I am a Palestinian Christian. I have lived under Israeli military occupation every day of the 37 years of my life. That is 13,505 days of not feeling accepted, welcomed, or even seen as a human by the people who rule my life. The Israeli army does not recognize me as Milad. To them, I am a threat to their existence and a target for their fear and hate.
Ever since I was a young boy, I have had the same single question: what do they want from me, from us? Do they want the earth under my feet as their homeland? If so, then what should I do? Be a slave and obey their military law? Or leave my grandfather’s home?
Recently the Sheikh Jarrah evictions in East Jerusalem came alive again. Now the Israeli military wants 500 Palestinians - entire families including their children - to leave their homes in this East Jerusalem neighborhood and give them to Israeli settlers. We call this the “new Nakba,” the next chapter in the ongoing ethnic cleansing of Palestinians from the land between the Jordan River and the Mediterranean Sea. The Nakba started in 1948 when 700,000 Palestinians were first expelled from their homes by Israeli soldiers.
Last week, as the army moved forward to push Palestinians out of their Sheikh Jarrah homes, soldiers terrorized Muslim women and men praying at Al-Aqsa mosque. They pumped the mosque with tear gas and shook its walls with sound bombs. Soldiers beat believers while in prayer during the holy month of Ramadan.
At House of Hope Vision School, we need you now. We need the international community, the Christians, Jews, and Muslims in the United States and Europe to stand with us. We need to know we are not alone in this living nightmare.
We believe that nonviolence is the real power. We teach our students that violence will never give anyone their rights, dignity, and equality. Safety comes through solidarity. Power comes through love and unity.
We believe that our freedom is soon and that it is very close. Because, as Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that. Hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that.”
In Palestine, we see how people are rooted, connected, and bonded against oppression. We know what hope looks like. As Palestinians, we search for it everywhere. And hope is seeing you walking with us, hand in hand. This is the power of love against darkness.
In the past few days, many men, women, and children have been murdered. What are we waiting for? It is time for war crimes against civilians in Gaza to end. It is time for apartheid in the West Bank to end. It is time for demolishing homes in East Jerusalem to end.
It is time that we continue to fight for a two-state solution. It is time to stop this war and these crimes. It is time to spread love between neighbors. It is time we work on healing and reconciliation.
I was born in Jerusalem, and I am proud to be a Jerusalemite. But we have not been able to breathe since 1948. We need your solidarity now.
Our children, our mothers, our young and our old, they deserve a better life, a free life. We demand to live in peace and with no more war.
With you in the struggle for peace and justice,
Co-founder and Chairman, Vision Association for Culture and Arts and its House of Hope Vision School
Supporting House of Hope
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