recently felt kinship with. He had managed, with the connivance of a superior staff member to smuggle his grandmother into the prison, but nothing came of it. Ahmed, upon sensing the nobility of the old woman and hearing her voice, placed his head upon her lap and wept uncontrollably. Nothing could bring him out from this state of total collapse, so Sanez spent the next hour running her fingers through his hair while humming a lament to his lost innocence. When Ahmed finally fell asleep, Saul, with surprising tenderness, placed him on a bench and instructed a junior guard to watch over him.

Saul’s place in the scheme of things was becoming more opaque by the day. He frequently experienced worrisome forebodings about the direction Zionism was moving in. Even Sanez, when alluding to the health of the regime would cast serious doubts about its validity. “The maths is all wrong”, she would sometimes pliantly say, in order to give her opinions the veneer of a science.

One day when Saul was visiting a Tel Aviv market place he happened upon a strange sign advertising the service of a palmist. ‘PALMISTRY: FAKIRS R US’ read a sign alongside a somewhat greasy photograph of an Armenian with shoulder length grey hair. Deciding that it might be interesting to get another palmistry perspective on the state of his ‘lines’ he entered the booth to find a table with a bell on it with instructions to ring for service. The individual he had seen in the photograph outside emerged from behind a curtain and beckoned him into the inner sanctum.

Saul was aware of Armen Tamiroff’s exotic perfumes as he performed his Fakir duties. His heavy breathing became more distinct as he edged ever closer to him in order to better examine the details of his palm. After much deliberation, he surprised Saul with his use of military idioms when he exclaimed “gone AWOL”, and then after a short pause added “gone absent without leave”. Then, looking somewhat aghast at Saul’s palm, he blurted out the words “your destiny line is not there anymore, but in its place there appear to be two raised eyebrows”.

Saul recalled his grandmother telling him that “something will happen that will change your understanding of yourself”. That ‘something’ was happening to him now and it was basically the realisation that mythology could nurture exceptionalism to the detriment of human values. He now saw that he was part of a culture that had become a vehicle for celebrating prejudices via the voices of ‘celebrities’ acting as role models for the gullible to imitate. Uncritical responses to authority bred sheepishness and he now had little tolerance for continuing down that path. Everywhere he looked he saw that celebrities were the ‘adorables’ foisted onto the ‘deplorables’, who were not meant to have a voice anyway. Israel and America were foremost in this regard he thought…best of buddies when it came to faux democracy.

In the course of his metamorphosis, Saul had taken to wandering the grim corridors of the Ofer Detention Center singing loudly his newest version of ‘Dem Dry Bones’ as he shuffled along. The children could sometimes be heard calling out “sing Dem Dry Bone Thoughts’ from within their cells. They went as follows;

‘DEM DRY BONE THOUGHTS’
The thought line connected to the wish line
The wish line connected to the hope line
The hope line connected to the share line
The share line connected to the love line
The love line connected to the happy line
The happy line connected to the desire line
The desire line connected to the out-of-here line
I HEAR THE WORD OF THE FREE MAN!
Dem bones, dem bones, gonna walk aroun’
Dem bones, dem bones, gonna walk aroun’
Dem bones, dem bones, gonna walk aroun’
I HEAR THE WORD OF THE FREE Man!

Ahmed from within his cell would hear the approaching singer and wait next to the iron grid for Saul to come along. Nowadays they found it easy to make eye contact. Each stood equidistant to the grid, silently communing while transcending the void of alienation.

– Denis A. Conroy is a writer who contributed to many online newspapers including Counter Punch and dissident Voice. 

  • JosephConrad

    THIS IS WHY ‘DELANDA EST ISRAEL’ ! IT IS A GODLESS, SAVAGE NATION.