Ghassan Kanafani once said: “Eagles don’t care where they die” … for all of Palestine is theirs: her fertile land, her blue sky, her calm water. All of Palestine is theirs from the River to the Sea, from Jerusalem to Gaza to Safad, and from Ras Il Naqura to Im Il-Rishrash. Palestinian eagles decorate the sky of Palestine; they rise every morning with the first light to safeguard the sacred home, mark the path towards the free horizon with their blood, and paint the sky a reflection of a homeland eternal and undividable.
Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal are two Palestinian eagles… they chose freedom over slavery, chose resistance over subjugation, chose action over apathy… they now roam the sky over Jerusalem Al-Quds…. two red eagles watching over Palestine, protecting Al-Aqsa… they are the guardians of Jerusalem Al-Quds, joining Mohammad, Mu’taz, Ibrahim, Abdel Rahman, Mahmoud, Mustafa, Hanadi and thousands others before them…. and joined by Ala’, Diya’, Mohannad, Fadi, Mu’taz, Bayan, Iyad, Fadel, Dania, Iyad, Mohammad, Ra’ed, Fadel, Amjad, Ihab and many more others after them who gave their lives freely so Jerusalem Al-Quds can live, so Jerusalem Al-Quds can remain as it should be: Palestinian: from Sawahreh, Abu Dees and Izariyyeh to Beit Mahsir, Deir Rafat and Sar’a, from Rafat, Beit Diqqo and Beit Inan to Jrash, Beit Itab and Deiraban.
They wanted to “banish” you from your hometown, “exile” you from Jerusalem Al-Quds, they wanted to deny you your birthright and the collective birthright of every Palestinian, they wanted to deny you a burial with your ancestors, and separate you from your loved ones…..
Instead your roots go deep into the land and surpass the Zionist barrier and the military checkpoint … you re-connected east and west Sawahreh, removed the fake barrier placed within your hometown by the Zionists, united every village and every neighbourhood in Jerusalem Al-Quds, showed them that Jerusalem Al-Quds is truly one and undivided, sacred and beloved, unforgotten, Palestinian… Your final resting place overlooks the valleys and hills of Jerusalem Al-Quds, overlooks your parents’ houses, the houses you grew up in, where you learnt the love of Palestine… your final resting place overlooks the streets where you ran as children, where you played football and flew kites in the spring. In this final resting place, on a hill overlooking Jerusalem Al-Quds, overlooking where the freedom fighters once stood to defend Jerusalem Al-Quds in 1948 and in 1967, you yourselves often stood, watched the city with its golden dome fading amongst the colonial fog, watched Al-Aqsa stand alone in the face of the invaders, and watched your beloved city defaced with a colonial cancer, eating away her beauty and painfully erasing her features. In this final resting place, overlooking the landscape of your hometown, you watch over us, over your children and siblings… you watch us bake bread in the morning, drink coffee and read the daily newspaper, you watch us go to work, to classes or the market place, open our shops in the Old City and in Salah Iddin Street, sit at the steps of Damascus Gate, you watch us defy the occupation with every breath we take, you hear us defy the oppressors with songs of promised freedom, longing and long-awaited return…. you watch your children and siblings play, run through the streets as you once did, race to the house after a long school day as you once did, play football and fly a kite in the spring…. you watch young and old, men and women, from the Old City to Issawiyye, from Al-Mukabbir to Silwan rise up as one, shake the ground under the feet of the occupiers, declare that Jerusalem Al-Quds refuses to be anything but Palestinian, anything but the beating heart of Palestine. In your final resting place, you are not alone, you have as comrades and companions heroes like yourselves… resistance fighters like you, your townsmen who grew up in Sawahreh and loved to sit up the hill and watch the sunset over Al-Aqsa and the Old City of Jerusalem Al-Quds … you marched in their Palestinian wedding, where proud of their heroism, carried them to their final resting place… and today, you join them… you rest your bodies among the red poppies, handover your guns to your comrades and lie on the hill overlooking Jerusalem Al-Quds…
In your final resting place, you returned to your homeland, you became one with Palestine.
They wanted you to be buried in the cold, in the middle of the night, under the cover of darkness… they wanted you to be taken to your final burial place with no companion or comrade, alone, forgotten….
Instead you received a Palestinian wedding fit for heroes; despite the cold, they left their warm beds and they came; despite the late hours, they left the comfort of their homes and they came. The mosques declared your wedding with an Eid calling… a celebration only worthy of the eagles of Palestine. They came, young and old, they came from near and far, they came the minute they heard the call. They gathered on either side of the Zionist barrier separating Sawahreh from Sawahreh, they came to celebrate your wedding, to celebrate your heroism, to celebrate you… they came to accompany you on your final journey towards the land you love, to hand you over to the land you sacrificed your lives for, to implant you in the beloved land so you may become one with the hand. They wrapped you in the Palestinian flag, the red kuffiyeh embracing you… and as they carried you on their shoulders, hands raced to touch you, to have the honour of carrying you on your journey to be one with the land you so much cherished… All hands trying to reach you, touch your faces as if wanting blessing from you, as if your touch was a spell that will grant them a place near you, a spell that will lead them on the same path, a spell that will direct them towards liberation and freedom. As they marched, your spirits guiding them, you lit the darkness of the night, and spread warmth in the heart of the storm… the Palestinian flag rose high in your wedding, above the heads of your family members, friends and comrades… it was the lighthouse that shone in the darkness and led the way. They were all proud of you, your fathers held back the tears, your siblings chanted your name, your comrades swore to continue on your path… and Ghassan, you son kissed your forehead, the forehead of a hero, looked at your face one final time: he will always remember you as you always were; the kind eyes that shone and the smile that never ceased… but he will also remember this moment, he will remember how they distorted the kind face, how they smashed the smile and how they burned those eyes… he will always remember what they did to you, he will never forget …
You are never alone, for you have been planted in the hearts of every Palestinian.
They kept you captive for 36 days, thinking people will forget you…. They wanted to punish you further by punishing you family, by holding you captive, by denying your families a final farewell, by threatening your families with nameless graves in a nameless spot, by threatening to demolish your homes and to revoke your families’ residency right in their hometown… They wanted to “make an example” out of you, to collectively punish your family, to collectively punish your hometown, to scare others, to extinguish the flame of revolution, to kill the resistance, to kill the spirit of every Jerusalemite…
Instead, your names were written on every wall and in every book, your faces became symbols of resistance and courage, your heroism was celebrated from Ras Al-Naqura to Rafah and from Ariha to Yaffa…. Your children became the children of Palestine, your house is the house of every Palestinian… despite the pain of departure, you were celebrated, and received a Palestinian wedding only fit for you… Your final resting place became a place of pilgrimage, a temple for those who believe that resistance alone will liberate Palestine, resistance alone will bring justice and resistance alone is our promise to all the martyrs of Palestine… Your children became our children, and your parents our parents… Your home is all of Palestine, every stone has your names engraved on it, every tree has your names carved on it, every valley whispers your names and every hill shouts it with every dawn and every sunrise. They wanted you to become nameless, and you became the name of every one of us. Their threats scared no one, and the collective punishment of your families only contributed to exposing their racism and their flagrant violation of human rights; the collective kidnapping and detention of your elders, the brutal beating of your siblings while held illegally in interrogation cells, the wanton destruction of your properties, aimed at pressuring your family members into denouncing you, denouncing your heroism… instead, your heroism was celebrated; your heroism ignited the revolution and strengthened the belief in the inevitability of liberation… your sacrifice revived our spirits and restored our belief in the armed struggle towards total liberation… you showed us that our weapon is mightier than their might, our weapon is more powerful than all their combined power, you showed them that weapon is our just cause, our weapon is our love of Palestine… it leads the way and guides us through every stage of the struggle towards the freedom of the land and the people. You proved to us that we are mightier than their highly sophisticated weaponry, that a fully armed army is no equal to a Palestinian child holding a stone in the hand, that F16 and drones and warships are no equal to the sling of a Palestinian youth, that phosphorous bombs and merkavas are no equal to a Palestinian freedom fighter’s Kalashnikov and knife… you proved to us that resistance is the one and only way to regain our freedom and liberation our land…
A thousand homes will be built for you from Im Al-Rashrash to Ras Il-Naqura and a thousand Ghassan and Oady will rise every day to remind the oppressor that resistance is our salvation.
They named you “terrorists” …. The Zionist and their Arab slaves called you “terrorists”, they wanted the world to denounce you, wanted the supporters of Palestine to denounce you, wanted the Palestinians to denounce you, wanted your families to denounce you….
They named you “terrorists” for loving your homeland and for defending your birthplace, and named the usurpers of your land the “victims”. They mourned those who came from faraway lands to claim your home theirs, when it is the morality of the world that should be mourned for its silence over the crimes committed by the usurpers of Palestine. They doubted your humanity to justify executing you extra-judicially, when it is the humanity of the world that is to be doubted since the day it allowed the creation a terrorist entity in the heart of Palestine. They executed you in cold blood; 33 bullets to silence you Ghassan and 17 bullets to silence you Oday
Instead, your names were celebrated everywhere…. You were named heroes by your people, Palestine embraced you and welcomed you, your comrades carried you with pride…. You became Palestine. Your voice reached every corner of Palestine and beyond, your message was heard by those near and those faraway, and your chosen path is a pilgrimage for Palestine. They accused you of everything that they are and you are not; they accused you of being a “terrorist”, when it is they who stole our land and claimed it their own… it is they who come from every foreign country, continent and planet to colonize our land… it is they who ethnically cleansed our homeland and forcefully expelling our people out of their homes… it is they who created a fake entity built on the pillars of racism, exclusion, hate and terror…. It is they who created a “nation” based on the religious belonging and called it an ethnicity… it is they who kill us, demolish our homes and imprison us every single day, it is they who plant and spread hate and terror with every breath they take, with every word they utter, with every move they make. They called you fanatics, when it is they who demolish our holy places, create discos where worshippers once knelt in prayer, build intolerance museums where generations of Palestinians are laid for their final rest, build wineries where mosques once stood tall… it is they who demolish, vandalize and burn houses of worship, deface Muslim and Christian graves… it is they who besieged the Nativity Church, the birth place of Jesus Christ… it is they who divided the Ibrahimi Mosque after massacring peaceful worshipers… it is they who want to destroy Al-Aqsa Mosques to uproot Palestinian existence in occupied Jerusalem Al-Quds… it is they who prevent worshippers from reaching their holy sites… it is they who steal other religion’s holy places and claim them for themselves to create a fake history to fit their lies.
And here a word to Arab Zionists; to those “Arabs” and “Palestinians” who claimed “moral superiority”, to all those who called you “terrorists”, to all those who sympathized with your killers, sent them condolences and ignored the millions of Palestinians denied their homes, ignored the tens of thousands of Palestinians suffering from the brutality of a most brutal military colonial regime… they ignore the martyrs whose blood did not dry yet, they ignore the maimed and handicapped, they ignore those buried alive in Israeli dungeons… to these Arab Zionists, to those claiming a “higher moral standard” than morality itself: there is no morality in occupation, there is no morality in colonization, there is no morality in stealing one’s land and killing one’s family, demolishing one’s home, they is no morality in denying one’s freedom and then crying “humanity!”.
It is you, Ghassan and Oday, who have a moral superiority over all of us; for you refused to be subjugated, you refused to bow, you refused to turn a blind eye to what is being done to your people, your homeland, your birthright… you refused to accept occupation and colonization, you refused to accept foreigners from far away land stealing your neighbour’s house, killing your countryman’s child, demolishing your cousin’s house, uprooting your friend’s olive trees, you refused to be silent, refused to go on with your daily life and ignore the suffering of your people… you refused to watch Palestine suffer … you acted for your children’s future, for our future, you acted for Palestine….
Dear Ghassan and Oday, a year has passed. The flame you started has grown into an Intifada. With every passing day, with every passing month and with every passing year; we will carry on the flame, we will continue the struggle, and we will never betray the sacrifices of our comrades. The flowers will blossom again over the hills of occupied Jerusalem Al-Quds, the birds will sing again songs of freedom and the children’s laughter will echo again where you used to run and play. Your comrades will continue to visit you, watch Jerusalem Al-Quds rise majestically over the hills, tell you stories of heroism and courage, and listen to you say: never cease until total liberation… never cease until total liberation. Rest in power with martyrs as your companions; for there is no better companion than the sons and daughters of Palestine who paid the highest price on the road towards liberation and justice.
The great Ghassan Kanafani wrote: “Men’s shoulders were created to carry rifles… either mighty above the ground or bones in it”. Ghassan and Oday Abu Jamal made their choice; on 18.11.2014 they carried their weapons and chose to be eagles ruling over the sky of Palestine, they chose to defend the dignity of every Palestinian, they chose freedom.