When I met Shadee at the Deheisheh Refugee Camp in Bethlehem, he told me that he was born in the Gulf states, went to school in Europe and returned to Deheisheh as an adult so that he could keep his claim to something that was taken from his family in 1948--their claim to the home they were forced to flee. He can see the land where the village used to be if he stands on the rooftop in Deheisheh and looks north to the hills. He has never been able even to visit the land where his village stood. It is now called "The American Park."
I thought about Shadee today. He told me that he doesn't expect to return to the village and reclaim his family's land. What he really wants is for the world to recognize that it was stolen from his family. He wants the world to acknowledge that his family and all the other 750,000 Palestinians were forcibly removed or forced to flee from their homes. He wants the world to acknowledge that they have been denied the right to return to their homes and they have not been given any compensation. He wants justice for the injustice that was done to his family.
Yesterday when I saw the celebrations in Ramallah I thought of Shadee--I think that the UN vote is a tiny first step in acknowledging the Palestinians' suffering and the great injustice that was done and is still being perpetrated by Israel and the US.
Even today as I write, bulldozers in the West Bank are gobbling up more land as they build Israel's security wall on Palestinian farmland and olive groves, and create "buffer zones" on Palestinian land to protect the settlements they are also constructing on Palestinian land. In a place where human rights are being denied every day, UN acknowledgement of the right of Palestinians to have a state of their own is a powerful sign of hope. Photo shows the hills where Shadee's village stood in 1948.
So, to Shadee and to all the Palestinians I have met, who have patiently educated me about what they have suffered, who have invited me into their homes and fed me, even though my government gives Israel the weapons to shoot at them,,,,,,,today I say Hooray!!! Viva Palestina!! Free Gaza!!