A MOTHER’S MESSAGE FROM GAZA: “We embrace hope” June 21, 2010

The following is an edited and translated version of a speech that was prepared to be delivered at an UNRWA event in Gaza, but was rejected by the UN organizer for being ‘too political’.

by Dr Suma Baroud  -  The Palestine Chronicle -  19 June 2010

The Israeli siege on Gaza, which was intended to weaken us, in fact made us stronger. It was meant to break our will, it deepened our resolve. It was intended to humiliate us, but made us even prouder.

In fact, Israel’s foolishness and sheer arrogance has enlivened our cause in world consciousness as if the Nakba (the Catastrophe of 1947-48) happened just yesterday. Israel’s conceit has blinded its leaders from reading our history and learning its lessons; for if they have, they would’ve discovered the simple truth: 62 years have passed since the Nakba, and yet, every day our determination grows by one day worth of resistance, as well as the solidarity we have garnered around the world.

It is a mistake to say that Gaza has been undergoing a siege for nearly four years, for a protracted state of siege has been imposed on Gaza – but on Palestine – for 62 years. Yet we survived and grew even more resolute, especially as our friends and supporters stood and continue to stand by us. Thanks to their solidarity our sumud (steadfastness) carried on for generations.

Here in Gaza, we were heartened by the millions of people the world over who took to the streets in support of us and in protest of the brutality of our tormentors. Individuals, entire communities, NGOs and numerous universities declared their total opposition to a wanton war on a largely defenseless population. What greater evidence does one need than the thousands of activists, of all nationalities, ethnicities, faiths and backgrounds, who crossed seas and continents to come to our aid? Some of them have been brutally murdered for believing that the siege must be lifted and that Palestine must be free.

Our hearts bleed and our eyes cry for those who were killed in the high sea and never touched the soil of Palestine. They have touched our hearts and souls and shall live on in our memory forever.

My daughter was one of the very lucky few who managed to sneak a moment of peace and break from this unfair siege, even if for few weeks. Through the Carter Center for human rights (of former US president Jimmy Carter) my child, along with few others crossed the borders of oppression and inhumanity into a world, which they knew existed, but never had the chance to see.

But touring the many beautiful sites in the United States, these children carried with them the images of torn bodies, blown up homes, uprooted trees; of new refugee camps erected by the old refugee camps. They have been denied their childhood, an innocent moment in a Gaza park, an uninterrupted walk by the Gaza beach. How unfair that these children might live their entire lives looking back at the two weeks they spent in the US as the pleasure in life they may never witness, ever again. And how about the hundreds of thousands of others who may never enjoy that temporary respite?

But I must say, when my child came back from the US and began narrating her adventures, we all lived a movement of freedom. The kindness in the voices of those she met, and reminded her time and again that Palestine is in their hearts, couldn’t be conveyed by words alone. That’s how we know that we are not alone.

What a beautiful moment it was for my daughter when she met the family of Rachel Corrie, the 20-year-old American girl who died for Gaza.

But just before my daughter came back, I worried. I feared that she might make immediate comparisons between America’s boundless freedom and the open air prison of Gaza, and might feel crushed. But I am so happy and proud that my daughter Dalal, came back carrying all the determination of the world with her, so insistent on Gaza’s right to live in the same freedom as America; so proud of her Palestinian identity, her roots, her faith and her history. America gave her more hope, broadened her horizon and imagination, but a tough Palestinian from Gaza she remains.

Thank you to UNRWA, but especially Mr. John Ging for his dedication for Gaza, and to all of those who continue to stand with us during these hard times. One day Gaza and Palestine will be free, and I will have nothing but happy images and contented words to convey. Until that day comes, we stand here before the world and insist on our humanity, our rights, our freedom; we will continue to embrace hope because without it there is nothing but the sound of bombs, the dust of debris, and the images of horror and pain. We deserve better than this, and we shall not cease our struggle, until our land and our people are free.

- Dr. Suma Baroud is a Gaza-based physician and a mother of six.

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