There are occasions when the power of words runs out. When the meanings we need them to carry, constitute too heavy a burden for them to bear. I was reminded of this when reading what is, to me, a richly evocative, deeply depressing, article by Mariam Barghouti in Mondoweiss. She is writing about a now twenty-year old, Ahmad Manasra, and also Ibrahim al-Nabulsi, a not yet nineteen-year-old shot dead by Israeli forces.
Ahmad Manasra has been suffering Israeli mistreatment, abuses, and torture – including prolonged periods of solitary confinement – since he was thirteen. Seven years, his childhood consumed and shattered by the Israeli state.
I urge you to read her article in full, along with more about Ahmad’s Mansara’s truly horrifying case. That can be found here. Barghouti herself had earlier in life been detained by Israel, though she was ‘lucky’ being released within a week.
Beyond describing the Israeli enforced plight of Ahmad, Barghouti shares her frustration about the limitations of language, most particularly for her as a journalist:
The Manasra story is, in and of itself, painful enough to feel the worthlessness of reporting. To keep repeating the same factual details of his case, and the urgency of the appeal to release him.
I couldn’t command the language to capture his horror, fear, and adolescent efforts to unearth some hidden inkling of hope from his tragic reality, a nightmare imagined. I couldn’t do service to the child, then adolescent, now almost adult, who has only known the prison walls of Beit Hanina in Jerusalem and then the prison walls of Eshel Prison, only to be moved again to Shakima Prison.
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