Newly engaged 19-year-old shot dead by Israel

Relatives mourn during the funeral of Muhammad Abu Latifa, 27 July, in Qalandiya refugee camp, near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian youth was killed as he ran from Israeli occupation forces who raided his family home. Oren Ziv ActiveStills

Relatives mourn during the funeral of Muhammad Abu Latifa, 27 July, in Qalandiya refugee camp, near Ramallah in the occupied West Bank. The Palestinian youth was killed as he ran from Israeli occupation forces who raided his family home. Oren Ziv ActiveStills

Muhammad Atta Abu Latifa had only been engaged to his fiancée Nour Taha for little more than a month. But they had been in love for years.

The couple — aged 19 and 18 respectively — had encountered opposition to their relationship from family members. They nonetheless decided to persist and succeeded in overcoming that opposition. They were looking forward to moving into their new home, which was under construction.

Israel has destroyed their plans. Ten days before they were scheduled to hold a party celebrating their engagement, Muhammad was shot dead by Israeli troops at Qalandiya refugee camp in the occupied West Bank.

Nour visited Muhammad’s grave this week, so that she could place flowers on it.

“Just a few days before we were supposed to celebrate his engagement, we had to walk in his funeral procession,” said Maryam, Muhammad’s mother. “And instead of congratulating me, people are coming to pay their condolences.”

Muhammad’s family hails from Saraa, a village near Jerusalem. They were forced to leave their homes by Zionist forces during the Nakba, the 1948 ethnic cleansing of Palestine.

Muhammad is the second of three children. Like his elder brother Lafi, he was born while his father was imprisoned by Israel.

Muhammad himself served six months in Israeli detention during 2013. He was charged with firing a gun in the air during a funeral.

Firing a volley of shots as a tribute to locals killed by Israeli forces is a common practice in Palestinian refugee camps.

Muhammad was a supporter of Fatah. Yet, according to his father, Muhammad was not involved in the al-Aqsa Martyrs Brigades, a militia linked to that party, or any other armed group.

He had, however, taken part in confrontations between Palestinian youths and the Israeli military. He was especially eager to defend locals during Israel’s frequent raids on the camp.

“Rather than dissuading my sons from actively resisting the Israeli occupation, I instilled resistance in their minds,” Atta, Muhammad’s father, told The Electronic Intifada.

Dawn raid

Known in Qalandiya for being highly energetic, Muhammad was a gifted swimmer. He had earned several medals and represented the camp’s swimming club in West Bank competitions.


An image of Muhammad Abu Latifa circulated on social networks.

Muhammad was asleep when Israeli soldiers conducted a dawn raid in Qalandiya on Monday. The soldiers “stormed our home after breaking the gate and the door,” said his father Atta. “His brother Lafi warned him that soldiers are coming for him so he quickly got up jumped from our home’s rooftop’s to his uncle’s and then to his neighbor’s.”

The Israeli authorities have claimed that Muhammad died because he fell off a roof. But his father insisted that he was shot by the Israeli forces. The first bullet hit Muhammad while he was on his uncle’s roof, according to Atta.

The family is convinced that Muhammad bled to death after being struck by a number of bullets.

Maryam, Muhammad’s mother, said: “When I saw stains of blood on the roof, I knew that my son was injured. Neighbors also told me that after finally seizing him, Israeli soldiers cuffed his hands and bound his legs. His body was bruised because they also kicked him.”

Jamal Abu Latifa, Muhammad’s uncle, told The Electronic Intifada that after detaining Muhammad, the Israeli forces covered him with a blue blanket and carried him to Ofer, a military prison. Eventually, the Israeli forces allowed the Palestine Red Crescent Society to take Muhammad to hospital in Ramallah, where he was officially pronounced dead.

The soldiers who broke into the Abu Latifa house turned Muhammad’s room upside down. They were accompanied by police dogs.

“Executioner can never be trusted”

“They said they were searching for guns, but they obviously found nothing,” said Atta, Muhammad’s father. “I’m convinced that they did not come to arrest Muhammad but rather to assassinate him.”

Atta does not believe that his son’s killers will be brought to justice by the Israeli system. It would be futile, he feels, to litigate in Israel’s courts.

“The executioner can never be trusted to judge himself,” Atta said.

Recent events suggest that his reservations are well-founded.

The Israeli military has not taken any disciplinary action against Yisrael Shomer, a colonel who shot dead the teenager Muhammad al-Kasbeh near Israel’s military checkpoint at Qalandiya. Avideo of the killing proves that al-Kasbeh was running away at the time.

The video debunks Shomer’s claim that his life was in immediate danger because of al-Kasbeh’s stone-throwing.

Muhammad al-Kasbeh’s mother was among those who expressed sympathy to the Abu Latifa family this week. So, too, did the mother of Muhammad al-Araj. Then 17, he was killed by Israeli forces during a July 2014 march at Qalandiya checkpoint.

“Resistance is an obligation”

Muhammad Abu Latifa was the third Palestinian to be killed by Israeli forces in the West Bank during a seven-day period.

The raid that preceded his killing was by no means a novel experience for the residents of Qalandiya camp. They are accustomed to being harassed and terrorized by the Israeli occupation.

Local youth displayed their anger at Israel by throwing stones at the Israeli forces following Muhammad’s funeral.

The Israeli army responded by firing tear gas and skunk water, a chemical weapon that leaves a foul odor wherever it is used.

“Clashes inevitably happen after each raid,” said one of Muhammad’s cousins, who asked not to be identified. “Most youth in the camp do not hesitate to clash with Israeli occupation even if the gun is pointed to their chest.”

“This is because we feel that we have nothing to lose. Life in the camp is intolerable. It cannot be even called life. We feel choked: no jobs, no hope, no breathing space.”

Maryam, Muhammad’s mother, expressed a similar view. “Muhammad is in a much better place right now,” she said.

“Everyone in the refugee camp — even those who are not politically active — is forced to resist the Israeli soldiers. How can they not clash with the army that regularly raids the camp and makes their lives unbearable? Here, resistance is not a choice but an obligation.”

 

African-Palestinian community’s deep roots in liberation struggle

Ali Jiddah speaks with a tour group in the Old City of Jerusalem in March 2014.

Ryan Rodrick Beiler

 

In early June the African Community Club in Jerusalem’s Old City was crammed with mourners. They had come to pay their respects to the late Subhiyeh Sharaf, an amiable woman and community elder.

The club serves as the headquarters of the African Community Society. It is a gathering place for the African community and a social and cultural center for Palestinians, screening films and hosting debates and other activities.

Outside the club, young men were running to bring tea to every incoming guest and maintain order. The necessary funds for Sharaf’s funeral ceremony were raised through donations as is typically the case during occasions of mourning and celebrations that take place in the African community here.

This is known as hatita, a longstanding tradition among Jerusalem’s African-Palestinians, in which community members contribute a certain sum of money according to their ability.

The tradition mirrors the strong ties and communal solidarity that distinguish the African community in Jerusalem. Most of this community, of approximately 350 people, live in the Muslim Quarter of the Old City.

Interviews with members of the community and the society’s Arabic website reveal a rich history. African migration to Jerusalem dates back to 634 when Omar Bin al-Khattab, the second Muslim caliph, conquered Jerusalem. But it wasn’t until the beginning of the 20th century that Africans started settling in Jerusalem in significant numbers.

Coming mainly from Chad, Sudan, Nigeria and Senegal, Africans flocked to Jerusalem for two main reasons. The first was religious: some considered Jerusalem the final destination of their pilgrimage. The second reason was their willingness to fight along with Palestinians against British and Zionist colonialism.

Guardians of mosque

The Africans who came to Jerusalem were initially scattered across the city but were in the early 1930s concentrated in two buildings facing each other, a few meters away from one of the main gates to al-Aqsa mosque. The gate is known as Bab al-Nazir or Bab al-Majlis.

The neighborhood itself was built in the 13th century and is characterized by its Mamluk-era architecture. It primarily served as a resting place for pilgrims and as a shelter for the poor and the homeless.

During the final years of Ottoman rule, the buildings were turned into a notorious prison compound where rebels against the Ottomans were held, including African dissidents. Following the end of Ottoman rule, the buildings — referred to as al-Ribat al-Mansouri (or al-Ribat al-Kurdi) and al-Ribat Aladdin al-Bassir — became part of the Islamic Waqf, a religious trust.

In the early 1930s, Palestinian political and religious leader Sheikh Amin al-Husseini leased them to Jerusalem’s Africans.

While taking pride in their African roots and trying to preserve their ancestral traditions, Africans in Jerusalem have largely integrated with other Palestinians and were woven into the Palestinian Jerusalemite fabric. This integration was facilitated by shared religious ties, the sense of belonging that Africans immediately formed with Jerusalem and the fact that African migrants could easily interact in Arabic.

The two most powerful manifestations of this integration are social and political. On the social level, intermarriages between Africans and other Palestinians in Jerusalem are common, occasional complications notwithstanding.

Active in struggle

This is not to say that racism against African-Palestinians doesn’t exist. Some Palestinians who are not from Jerusalem pejoratively refer to the African community as the “neighborhood of slaves,” for instance.

Mahmoud Jiddah, an African community member and alternative tour guide, told The Electronic Intifada that “we occasionally face racism by other Palestinians due to our darker skins, but by no means can you say that this is a trend. Far from it.”

He added that the main perpetrator of racism is the Israeli police. “We face a twofold oppression by the Israeli occupation: first because we are Palestinian; and second because we are black,” he said.

On the political level, Africans have been strongly involved in the Palestinian struggle.

Jiddah, whose father migrated to Jerusalem from Chad at the beginning of the 20th century, said that Africans were particularly active in the Arab Salvation Army and played a key role in the Jerusalem battles during the 1948 Nakba, Israel’s ethnic cleansing of Palestine. In fact, the commander of the battalion that prevented the fall of Jabal al-Mukabber — an East Jerusalem neighborhood — in 1948 was the Nigerian-born Muhammad Tariq al-Afriqi.

Africans also suffered their fair share of displacement during the Nakba with almost one-quarter of the original African population in Jerusalem becoming refugees in neighboring countries.

The role of Africans in the Palestinian liberation struggle became even more notable following the 1967 occupation of East Jerusalem.

The very first female Palestinian political prisoner was Fatima Barnawi, a Palestinian of Nigerian descent, who served 10 years in Israeli occupation jails after a foiled bombing attack in Jerusalem. She was released in a 1977 prisoner exchange and deported.

During the height of the first intifada, a high percentage of the African population — both male and female — was imprisoned.

The first Palestinian killed during the second intifada was Osama Jiddah. A member of the African community, he was shot dead by Israeli forces on 29 September 2000 while on his way to donate blood in al-Maqased hospital on the Mount of Olives.

These are just a few examples of the active participation of the African community in the Palestinian struggle for liberation that belies their relatively small numbers. For the African community, resistance is not a choice, but an obligation made unavoidable by living in the Old City.

Passport racism

For some people coming from other places in Palestine to pray in Jerusalem for the first time, it is not obvious that there is a community that lives a few meters away from one of the holiest Muslim sites. Their initial reaction when they learn about it is to say that these people are so lucky and blessed.

For African-Palestinians, however, this can occasionally be a blessing in disguise.

Living in the heart of the Old City means being a target of Israel’s constant attempts to drive Palestinians out of this place and erase Palestinian identity and existence. In this context, Israel systematically denies building permits to African-Palestinians living in the Old City.

Even minor restorations or the building of an additional room are banned, forcing people to smuggle basic construction materials into the neighborhood. Newly-built Israeli settlements in the city are quickly restored and expanded, while Palestinians are threatened with demolitions if they build one additional room or restore their houses.

Restrictions on building — combined with high levels of poverty and unemployment — have forced some members of the African community, particularly the younger generation, to look for residence outside the Old City. Many have moved to areas like Beit Hanina or Shuafat because it is extremely difficult to accommodate a growing family in the Old City.

This problem is faced by all Palestinians in the Old City. But one problem unique to African-Palestinians is that — unlike most Palestinians in Jerusalem — many of them do not have a Jordanian passport.

“My father carried a French passport which he gave up following Chad’s independence in 1960,” said Mahmoud Jiddah. “When he applied for a Jordanian passport — since Jerusalem was under Jordanian rule then — it took him more than four years to receive it … But even the fact that my father carried a Jordanian passport doesn’t mean that I could automatically attain one. I’ve only received a temporary passport a couple of years ago and it’s about to expire.”

Jiddah added that he has a list of 50 African-Palestinians from Jerusalem who are banned from receiving a Jordanian passport. He explained that this Jordanian policy of refusing to give passports to African-Palestinians has to do with considering them “strangers.”

He said: “Imagine — we’ve been living here for our entire lives and we’ve sacrificed everything for Jerusalem and the Jordanian authorities consider us strangers. But when they ruled over Jerusalem in 1948, they suddenly became the kings.”

African-Palestinians are forced to travel using a laissez-passer, which means they are not allowed to visit Arab countries with which Israel has no diplomatic relations. Alternatively they are left with the option of applying for a Palestinian Authority or international passport which could jeopardize their residency status in Jerusalem. The other option left is to apply for an Israeli passport, which the community strongly rejects.

Microcosm

In a sense, the African community in Jerusalem is a microcosm of the challenges Palestinians in Jerusalem face, and of the resilience they maintain.

Jiddah was arrested by Israeli occupation forces on 5 September 1968, along with his brother Abdullah and their cousin and comrade in the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, Ali Jiddah.

Mahmoud was sentenced to 25 years in jail, while Ali was sentenced to 20 for planting bombs. Both of them were released in 20 May 1985 in a prisoner exchange between Israel and the splinter group PFLP-GC.

A self-proclaimed Palestinian, African and socialist, Mahmoud, like his cousin, refused all pressure to deport him from Jerusalem. The men preferred to spend most of their lives in jail over leaving Jerusalem.

Mahmoud’s brother Abdullah, though, was deported in 1970, and was separated from his family and city.

“The first time I saw my brother was in Switzerland in 1993 when I got an invitation to a human rights conference in Geneva. I will never forget that moment,” Jiddah said. “The second time we met after that was in Jordan in 2012, which only makes me wonder: do I still have 20 years left in my life to see my brother again?”

Mahmoud Jiddah is as old as the Nakba. His community embodies the Palestinian narrative of uprooting, defiance and survival in all of its details.

 

Our son died confronting occupation, teen’s family insist

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A large picture of Yasser and Samer al-Kasbeh covers the wall of the living room at their family’s home in Qalandiya refugee camp, between Jerusalem and Ramallah in the occupied West Bank.

Yasser was just 11 years old when he was killed by Israeli occupation forces on 16 December 2001, and Samer was just 15 when he was killed — fewer than 40 days later — on 25 January 2002.

That was at the peak of the second intifada and Muhammad al-Kasbeh, their youngest brother, was just 3 years old at the time.

The loss of his brothers would profoundly shape Muhammad’s life and permanently haunt his parents.

Being the youngest boy among five sons and two daughters, Muhammad was especially spoiled by his parents. And the care was accompanied with constant apprehension and caution.

Noting his son’s involvement in protests against the Israeli occupation from an early age, Muhammad’s father Sami, better known as Abu Thaer, opted to take him out of school at the age of 16. Abu Thaer works at a school canteen where his son regularly helped him.

That decision came after Muhammad had been injured twice during protests in July 2014.

“I appealed to him not to go to protests or to participate in clashes, not because I don’t support resistance, but because we’ve already endured the loss of two sons and couldn’t handle another,” Muhammad’s father told The Electronic Intifada.

Not even the watchful eyes of a protective family, though, could have saved Muhammad when the bullet of Yisrael Shomer, commander of Israel’s Binyamin Brigade, ended his life last Friday.

“Nothing to hide”

Accounts of Muhammad al-Kasbeh’s death vary, with initial reports published by Ma’an News Agency and other local Palestinian media claiming that he was shot dead while trying to climb the Israeli wall in al-Ram, a village just east of occupied Jerusalem.

But the boy’s family, neighbors and residents in the camp assert that he was killed during clashes at the al-Ram-Qalandiya junction.

“We have nothing to conceal,” said Houriyeh, a woman elder and a close friend and neighbor of the al-Kasbeh family.

“Muhammad was killed after he threw a rock at the jeep of high-ranking Israeli officers; the rock broke the jeep’s window, prompting the officer to get out of the car and fire at him from close range, and then pose with his gun in glee. What Muhammad did was heroic and we should not be shy or ashamed of saying that our son died while resisting the occupation,” she added.

The Israeli and mainstream western media’s tendency to vilify Palestinian youths who throw stones, coupled with the obsession with nonviolent resistance, has led even some Palestinians to avoid talking about throwing stones or Molotov cocktails, and sometimes to deny that it happens.

Even though Palestinians have every right to resist a military occupation that denies them their freedom and strips them of their land, there is a perception that reporting about it somehow delegitimizes the Palestinian cause, justifies the Israeli killings and erodes international sympathy with the Palestinians.


Muhammad al-Kasbeh’s mother, Fatima, mourns during her 17-year-old son’s funeral on 3 July.

Oren ZivActiveStills

But there was no such concern from the al-Kasbeh family.

The reality for Palestinian youths is that there is no avoiding the occupation: it confronts them every waking moment, and often during the night as they sleep in their beds. Its relentless and pervasive violence constricts and stifles every aspect of their lives.

Family members also lamented the inaccuracies in some Palestinian reports and questioned the reasons behind them. “This feels like an attempt to scare the youth from climbing the wall to get to Jerusalem,” said one of the neighbors sitting next to al-Kasbeh’s mother.

A statement issued by the Jerusalem branch of the political faction Fatah, for instance, repeats the same claim, that al-Kasbeh was killed while scaling the wall.

“Dream come true”

Fatima, Muhammad’s mother, told The Electronic Intifada that Muhammad had indeed climbed the wall on the second Friday of the present fasting month of Ramadan, exactly a week before his killing.

“It was the first time he entered Jerusalem in eight years,” she said. “Praying in al-Aqsa mosque and seeing Jerusalem was a dream come true for him.”

Sami al-Kasbeh said that the family had applied for a permit from occupation authorities but it was rejected, which led Muhammad to take the more dangerous path to Jerusalem of climbing the wall.

“He didn’t tell me that he was intending to go to Jerusalem because he knew I wouldn’t let him do it and the day he was killed I didn’t know if he was going to try to repeat it,” Abu Thaer said.

“I wish I had died before he left the home. I wish I had died before Hammoudeh [Muhammad’s nickname] had left me,” said Fatima, who is one of three Palestinian women in Qalandiya refugee camp to lose at least two of her sons at the hands of Israel.


Palestinians climb Israel’s wall in the village of al-Ram to attend Friday prayer at al-Aqsa mosque in Jerusalem, 3 July.

Yotam RonenActiveStills

The road from Qalandiya to Jerusalem should be open to Palestinians; it is not supposed to be mined with checkpoints, walls and death. But this is the reality as Israel has isolated Palestinians in the rest of the West Bank from their city of Jerusalem.

Israeli occupation forces have justified Shomer’s killing of al-Kasbeh. “The commander did what he had to do due to threat to his life,” an army spokesperson told Haaretz newspaper.

Al-Kasbeh was the 15th Palestinian to be killed by Israeli occupation forces since the start of this year, according to statistics compiled by the United Nations monitoring group OCHA.

He is also the second child to be killed this year. In April, Israeli occupation forces shot dead 17-year-old Ali Muhammad Abu Ghannam near a checkpoint in occupied East Jerusalem.

Killings of Palestinians by Israeli occupation forces, including children, are almost never credibly investigated and Israeli personnel enjoy near total impunity for such killings.

Shared destiny

Muhammad al-Kasbeh is not the first Palestinian teen to be killed for attempting to overcome Israel’s racist system of permits and its violent occupation.

On 25 July 2014, during a march from Qalandiya checkpoint that sought to reach Jerusalem on one of the last nights of Ramadan, Muhammad al-Araj, also 17 at the time, was shot dead by Israeli occupation forces.

During that same march, al-Kasbeh was injured for the second time in as many weeks.

The two teens, both refugees from villages near Lydd, a town in present-day Israel which was ethnically cleansed in 1948, knew each other well. Suhad Abu Gharbiyeh, Muhammad al-Araj’s mother, who was at last week’s funeral and said it was like reliving her son’s slaying, knows the pain of al-Kasbeh’s mother more than anyone else.

Al-Araj was killed on his birthday. Last Friday, the day of al-Kasbeh’s killing, was the day al-Araj would have gotten his high school graduation exam results.

A few weeks ago, al-Araj’s classmates at the Arab Evangelical Episcopal School in Ramallah, where he was studying hotel management, held their graduation ceremony. His picture was there. All the speeches and commencement addresses were dedicated to him and his family received his graduation certificate from the school. But Muhammad was missing.

The personalities and lives of Muhammad al-Kasbeh and Muhammad al-Araj perhaps could not have been more different. The former was dedicated to participating in protests, while the latter had never attended a protest prior to the 25 July march, when he was killed. In fact, al-Araj wanted to leave Palestine and pursue his studies in the United States.

It was almost unthinkable that the teenager, who had cooked his family a delicious sayadiyeh (baked fish and rice) just a day before his death, would be killed in a protest near a checkpoint before he would have a chance to cut his own birthday cake.

Despite their differences, however, the destiny of al-Kasbeh and al-Araj ultimately converged in the most painful fashion.

Both were killed at 17 years of age during Ramadan. Both were shot while standing on the frontline against the army that occupies and humiliates their people.

They also hurled another rock — albeit metaphorically — at those who justify shooting live bullets at stone throwers, or equate resistance with military occupation and impose the condition of “nonviolence” on their solidarity with Palestinians.

الخطيب والهجوم على المثليين في فلسطين: عن الإقصاء واختيار المعارك الأسهل

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منذ أسبوعين، أطلق الشيخ كمال الخطيب، نائب رئيس الشق الشمالي للحركة الإسلامية في الأراضي المحتلة العام 48، هجمة على مثليي ومثليات الجنس والمدافعين عن حقوقهم، من خلال صفحته الرسمية على «فيسبوك» والتي يتابعها أكثر من 11 ألف مستخدم.

يختتم كمال الخطيب منشوره الذي أعادت مواقع عديدة نشره بالتالي: «اللافت أن جمعيات مشبوهة من بلادنا وصحف صفراء وكتاب مأجورين راحوا يروجون لهذا الشذوذ، لكل هؤلاء لا أقول بالرفاه والبنين، وإنما أقول لهم بالشقاء والأوباء والإيدز يا شاذين! وقرف يقرفكوا».

لكن المشكلة تتعدى ما كتبه كمال الخطيب وتمثّل نمطًا من التفكير لا يتورّع عن استخدام العنف والقوة لفرض هيمنته على الفضاء العام في فلسطين وتغييب كل من يخالفه الرأي بالتهديد والتحريض تارة، وبالسلاح تارةً أخرى، موظّفًا في ذلك منابر الجوامع وصفحات التواصل الاجتماعي على حدٍّ سواء، ومنصّبًا نفسه الوكيل الحصري للقيم والأخلاق.

لا بد إذن ألا يقتصر ردنا على ما كتبه الخطيب بل أن يشمل جميع القوى والأحزاب الوطنية والـ «تقدمية» في فلسطين التي لم تتفوّه بكلمة واحدة أو اكتفت بردودٍ خجولة، مغلّبةً بذلك حساباتها السياسية ومصالحها الضيقة على الدفاع عن الحريات الفردية، خاصة وأن الاعتراض على استهداف المثليين قد يكون مكلفًا وغير مستحسن.

ولكن قبل مناقشة تبعات ما كتبه كمال الخطيب ونقد الردود التي أثارها، علينا التوقف عند بعض الادعاءات التي أوردها الشيخ في خطبته الفيسبوكية.

يكتب كمال الخطيب مستهجنًا تصويت الإيرلنديين لتشريع زواج المثليين: «إنها المجتمعات الغربية وقد وصلت إلى أسفل سافلين، حتى أن الشعب في إيرلندا قد صوت في استفتاء شعبي يوم الأحد الأخير بنسبة ٦٢٪ للسماح بزواج المثليين».

ليس واضحًا كيف استنتج كمال الخطيب أن تصويت الإيرلنديين يدل على أنهم وصلوا إلى «أسفل سافلين» وما هو أسفل سافلين بالنسبة له. لعل الشيخ نسي أو تناسى أو خفي عنه أن المجتمع الإيرلندي الذي اتهمه بالانحدار إلى أسفل سافلين و «بالترنح أمام انحطاط أخلاقي» هو من أكثر المجتمعات تأييدًا للقضية الفلسطينية ولقضايا المقهورين والمناضلين من أجل التحرر الوطني. التظاهرات التي شهدتها إيرلندا «المترنحة أمام الانحطاط الأخلاقي» نصرة للأسرى الفلسطينين (وبينهم الشيخ خضر عدنان الذي شبهه الإيرلنديون بشهيدهم بوبي ساندز) ومناهضةً للعدوان الصهيوني على غزة كانت أكبر من جميع المظاهرات التي جرت في أي بلد عربي أو إسلامي.

ويجدر الذكر أن من بين أبرز المنخرطين في حركة التضامن العالمية مع القضية الفلسطينية وحركات المقاطعة هي مجموعات تنشط في الدفاع عن حقوق المثليين والمثليات، وأن المثليين والمثليات وثنائيي الميول الجنسي ومتحوّلي الجنس لطالما تصدّروا الصفوف الأمامية للمظاهرات الداعمة للقضية الفلسطينية في إيرلندا وغيرها. فإن كان هذا «ترنحًا أمام انحطاط أخلاقي وانتكاسًا للفطرة» فحبّذا لو تصاب الحركة الإسلامية التي يمثلها الخطيب ببعضٍ من هذا «الانحطاط وانتكاس الفطرة».

إن هنالك خللًا جذريًّا في المنظومة الأخلاقية والقيمية التي تَعتبر العلاقة الجنسية بين بالغين، برضاهما التام وبغض النظر عن ميولهما الجنسي، شذوذًا بينما ترى تعدد الزوجات حقًّا شرعيًّا، وتدين ممارسة الحرية الجنسية التي لا تؤذي أحدًا بينما تصمت صمتًا مطبقًا إزاء اغتصاب الزوج لزوجته وتلوم ضحايا التحرش الجنسي بدل أن تلوم مرتكبيه. الأجدى أن يراجع كمال الخطيب ومن لف لفيفه منظومتهم الأخلاقية وأحكامهم القيمية الجاهزة التي تختزل الأخلاق بالسرير وتقيّم المجتمعات وفقًا لممارسات أفرادها الجنسية.

الملفت أكثر من وجود أشخاصٍ في بلادنا يدافعون عن الحرية الجنسية هو اختيار كمال الخطيب وصف «الغرب» بالانحلال نتيجة تقبل المثلية الجنسية. المفارقة تكمن في كون المستشرقين الأوروبيين إبان الحقبة الفيكتورية ألقوا بالتهم نفسها على المجتمعات المشرقية التي مثّلت بالنسبة لهم حينها بؤرة من الانحلال مقارنة بالمجتمعات الأوروبية الكاثوليكية المحافظة. وكما يكتب جوزف مسعد «عندما كانت أوروبا تعيش في العصر الفيكتوري، أنتج مستشرقوها معرفة عن العالم العربي والإسلامي بكون سكانها يعيشون في مجتمعات منحلَّة أخلاقيًا، مقارنة بالمنظومة المفاهيمية والفكرية الأوروبية القائمة على قمع الممارسات الجنسية خارج الزواج الغَيْري المسموح به في أوروبا آنذاك». فما أشبه مستشرقي القرن التاسع عشر بإسلاميي القرن الحادي والعشرين، وما أشبه كمال الخطيب بمنى عراقي!

والحديث عن منى العراقي يقودنا إلى آخر أمنية تمناها كمال الخطيب في خطبته بأن يصاب المثليون والمدافعون عن الحرية الجنسية بالإيدز. تنم هذه الأمنية أولًا عن ربطٍ مغلوطٍ وشائع بين المثلية الجنسية والإصابة بفايروس نقص المناعة المكتسبة رغم انعدام أي دليل علمي وإحصائي يؤكد هذا الادعاء. حين يتمنى كمال الخطيب أن يصاب المثليون بالإيدز والأوبئة فهو لا يحرض ضدهم بشكلٍ واضحٍ وصريح فحسب، بل يرسخ الأسطورة بأن المثلية الجنسية والإيدز مرتبطان. الخطر في العلاقة الجنسية غير نابعٍ من كون العلاقة مثلية أو غيْرية بل من نقص الوعي الجنسي وعدم الأخذ بتدابير الحيطة اللازمة، أما الوعي الجنسي فلا أخال المشايخ كخطيب يشجّعونه بل على العكس تمامًا، فالوعي الجنسي بالنسبة لهم «انحلال».

ولكن إجراء هذا الربط لا يقتصر على الإسلاميين أو المحافظين اجتماعيًا، فالصحفية المصرية منى العراقي، على سبيل المثال لا الحصر، التي تعمل في قناة موالية لنظام السيسي اتهمت في برنامجها المثليين بنشر فايروس الإيدز، ورافقت الشرطة المصرية في حملة اقتحام لأحد الأماكن التي ادّعت أن المثليين يجتمعون فيها قبل أن يتم اعتقالهم والتشهير بهم. منى العراقي وكمال الخطيب يختلفان إيديولوجيًا فالأولى علمانية والثاني إسلامي ولكنهما وجهان لعملة واحدة، عملة ترفض الاختلاف وتجرّمه وتدينه، وكلا الوجهين يتّكئ على القيم والأخلاق والتقاليد كي يبرر انتهاكه لحريات الآخرين وشيطنته للمختلفين.

الشيطنة هي تمامًا ما قام به الخطيب حين وصف المدافعين عن حقوق المثليين في فلسطين بأنهم جمعيات مشبوهة وصحف صفراء وكتاب مأجورون. جمعية القوس وهي أبرز جمعية تعمل في مجال التعددية الجنسية والجندرية في المجتمع الفلسطيني –وهي بالمناسبة لا «تروّج للمثلية» كما يدعي الخطيب- هي جمعية معروفة بمواقفها الوطنية والمناهضة للاحتلال ولجميع محاولاته تلميع صورته باستخدام قضايا المثليين. لم تتبنَّ هذه الجمعية والعديد من الناشطين الفلسطينين المثليين الأدبيات الاستعمارية في نضالهم ضد القمع الجنسي، ولم يقتصر نضالهم على التحرر الجنسي، ورفضوا رفضًا قاطعًا المشاركة في الفعاليات التي ينظمها الصهاينة للمثليين، فما المشبوه في ذلك؟ يستطيع الكثير من المثليين الفلسطينيين الإلقاء بأنفسهم في أحضان الصهاينة فهذا سيوفّر عليهم الكثير من الصداع وسيريحهم من التعرّض إلى اللؤلؤ المكنون الذي ينطق به كمال الخطيب وأمثلاه. ولكنهم لا يساومون على فلسطينيتهم وعلى وطنيتهم ولا يفعلون هذا بدافع تسجيل نقاطٍ سياسية ولكن لأن هويتهم الجنسية لم تكن يومًا عائقًا أمام تبلور الهوية الوطنية، ولا ينتظرون صك وطنية من كمال الخطيب وغيره.

ليست المرة الأولى التي يلجأ فيها كمال الخطيب وقادة الحركة الإسلامية إلى الإقصاء، وضحايا هذا الفكر الظلامي هم المثليون والنساء وكل من يتبنى فكرًا مختلفًا وعقيدة مختلفة. ولا يمكن فصل ما كتبه الخطيب عن المثليين في صفحته عن سلسلة متزايدة من الاعتداءات على الحريات الفردية والجمعية، كإطلاق النار على سيارة العداءة الفلسطينية حنين راضي في مدينة الطيرة لمحاولتها تنظيم سباق نسائي في المدينة، وإجبار أستاذ لغة عربية على الاستقالة في مدينة باقة لأنه أدخل في المنهاج التدريسي رواية وصفها السلفيون بالانحلال، والمطالبات بفصل الرجال عن النساء أثناء المظاهرات الوطنية، ورفض عرض بعض المسرحيات بحجة تناقضها مع «قيمنا الاجتماعية» والاعتداء على من ينظمونها، والسلسلة تطول وتطول.

في ظل محاولات فئة معينة تملك ما لا يستهان به من السطوة الاجتماعية والمالية، هل تكفي الردود الخجولة والباهتة؟ من السهل انتقاد المسلحين الذين أطلقوا النار على العداءة حنين راضي في الطيرة ومن السهل التضامن معها، فالقضية لا تترك المجال لردٍّ آخر. ولكن ماذا عن المثليين؟ ليس لهؤلاء حظوة اجتماعية أو وزن سياسي وقضيتهم تثير الكثير من الجدل، لذا لن تخرج معظم الناشطات النسويات والأحزاب «التقدمية» والوطنية بردٍّ واضح وصريح يستنكر تعليقات كمال الخطيب، وستكتفي بانتقاد طائفية الأخير دون التعرض بصراحة إلى كلامه ضد المثليين، وهذا خطأ جسيم. من صمتَ على شيطنة المثليين أو بررها أو اكتفى بالنقد السهل والواضح لئلا يضع مسيرته السياسية على المحك أو لحسابات شعبوية رخيصة، هو فاقد للمصداقية في أي نقد آخر يوجهه.

الرد على محاولات الإقصاء واستحواذ فئة معينة على الفضاء العام يكون بالدفاع عن جميع من يتعرضون للإقصاء والتهميش حتى لو كان دعمهم مكلفًا على المدى القريب وحتى لو كانوا هدفًا سهلًا للتشهير والتشويه.

Israeli soldiers cheered while Palestinian bled to death under army jeep

The family of Abdallah Ghuneimat mourn during his funeral in Kafr Malik on 14 June. Shadi Hatem \ APA

The family of Abdallah Ghuneimat mourn during his funeral in Kafr Malik on 14 June. Shadi Hatem \ APA

Two days after Abdallah Ghuneimat was killed by Israeli occupation forces, his hometown of Kafr Malik was still reeling.

It was not just the killing that caused an overwhelming sense of shock and anger in the village to the northeast of the occupied West Bank city of Ramallah. It was also the cruel manner in which it happened.

Recounting the few hours following Ghuneimat’s killing, Kafr Malik resident Aisha Hamayel said that “his mother was looking at his corpse from afar, saying, ‘May God help his poor mother,’ not realizing that he was her son. Is there any worse crime than putting a mother through this?”

“Is there any worse tragedy than a mother not recognizing her son because of how deformed his face was?” she added.

On 14 June, Israeli forces raided Kafr Malik, home to approximately 3,000 Palestinians. Frequent night and pre-dawn raids are a constant nightmare in the village. These raids often end in clashes between the Israeli army and youth who try to defend their village.

“I heard the sound of two gunshots and a stun grenade at around 4:30am just as I was waking up to pray fajr[pre-dawn prayers],” Ghuneimat’s aunt, Maha Hamayel, told The Electronic Intifada.

“We live next to the main road where the shooting occurred, so we quickly went outside to see what was happening. We saw the body of a young man and his amputated leg was trapped between a wall and an Israeli military jeep. He was drenched in blood and his blood literally covered the entire street, but we couldn’t initially identify him,” Maha said. She sat next to Ghuneimat’s mother, who had collapsed in anguish.

Politically active

Abdallah Ghuneimat, 21, worked at his uncle’s poultry farm in Kafr Malik. He spent most of his time running the farm after his release from Israeli prison in August last year.

Ghuneimat was arrested when he was 18 for “resisting the occupation,” as his father, Iyad, put it. “He was politically active with Fatah since he was 12,” Iyad told The Electronic Intifada.

Ghuneimat spent two years in Ofer military prison, where he successfully completed the tawjihi matriculation exam given to high school students.

“During his time in prison, both his father and I were banned from visiting him on security grounds,” his mother, Zanat Ghuneimat, explained.

“It was a very hard period for all of us. So when he was released I just wanted him to focus on his work and life,” his mother said before breaking down in tears.

Even after his release from prison, Ghuneimat continued to defend Kafr Malik from the Israeli army’s raids.

His father is convinced that the army came with the intention of assassinating his son.

The army, meanwhile, offered an entirely different account. According to a military spokesperson, a Molotov cocktail was thrown at the jeep which resulted in the crash into a wall — and the “accident” in which Ghuneimat was hit and eventually killed.

“If this was true, if it was only an accident, why did they leave him to bleed for more than three hours? Why did they continue to prevent us from lifting up his body?” his father asked.

The family refused to have an autopsy performed, opting to bury Ghuneimat as soon as possible in a funeral procession that was attended by thousands of Palestinians from Kafr Malik and neighboring villages on Monday.

Bleeding for hours

The fact that no autopsy was carried out makes it difficult to independently verify whether Ghuneimat was indeed shot. But what was clear for the family and eyewitnesses was that Ghuneimat was left bleeding under the jeep for hours while the Israeli soldiers were jubilantly cheering.

“The soldiers were singing and cheering in the jeep while women were crying and trying to get closer to see the body,” Shurouq Hamayel, Ghuneimat’s cousin, who was at the scene, told The Electronic Intifada.

Sawsan Hamayel, Ghuneimat’s aunt, confirmed this account and added that the soldiers were “firing tear gas, sound bombs as well as live bullets in the air to disperse the gathering crowd.”

During the raid on Kafr Malik, Israeli soldiers detained a Palestinian man from the village of Silwad in the jeep. Though blindfolded, the man told the crowd that the soldiers kept saying “aim at him” before the jeep ran over Ghuneimat.

Iyad Ghuneimat, Abdallah’s father, said that a few minutes after the collision, the Israeli soldier kept asking Abdallah’s mother and grandfather: “Do you have anyone missing? Are you looking for someone?” while pointing to Ghuneimat’s home. For the father, this was an indication that they actually knew whom they hit.

Stains of blood and gasoline mark the wall where the Israeli jeep crashed.

Traumatized

For the three hours that followed the brutal killing, the villagers did not even know who the victim was and were physically prevented from reaching him.

Maha Hamayel says that Israeli soldiers beat Ghuneimat’s mother and kicked her away but she insisted on coming back.

The first to identify Ghuneimat was his uncle Hikmat, owner of the chicken farm where Ghuneimat worked for the last few months. Before the Israeli army finally allowed them to recover the body and before paramedics were allowed to transfer Ghuneimat to the Ramallah hospital, Hikmat tried to dissuade his relatives from coming close. He said he was incapable of telling them the shocking truth about their loved one.

The paramedics, however, were too late as Ghuneimat was already dead by then.

“We were looking forward to spending Ramadan together,” said his aunt Maha.

“In the last two years, he was forced to spend Ramadan in prison. We had plans this year for him to spend the month together and to cook him all the dishes that he likes. But he was taken away from us forever,” she added.

Ghuneimat’s five-year-old sister Rahma was especially traumatized. She was very close to her brother, who used to spend his free time playing with her.

Rahma had hardly uttered a word since his death. Instead, she stands and sobs next to the wall where her brother was killed.

Abdallah Ghuneimat was dreaming of leading stable life and having a family of his own, his relatives say. Israel denied him all of that.