I don’t know what it’s like to be Palestinian.
I don’t know what it’s like to be Israeli.
I don’t know what it’s like to live under occupation.
I was not raised to harbor extreme political views that leaned on the side of denying basic human rights.
During my high school and undergraduate years, the delicate formidable time when I rebelled against my parent’s approach to controversial topics, such as Israel and Palestine, I [regrettably] took a staunch position. It wasn’t until graduate school that I met a Professor who challenged my close mindedness and as a result, I’ve adapted a humanistic view since. One book in particular that was instrumental in my shift was by Paulo Freire, Pedagogy of the Oppressed. I realize this topic is extremely sensitive to both Palestinians and Israelis. Just the simple fact I believe both have the right to exist and live freely, causes backlash. I’m not interested in engaging in a political or religious debate over validity of said claims. Simply because this isn’t a political or religious issue – it’s a human one.
In the wake of President Trump’s call declaring Jerusalem the capital of Israel, I didn’t feel I had the right to comment on it. A majority of my colleagues at MissMuslim are Palestinian and their anguish expressed is palpable. I cannot even fathom what it’s like to feel your cultural and ethnic identity being compromised to the point of being treated as non-existent. Let’s be clear on one thing, to deny the right to live freely abnegates human rights and stains humanity, as a whole. Both Israeli’s and Palestinians are Semitic people therefore rejecting one over the other, is flat out anti-Antisemitism and as a human race, should not be merited.
I don’t know what President Trump’s intentions are regarding his recent avowal. I am not interested in conjuring conspiracy theories nor pivot blame on a political party. What’s deeper than policy or politics, is the grave disregard to basic human existence. Without a doubt, this drastic move will further perpetuate hate and violence – both domestically and abroad. The violence will not just remain within the Holy region but it will put our own United States diplomats AND civilians here at home, at risk. This has been a common theme for the President as his entire campaign ran on hate; whether by inciting hateful speech or provoking hostility via one-sided propaganda on social media, or refusing to acknowledge an individual’s freedom to protest, our President has consistently shown he has no respect for human life.
…To deny the right to live freely abnegates human rights and stains humanity…
Unfortunately, the intensity of rancor in Palestine runs deep between both parties. So, does the ancestral trauma both sides have endured for decades. Trans-generational trauma cannot be healed when the deep-rooted issues of enmity, bigotry, prejudice and genocide are still prevalent. Factually, emotional ties between us and our ancestors are vital to the development of our values. As a result, as a human race we continue to face mass migration, land appropriations and rapidly growing refugee populations. Archaic ideologies, extremism, and rash decisions like today’s announcement, only add fuel to the fire. To place higher importance on ancient beliefs over present day human life is irresponsible, dangerous, and anti-peace. Dialogue, compassion and acceptance of one another are the only avenues in which leaders, especially the leader of the free world, should be exercising. You may have chuckled after reading “compassion” but you shouldn’t. Every human deserves compassion, even the ruthless oppressors. Because deep within, he/she is hurting. You have to be so crippled in pain to succumb to ethnic acrimony.
I wish I knew the solution to the Middle East’s array of issues, specifically how peace will prevail in Palestine. As new age-y and perhaps nauseating as it sounds, I do believe it starts at the individual level – and then we can heal as a community. You cannot engage in this level of healing if you’re not ready to recognize that everybody has a right to exist and that there is no room for ethnic or religious preferentialism. Such exclusivity de-legitimizes the individual’s right to exist. Which, in turn, produces gasoline for extremist groups to commit treacherous atrocities.
May there be peace – one day.