As I write this letter, friends in Palestine are seeing their brothers and sisters, children and mothers and fathers torn apart under the intensity of bombs gifted to the Gazans by Israel’s F-16s. Over these last days, they have witnessed the lynching and the spilling of blood in the streets of ‘48 Palestine, the territory that is now called Israel, and which Palestinians refer to also as الداخل, meaning “the interior” or “the inside.” They have heard the terror of those brutalized by the Israeli army inside their own homes, tear-gassed out of the holy spaces of Al-Aqsa Mosque, dispossessed of their houses in Jerusalem, murdered in the checkpoints of the West Bank. Enduring the horrors of the ever-continuous Nakba.
And yet, just days ago on Eid al-Fitr, the fast-breaking that marks the end of the holy month of Ramadan, loved ones posted messages on Facebook welcoming the new year. One friend wrote: “The memory of the Nakba Day will be the beginning of victory and liberation … Be patient a little bit in order to laugh a lot. Happy New Year.” Another wrote: “Happy New Year…the forearms of resistance, pride, and dignity are strong.” And yet another: “This Eid brought us back to life…long live the resistance.”
During this week of Eid, I want to honour my friends in Palestine for what they taught and continue to teach, to me and to others. In “Letter from Gaza” by the Palestinian revolutionary and novelist Ghassan Kanafani, a young man writes to his friend Mustafa to explain his broken promise that they would start their lives anew in the United States, and his decision instead to stay behind in Gaza. In “this Gaza [that is] like the introverted lining of a rusted snail-shell thrown up by the waves on the sticky, sandy shore by the slaughter-house. This Gaza [that] was more cramped than the mind of a sleeper in the throes of a fearful nightmare…” In the amputation of his 13-year-old niece’s leg – Israel’s sadistic gifts from the skies are indiscriminating – he comes to discover that the “long, long road to Safad,” a city in the occupied upper Galilee, starts from his home in Gaza. He concludes the letter to his friend: “I won’t come to you. But you, return to us! Come back, to learn from Nadia’s leg, amputated from the top of the thigh, what life is and what existence is worth.”
Has that future of return arrived? Are we inhabiting that moment of a dream that seemed impossible? It is difficult to even write these words, given the harrowing images coming from Gaza: of entire families wiped out by Israel’s continuous bombardment over these last days. Yet, as bombs crack open the earth in Gaza, we are feeling the rumble across the world.
In the air, there appears the possibility of an awakening of political consciousness, the moral force of resistance from all corners of the world screaming for an end to this brutality. The echoes of Yawm al-Ard, Land Day 1976, reverberate in our consciousness, as Palestinians unite in struggle across historic Palestine. The “inside has risen up,” (الداخل ينتفض) reads a caption on Facebook, under a picture montage of the current uprisings in al-Lydd, Akka, Haifa, Umm al-Fahm, Kalanswa, and other cities and villages in ‘48 Palestine. Major cities of the West Bank are aflame, from Nablus and Ramallah to Jenin. And so, of course, is Jerusalem, where the evictions in the Sheikh Jarrah neighborhood and the desecration of the Al-Aqsa Mosque crossed the “red line” that instigated widespread resistance.