“Just remember, Sherri. People have become desensitized,” my friend cautioned as I described a new initiative pertaining to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.
“The Palestinian-Israeli conflict, the Irish conflict, these old conflicts . . people are tired,” he continued matter-of-factly. “It’s the same old thing and people are just flipping the channel on their TV sets.”
As an American of Palestinian descent, I fully understood what my friend was telling me. Of course, I knew that the everyday killings and deaths were too common to warrant any shock. I knew the whole situation was getting old, whether it was in Palestine or Ireland. And yet, what was I supposed to do? Give up on my people? Hardly.
Believe me when I say that nobody is more exhausted of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict than the Palestinians and Israelis themselves. And much more so for the Palestinian people whose ability to buy food or leave their homes is dependent on the “approval” of the Occupying Israeli army.
You want to discuss exhaustion of this conflict?
Tell this to the Palestinian father in Gaza who is gathering up weeds for his wife to cook up and feed to the family.
Tell this to the mother who loses a son because Israeli soldiers were competing amongst themselves to see who can kill the most Palestinians. Just ask the Israeli refuseniks who refuse to serve in this environment.
Tell this to the young Palestinian male who is blindfolded and has numbers written on his arms.
You bet, that Palestinians are exhausted.
And as for Palestinian-Americans? I would be surprised if you could find a single Palestinian household here in the States that isn’t experiencing anxiety. Since the Palestinian Uprising for freedom began on September 28, 2000, and particularly since the unprecedented demonization of the Palestinians since 9-11, the mood in the Palestinian-American community can best be described as somber.
For many Americans, the Occupied Palestinian Territories is just some place we see on our television sets. And the dead are just numbers in a conflict that never seems to end. But if you’re of Palestinian descent, the dead have represented our family members and friends. The dead had names. They had unique personalities. They had dreams.
Are we tired of seeing our people killed? And are we tired of the media reports, which seemingly give names and personal traits of the Israeli dead while referring to Palestinians as just faceless numbers? Note that more than 1,700 Palestinians have been murdered and more than 20,000 wounded.
Yes, we are tired.
All my life, I heard how evil my people are. To be Palestinian was to be synonymous with the word “terrorist.” The latest news is that we’re not only terrorists but also we are “collateral damage” in Israel’s so-called war on terror.
Palestinians are repeatedly marginalized, lectured to, referred to in the most derogatory terms by Israeli government officials, accused of not giving a damn about the lives of their children, told they teach hate, and belong to a culture that glorifies death. They’ve even been brought into the simplistic Axis of Evil by White House spokesperson Ari Fleischer.
Further, American society dictates that it isn’t “politically correct” to be outspoken on Palestinian human rights. And it isn’t politically correct to criticize any Israeli government policies é even when the policies are condemned everywhere else in the world.
We are tired.
Despotic Arab regimes have exploited the Palestinian cause for their own propaganda purposes. These regimes also have laws toward Palestinians that can be as discriminatory and inhumane as Israel’s institutionalized racism against Palestinians in Israel.
We are tired.
Palestinians, like everybody else, want to be free. They want to put food on their tables. Our young men and women want to go to colleges and get good jobs. Our children want to play. Our parents want to feel that they can provide the safety of a home for their children. Our grandparents want the luxury of knowing that the bad memories of Palestinian dispossession are just that é bad memories. In sum, our people want to dream and have legitimate shots at achieving those dreams.
The current situation is getting old, I agree. And believe me when I say that nobody is more tired of the Middle East conflict than the Palestinians themselves.
Sherri Muzher, who holds a Jurist Doctor in International and Comparative Law, is a Palestinian-American activist and free lance journalist.