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Page last edited on 23 April, 2003

The Game They Call Life...

By Hwaa Irfan 

You are a non-Muslim and a candidate on a "Reality T.V." show; your 17-year-old sister is away on vacation somewhere. You have no idea what is about to happen. The studio goes dark and a T.V. screen looms in front of you. Quick flashes of the events in Palestine are broadcast for 15 minutes. The screen is switched off and the studio lights come back on. Members of the audience are each asked their opinions about what they saw. Suddenly the studio goes pitch black again and a voice from somewhere tells you that the young girl's voice you are about to hear is your missing sister…

"I was originally arrested when I was 15 and, for the next 2 years, I was held inside the women's section of Neve Fertze [Ramle] Prison…During my period of detention without trial, I have suffered severe violations of all my rights, first and foremost as a human being and second as a child. I have suffered unspeakable physical torture that even the strongest of men could not have endured and, to break me even further, I have undergone extensive psychological torture. My initiation into prison began with my being held in solitary confinement the first 17 days of my detention…I had no legal representation at all. Denying me visits from my family and the right to confer with a lawyer is a violation of international law.

But it is not just international law that has been violated. It is not just my body that bears the scars of the cruelest kind of physical torture, or my mind that has been traumatically changed because of brutal psychological torture, but the fact that any person could be as cruel as to try to take away the child in me, to destroy me as a human being, to insult me, to try to take away my dignity and to erase my identity forever, in violation of all that is decent and right.

On day 1 of my detention I was told, 'now you are all alone and no one can help you" and 'we will make you regret the day you were born.'

These words were the only words of truth I heard from my Israeli torturers. I was all alone in the world and, when I screamed out in agony, the world was deafened to my cries. Since the day of my detention, I have regretted the day I was born and everyday that followed. Only death will set me free" (Yaghi, p.1, 2).

Then there is silence.

She is your sister that disappeared out of your life 2 years ago without trace. You tried and failed to find her, not even knowing if she was alive. Until now.

A subdued light returns to the studio. Before you is a map, which gives you clues on how to save your sister.

Being on "Reality T.V," you return 45 minutes later to share your discoveries with the others. Together you learn that your sister had been sentenced to 6 ˝ years this past January, after 2 years in detention and a subsequent 8 years probation period (War On Want, p.1). 

You learn of the new apartheid as at the same time an illegal Israeli settler, Nahum Korman, got 6 months community service after 8 months in detention for a real crime, the brutal murder of a 10-year old Muslim boy, Hilmi Shawasheh in '96. The Jerusalem District Court Judge Ruth Orr plea-bargained the defense. Korman had grabbed Hilmi, kicked him to the ground, stepped on his neck with his boot and then beat the child on the head. He never regained consciousness. In addition, Korman was given a $17,000 dollar fine whilst your sister's mind, body and soul were incarcerated for a crime where there is no evidence by which to incriminate her (Yaghi, p.2, 3).

You learn of your helplessness, and realize that what happened to your sister can happen to all men, women and children that dare to live on their own undisputed Palestine - and on many levels it does… 

The "Game They Call Life" is over. Lights brighten for the first time since you stepped into the studio. The program host asks you how you feel about Palestine and Israel… What do you feel?

You are played parts of speeches from governmental officials around the world. Kind words. Empty words. How do you feel? An iota of anger? Betrayal? 

Five minutes towards the end of the show you begin to feel relieved of the emotional burden, but you are told that what you experienced tonight happens everyday and the person who played your sister is 17 year old Su'ad Ghazal, a Palestinian from Sebastia village near Nablus, Palestine (Yaghi, p.1). How do you feel now? Does her life still count? What is your real sister doing now? Is she still on her vacation?

From September 29th to December 31st of last year, 94 Palestinian children were killed, with an additional 5 declared clinically dead as a result of Israel's undeclared war on Palestine. In Israeli prisons and detention centers there are 250 Palestinian children incarcerated…and counting (War On Want, p.2). Funny…Israel ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child in 1990! (Cancel, p.2).

These children who are being psychologically and emotionally raped…will you remember them in your dreams and prayers? Will they haunt you just as you felt haunted when you thought your sister was missing and sentenced to indescribable torture? Or would you forget them, and your sister, and continue on through your own jaded and turn-the-other-cheek version of "Reality T.V."  


Cancel, Cecile M. "A Palestinian Teenage Girl Sentenced To More Than 5 Years in Prison" About.com. 01/29/01. 1-3.

WarOnWant. "Two Verdicts, One Conclusion: Children's Rights Are Non-Existent In the Occupied Palestinian Territory" War On
Want. 08/23/01.

Yaghi, Edna. "My Humanity on Hold." Spotlight. Redress Information and Analysis. 1-3.

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Last updated on 13 March, 2003

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