A visit from Rafeef

Apologies for the silence over the last couple of weeks. It’s high time to get this thing back up and rolling again! Palestine Peace & Solidarity has been busier than this silence might suggest.

We were visited by a truly incredible Palestinian woman on Monday. Her name is Rafeef Ziadah and you may know her by through her spoken word artistry or perhaps as one of the co-founders of the Coalition Against Israeli Apartheid which launched Apartheid Week in 2005 which is now marked in over 200 countries. She is also a member of the Palestinian BDS National Committee and completed her PhD in political science at the University of Toronto writing on the BDS movement. In a word, she kicks ass.

Rafeef and the PPS crew.
Rafeef and the PPS crew.

While we were less than well prepared for her visit, she was like a shot of caffeine straight to PPS veins. Check out a clip of her commanding poetry and you’ll soon learn why:

Her companions included Adam Hanieh and Dae-oup Chang who both lecture in development studies at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studies and Yang Ji Lee who works in translation and kindly offered to help PPS in the future. Adam’s focus is on the Middle East while Dae-oup specializes on social movements in East Asia. Our friend Greg Sharzer also joined us again as he studied alongside them in Canada.

We discussed campaign strategies and our engagement in the international BDS movement from Korea. All in all, we learned a lot but perhaps missed an important opportunity to share her knowledge with a wider audience.

Just in case my message was not clear enough, let me try this again:

And because I cannot compete with poets, I shall borrow from Palestinian national poet Mahmoud Darwich to finish as Rafeef herself has done elsewhere:

“For us the tunnel is so dark that you cannot even see the light at the end. In a different situation I would like to give up my poetry about Palestine. I can’t keep writing about loss and occupation forever. I feel it deprives me of my freedom as a poet. Am I obliged to express my love for my country every day? You have to live for love, for freedom. The subject of occupation itself becomes a burden. I want, both as a poet and as a human being, to free myself from Palestine. But I can’t. When my country is liberated, so shall I be.”

Darwich lives on as a challenge to the apartheid wall.
Darwich lives on as a challenge to the apartheid wall.