The Humiliation Machine

The girl in the poster at the top of the photo is Hadeel Wajih 'Awwad. She was 14 when she died. She lived with her family in the Qalandia refugee camp, just outside the checkpoint of the same name, pictured above. You can read more about the checkpoint, and what it does, in this excerpt from my book, which went up on LitHub today. On March 1, 2013, Hadeel 'Awwad's older brother, Mahmoud, was shot in the back of the head with a rubber-coated bullet fired by Israeli soldiers during clashes outside the checkpoint. He spent the next eight months in a coma and died that November 28. He was 25. Two years later almost to the day, Hadeel woke up, made breakfast, and left the house. Her mother thought she was going to school. Instead she sneaked with her cousin Norhan, who was 16, into Jerusalem. They brought scissors with them and, in the Mahane Yehuda market, attempted to stab passersby. They managed to lightly wound a 70-year-old Palestinian man, whom they presumably mistook for an Israeli. A policeman shot them both, and continued shooting after both girls had fallen and lay on the ground, immobilized. Norhan survived. Hadeel did not. You can watch the video if you want. In any case, I took the photo above in January of this year. Hadeel's face was still pasted all over Ramallah when I went back again in May. 


Sunday in Hebron


Waiting: Issa Amro and Mufid Sharabati on Shuhada Street.

I was in Hebron a few weeks ago, and Hebron is Hebron, so I came back with something to write.


Rest in Peace




The third part of demolition videos today in um al khair 6th of april 2016

Posted by ‎KUAK خربة ام الخير‎ on Wednesday, April 6, 2016


Three weeks ago, on March 16, Tariq al-Hathalin posted on Facebook the words “Please please please not again.” Tariq, who is 22 and studying for a degree in English at Hebron University, attached to his post 16 photographs of a white Toyota Hilux pickup driving through the tiny West Bank village of Umm al-Kheir, in the dry and rocky hills south of Hebron, where he was born and where he, his mother, siblings, uncle and aunts, cousins and nieces and nephews live. They are Bedouins. Tariq’s great-grandfather bought the land on which the village sits after being pushed from his ancestral lands near what is now the Israeli city of Arad in the years after the establishment of the Israeli state. In the early 1980s, settlers arrived. They built their community, which they called Carmel, on land seized from the village. Since then the people of Umm al-Kheir have been under constant pressure from their neighbors, and from the army: demolitions, land confiscations, a slow and steady effort to force them from their homes.

 The white Toyota belonged to the Israeli Civil Administration, which manages and oversees all aspects of Palestinian life in the 60 percent of the West Bank that falls under direct Israeli control and which, despite its name, is a subunit of Israel’s Ministry of Defense and part of the IDF General Staff. Tariq knew exactly what its arrival in Umm al-Kheir meant. One week later the demolition orders came. Tariq posted photos of the documents. “Why is this happening to my village?” he wrote. The orders, he told me, were for six small sheet metal homes, including the one in which he lived. An NGO had donated them after another round of demolitions in October 2014, when Israeli bulldozers knocked down six stone buildings that had together provided housing for 28 people. A few months later, the Israeli army had come back and confiscated the tents in which the people of Umm al-Kheir had been forced to take shelter. Yesterday Tariq posted photos of an Israeli military jeep in the hills outside Umm al-Kheir. “Ya Allah,” he wrote. (“Oh God.”) 

Early this morning the bulldozers came. As always, with a large contingent of armed men. You can watch the video above if you have the stomach for it. They destroyed all six of the new houses. Tariq’s uncle Suleiman collapsed after attempting to stand in the way of the bulldozers and being pushed by soldiers. “He is okay,” Tariq wrote me this morning. “Everything is okay.”






Yesterday a man screaming on the sidewalk while I stood waiting for my ride. Sprawled on the concrete outside the maternity clinic, the women and children inside focused hard on ignoring him, one of the kids occasionally catching my eye—weird skinny white dude, why’s he just standing there?—through the plate glass of the waiting room and looking away, curiosity unsatisfied, as the other older and way more horizontal white dude continued to writhe, his tattooed limbs arrayed at angles that did not immediately compute, nursing that bottle like a breast and yelling about Cambodia (who remembers that war?), about just 17 years old (could that have been true?), about 1967 (just in time for Operation Daniel Boone, no raccoon caps and Shawnee scalps this time), about I was too young! (no doubt), about they called me babykiller! (was he?), about the Purple Heart it won him (too young!), about how the cops know who he is, they run his name and a code comes up and they know not to fuck with him, which I suppose did him some small amount of good that Friday afternoon, hotter than it ought to be in March, the sun not yet low and the light not soft at all, the birds still arguing in the trees above the park.