The Hungry

United States-  The metal bars tightly lock them in. The agony from their starved bodies pounding the walls of their confinement. Their growls louder than absolutely ever, so the locks around them shake. Their stomachs now twist and turn, rumbling, as their demand for freedom roars. These Palestinian prisoners are moments away from death, and as their bodies weaken in desperate need for food, they uphold a different demand. Their eyes are not hungry for food, only their bodies. Their souls are hungry for freedom, a taste they have never had. A taste craved but denied since birth.

And I, oceans away, hear them. Suddenly I, surrounded by food, become hungry, for them. And I, oceans away, free, become oppressed for them. Suddenly my stomach begins to twist and turn, my head dizzy, as I become the hungry Palestinian. I feel a new pain in my body as another Palestinian is assaulted, beaten, and taken to jail. Bruises suddenly appear on my skin, and though I am oceans away, I will continue to feel pain as long as they are bruising. We, every Palestinian outside of Palestine, will not be free until they are and we will remain hungry, until they are fed.

And I feel their bones start to crumble, sparking a weakening in my knees. I fall to the ground the second they do. But, I can still feel their wills pounding out of their fighting stomachs. I can feel their demands aching out of their throats, needing to get out. And I get back up, because they do. Their stomachs empty for days, their throats bleeding dry, they get back up. Horrendously prolonged, I hear of another prisoner being released, and I myself feel a little freer. Thousands and thousands of Palestinians are continuously jailed without charge or trial in Israel. This is directly a result of living under policies in an occupation where the Palestinians are systematically objectified, where the law incites their injustice, essentially promoting it. Palestinian voices are left unfortunately powerless in a land where the oppressor wishes to remain earless. So the jailed Palestinian hunger strikers let the roars of their hunger speak for them. These prisoners have given up what little they have to sustain for the world to hear their hunger to finally know their oppression and help end it. It then becomes our duty; for each and every one of us, Palestinian or not, to scream for them.

You may know nothing about the Palestinian struggle, you may not even care. But prevailing injustice somewhere, left unmentioned by people everywhere else, is then the fault of those people. How can one continue to feel free, when there are worlds of people institutionally oppressed? If we all do not join in our hopes to bring justice everywhere to everyone, then so easily we may one day find ourselves at the center of the unmentioned somewhere. Hence, behind bars, starved.

I read about the Palestinian hunger strikers in awe and in tears. I constantly worry about their fight against nature, as they push the limits of their inner bodies for the determination of their outer existence, but I somehow feel reassured. Can’t you see that these are not normal prisoners? Some of them exceeding 100 days without food, by mere miracle. I tell myself, these are Palestinian prisoners. So, I worry no more. The Palestinian feeds on resilience, a taste they are born to hunt, to take, to preserve. The Palestinian feeds on the rush of the fight for their justice and peace. It has kept them starving, but willfully alive for 64 years.

These Palestinian hunger strikers are changing the way we resist by heightening the boundaries of our own self wills. These hunger strikers are making it clear to the world, specifically to our oppressors that: we are not only willing to give up every demanding need in our body for our freedom, but we are strong enough to endure the pain because of it. We are hungry enough for liberation that we will not eat until the day we taste our land dripping with freedom.

I wrote this for each and every Palestinian prisoner on hunger strike. You are inspiring Palestine, igniting our will to freedom.

Lena Ibrahim

Lena Ibrahim is a Palestinian, born in America. Lena is freshman in college, studying Human rights, she hopes to one day write and direct films about human injustices, specifically for and about the people of Palestine. Lena tweets here.

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