I’ve been thinking about what’s “normal” quite often lately. I wrote an article about it that has been published on Palestine Chronicle. Since the article was more reflective than sensationalist, I wanted to submit the piece to some place new after the recent editing fiasco at Palestine Monitor. I chose Palestine Chronicle because I enjoy and respect the writing of the editor, Ramzy Baroud.
What’s Normal under Occupation?
“For 122 days I heard the voices of tortured people, the shouting of tortured people, the crying of tortured people. The first days in that time, I could not sleep. I could not do anything, because I could not stop hearing the voices of tortured people. But after maybe 100 days, I got used to that situation, so I could sleep very well, and I started thinking there is nothing that can bother me. I started laughing a lot with my mate in my horrible cell and my family when they came to visit me.”
I heard these words from Mahmoud, who has been locked up by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority eight times over the last nine years. He is a former student government leader and politically-minded artist, and I met him only days after I completed an article on the rehabilitation of Palestinian torture victims. While drafting the article, I contemplated the meaning of the phrase, “re-establishing a normal life,” unsure whether many features of Palestinian qualify as normal.
For Mahmoud, life inside a 1.5 meter by 4 meter cell has at times felt more normal than anything else he knew. Speaking of his release from the four-month period in a P.A. jail described above, he told me, “I had nightmares. When they arrested me again I could sleep very well, because outside the jail I was scared that they would arrest me again. So the feeling of fear from the arrest disappeared because I’m already in the jail, so I get back my normal life again.”