Twelve Years a Slave, Sixty Six Years a Living DeadApril 13, 2014 12:00 am Leave your thoughts
I have had a rather difficult week. In the ordinary run of things, it could be argued, every week is a difficult week. Such is the struggle of and for life. Yet, the struggle is part and parcel of our every day. And every day I wake up with renewed hope – – having crept up to bed the night before carrying a mixture of exhaustion and despair.
This week was more difficult than usual. Indeed, so much so that even sleep was too full of uncomfortable dreams. Dreams of imprisonment, of frustration, of pain, of betrayal and of loss. Over the past week, every night has been interrupted by endless such dreams and by a recurring dream that has, in varying ways, dogged my life since so long ago.
I am in Palestine. I walk on a beach. I can feel the hot sand in between my toes and on my soles. I hear the waves crash almost musically by my side.
At a distance I see a small white house. It is square with two small pretty windows and a low door in between these windows. Around the house is a small garden. It is a remarkably green garden with a Eucalyptus tree in one corner and two olive trees on either side. Its greenness is accentuated by the contrasting yellow sand around it. I can hear nothing apart from the roar of the sea. Somehow, I know that Sara is in the small house with our children. I know precisely what will happen as I arrive home. I so look forward to this part of my dream every time I find myself on the Palestinian beach.
Sara steps out of the house. I take her in my arms and we hold each other for what feels like an interminable length of time. We kiss. I whisper lines of poetry in her ear and she stands back and smiles broadly. I hear children’s voices. My moment of heavenly peace is about to be pleasurably shattered.
Several little ones come running out of the little house and I, dreamlike, pick them all up with great ease. We fall down and they, giggling, climb all over me.
Sara kneels beside us laughing. We seem afloat over the garden. We feel ethereal. As if we were not really there. I feel a mounting sense of panic and putting my hand out I try to touch the grass but cannot do so. I stand and run towards the Eucalyptus. It is there but I never reach it. The olive trees susurrate behind me and I run to them. I cannot feel them. I cannot climb them. But I can feel the breeze near their branches. I can somehow smell them.
Suddenly I realise that I am alone. Sara and the children have gone. I look around and the sky darkens. All is menacing. The sea shore looks different. Huge buildings shadow my little house. The endless whooshing of traffic and the roar of low flying airplanes assail my ears. I am frightened. I call for Sara. She is floating slightly above me with the children holding on to her dress.
“It is too late my love. Palestine is gone. Come. Come. Join us in the next world. There is a New Palestine for us there… Come…”
I seek to touch her outstretched hand and start to run. I run as fast as I can. She and the children keep moving out of my reach. I run faster. The beach is heaving with sunbathers speaking Hebrew, English, Russian, Arabic. They do not seem to see me running and stumbling. A few stand up and point to me. Some are laughing. A few are crying.
“Sara… Sara…” I screech as the distance between us grows.
I wake up moaning and crying.
Nothing new about the dream. I have had it so many times in my life that I half look forward to having it again whenever I can. It is worth the horror at the end to have the few minutes in Palestine walking on the beach, kissing my wife Sara and romping with our children under the Eucalyptus tree.
Why has this been a particularly bad week?
I saw the film ‘Twelve Years a Slave‘. It was deeply moving. It made my chest feel tight and my heart stand heavy. I was, yet again, shocked by the slave owners using The Holy Bible to justify their horrendous cruelty. I felt sickened by the realisation that many so-called Christians still use The Scriptures to explain away unbelievable inhumanity. I also sensed a mixture of sadness at man’s viciousness and a deep anger at the invariability of it happening again. Films are made about slavery, about the Holocaust, about Civil Wars…
Will someone make a film about Palestinian dispossession and endless suffering in a few hundred years? Will Israelis watch the film and shed tears? Will the Americans give it a few Oscars? Will the new Leader of the diminishing Palestinian community declare, in that deep conviction that seeks to abuse others’ sufferings, “Never Again”?
I went home after the film and read the newspaper report about Prime Minister Cameron declaring that he was driven by his faith. This is a rather lightweight man trying to be all things to all men in order to retain worthless power suddenly declaring that Christ guides him. Presumably Christ guides him to tell the world that he is a friend of Israel. Christ ordains that he is to look the other way whilst occupied Palestinians continue to suffer and die. I suppose that Jesus also orders him to express his complete trust in every Minister caught in an immoral or dishonest act. The Lord’s Son must tell him to spend billions on buying arms when there are millions of British people living in poverty… A mighty strange Christ indeed! He is certainly not a Christ I remotely recognise in any way having imbued myself with The Sermon on the Mount. Indeed, Cameron’s God is the same God who told Bush and Blair to invade Iraq and murder untold numbers of innocent citizens. He is the same God who blithely promised whole swathes of the Middle East to His arbitrarily Chosen People. He is the same God who has been used and abused by an endless line of criminals that led their people into cataclysmic wars. ” Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator “. Sounds familiar? Similar to what Bush, Blair and so many other leaders say when committing inexcusable deeds? Those words were said by the greatest criminal of them all, Adolf Hitler, in his unreadable political rant Mein Kampf. Many of Hitler’s speeches appealed to The Lord! Amazing how conveniently accommodating The Lord can be when we need Him to approve our crimes and inhuman behaviours. So good of Him – albeit a little selective and occasionally arbitrary. But, never mind, He does move in mysterious ways His wonders to perform. And as Palestinians disperse, wandering the earth in search of an unattainable justice, Cameron’s Jesus would indifferently and one sidedly look the other way. The real Jesus will ask His Father, “My God, My God. Why have you forsaken them?”
I can already hear the crashing of the waves and I can almost feel Sara’s lips against mine. There, in my dream world, even at its most frightening, there is more hope than in our dysfunctional and cruel real world peopled by such cynics as our adorably hypocritical politicians and leaders.
A dream world that one day may be on a screen in a cinema near you. If you have crocodile tears, prepare to shed them now...
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This post was written by Faysal Mikdadi