Guest contribution by Dana Saifan
Thousands of students organizing for justice in Palestine fill schools and universities across the globe, dedicating countless hours to discussing the Palestine question. Students attend conferences and lectures, organize rallies and events, and flood Facebook and Twitter feeds with Palestine-related news in hopes of educating themselves and others. They fall in love with leading life as an activist, but too often, they don’t reflect on the meaning of activism and put their work into perspective.
For the past two months, I, a Palestinian-American who has been actively involved in a Students for Justice in Palestine chapter for the past three years, have been traveling across Palestine, examining the occupation from the ground and being at the receiving end of dozens of individuals’ life stories. I have also spoken with internationals, heard Palestinian perspectives on internationals, and, although I’m Palestinian, walked the streets of Palestine viewed as an international.
Several times throughout my trip, I’ve heard elderly Palestinians repeat concerns that the younger generation of Palestinians is not doing much to fight the occupation, that they are caught up in materialism and other superficial things. I myself have had moments of hopelessness, questioning the energy I put into the movement for Palestinian rights all the way in the States when the ones suffering in Palestine were themselves seemingly caught up in worldly things, appearing to not acknowledge the occupation and suffering around them. There have been points when I’ve questioned why we dedicate so much time to advocating for the boycott of and divestment from corporations such as Hewlett-Packard, Coca-Cola, Caterpillar, Nestle and more when these things are commonly found in Palestinian homes and stores. Seeing these corporations across Palestine, coupled with my conversations with my elders, forced me to put my work into perspective. [Read more...]