Lessons learnt by a Palestinian-American.

I recently tore my ACL. 

First serious injury I’ve ever had. First surgery I’ll ever need. 

Every day I wake up knowing that it’s still another 6 to 9 months before I can run, play tennis, or hike again. 

I’m trying to see this as an opportunity to focus on things that I’ve pushed to the side in the past. Things that I love, but never made time for. 

My art. My writing. My ideas. 

If I can stay focused, I will get through this in no time, and hopefully have even more opportunities once I have recovered. 

Behind the Gate.


This picture embodies a moment that has followed me up until today, two years after it was taken, and that, although I’m certain I will experience much worse, will follow me for the rest of my life. 

We all have moments where the past comes back, whether it’s triggered by something we hear or see, or if it simply flashes through our minds unexpectedly. I remember this moment, and this day. I remember pressing my forehead against this gate, and grasping it with my hands. I watched my tears drop on the iron bars, and through my foggy eyes I stared at this taxi just meters away. I remember the terrible emptiness in my stomach, where I felt my freedom had been ripped out of me, leaving a gaping hole in my existence. I remember when I realized that these bars were stronger than my frustration. I remember when “so close, yet so far” became a sick, terrible sword piercing through my heart. I remember asking my father why God was doing this to us. 

No matter how vividly you remember your nightmares, your horror before waking can never again be relived. My brokenness is only a memory now. 

I do not know what drove me to take this picture. With my thoughts even more chaotic than my surroundings, I cannot imagine how I thought to snap what was before me. To be completely honest, I don’t now how I had the strength to pull my phone out of my pocket. I remember everything about this moment, except for that. 

Although I believe this experience changed me for the rest of my life, nothing is more significant than what came to follow. As clung to the gate, with my last bits of strength pouring out of my eyes, I looked over at my cousin. “See what you are feeling now? In Gaza, this is what I feel every day.”

I looked down at the sand, and quickly realized the answer to my own question. Why did God allow this to happen to me? To show me a small fraction of the agony that Palestinians are forced to live through. 

The following morning, I unknowingly walked out of my grandmother’s house for the last time. We made it across the Rafah border that afternoon.

"You’ve learned," He said. "Now go tell the world." 

But when I confessed to a string of disappointing relationships in the United States, her [Fatima’s] voice deepened, pulling words from a wisdom at her core.

“Amal, I believe that most Americans do not love as we do. It is not for any inherent deficiency or superiority in them. They live in the safe, shallow parts that rarely push human emotions into the depths where we dwell. I see your confusion. Consider fear. For us, fear comes where terror comes to others because we are anesthetized to the guns constantly pointed at us. And the terror we have known is something few Westerners ever will. Israeli occupation exposes us very young to the extremes of our own emotions, until we cannot feel except in the extreme.

“The roots of our grief coil so deeply into loss that death has come to live with us like a family member who makes you happy by avoiding you, but who is still one of the family. Our anger is a rage that Westerners cannot understand. Our sadness can make the stones weep. And the way we love is no exception, Amal.

“It is the kind of love you can know only if you have felt the intense hunger that makes your body eat itself at night. The kind you know only after life shields you from falling bombs or bullets passing through your body. It is the love that dives naked toward infinity’s reach. I think it is where God lives.”

In the long wait for one another and in the sacred love nestled in war, Yousef and Fatima had discovered this secret.

- Susan AbulhawaMornings in Jenin

Stuff people forget about the blockade: 

"In January 2006, immediately after Hamas’ victory in the Palestinian parliamentary elections, Israel closed the crossings through which goods are brought into Gaza. The goal was to prevent Hamas from enabling the population to lead a normal life. That act constituted collective punishment for 1.5 million Palestinians. Israel’s assumption was that economic distress would bring down the Hamas regime.”
Haaretz, 5 February 2009

“‘The idea is to put the Palestinians on a diet but not make them die of hunger,’ prime ministerial adviser Dov Weisglass was quoted as saying at a meeting to discuss how to deal with a Hamas government.”
AFP, 17 February 2006

"[Adviser to PM Ehud Olmert Danny] Arditi said that the objective was to damage the Hamas government in Gaza financially without creating a humanitarian crisis, and to buy time for Fatah to rebuild support."
Wikileaks, 26 July 2007

"The second approach, which the ministers accepted, was to compromise the ability of Hamas to govern in Gaza as the quality of life deteriorated."
Haaretz, 20 September 2007

"Israeli officials have confirmed to Embassy officials on multiple occasions that they intend to keep the Gazan economy functioning at the lowest level possible consistent with avoiding a humanitarian crisis."
Wikileaks, 3 November 2008

"[Israel’s] goal had been to create a palpable contrast between the Fatah-run West Bank and Hamas-run Gaza by helping the West Bank develop and suppressing economic growth in Gaza."
New York Times, 27 May 2011

"The Israeli closure was directed mainly at merchandise, rather than at weapons smuggling…" 

Haaretz, 29 May 2011

Quoted from Ben White.

Stumbled upon this old post today. I had almost forgotten about this man. People like this in the world are rare, but just one moment around them can give you so much hope. Thank you for your solidarity, brother :) Especially during this time, I hope you are making many other Palestinians smile the way you made me.

Stumbled upon this old post today. I had almost forgotten about this man. People like this in the world are rare, but just one moment around them can give you so much hope. Thank you for your solidarity, brother :) Especially during this time, I hope you are making many other Palestinians smile the way you made me.