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Date posted: May 23, 2012
By Julie Holm for MIFTAH

Its five oclock in the morning and I cant sleep. I go out to my rooftop terrace and watch Ramallah come to life. I realize that I have fallen in love with this place that is utterly incredible and devastatingly unbearable all at once. When I came here nine months ago I had no idea I would fall in love this fast, this deep and forever. I sometimes feel embarrassed, trying to explain why I love Palestine; how can you love living in a place were human rights are violated every day and where no one is free? The answer is simple: I am in love with the Palestinian people. I have never met anyone as friendly, kind and welcoming as the Palestinians. Ironically, I have never met anyone as unwelcoming as the Israelis.

Writing about Palestine and trying to communicate what is happening here to the world, we tend to use statistics and facts as a hard-hitting way of making people fathom the extend of injustice the Palestinians have endured every day for the past 64 years: Just last week, 46 Palestinian civilians, including three journalists and four children were wounded in peaceful protests and demonstrations. In the same week, Israeli forces conducted at least 41 military incursions into Palestinian communities and homes in the West Bank. During these incursions, 13 Palestinian civilians were arrested, including two children. In at least five incidents during that week, Israeli settlers attacked Palestinian farmers and their property. They uprooted trees and grape saplings belonging to the Palestinian farmers and confiscated six dunums of land south of Bethlehem. With the help of Israeli forces, one Palestinian farmer was attacked and beaten by settlers who also destroyed his vehicles and farming equipment.

Using numbers and facts, it is not hard to prove that nothing is as it should be in Palestine. The number of checkpoints, illegal Israeli settlements and Palestinian prisoners in Israeli jails speak for themselves. However, to me, it is not all these hard-hitting facts that have the most effect. What moves me much deeper is the Palestinian mothers, hunger striking in solidarity with their sons and daughters in Israeli jails; it is these prisoners who would rather starve to death than give up their right to live in freedom; it is all the Palestinians who day after day, week after week, continue fighting for what they believe in because they have no other choice.

Last week, I went with some friends to Nablus. On the ride back, the car was filled with joy and laughter. Their six-year-old daughter and I were having a blast in the backseat. But when we approached a roadblock, manned by Israeli soldiers, the laughter disappeared and she sat straight up in her seat. As we drove away and the games started again my heart was aching because she knew how to react in that situation, because she had to know how to react. This is why I love Palestine; not because of all the times you have to be quiet and sit up straight while you go through inhuman violations and humiliation, but because that in spite of all of this, there is still so much beauty, love and joy to be found. And now, as I say goodbye to my newfound love, I know we will not be separated forever. This terrible, beautiful place is part of me now.

Julie Holm is a Writer for the Media and Information Department at the Palestinian Initiative for the Promotion of Global Dialogue and Democracy (MIFTAH). She can be contacted at mid@miftah.org.

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