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

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

Writing history as I live it

Basman Derawi | 17-02-2017

Until the lion learns how to write, every story will glorify the hunter – African proverb

When I was young, I used to hate studying history. I remember how it was hard for me to memorize it. Because our curriculum at the time was Egyptian, history was dominated by the stories of ancient Egypt. All I learned about Palestine was through my mother’s stories which, at the time, seemed more like fun bedtime tales rather than history.

In high school, we were allowed to choose to study science or literature. I was a science sort of guy then, so I studied physiotherapy since I was interested in working the field, which is what I did.

The Nakba (catatrophe), 1948

But now that I’m older and the Palestine-Israel conflict is seemingly intractable, my passion to understand why has pushed me to read anything that might provide insight into life—from novels, to short stories. to religion (the latter to understand how religion can be used to justify killing) and, yes, history. I now realize that history is a two-sided mirror, with many different perspectives, and to see it clearly I must look at both sides.

After living through three wars, I have also started to put my feelings on paper (or a computer screen). I didn’t realize at first that I was documenting the moment, documenting history. Then I found We Are Not Numbers and realized this is my opportunity to talk to the world about me and my people without the filter that others put on our stories.

I don’t know if the world knows about my life in Gaza—life under blockade, my deep desire to cross the closed borders and travel, the pain of losing loved ones. But I do know the world cannot care until it understands our stories, and it is my job to tell them.

Posted: February 16, 2017

Mentor: Kate Casa

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