Edited by Norma Hashim and translated by Yousuf M. Aljamal, the book Dreaming of Freedom, is a firsthand interviewed story of Palestinian children who spoke of the humiliation and terror of being grabbed in the dead of the night from their homes, of being tied, blindfolded, interrogated, beaten and held imprisoned for uncertain periods of time. They express being forced to sign confessions written in Hebrew (a language they do not know). This book (of 180 pages) is a compilation of 24 stories of Palestinian Child prisoners narrated by themselves. Throughout the book, the author had tried to focus on the suffering of Palestinian children detained in Israeli jails. The main thrust of the book revolves around the importance of understanding the value of freedom. The introduction of the book highlights the great trauma and tragedy faced by the Palestinian people in the form of killings, injuries, tortures, arrests, detention and daily based humiliation by the occupational forces of Israel. It further discusses the lack of commitment by the international law to safeguard the basic rights of Palestinian people. The book subsequently narrates the stories of these twenty-four Palestinian child prisoners starting with a child of the Shuhada Street (Martyrs' Street) who never wants anyone to suffer like him due to Israeli atrocities. The following pages are wrapped with the painful, distressing and agonizing stories from the other twenty-three children aging between eleven and seventeen. The height of the oppression against the Palestinian children is such that a 13 years old young boy Mussallam Odeh (who was interviewed for this book) was jailed 15 times. This is heart-wrenching. The book then narrates the story of a 14-year old girl who says she was walking around the roses in her garden and was experiencing the beauty of nature and when the Israeli soldiers came out of nowhere and arrested her. She even does not know what were the charges against her. The author maintains that actually in most of the cases the Palestinian Children do not know what the allegations against them are and this happened to this girl as well. Stepping outside the wall of West Bank, wandering into a closed military zone or raising a flag are considered crimes by the Israeli forces against the children. In most cases, the Palestinian children are denied bail and are held without legal representation. This speaks volumes and one can imagine the intensity of the state repression against the child-section of Palestine. Not only this, some of the children are kept in house arrests for months together which makes them more tortured and vulnerable than those who are languishing in jails. Another story of a boy reveals that imprisonment is nothing new to them as they are subjected to thousands of violations and tortures every minute under the Israeli occupation. Palestinian Children are kept in detention centers and prison cells and are sometimes denied food, water or not even allowed to use the toilet. Not only this, the book reveals how the Palestinian children and youngsters are tortured by electric wires, abused and humiliated in the worst manner, they deprive them of sleep, spit on their faces and beaten up ruthlessly to the extent to make them confess the crimes which they never commit and to make them confess the names of their friends (even who never were indulged in any crime). Tailpiece: What attracted me at the first instance was the title of the book in itself. Someone has rightly said that one will never understand someone’s pain until he/she feels it or the pain happens to him/her. Therefore no one other than a Kashmiri can better understand the pain of these Palestinian children because of the fact that the people of Kashmir too are undergoing state repression on a daily basis. The terms like brutality, torture, violence, occupation, resistance, etc. are frequently noticeable in the book. If the book is properly contextualized, one can appositely relate the situation of Palestine with that of Kashmir where both are undergoing the tumultuous times and where children are the victims of pellets, tortures and routine humiliation. The difference is that the brutality of Israel is already exposed before the world but the heart-wrenching tragedies of Kashmiris are yet to be heard and acknowledged by the most part of the world. What Palestinian children are facing under Israeli occupation is similar to what Kashmiris are facing under New Delhi’s repression. The book is a good read and every story of the interviewee takes the reader close to the traumatic state of affairs and makes him realize the deep meaning of freedom vis-à-vis the ugly side of the occupation. Book Details: Edited by Norma Hashim, Translated by Yousuf M. Aljamal, Publisher: Manshurat Publishers (New Delhi - 2016), ISBN NO: 978-9383582563, Pages: 180 Disclaimer: The views, thoughts, and opinions expressed in the text belong solely to the author, and not necessarily to the editor of the Kashmir Discourse.
Shah Munnes Muneer has masters in Sociology from Aligarh Muslim University and can be reached at email@example.com.