Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Palestinian youth tell the human stories behind the numbers in the news

Being Palestinian: blessing or curse?

Aya Ibrahim | 08-02-2016

“It sucks to be Palestinian.” This is what we Palestinians frequently hear non-Palestinians say to us due to the injustice confront. This is also how some Palestinians feel, or shall I say how we are obliged to feel, about our identity because of the humiliation we endure.

Who can blame them for thinking so? The land of our grandparents is occupied by Zionists, which is why so many of us are displaced. Those Palestinians who managed to remain are harassed, attacked or bombed on a regular basis. Many barely have access to basic living needs and services. The situation is no better for Palestinian refugees living in exile. Consider Palestinian refugees in Lebanon, of which I am one: We are deprived of many rights, such as employment in a number of professions, the eligibility to vote and the ability to own property. The refugee camps, in which about half of us must live, lack even drinkable water.

If we want to escape from these unfortunate circumstances and travel, we are faced with yet another hurdle: Many countries do not welcome Palestinians and thus will not give us visas. Moreover, the chance that Palestinian refugees from Lebanon can travel is almost nil because the official ID provided to us by the Lebanese government is handwritten, and recently there have been announcements that it will not be accepted globally.

In fact, a friend of mine, Majd, who is a pre-med student, was recently unable to take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test) in Cyprus because of this very issue. He needed to travel to Cyprus because there were no available seats in Lebanon, but then was refused entry. 

Forever an exile

Then there are those Palestinians in the greater Diaspora, who might be doing well socially and economically, but still lack a sense of “belonging.”

Thus, it does indeed seem that it “sucks to be Palestinian.” But does it really?

In fact, the adversity has created a bond that holds all Palestinians together. This strong bond ties us to each other and to our ancestral land the moment we are born. Frankly, I have never been to Palestine, and maybe I never will be able to; yet my passion for my land and my hope to return to it will never fade. No matter where we are, or how much we are made to struggle, we will never relinquish our land or identity. This commitment and the struggle only makes our Palestinian bond stronger. I believe this sort of closeness is what makes being Palestinian so special, and it’s why I am so proud to be who I am.

Despite the obstacles, Palestinians still shine bright and survive. Majd did not give up; he is determined to achieve his goal. He registered again for the MCAT and luckily he found an available seat in Lebanon. Majd is chasing his dream to become a doctor, and now he is studying hard and getting ready to take the test very soon.

Rather than “it sucks to be Palestinian,” many of us say, believe and feel that “it is an honor to be Palestinian.” I would not have it any other way. What does suck is how the Palestinians are treated!

Mentor: Pam Bailey
Posted February 7, 2016


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