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March 22, 2002
An Open Letter to the World

By Ramzi Baroud


I am not much of a letter writer, but I know that the most basic prerequisite in writing a letter is having a recipient, one, two or several. Yet while I know exactly what I want to say, I don't know to whom I should address my letter, for all of those who received my pleas in the past have failed me. Therefore, I decided to write to the world, the whole world.

Years are passing, and with every day in every year, my people suffer. I know that the word suffering has been used so very often, so much that it no longer moves us. But suffering from a headache is much different than suffering from death, torture and despair.

For over 50 years my people have endured untold anguish, through no fault of their own, so that a prophesy of another nation might be realized, so that the promise of a superpower might be fulfilled.

My people's land was taken away from them at gunpoint. To the dismay of my grandfather, a faithful farmer whose kindness was the talk of his village, he was forced to take his family and flee. The family's old donkey couldn't make it for long, and so my grandpa carried his children on his back, escorted by his wife to a place that later became a refugee camp.

It was there, in the refugee camp where my grandfather lived, and died, where his wife, lived and died, where my mother lived and died, and were many of my friends were killed in ways you cannot imagine. Some were kids, others were not. But they all managed to return to the camp's graveyard, where many people dear to me always meet.

I wish I can say that those who die in my land, rest in peace', because they don't. Not only because Israeli soldiers (for whatever reason) often seek to steal the bodies of those whom they kill and to take them away to Israel, but if those alive cannot rest in peace, fancy the dead.

My people are traumatized and oppressed. Misery has even made their superstitions unique in some ways. For instance, when my people laugh, they often end their laughter with the plea "may God be merciful in what will come next."

In my camp, if we see a child running, we always assume that he is being chased by soldiers. I remember, with a smile, how one day I was late to school so I ran, fearing the teacher's wrath. To my surprise, I found hundreds of people running with me. They thought that the soldiers and settlers were assaulting the camp and chasing behind me. Yet in my youthful ignorance, I thought that they were all late for school.

With memories such as this, in the poorest spot on earth, we grew and blossomed from children into strong men and women, and we became a proud nation. And despite everything we remain proud. They siege our camps and kill our young, and we remain proud; they insult our elders, humiliate our mothers and sisters, and we remain proud; they imprison our youth, deprive the wounded from treatment leaving them to perish in the streets, shut down our schools, mass murder our refugees, send us into exile, practice all forms of racism against us, and yet we remain proud.

Our pride is our last asset. We are Palestinians and all that was left is our pride.

The virtue of our struggle has reached the whole world, south and north, yet nothing was done to bring us justice. In South Africa, those who fought against apartheid identified with us and we identified with them. We taught many oppressed nations how to resist oppression. Our traditional scarves, a symbol of freedom, is being wore by activists all across Europe, North America and the world; our struggle always finds its way to the sincere heart anywhere across the globe. But little has been done to end our suffering.

We took our case to the United Nations, and the justness of our case prevailed over the pressure of all superpowers; yet while many recognize our rights in freedom, justice, human rights, independence, protection, right of return, the United States blocks all attempts to implement international law, defending Israel as it has done for decades.

We took our case to each and every country in the world. Morally, the support we garnered was limitless, but the political pressure, the 'balance of powers', and a long list of excuses failed to provide us with much tangible support.

We took our case to the streets, as we have done for years, we displayed our anger, the pictures of our dead, we vowed to carry on with our fight for freedom, to return to our homes, to attain the true peace we deserve, and to live with dignity, the proud people we always are, and shall always be.

...And now we take our case to you, whomever you are, as long as you are a human being with a conscience and a heart. The world's governments have failed to uphold the principals of justice and the laws that they have created. But as a faithful people, we Palestinians still have faith in the people of this world.

Please take a stand; it's a moral responsibility that you can no longer be afraid to embrace; Palestinians conquered their fear many years ago when they stood before the fourth largest army in the world, one with nuclear capabilities that can destroy half of the globe in a glimpse, with bare chests and sling shots.

It's time that the whole world conquers its fear and embraces its humanity, my people did, and we ask you stand with us.

Ramzy Baroud

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