Over the past couple of weeks, many of us Palestinians have been incessantly writing, posting, tweeting, and commenting about Palestine, Israel, and Gaza. I have been no exception. On July 9, I posted “Thank
As a result of those two writings, I received many messages from Jews, both Israeli and American. Most of them were hate-filled and racist. I am used to those. They don’t bother me at all. But I received many more with a different feel.
Many Jewish friends, acquaintances, and former students wrote me with a similar theme:
“Amer, why are you being so polarizing?”
“Shouldn’t we all just want peace?”
“Why don’t you seek harmony?”
Should I avoid being polarizing? Not if it makes people think. Should I advocate for peace? That’s kind of a silly thing to ask. Do I seek harmony? I had to think about that one. And I have finally come up with a response: “Not yet.”
Now that I have answered those questions to the best of my ability, let me get to why I think these kinds of things are being asked of me at all. First, many Jews, many more than ever before, are reassessing their personal relationship with Israel. That is a good thing. And it has nothing to do with any activity on the part of Palestinians, unless you classify survival as an activity. Those who are seeking peace, reconciliation, and understanding might be naive at this point. But at least, it seems, we have moved past “A land without a people for a people without a land.” But secondly, and more importantly, many Jews believe that Palestinians should be acting in a certain way. Some ask for acquiescence, capitulation, and surrender. Some want us to apologize. And some want us to simply disappear. Of course, Palestinians cannot provide any of those things.
But those who consider themselves liberal Zionists or mainstream Jewish supporters of Israel ask for something that they believe Palestinians can and should give them: accommodation. They want peace of mind. They want me to tell them that everything is OK.
Well, it’s not.
After the murderous burning-alive of Muhammad Abu Khdeir in Jerusalem as he was waiting for morning prayers, forgive me I couldn’t find it in my heart to say, “Give peace a chance.” After the Gaza beach massacre of the four Bakr boys, Zakaria, Ahed, Mohammed, and Ismail, as they were playing soccer, forgive me if I couldn’t bring myself to say, “Can’t we all just get along?” And after the brutal slaughter of three more Palestinian boys, the Shahebars, Jihad, Fullah, and Wasim, who were feeding pigeons on their roof, forgive me if I didn’t feel kinship, cooperation, and understanding.
Maybe they thought Muhammad had an ominous reason to be in front of that mosque. Or maybe they thought the Bakr boys were launching rockets from their feet. Or maybe, just maybe, they thought the Shahebars were training the pigeons to attack Tel Aviv. There, am I now being “understanding” enough for you?
One might imagine, in light of all this, that a Palestinian might not feel harmonious at all. I can think of many other emotions that might be more appropriate:
But not harmony… definitely not harmony.