Imagining a Free Palestine

Ahmad Ibsais in Time Magazine: “Where is Ahmad?” The soldier called my name while we were stopped at the last Israeli checkpoint on the way from Ramallah to Jerusalem. I am a Palestinian American. But once I’m in my ancestral homeland, I’m not an American in the eyes of Israeli authorities. I am simply Palestinian, denied the basic right to movement and pilgrimage to the Holy Land. For too long, Palestinians in the diaspora, like myself, became travelers on our soil. We tried to forget the realities of occupation in the West Bank, and that a few hours south in Gaza our brothers and sisters suffered under even more inhumane conditions.

Now, a reawakening has occurred. It has been six months since Oct. 7, and I’m closer to understanding the catastrophe that my people endured in 1948: children, no older than six or seven, sleeping huddled on muddied floors, under tents in which their lives as refugees began. Children who are slowly freezing to death as bombs rain down upon them. Children who have endured more than I ever have. In that continuous grief of watching my people from afar in my home in Michigan, I have rediscovered what it means to be Palestinian, and, like millions of us, reimagined what a Palestinian future looks like.

In the last few months, we have seen a rise in global Palestinian solidarity and resistance, yet the hardships mounted against Palestinians only seems to grow—during Ramadan and Easter, Palestinian Muslims and Christians could not practice their faith in peace neither in Gaza nor the West Bank, as the bodies pile up. Yet as I watch Gazans perform Friday prayer amid the rubble of their society, I am reminded of what steadfastness looks like, and that you can destroy one’s home or mosque or church, but never one’s Iman, or “faith.” It is watching the undying faith of my people that has reaffirmed, to me, that there will be a free Palestine in my lifetime.

This realization was solidified in the countless marches, protests, and sit-ins that so many have attended since the beginning of the ongoing onslaught, which has killed at least 33,000. Most notably, I felt a shift in the Palestinian future after the Washington, D.C. protest in November of 2023, the largest in the history of the United States in support of a free Palestine. Protests have not died down since then, from Washington to London, Rome, Sana’a, and Sydney.

More here.