As long as I remember
my lips were shaped by her name
her image etched into my mind
I yearn for her every day
with each heartbeat
with each breath
with each thought…
my love for her grows.
She is my mother--
She is Palestine.
To be a Palestinian in the diaspora is to grow up as a young orphan who lost her mother soon after developing the ability to form memories. There is an innate bond, an inborn love, and a truly deep sorrow that lives within your heart. To live in the diaspora is to know that you may be forced to accept short glimpses, cling to memories of days past and do everything you are capable to preserve her history.
I am Palestine's orphan daughter. With each day that goes by, the beautiful, rich history of my mother is systematically erased as my brothers and sisters are continually ethnically cleansed and our homes are razed to the ground. My heart aches with a pain that words cannot do justice, with a yearning to rejoin my mother, to grow old with her, to know that my children and their children will know and love her as I do.
I read once about one of my brothers in Gaza standing sentinel outside of his neighborhood all night to guard its people... As I read his words I could feel his fear, even though he put forward a brave face, "We are the guardians of Gaza," he said of himself and the motley crew of other young men that stood watch over the often attacked stretch of land. "But who will guard the guardians?"
No words have ever hit me so hard, have reverberated within me for so long, I read this 12 years ago. Today I hope that I can say and follow through with my words, I will be among those who will guard you, my brother. I will use my words and reach as many as I am able, I will guard you, and our mother, Palestine.
With a heavy and wounded heart, I dedicate my life to her remembrance and eventual return. My beautiful Palestine, your pain is not forgotten, your catastrophes are not forgotten, your name and your history are on the lips of your children every moment of every passing day.
With this, I begin my work with the Palestine Telegraph and hope that there will come a day that I may live in my country as a recognized citizen with equal rights and status on the world's stage.
To many Palestinians, two words bring to mind the genesis of the inhumane and monstrous reality of the Israeli occupation of Palestine. These two words are Deir Yassin, the day: Friday, the 9th of April, 1948. What happened that day must never be forgotten for the horrific actions by the Irgun, Menachen Begin, and the Stern Gang led to the mass exodus of 1948 Palestine by her rightful inhabitants who feared for their lives and those of their children. What follows is an account of the Deir Yassin Massacre and its aftermath.
In the early post-dawn hours of April 9, Zionist militants entered into and attacked Deir Yassin. Deir Yassin was a notoriously peaceful village that had even gone as far as expelling an extremist Arab group from inside of the village a few weeks earlier. Deir Yassin was outside of the area partitioned for the Jews by the UN, however because it was located on high ground between Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, it was valuable land and the Zionists planned to eradicate it of Palestinians, level it, and build upon the leveled ground an airfield.
The morning passed slowly, before afternoon, over 100 men, women and children were executed. Twenty five Palestinian men were forced into trucks and taken to Jerusalem where they were displayed for all to see in the Zakhron Yosef neighborhood. After facing this humiliation, they were taken to a stone quarry near Deir Yassin and shot, execution style, to death. Those who remained in the village were forced to East Jerusalem.
By nightfall, the Zionists were celebrating their assault on Deir Yassin. In a nighttime tea party, the militants detailed the attack, justifying it to foreign journalists. According to an article published on April 10, 1948 in the New York Times, they claimed that Deir Yassin became a point for the Arabs to build up a resistance to eventually attack West Jerusalem, that there was a warning in Arabic to the village, and that the Haganah reinforced the massacre.
The final body count of those massacred at Deir Yassin was 254.
According to Begin, "Deir Yassin was captured with the knowledge of the Haganah and with the approval of its commander as part of its plan for establishing an airfield." He went on to say "Arabs throughout the country, induced to believe wild tales of "Irgun butchery," were seized with limitless panic and started to flee for their lives."
Ten houses in the village were hit with dynamite and by September, European Jews had settled upon the land. The village was renamed Givat Shaul Bet.
The massacre at Deir Yassin was neither the largest nor the most horrific. Its significance lies in the fact that so soon after the Holocaust, its survivors had begun to perpetrate their own 63 year campaign of systematic ethnic cleansing and erasing Palestine off of the map.
My beautiful Palestine, we will never forget.
(Image by Diana Shuman).