There are acts of quiet expression and beauty that transcend the stale or reactionary rhetoric that accompany conflict and oppression, and they often go unnoticed. This is one of them. Residents from the besieged Palestinian village of Bilin have transformed a tool of violence into a message of remembrance and a tribute to the universal struggle for human rights. They have planted flowers in spent tear gas canisters.
It is a memorial to Bassem Abu Rahmeh, an activist who was killed at a demonstration in 2009 when a tear gas grenade hit him in the chest. Tragedy followed this family. Bassem’s sister Jawaher was killed nearly two years later from inhaling Israelis tear gas at another demonstration against the apartheid wall. A wall that has carved up Palestinian lands in the occupied West Bank, separated farmers from their fields and orchards, demolished homes, and divided families.
This garden is a silent memorial to their non-violent stand against an unjust system. It is a testament to the fortitude of the human spirit in a tide of seemingly unending brutality. It represents the countless Israelis and Palestinians who are united in their commitment to justice. It is, as one of the creators of the garden expressed, to show that “life can spring from death.” And it should encourage us all to take back the humanity that the brute and the oppressor have stolen; in simple, quiet, steadfast resolution.
Kenn Orphan 2014
(AP Photo/Majdi Mohammed)