Herbert Hoover said, “Freedom is the open window through which pours the sunlight of the human spirit and human dignity.” I feel happy when I hear that a country has its freedom, because that means opportunity. But Palestine’s turn to be free hasn’t come yet.
My country’s freedom has become nothing more than a dream for me, something out of reach. The 1948 Nakba, which was the beginning of the Israeli occupation, was the main reason behind us losing our lands, homes and certainty of life. The occupation led to the massacre of many people and the closure of the crossings with Egypt. Inside Palestine itself, it caused the division of Palestine into two parts, between Gaza and the West Bank, and restricted movement between them. Now we can’t visit other Palestinian cities. We can read about them but can never see them. The permitted fishing areas in the Gaza Strip varies, according to Israeli decisions. Fishing is allowed for 9, 12 or 15 miles out from the port of Gaza to Rafah City in the South, but in the north it is allowed only up to 6 miles out.
The Nakba and the occupation has meant the loss of home, freedom and opportunities to reach our goals. These things have caused widespread unemployment. It suits the occupier to weaken opposition: its policies have resulted in internal division within political parties in both the West Bank and Gaza.
Some say that we are without land or country.But this land is our land, our mother country. It embraces us like a mother. It provides food like a mother when she puts food on the table. It gives us water when we are thirsty and cares about us like our blood mother. It lives in our souls.
We will not give up demanding our birthright to return home. We will fight a thousand times in a thousand ways to achieve our goal. We must promote awareness campaigns about the history of Palestine. We must teach our children about a land named Palestine so new generations won’t forget. We must work hard to achieve independence and end internal and external divisions through reconciliation. We should not forget Palestine’s own issues waiting to be resolved, beyond the enemy that we have to defeat. Only unity can achieve our goal of freedom from this occupation.
We speak to the world, each in his or her own way, some with revolutionary poetry and some by fighting. We have Mahmoud Darwish, a great poet and author who was regarded as Palestine’s national poet. I too am a Palestinian poet, a young student whose pen is her gun. Dalal Al-Mughrabi was a nurse who became a militant and sacrificed her life for her country. We have lots of activist youths who resist at the risk of their lives, like Ahed Al-Tamimi and Ahmed Manasra.
By the 71st anniversary of the Nakba (2019), there have been 100,000 martyrs. This shows how much we love our country and how determined we are to achieve our freedom by all possible means, because freedom is worth dying for. As Yasser Arafat once said, “I come bearing an olive branch in one hand, and the freedom fighter’s gun in the other hand. Do not let the olive branch fall from my hand.”