Guest contribution by Deena Kishawi
My dear love,
I write this letter to you on February 14 otherwise known as Valentine’s Day. As I walk through the halls of my high school, I see every typical thing you’d expect to see on Valentine’s Day. The popular girl walking with a huge teddy bear holding chocolate roses, the ‘I love you’ balloons tied to backpacks, the bouquet of flowers or boxes of chocolates in the hands of students as they rush to class. I also see a fair share of boyfriends sneaking flowers into their girlfriend’s lockers. I see couples who purposefully dressed in the same color or even the same shoes just to match with each other. But what I don’t see today is my true dear love. I haven’t seen you today. And I haven’t seen you for eight months, since the last time I saw you on July 16, 2011.
Palestine, I love you with all my heart. Better yet, you are my heart. My blood flows to your beat every second of every minute of the day. I’d be helpless without you. Palestine, you are my pride. My joy. My love. My life. You give me a reason to keep fighting every day. You are my true love and I will always have you. I don’t need to see you every day of my life to stay in love with you. I saw you for a whole month and I could never get enough of seeing you. I even began packing ten months in advance! I couldn’t help it. I needed that visit to be the best one, and alhamdulillah, it was. Alhamdulillah.
I have an everlasting devotion to you and your people. You will never disappear. You will stay with me. You will always be there for me. Even if I have to struggle to see you, I will do everything in my power to. I might need to stand outside of gates for days just to see you but I will do that. Anything for my love. Anything for you ya Falasteen.
There is one thing that is trying to take you away from me. You know who I’m talking about. Israel. Yes, they want to take you away from me. They hurt you so they can take you, steal your land and your culture, too. They uproot the most beautiful olive trees from your fertile and luscious soil. They bomb you. They throw white phosphorous grenades at you. They shell your buildings and patrol your shores. They prevent others from sailing and fishing deeper and deeper into your seas. They prevent me from seeing you. They don’t want us to be together.
They really don’t. They’ve even killed those just like me, the others who share an equal love with you. They’ve imprisoned others just because they dream about you. They’ve put us all under siege, even those of us living restlessly thousands of miles away. All of this just so we can stop loving you. But let me reassure you. Mama always told me to hold on to you — to embrace you — and I will forever cherish her great words of wisdom. I will never let you go ya Falasteen. Even if I get locked behind a gate which is just a mere inches away from your open arms.
As I profess my love to you, I’ve come to realize that I don’t need roses or a box of chocolates from you to know that the feelings are mutual. I know you love me because you are with me in every second of my day. You keep fighting and resisting just so we can be together. One day we will be together. Hassle free and, ultimately, occupation free.
Deena Kishawi is a junior in high school who devotes her time to raising awareness about the occupation of Palestine and the use of Islamophobia as a strategy in mainstream media. She is highly involved in community organizing and one day hopes to one day share her experiences with her family in Gaza City. She tweets here.