Israeli buffer zone on the horizon.(Rana Baker)
My story as someone who writes (writer is too good a title for me), emerged from a very small chaotic class some seven years ago. I used to think of myself then as a lion-hearted correspondent who puts on a bulletproof vest and maintains her feet in the middle of ferocious Israeli tanks. I used to imagine my high-pitched tone reporting live-streams that appear as Breaking News on thousands of TV screens. Somehow, I had been playing and re-playing videos of al-Jazeera’s reporters in my naive head all the time.
Thanks to Israel, which is the heart of most of my pieces, I received an unexpected e-mail from The Electronic Intifada editors, asking me to start blogging for the website about a week ago. I bounced up with joy and dashed out of the room to announce the news. While my mother labored to produce an over-ecstatic expression, my younger sisters looked at me from the corners of their eyes and rolled them back to their half-filled dishes.
Israel, without which my correspondence dreams wouldn’t have existed and because of whom I blog today, seems to have brought us, too, a mirage called “the State of Palestine.”
Last Friday, my eyes almost pierced the TV and shot my outdated president, Mahmoud Abbas, a scornful look. With his nose crinkled and a grey broom crawling out of his nostrils, he vowed to resume negotiations with Israel only if he was guaranteed full membership in the unwelcoming bosom of the UN. My mouth exploded with curses and I pulled off my rotted socks, balled them, and hurled them at him. Skillfully, they landed on his face. “I wish you could feel it, expired tuna!” I muttered.
He, in his neat suit and air-conditioned home in Ramallah, will agree to discuss “issues” like borders, refugees, and the status of Jerusalem had his dream of a Palestinian state broke out into reality. How would it be possible to reassess borders when he claims that the state of Palestine will be based on the “indefensible” 1967 lines? How credible is his alleged commitment to the Right of Return when millions of neglected refugees are not even being consulted on their fate? I can clearly see the two faces of the PLO.
When I close my eyes and think of a state, something similar to France winds up my head. A smile escapes my memory and molds itself out on my face. I rejoice at the memory of my legs as they sprinted from Lille (in France) to Brussels, two months ago, unhindered by security-concerned soldiers or humiliating checkpoints.
The complexity of the entire world seems to have crippled off my brain the day I put one leg in Brussels and the other in France. I couldn’t believe that both Gaza and France march over the very same planet. When I came back to Gaza, I often thought of a Palestinian version of the European Union uniting us with the West Bank, Jordan, and Egypt. I did not dare, however, to divulge such alien thoughts to any of my friends.
But one’s eyes cannot but open. And when they do, reality creeps over my body and snatches everything alien from the air. The state they want me to embrace is one disconnected and disjoined by a racist wall. A state on less than 22% of historic Palestine through which illegal settlements snake and swallow up water and other natural resources. Something that one can call a bantustan. Indeed, something I, we, the majority of Palestinians, cannot afford.
One hour following Abbas’ speech, last Friday, I, Huwaida Arraf, the co-founder of the International Solidarity Movement, and another Palestinian girl were interviewed on BBC World Have Your Say. Three Israelis were also brought in to the show to present their views over the PA’s statehood bid. I flared up when one Israeli suggested that “a One-State solution means the elimination of Israel.”
Ahead the episode, I had been told that it would be more of a discussion than an interview. But I found myself muted when I died to squirt at the Israeli as he blurted out with lies and baseless information. Arraf, also told me on twitter that she had been gagged at some point.
Coincidently, a few days ago, I was stirred by a comment from someone on a recent piece on my blog accusing me of “yearning for the eradication of Israel.” I think I should learn to accustom myself to such sort of accusations every time I speak in favor of a One State.
Palestine is not Nazi Germany, and the eradication of Israel is not what Palestinians seek to achieve. It is not always right to use statements from history and try to identify them with the present. When Israeli Jews tend to play with history and assume a widespread anti-Semitic fanfare, this is because it serves their vile purposes not because it applies to reality.
The world we were born into did not provide us with many options. Everything is a difficult decision. Sometimes it’s either you travel tomorrow or miss the scholarship forever simply because it was an extraordinary opening of the Rafah Crossing that is not likely to occur more often. Even if it was your brother’s wedding or the birth of your first child.
Many people here subsist on charities and many live in uninhabitable shacks. There are times when hundreds of frameless bodies and the fractured dreams they carry dive in sewage to the knees. They would invite neighbors to join them on the rooftops in order to avoid mosquitoes, a scorching weather and an intolerable smell. On better occasions, when the only misfortune is a “normal” power outage, refugees pack the rooftops under the dim light of the moon to share stories and smoke hookah. The lamma (friendly gathering) has always compensated for their wrenches and searing pains.
A refugee’s ultimate dream is to go back to the land on which his ancestors lived respectable lives and feed from the olive groves they cared for. Sometime back into history Palestinians and Jews lived side by side, shared meals, weddings and religious ceremonies. There were times when Palestinians and Jews hoped for a better future alongside each other. Sometime before the state of Israel was created and before hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were displaced across the countries to never return.