“Life in Palestine is a life being pushed to breaking point. Because it is at those breaking points that Israel unleashes itself. When individuals are pushed beyond the line where their lives are worth living,”
I came to Palestine several years ago to take the next step in working for human rights and to do what I can to help my people, after being born and raised in the United States to Palestinian refugees whom fled the 1967 War but remained involved in grassroots activism and advocacy in the United States. My parents were members of the Popular Front and they were always organizing and attending protests and sit-ins, and rallies. People like Azmi Bishara, Mustafa Barghouti, Edward Said, Mahmoud Darwish, Hanan Ashrawi…weren’t just people on TV or in the News. Often they were at my house sharing meals with my family and talking about the importance of Palestinian Nationalism and I was raised that way, to be proud of my identity, my culture and my heritage but those days are done for me.
The continuing violence in the last several years and the constant frustration towards an ineffective and redundant Palestinian Authority, whom are nothing more than sub-contractors of the occupation, along with the repeated failures of each wave of “negotiations” sprinkled with settlement expansions, continued raids, shootings, etc…have made me decide that I’m done with this game.
I got married here and I have two small baby boys and I have no desire at all to place them in danger or to raise them in a climate of perpetual war. We all want better things for our children and I want them to have a future, to have opportunities, to not worry about being shot by a sniper on the way home from school or to be mauled by dogs or beaten by soldiers after a game of football, or to be kidnapped form their beds in the middle of the night by a battalion of soldiers, blindfolded, beaten and tortured all alone in a jail cell somewhere in a settlement. That’s not the kind of life I want for them.
Yesterday as I was driving home, I reached Al Bireh and saw about a hundred kids running away in front of me and soldiers chasing after them firing live rounds at them. I turned around and took the long way home. A 20 minute drive took me 2 hours. The entire time I was driving, my mind was pacing. What if Settlers blocked the road and attacked me? What if soldiers fired at my car? What if today is the day that I’m detained and placed in administrative detention? The smile my 9 month old baby gave me this morning might be the last one I get to see from him. Will “bye. Love you” be the last words I’ll have heard from my wife? What if I’m detained? Will the U.S. Consulate help me? I don’t remember their phone number.
I don’t want to live like that. So I decided that I’m taking my wife and my children and I’m going back to the United States and I’m not going to work with non-profit organizations anymore, or get involved in activism, or talk about Palestine and Israel, a topic that seems to raise my blood pressure lately. If Palestinians want to call me a coward, so be it. If Israelis want to boast and say that they “won”, so be it. I’m not living for myself anymore. I’m living for my family and that’s the biggest motivation I have to do all that I can to survive and provide a safer better life far away from war.