This I Believe

Dana - Omaha, Nebraska
Entered on September 15, 2006
Age Group: 18 - 30
Themes: freedom

I believe in Freedom. I believe in freedom through peace, not war. Freedom from occupation….

My grandfather never saw this freedom. He lived and died as a refugee as a result of the Israeli occupation of Palestine in 1948. For 58 years his identity was a “Palestinian refugee”-merely another number in the millions of refugees that had to flee their homes because of occupation. He fled to Lebanon. And there again, he was a target of the same enemy that occupied his homeland. Even though he fled to achieve freedom, he was far from being free. There again he lived under occupation.

My grandfather passed away and died still a “refugee”. He died still holding the keys and title to his home and land in Palestine. He really believed that he will be able to return one day to the courtyard he played in as a child. His death was marked as another number among the scores of “Palestinian refugees” that died while still in exile. They all thought that one day they were going to return to their homes.

Those keys and title to my grandfather’s home have now been passed on to my mother and her siblings. My mother was only 4 years old when she left Palestine. Her memories are very vague. But she still holds on to their home’s keys. She holds on to them more as a symbol of persistence…persistence to hold onto an identity that has been lost. She is no longer identified as a “Palestinian Refugee” but as an American now. Palestine no longer exists. It is not even on the world map.

It is ironic that we talk about bringing freedom to the world and yet we support occupation. We want to end oppression and yet there are still millions of Palestinian refugees. And the only life they know is the camp they were born and raised in. I believe every person is entitled to live free and to die free. Free from war and occupation.

My mother still hopes to be able to go back one day. But she will only go back when a Palestinian state is achieved. I’m afraid she may not be able to do that in her lifetime….just like my grandparents could not. Will it be my turn then? Or will my daughter be the one to go? I don’t know.

After 58 long years of the Israeli occupation of Palestine, millions of Palestinians are still refugees living in refugee camps in all parts of the world. Babies are born as refugees and some have died…still refugees. These children have never known freedom and they may never know it. They are captives in their refugee camps with no identity, no country no citizenship. But they deserve freedom like all of us. Freedom from occupation is a basic right. This I believe.