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

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

When it's your parents on the front lines

Tamam Abusalama | 27-05-2018


My parents, after the day's protest

I woke up yesterday to see a picture in which my mum is wearing her traditional, Palestinian, handmade dress and Dad is sporting his red kuffiyyeh, reflecting his leftist ideology. It was taken just before they joined the Great Return March, and they captioned it by saying, “We’re going to protest. We never know what may happen to us. However, continue writing, working and mobilizing.”

What a message to start your day! It sounded like a farewell message. Mixed feelings raged inside me; I wanted them to go, but at the same time I didn’t. As a Palestinian, I wanted them to go because the liberation of Palestine requires us to resist by all means. As Dad always repeats, “the price of freedom is expensive.” But as a child of this resilient couple, I didn’t want to live the moments of worry I knew I’d suffer, wondering if they were injured or killed, just like more than 13,000 others so far. I didn’t want to mourn my favorite people on earth.

After the protest, my parents sent me and my siblings another picture to relieve our worries. They didn’t look well; they had inhaled teargas from the cannisters dropped by Israeli drones, forcing them to run before they became another number among the masses of wounded. But knowing my family is physically fine didn’t relieve the rage I have inside as I watch hopelessly and helplessly from afar the massacre committed against my people. It outrages me to see how life goes on where I live in Brussels, which is considered the center of European affairs, as if there is nothing of consequence happening in Gaza, my home. When writing my thesis for my master’s degree, I used critical discourse analysis, which is a discipline focusing on how power relations are established and reinforced through language. When I apply these same techniques to coverage of Gaza by Western media, even the so-called leftist outlets indirectly support the Zionist narrative by giving no voice to the subjugated (Palestinians) and using words that blame and dehumanize the protesters.

Night finally came that day, but I still couldn’t close my eyes as I wondered how I could have faith in a humanity that turns a blind eye to the killing of unarmed people who simply want the rights everyone else enjoys. I imagined seeing my parents' names on the martyr list. Just how far will this brutality be allowed to go? My heart ached for more than my parents and younger brother still in Gaza; it ached for those were killed and wanted to live a life with dignity, for those who lost legs but wanted to live life fully, for those who lost loved ones and now will mourn the rest of their lives.

Whether the international community cares or not, whether it condemns the Israeli violations or not, we will continue to resist until our very last breath. Seventy years of an ongoing Nakba, oppression, ethnic cleansing, exile, dispossession, expulsion, racism, daily humiliation and apartheid policies will not make us give up. I may be exiled in Belgium, along with thousands of my peers scattered around the world, but that’s doesn’t mean we will ever give up. 

Posted: May 27, 2018

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