Tuesday, May 08, 2007

الذي بده يعيش, يعيش

Listen to Manal talking about prison in Israel - click play below

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You encounter some strong personalities in Israel/Palestine - they have to be because they are hanging on to their dreams like grim lockjaw death.

I went to interview Manal Ghanem in the Tulkarem refugee camp. She had been in prison for 50 months for being part of a plot to kill Israelis - to bomb a kindergarten in Nahariya, according to the Israeli Prison Service. When she went into jail she was pregnant, she gave birth in prison and, surrounded by eight women, her son Nour learned to fear men because the only ones he came across were the prison guards. He left the prison after two years to live with relatives.

Manal, the same age as me, was almost dismissive of her four years inside - beatings, intrusive searches, hunger strikes, sharing a cramped cell with a toilet simply in the corner of the room, insect-infested food - in the way that many Palestinians are when they talk about treatment by the Israelis. They expect to be treated badly by the enemy so it's no surprise really.

Hadn't been hard, I asked - and she snapped back: "الذي بده يعيش, يعيش - He who wants to live, lives." Wow, man - there was a lesson for me right there. It's not for me to pronounce on what she did or didn't do vis-a-vis blowing up Israel, but what unbelievable resilience. Boy could I use some of that...

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