Why Palestine?

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Back in Canada, all I had to say to any friend was “I’m going to spend a few months living in Palestine,” and practically a round of applause sounded. Even my colleagues supported this decision, and that hyped me up some more. But for perplexing reasons (among them heavily affected from colonial experiences), many Palestinians living in Palestine do not share that same optimism. The moment anyone learns that I came from Canada to temporarily live in Palestine, I get the same reaction:

  • An incredulous face, along with a “My dear… what has brought you here?

Okay. I get it. Living under an illegal and dangerous occupation isn’t exactly a bliss. But this isn’t even the reason that people question my return.

What has brought me here? Why Palestine?

Well, for starters, regardless about my other career and family reasons… I’m Palestinian.

What’s up with native Palestinians not understanding why it’s perfectly legitimate for me to be here? I am a daughter of the land, after all. Once left, does it mean I would never want to come back? Here are just a few examples of things I can only really revel in Palestine:

  • Partying with aunts, uncles and cousins whom I haven’t seen in many years.
  • Listening to classical Arabic music in taxis, against the backdrop scenery of vast mountains and vineyards.
  • Being a car passenger alongside a galloping horse that is pulling a carriage of vegetables.
  • Driving through small villages and seeing donkeys, herd of sheep, and more horses alongside cars. Here, nature has the same space as technology.
  • Eating cups of corn on the go. Freshly squeezed mint lemonade. Date syrup. Grape syrup. The delight of discovering new cheesecake coffee shops here and there.
  • Speaking with the young people who have lived under occupation, yet still have such a zest and upbeat passion for life. It is not common for me to find bitter and angry teenagers here; rather, they have a hope and vision of the future, and want to be a part of building that better world.
  • When teaching an ESL class, and a Quran quote comes on screen, everyone becoming eager to recite it in perfect personalised melodies.
  • Olive trees, palm trees, and white lightbulbs gracing the streets.
  • Being pleasantly surprised how your heart can connect so easily to another’s, as though you grew up in the same house…

Palestine is an astonishing place, and it grows on you the longer you stay and give it a chance to. It has a beautiful culture, remarkable history of prophetic footsteps, a dizzying plurality of diverse people, and gorgeous landscapes. However, only those with beautiful hearts can truly appreciate the blessing of having a chance to walk on its soil.

So why Palestine? Because there’s nowhere else quite like it.

May God protect Palestine.

And He Knows Best.

A.S.

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The Onion War

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So it all started out innocently enough

I was just preparing to make shrimp with stuff

In determination, I held tight to my sharp knife

Silently sent a sorry to what would undergo strife.

But if I thought I was in ultimate control

Then my perception crashed soon to the floor…

Though I held the knife,

Which danger is its life

What that round thing was about to do,

Must’ve undoubtedly done the same to you…

There you are, sunshine thoughts in your head

Yet the onion plans revenge while it’s being shred

Despite the smile inside you, one eye begins to burn

And as soon as you blink quicker, it’s the other eye’s turn!

You grab another onion firmly and chop faster now

Yet this onion thinks of the same revenge plot – how?

You’re quite shocked when a tear slides your face

But you refuse to quit because you can’t lose this race!

So you chop chop chop in a frantic frenzy

Perhaps you looked depressed and a little crazy

You take a pause when the tears literally pour

Relax for a few seconds, then brace yourself for more.

But surprisingly enough, no more tears did come

Perhaps after the battle, they were all done

I suspiciously glared at the onions, both chopped and whole

And numbly realized they were giving up and letting me take control.

Long story short:

Onions do look quite innocent enough…

Even if that innocence can be merely a bluff.

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P.S.: Please don’t ask me why I wrote this. It was an in-the-moment-while-the-onion-was-making-me-cry thing.

–A.S.