After more than a year of unemployment, I received a rejection letter that broke this camel’s back. I have applied for every job under this sun. Or so it seems. My Linkedin total of jobs applied to has reached 6,000+ ages ago. That doesn’t take into consideration all the other jobs I’ve applied to using tens of other sites.
I’m drawn to humanitarian positions that deal with Palestinians, as I am Palestinian and feel very passionate about Palestine. Palestine is my mother, my sister, my child. Palestine is my everything and the reason I live and breathe. I’ve tried to put into words many times what it is Palestine means to me, but it never seems enough. As a writer it’s frustrating. As a Palestinian, I feel it in my bones, my veins, my lungs, my life, my every molecule. Palestine made me the woman I am. Again, Palestine is my everything.
And as my everything, you can imagine how upsetting it is when I get rejected time and time again from these organisations. I’m not bitter, I accept that I wasn’t right for the position and I move on. But every so often I get an email from an organisation saying that the reason I didn’t get the position was because I’m not Palestinian, and they gave the position to a Palestinian person. What’s infuriating is that these emails come from a white member of staff. You would think, someone who works with Palestinians and supposedly works for the cause of Palestine would recognise the struggle we face.
It’s been well documented that politicians such as Golda Meir and many Zionists alike ignore the existence of Palestinians. They ignore that we exist, they ignore our right to live, they ignore our right of return, our ownership of land, our human rights, our every movement and our every basic dignity in this life.
Being from Haifa, we get labeled many things: Arabs, Israeli-Arabs, Arab-Israelis, 1948 Arabs, Inside Arabs, and so on. “They,” the Zionists, the politicians, the Arab regimes, Europe, America, the media, the whoever you want to consider in this umbrella “they”— They’re the ones who label us. But only we can label ourselves and only I can label myself.
So why is it that I get these emails from these white humanitarian workers who feel it ever necessary to tell me I don’t meet their definition of Palestinian. No, I don’t want to work for an organisation that has such a narrow, colonised and Zionist definition of Palestinian. I reject your rejection and assert my right to be addressed as a Palestinian. And more importantly, I reject your false participation in our movement.
Enough is enough. You either decolonize that self-righteous, fake “I want to do good” attitude and false sense of so-called humanitarianism, or you leave. This movement has enough struggle as is and we want participants who truly believe in the Palestinian right to exist, on our own terms, not by the ones you set up for us.
You cannot dictate who I am and who we are. You cannot colonize our identity. I don’t allow it.
I am Palestinian and Palestinian I am.