When we Americans hear the word “Palestinian,” what thoughts come to mind?
I can offer an answer from my own mind. Before 2013, if someone said to me, “This Palesinian guy was killed in Gaza today.” Well, I immediately thought…
Misogynist men, submissive women.
Dark, hairy, smelly
A person to avoid
I am pretty certain that stereotype describes a majority opinion of Americans today.
In 2013 and 2014, I had a rare and clandestine opportunity to experience two visits to the West Bank, Palestine. During my extended three-month stay in Bait Laim (Bethlehem,) I spent time and enjoyed the company of two Palestinian families. Renting a small apartment in the ground floor of the home of a three-generation Christian family, I observed daily family life up close. Through my “sponsor,” I joined a Muslim family each week on Holy Day (Friday) for extended family gathering, meal, and social time.
My visits profoundly impacted my world view. When I returned to Hawaii in late 2014, I was simmering with thoughts and emotions that I wished to share. These people and their plight needed advocates. Living in abhorrent conditions, Palestinians are being subjected to a social and cultural genocide. But how could I speak? I had no platform and I lacked an audience.
Today, May 17, 2021, I have opened a new Facebook page to promote my new venture as an author of literary non-fiction. Okay, my platform is largely undiscovered. I can count my audience on my ten fingers and ten toes. But I do have stories to share.
On MSNBC today, I heard Congresswoman Rashida Tlaib comment about the distorted view that Americans have of Palestinians. She lamented that Americans don’t hear the common, personal stories of Palestinian people.
Working on my Hawaiian quilt as I listened to Congresswoman Tlaib, I realized, “Hey! I can tell those kind of stories.”
So I will do so. I don’t have stories of assassination and murder and genocide (though all of those are happening with alarming recurrence.) I have personal and intimate stories of a people, whose lives are so human and poignant. When we experience these kinds of stories, things change.
Today, when you ask me what I think when someone tells me, “This Palestinian guy was killed in Gaza today.” Here are the reactions I have to accompany the tears that well in my eyes:
Speaking in a language I don’t understand that translates in its universal human emotion.
Handsome boys who love to play
Girls shy in public but affirmative and determined in career and social responsibility.
A people so resilient you cannot help but be inspired in their presence.
Warm and hospitable hosts of a stranger
What do you say? Let’s share some Palestinian stories.