Tuesday 27 January 2015

One cannot live in Palestine and remain unchanged

Few words can describe life on the other side of the wall. Few because being part of a Palestinian community enclosed in an open air prison by an 8m monstrous concrete wall can leave one overwhelmed. No words seem accurate enough to convey the feelings pointing at the pain inside the hearts of people living under military occupation. I may be part of the community but I'm not Palestinian. It almost feels unfair to write about their struggle when my freedom of movement is not restricted by a permit, checkpoints, curfews or roadblocks, when I haven’t been physically and psychologically affected by daily violence or when my home hasn't been demolished and all of my possessions destroyed. I don’t know the feeling of having my very existence denied. It feels unfair to upload touristy photos from trips to the “Holy Land”, Bethlehem or Hebron when friends from Abu Dis need to apply for a permit weeks before to be allowed to travel in their own land or when they are denied the right to step into illegal settlements “because you are Muslim”. But perhaps being part of the community I can try to offer you a closer portrayal of their emotions, keeping in mind these impressions are still worlds away from the brutal reality. 

So imagine this:

The feeling of degradation and humiliation when the bus stops at a checkpoint after an agonizing journey and armed soldiers shout at you to get out, queue up behind a wired fence and show your permit; checkpoints lay a barrier around your life: you try to ignore it, sometimes you repress it, but it will permanently be there in the background. It is a part of the punitive reality that you so much resent and fight to change.

Hazeytim Checkpoint 
The feeling of being under a suffocating siege when seeing the apartheid wall snaking its way through your town while memories of where the football pitch used to be are fading away; now all you have left is a concrete monster that you use as a canvas to scream for your right to freedom, equality and justice. But the whole world has forgotten you.
The shock of having soldiers surrounding your home at 3am in the morning, force your under aged children into the street in their nightclothes regardless of weather conditions and the desperation of seeing your child being handcuffed and blindfolded without being told why he/she was detained and where he/she is taken. Every night that follows, your heart will sink at the slightest sound and you realise your own home is not safe anymore.

The hopelessness, confusion and despair when you think about your future – understanding the realities unfolding around yourself, your education being disrupted by rubber bullets and tear gas, the dream of emigration is in contrast to your current living conditions. Do you try to change the course of your life, lose an identity which is already uncertain or do you accept your situation as your destiny, a collective destiny and fight for your right to stay? Homeland or homelessness?

Few words can describe the lifestyle of the illegal settlers while Palestinians have every part of their lives controlled, from where they are permitted to move to how much water they can use. Maybe we should use the word apartheid?

The apartheid wall in Abu Dis
The stories that I keep hearing on a daily basis are the stories that don’t make the headlines because living under occupation has become normal. But it is not normal for an 8 year old to be used to inhaling tear gas, to grow up witnessing violence and human rights abuses or seeing her cousin killed in front of her eyes. The Israel – Palestine conflict that you permanently hear about is non-existent. There is no conflict here, only the supreme power of Israel over a nation trying to resist it and while doing so is dehumanized by the rest of the world without understanding the true nature of the struggle and what drives people to act the way they do. 

No comments:

Post a Comment