Ghassan Salhab: The Dawn?

From lundimatin, #409, December 27, 2023 …

Do not believe that man grows up. No: he is born suddenly – a word, in an instant, penetrates his heart with a new pulse. It takes but one scene to make him fall from the threshold of childhood to the harshness of the road.

Ghassan Kanafani, writer and resistance fighter

How many generations will it take for us to begin to see them other than as the permanent enemy, since their cursed Zionist project was put into place, even before the construction of their colonial state, to see them other than as the most heinous and most hateful enemy ever? How many generations before they finally manage to see what is really happening every day, every night, every moment, on the other side of their mirror and their fables, to see us, us, who and what we are, in all of our bloody paradoxes? How many more among us, how many homes destroyed? How many towns, villages erased, eradicated or replaced? How many olive trees uprooted? Have you noticed the contempt they have for this sacred tree, whose origins date back to the dawn of time, long before these bloody monotheisms? These people are Mediterraneans?! How many generations will it take before they understand that it is not enough to occupy it, to be a part of this land? How many generations for them to understand that Nakba means catastrophe, disaster, in Arabic, or Shoah in Hebrew? Yes, it is as tragic and pathetic as that! How many generations for them to understand the why and the very nature of our resistance? Even Vladimir Jabotinsky, that bloody quasi far-right Zionist, whose private secretary was Netanyahu’s father, was aware of this… see if there is a single case of colonisation carried out with the consent of the indigenous population. There is no such precedent. You once read me this sentence from his book, The Iron Wall, written in Russian, in 1923. How many more bloody generations! He ended up getting angry. Frankly, do you, you, believe in a possible coexistence?! He was yelling at me. Nothing is stopping them, neither this bloody Christmas, nor this bloody year’s end! I still hadn’t said anything. The line crackled, like a landline. We could still hear one of the thousands of drones hovering above our heads. At home, near Nablus, and here, near Nabatieh, his north, my south. How many generations, Ghassan? Answer me! I love your bloody name! Ghassan Kanafani obviously, exiled at the age of twelve, assassinated in Beirut by Mossad, the Israeli intelligence service, more than fifty years ago, at the same time as his niece, Lamis, who was seventeen. He was thirty-six and he had never returned home to Acre. Thirty six! In less than a decade, we will have double that. Double, Ghassan! The line had suddenly stopped crackling. The buzzing of drones continued. How many more bloody generations for our eyes to no longer see only blood red? How many more funeral marches, how many mass graves? He continued to yell at me. The children of the children of the children of the children of our sisters, of our brothers? Neither he nor I had any offspring. How many more generations before this utopia penetrates hearts and minds? And what will they call it? Palesrael? Israeline? He burst out laughing. One more bloody state in this world, bi-national or con-federal, whatever its colours, its allegiances, we who dream of undoing (ourselves from) all these nation-states, of shitting on all these terrestrial borders, maritime and celestial! Can you believe it?! His mad laughter carried me away. It must have been two or three in the morning, the rain had invited itself, but winter had not yet set in. We probably won’t see any of this, Ghassan. Neither in your bloody life, nor in mine. I don’t remember how many times he used that word, bloody. The word is much more corrosive in Arabic.

The next morning, I sent him these few lines:

look, for what this verb could still mean
look with what remains obscure to you
with what shoulders you have left
of nerves, of rage
to lose sight

I translated them for him into our common language:

Ghassan Salhab is a filmmaker. From Beirut, he writes about the situation in Lebanon and beyond.

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