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Hungry for Freedom, Starving for Justice: a story of hunger striker Adnan Khader


By Mira Dabit

Sometimes when I ponder about being a Palestinian, my mind travels towards the direction of responsibility, a heavy load of existence, survival, humanity and freedom. A life where everything seems to be somehow a beautiful disaster.

When people ask me how I view myself, I answer that I'm a Palestinian woman – which in my mind equals a survivor, a human.

A few months ago on a Tuesday morning, I drove past the Israeli barrier wall in Bethlehem, and stared at this ugly grey structure that has destroyed the geography of a once-beautiful land, turning it into huge prison blocks and bantu stands. Feelings of pain and anger filled my heart as I tried my best to avoid looking at this thing that to me is a visual representation of the Israeli occupation ... until I came upon a graffiti on the wall that read in huge letters "existence is resistance." These three words filled my face with a smile and a sensation of pride and honor to belong to a people who have dedicated their life to the plight and hope of justice.

What fills my heart today is the struggle of Adnan Khader, a 33-year-old baker from a village near Jenin in the occupied West Bank. Adnan Khader is now entering his 62nd day on hunger strike after he was put under "Administrative Detention" – that is, imprisonment without trail or charge or evidence in Israeli jail.

Mr. Adnan Khader started his hunger strike protest on the 18th of December. His affiliation with an Islamic political group seems to be a good enough reason for being imprisoned in violation of his basic human right, stated in Article 19 of the UN bill of rights:  "Everyone has the right to freedom of opinion and expression; this right includes freedom to hold opinions without interference and to seek, receive and impart information and ideas through any media and regardless of frontiers." So what was Adnan's crime? Having opinions? Thinking differently than what Israel likes? What would the world be like if everyone who thought differently and expressed it was put in prison?

Khader Adnan's life at the moment is in the hands of the Israeli military court, an arm of the colonial Israeli occupation of the land of Palestine. Earlier this week, an Israeli military court rejected an appeal against Adnan's continued detention. The Israeli prison service has said Adnan was being dealt with in accordance to his "definition as a security-administrative prisoner."

Adnan is using the power of his commitment to survive and endure his hunger, at least so far. But his situation medically is getting worse day by day, and the world is expecting his death. Nevertheless, those in solidarity with Khader work with the hope of some sort of "humanity or justice" to come from the Israeli military courts. Even now, surviving longer than almost any hunger striker in history, he holds on to the slight possibility of the dream of seeing his new-born child as a free man in a free, just Palestine, in a world in which his children deserve to grow up, a place where the power of justice and human dignity creates peace.

For today dear friends, lets take a moment to honor Mr. Khader Adnan and tell his story, because maybe, just maybe his love for freedom can transfer to us and to the world around us to make us as strong as a man, just a man willing to give his life so his country can live.

History has managed to pigeonhole Palestinians into a category of either "terrorists" or "victim" of a certain political imperialist scenario; somehow the constant struggle to find a dictionary definition of what it is to be a Palestinian creates an explosion of discourse and political rhetoric rather than simplifying it to "human" or "person."

Mr. Newt Gingrich believes we are invented. However, I talked to my parents and asked them if I was invented. They said no! And I actually believe them! For me my own definition of Palestinian would be: "a person or persons who were forced into a scenario where life became a constant fight for survival, for freedom."

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