All guns are oversized, but this one seems especially large and it is pointing straight at me. I stroke its end soothingly with my red nose. Clucking like a quiet chicken, I walk as low as possible and try to cross the arbitrary line of soldiers repressing the freedom of movement and speech of the residents of al-Ma’asara in the West Bank. A soldier pushes my head. I fall back hyperbolically and bump into another protester. I look up, wink at the protester and resume my attempts at crossing the ranks between their legs. At some point I’m pulled up by my shirt. Getting arrested as a clown, oh yeah! I am surrounded by soldiers and melt on the asphalt. Inspired by the Clandestine Insurgent Rebel Clown Army, I choose not to comply and desperately continue to behave like a hen.
“You want violence?” says the commander, “Just come with me if you don’t want violence.” Threats and threads of threats. Cameramen and protesters gather around. I’m shaking. I put a scared face on and accentuate the shaking.“You have no reason to arrest him, you cannot arrest this clown!” Guy, a superhero clown friend, says to the commander, “All eyes are upon you.” The soldiers are confused. Clowna arrives as a Bird of Eden (see 3rd photo). We start singing in Gibberish to the rhythm of the samba and blend back in the demo.
There are these nice expressions in Arabic i-dinia hilwe umurra – the world is bitter and sweet, and i-dinia ‘isr uyiser – the world is difficulty and ease these are the dichotomies we dance with in our activism or in lives of oppression occupation and lives under capitalism. On the one hand the ultra-sweet chai, matok kmo mamtak, which comes hand in hand in my mind together with house demolitions on the break of dawn or extreme poverty of lives in which 50% of income is spent on water because all water was stolen by Israel and wells are demolished or poisoned by bittersweet settlers messengers of God not good just God and as the water turns bitter as death for goats before humans there is still somehow enough water left, water that comes in tanks from Yatta at a price of 45 NIS kub which is 8 times what my family pays per kub, there is still somehow water left for chai. As sweet as a truck-full of sugar, which reminds me of a Bosnian saying but never mind that.
Friday 13-07-12 and the al-Maasara demo became a truck-full of clowns. The bitter noseless clowns with the uniforms and big oversized weapons and big plastic armors on one side and the sweet clowns on the other side like Muhanad of Jenin with green curly hair and a harmonica and a silly accordion and like Clowna of ‘Isawiyye with a candid smile and wild eyes and two long black braids. I was and am a clown too, and here is Rabbi Mori’s sweet viewpoint. Muhanad is in charge of student activities at Bir Zeit University. One of Arna’s Children (watch film) that has somehow not gone tragic, he said he lived at the same building with Juliano Mer-Khamis. The Freedom Theatre in my mind is one of those magical dream places where people find life through the appropriation and elevation of oppression for alternative anti-subjugation mediation. This is what the Situationists talked about (or should have talked about, not that I know). One of many revolutionary places I somehow did not yet reach with my physical being. When Muhanad was 5 yrs old his father left home in Jenin and settled in Haifa. At age 25 Muhanad re-contacted him through Facebook. Itamar, a real sweet hero, told me of the insanity of their reunion. Apparently, the father sent Muhanad a Haifa taxi to pick him up from Jenin. Imagine the Israeli cab driver zigzagging his way into the refugee camp to take a green ID lad without a permit at the time of the 2nd Intifada, sweet mother of Allah. When Abu Muhanad met Muhanad he embraced him and cried on his shoulders. Muhanad reacted coldly angry at a father that left a family for misery in war and overdramatized a strange encounter at times as evil if not more so as the times of today. Today. Today is already yesterday by this day and much has happened since, but today at the Friday Maasara demo Muhanad’s bitter family history was engulfed completely by his sweetness his childish sincerity his musical propensity and clown intensity. He hypnotized hordes of sugar-crazed kids (it was the 100 Children Demo) with stories about Kings and Queens and Wazeers and was a revolutionizing subversive culture jamming force in the demo. It’s time we all pull out our red noses.
Clowna di Isawiyye is a heroine the likes of which are rarely seen even in our blessed circles. The first thing she did upon entrance to Itamar’s car was pull off her Hijab with a whole-hearted sigh of relief. She said she just wore it for her parents.I felt we had a very special encounter one of those holy encounters between human clownings like the encounter with Neus or the encounter with the Doctor Clown at Har Hatsofim hospital when I escorted aba Ben Abba to an operation and was offered to purchase microbes from the black market by a beautiful clowness that apparently studied Medical Clowning with Clowna. If Clowna or the medical clown ever read this, please make contact. Clowna is a mother to three sweet kids. I haven’t met them, though, but she sings terrifically. Lack of logical sequence intended. When her husband divorced her she went into the bedroom jumped on the bed and yelled “Hurriyye, hurriyye – Freedom, freedom!” A superbly energetic element of the demo driving adults and children to the edge of their vocal capacities, may we see her again, in times of difficulty and ease alike.
It was a sweet day for me, a day of healing protestation succeeded by relaxation with friends followed by relaxation alone followed by a Kiddush against the Kibbush for Shabbat in which we prayed or something of the kind for more relaxation for us all in the bitter landscape of Occupation.
For others it wasn’t as sweet. As Israeli comrades are being restricted right and left, international activists are facing increasing deportations and arrests. The Man fears there are too many critical eyes, too close to the (no-)Occupation. In Nabi Saleh there’s a gas station uncomfortably situated above the weekly demonstration. When everything goes to hell as teargas and rubber-coated steel bullets fly, people run, of all places, to seek refuge next to that gas station. Apparently an Italian activist was arrested while taking a leak at the bathroom of that time-bomb-station. I imagine ego-tripping soldiers storming in to the women’s room to detain a half-done dot dot dot. From Irene, a notoriously creative superwoman that deserves a post herself, I heard that a New York Times journalist was detained. “Didn’t you tell them you’re a journalist?” Irene asked him on the phone. Still detained, he answered, “I think my exact words were: I’m a FUCKING journalist!”
Dot dotdot realize if what I’m doing is journalism subverted through reckless structureless style, a prosaic exploration of the characters that enrich my life, or an attempt to redeem and heal myself and maybe hopefully others from death decay and dejection, or perhaps altogether and something else. Either way, I admire you for reading through this. Thanks for your support, it means everything. Thanks for sharing, it means even more. And if you haven’t watched this piece of radical humour, give yourself a good laugh and click.
[Update: I rewrote the last paragraph for the well-edited +972Mag article] “Are you demonstrating or decorating?” someone commented on Irene’s Twitter feed. If we’re not choking on teargas it’s not resistance. In the face of such bitter comments the importance of clowning emerges. Not only do clowns ridicule soldiers, policemen and all authoritative repression, they also challenge activist preconceptions. The clowns are the sugar in the chai of resistance. But who am I to pontificate, just a silly chicken-monkey-clown unsuccessfully attempting to subvert journalism through reckless structureless style, or maybe trying to redeem and heal myself and maybe hopefully others from death-decay-dejection, or perhaps something else altogether.