If you want to make a cake, you whisk sugar with some butter, eggs, vanilla extract and milk. Then you add flour, baking powder and a pinch of salt. Mix it well and put it in an oven to bake until it becomes nice and fluffy.
Similarly, if you want to make peace, you need peaceful “ingredients.” The Israeli government always says, "We work for peace and push hard to achieve it." But let's stop for a minute and think of its peaceful ingredients: three wars, a blockade of Gaza, illegal settlements in the West Bank, an apartheid wall and detention without trial or charges. A peaceful “cake” is not possible with such ingredients.
As a Palestinian, I know what I want. I want to live with dignity. I spend half of my day in the dark—no lights, no internet, no TV. It feels like the Middle Ages. I want to be able to travel. I want to be free of the haunting memories of my friend, Haytham, who was at a market when he was killed in the last war. With every rumor or sign of another assault, my fear of loss washes over me again. I want better economic conditions, because the high rate of unemployment in Gaza scares me. I have a job, yes, but I don’t earn enough to support me and my family. The daily struggles we Palestinian are forced to face pains me, deep in my stomach. I will keep fighting for our basic human rights.
So, what does Israel want?
Israelis say peace is what they want, while oppressing and abusing us. They have always claimed a need to defend themselves, but they can’t fire missiles and expect flowers in return. They say, “The Palestinian resistance fired rockets at us! Don’t they know how we’ll react? Why would the resistance harm their own people?”
They should think instead, “How would the resistance react if Israel stopped its oppression?" There is a difference between the occupier and the occupied. Living in Gaza is like living in a box with jail bars. If you were forced into such a small box, what would you do?
Israel is the one that imposed a blockade that starves us of our ability to live with dignity, forcing us to beg for handouts. Israel is the one who colonizes what little land it doesn’t control with its own, hostile settlers who call for “death to Arabs.” Israel is the one who imprisons children and denies them access to a lawyer, much less their parents. Have you heard of Shadi Farah, a 12-year-old Palestinian boy imprisoned for two years? He was detained, then “confessed” to intent to stab an Israeli soldier after several days of abusive questioning with no lawyer or parent present. Who wouldn’t?
If Israel truly wants peace, then it should change the ingredients they contribute to the cake. It can end the blockade of Gaza and treat Palestinians and Israelis equally, with everyone free to practice their own religion and allowed to live in dignity. Only then will real peace be possible. But if they hide guns and handcuffs behind their peaceful smiles, there can be no cake for anyone.