United States - حزين. Hazin. Sad. When I think of my grandfather, this is the word that comes to mind. Growing up, I always noticed certain wistfulness in his gaze. A close enough look into his eyes revealed a story of ethnic cleansing, a story of the Nakba. My grandfather’s nostalgic gaze is a gaze shared by elderly Palestinians everywhere, dispersed throughout the world and condemned to a life in exile. I hear the story of my maternal grandmother, a teenage bride-to-be, expelled from her home with a gun to her back and a wedding gown in hand. I hear the story of my paternal grandmother carrying her newborn sister miles and miles through the scorching heat into an uncertain future. I hear the stories of the present – a dark-skinned little boy standing by the checkpoint sweating while he watches his father humiliated at the hands of a blue-eyed eighteen-year-old in search of validity. I hear the stories of the present – a Bedouin mother making mansaf in the Naqab, startled by the noise of an incoming bulldozer, left more nomadic than ever before. And I wonder – when will justice arrive? I am not waiting for a trial or even indictments. I am waiting neither for executive decisions nor for official paperwork. I am waiting for dignity. I am waiting for the refugees of Lebanon, Syria and Jordan to march back, heads held high, smiling at those who doubted them previously. I am waiting for equality to be the only thing reigning supreme between the River and the Sea.
A little over a year ago, I was your average apathetic Palestinian. When earthshaking events happened in Palestine, such as Cast Lead, I would watch the news and shed a tear, but had the negative outlook that it is a helpless case and nothing can be done to change the situation. Another view I held is that I am too young to take action – being that I am still in my early teen years. Thankfully, I came to the realization that a main factor stopping change is the negative attitude that I and many Palestinians hold, and that there is no age limit or boundary to supporting a struggle against injustice. After all, Israel does not recognize any age limits or boundaries when raiding villages and detaining its residents, terrorizing the besieged Gaza Strip, and demolishing homes that have been standing there longer than the state’s existence. A common misconception regarding Palestine is that it is exclusively an Arab, Muslim issue; that is completely false. The Palestinian cause is a human issue. Every human with a conscience has a duty to stand in solidarity with Palestine’s struggle against oppression and occupation.
I am sure there was a time when black folk in the United States thought slavery would never be abolished. I am sure that at one point, South Africans never thought the apartheid system would collapse. Of course the previous two examples I used are not exactly the same as the situation in Palestine, but the point is, injustice does not last. When apartheid falls in Palestine, I want to be able to say that I stood for what was right all along. After all, there is no better feeling than being on the right side of history.