This piece was written for Beyond Compromise:
Hi, my name is Hadeel. My house has never been demolished. My family members have never been imprisoned or killed. I have never been stopped and searched at a checkpoint. I sleep at night without F-16s waking me up and go to university in the morning without fear of being shot at. Clearly, I have never been to Palestine!
Actually, except for Sedo and Teita (my grandparents), none of my family has ever been to Palestine. We have ever seen Yafa, the city my family comes from. We have neither walked on its beautiful beach nor sat at its shore to watch the boats sail. We have not stepped foot in Martyrs’ Square. We have not tasted its famous oranges. But believe it or not, we do miss it, long for it, dream of it, and get nostalgic whenever Yafa is mentioned.
When the Nakba happened, hundreds of thousands of people were forced to leave their homes and run for their lives. My family was among them. They had to migrate from Yafa; they took refuge in Jordan. Later on, they were given Jordanian citizenship.
My grandfather was still a child at that time. Years later, my grandfather came to work in Saudi Arabia. He was offered Saudi citizenship; he refused to take it because he thought he would go back to Palestine soon. Grandfather died 9 years ago, before returning to Palestine, but that will not happen to us. So much for “the old will die and the young will forget,” right Gurion?
I guess this is my main point: we did not forget… and we did not forgive. Palestine is ours, and ours it will be again, but it is important we realize it is not only about remembering. Memory alone will not get us our land back. It is about working for it. When it comes to causes, no deed is ever too small. “We don’t have to engage in grand heroic actions to participate in the process of change. Small acts, when multiplied by millions of people, can transform the world” (Howard Zinn).
When I was younger, I loved it when friends of Teita would visit us. I would sit with them the entire time, listen to their stories about Palestine and weep. I don’t weep anymore. I’m too strong and capable to weep. I write, I speak, I advocate for the BDS movement, and I go on solidarity hunger strikes.
Yasir Tineh said it in an earlier piece: “If you write, then write to free Palestine. If you paint, then paint to free Palestine. If you speak, then speak to free Palestine. Make everything you do a call to steadfastness.”
Mark our words: Palestine is ours, and ours it shall return.