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Happy Palestine Day

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This February 14, many Palestine advocates and good people around the world have chosen to celebrate “Happy Palestine Day” in place of the traditional Valentine’s Day.  It’s not because people have decided to forego love, candies, cuddly teddy bears, and cards.  Celebrating Palestine’s Day is simply a way for people to show their solidarity with the people of Palestine who live under the world’s most brutal occupation. 

As the Israeli government, with American complicity, continues to build up illegal settlements in the West Bank (which cut through Palestinian villages separating families and communities), and the almost eight year siege of Gaza creates the world’s largest open air prison — Palestine’s Day is one of the simplest ways to celebrate the Palestinian people by standing with them on this, the day of love.

236187935e85908e72026978b8ae9c69Dr. Maya Angelou once said, “Love recognizes no barriers.  It jumps hurdles, leaps fences, penetrates walls to arrive at its destination full of hope.”  With an enormous separation wall erected by Israel on Palestinian land and barbed wire fences blocking Palestinians from crossing that pervasive wall, it seems almost impossible to find any hope in the midst of all of this.

But, the Palestinian people do.  Dr. Angelou said, “love recognizes no barriers.”  No truer words have been recorded.  Despite many barriers, checkpoints, concrete blocks, razor wire, and Jewish-settler-only roads cutting through the West Bank; these barriers are not recognized by the love of humanity. 

I recently met a young Palestinian man called Ziad who lives in Bethlehem on this side of the Israeli barrier wall.  Ziad’s girlfriend lives on the opposite side of the wall.  The two young lovers have found a way to communicate by passing love letters through the holes knocked in the wall by people–Palestinians and international solidarity volunteers–who were fearless enough to risk arrest, and maybe worse, just to burst through the wall.  Love recognizes no barriers.

In the darkest of days when the Israelis invade West Bank villages to block off main roads and then go house to house searching for young Palestinians without warrant or cause for arrest, it can seem that hope is lost.  It can seem desperately lonely.  These young Palestinians can feel as if the world has forgotten them.  But, somehow, hope remains.  Perhaps these young men and women have been conditioned to believe that these illegal searches and kidnappings are a part of everyday life and thus accept them as the way things are.

Then there is Valentine’s Day.  This international day of lovers has become a popular day in Palestine, where cards are exchanged, florists are busy creating beautiful arrangements for sweethearts, and chocolates abound.  The juxtaposition of a beautiful floral arrangement sitting on the coffee table of a house recently ransacked by Israeli soldiers is an image foreign to many of us.  But, this is life in occupied Palestine.  And, life goes on.

On Twitter this Valentine’s Day there is a hashtag campaign known as #HappyPalestineDay or simply #PalestineDay.  This movement is an organic way of reminding all the lovers that the people of Palestine exist and are deserving of understanding and respect.  So, as we celebrate our sweethearts, send balloons and candy and stuffed animals, let’s take a moment to also celebrate the many Palestinians who are suffering under the brutal occupation.  Let’s remember Ziad and his girlfriend who are separated by a terrible concrete wall.  Let’s recall the villages which have been cut off by this illegal wall and think about the lives of those who are forced to circumvent the wall to connect with friends and loved ones on the other side.

When you go to Twitter on this Valentine’s Day, send a tweet out with the hashtag #HappyPalestineDay to demonstrate solidarity with those who are separated physically by barriers.  But, let us remember what Dr. Angelou said so eloquently all those years ago: Love recognizes no barriers.

#HappyPalestineDay to all the lovers.

(photo via @INTIFADA_2014)

(photo via @INTIFADA_2014)

Alexandra Halaby

Alexandra Halaby is a journalist and public speaker who has covered the occupation of Palestine for over a decade. She is a senior contributing editor and spokesperson at the International Middle East Media Center and has been published at Huffington Post, The Arab Daily News, Palestine Review, Occupation Magazine, BBS News, and other publications. Alexandra is a regular guest on Ray Hanania's syndicated radio show, as well as Radio Baladi, discussing current news and events impacting Arab Americans. Followed her on Twitter @iskandrah and on Facebook at here.

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33 Responses

  1. Jackdaw on February 14, 2015, 11:01 am

    Interesting Valentine’s Day card. What happened to the State of Israel and it’s 8 million citizens.?

    Wished away?

    • annie on February 14, 2015, 11:22 am

      what happened to it? it’s still there, israel is inside of palestine.

      • Mooser on February 14, 2015, 12:11 pm

        8 million, Jackdaw? You have been working on the birth-rate, you sly old goat!

    • eljay on February 14, 2015, 12:10 pm

      || Jackdaw: Interesting Valentine’s Day card. What happened to the State of Israel and it’s 8 million citizens.? ||

      I agree that the card should show Partition-borders Palestine, just as every representation of Israel should show Partition-borders Israel and not the colonialist, expansionist and religion-supremacist “Jewish State” of (Greater) Israel.

      • pabelmont on February 14, 2015, 5:58 pm

        ejay: Not so fast: the partition was a mere proposal for an agreed (an agreed!) division between Jews and Arabs. The agreement never happened (so far) and the proposed boundaries are unimportant (unless, perhaps, because PLO (Arafat) in 1988 recognized Israel and the UNGA 181 as its birth certificate — as I recall).

        I think Palestine was a state, carved from Ottoman Empire in 1923, and existed up to mid-1948 as a full operating state; then it became fully occupied, and it has remained fully occupied. The (undoubted) state of Israel was carved out of Palestine (leaving the rest AS Palestine) but since its borders were never either claimed (by Israel) or agreed to with any other states — other than some borders with Egypt and Jordan — it is not clear exactly what territory was carved out of Palestine. Israel obviously thinks it is a matter to be decided by force and — so far — seems to be right. Although some states in Europe seem to be getting ready to rethink that.

      • eljay on February 14, 2015, 6:08 pm

        || pabelmont: … The (undoubted) state of Israel was carved out of Palestine … but since its borders were never either claimed (by Israel) or agreed to with any other states … ||

        As talknic frequently points out, Israel accepted Partition borders and declared its independence along those borders.

    • Empiricon on February 14, 2015, 2:58 pm

      Not sure you can grasp the concept, Jackdaw, but the idea is that all people in the land of currently under the control of Israel would be free and equal citizens.

    • amigo on February 14, 2015, 3:30 pm

      Interesting Valentine’s Day card. What happened to the State of Israel and it’s 8 million citizens.?

      Wished away?

      It must be have been zionized away.

    • Daniel Rich on February 14, 2015, 3:50 pm

      @ Radio Shack Jack Straw Jackdaw

      Q: What happened to the State of Israel and it’s 8 million citizens.?

      R: In the Apartheid State all pianos have white keys and… 8 million?! Did something go down the rabbit hole that I missed?

    • oldgeezer on February 14, 2015, 3:57 pm

      Billions wonder what happened to Israel and it’s 8 million inhabitants.

      It went off the rails even before it’s inception and has never tried to live up to it’s supposed principles.

      Israelis need to asking that question of themselves and finding a remedy.

    • Marnie on February 15, 2015, 1:37 am

      Interesting that with something as benign as a valentine’s day card, you and your masters feel the need to continue to thrust yourself and your agenda down everyone’s throats. Or maybe you are embarrassed/ashamed by that hideous affront to humanity and block to normal life, the separation “fence”.

      What happened to the state of israel? What is that? Oh right, the “state” with no constitution, no definable borders and no accountability – that one? Still there as you well know and still arresting, jailing, murdering, destroying homes, stealing land, denying basic needs like clean water and electricity, etc., etc.

      It really bugs you that in spite of all the SoI does, Palestinians still have hope in the face of adversity, compared to those who have everything and whine because “the others” still have hope.

      To the rest of you all at MW – happy Palestine day –

    • Accentitude on February 15, 2015, 2:26 am

      Are we not allowed to look fondly upon our history and the land that was once ours? In any event, I wouldn’t know how to draw 2015’s Palestine. Are we still 2 miniscule dots: one on the far left and one on the far right? Have those dots changed in shape? Are we now just little sprinkles of dots all over the areas where those two dots were, on account of continued Israeli land theft? Where exactly are the borders of Palestine and Israel, might I ask? Is the illustration up top Israel? As far I know, and feel free to correct me should you feel so inclined, Israel has yet to present any maps…to anyone…indicating clearly where its borders are and aren’t. Isn’t this why the Settler machine keeps churning full speed ahead? Or are we to assume that you mean “Greater Israel” (Eretz Yisrael) which supposedly includes Judea and Samaria (The West Bank) (aka: the little sprinkles of isolated Palestinian villages)? Greater Israel, that is what you mean, right? Ah yes, the river to the sea. Those same people who chant that also chant that Jordan is Palestine and that we should all move there. Nothing like shoveling a problem over to someone else in order to solve your own. So tell me, SlackJaw, how do you define Palestine and Israel? Can you draw it out for us? Can you draw the REAL Israel? I bet you can’t. Until this conflict is finally resolved, that illustration up top might not be Palestine to you…but it’s also not Israel to me.

  2. pabelmont on February 14, 2015, 11:08 am

    Lovely. Whether the huge valentine-shaped “hole” in the wall is real or a trompe-l’oeil, it tells a wonderful story. So does the candy. Just lovely.

  3. Kay24 on February 14, 2015, 11:21 am

    I love this idea. The picture of the wall with the heart shaped hole, is really imaginative. The Palestinians need all the love they can get. It seems their neighbor has shown only hate, and is taking all it can from the little they have left. So perhaps even for one day, they deserve to feel the love and compassion the majority in the world feels for them.

    • justicewillprevail on February 14, 2015, 3:20 pm

      It’s a great image. Love will blow a hole right through that oppressive, brutal criminal wall of hate that Israel has erected.

  4. annie on February 14, 2015, 11:26 am

    alexandra, thank you so much for this wonderful post.

    i’d like to mention here, that for the time being we’re having a little edit issue. for some reason (because i drafted this article i would image) my name is on the byline on the front page. this is an edit error i don’t know how to resolve and i have written adam and phil. i don’t know if they’ve opened my email yet but it will be fixed momentarily (hopefully).

    very very sorry everyone and especially to* alexandra who has been an absolute joy to work with.

    Happy Palestine Day everyone. much love!

    * fixed!

    • Kay24 on February 14, 2015, 11:57 am

      The same to you, Annie. You deserve much love too. You have contributed so much here, and are now part of our daily lives. :)) Thank you.

      • annie on February 14, 2015, 12:00 pm

        the feeling is quite mutual kay. big kudos for all you do.

  5. just on February 14, 2015, 12:06 pm

    Happy Palestine Day! Thank you Alexandra, for this, and for all that you do everyday.

    (what a wonderful message~ in words and in pictures! the graphics are awesome.)

    Reminds me that folks in the great and progressive city of Oakland will be celebrating Palestine/Palestinians this evening:

    http://mondoweiss.net/2015/02/palestine-valentines-celebration

  6. BBSNews on February 14, 2015, 12:20 pm

    Happy Palestine Day Alexandra! I’m proud and pleased to have your work at BBSNews.

    Michael Hess

  7. Daniel Rich on February 14, 2015, 3:58 pm

    Hey now… you’re hurting Marco Rubio’s tender feelings, coz skipping Netanyahu’s speech is hurting Israel… and…a hearty hole in the wall might invite freedom fighters turrorists to strike at the heart of the Apartheid State’s.. what’s that?

    It’s a monster?

    What makes you say that?

    2,100 dead Palestinians?

    I don’t know what you’re talking about, coz the land was free of occupants the moment we set foot here and according to our dear Leader there ain’t no Palace Pali problem either.

    News @ 11.

  8. Pixel on February 14, 2015, 5:46 pm

    GREAT pic of heart in wall!

  9. Daniel Rich on February 14, 2015, 8:07 pm

    A very Happy Valentines Day [to everyone. Yes, you too].

  10. just on February 15, 2015, 12:11 am

    Check it out!

    “Mass dabke at the Oakland solidarity mural ”

    https://twitter.com/MaxBlumenthal/status/566823302727884801

    (h/t Max B.) Happy Palestine Day!!!

    • annie on February 15, 2015, 2:26 am

      this really bums me out. i headed out there tonight and the traffic was not moving on the exit to the bridge. literally stopped. so my sister and i pulled off on the immediate exist and went to her studio to wait it out. we waited 45 minutes and still, nothing. stone cold stopped. bummer. i so wanted to go.

      • just on February 15, 2015, 7:31 am

        dagnabitt!

        I am sorry, Annie.

  11. JLewisDickerson on February 15, 2015, 2:21 am

    A VALENTINE’S DAY CLASSIC:
    Demdike Stare – Forest Of Evil (Dawn) – Modern Love [VIDEO, 10:17] – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=vKrpwRV3O7I

    • JLewisDickerson on February 15, 2015, 2:44 am

      P.S. ● Demdike Stare – Suspicious Drone [Modern Love] (VIDEO, 06:34) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=965dn-AjuiY

      • Walid on February 15, 2015, 3:43 am

        Speaking of drones, last night a drone flew into Israel from south Lebanon and buzzed around for 20 minutes before returning to base. This was the second such flight in a few weeks and it came the day after Israel’s military announced that any intruder into its skies would be shot down in seconds after crossing into Israel. Israel’s military is not as sharp as it pretends.

        Elsewhere about the glorious Israel military, now that the Syrian army with the help of Hizbulah has been whipping the Nusra/ISIS on the Golan and has reached to within 15 km from Quneitra, Israel has called up a full mobilization on the Golan. While Israel’s ISIS pals controlled the Syrian side of occupied Golan, it had no problems but now that its ally is in trouble, Israel decided to prepare itself.

      • just on February 15, 2015, 5:40 pm

        Thanks Walid ;((

        As if Gaza can bear any more suffering and misery, Criminal Blair visits:

        “Blair, in Gaza, says better Palestinian living standards vital for peace

        ‘If we leave Gaza in the state it is in, you have another eruption in violence and then we are back into a further catastrophe,’ warns Blair.”

        http://www.haaretz.com/news/diplomacy-defense/1.642671?utm_source=dlvr.it&utm_medium=twitter

        5 months late, and about 5.4 billion dollars short, Bliar.

      • JLewisDickerson on February 16, 2015, 2:56 am

        P.P.S. Nothing quite says “Modern Love” like a Suspicious Drone overhead!

      • JLewisDickerson on February 16, 2015, 3:08 am

        RE: ‘If we leave Gaza in the state it is in, you have another eruption in violence and then we are back into a further catastrophe,’ warns Blair.

        MY REPLY: So, what are you going to do about it, Blair boi?!?!

  12. OyVey00 on February 15, 2015, 5:25 am

    Hold on a second.

    You do realize that Valentine’s Day is named after “Saint” Valentine, an evil, white, christian, cisgendered church goon, who doubtlessly had his share of oppressing women, LBGTIAQ people and POCs during his lifetime, right?

    I think it is insulting to both the Palestinians and all other oppressed people on earth to superimpose their plight on a day honoring a vile oppressor.

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