Must we be saved from our men?

*This article  of mine was originally published in Norwegian on the newly launched website, Infofada

Upon reading various Western articles regarding Palestinian women, one notices the tendency of placing Palestinian women as antagonistic to Palestinian men, deeming them as the source of women’s oppression without mentioning how Israel’s illegal settler-colonial project has both added to and perpetuated the violence that they experience on a daily basis. One also gets an image of Palestinian women being powerless, voiceless beings unaware of the oppressive conditions that affects them. Such writings create a false representation of Palestinian women while undermining both their capabilities and their struggle.

Israeli Occupation as the Cause of their Oppression

It should go without saying that Palestinian women experience dual forms of oppression, one from Israel’s occupation and another from their patriarchal society which has become increasingly so as a result of the former. If one were to look into the history of Palestinian women, one could see that the source of their power came from the rural lifestyle that they lived, making them a vital asset to the economy and well-being of the home and society. An additional means of self-empowerment was their crucial participation in national liberation movements and uprisings against the British Mandate and Israel’s occupation. However, due to Israel’s theft of Palestinian land and the signing of the Oslo Accords and how it put an end to or watered down the various resistance movements, a sense of desperation among men who tried to maintain power formed and they used the oppression of women as the foothold in which they can do so. Consequently, women were forced to live a life of domestication where their responsibility was that of a caretaker or as a secondary economic provider.

Therefore, the tendency of putting the blame on the effect (Palestinian men) and not the cause (Israel’s occupation) is to say that Palestinian women experience only an internal form of oppression. It is to say that the external form of oppression that kills, exiles, imprisons, tortures, rapes, starves, and threatens Palestinian women and their loved ones is not oppression after all. Moreover, it is to undermine what Palestinian women and feminists consider a fundamental part of their cause: The liberation of Palestine.

Agency among Palestinian Women

The characterization of Palestinian women as being weak and powerless entities is to provide an inaccurate representation of who they are. Although this is the case with some Palestinian women, there are many who do voice their thoughts and opinions regarding the various things that happen on a national and international level, and who participate as active members in their societies on political and cultural levels despite Israel’s deliberate (and at times successful) attempts to hinder any such doings.

"Palestinian women stand as a barrier in the face of compromise" (General Union of Palestinian Women, 1975)

“Palestinian women stand as a barrier in the face of compromise” (General Union of Palestinian Women, 1975)

Unlike people who are privileged enough not to concern themselves with political issues, the politics of Israel’s illegal occupation manages to force itself upon every aspect of Palestinian lives, therefore making the very existence of Palestinians a political act in itself. As mentioned before, since the 1920’s, Palestinian women played a tremendous role in the struggle for liberation as their activities in the past and present range from participating in demonstrations to party affiliations to running for president to being active members in the PLO.

There are two different forms of politics that women engage in: The formal and the informal. The formal participation entails women working in the government and in governmental organizations such as the Palestinian Authority and its various committees and ministries. The role of women in this form was strengthened by women’s rights organizations who lobbied for a quota system that reserved more seats for women in legislative and municipal elections and in municipal and village councils. Furthermore, there is a Ministry of Women’s Affairs that aims to decrease the gender disparity and to amend laws that afflict Palestinian women and discourage them from practicing their natural rights.

However, the participation of women in the informal political scene is far greater than in the formal, as this practice is far more decentralized and local and, therefore, more accessible to women. The major means of political involvement has to do with attending and organizing political demonstrations and protests. Palestinian women often attend the weekly Friday demonstrations that take place in Nabi Saleh and Bil’in, and they also participate in other demonstrations that call for the end of Israel’s siege on Gaza, its continuous construction of settlements, its theft of Palestinian land, its burning of Palestinian olive trees, and its tendency to incarcerate Palestinian men, women, and children under administrative detention. Palestinian women also turn to print and social media to present their take on various events and issues and this includes articles being published on personal blogs and news magazines (there is a newspaper that circulates around Palestine known as “Sawt Al-Nisa’” which is dedicated to creating a platform for women to discuss national and social matters). Palestinian women who engage in such activities either do so in the name of a party that they are affiliated with like Fatah, Hamas, The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine, The Democratic Front for the Liberation of Palestine and the other existing parties, or they do so independently as Palestinians.

Palestinian women are known to maintain the many valuable aspects of their culture and heritage in a way that promotes Palestinian economy and preserves Palestinian history. A lot of the cultural centers and organization in Palestine are run by women, such as “In’ash Al-Usra”, that provides Palestinian women with the necessary materials needed to create embroidered dresses and design pieces along with containers and ingredients used for pickling fruits and vegetables, both of which can be sold to the public to increase the income of the household. There are also Palestinian women who participate in dance, singing, and theatre clubs where they learn how to sing traditional and modern songs and dances along with how to act in or produce plays. Palestinian women, such as Fadwa Tuqan and Adania Shilbi, are also known to contribute greatly to the literary scene in Palestine as they offer a perspective that sheds light on aspects of Palestinian society that are generally not covered by male authors. Such action is necessary in today’s context, as there is a deliberate attempt by Israel to appropriate many aspects of Palestinian culture as their own, so any act of maintaining what is Palestinian is an act of resistance.

The intention of this article is not to insinuate that the Palestinian women experience full equality nor is it say that Palestinian women do not undergo hardships because of social repression. The truth of the matter is that occupation and patriarchy have yet to cease to exist. Though if the rights of Palestinian women is truly a concern for the West, then the best way to support them is to help dismantle Israel’s illegal occupation, which is a prominent acting force to the tyrannical conditions that they experience.  Projecting a limited, Western understanding of the conditions of Palestinian women is not the way to lend a hand and such actions is neither respected nor tolerated by Palestinian women. Essentially, if one wants to help them, one must listen to them!


You Cannot Force Me

Today, Ashtar Theatre came to Birzeit University to perform their highly interactive play called “Al Merya’a Wal-Qorqa’a” which brings to light the socio-economic effects that Palestinian farmers face due to the influx of Israeli produce into the Palestinian market. Through the process of breaking the fourth wall, audience members interacted with the actors, which assisted the audience in acquiring the knowledge needed to challenge the presence of Israeli products and promote those of Palestinians; thereby supporting the Palestinian cause and resisting the occupation. According to the brochure that Ashtar handed out, the play focuses on “the challenge that Palestinian farmers face,” “the crisis of water resources and reservoirs,” and “the crisis of agricultural land confiscation by the Israeli military.” However, Birzeit University’s Student Council members affiliated with Fatah (Shabibeh) very rudely interrupted the performance before we could get through a quarter of it. They wanted the performance to come to a screeching halt and for the audience to head home and mourn over the life of Ziad Abu Ein, a respected PA official who the IDF murdered earlier today. The problems with this are as follows:

Photo credit: Birzeit University

The manner in which the play was interrupted.

Members of Shabibeh barged into the room, ran up the stage, and ordered everyone to leave the university all the while telling us that we were being unpatriotic and disrespectful to Abu Ein by attending a play. The director, Bayan Shbib, went on stage and spoke through the microphone in order for her influential words to be heard through the cacophony of yells to tell the audience and the members of Shabibah that the play was being performed in memory of Abu Ein who, himself, supported its production. She also said that the play was not about a trivial matter, it is about Palestine and resistance. Apparently, that was unimportant to them.

It is, however, important to say that the problem is not that they interrupted the play. If this is what they believe is the right thing to do, then they have every right to try to convince people to believe in it also. But they didn’t try to convince us. They didn’t tell us why they think we should leave. All they could say was that Abu Ein is a martyr and that his death needs to be mourned without understanding that people deal with death differently. All they could do was get physical with one of the performers and those that opposed them. All they could do was bring the props to the floor, ensuring that the performance does not continue. Had they respected us, they would have stated their opinion and left with those who were convinced, leaving be those that weren’t.

The mentality of the interrupters.

The Shabibeh members that came into the auditorium believed it was within their rights to force everyone out. They refused to acknowledge that people have a say over their lives and their actions, that people have a say in which means of resistance they choose to enforce. They believe that there is one form of resistance and that only theirs is the correct path to liberation (which has proven untrue). What is obvious is that they do not understand the roots of theatre, along with other art forms, in Palestinian culture and its importance to resistance. The IDF murdered Ghassan Kanafani, a playwright, novelist, painter, and journalist for the power his works entail, which is a perfect example of how various forms of resistance are threatening to Israel’s occupation of Palestine. What is also obvious is how they are fascist in their actions and policies. Many people in the auditorium do not affiliate themselves with Fatah or Shabibeh. Why should they be obedient to a faction that they do not believe in or agree with? Is the command of Shabibeh divine? Is it something that one cannot refuse? No, it is not.

The hypocrisy of the interrupters.

When the recent incursion in Gaza happened where the IDF murdered 2016 men, women and children Shabibeh barely did anything. They didn’t call for strikes, or assemblies, or anything of that matter. Instead, what a lot of them did was point the finger at Hamas, stating that they are responsible for all those deaths. However, all hell must break loose when the IDF murders one person from Fatah (Not that his life is not important, I, too, am enraged at how brutally he was killed). All this does is present to the people where Shabibeh’s values lie. It is not about Palestine. It is not about Palestinians. It is about the party. It is about Fatah and you are either with them or against them.

Fatah’s slogan is “the winds cannot shake the mountain”. But they are not even the wind, instead they are the forces that make the earth’s tectonic plates crash into each other forming other mountains around the one that already existed.

Will there be justice?

The last recorded lynching of an African American was in 1981. Two members of the KKK believed it was within their rights to kidnap, beat, strangle, and hang 22-year-old Michael Donald. As expected, local police tried to cover up the murder by stating that he died over a drug deal dispute. His murder did, however, make the KKK go bankrupt after Beulah Mae Donald’s civil suit against them in 1987. 33 years later, in a small country across the Atlantic ocean, Israeli settlers thought it was within their rights to beat and hang Yousef Hassan Al-Ramouni, a Palestinian bus driver. Also, as expected, Israeli spokewoman, Luba Samri, tried to cover up this brutal crime by stating that Yousef committed suicide, that he took his own life. It took 6 years for the KKK to be brought to justice for one of their many cruel acts. How long will it take for these settlers to be brought to theirs?

The Melodic Streets

I walk around the streets and all I hear is a melody of juxtaposing sounds.

A melody

            Of my heart beating, 60 beats per minute

            Of the music blasting out of the earphones of a fellow street-walker

Of laughter as parents each hold one of the arms of their child and swing them to and fro

            Of enthused friends jabbering about their latest love interests

            Of ongoing phone conversations

            Of vendors at the farmer’s market yelling the prices of their produce

Of cars zooming by, making themselves heard with their speed, screeches, and horns

Of my heart beating, 90 beats per minute

I continue walking

A melody?

Of mosquitoes buzzing by, hunting for the next person whose blood must be devoured in the likes that they might survive

            Of the prayers of the homeless, begging

            Of the clattering gun of the police officer

            Of the latest perturbing news coverage

Of my heart beating, 12o beats per minute

I continue walking, this time with more speed

A melody?!

            Of the dogs whimpering by

            Of a man degrading a woman

            Of a singing bird

            Of the angry screams of protesters

            Of a language I do not understand

            Of the rushed footsteps of oblivious men

Of slamming doors, ringing phones, gunshots, wailing children, and screaming parents

Of my heart racing, 150 beats per minute


I stop moving.

No, not a melody.

My heart beat slows, 14o…1oo…80

What then, if not a melody?

A cacophony.

A cacophony

            Of sheer madness.

27 Days Later

On June 12, three Israeli settlers were abducted; life in Palestine became a raging inferno since. The IOF’s “Operation Brother’s Keeper” led to 10 Palestinians killed (more details below), 566 detained, over 2100 buildings (including two universities) raided, and entire cities locked down all in the name of “bringing back their boys.”It was obvious that this was planned before the abduction, and that the IDF were simply waiting for an opportunity to present itself for it to be carried out (which was proven true: X). In other words, they exploited the event to carry out a crackdown that had little to do with the three settlers. This was a mission with a deliberate intention to arrest anyone they deem a threat to the State of Israel, (Hamas particularly as they blame them for the kidnappings, although they denied having anything to do with it), with the hopes of killing Palestinian resistance, a.k.a. “Palestinian terror”. After the bodies of the settlers were found buried on June 30th in a village near Hebron, Israelis promised to make life for Palestinians “a living hell”, and let us just say that they were being honest…for once.  

They launched 34 airstrikes in Gaza in response, 10 casualties resulted. They destroyed the homes of those suspected of committing the murders, although Amnesty states that Israel has no evidence. They also plan to destroy 24 more homes in Hebron, while already having destroyed homes in Tulkarm and Al-Bireh. Soldiers of the IOF are posting pictures depicting their desire to seek revenge on Palestinians. Israeli lynch mobs are attacking random Palestinians, including a teenage boy that they eventually abducted, tortured, and burned to death. Settlers are running Palestinians over with their cars and trucks in populated areas. Settlers are throwing rocks at Palestinians as they drive on the highway. They shoved a Palestinian woman into a lake. They continue to arrest and beat our people, may they be men, women, or children. Meanwhile, the PA is taking little action against what is going on, and mainstream media continues to white-wash these criminal and inhumane acts, and are still “consoling” and “lending their hearts” to the families of the three settlers.  

People often ask if there is no end to Israel’s inhumane treatment of the Palestinian people and I wonder why this is still a matter of question. We know the answer already: NO. There is NO end.

Palestinians have been going through “hell” since the Balfour Declaration gave Zionists the “right” to form a State of Israel in 1917. An event that ultimately lead to their many, dare I say successful, attempts to ethnically cleanse the land from its people, a phenomenon catalyzed in 1948 and continues until now with around 531 Palestinian towns depopulated and 33 massacres committed all together. Not to mention the Palestinians forced into exile in refugee camps who are living under horrible conditions around the Middle East. (Hats off to you Lebanon, Syria, and Jordan.) 

There is a large number of casualties (over 6,876 since the year 2000) and injuries of the Palestinian people that resulted through guns, tanks, missiles, white phosphorus shells, poisonings, tanks, bulldozers, cars, trucks, deprivation of necessities such as food, medicine and health care, and electricity in Gaza, etc. Settlements are still growing like a cancer, leading to an increase in Israeli population. There are 5,271 Palestinian political prisoners, a lot of whom were tortured psychologically and physically (more on torture methods here: X), and it was recently reported that 24 men were poisoned after they were fed expired food by the prison’s administration. Due to the “Paris Protocol”, which is an agreement made between Israel and the PLO (bless their souls), the Palestinian economy is tied to that of the Israel’s, decreasing Palestinian livelihood for we have Israeli market prices despite making less than half the income of the average Israeli. This inevitably deprives many from the basic needs of food, shelter, and education, while also making boycotting a luxury for people with the means, because local products are pricier than the Israeli alternatives provided. They also have the habit of burning down Palestinian olive groves, knowing that they are the primary source of income for many families. Isreali apartheid wall continues to strangle Palestinian cities and towns and forces people to live in ghettos. Unbearable checkpoints make something as simple as going to work or school impossible at times. In order for Palestinians to get to Gaza from the West Bank and vice versa, people must go through two other countries, Jordan and Egypt. Palestinian refugees are still denied the right to return to their homelands, resulting in identity conflict of second and third generation refugees as they are not sure what to call their home. The implementation of these methods, along with new ones as soon as they form, will continue so long as there is a state of Israel. Therefore, the real question is when it will all end.  

The Palestinians killed since June 12th: (Note: I have not posted the images of some of the martyrs either because I cannot find one or because the images that I have found are of their desecrated bodies.)

Jamil Ali Abed Jabir, in his 60s. Died of a heart attack after IOF raided his home. They prevented his family from helping him.

Fatima Rushdi, 78-years-old. Also died of a heart attack after the IOF raided her home. She was unable to reach the hospital in time as a result of a checkpoint.

Mustafa Aslan, 22-years-old. Died after being shot in the head by IOF during Qalandiya Refugee Camp raid. Ahmad Sabarin, 20-years-old. Died from a gunshot wound in the chest after IOF raided Al-Jalazon refugee camp. Mahmoud Dudeen, 14-years-old. Died after being shot with live ammunition during clashes in Dura. Ahmad Said Suod Khalid, 27-years-old. Died after being shot in Israeli raid of Al-Ain refugee camp.

Mahmoud Tarifi , 30-years-old. Died after being shot in Israeli raid in Ramallah. Yousef Abu Zagha, 16-years-old. Died after being shot in Israeli raids in Jenin.

Mohammad Abu Khdeir, 17 year old. Died after being abducted, tortured, and burned by Israeli settlers.

Zahi Subi Abu-Hamed and Anwar Astal, (their ages’ are not reported). Died after being ran over by Israeli settlers. (A 9-year-old girl was also ran over by settlers in Bethlehem, and she is currently recovering.)

Ali Al-Awoor, 7-years-old. Died from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

Mohammad Obeid, 20-years-old. Died from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

Mazen Al-Jarba, 30-years-old. Died from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza. He is the third martyr of his family. Marwan Salim, 23-years-died. Died from Israeli airstrikes.

Ibrahim Al-Bal’awi, 24-years-old. Died from Israeli airstrikes.

Abderrahman El-Zamly, 22-years-old. Died from Israeli Airstrikes. Also a football player who aspired to play for Palestine’s national team. Twins Mustafa Abu-Mur and Khaled Abu-Mur. 22 years old. Died from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

Sharaf Ghanam, 22-years-old. Died from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

Juma Abu-Shalouf, 24 years old. Died from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.

Ibrahim Abdin, 23-years old. Died from Israeli airstrikes in Gaza.  

May their souls rest in peace and their deaths not be in vain.  

The Intruders who Wanted Some of Our Coffee

After one of the longest semesters I have ever had at Birzeit finished, my parents decided it was time to visit our family back in Tulkarm. So, this Friday was spent in my father’s parents’ house in the village Ateel. It started off like it always does. I wake up, go down stairs and help my aunt around the house, and we make breakfast, eat and clean. The men attend Friday prayer at one of the local mosques, and as soon as they get back, my family packs up our belongings and go to my mother’s side of the family. This time, a delightful phone call interrupted the mundane Friday schedule. It was my mom’s sister, my beautiful aunt who was inviting us to Al-Ahrash, which is a terraced hill terrain in a village called Qaffin (22 km northeast of Tulkarm), where a lot of people like to go with their family and friends to enjoy the beautiful scenery that Palestine has to offer. We accepted her invitation and after an hour or so, we were off.

Just so you all can get an idea of the setting.

One thing I have noticed while being in Palestine, is that we like big numbers of everything, especially children. Bless our mothers, the fact that their bodies are still intact is beyond me. The group I went with consisted of only three families, yet we had over 20 people, half of which are still children. The other families we passed by on our way up the hill seemed even larger than ours, too!

As soon as we found the right spot for us, we laid down our blankets, got out our sunflower seeds, and started a fire for tea and coffee. After our cup of tea, we all decided to walk around and observe the stunning terrain. There were beautiful flowers, almond and pine trees, and intriguing insects (most of which scared the bajeezus out of me). We got back and decided it was time for some coffee and once the caffeine got into our systems, we began to play one of my favorite games ever!

The game is called Seven Stones, but my Palestinian friends in America that I grew up playing it with called it Ambar. The game originates from India, but it managed to find its 1922973_428646197266201_407738224_nway around the world. Pretty much, the whole game revolves around seven stones that are piled on top of each other. The players divide themselves into two teams, and each team has one of their members try to knock down the stones with the ball. The first team that knocks down the stones automatically becomes on offense, and the other on defense. Now, the objective of the offensive team is to stack the seven stones back on top of each other, while the defensive team have to prevent that from happening by tagging them out with the ball. If the offensive team stack the stones, then they win and if the defensive team tags everyone from the offensive team out before they stack the stones, then they win. It is very simple, but very intense!

My team lost the first round and thought that we would be able to redeem ourselves in the second one, which we were. Half way through it though, we were interrupted. Who interrupted us, you ask? Well, the IOF, of course! Apparently, they were watching the surveillance cameras that they have implanted around the area when suddenly there were a few loud noises that echoed in the sky. (If the cameras surprise you, it really should not. Consider the IOF to be the non-fiction equivalent to INGSOC. They have got microphones and cameras everywhere, even in the places you would least expect, say for instance, a place where people go to simply relax with their family and friends.) It was probably some of the teenage boys messing around with fire-crackers or something which definitely was not the smartest thing to do on their part considering we were technically in a forest, but anyways, the IOF were “alarmed” and started to patrol the area in their Jeep. Out of nowhere though, they decided to arrest someone for some reason that is unknown to me, and a large group of Palestinians surrounded the Jeep and started protesting against them, demanding that they release the boy. After around 20 minutes, the IOF gave in and the boy was set free. On their way back to wherever it was they were, they stopped by our spot and asked my dad a few questions. In the end, they tried to act as though they were our friends who were trying to protect us, then they jokingly asked if we had any coffee we would be willing to offer them, and left. The answer to their question would be: No, you cannot have some of our coffee. Have you not taken enough from us? And you, our enemy, our occupiers, are not our friends. The thought alone sets the fire in me blazing with intense fury!

The jeep surrounded by Palestinians.

The jeep surrounded by Palestinians

There you go! What was once a simple gathering with my family suddenly turned into an arrest of a fellow Palestinian. One thing that is beautiful though, is that the Palestinians refused to let the IOF take yet another one of our people into their miserable prisons, where torture is inevitable. We stood together, we protested, and we fought for what was right. This proves one thing, one very important thing: We have it in us to resist this occupation and that means that we have it in us to be free. We can liberate the country its intruders that believe they have the right to steal our land, our culture, our heritage, our history, our people, and our freedom. We can do this and never should we doubt our abilities and our strength.

“An educator, you say?”

When I was in high school, my brother’s friend gave him a copy of The Autobiography of Malcolm X as told to Alex Haley. It had been laying around the house for quite some time until one day, out of sheer boredom, I decided to pick it up and read it. That was the day in which I started to understand who I am, what I want to be, and why the world is in the current state it is in; that was the day in which (Brace yourselves, cheesiness is coming.) my life had changed forever.

There is a particular moment in his life that helped me realize who I want to be, which is, as some of you who have read The Autobiography may recall, a short yet highly impressionable discussion Malcolm X had with a teacher of his.  But for those of you who have not, here is an excerpt from the book of the moment being referred to:

“Somehow, I happened to be alone in the classroom with Mr. Ostrowski, my English teacher. He was a tall, rather reddish white man and he had a thick mustache. I had gotten some of my best marks under him, and he had always made me feel that he liked me. He was, as I have mentioned, a natural-born “advisor,” about what you ought to read, to do, or think-about any and everything. We used to make unkind jokes about him: why was he teaching in Mason instead of somewhere else, getting for himself some of the “success in life” that he kept telling us how to get?

I know that he probably meant well in what he happened to advise me that day. I doubt that he meant any harm. It was just in his nature as an American white man. I was one of his top students, one of the school’s top students-but all he could see for me was the kind of future “in your place” that almost all white people see for black people.

He told me, “Malcolm, you ought to be thinking about a career. Have you been giving it thought?”

The truth is, I hadn’t. I never have figured out why I told him, “Well, yes, sir, I’ve been thinking I’d like to be a lawyer.” Lansing certainly had no Negro lawyers-or doctors either-in those days, to hold up an image I might have aspired to. All I really knew for certain was that a lawyer didn’t wash dishes, as I was doing. Mr. Ostrowski looked surprised, I remember, and leaned back in his chair and clasped his hands behind his head. He kind of half-smiled and said, “Malcolm, one of life’s first needs is for us to be realistic. Don’t misunderstand me, now. We all here like you, you know that. But you’ve got to be realistic about being a nigger. A lawyer-that’s no realistic goal for a nigger. You need to think about something you _can_ be. You’re good with your hands-making things. Everybody admires your carpentry shop work. Why don’t you plan on carpentry? People like you as a person-you’d get all kinds of work.”

Like Malcolm X (or anyone for that matter), I have been asked what it is I want to do with my life. My answer: an educator. Unlike Malcolm X, however, the reaction I get is not of the hmm-I-do-not-think-you-are-capable-of-that-career-choice sort. Rather, it is of the hardy-har-har-that-is-stupid sort or of the oh-that-is-typical-of-a-woman sort, both of which are equally appalling. Such a profession is nonsensical or beneath that of other professions, apparently. I mean what do they do anyways? It is not like teachers help raise a new generation or anything, right? Wrong! The role of an educator is extremely important and to belittle such an occupation is what I deem to be “nonsensical”. That incident is what made me grasp just how significant and influential a teacher can be, may it be pleasant or unpleasant. Malcolm X had the misfortune of having teacher who influenced him negatively for when a “colored” child in the United States of ‘Murica is given advice by an “educated” white man who has some authority over him, the child would usually take that advice and consider it as a Truth, which was the case with the younger Malcolm X. Those six sentences that were said to him by Mr. Ostrowski were enough to limit what Malcolm X considered as possible career choices drastically, thus catalyzing his already spiraling downfall in his adolescent and young adult years. Ultimately, Mr. Ostrowski is a teacher that failed miserably.

A picture of the book that is technically my brothers but which I have claimed as my own (among other things, tee hee).

A picture of the book that is technically my brother’s but which I have claimed as my own (among other things, tee hee).

Some of you may think that it is a tad bit ironic that this is what lead to my realization, and I guess it is to a certain extent. However, I do not want to be a Mr. Ostrowski. I want to be John Keating, who makes their students refer to them as “oh captain, my captain”, who forces them to rip out pages from their literature books, and who tells them to stand on desks and look at life through different perspectives. Well, I probably will not do the whole standing on desks thing. (The reason of which can be seen in the following clip from the show Community which parodied that scene from Dead Poets Society quite beautifully:

I look at the education that my fellow Palestinians are getting, and to say that it disheartens me is an understatement. Palestine is lacking when it comes to inspirational teachers and the reasons are countless. We have an inadequate Ministry of Education and insufficient teachers, both of which have a deficiency in passion for their jobs and both of which are pleasing our oppressors. They have failed at instilling important values in the younger generation by dumbing down their books and curriculum, by forcing students to memorize word for word rather than doing whatever they can to make sure that their students actually comprehend the material, and by providing little to no extra-curricular activities or creative outlets that enables students to work on self-development and critical thinking. The occupation has created an Orwellian society for Palestinians, and instead of those Palestinians in power fighting against it, they are perpetuating and serving it at the expense of the coming generations and Palestinian freedom.

I have an urge to fight that and I think the only way I can is by becoming a teacher myself, specifically a literature teacher. One who guides their students into understanding themselves, others, cultures, and societies. One who tells their students to tap into that wild imagination they have as opposed to the predominant latter who tells their students to be “realistic” and to not look past what society has set as restrictions for them. One who helps them understand that their possibilities are endless. One who participates in raising a generation who can call corruption and hypocrisy when they see it, and who organize themselves in ways to defeat and overcome that darkness rather than pave way for an impending doom. What better way to do that than through literature? By reading prose and verse written in different social, political, and cultural contexts, students would be increasing their knowledge and awareness along with their capabilities to express themselves. Literature has done that for me, and I promise myself that I will do my very best to make sure that my future students have gained something from their involvement with literature.

I simply want to help raise a generation that knows and demands their rights as human beings, and who are willing to fight for what they believe in. The past generation has failed tragically at this, and I would be damned before I let the future generation live as foolishly as those of the past and present. If people want to laugh and think that my decision is unimportant or stereotypical and that what I am trying to fight is too big, then so be it. I have faith though, and no amount of laughter or rude comments with disgusting innuendos will ever take that away from me.

A Simple Facebook Status

Yesterday, a friend of mine, who was apparently going through my Facebook account, liked a status update I had posted exactly a year ago. I cannot thank them enough for bringing to my attention the me who wrote this, because I seemed to have forgotten who she was for a while and I would have overlooked her completely if it were not for that little red notification on the top right hand corner of my screen. The following is the status update:

Today, after a very long time, I went to Tulkarm and saw my family. We stayed up ’til late playing cards, eating junk food, and laughing our heads off. These are the moments in life that I live for. I am posting this as a reminder to the fact that we all have something that we live for, our problem is that we sometimes forget what that thing is. So wake up and REMEMBER!

As I read what past me wrote, I felt a burning sensation as the tears began to well up in my eyes. There are so many reasons as to why my reaction was the way it was. For one, I realized that I had not come by a moment like that with my extended family since that day. I guess everyone has been so caught up in their own lives. I have cousins who married and now have their own families to take care of. I have cousins who are busy with or finding jobs. And I have cousins who, like me, are preoccupied and stressed about their studies and futures. (I have a lot of cousins, in case you have not noticed.) I am truly happy for all of them and I understand why there is this ever-growing gap ensuing itself between us, but it does not take away from the fact that I truly miss those moments that I shared with them. They were such a big part of my life when I was younger, and it sucks that they are now in the sidelines and I in theirs.

I have also realized how different I am from that person I was exactly a year ago. Within that year, which whizzed by with ridiculous speed, I made new friends and lost a few, read books that have permanently changed the way I observe my surroundings, learned a vast amount of information through some of the wonderful teachers I have had and through myself as well. I am also more determined than ever before. Generally, I have become a lot more open-minded, concerned, and understanding of various things.

I do not know why I am telling this to you all. Maybe it is because I just finished a John Green book, and that man has the tendency to make his readers all sappy and cheesy. Exactly a year ago I had a wonderful time with my family and on that very same day a year later, I had spent it with some great friends over delicious corn dogs, plates that were turned into exquisite art pieces made with sticks, mustard, ketchup, and mayonnaise, and tons of laughter.

Yes, I am Privileged.

Earlier this year, I took a Democracy, Human Rights and International Law course at my university and there was once a discussion about how Palestinian resistance is not where it should be.  I, who usually do not say much in class because my Arabic is absolutely humiliating, managed to muster up what little courage I had and thought that maybe now is the time to participate. I dared to say that Palestinians have become lazy, and that the only way things are going to start heading in the right direction is if a third Intifada were to take place. Although a lot of my classmates agreed with me, my professor said, and I remember this clearly, “My dear, that is easy for you to say. As soon as things get a bit dangerous, a plane from America will be sent for you and you will be taken to safety.”

I was born in the United Stated of ‘Murica, into a well-to-do, middle class Palestinian family who have provided me with food, shelter, education, and good health. When I was 13, they decided to move to Ramallah, Palestine. There, I was entered into the unreasonably over-priced private academic institution which I deemed, and still deem to be a horrible place to learn. I must admit that it did provide a better education in comparison to the public schools in the country, and that is saying something. I now attend Birzeit University, and although money is not flowing in like it used to, my family is able to make ends meet.

I have been living in Palestine for around seven years now and to say that I have experienced a life similar to that of your average Palestinian who lives in a town, village, or refugee camp would be an absolute and utter lie.

In a nutshell: I am privileged.  However, do not think that I find the way I have been living honorable or fortunate. I am truly jealous of those Palestinians who are actually experiencing our culture and heritage, who speak our beautiful language with exquisite fluency, and whose strength is beyond that of a Herculean warrior.  I am privileged in the sense that I have advantages, access to certain possessions and institutions that many Palestinians long for but are unattainable to them.

I live in Ramallah, where phony, duplicitous politicians, upperclassmen, and internationals have taken over and claimed their own; a city where Palestinian culture and heritage is almost non-existent.  As a result, I have not experienced a majority of what most Palestinians go through: the humiliation of living in camps or going through checkpoints, and the honor of those who fight for freedom; the painful moments when a loved one is arrested, and the joyful moments when they are freed; the tormenting taste of salt water that a hunger striker endures, and the gratifying taste of their first meal after the strike has ended; the painful feeling a caretaker bears because of their inability to provide, and the satisfying feeling they encounter when they manage to find a way to get what little they can.

I have experienced none of that, save for the few times IOF constructed random checkpoints on the road to my father and mother’s hometowns which I visit occasionally, or the two times my family managed to get a permit to go to East Jerusalem. So, I, who am Palestinian, cannot say that I have deep understanding in the joys and sorrows that Palestinians have.

Therefore, those who do not truly understand the conflict have no right to act as a savior to the Palestinian people, or pretend to know what path is best for them to take. I am not saying that one cannot have or form an opinion on the situation, but do not get upset if it is not considered valid or is not agreed upon by Palestinians. It is their right to form opinions on their own, without interference by those fortunate enough to not have to go through the battles that they face every day.  Though, all of us have a responsibility in resistance. We all must participate, but the way in which we involve ourselves matters and responsibilities differ from one person or people to another, because these contributions that many people have provided Palestinians with have further put Palestinian resistance in a detrimental state.

I guess what I am trying to say is that living in Palestine for a few years does not make one an expert on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Studying the conflict does not make you one either.  The only experts on the conflict are those who are directly affected by it.  The architects of resistance must not be the Palestinian Authority, or foreign countries, or privileged members of Palestinian society. As soon as people start to understand that, Palestinians would be able to form a means of resistance that is suitable for them. One that they are in agreement with, rather than one that was imposed upon them.