Are you tired of me talking about Palestine… but when did you ever run for Palestine?


by Mostafa Kharbouch, UWCM
19th of October, 2022
Illustration by Narmeen Hamadeh (@narmeenh.illustrations)


As I was walking the hallways to the tunnel we did for students who arrived late, I could not help but be interrupted by some oblivious student murmur:

 

 “Ugh, why did the students not just come on time the first day?” 

 

Sadly, I was not surprised by the awareness and sensitivity a portion of us still lack in this community, yet opportunities like these give me hope to point out our shortcomings. 

 

Allow me to answer the overheard question with a story: Deema, one of my lovely first years, just arrived at the end of September from Gaza, Palestine. Deema was born and raised in Gaza, the largest open-air prison guarded by Israeli occupation forces. Deema is funny and always emits good vibes when you are talking to her. Deema applied through the Palestinian National Committee and was one of the few accepted after a long process. Deema needed to go to the Dutch Embassy in Ramallah, Occupied Palestine to carry out her visa application. Deema, however, was not granted Israeli authorisation to cross the border from Gaza to Ramallah – a path her Jewish, Muslim and Christian Palestinian ancestors used to carry freshly harvested olives across to make the tastiest olive oil in the world (alert: bias). Even if Deema waited for 30 days, she would not have received a permit simply because she was born and raised in Gaza. Deema is the “other” to the oppressor.

 

Deema’s efforts did not cease there. Deema arranged for her visa to be moved to Cairo, Egypt. Deema’s grandfather was stopped at the border due to Israeli cruelty, and Deema had to travel, for the first time in her life, alone. That did not stop Deema as well. “We Palestinians, we carry on”. To get to Egypt, Deema had to pass through the Rafah Border Crossing, one of the deadliest land crossings in the world. Deema was stripped of her humanity, valuable belongings and safety at tens of illegal checkpoints throughout her journey. After 8 hours of horror, alone on a treacherous path in the desert, spending lots of money to be allowed entrance at each checkpoint, Deema arrived in Cairo. Deema stayed in a hotel for a week or more on her own, applied for the visa and had to beg the embassy to receive it. Deema was finally able to join us here then. There you go. I tried to put it as simply as I could for you. I do not think Deema would appreciate your question, and the others like her with stories of perseverance and willpower. 

 

When we bombard you with words on Palestine, it is not because this is another issue you should know about. It is because we are tired. We are exhausted by either your ignorance or your silent complacency. But more so, we are angry for not being seen for who we are.

 

Yes, We are angry. We are mad. We are furious. Always.

At systems which have robbed us of our childhoods. At systems which continue to threaten our families and futures. 

 

Yes, We are angry. We are mad. We are furious. Always.

At the school’s administration for selective Euro-centric activism. When did you ever run for Palestine, Kate? When did you ever pray for the families in Gaza? 

 

Yes, We are angry. We are mad. We are furious. Always.

At your silence. During every second you stay neutral, another Palestinian child is being murdered in cold-blood by Israeli tanks.  

 

We ask little of you: Google Palestine. Check the resources in our emails. Do not pity Deema, but rather ask her questions. She will tell you stories with a genuine smile on her face. 

 

Come talk to us. Acknowledge us. Ask us questions. We are not just some oppressed transparent minority in the corner of the school. We all have unique stories that come with the survival of our identity. We would love to talk to you no matter where you stand.  

 

Know who we are.

We are:

Mostafa…..Palestinian-Lebanese

Marwan…..Palestinian-Lebanese-American

Tasnim…….Palestinian-Syrian-Lebanese

Reine……. Palestinian

Deema………Palestinian 

 

Do not neglect the Palestine in our identities. Do not hide us behind the names of the countries our grandparents and parents fled to, escaping the horrors of Israeli massacres.

 

We are here. 

 

Angry, like my grandmother’s tears when my grandfather was buried outside Palestine.

 

Loud, like the Israeli bombs that do not stop falling on Gaza

 

We are not going anywhere but to a Free Palestine. 

 

Mostafa (he/him)

On behalf of the Palestinian Community.

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