The Blogosphere’s Protective Edge: Entries from Palestinian Blogs
Running Orders

Running Orders

Written in English by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha


They call us now.
Before they drop the bombs.
The phone rings
and someone who knows my first name
calls and says in perfect Arabic
“This is David.”
And in my stupor of sonic booms and glass shattering symphonies
still smashing around in my head
I think “Do I know any Davids in Gaza?”
They call us now to say
You have 58 seconds from the end of this message.
Your house is next.
They think of it as some kind of
war time courtesy.
It doesn’t matter that
there is nowhere to run to.
It means nothing that the borders are closed
and your papers are worthless
and mark you only for a life sentence
in this prison by the sea
and the alleyways are narrow
and there are more human lives
packed one against the other
more than any other place on earth
Just run.
We aren’t trying to kill you.
It doesn’t matter that
you can’t call us back to tell us
the people we claim to want aren’t in your house
that there’s no one here
except you and your children
who were cheering for Argentina
sharing the last loaf of bread for this week
counting candles left in case the power goes out.
It doesn’t matter that you have children.
You live in the wrong place
and now is your chance to run
to nowhere.
It doesn’t matter
that 58 seconds isn’t long enough
to find your wedding album
or your son’s favorite blanket
or your daughter’s almost completed college application
or your shoes
or to gather everyone in the house.
It doesn’t matter what you had planned.
It doesn’t matter who you are
Prove you’re human.
Prove you stand on two legs.

Published August 18, 2017
From Water & Salt, Red Hen Press, 2017
© Red Hen Press, 2017

Ejecución de órdenes

Written in English by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

Translated into Spanish by Shadi Rohana

Nos están marcando por teléfono, un momento antes de dejar a las bombas caer. El teléfono suena y contesto. Al otro lado, hay alguien que conoce mi nombre de pila, y habla el árabe perfecto, y me dice: “Te está hablando David”. Mientras escucho la sinfonía de estampidos sónicos y vidrios rotos, pienso: “¿Yo conozco a un David en Gaza?” Pero nos están marcando por teléfono para decirnos que nos corramos de aquí, ahora. “Usted tiene 58 segundos a partir del final de esta llamada, antes de que la casa de usted será bombardeada. No nos importa que usted no tenga a dónde ir; que las fronteras estén cerradas; y que sus documentos no valgan un carajo, salvo una pena de cadena perpetua en esta cárcel al lado del mar. Córrele, señora. No queremos matarla. Ya sabemos que ahí solo viven usted y sus hijos, comiendo pan mientras miran el final de la Copa Mundial de Fútbol; que quieren que Argentina gane el partido, y de vez en cuando miran hacia las velas dejadas al lado de la televisión, para cuando se corte la luz. Es que, usted y sus hijos no deberían vivir ahí, y ahora es su oportunidad de ir a otro lado, a ningún lado. Sabemos que no le estamos dando el suficiente tiempo para encontrar el álbum de fotos, la manta favorita de su hijo, la solicitud universitaria casi terminada de su hija, sus zapatos, ni siquiera para llamar a todos en la casa. No nos importa su vida. No nos importa quién es usted. Pero demuéstranos que usted es un ser humano; demuéstrenos que usted tiene dos patas; demuéstrenos que usted puede correr”.

Published August 18, 2017
From El Desacuerdo, August 2014
© Shadi Rohana 2014

أوامر بالهروب

Written in English by Lena Khalaf Tuffaha

Translated into Arabic by Samah Gafar

لقد اتصلوا بنا الآن
قبل أن يلقوا القنابل.
رن الهاتف
وشخص ما يعرف اسمي الأول
اتصل وقال بلغة عربيّة مثالية
معكِ ديفيد“.
وفي غيبوبتي التي من قنابل صوتية وسيمفونيات تهشم زجاج
والتي لا زالت تتكسّر في عقلي
فكّرت هل أعرف أي ديفيد في غزة؟
اتصلوا بنا الآن ليقولوا
لديكم 58 ثانية من نهاية هذه الرسالة.
منزلكم هو التالي.
لقد فكروا في الأمر وكأنه
كياسة في وقت حرب.
لا يهم حتى
أنه ليس هناك مكان للهروب نحوه.
وحقيقة أن الحدود مقفلة لم تعنِ شيئًا.
وأوراقك لا قيمة لها
وتُحددك فقط لعقوبة السجن مدى الحياة
في ذلك السجن بجانب البحر
والأزقة ضيقة
حيث العديد من الأرواح البشرية
مكدسة الواحدة فوق الأخرى
أكثر من أي مكان آخر في العالم
اِهربوا فقط.
نحن لا نحاول قتلكم.
لا يهم
لو أنك لا تستطيع معاودة الاتصال بنا
لتخبرنا أن الناس الذين نريدهم ليسوا في منزلك
أن لا أحد هناك
سواك أنت وأطفالك
الذين كانوا يشجعون الأرجنتين
ويتقاسمون آخر قطعة خبز لهذا الأسبوع
ويعدون الشموع التي تبقت في حال انقطعت الكهرباء.
لا يهم لو أن لديك أطفالًا.
أنت تعيش في المكان الخاطئ
والآن فرصتك في الهرب
إلى اللامكان.
لا يهم
أو أن 58 ثانية ليست وقتًا كافيًا
لتجد ألبوم صور زفافك
أو بطانية ابنك المفضلة
أو أوراق قبول ابنتك في الجامعة
أو حذاءك
أو أن تجمع كل من في المنزل.
لا يهم ما كنت تخطط له.
لا يهم من أنت.
أثبت أنك بشري.
أثبت أنك تملك قدمين.

Published August 27, 2017
© Specimen 2017


These texts were selected at moments of impotence in the face of recurrent events.
The first two, Kayyal’s and Omar’s, were selected in 2015 when my friend Benjamín García and I decided to publish a bilingual Arabic-Spanish anthology that would contain a selection of Palestinian and Mexican blog entries and translate them into Arabic and Spanish. The motive was rather simple: both of us were ardent readers of our respective national blogospheres and have been worriedly witnessing their collapse in front of our eyes. Once a free territory for insomniac individuals’ profound and authentic reflections defying all rules of grammar and morals, we were witnessing how the vast majority of bloggers—similar to Bertrand Russell’s turkey—were eventually induced to the use of the ephemeral “social media” and “smart phones” applications that raze everything in their path. Seeing how the “rich, diverse, free web that I loved is dying” (in the words of Iranian blogger Hossein Derkhashan), Benjamín and I desperately decided to print a book we called Tadwiniyyat: desde la blogósfera México-Palestina. Printed in Mexico City in May of 2016, the book contains 10 Mexican blog entries translated into Arabic and 10 Palestinian blog entries translated into Spanish. Our book was freely distributed in the city’s streets and its texts were read out on various occasions. Kayyal’s and Omar’s blog entries, written in 2014, appeared in the anthology in Spanish translation.
The other three texts (Yawda, Miqdar and Tuffaha) were written in July/August 2014 during Israel’s war on the population of the Gaza Strip, the third in seven years. This time, the Israeli army officially translated its war operation into English as “Operation Protective Edge.” In Hebrew, for the Israelis, the operation that killed 2,220 Palestinians, including 551 children, was named Tzuk Eitan: Mighty Cliff. On July 22nd, while war was broadcasted on tv, a group of poets and artists from Mexico, El Salvador, Colombia, Argentina, Syria, Guatemala, Iran, the United States, Switzerland and Palestine met in Mexico City’s Casa Refugio—a cultural center and residency for writers who have been targets of political persecution in their home countries—to read the Spanish translations of a number of short texts written on the social network by Palestinians in the Gaza Strip and abroad.
In Abilio Estévez’ “Why do I write?,” published here on Specimen, we read that “maybe it’s true that whenever a person doesn’t have any answers he writes a story.” Isn’t that how we feel about writing, reading and translating, after all?

– Shadi Rohana, Mexico City, August 2017

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