When I lived in Jerusalem, I was convinced I would never be able to go back to a life where your routine is not dominated by frustration, injustice and powerlessness. It is hard to explain, but this is what happens to those who share a period of their lives with the Palestinians: the israeli occupation also occupies your mind, feelings and thoughts, penetrates your cells and changes you in more ways than I am able to explain in words. I knew my husband’s contract and our time in Palestine would come to an end, but I could not see myself in another kind of life, a life where you can enjoy your days free of the heavy burden of knowing that people you love are subject to the most inhuman injustice.
Then the moment came when I had to say good-bye, and I was faced with the task of concentrating on another kind of life, while the occupation continued to take its toll (I left when the brutal attack on Gaza which killed more than 2,000 inhabitants of the strip, including more than 1,500 civilians, among them some 539 children, was launched). Little by little I rebuilt a routine, and then moved to Jakarta, where I experienced the thrill of discovering yet another country and its culture. As days went by and put more and more time between the me who was living in Palestine and the me who is geographically far from it, I thought finding a balance would not be impossible after all. By keeping in touch with my friends there, both Palestinians and internationals, and reading the news regularly (now that I know how to interpret them), I felt relatively at peace with the idea that I am no longer physically present to express my solidarity.
But now there is new wave of violence, and I realise that the process of redefining my relationship with Palestine is far from over. I have been suffering and worrying and feeling desperate these last days, but most of all powerless. I remember that shortly before leaving, I used to tell everybody that now that I was out of the country, I would talk freely about Palestine and say clearly what is happening there, and I thought I would find relief in it. But I don’t, because you know what happens? People are just not interested in Palestine. When I share my blog posts on the social networks, those who talk about general topics, like traveling or motherhood, get lots of visits and likes. Those where I share what I learnt living in Palestine, almost zero visits, and definitely no likes.
This is why israel is succeeding in occupying more of Palestine every day – because we let them do it. Because the public opinion simply seems incapacitated to see a simple and clear truth, which lies at the basis of all that’s happening now: that is, you can’t dehumanize human beings, deprive them of freedom and dignity, occupy their land, steal their water and their futures, and expect that nothing will happen. What we see now is not the action of some terrorists or fanatics or – as I heard the disgusting deputy of the israeli ministry of foreign affairs say yesterday – ISIS. By associating the Palestinians to these concepts, we betray them twice.
This is my personal focus these days: how to live with the enormity of all this, with the umpteenth injustice that Palestinians have to endure. East Jerusalem is now isolated. You might think it’s for security reasons – well, it’s not. It’s all part of a plan to take up the whole city, which the israeli started a long time ago, and that I saw developing every day under my eyes while I was living there. I know it is difficult to understand, because I was also very ignorant of how things really are, before going to live in Jerusalem. But I never, even before, thought the israeli had any right to occupy a land which was not assigned to them.
This morning I received a mail from a friend who had come to visit us in Jerusalem. He says: “I am happy and thank you once more from the bottom of my heart for the chance you gave me to get to know and see with my own eyes a reality that I had always just imagined, and that I couldn’t have discovered had it not been for you and your friends“. This is the only thought to which I spasmodically cling: help people understand what is really going on there. When I was living in Jerusalem, I could show them directly. Now I can only do it with my words. And I wish they get as many likes as they do with my other posts.