We are Human Beings First by Margaret Woodcock

I finally gathered my bearings in Ramallah at a small pizza shop brimming with savory temptations; our mouths watering as we ordered, slowly working through the language barrier and exchanging laughs with the Palestinian men behind the counter. I felt safe in Area A, a part of the West Bank that is under the jurisdiction of the Palestinian National Authority as a consequence of the 1993 Oslo Accords. All was calm as we sat in the far booth, licking the grease off of our fingers and relishing in the beautiful chaos that was the last 48 hours.  Tucked behind a table I found my nerve endings regaining stability as my body slowly shrugged off my jet lag and sorrows amongst good company.

I have the privilege of taking a step back from the suffering; running to the closest shop to escape the smell of the poor infrastructure, closing my eyes at checkpoints, physically turning a blind eye to the militaristic hell.  I am, and have been for the last 20 years, complacent to the suffering of the Palestinian people.  I have stood idly by as my country supported a systematic regime of racial oppression. It is a dark time when the call for equality is seen as a threat.

Tonight we met with Rami El Hanan and Bassam Armin, both fathers, from different sides of the wall, who each lost a child to this war.  Rather than writing one another off as the enemy, they have chosen the road of forgiveness, and consider themselves brothers. Their pain has united them and their stories, rather than guns, are confronting the prejudice and hate. They are challenging the system of injustice, attempting to squelch the cycle of violence.

As a bystander to the Palestinian apartheid, this blog post is a public commitment to begin actively negating human rights violations by such nonviolent responses as BDS (Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions Movement). I am not adopting a political stance; rather I am committing to put my flesh on the line for the protection of inherent human rights. As we learned from Omar Barghouti, what we are being asked to do is hardly heroic; to look at one another and recognize humanity.

 

Written in loving memory of Abir Aramin and Smadar Elhnan 

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