A young Palestinian-American woman living in Ramallah, six miles north of Jerusalem and about 70 miles north of Gaza, shares her fears and perspective on the Israeli attacks. Most disturbing is her viewpoint that this is not a war of exchanging rockets across political borders, but a war of ideology impossible to stop. If this is true, then these attacks, as the conventional wisdom goes, will beget more violence.
Amina* is in her early thirties, a graduate of the University of California and of the Maryland Law School, and a former Al Jazeera employee. She has seen her family's home on the news--CNN--in previous outbreaks of major violence. One can say, regularly visiting and living in Palestine, she should be used to this by now. But these attacks carry the most serious implications of all, given the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the boiling tensions between India and Pakistan.
This is a war of ideology, and we do not need our leaders, fanning the flames of what's sure to bring about more far reaching and determined fundamentalism. This is not only a matter of peace for Palestine and Israel, but for all of us.
As a U.S. born citizen and as a Palestinian born to two Palestinian parents, I came to Palestine two years ago voluntarily. I came here because it is my home. It is where I want to live and it is where I will die.
Why would I leave? As a resident of the West Bank, I am limited in my movement to certain West Bank towns. I used to go to school in Jerusalem, but Jerusalem is not accessible to me anymore because of Israeli checkpoints. I used to fly into Tel-Aviv, Ben Gurion airport, but that is not accessible to me either because of more Israeli checkpoints. My country is surrounded by a wall built by Israel and thousands of checkpoints by Israel which is trying to do anything to destroy my spirit and force me to leave back to the U.S. where I can drive freely and enter into any town and live a peaceful quiet life. It has spent years and decades and will spend its entire lifetime to weed me out to build a stronger more unified Israel and annihilate the Palestinian people while the U.S. and the Arab world sit back and watch. The irony is that I have a U.S. passport and can enter almost every country and city in the world, but I cannot enter Jerusalem, a 20 minute drive away. To leave Palestine would be a defeat for me.
Israel can build walls, they can install checkpoints, they can seize Arab villages and build more Israeli settlements, they can kill civilians, they can bomb, they can humiliate, they can destroy, they can assassinate, they can justify collective punishment to their democratic Supreme Court and imprison 12,000 Palestinians in their jails, and they can justify their actions to the Bible, Torah and the Koran that Israel is doing what is necessary to survive in the Middle East.
My family and I have not lost anything except our belief that Israel wants peace. There is always a hope that one day we will live side by side and we can get along, but this attack just proves what we all fear: an all out war with Israel. This attack has been talked about for the last couple of weeks by all media outlets in Palestine. It is perfect timing with Bush leaving office and Obama coming in--our new found hope for something new in Palestine. We have lost our hope in the Arab world and the United States in brokering some type of solution--a Palestinian State for the Palestinian people.
Living in Ramallah, we are pretty distant from what is going on, but we are all glued to the televisions and internet while at work. Paltel Group, the telecommunications company I work for lost three employees in Gaza at the switch boards and their memorials were held in Ramallah last Tuesday.
That same day, on December 30th, five sisters were hiding in a mosque. The mosque was bombed and all five sisters were killed. How can the world and Israel justify this as the elimination of terrorism? Just two days before that, one of the main hospitals in Gaza was being evacuated, because Israel was providing a "warning" that they were going to blow it up since there were Hamas militants inside, hiding. The hospital was quickly evacuated, but Israel did not blow it up. People refused to enter it since Gaza is waiting for the hospital to be blown up.
I think the biggest fear is that the world is blaming this on Hamas rocket attacks and stating that all of this is happening because of Hamas' rule over Gaza. The world is justifying what is happening and blaming it on Hamas. This has nothing to do with Hamas or any other political party. The Palestinian people are united and despite different political parties, Hamas and Fateh, we are one people at the end of the day fighting illegal Israeli occupation and the killing of innocent civilians.
I hope that the bombing will stop soon, that's all I hope.
Ramallah at dusk
*Name has been changed.
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