Setting the Future Free From Inside an Israeli Prison

The Ordeal of Walid Daqqah

Walid Daqqah (right), his daughter Milad (center), and his wife Sanaa. Photo courtesy Free Walid Daqqah Campaign

In his young adult novel, The Oil’s Secret Tale, Walid Daqqah describes a wall – a vast wall that darkens the sky, divides the Earth, separates animals and plants and people from each other – a wall that stops children from visiting their parents in prison. Daqqah’s story is about a 12-year-old Palestinian boy, born because the sperm of his imprisoned father was smuggled to his mother, outside. Since this act was blatantly illegal, the boy and his father have never been allowed to meet. So one day, the boy assembles his friends – a rabbit, a cat, a dog, a donkey – and together, they begin to strategize how they can get past the wall to visit the boy’s father…

Walid Daqqah has lived inside the walls of Israeli prisons for 37 years. During this time, he has written essays, plays, novels, columns, poems. His work depicts the realities of Palestinians under Israeli rule, materially, politically, psychologically. But The Oil’s Secret Tale is special: three years ago, Daqqah’s own daughter, Milad, was born to his wife, Sanaa Salameh, via his own sperm, smuggled out of prison. Although, unlike the boy in the story, 3-year-old Milad occasionally, with her mother, has been allowed to visit her father, Walid Daqqah’s own story does not end here.

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susie day writes about prison, policing, and political activism. She’s also written political satire, a collection of which, Snidelines: Talking Trash to Power, was published in 2014. In 2020, her book, The Brother You Choose: Paul Coates and Eddie Conway Talk About Life, Politics, and The Revolution was published by Haymarket. She lives in New York City with her partner, the infamous Laura Whitehorn.

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