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Look at me. Look at me as I am — a fellow human being. Look at me independently from your Jewish identity and your Jewish suffering.

Are you offended? Does your worldview need wrenching out of a life-long schooling in a painful collective memory? Does it need, as a Jewish friend explained, an “internal revolution” to coax you out into a full awareness of my suffering, utterly independent of a Jewish perspective?

Am I not allowed to mention my suffering until I mention yours first?

What must I do to make you look at me? I have plastered my family’s history of ethnic cleansing all over the Internet — pictures of my great grandfather sitting on the veranda of his house in Lifta, al-Quds (Jerusalem), juxtaposed against the Jews who now live there. I caught them on film, hastily emerging from a religious meeting in the garden behind the house where he is buried, self-absorbed with not even a glance in my direction.

Like the Ancient Mariner in Coleridge’s poem, I have cornered people to tell my story, shouted from the rooftops, exposed the horrors of Jewish supremacy in Palestine; all those children — yes, Palestinian Arab children. I have assaulted your eyes and ears with graphic pictures and soundtracks. I have humanized Palestinian Arabs for you.

But my voice, hoarse now after decades of shouting, has failed to reach you — yes, you. You, the Jew who believes my Palestinian heritage (Arab and all that came before that) is not mine, but yours — a French Jew, a Brazilian Jew, an American Jew — wherever you may be and however you identify as a Jew with the “right” to steal from me and abuse me.

You, the Jew who is complicit, who says, “yes, but”, who says nothing, who is blind to my reality. Stand with me against the stain of the Zionist Jewish state in Palestine.

As a people, we Palestinians are remarkable for our long and uncompromising stand in the face of injustice and oppression, especially in the light of what our enemy planned for us — total despair, as David Ben-Gurion, Israel’s first prime minister put it: “For only after total despair on the part of the [Palestinian] Arabs, despair that will come not only from the failure of disturbances and the attempt at rebellion, but also as a consequence of our growth in the country, may the Arabs possibly acquiesce in a Jewish Eretz Israel.”

Stand with me; we need your help against those who continue to inflict an abomination on us in your name.

Rima Najjar is a Palestinian whose father’s side of the family comes from the forcibly depopulated village of Lifta on the western outskirts of Jerusalem. She is an activist, researcher and retired professor of English literature, Al-Quds University, occupied West Bank.

5 Comments

  1. bronislaw czarnocha says:

    I am with you, a Polish Jew living in New York City for 48+ years. I lost two best friends along the Palestine/Israeli interface. The first one, a physicist colleague, in 1982, on the occasion of Sabra and Shatila massacre with Ariel Sharon, “the brilliant general” as my friend called him, watching idly as Christian Phalanga massacres Pallestinians in the camps. The news started coming exactly during my 36 birthday, Sept 16, 17, 18..
    The second one, an Italian sculptor, my friend for 40+ years, it must have been three years ago. His daughter married a young IDF soldier who could not stand me wearing colorfull taqiyah I bought in Istambul and in a heated exchange of words, this young man with “milk under his nose” as we say,asked me the eternal fundamental question: Are you a Jew?
    One of the few decent one’s remaining, I told him, what one cannot say about you, the IDF soldier with bloody hands.
    I was asked to leave the house. I did, not for the first time, not for the last one either.

    One day we will be living in the Holy Land as one family mutually respecting and caring for each other, I am sure of that, just as cousins whom we ultimately are, ending millenia long stupid family feud. I do feel that’s where we have to start, at the Sarah, Abraham, Hagar triangle and the story of Isaiach and Ismael. Surprisingly little has been written or understood about this story and yet it has left aproofund impact upon the next 3000 or 4000 years,

  2. K SHESHU BABU says:

    Many stand in solidarity but along with proactive struggles are needed both within Palestine and outside including Israeli human activist Jews who should not hesitate to pressurise their own govt

  3. As if Rima Najjar’s suffering is not enough, there are now twin bills in Congress – HR 1697 and S.720 – to not only outlaw boycotting Israel, but also severely punish those who do.

    Jew-haters are licking their chops.

  4. Damon Atherly says:

    You know what? I do look at you as a fellow human being independent of my own identity and yours. What I don’t understand is why you pretend not to have any agency of your own, why you pretend Palestinians and their leadership play no role in these events as they unfold, why you apparently believe Israel and only Israel can take action to effect change.

    Make peace already, it’s been far too long. Bring Mahmoud Abbas to the negotiating table to hammer out some borders and make it official. Every new day that goes by is a day wasted in the lives of a million Palestinian children who are growing up knowing nothing but war. It’s so wasteful. What are you going to accomplish through a boycott that wouldn’t be accomplished easier and faster through negotiations? Is it really worth sacrificing another generation of children for?

    Nothing you do promotes peace.