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Wednesday, August 26, 2009
Love Letter to Palestine
"Love letter to Palestine
"I think I may well have fallen in love with you. . .I write this in a country which is not too far from you . . . [and] carry a part of you around with me . . ."
Jude Flynn is a British student who just visited occupied Palestine. Upon her visit she was shocked to see the atrocities and calamities that Palestinians encounter daily. Looking at the wall, seeing the ramifications, Jude wrote this article in love of Palestine.
She Spent 8 days travelling around the West Bank in August as a tourist, visiting Ramallah, Nablus, Jericho, Hebron and Bil’lin. She didn’t want to go as an activist or volunteer, but wanted to see the everyday lives of people in the West Bank.
I think I may well have fallen in love with you. I write this in a country which is not too far from you, and all I can do is compare you jealously. One thing, perhaps, which made me fall in love with you was the seemingly bottomless kindness and selflessness of your people. Of all the countries I have visited, I have never met people as warm or as generous, as willing to help me.
I lost count of the number of times people escorted me to bus stops, cafes, landmarks, or the number of times people gave me lifts in their cars, paid my bus fare, invited me to have coffee and knafeh with them, gave me iced lemon on sweltering days. I am unsure as to where to this benevolence stems from- indeed, in other places which have seen as much misfortune as you, this misfortune is used as an excuse for the coldness and indifference of their people.
I have a suspicion, though, that it may stem from the way in which your people love you. In the same way that I have never met people so kind, I have also never met people who loved their country so fiercely, proudly or unconditionally. Your people are certainly not going to give up on you anytime soon, despite the fact that it would be relatively easy for them to do so. This love is embodied in the old men and women who have been waiting patiently for the past 60 years to have returned to them what is rightfully theirs.
It is embodied in the family who refused an offer of $40 million for their home by the Israeli government because of its strategic position. The depth of your people’s love for you is profound and moving, and is visible on every street corner, with flags and keffiyehs waving in the wind. These are a people in love with their country. As Mahmoud Darwish said, they are the lovers and their land is the beloved.
Like any person, it was the small things about you, your minutiae, which made me love you. It was when I was woken up for the 7th day in a row by the call to prayer, and was delighted by it, that I knew I loved you. I loved the way people walked down the streets so slowly so as to almost be standing still, I loved the anarchic road-crossing, I loved the way stylish teenagers helped elderly strangers into buses, I loved the way people danced at weddings with joyful abandon in a way people in my country never do, I loved your crowds of proud and handsome young men standing on the streets for hours in the evening doing nothing at all but grinning cheekily at everything, I loved the way an old man wearing a keffiyeh on his head tapped the Palestinian flag on my wrist nodding and saying emphatically, good.
I will soon be very far away from you, and like all goodbyes, this saddens me. I must believe, though, that I will come back to you soon. In spite of our separation du corps I carry a part of you around with me, and I do not feel as though we are really apart. I will hurry back to you soon enough- I have no choice, as I cannot forget about you, even if I wanted to.
Jude Flynn is a British student and teacher of English Language.