"What It Feels Like To Be Palestinian..." An essay from a friend.

This is an essay, written by my friend Shahd, in response to her being asked why Palestinians risk their lives to throw stones...  

If her plea for justice doesn't move your heart then you ARE truly dead inside!

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"Being a Palestinian means that you wake up daily to more dehumanization and oppression. Whenever I have a panic attack and a friend asks what started it, I realize they have no clue about how we experience violence. It's ongoing. It's constant. If you're Palestinian, you're born with generations of trauma. We are killed daily, in physical and metaphorical ways. The cycle of violence is endless. We experience it all the time and everywhere. It doesn't matter if you're in Palestine or outside. I carry with me numerous memories of joy from 22 years of my life with my loving family and friends in Gaza. But even as we lived these joyful moments, we experienced violence.

When I think of the moment when I successfully crossed Rafah border after dozens of failed attempts on 29 September 2013, I remember my tears that were mixed with a feeling of happiness, freedom and relief. I used to leave to Rafah crossing before anyone in my family woke up because I couldn't tolerate seeing their pain and frustration for me every evening I dragged my luggage back without success. On the same day I shed those tears of happiness in relief that I don't have to repeat this journey of dehumanization and humiliation to Rafah, However, that very same day, I realized I didn't say goodbye to any of my family.

Upon reflection, I cried my eyes that very same day, realizing the thin line between our pain and joy, and how in most cases they could be two sides of the same coin. It felt as if I was released of a prison; the source of joy. My family and friends, however, remains in that open-air prison, subjected to a life of uncertainty and constant oppression. I was deprived of a last hug, a last gentle kiss on my head from my parents, and all the rest of my beloved ones, and I didn't realize then I'd be counting 4 years (still counting years) before I see them.  

I didn't realize I'd be living restless, with thoughts like, what if I lost them to Israeli oppression and that was it? What if the last goodbye that I didn't have was the last goodbye. This thought haunts me, especially at times like this when Israeli violence escalates in Gaza.

My life may not be under direct threat by Israeli killing machine now that I am out, but that doesn't mean violence ever stopped. Being a Palestinian in exile, weighed down with numerous traumatic memories from waves of mass killing and destruction which I survived, is not easy. We experience violence differently, but constantly.

As we reflect on our extraordinary lives; as we talk to our families and friends there, whom we miss constantly. As we observe our simple struggle for dignity, justice and freedom made complicated by a global propaganda machine that inverts facts and protects the aggressor while blaming the victim. We experience violence as we surf the news. On TV screens and newspapers. As we walk in banks, supermarkets or academic institutions. Normalization of Israel kills us, and that's why empowering BDS is vital, because it denormalizes Israel.

While carrying generations of trauma, the pain of all those who have to live this constant violence in exile, I keep going despite being exhausted. We don't have the luxury of despair because depressing our resistance is a victory for those who profit from oppression.

We have to keep fighting injustice not only for Palestine's sake only, but for humanity, for human rights to be actually universal, against supremacy, against racism, against imperialism. Palestinians are doing a favor to the whole world by leading this struggle against the only remaining colonial occupation of our modern world. This global dehumanizing and oppressive machine that violates us constantly is a threat to all those who are more privileges, even if being locked in their comfort zones doesn't allow them to see it.

We will continue to fight as long as oppression continues. With our lives. With inspiring. With a smile. With existing. With maintaining ordinary life amidst extraordinary situations. With being humans, even as we experience dehumanization.

How long this oppression will last? The answer is in our hands, collectively."

~ Shahd Abusalama

Note:  Shahd is a exiled Palestinian living in London.  She is a scholar and journalist whose hobby is being part of a Palestinian "dabkeh" folk dance troop.

If you STILL don't understand the oppression and constant fear of death that Palestinians feel EVERY FUCKING INSTANT then watch this video from B'Tselem, an Israel Human Rights Group...  

Hopefully you'll get it now, and if not... I'm sure your fascist, Zionism loving ass will be pleased to see them cheering as they try to murder people...

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Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on May 18, 2018 at 9:07am

When I was first introduced to Shahd, during a phone call with another friend of mine, she asked me if I was really one of those damn "shadhs" (which is a rude Arabic word for homosexual).  I answered by asking her if she was was one too, just dyslexic?  

I didn't get a response, but my other friend piped in and, between laughs, said that Shahd was indisposed for a bit...  seems that she had spewed her tea out of her nose.  (which explained the hysterical laughing I heard in the background LOL)

BTW, we have both worked past her prejudices and now consider each other good friends.  

See?  It CAN be done!

Comment by Anna Herrington on May 18, 2018 at 9:22am

Thank you for this, Amy. I appreciate reading or learning about specific people's lives - it helps bring alive their reality that is so hard to grasp in only hearing the news.

One thing I'd like to say to Shahd is to not focus on that last goodbye or not but on the time together she and her family had over time - as many of us do not get to share a last goodbye, then suddenly that family is gone. Don't bring down your heart over thinking of what wasn't there at that moment of leaving because the shared love that existed and exists among her family is what matters and mattered all along, and her focus there will help her endure the separation better.

It took me years to get to that point after walking out to my eleventh birthday party, so excited for that fun day that I didn't hug my father goodbye. He died suddenly that day and so much time I spent focused on that sad fact, the last time I saw him my focus was not on saying I love you Dad or hugging or anything but my own happenings that day. There's enough grief in being apart from loved ones that the honor given/offered is to keep remembering and honoring the love - and let go of the last minutes. It doesn't help. They love you and you love them, that is what matters and what her family thinks of, too. Imho.

Comment by Safe Bet's Amy on May 18, 2018 at 9:37am

Anna, I am emailing Shahd a copy of this post so she'll see what was said.

With your permission, I'd like to include your comment, because if I know her at all, I know she'll be very moved by it.

Comment by Anna Herrington on May 18, 2018 at 9:54am

Of course that's okay with me  : )

My best to her.


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