A Letter from Ayah

October 26, 2023

In Gaza Gaza: An Inquest into Its Martyrdom Letters To Finkelstein


 I’m writing this email to express my gratitude, as a Palestinian, for your dedication to documenting the Palestinian struggle. I (am about to bore you) was born and grew up in the West Bank, and moved to Sydney in 2009 when I was about eight years old. At that stage in my life, I had already been subjugated to a number of unforgettable experiences with the IOF. The most salient of which was when I was around 6-7 years old. It was olive harvesting season and I’d gone out with my mother and two of my siblings to our olive grove. An IOF jeep had been driving by when they’d spotted us and decided to pull over. A few soldiers came out and pointed their guns at us. They shouted that they would shoot if we moved. I remember my mum telling us to stay still. For some reason, perhaps I thought I’d be able to out run bullets, I still ran. They didn’t shoot. After a few moments, they got into their jeep and drove away.Another memory was of large holes that the IOF dug next to checkpoints. Any Palestinian that was not carrying their issued ID card would have to sit in the hole at gunpoint as punishment, often times for hours. I remember my older brother having to sit in those holes many times.  A soldier once beat my mother with the but of his gun. I remember looking out from our window as soldiers paraded through the streets, screaming “curfew”.  I remember soldiers beating up my then 15-year-old brother and throwing him into a construction pit. And more recently (on my last visit), I remember getting tear-gassed.  These experiences, altogether, are nothing but a drop in the sea of terror and humiliation that Palestinians have to experience under occupation. Yet when I had first moved to Australia, most people I’d met didn’t even know what Palestine was.I remember when I’d first moved here, my class teacher asked me where I was from. Perhaps this is not verbatim, but my answer was something along the lines of “I’m from Palestine. There, the Jews want to kill us.” I couldn’t understand why my response angered my teacher. Why I’d ended up getting reprimanded. It wasn’t clear to me at the time how being Jewish and Israeli could be separated from one another. To be completely honest with you, that confusion was a common Palestinian experience. Likely still is. Nonetheless, I see now that some of the greatest and most dedicated allies to the Palestinian cause are Jewish. The most dedicated, and truly inspiring, is you.I realize I’ve gone on a little bit of a tangent, but I think you of all people (besides Palestinians themselves) are truly aware of the smaller details that make life in Palestine almost hellish. When public focus is shifted elsewhere despite nothing being resolved for the Palestinian people, I know you will still remember their cause and anguish. You may now feel that your dedication to the cause somewhat amounts to wasted years, but I think more people know Palestine now (thanks to your dedication) than before. More people understand it. And, I like to think that someday, when the Palestinian people are liberated, your name would recorded as having been one of the few spearheading their cause within the intellectual world. I thank you, on behalf of myself, my family, and my people at large, for your efforts.I had a general question about the issue to which I was hoping you could lend your intellect. Oftentimes, I hear Israel’s supporters claiming that the Jewish people have ancestral connections to the land. That it was basically their homeland first, and thus they have rights to it now. My conundrum is this, wouldn’t those ancient Jews be the ancestors of the Arabs/Palestinians that were there in the 1900s?  A Jew and an Arab are not exclusive terms by any means. I remember seeing a source on this. The idea was that the Romans expelled some Jews, however, the majority remained and many of them later converted to Islam and Christianity. This explains why there are Jewish/Christian/Muslim Palestinians even today. I hope you can provide some insight on this, I think it’s a real point of interest for a large audience.Altogether, I think this brings me to the end of my spiel. I hope that someday, soon, you can come to Sydney. I truly hope to become acquainted with you as you’ve been a great inspiration; a beacon of hope.Kindest regards,