Suspended in the atmosphere was a circulating air of patriotism, cascading down on everyone in the room. The black and white checkered stripes on the Palestinian scarf was a glaring demonstration of nationalism, unity, and purpose. We were all ready to engage in a conversation that was bigger than us all; to converse and give some words to the otherwise silenced voices of the Palestinian people.
My internal struggle is one of detachment; it is the feeling of not being Palestinian enough. I shall elaborate.
Along with the psychological conflict of disconnectedness, there is also the physical barrier, which adds miles and miles of distance. I am trapped between the distorted feeling of being a Palestinian, and the prospect of being a mere observer of events taking place on a distant land. Many of us Palestinians were forced to metamorphose into other nationalities; my Jordanian passport is a glaring symbol of the detachment just described.
Palestine. The word evokes paradoxical images to me. On the one hand, it is a ghastly image of a war-ridden wasteland where buildings had become subjugated to the intensive erosion of war crimes, and where innocent children play next to broken homes in the midst of tragedies and despair. On the other hand, as my grandfather’s words echo in my mind, I envision a beautiful garden, dressed in vegetation and vigor, where the smell of grass and salt interfuse in the air. In instances like these, I long to be engulfed by the warmth of a country I have long been denied from.
What I knew of Palestine were the stories that my parents and grandparents told me as a child; but I struggle now to cling to the wholeness of these stories, so that all that is left is a series of images, broken off and dissolved into mere fragments with the passage of time. Nonetheless, the opportunity to listen to some of my fellow Palestinians speak and express their ideas enabled me to presently feel closer to a nation I have long felt an intense detachment from.
Having never visited the country or lived through the tragedies, I never felt equipped or rather entitled to speak for the Palestinian people. After all, aren’t the true Palestinians the people still living in Gaza? I battled with this question for a very long time. Nonetheless, during the panel discussion, I went through a process of reconfiguration; my mind revisiting all of my initial perceptions and ideas. A true Palestinian is someone who is ready to take part in the conversation. We may be Palestinians at heart, but this can only be articulated through the actions that we are willing to take. This can be as simple as getting more educated about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Know your history. Know the facts. Connect with people. Spread awareness. It begins with discourse.