Lebanon, (Palestine Telegraph) -By Samaa Abu Sharar – I don’t know about you but every time something of this magnitude happens in Palestine, I am overwhelmed by the unpleasant feelings of helplessness, uselessness and guilt. I have been meaning to write on this since the day the latest Israeli war on Gaza was launched, but every time I sit to put down my thoughts, they seem trivial considering the gravity of the unfolding events in Palestine.
Is even the fact that I am reflecting on this considered a luxury?
I mean what gives me the right to complain about feeling useless, helpless and guilty for not doing anything for my people while they are being slaughtered in cold blood by the Israeli occupation forces in Gaza?
What gives me the right to complain about feeling useless, helpless and guilty while sitting in the comfort of my home in Beirut doing what I usually do, while people in Gaza cram into what they see as the ‘safest room in their home’, in fear of being hit by an Israeli missile?
What gives me the right to complain about feeling useless, helpless and guilty when I go on with my daily errands while the life of people in Gaza has come to a halt or is shattered to pieces?
What gives me the right to complain about feeling useless, helpless and guilty when as a mother I can still hold my daughter and give her a goodnight kiss while many mothers in Gaza have been deprived of this for good?
What gives me the right to complain about feeling useless, helpless and guilty when I can still cuddle in the warmth of my bed at night with my husband by my side while many women in Gaza have lost their husbands and their homes?
What gives me the right to complain about feeling useless, helpless and guilty when I have running water all the time while water has become a rarity in Gaza?
What gives me the right to complain about feeling useless, helpless and guilty when despite the three-hour daily electricity cut in Beirut, I can still enjoy electricity most of the day while people in Gaza live in the dark?
I can go on and on about feeling useless, helpless and guilty and I know that I am not alone. I have read so many comments on the social media in this regard, where people like me are overwhelmed by the events taking place in Gaza but are unable to do anything tangible to change the course of the events. I have been desperately trying, as I am sure many others, to be of some use since the Israeli aggression on Gaza started. I have written some articles here and there on the issue. I have helped with some translation of articles here and there so as our voice can be better heard in the West. I have participated in events in support of the Palestinian people and I have shared as much information as I can on the social media regarding the ongoing war and the heinous crimes Israel is committing against Palestinians. Did this make me feel better? Well not really.
But what it actually did is it got me to think of the things I, as an individual, can do not only during dire times but on daily basis so as the war on Gaza will not be repeated every two years or so and so we as Palestinians will not suffer again the loss of so many innocent lives.
As Arabs, Palestinians are no different, we are emotional people, very much taken by the moment, but we easily forget few days later. I am sure when the war on Gaza will be over, the majority of us will move on to something else. We will stop thinking about Gaza and we will stop thinking about how the people of Gaza will rebuild their lives with the little resources they have. We do that every time something of this sort happens. We get so psyched up and as soon things calm down we fade away hoping that the consequences of this war will fade away as well. I am sure his time will be no different because sadly enough this is our nature and this is exactly what makes us different from other people around the world. They act on the injustice they see while we unfortunately only react and thus quickly forget.
The latest war on Gaza should be taken as a lesson. Being physically outside the occupied Palestinian territories does not mean we have to be useless or helpless. We can actually start by taking tangible steps in our daily life so as not to feel helpless and useless again. I have compiled a short list to which I will commit myself so as I can become of some use to Gaza and to Palestine:
1) I will start using the correct terminology when I refer to Israel. Despite the fact that we have been occupied and oppressed by the state of Israel for the last 64 years, Israel and its supporters has the audacity to label us as terrorists and lovers of violence who use their children as human shields. Well from now on I shall only adopt the correct terminology when I refer to the Jewish state. Israel practices state terrorism and that is how it should be referred to. Israel is an Apartheid state and that is how it should be referred to. Israel is a baby killer and that is how it should be referred to. We Palestinians have been too kind in our description of Israel and this should change.
2) I will learn to better address the Western media about our cause. Israel has mastered the media game for years and sadly has been able to manipulate the world to its advantage. The Palestinians on the other hand, may have just started to learn how to address the Western media to mobilize the public for their cause, but there remains so much work to be done.
3) I will sign as many petitions as I can and I will write to the media as much as I can when the need arises. I know many of us, and I am one of those who don’t give much attention to petitions that we come across but we should reconsider our position because petitions do make a difference and change positions. This goes in hand with writing to any media outlet when you feel that it is being, biased towards Palestine and its people.
4) I will get more involved in my local community to raise awareness as much as I can about Palestine and the Palestinians and the need to end occupation and all the atrocities committed by the Jewish state. We should not wait until something of this magnitude to take place to get involved.
5) I shall contribute in all means possible (material and in-kind assistance) to any organization that can help the people of Gaza. Small contributions whether we know it or not do make a difference in the lives of so many.
6) Last and not least is I will become committed to support the international boycott movement and encourage all my family members, friends and acquaintances to do so because this is what hurts Israel most. God knows that I have been trying for the last couple of years to convince some family members and friends about skipping a cup of coffee at Starbucks or to skip a meal at McDonald’s or to substitute a lotion of a certain brand affiliated with some company that pours money into Israel with another, but my efforts remain modest. This needs to become a daily routine for all of us.
I am sure each of us can compile a list of her/his own to make sure that we no longer feel helpless and useless as Palestinians who don’t live in the occupied territories. If we want Israeli occupation to end, and if we want Israeli atrocities to end, then our activism should become a daily habit, not an occasional one.