“Following the attack on Gaza, it is as if I feel completely Palestinian.”

Guest writer: Sawsan Nashashibi

I heard my phone ring, but I hesitated before answering.

I thought twice before answering my phone on the train because it was packed with soldiers, and with Jews in general. This is disturbing. Why would I be forced into silence by those who can’t see the beauty of the letters my language contains? Why would I hide my colors in front of those who think they’re superior because they’re the “chosen ones” and I’m a simple Arab woman?

This new-but-not-so-new attack on Gaza has seriously damaged something in my head; it is as if I feel completely Palestinian right now.

Don’t understand me in the wrong way: I’ve always felt Palestinian: Even when white and blue flags covered the sky at my graduation ceremony, I felt Palestinian. Even when people filled every outdoor corner on their Independence day and on my Nakba day, I felt Palestinian. Even when I turned 16 and received my blue I.D, I felt Palestinian. But I was always half numb and half alive. But during this new-but-not-so-new attack on Gaza, I became utterly aware to of the threats posed to me as a Palestinian living here; my origins struck me alive.

This massacre made me hold to my roots more tightly than before, as if I will lose myself if I forget the colors of the Palestinian flag, as if my identity will be erased if I surrender into using Hebrew when I’m speaking Arabic. This massacre reminded me who I am, and reminded me who I will always be in their eyes.

This massacre reminded me that the Haifa streets I walk in will always be Palestinian, because the legs which have forced their weight and walked on those pavements were Palestinian, because the women who have filled its markets were Palestinian, because the children who have played on its beach were Palestinian, and because Palestine had struck its roots into history, no white and blue flag can ever erase it.

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Sawsan is 24 years old, and is a Palestinian living in Haifa. She has a B.A in Mass Communication and English Literature, and an M.A in Peace and Conflict Management.  She writes: “I’ve always wanted to change something in the world. When I grew up, I realized the ways in which I’m limited, and this stopped me for a while, but I also realized that if I have a good heart and a clear conscience, it’s a sin if I stay quiet while witnessing injustice.”  

You can follow Sawsan’s writings on her blog: valley48.wordpress.com