By Yasmin Abushkhaidem, 24
Volunteer at Joint Advocacy Initiative
05 July 2020
As a young Palestinian, I belong to a generation born to a highly politicized reality that none of us chose. Yet, we constantly have to suffer from what major political powers decide for us and are required to nod and agree to any terms that are imposed on us, or else, we will be accused of rejecting peace. Even if these terms mean compromising our human rights, which they mostly do.
Like any other Palestinian child at the age of six, I had already seen death, house demolitions, house arrests, and military tanks roaming around my neighbourhood in Hebron. I had always thought back then that when I grow up, I will do what my parents’ and grandparents’ generations failed to do. I believed that I would liberate Palestine. Many of my siblings and schoolmates had the same dream. At my house, we had a map of Palestine as older generations knew it, all the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean. My school textbooks claimed otherwise. At school, we learnt that some of the international community recognizes Palestine to be only the West Bank and Gaza Strip. Nonetheless, I live in the West Bank and I know for a fact that Palestinians are not permitted to control there, and that Israel is the one sovereign over the West Bank’s borders, its natural resources, its roads, and its land that Israel keeps on confiscating and building its settler colonies on. As I get older, Palestine map keeps shrinking. In 2020, Israel is unashamedly announcing its ongoing annexation over around 30 percent of the West Bank. I always wondered; how does Israel carry on publicly stealing our land in front of the watching world?
For a long time, the world has long asked us to put our faith in the international community which has been condemning Israel’s violations, and now condemning annexation. But this is only one more Israeli violation that is leading to the destruction of the two-state solution. Meanwhile, Israel is continuing with its colonial plans undisturbed. This makes me feel raged and helpless at the same time. It makes me wonder why we are still talking about the validity of this solution when Israel is unbothered with killing every possibility for a Palestinian state. During my 24 years of living, I realised two things have not changed: Israel’s determination on uprooting Palestinians from their lands, and my generation’s hope of liberation.
Hope in Palestine is a complicated concept to understand. Everywhere around Palestinians is continuously screaming ongoing stories of oppression and pain. There are systematic violations of our basic right to self-determination, to our right to access our natural resources, and many more abuses that are drawn as facts on the ground by Israel. Despite them being inhumane and illegal under international law, oppression and denial of Palestinians’ rights proceeds every day. 8.7 million Palestinian refugees and internally displaced persons inside and outside Palestine are still holding on to their right to return. Yet, Israel is completely refusing to consider complying with international human rights law and UN resolutions to end the systematic injustice.
It is true I sometimes have moments of despair and sense of helplessness, but I find myself thinking of hundreds of things to remind me that injustice is never eternal. How can I give up hope when Palestinian mothers, who lost their sons, daughters, and husbands to Israeli military assassinations, have not? When all political prisoners in Israeli prisons have not? They constantly remind me I must stay strong. They make me persistent to continue my education, to speak up and let our voices become heard. They remind me how important it is to keep working with and for my people, so that when the time is ripe, we will be ready to lead our nation towards an independent powerful political entity that is able to stop systematic terrorism and oppression. With every step Israel takes to continue and reinforce its colonial project over our land, our determination and hope persists. The occupation, apartheid state, settler-colonial Israel, or whatever term is used to define Israeli oppression, will end. Justice will be reality as long as we are still alive, we will never stop fighting for it.