Almost seven years ago, when I was just 19 years old, I challenged President Barack Obama on live, national news on U.S. support of the Israeli occupation of Palestinian land and people. I was thrilled when Mondoweiss covered my question to President Obama and highlighted its significance. While that moment was my first in a national spotlight, I’ve felt as long as I can remember that public activism in the United States is an obligation in the struggle for Palestinian self-determination and human rights. I’m writing now about what activism means to me in order to ask you to support the vital importance of Mondoweiss as a media outlet that covers U.S. policy battles ignored by other journalists.
In 1991, I was born in occupied Palestine. Since my birth, every aspect of my life has been shaped by my roots in Palestine. I did not even obtain a birth certificate until I was three years old—and then it was from Jordan. My family sought asylum in the U.S. when I was five years old. As a Palestinian American, I’ve traveled back to my homeland and experienced the humiliation of the Israeli occupation personally. I’ve been detained, interrogated, deemed a “security risk” by Israeli security forces, and my personal property has been seized. My life and identity as part of the Palestinian diaspora are direct results of the occupation of my homeland.
Because I grew up observing how U.S. policies propagate the occupation, I’m committed to resisting these policies and to organizing the social and political power to demand sanctions on Israel. I urge all of you to donate today if you, like me, have been sustained in your activism by the unique role of Mondoweiss.
The trauma of the occupation affects not just Palestinians living in the occupied territories, but also the millions in diaspora. The separation of families, the struggle for economic stability, and the mental health impact of the occupation overshadow my life and other Palestinian lives. Those experiences are what drive my effort to be a voice for the forgotten—and what make me grateful every day for the work Mondoweiss does.
As a community organizer, I often work to connect journalists to the stories they should be covering. It sometimes seems as though all we have as Palestinians are our stories. I have witnessed time and time again the unwillingness of the mainstream media to cover the anti-democratic positions and campaigns of U.S. Zionists and the Israeli state. The concerns of Palestinian rights activists often fall on deaf ears.
Since that day when I confronted the President, my activism for Palestinian rights has taken me from my state’s legislature to the West Wing of the White House. I’ve spoken at conferences around the country and small community meetings across Florida about conditions in occupied Palestine and how U.S. policies make us all complicit in this occupation. I’ve supported BDS campaigns and worked on the emergency response teams that responded to Tariq Abu Khdeir’s beating and arrest by Israeli forces and the tragic fatal shooting of the 16-year-old U.S. citizen and Palestinian American, Mahmoud Shaalan. And in all these contexts—state, local, national, international—Mondoweiss’s reporting has been essential to connect those of us in the struggle.
For that reason, and many more, Mondoweiss is a critical and valuable space that sheds light on injustices in the occupied Palestinian territories while exposing the intricate and all-reaching impact of the Israel lobby on American society and U.S. politics.
Seven years after I challenged President Obama, the United States announced its largest military aid package ever—to Israel. The United States has signaled to Israel, and the world, that Israel’s increasingly anti-democratic and apartheid policies will continue to be protected.
Given this reality, it has never been more crucial for Palestinian rights activists to have a platform and audience to communicate the stories that need to be told. We need Mondoweiss, and we understand its value. Our movement’s organizing must be reported and covered, so that we may learn from one another, support one another, and organize towards opportunities we may not have known about otherwise.
As a Palestinian American, I look at the challenges we face as opportunities to organize and to resist. Please join me in supporting Mondoweiss and the crucial role this space provides for communicating, sharing, and supporting Palestinian rights activism in the United States and beyond.