As the bloodshed continues on both sides of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, we on the Palestinian side are branded terrorists one more time. We are locked up wherever we happen to be during the bombs in Israel. It is not appropriate now to write about resistance movements and freedom fighters because nothing justifies the killing of innocent people. But, in Greece as a child my favorite Greek hero during Independence Day Celebrations was the one that proclaimed to the Turks “Give me freedom or give me death.”
As the bloodshed continues on both sides of the Israeli Palestinian conflict, we on the Palestinian side are branded terrorists one more time. We are locked up wherever we happen to be during the bombs in Israel. It is not appropriate now to write about resistance movements and freedom fighters because nothing justifies the killing of innocent people. But, in Greece as a child my favorite Greek hero during Independence Day Celebrations was the one that proclaimed to the Turks “Give me freedom or give me death.” After endless years of military occupation and absolutely no future, some of the Palestinian people have reached this mentality either “freedom or death”. It seems the world community quickly understands the definition of terrorism, which is such a general term, but no one seems to understand what is Israeli occupation, which has such a specific aim to deny a nation their independence.
The bombs in Israel this week were tragic and the Israelis have imposed a great collective punishment on all of us. For many schools, Monday was the first day of the final semester exams. For the students that can not make it to their schools, the administration faxed their final exams to the nearest school they can travel. This plan also failed to help the students cotinue their education because all Ramallah schools are closed today as the Israelis have one more time invaded Ramallah, El Bireh and Betunia. We wait in fear, anxiety, and not knowing what all the helicopters flying overhead will do next.
As I am stuck in my husband’s village of Taybeh with this strict closure, I had a chance to read essays collected from eleven of our schools throughout Palestine. I thought I give you an insight into some of our students’ thinking by sharing one of the essays from the Latin Patriarchate Writing Competition. The essay topic for this fall semester was “If I had one wish my wish would be….” The English Department staff felt this open topic would be appropriate to see what is on the mind and heart of Palestinian students in our schools following one year of the Intifada. We felt such a topic would help students escape momentarily from the daily closures, siege and terrible checkpoints they face living inside what everyone calls a “big jail.” I found the following essay interesting because it gives great hope to know we have students in our schools with great faith and with the promise to coexist with our neighbors in peaceful ways. It also gives great hope to know that students believe in forgiveness and that is the only way to have a new beginning and a new life in the Holy Land.
The following short essay, entitled “A Peaceful Bird” is written by Ileen Sous, a tenth grade student at the Birzeit Latin Patriarchate School.
If I had one wish it would be flying like a bird in the high sky. As everybody else, I would like to have my own freedom, liberty “why, where, when, how?” I don’t know. But I hope God will help me to achieve my own wish.
I wish to be a bird because I love freedom, liberty and my country. I love to be a good member in my own country, to help and defend it. I love to be a peace bird, who brings happiness to human beings. I love to shout in a very loud voice, with all my love to my country, ask where is our love to our country, or where has freedom gone. We must defend our country. We should study hard and learn to negotiate. I would like to fly all over the countries that have wars, especially my country “Palestine” because I love it very much and I love to defend it from the enemies, but in peaceful ways. In these days we have a war with the Jews. Their hearts are made of rocks, they don’t have any emotions. Their hearts are full of hatred. All that they need is to kill all the Palestinian people even if they are children. The people who confiscated our land, our liberty are human beings. Why do they do all that to us? What’s our guilt? Is it because we are Palestinian and that we should suffer and be killed everyday?
Finally, I love to fly in the high blue sky to get some strength from God who I’m sure will help me to give love, forgiveness and happiness to all humans.