We Palestinians are persistent. We tell our story to whoever will listen. In fact, we’ll even tell it when no one wants to listen. You can’t meet a Palestinian without hearing the magic words in the first few minutes: “In 1948…” We always let you know… We’re still here.
Palestinians live in every corner of the world. And wherever we live, we do well. We succeed. See, we’ve been robbed of our homeland, dignity, and history. So we make it up for it by being smarter than everyone else. We go to school and get professional degrees, even if we only plan on becoming a comedian. We don’t just work in the gas station, we own it. We don’t just work in the hospital, we run it. We don’t just teach at the university, we’re the chair of the department. And we don’t just tell jokes, we try to make you think a little bit too. What I’m trying to say is… We’re still here.
To Israelis, we are a recurring nightmare, a constant reminder of the price of their independence. They know we’re there, but they don’t like to talk about it. They don’t even like to call us Palestinians. They’d rather call us “Arabs”… as in, they’d rather we lived in any other Arab country. In 1948, over 700,000 of us were displaced, including my one-month old father. Those 700,000 are now over 4.6 million. My dad had 4 children, and most Palestinians think that’s a small family! Do the math… We’re still here.
In Israel, hundreds of thousands of Palestinians are classified as “present absentees.” I know, it sounds weird, like “deafening silence,” “invisible ink,” or “Israeli justice.” Sometimes, they even call us “internally displaced.” That’s who we are… Presently absent internally displaced victims of Israeli justice. But however you look at it… We’re still here.
Hummus, falafel, baba ghanouj, and stuffed grape leaves are all staples of Israeli cuisine. Israelis might not like us, but they love our food. I can’t blame them. I remember when I was a kid, I used to bring my white friends over to my house for dinner. They couldn’t get enough of my mom’s cooking. Well, Palestine let some white people come over, and they loved her cooking too. I let my white friends sleep over every now and then, but they eventually went home. No such luck in Palestine. In any case, every time one of Palestine’s white friends enjoys a falafel sandwich, filled with Palestinian lettuce, Palestinian pickles, and that tasty Palestinian tahini sauce, he can’t help but to remember one thing… We’re still here.