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4th January, 2013

It is now more than a month since I returned from Palestine. And I’ve been meaning to write a final post, but it has proved difficult.

How do you sum up such an experience?

In the first post I wrote when I arrived, I talked about the vivid contrasts that exist everywhere. For a visitor, making contrasts is an obvious and easy thing to do. It helps to give a clear sense of the uniqueness of this place.

Contrasts are easy to find too now I’m back. Today, I went for a run. I could move freely. There were no soldiers, no checkpoints and no hostile settlers.

For me, this freedom is a basic human right. Something we should all be able to count on.

Whatever your political, religious or ideological viewpoint, I challenge anyone to visit Palestine, experience this lack of freedom, and fail to feel immense solidarity with the Palestinian people.

There is no doubt that life for ordinary Palestinians is better than it was a few years ago during the Second Intifada. Better, but still not good enough.

What sort of a life is this?

When eight year olds have to walk past checkpoints and soldiers on the way to school? When farmers have their crops destroyed and their sheep poisoned? When a mother is locked in an Israeli jail for three days because she is distraught at her son’s wrongful arrest? When your house is a concrete prison? When you’ve been forced to live in a refugee camp for over half a century? When your town is surrounded by 30-foot walls? When you don’t have a passport and aren’t allowed to visit your family, 30 kilometres away?

What sort of a life is this?

Yes, the violence goes both ways. Yes, there have been terrorist attacks and atrocities committed in the name of the Palestinian cause. But what do you expect when people are demeaned, restricted and treated as second class citizens?

This is the price of occupation.

How do you sum up such an experience?

Desperation is one way. It was my overriding emotion towards the end of my stay and, increasingly since I have returned.

Desperation that there is no obvious solution. Desperation as to whether anything any of us do can make a difference. Desperation that my friends in Palestine are forced to live their lives in this way. Desperation that western countries and western media are seemingly happy to stand shoulder to shoulder with Israelis and spew out their propaganda.

And yet, when I think about the people I met, the overriding emotion I began to sense from them was different.

It was an uncomfortable and reluctant feeling of resignation. A feeling of being resigned to this life, to this fate. They’ve tried everything: violence, peaceful protest, democracy. Nothing has worked. What options are left?

Resignation is a horrible conclusion to this, very real, story.

Why have I found this final blog post so hard to write? In the last few weeks, since returning, my own feelings of desperation have switched to resignation too. And that is scary.

Resignation is a powerful and very personal feeling. And it extends beyond Palestine. How many of us end up resigned to our fate? To our day-to-day lives? It’s a hard emotion to change or alter. It takes bravery, determination and blind faith in there being something else. Something better.

Whether we choose to or not, we have the power to change. The power to alter our routine. In many ways, Palestinians don’t have that same power. They don’t have that same freedom.

But, despite this, I continue to be inspired by the bravery and determination of the Palestinians I met who are trying to buck the trend and aren’t prepared to resign themselves to their current existence.

People like Sundos, AdnanRashid and Bishara. There are many more. I will never forget this experience.

So it is important to maintain a sense of positivity even if the situation feels desperate. It is important to remember the good work that is being done and see that as the best form of protest against the occupation.

It’s a way to fight against resignation.

It’s a way, I believe, to free Palestine.

Jenin


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This entry was posted in Palestine.