“When I tally the time, money, and effort Palestinians spend just to exist, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry.”
— Sam Bahour
Earlier this year, the popular and inspirational TED program came to Ramallah in the West Bank. The program featured a series of motivational and thoughtful speakers who discussed deep topics concerning social organization and human advancement. One speaker, Sam Bahour, spoke about the condition of Palestine’s current refugee crisis from both a personal and an observational point of view. His reflections force you to wonder how the humiliation and stresses of occupation and limited freedoms continues to go ignored.
Here is an excerpt from his speech (which can be found in the video at the end of this post):
We have all experienced having to leave in a hurry for a business or luxury trip: the rush to pack your luggage, picking the right clothes for two days, enough clean underwear, a good book, and at the last minute, forgetting your favorite toothbrush.
What if your two-day trip turned out to be four? You’d probably manage. Thank God for that book. You’d probably manage even for a week.
How about delayed for one month? Ten months? Ten years?
Over sixty years?
Now imagine your hastily-planned trip was not a pre-planned trip at all but an abrupt necessity to flee for the safety of you and your family. No taxi or bus to drive you to the airport. No time to plan. No space for the kids’ toys. No space for the kids’ clothes. You’d flee on foot, maybe now carrying the useless house key.
Such an extreme exodus happened to thousands of people, Palestinians, over six decades ago. They and their descendents now number in the millions.
What should we call them? Forced homeless? Displaced? Disapora? 1948-ers?
But they were there long before 1948.