Defying censorship: My response to a Gazan

I read a moving post by a young person from Gaza in the amazing project called We Are Not Numbers, where “established and aspiring ‘word artists’ from around the world have joined with youth in Gaza, and now, Lebanon, to create WE ARE NOT NUMBERS

The view from our side, to theirs; the fields under which tunnels grow.

Unfortunately, when I posted a response that did more than just empathize with what was written, my response was censored. So I will write it here, and in that way, maybe my voice will not be censored.

This is the original article, by Omnia Ghassan.

Here is my response:

I am sorry for the tragedies you have to live through. I am sorry that you have no government to protect you, or safe room where you can feel safe. I am so sorry that your government has poured all of the cement Israel lets through our border, underground to build tunnels instead of building you homes and saferooms; schools and hospitals. I am sorry that Gaza is so devastated with no horizon for hope.

However, I cannot apologize for the fact that Israel has, in 70 years, despite attacks from the Arab world on all sides, denying our right to exist; thrived. We have had the same 70 years that the Palestinian Arabs around us have. What has YOUR government done to achieve prosperity for its citizens? The Hamas hold both you and me hostage.

All your government needs to do is to accept Israel’s right to exist. That’s all. Then, our governments can talk. Then, Gazans will be able to turn their Gaza into the Riviera of the Middle East. All Gazans need to do is to let go of their “refugee” mentality, because really, a refugee is only someone who was born someplace and expelled from it. Only in Palestine is “refugee” status passed down the generations (thanks to the misguidance of the UNWRA). Israel was built by refugees from the Holocaust in Europe, from Arab countries which exiled them from their homes. None of their children have any dreams of going back to their parents’ or grandparents’ homes in Warsaw. None of them focus on the prosperity they lost when they were chased out of Bagdad. They focused on building new lives, new homes, and a new country in their ancient homeland. And that is Israel.

The day the Gazans stop striving to go back to live in their grandparents’ home in Haifa or Jaffa; the day they start focussing on making their lives better in the here and now – in 2018 in Gaza – is the day that we can all put down our weapons and help the Palestinians fourish. That will be the day that NONE of us will need saferooms.

We can be really good neighbors (when we aren’t being shot at).

Wishing Omnia peace, success in her writing career and horizons of hope for beautiful Gaza.

About the Author
Born in the USA, Adele has lived in a Kibbutz on the border with the Gaza Strip since 1975. She is a mother and a grandmother living and raising her family on the usually paradisaical, sometimes hellishly volatile border. She is affiliated with "The Movement for the Future of the Western Negev", for sanity's sake. She also moderates a FB group named "Life on the Border". Adele is a teacher of English as a Foreign Language, as well as a teacher trainer and counselor for the Israeli MoE for EFL and Digital Pedagogy. She blogs here about both Life on the Border, as well as about digital pedagogy, in "Digitally yours, @dele". She has recently become a devoted YouTuber, churning out about a YouTube a week on the topic of digital stuff. (https://goo.gl/iBVMEG) Her personal channel covers other issues close to her heart (medical clowning, Life on the Border, etc.) (https://goo.gl/uLP6D3) In addition, she is a trained medical clown and, as any southern clown would do, clowns as often as she can in the pediatric ward in the hospital in Ashkelon. Adele has 4 children, 6 grandchildren (and counting) and two dogs. She has yet to acquire a partridge in a pear tree.
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