A letter from Oakland

As a Palestinian-American I enjoy the rights of my country of citizenship. This makes it difficult for me to understand what it must be like to watch another nation’s tanks roll into your community and destroy everything in their path—your car, your neighbor’s house, electrical poles, gardens and community businesses.

It is even further from my comprehension what it must be like to have soldiers storm your house and imprison you in one room, while they lounge on your furniture, vandalize and steal your property and eat your food. If the impact of such actions are already difficult for outsiders to understand, it may be almost impossible to truly comprehend the reality of soldiers killing your neighbors and family with the same casual disregard they show for home and property.

The crime must seem only greater as the Israeli government applauds itself on the world stage for its humane military operations while pleading for sympathy from the internaional community as a besieged country.

The world mourns the death of 6 Israelis at the hands of a suicide bomber, as it rightly should, but when dozens of Palestinians are killed during the same period, there is an eerie global silence.

While Bush follows his condemnations of Palestinians with half-hearted, flaccid appeals for the Israeli military to “hurry up,” Sharon’s forces demolish entire communities and the fabric of Palestinian sociey has begun to unravel.

I was raised in this country, I have an education and good prospects, and yet when faced with this onlsaught of callous inhumanity by Israel and the US for the lives of our people, I often seriously think of donning the suicide belt myself—if only to prove that no country can put itself beyond the reach of justice.

In all honesty, the time I spent living in Palestine, counting off daily lists of Palestinians killed by Israeli forces, placed a profound hatred in my heart for the Israeli people and their government, a hatred I would rather do without, but it is there nonetheless.

Still, when I see video of the damage wrought by suicide bombing and hear the details of nails and other debris ripping through the flesh and bone of the victims, I shudder—no people should ever have to experience such a horrific attack.

Yet what are Palestinians left with? The constant failure of the US and Israel to provide a credible effort at fair negotiations combined with the unbelievable naivete of the Palestinian Authority as it continues to beg for scraps from the US diplomatic table and the unstoppable might of the Israeli military and public relations machine have left Palestinians with only two options: one is to lie on the floor of their homes hoping that soldiers will not come to arrest the men, that bulldozers will not come to demolish their homes, that bullets will not come through the windows or shells through the walls, that the siege will be lifted before water and food runs out, that they will be able to one day forget the horrors they have seen and experienced.

The second option is to be a suicide bomber. Thankfully, here in California, I am not required to consider either option—it is a credit to those that must that with a population of over 3 million, only a few dozen have chosen the latter route.