ABDULHADI: Resisting detention – The triumph of life, resistance and liberty November 13, 2010

Reviewed by Dr Faiha Qasem Abdulhadi  -  sent by author  -  12 November 2010

“Let prison darkness prevail, darkness does not frighten us,
As dark nights will always be followed by glorious dawns”

-  Najeeb Al-Rayyes

The lines above are part of a poem that I memorized from early childhood; I sang it loudly with my friends and comrades who shared the dream of freedom while we were in the Israeli prisons. I even made my children memorize it since their early childhood. When I intended to write about the valuable book “Resisting Detention”, I found myself trying to change the original words of the poem I was fond of. I could not reiterate:” Let prison darkness prevail\we are fond of darkness”; instead, I began to murmur “we are not fond of darkness”, but, then I discovered that other innovators preceded me in altering the words to materialize their hatred of darkness and their passionate love for freedom: “Darkness does not frighten us”.


“Resisting Detention” is a book that is worth attentive reading, extensive discussion and translation. It is the practical application of national unity; an open invitation to document the experience of men and women prisoners, and to study it thoroughly. “Resisting Detention” is a call for action to free the prisoners and their homeland; it reflects a position that stands for the triumph of life and freedom.


Through the book “Resisting Detention”, Dr. Marwan Barghouti, Abdel Naser Eisa and Ahed Abu Ghalma-leaders of active national factions-introduce the outcome of their experience and that’s of their comrades as a gift to “all those who resist occupation in the past, present and future”. The moment you read the title of the book, you understand the main aim of it: the devotion for the value of life, resistance and freedom. The authors focus on the crimes of detention, the inquisition methods, and the several renewed techniques of torture, the Israeli courts and the prisons’ administration policy. At the same time, the book provides the readers with mechanisms for facing detention and protecting information. Based on the sharp vision of the three leaders, the book sheds light on the negative aspects of detention on the prisoner himself, his family and the society as a whole. It calls for” the necessity of making the issue of prisoners’ liberation a national priority on the agenda of the political leadership and the Palestinian society”.


In various parts of the book, the authors deal with the use of Arab culture as a dangerous weapon against the militants. The Israeli Shin Bet officers in charge of the investigation, not only know Arabic, but also study Arab culture to use it during investigation. “The Intelligence officers and investigators use Arabic proverbs extensively, in order to  use them to achieve positive results, such as: “Let one hundred eye cry, but not my mother’s eye”, or “who is hit by the sticks is not like the one who counts them”. This method is also applied to Hadith of the Prophet Mohammad and verses of the Holy Qur’an, in addition to the use of expressions related to Palestinian and Arab history and traditions”. The investigators make use of specific Arab cultural values to put pressure on militants, like:”filial piety; and the preservation of honor”.


Although the authors are three leaders of Palestinian resistance; I think that when they wrote their book, they were not only satisfied with their personal experiences, but they also added the experiences of their fellow prisoners; and this is what gives more importance to the book. In fact, the same methodology could be applied to the contents of the book even after its publication; the book is open to compilation and addition of the experiences of other men and women detainees.


When we go into the experiences of women prisoners, regarding the use of Arab culture to break their will, we can recourse to many liberated women and those who are still in captivity, in addition to the contents of the book that dealt with this issue. Women suffer more, due to the chains of traditions, customs and cultural values that make them subordinate to men on one hand, and most affected by the unwritten social judgments and customs on the other hand.

In the book entitled “If I were given the choice: Stories from the daily life of Palestinian women during the years 2002-2003 of the second Intifada”, some political detainees talked about the exploitation of the Arab cultural values by the Israeli prison guards in order to subjugate them and force them to confess. The freed prisoner Suheir Hashlamoun, from Hebron, described her bitter experience in captivity following her arrest as a means of pressure on her husband; how they confiscated her head-scarf; the mockery of the investigator at her. He asked her once  if she sang to her husband  Noor:” Habeebi ya noor al ain…”, which means “my love, my eyesight”, telling her that he does not believe that her husband was not married to another woman, as she is incapable of giving birth to a child. He also threatened to put her in a cell with mice and rats; to rape her “if you do not talk in details, we can do anything to hurt you; and no one will hear your voice”. The lawyer Taraji Abu Al-Shawareb from Kofr Al-Deek village, talked about her detention because of her friendship with the martyr Hanadi Jaradat; and the unbearable psychological pressure she went through when the investigators brought her the head of Hanadi; and their attempt to defame the reputation of the martyr. They used the cultural values that mock at “the old maid” to degrade her and weaken her self-confidence, telling her she must be a man “this is the reason why she is not married yet”.


Comrade prisoners, sisters and brothers: We will not stop narrating your stories, whether they are written by you, plunged in ink and blood, or by us, using all possible means. We will never accept your imprisonment to be normal or taken for granted…and no words can describe how much we need you among us… here and now…!

Dr. Faiha Abdulhadi is a writer & research consultant.  Her website is www.faihaab.com

[See under Book Section on right-hand side of website more details abou how to purchase Qumsiyeh's book.]

Mazin Qumsiyeh  on Resistance

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