No, I’m not in Phalasteen for election day, though I think it would have been interesting to observe all of the activities. But I’ve been a bit frustrated with the coverage that I’ve heard and read from afar. For one thing, there are multiple parties running for election not just Hamas and Fatah. For another thing, as a Palestinian friend shared with me in his writing on the subject: what is tangible and real that the candidates can promise Palestinians? Can the promise, for instance, al awda (right of return)? In some respects, this makes Palestine’s lesson in democracy just like everyone else’s. I can’t help but thinking about the lyrics to Ani DiFranco’s song “Hello Birmingham,” a song I often listen to on such occasions.
did the hate filled want to build bunkers
in your beautiful red earth
they want to build them in our shiny white snow
and now i’ve drawn closed the curtains
in this little booth
where the truth has no place to stand
and i am feeling oh so powerless
in this stupid booth
with this useless little lever in my hand
my city is bracing
for the next killing thing
standing by the bridge
and praying for the next doctor martin luther king
Or, perhaps a Palestinian poet’s words might better serve what I’m thinking and feeling about Palestinian elections today. Here is part of a poem by Sameeha Khalil:
“They thought that after the agony we would lose our patience and perseverance,
But we told them again and again: We reject Camp David; it is rejected.
Camp David, and those who created it–rejected.
We reject autonomy–it’s a failure, it’s resented.
We reject elections–they invalidate our rights, replace our rulers and splinter us into factions.
We have only one demand:
An eternal state with independence forever!”
On any given day I think about Palestinian refugees and various issues that affect them. Today I’m thinking about them as well, but especially because after watching Iraqi refugees living in Amman vote a couple of months ago, I can’t help but think: the people who should be voting “absentee” are not the Palestinians who rightfully live and vote in Al Quds (Jerusalem), but rather those Palestinians in the diaspora. I read one story about mock elections that Palestinians living in Paris and Brussels are carrying out, but Iraqis living all over the world, not just in neighboring Jordan, voted in the election.
It will take a little while before we know the results, but the only result I am thinking about today is the result that will grant Palestinians the right of return and the right to a real national home.