Monday, August 26, 2013

From Qalandia Refugee Camp to Palestinian Diaspora: "Stay there!"

It's the 26th of August. The weather has been burning hot for the last couple of weeks, but not this morning. This morning couldn't have been colder. Three murdered in addition to over 15 injured during a raid by the IOF (Israeli Occupation Forces) at Qalandia Refugee Camp this morning (http://www.maannews.net/eng/ViewDetails.aspx?ID=624010).

I'm not related to any of them  nor do I know them, still when you hear one name after the other being announced through mosques' minarets you can't help but feel as if something has died within you. Our house is a couple of kilometers away from the camp, even through the distance you can still hear their mothers' wailing and crying, it's not a sound easily erased or ignored.


As custom rule it, these 3 young lives are martyrs now. Some might say they died for their country and freedom, others will glorify them and call them heroes, but in reality all that has happened was three young -once full of life, dreams and promises- men have been murdered by a bunch of 18 and 19 year-old (IOF) with guns too heavy to hold or even handle.


So people can turn them into Gods or Angels, glorify them as much as their hearts wish to .. yet that won't change the fact that they're gone for good, leaving widows behind them,  sons and daughters, mothers and fathers ... and the list goes on and on.


Witnessing these frequent events makes one think of other Palestinian refugees living in Diaspora, not the ones in refugee camps. No, but the ones living in the United States  attending Harvard, or the ones raised in London. These Palestinians which most of them are part of SJP (Students for Justice in Palestine) or activists outside of this organization working for Palestine. Spreading awareness, raising funds, writing books .. etc. These Palestinians were raised on stories told by their grandmothers, grandfathers, and parents about Palestine. About Orange and Lemon trees that surrounded their houses in Yaffa, or the morning's aroma that sneaks up on you while sitting on the house's balcony in Akka and how they've lost all of that because of the 1948 war = Nakba, and the dream of return and how they'd fight till the last day of their lives to make that dream come true.


To them I say, "Don't". Don't come back, yes keep fighting for the dream. Continue to preach about Palestine, the Apartheid Wall, Palestinian Refugee Camps and how awful the living situations there are, hellpoint (aka checkpoints), racist policies by the Israeli government, settlements and outposts, house demolitions .. etc. Continue to do all of that, but don't come back.


Palestine no longer exists. Your grandparents' house you've always heard stories about is now inhabited by Israeli immigrants who are allowed to live there while you -as a non Jewish person and Palestinian- aren't. Even the neighborhood where your family's house used to be, the neighborhood that had an Arabic Palestinian name once, it's probably called now something like Yahood (a neighborhood in Yafa that used to be called Abbasiyah). You won't find people there speaking Arabic, maybe one or two but the rest will speak in Hebrew.

You might think it's hard living away from home, or tolerating this injustice of having your family and country's history be erased like that, but in reality.. you have no idea how blessed you are.

You can write your books, speak at conferences, join the BDS campaign, hold events .., you can even come visit here, visit Palestine (West Bank, Gaza, Palestine 1948) and go abroad to share your experience but that's about it! You won't have to deal with soldiers at hellpoints on daily basis. You won't have to bury a 19-year-old for being shot by an Israeli soldier. You won't have to see your neighbor's house get demolished and do nothing. You won't have your university colleagues getting arrested for raising the Palestine flag and calling for a "Free Free Palestine". You won't get hit by the israeli soldiers or the PA security for participating in demonstrations against the useless negotiations. It won't take you a week of planning just so you can visit a friend on the other side of the Apartheid Wall. You won't deal with settlers attacks ...


Yes you might go through that when you visit, but at the end of that trip you have a safe place to go back to. No Israeli soldiers, helicopters, hellpoints, daily humiliation, house demolitions, get shot and drop dead in a second, get suffocated with a gas canister .. etc. No, only Palestinians living in Palestine get to have these "luxuries". You talk about it, we live it! So it might be easy for you to say yes we will return, yes we'll end the occupation but the truth is far away from that.


So again go ahead, make your promises .. write your poems .. raise the Palestinian flag and chant "Long Live Palestine" .. go across the U.S. and the U.K. and the whole world, spread the word .. but don't come here, because you won't stand it, tolerate it, or last long enough to talk about it. The dream you have will die within a week of staying here. You can fight across the distance for Palestine, but up close you simply die, the three dead men are an example of that.


Therefore, listen to a fellow Palestinian. In order to keep your dream and yourself alive; stay there.