The future of SMP

SMP emerged nearly five years ago partly as a reaction to my discontent with mainstream news coverage of Palestine and the Middle East at large. But mostly, it was a personal project, a proactive approach to keeping tabs on my maturing social and political attitudes and on my understanding of what it means to be Palestinian. The idea was for me to follow it and for it to follow me. Through the blog, I have learned so much about Palestine and the world around me. From reading guest submissions — like this one and this one — to researching for my own pieces, I have stumbled across a wealth of information that has deepened my pride and strengthened my commitment to the people of my land. In a similar vein, the blog has served as an intimate window into my thoughts on Palestine. Readers who have followed the blog longitudinally might have been able to tell when I was feeling reflective, argumentative, hopeless, snappy, or inspired.

Lately, SMP has seen a lull in activity that has largely gone unexplained. It was never part of the plan for me to go on bouts of intense activity separated by bouts of quiescence. I can’t help but feel that every missed news update, every lost thought, every misplaced scribble is a breach of trust, a failure on my end to keep the promise I made when I opened the blog. There are so many relevant and important stories that I have failed to cover, especially in the last six months, from the solitary confinement of Rasmea Odeh to the growing list of boycott and divestment victories across the United States to the tension in Jerusalem that is only recently being covered. And although the blog was never intended to be a news website, SMP has certainly missed a lot.

Writing is my outlet — something that a very perceptive Dr. Bloland helped me discover one day after class in my junior year of high school. It helps me organize my thoughts and attempt to make sense of the vast complexities associated with being Palestinian American in the diaspora. But aside from SMP’s personal connection, I have this dream that one day, the stories and scenes described on the blog might contribute to the liberation of Palestine in a meaningful way. At the very least, I hope the things shared on this blog will be evidence that Palestinians refuse to have their narratives written for them.

But perhaps I set unreasonable expectations for the blog. Perhaps side projects do not amount to much in the name of actual social change. Perhaps a greater level of commitment is necessary to keep my promise true.

Save for the first four years of my life, I have never not been a student. My studies have gotten more intense with each passing year. Someone convinced me once that it will get easier but I’m less naive now than I was then. Regardless, I had to make a choice earlier this year. A mentor — we will call him Ben — warned me that I will lose time and creativity, that they will be snatched from me despite my unwillingness to let go, and that I should really reconsider the career route I wanted to follow and the seemingly endless years of classroom learning that will precede it. I thought Ben was wrong. I told him not to worry and that I will find a way to keep the blog healthy, updated, and as thought provoking as it had ever been. But I secretly knew that Ben was right. But by the time that I accepted the fact that the blog could no longer be my first priority, I had already made my commitment to medicine, the science I’ll be learning, and the communities I’ll be privileged to serve.

It has not been an easy last few months. I can’t say that time has traveled fast or slow. There’s just none of it. But my ambitions have never changed. I still maintain my commitment to the people of my land. I still champion my heritage. I still seek to contribute all of my energy to this great cause. I’m just looking for the most novel and effective ways to attain these goals. Presently, I am trying to accomplish something bigger than I can explain. Here’s to hoping I will not fall short.

This is not to say that the blog has taken a back seat. If anything, it is still my platform of choice for me to document and trace my growth and understanding. It will still be a way for me to communicate with you and for you to communicate with me. My hope is that it will give you a breath of fresh air every time you visit or reload the page. I just ask that you forgive me for the relative inactivity and that you know that I am trying. Future quiet periods might be longer. But know that I am not shirking my responsibility or hiding from my promise. Thank you for being the best community of readers, contributors, and understanders. You are the reason SMP goes by ‘we’.

There are 5 comments

  1. Citizen Journalist

    I’m a blogger, too, so understand you completely. Thank you for caring about the strangers who look endlessly at your photos that say so much, who read your words and weep for the pain of this world. Keep going is my advice. Let us keep pace with you and let others take over when you know it’s your turn to take a new path. So far you have proven to be a light shining in the dark and I appreciate your perspective.

  2. Bill Weston

    I follow this blog and regularly tweet your articles. Why? Because you do the legwork that I don’t have the time to do myself. I learn, and hopefully others learn, from what you write. Most of life is that way, we all have our own areas of expertise and we learn from each other what we don’t know ourselves. When the time comes for you to step away and move on, someone else will take your place. It may not be on this blog but it will happen somewhere somehow and the movement will continue to grow. You have done your part and have nothing to regret. It’s that old saying, “life is what happens while you’re busy making other plans.” Best of luck to you.

  3. Mares Hirchert

    I just wanted you to know that I do try and read your blog and am falling behind so I appreciate when you miss once in a while so that I can delight when I do get the time to read it and not have so many to catch up on. Do the best you can, that’s what your readers are doing so we identify with you and your lack of time!

  4. John

    I discovered your blog this summer, and have been so impressed with the quality of the things you write. Like many Americans, my understanding of this long-standing conflict comes from mainstream news sources. However, over the past year, with all that has been going on, not just in Palestine and Israel, but all over the Middle East, I realized that I needed to know more. It’s not a situation that offers easy explanations, or two-minute explanations. I needed a deeper, more in-depth education. So I searched out some reputable books on the history of the area, and, via Twitter, discovered some amazing journalists who offered a whole new perspective than one finds on the nightly news. It was through one of their tweets that I discovered your blog (I shared several of your ‘photo of the day’ posts during the heavy bombings. The images were powerful and told a story that we don’t get to see on the news.

    As a blogger (not a news blogger), I understand that there are periods of intense activity, and other periods when ‘real life’ takes priority. At the moment, my ‘real life’ has impacted the amount of time I can devote to my blog, and the amount of time I can spend reading other blogs. (As I’m just getting around to this post, you can see how far behind I am in my reading — but, I do like to read every post on the blogs I follow). I’m just glad that you are continuing to post — even if you only post once a week or every other week, or only once a month. Every post you’ve made has taught me something, has broadened my understanding. While I’ve always sided more with Palestine (because I can’t seem to get past the idea that no country deserves to be occupied by another), you’ve helped me better understand the reasons why this conflict has got to end, sooner rather than later. You’ve given a human face to a country.

    Your life ambitions are always more important than a blog (unless your ambition is to run the next big blog). Follow those ambitions — especially as those are the things that are going to pay the bills and put food on the table. But, I do hope that you still add a post now and then — your insight and passion have taught me much. Thank you … and best of luck in all your endeavors!

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