Opinion

Resisting Trump’s ‘Deal of the Century’ as I learned from my Sitti Tamam

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When it comes to Trump’s “Deal of the Century,” all of my family in the besieged Gaza Strip feel disappointed, but not surprised. Being survivors of Israeli apartheid and blockades has taught them to focus on one thing: Palestinian liberation.

Palestinians learned early on how colonial powers do not support our liberation. They only want to weaken us, destroy our agency to struggle and our hopes for freedom and equality. Trump and his allies seek to weaponize our extreme vulnerability to try to keep us from demanding a just resolution. Meanwhile, they watch Palestinian Sumud and resistance grow in the face of the Israeli Apartheid practices, of which the BDS movement is one of the greatest examples.

The day the plan was announced I called my parents who said, “as long as you and your siblings are alive, the dream of Palestine continues.” My father added, “we are ready for a one state and that what we were advocating for ages; this is the Zionist’s biggest fear”. My mother, Halima, continued by saying, “they think that the Palestinians will forget but they never will.”

This language of ongoing struggle for liberation has been very present in the everyday life of Palestine for the last century, and especially in Gaza, despite all the misery and the never-ending attacks. One sign of this has been Palestinians refusal to submit to peace plans that normalize Palestinian ethnic cleansing. Anything that minimizes the Palestinian struggle and includes anything less than the complete array of human rights should be rejected by any moral state. The Oslo Accords were the greatest betrayal along these lines. Capitalists were made neo-colonial promises, and we continue to see the results on the ground with a neoliberal authority that is fully corrupted without any agency but built to administer security to protect settler colonial practices. The same plans continue to be introduced today but without Palestinians even being at the table; plans that will only delegitimize Palestinian aspirations and the basic collective calls for self-determination and the right to return. Yet, despite the vulnerability of Palestinians in colonized Palestine and the diaspora, we continue to speak up and challenge Israeli Apartheid in all spaces, connecting the Palestinian struggle to every anti-capitalist, anti-colonial, anti-imperialist struggle worldwide.

My parents, grandparents, and every Palestinian’s answer to the Trump deal is nothing less than intensifying the resistance for our legitmate rights and right to return, and exposing the international community’s complicity in Israeli Apartheid. In those moments, I feel the memories of my grandparents. Their spirits are looking at me and telling me, ‘resist Majed, resist, there is only one way.’

My parents and my grandparents have always had the same response to whatever brutality they were living under; they called for more grassroots resistance until Palestine is completely decolonized. My grandmother, Tamam, died 13 years ago when the Israeli army invaded near my uncle’s home where she lived. She hurried down the stairs and dug a hole behind his home to hide one thing – the official papers proving our family owned our lands and property in a village named Beit Jirja before the 1948 Nakba. Those are the official papers which we – refugees in Gaza and in the diaspora – consider as the real deal of the century. This would be a deal that gives the right of return to the millions of refugees worldwide who have dreamt and resisted for decades to achieve this recognition which is granted by international law. My grandmother Tamam had a heart attack the same day she hid those papers. I believe it was her panic and fear of a massive bombardment from the Israeli military that killed her. My grandmother was 85 years old when she died. At that time she was much older than the country of Israel, as were many of the survivors of the Zionist ethnic cleansing of our people that took place during Nakba and after.

My grandmother Tamam, or in Arabic “Sitti Tamam”, taught me one thing, “never trust the Zionists.” She always referred to them the proper way, and she meant it clearly. “They will always betray us and want our lands,” she would say, and  therefore our only option was to resist the colonial Zionist power as much as we could. Sitti Tamam always referred to Jaffa, Haifa, Nazareth, Safad, Akku, and Alkarmel mountain as places in Palestine. She was not educated in school but she knew Palestine well. She understood the Zionist colonial policy, and she knew well that she was a refugee who had to resist the colonizers. She knew her identity well, and celebrated it everyday with her embroidered dresses. Sitti Tamam did not appropriate anyone’s identity with dresses or food. She was afraid to use a dress even from the next village because she was proud of her village heritage, and she used to respect other villages dresses and food even though they were very close. Until she died Sitti Tamam was a good, kind, and caring human being who loved the diversity of our Palestinian heritage from river to the sea.

Sitti Tamam never accepted the two-state solution, she always said those who would surrender 22% of our Palestinian lands are traitors. She was always saying that Jewish Israelis were cowards for accepting to be led by Zionists. Sitti always spoke of the neighboring village to our village where there was a Jewish farmer who was a friend to everyone in our village and there was no trouble, but the Zionists brought the troubles to historical Palestine. I think that Sitti Tamam would have been a great believer in one-state solution, she always said Zionists are the trouble-makers. I have no doubt Sitti Tamam would have created a better deal than Donald Trump.

Sitti Tamam grew up resisting British and Zionist colonizers. She broke every Zionist curfew in our camp, and even made headlines for challenging soldiers. She attended every solidarity protest with Palestinian prisoners, she called them her sons and daughters. She committed her life to our community as a compassionate and passionate woman who was clear about her demands. She always said, “I do not know Lenin or Karl Marx but I know injustice and oppression must end.” She advocated for her six sons and two daughters to resist Zionist colonialism and participate in political protests until all of them were imprisoned for their political struggle against Zionism and settler colonialism. The last one of her children to be jailed was my father, Ismael, who was imprisoned for being a political leader in the PFLP (Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine) for 18 years. She was a proud Palestinian grandmother. She did not learn politics from Princeton or Georgetown but she knew the truth, and advocated for only the truth. I believe her truth should be the official “Deal of the Century.”

The spirit of my grandmother has been planted like seeds in dozens of children who will never forget the Palestine we learned in the stories of our grandparents and other elders. They taught us the truth that many Westerners and Israelis refuse to hear. Can we soon begin to work towards absolute equality in Palestine/Israel? Aren’t we courageous and revolutionary enough to be radical dreamers? I believe we can do it. It will be the leaders turn to accept the grassroots deal, the deal of the people.

The following video is an interview with Sitti Tamam from the film And Still They Dance: 

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One democratic state between the River and the Sea is inevitable! Reality on the ground and common sense tell us that it is the only workable solution for both peoples.