This blog post will not be political. Or at least I don’t plan for it to be. This post is going to be about experiences and events that may have happened as a result of politics, but it goes beyond that. Politics is a complicated and dirty game – what I want to talk about is simple. Very simple.
Okay, so imagine you’re a woman. A mother. You have 13 children. One of those children is a young man who left his hometown to study abroad. Whilst away from home, he sadly passed away. You’re devastated of course but you can’t do anything about it. He’s gone. What next? A funeral, right? Yes, there must be a funeral so you can bury your young one and say goodbye to his soulless body. One problem: that body is in the country neighbouring yours. But that’s okay; you can just arrange to have it transported and have the funeral in his homeland.
Except, you can’t do that. See, that homeland happens to be Palestine, that place you come from happens to be Gaza and you and your dead son happen to be Palestinian. And everyone knows the usual rules don’t apply to Palestinians. I mean, don’t you realise how unreasonable it is to want to bury your son in the place he grew up and actually get to see him before it happens? The thought is just ridiculous.
It would be sad, wouldn’t it though? For you to be that woman or one of the dead man’s siblings. It would be cruel, inhumane.
That woman is my grandmother. The dead man was my uncle and the dead man’s sibling was my father. He’d gone away to study in Libya before 1967 and he passed away in Egyptian Rafah. As you now know, sitti (‘grandmother’) wasn’t allowed to attend the funeral – his corpse wasn’t allowed through the Egypt-Palestine border and she wasn’t allowed to go to him. In the end, she watched the funeral procession from Palestinian Rafah through barbed wire, only metres away from 3amo Jawad (my uncle, may God bless his soul).
Now that is one of many, many stories. Stories that are not political, they’re just…human? They’re about simple, basic things that ordinary people don’t think about because they don’t have to think about them. They are a given. Being able to bury your son is a given. Being able to see your family is something we expect, something we don’t imagine to ever be completely impossible.
I’m from Gaza (Khan Younis) but I originally come from Beyt Daras. Now, geographically, that isn’t very far from where I was born or where my grandmother lives. It wouldn’t take more than a few hours or so getting there by car. Getting there should be simple, but like most things for Palestinians, it never is. For one, the village my grandmother was expelled from decades ago doesn’t even exist anymore. It’s just empty land now. Also, we’d have to drive out of Gaza which, if you haven’t been living under a rock, you would know is something you could only do if you were an Israeli tank or a maniac who wanted to get shot by Israeli soldiers on the border. Fun.
Okay, let’s play another imagining game. Imagine you’re a man this time. You’re young, healthy, a husband and father. Until one day, you’re diagnosed with cancer. Cancer is never good but this cancer is treatable. You just need a simple operation every 2 years. You get the operation done the first time and then 2 years pass and it’s due again. This time, however, things have changed. Now, the place you live in has been placed under siege. A siege which involves many things but the main one being that people cannot enter or leave. That place is Gaza and it’s a place that does not possess the medical resources necessary for your operation. And you would just leave and go elsewhere to get it done of course but remember, you’re Palestinian. How dare you expect to be given permission to go on a hospital trip that will save you from a painful and awful death? It’s silly that you would even suggest such a thing.
But you try anyway. You ask your neighbour, Egypt, and they say no. So you turn to your oppressors, Israel, and they say…yes. Yes?! Yes. But, on one condition. If you want to leave Gaza for this operation, you must agree to collaborate with them and pass on intelligence. Ah… remember, you are an honourable man. You are not a liar, and not a spy. So you refuse. You would rather die than go against your country, your people, your beliefs.
And you do die. A horrible death. A death your beloved wife and children had to witness because this messed up world decided you were too Palestinian to live. You were too Palestinian to be given any dignity. You were too Palestinian for basic human rights.
That man was my cousin and that man was hundreds of other Gazans who had to die of illnesses during the (on-going) siege that were treatable, curable, manageable. They could have been saved but they were too Palestinian to deserve even that.
This is not about politics. This is not about history. This is not about Hamas or Fatah or rockets or weapons. This is about the clear absence of logic. How is it logical to allow such things to happen? Tell me. How is it logical for sitti to have to go through so much pain? How is it logical for me to lose my cousin like that? How is logical to allow thousands of Palestinians to be subjected to daily humiliation at the hands of Israeli forces?
It is not logical and it cannot be justified, but the world still tries. The world still comes up with arguments so absurd that you wonder how. How are people so ridiculously beyond stupid? Because if you need evidence for how moronic and blind this world and its inhabitants are, just take a look at Israel.
I could say a lot more but I would only be depressing myself further so I’ll stop. It’s just tiring. Having to explain these things to people. Having to hear about my high school friend’s awesome trip to Jerusalem and knowing that I am not allowed to experience the same trip. Because I happened to be born in Gaza and have ‘born in Gaza’ on my British passport and I am…Palestinian. And that, apparently, is reason enough.