Protest against Israeli occupation near Talkarem
Karen AbuZant is an American living with the "love of her life" and their five children in the West Bank city of Tulkarem. Karen is a Seeds of Peace delegation leader, a former nurse and an instructor of conversational English. She is also a poet passionate about the importance of writing and education in the Palestinian struggle against occupation and inhumanity.
Karen most recently instructed a group of 5th-grade girls in writing a collaborative poem about Palestine, which garnered acclaim locally and abroad.
Karen moved to Palestine toward the end of the first Intifada, but she experienced the second wholesale. Her poem "If someone would only listen" captures the frustration and despair she felt at the height of the Second Intifada. "The world refuses to hear our voices that rise up in the air," she writes. "Shouts of protest - Cries for help - Sobs of pain - Shrieks of fear."
Karen AbuZant is active in her community and her causes and never stops working for a better future for her children and her adopted home.
Karen AbuZant Poems
What will your hands do?
Not everything in AbuZant's creative repetoir is about conflict. She wrote "What will your hands do?" to accompany a community rainbow made with handprints. "My hands can make war... or they can make peace," she writes. "I choose to promote peace." AbuZant's "hands" choose to improve, give and heal. Creativity and creative outlets are essential to encouraging positive behavior in Palestinian youth, she says. She impresses the importance of participating in the political process and education in her writing and is impassioned the Palestinian struggle.
My hands can make war...
or they can make peace.
I choose to promote peace.
My hands can be violent...
or they can be tender.
I choose tenderness.
My hands can show weakness...
or they can show strength.
I choose to be strong.
My hands can destroy...
or they can create.
I choose to be creative.
My hands can show hate...
or they can show love.
I choose to be loving.
My hands can do harm...
or they can heal.
I choose to be healing.
My hands can show sorrow...
or they can show joy.
I choose to be joyful.
My hands can be greedy...
or they can be giving.
I choose to give.
My hands can show fear...
or they can show courage.
I choose to be courageous.
My hands can be idle and lazy...
or be busy improving life.
I choose to improve life.
My hands can pollute and poison our land...
or they can sow a seed and keep it alive.
I choose to preserve life.
If someone would only listen
The world refuses to hear our voices that rise up in the air.
Shouts of protest
Cries for help
Sobs of pain
Shrieks of fear
Yes fear, the worst sound of all, for it immobilizes us.
It prevents us from living, planning and most of all hoping.
Life without hope leads to desperation.
A desperate person is a dangerous person.
Dangerous to himself and to others.
He causes devastation and destruction.
Loss of trust and loss of life.
All for want of someone to listen and make him feel worthy of benevolence and humanity.
A Palestinian Mother’s Lament
In "Palestinian Mother's Lament," AbuZant expresses her fear and helplessness while she waits for children to return home from exams while Israeli helicopters pound overhead. "I remember it like it was yesterday," she told Palestine Note. "There was a curfew, but we had to send our kids to school because they had exams and were told that if they didn't attend, they would fail. It was around 9am and the kids had been in school for around an hour. Suddenly, the sky filled with helicopters and other thunderous sounds and I was frantic with worry."
I hear a roaring thunder, yet there's dryness in the air.
The deafening sound is not from the heavens, but from a source that breeds despair.
Yes, the F-16's are soaring, black hawks and Apaches' too.
Manned by misled young pilots, whose conscience is askew.
Gigantic blades pound the wind from helicopters that fly low.
We shrink in fear at the terrifying sounds of their quick mighty blows.
The tanks that surround us leave penetration tracks,
On the violent filled city streets, that take us all aback.
Streets of blood, streets of fame, full of misery, loss and pain.
Even for those who in violence do not partake,
often tragedy and terror is still their fate.
Is it a fight for religion, land or just glory?
Each person and each side has their very own story.
Israel says "security is our cause, we're defending ourselves and we have the right".
But what about Palestinians who want to live in peace? Why doesn't anyone consider their plight?
I try to understand, try to rationalize,
But fear cuts even the best of intentions down a size.
I know Israelis suffer too in this game of tit-for-tat.
But two wrongs will never make a right and they should realize that.
When there's a 'suicide bombing' Israel takes revenge, by destroying the home of the 'Shaheed'.
Then Palestinians avenge this destruction, by performing another violent deed.
Ironically, the people that have died in this wild rampage,
May be luckier than the ones left trapped in this cage.
For the 'security wall' they are building between us and them,
Is simply a huge prison, to keep us bothersome Palestinians in.
Every city's border is closed and guarded so heavily,
That it's been months since we've seen friends and family.
No, we can't come or go, feel or see,
The comfort that comes from solidarity.
Although under curfew, our children must attend their schools for now,
But do they truly absorb their lessons? I can't imagine how!
Be assured that we fear for their safety while in school and to-and-fro.
Yet, it's better than the torture of living our lives in slow-mo.
We must keep going, keep forging ahead.
Ignore the whizzing bullets; repress the overwhelming feeling of dread.
Be strong and steadfast whatever the price may be,
For even though we are oppressed, our spirits can still be free.
Will it ever end you say? Well there's always that bit of hope.
Till then, may God give us faith and patience and help us all learn to cope.
Source: Palestine Note: News, Stories and Views about Palestine and Palestinians: http://palestinenote.com/cs/blogs/poetry/archive/2010/05/25/west-bank-teacher-wages-peace-through-poetry.aspx