It would be a dishonor to start without saying that I sincerely appreciate the support many of you have shown this website over the years. You’ve carried the site on your backs and you’ve carried its content further than I ever could. As a testament to the support you’ve shown, I will share some of the blog’s greatest highlights. But before I do that, I feel compelled to share a bit about SMP’s underbelly and the struggles that aren’t always evident.
I started this blog a little over two years ago as an open-ended personal challenge. I didn’t know where it would take me but I felt there was potential for it to play a small but helpful role in advancing the Palestinian cause. And that was how it all started. I had no clue what I was doing. I had never written a legitimate article before and I had absolutely no experience managing or even following a blog.
Regardless of my inexperience, I was blessed with so much support. Friends and family cheered the blog. One particular blogger spent weeks rallying together the site’s first group of subscribers. My mom, who many frequent readers of the blog might know by now, played my unofficial editor. My sister kept tabs on articles I should look into. My closest friends pitched ideas and submitted articles themselves. It had become a family affair.
A few months in, a reader asked me why my name was plastered all over the site. It was an innocent question but it absolutely destroyed my sense of purpose. For days I questioned why I was running the blog. Am I writing for the right reasons? Am I subconsciously promoting myself? Am I after the perks? That’s when I revamped the site and reframed its purpose. I wanted to be clear—to myself and to readers—that the purpose of the blog has nothing to do with me and everything to do with the Palestinian narrative.
It’s been this way ever since. But I’d be lying if I said things were easy.
The amount of effort put into the quality and integrity of the site’s content has taken a toll on many real life things. The details aren’t necessary right now but there have been times when stepping away from the blog would’ve done a great deal of good for my grades, my health, and my duties as a son and friend. But in my mind, they were necessary sacrifices. Even today, I can only think about the news I need to pass along, the opinions I can potentially change, the small bits of history that might otherwise be forgotten if I don’t get a chance to put it into writing. I was slow to realize it but some people actually depend on the site and I’d hate to let anyone down.
People oftentimes wonder what the hardest part of blogging for SMP is. Aside from the amount of time it requires and the toll it can take on life away from the computer, I can only think of two reasonable answers. First, it’s easy to burn out, as anyone writing on Palestine will admit. No matter how hardened I pretend to be, I can’t seem to hide that human element in my reaction to the latest news.
Second, it’s lonesome work, though I guess I’m to blame for this. The independence of the blog gives me the flexibility I need to think outside of the box which, I think, is likely to be the site’s greatest asset. But it also means I don’t have a marketing team, an editing squad, a designer, an administrator, or anyone in between.
All I’ve got—and all I want—is your support and I’m sorry it’s taken more than eight paragraphs to say so. The downsides, the sacrifices and the struggles, they account for nothing when I see that the site is actually making a difference. I write to bring attention to the Palestinian narrative, to encourage people to think critically, and to express appreciation for my roots and yours. I don’t write for recognition, mostly because I’m not the one standing tall against oppression but also because I’m not looking to “break through” as a journalist. I just share stories with an audience that I hope will continue to grow for the sake of the cause. After all, “Palestine is greater than us all,” said a man I look up to.
SMP’s ability to push ahead is almost entirely dependent on you. All the site needs is for you to read, discuss, share, influence, and use. I hope to make it a valuable resource that is always at your service. I’ve received emails in the past from people wanting to donate but I’m not here for anyone’s money, especially when it can be better spent elsewhere. Others have offered to “celebritize” the site by sacrificing principle for viral popularity. But this isn’t the support SMP needs. It simply needs you to be there to help push a story and to recognize its potential in challenging the occupation in its own unique ways.
Too many of you have already done so much for SMP that it’s impossible to express the true depth of my appreciation. It was because of you that SMP was able to successfully host the first ever Palestine-themed cupcake contest in the world. You vouched for the site with such conviction that CBS News, The Huffington Post, and Mondoweiss each used SMP as a primary source of information during the Sabra hummus deshelving campaign at DePaul University. You followed me through Gaza. You’ve contributed your ideas, your photographs, your lines, and your arguments. You’ve taken my work to bigger and better things. You’ve inspired me, you’ve taught me, and you’ve guided me. You’ve even offered (in one particular case) your three children, jokingly I hope, as a nontraditional token of gratitude. Thank you. I wish that I can one day make it up to you all.
I humbly wish to see your support grow, to see you join in on the effort, and to see you continue carrying this site on your backs. It would mean the world to me and even more for this blog.