Today I met a new friend who saw the mediterranean sea for the first time when he was 23 years old – he started working for an american company that sponsored his ‘permit’ to travel outside the west bank into present-day israel. he was bittersweet about it – at first going to the sea every weekend, but then realizing that he shouldnt have to be happy that he has a permit to visit the sea – his family could have freely accessed it before the occupation..
“what does it feel like to be free?” this man told me he asks himself from time to time. and i wanted to cry. here we were sitting at a restaurant eating kebab and i, on one side of the table, can access most of the world by obtaining a visa upon landing at the airport; he cant even go to his family’s original home without a permit, much less leave palestine. i told him i dont think the occupation is sustainable – and that even if the ideals behind our activism dont make things change, the combination of israeli settlements in palestine, and the evergrowing palestinian population means israel will inevitably have to confront all of this.
and i said i dont think we’ll see a 100th anniversary of the nakba where palestine is still occupied. (the nakba is the palestinian term for ‘the catastrophe’ – or the day israel declared independence and symbolic of the expulsion of 750,000 palestinians. even though the amount of land palestinians control is steadily shrinking (and increasing for israel), my friend and i agreed that as people, they cant disappear. israel will not wake up one day and find that all the palestinians have left. so something has to change…). then i did the math from 2013 to 2048, realized that the hundredth anniversary of the nakba is 35 years from now, and that this friend and i would either be past or approaching 60 and shuddered. he said he doesnt like asking himself that question (“what does it feel like to be free?”) because he fears he may never know.
This is a snippet from one of our members’ summer visit to Palestine. Continue reading this full piece and others at Postcards from Palestine.