From Gaza to Yarmouk: This, too, will pass

Gazans protest against clashes in Yarmouk
It is as if we were made to suffer. The Palestinians in Gaza face wars and relentless sieges; those in West Bank are left alone to endure the theft of their land, settler violence and daily raids; Palestinians in today’s Israel live under apartheid policies, accustomed to being a minority in lands which belonged to their ancestors for centuries. Additionally, there are six million refugees, four generations, who live in the diaspora, atoning for a sin they did not commit.

But what pains us the most is that a share of our suffering is inflicted on us by those we call brothers. As we now stand helpless, watching our brothers in Yarmouk refugeee camp in Damascus suffer, there is nothing we can do to help. Nothing that is, except remind them that this, too, will pass.

To our refugee brothers in Yarmouk: You have been living a few kilometers away from your original villages, probably able to see your original homes but never able to reach them. But we

too, are living the same ordeal: 80 percent of Gaza’s population is made of refugees. Like you, we have lived through this for 67 years, believing that one day it will pass.
Like you have now, we have experienced barrel bombs and indiscriminate artillery fire. It is true that they were thrown at us by those who are directly responsible for our plight. But at the hands of your brothers or the hands of your enemies, death tastes the same. Fear not; this, too, will pass.

Our misery might differ in time or scale, but the pain is the same. We hear that you are dying from hunger, with food being held at the camp gates, forbidden from entering by those who claim to be fighting for your cause. We have been through this too. When Israel left us to starve we made underground routes so we could get food, but then our brothers shut down those routes, also in the name of our cause.

We were too hungry to listen to their justifications and probably you are too, but with time we got used to living hungry, and so will you. And if you die from lack of medication, we have been there too. People here are dying as they wait to receive treatment, pleading for a chance to get to hospital. We too have gates, and since the start of this year they have been opened for only five days. But have no worries; this, too, will pass.

And do not care too much if the regime calls you traitors or the Islamic State group (IS) calls you infidels. We have been called the same, and we have been called terrorists, and we have been called ungrateful. But care not for they too will pass – or find other topics to fixate upon.

Niobe, a Greek mythological figure who is a symbol of mourning

When British graffiti artist Banksy arrived in Gaza last month he borrowed the image of the Greek myth of Niobe to illustrate Israel’s cruelty, which he painted on the bent door of a demolished house. The myth claims that Niobe, Queen of Thebes, had 14 children and mocked Leto, who only had two, Apollo and Artemis. Enraged at this provocation, Leto sent his children to kill all of Niobe’s offspring. If Banksy were to visit Yarmouk, which theme will he borrow? I hope he doesn’t paint Cain.

To our refugee brothers in Yarmouk, Israel is responsible for what we have all been through. We lived in dignity in our homes until we were pushed into the diaspora. Even on the darkest days never think otherwise.

When Israel pushed us into the diaspora our brothers received us with open arms. If that warm embrace is gone forever or if this is a temporary setback we do not know, but it matters not as this too will pass. One day we will have our free, sovereign country, and all of this will belong to history books; when that day comes we will tell them with a smile that we forgive them, but what will become of those history books? History does not favour everyone, and even with time its words will not pass.


This article was first publish on April 7th on al-Araby al-Jadeed, here