I know your fear is very real to you, even if it makes little sense to me. I know you see my desire to return to the land of my parents as an attack on your very existence. I wish our rights weren’t framed in zero-sum terms.
By Israa Thiab
Dear Israeli Citizen,
I am writing this appeal as a Palestinian refugee who is concerned with the endless cycle of violence that has continued throughout my life. There has been no time when I was not saddened to see fellow human beings supporting the oppression of another people, oppression so reminiscent of that suffered by their forefathers. While there are those in your country who strongly condemn and resist the actions of your government, the majority seems to support these actions. Chances are that you support them. And that is why I am speaking directly to you.
I believe that politics is inherently dirty, driven by personal interests of power and money, with true human interest playing too little a role. At the same time, I see how at the grassroots level ordinary people of all backgrounds can coexist peacefully together, and have always done so throughout human history when politics did not interfere. I believe that only human-to-human contact, free of interference from politicians, can bring people together. I believe in the inherent goodness of all people, and I refuse to believe that you are truly at peace with injustice or the oppression of anyone. To believe that would be to write you off as human beings, and thus to lose my own humanity.
History shows that entire nations have been consumed by hate and fear, and that these emotions can be destructive on the individual level. I know your fear is very real to you, even if it makes little sense to me. I know you see the simple desire of a person like me to return to the land her parents fled in fear as an attack on your very existence. I wish my right and yours to freedom, justice and security did not have to be framed as a zero-sum game.
I appeal to your reason, and ask you to think critically about what you hear from your government, as it is driven by politics and not by your true interests.
I appeal to your intelligence, to your ability to read history, to seek out the truth for yourself, and to challenge the interested and divisive distortions of the corporate media.
I appeal to your empathy, to your ability to see the other side of the story, to put yourself in the place of those who are being oppressed, and to imagine what you would you feel, think and do in their place.
I appeal to your natural capacity to transcend all feelings of hate and fear and to see the truth of what is happening.
I appeal to your deepest, truest self in assuring you that I, as a Palestinian refugee, seek nothing but to live in peace under just conditions. And given such conditions, I know that we will be able to rejoice together, to share our happiness and sadness, and to build a better world together.
Finally, I appeal to you to go beyond all of the mental and emotional walls that separate you from the Palestinians living around you, to talk to your Palestinian neighbor, to reach out and meet Palestinians and to see that they are just as human as you are, just as I know that you are as human as I am.
Your Fellow Human Being; a Palestinian refugee who will always have faith in your humanity
Israa Thiab is a Palestinian refugee by birth and holds Jordanian nationality. Her parents are from Haifa and Jaffa. Israa holds a Master of Science degree in environmental studies and works in that field. She is vocal about global justice issues ranging from the environment to human rights, and particularly the Palestinian cause. This letter was originally sent to De-Colonizer.