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Today, Israel assassinated Palestinian journalist Shireen Abu Akleh. Shireen is the face of Palestine for Al-Jazeera, the world’s most-watched Arabic-language media outlet.

Early this morning, she dressed in her press vest and helmet to once again cover the everyday horrors of Palestinian life under brutal occupation.

To be clear, Shireen was not simply executed by a single bullet precisely delivered by a single sniper. She was executed by a racist apartheid movement built on the notion that Palestinians are foreigners in our own land. Based on the belief that we don’t deserve life. And if you’re American, like I am, like Shireen is, that sniper’s bullet, and his elite training, were paid for by you and me, with the full support of our leaders.

Shireen is a daughter of Jerusalem and Bethlehem. She is a voice for the voiceless. An example. She is every Palestinian’s sister. She has told the truth about Palestine for over twenty years. And today, Israel decided that she had said enough.

And yes, I will keeping talking about Shireen in the present tense. I will never say “was” about her. That’s what they want. But they don’t get to steal her from us.

And they don’t get to steal her truth either. As if on cue, Israel immediately started telling everyone she was shot by Palestinians, while a number of Palestinian eyewitnesses and fellow journalists all told the same story: There were no Palestinians, only Israeli military, in the area.

But see, this has been Israel’s game for 74 years. They have always tried to convince you that we Palestinians have all been telling the same, unchanged, coordinated lies since 1948.

While we Palestinians are really smart, no conspiracy is that good.

In the face of a rifle that sees us as unworthy of basic human life, there is only one reason we Palestinians haven’t surrendered after all this time. And that’s because the truth resides with us.

Shireen knows that. That’s why she chose her path in life. And that’s why her work will continue, no matter what happened this morning in Jenin.

That’s why we don’t say “was” about Shireen.

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I have met Shireen before. I know her as smiling, supportive, radiant, and charismatic. If you hear Shireen, you will, if nothing else, learn one unmistakable truth. She loves her people. That definitely doesn’t stop today.

That’s why we don’t say “was” about Shireen.

Shireen’s family name, Abu Akleh, means someone who is wise, thoughtful, considerate, gentle. Her love for us and for Palestine embody these things. We are lucky she is one of us.

“Is” one of us. We don’t say “was” about Shireen.

We Palestinians share a bond with one another that I’m not sure others can ever understand. Yes, it is built on a shared despair, a communal suffering, and a collective loss. But most of all, it is built on a united, pure, unshakeable truth.

Shireen knows that. That’s why we don’t say “was.”

So, next time you see a Palestinian, tell them, “I’m proud of you. I love you.” Be like the best of us. Be like Shireen.

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About Amer Zahr 181 Articles
Amer Zahr is a Palestinian American comedian, writer, professor and speaker living in Dearborn, Michigan. He is also the editor of "The Civil Arab."

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