Growing Up Palestinian, But Not Home

By: Dara Mohd

Upon telling a person that I’m from Palestine, they’d stare at me in confusion, not even knowing what country I was talking about. I would have to say Israel, the ‘country’ that terrorized my people, for them to understand. That’s the downside of growing up in Canada, because almost no one knows what my homeland is. I once told someone I was from Palestine, and they said:

“Do you mean Pakistan?”

No, Sharon, I do not mean Pakistan. I mean Palestine, the country that was occupied by the Zionist forces. The country that was slaughtered by them. The country that was dehumanized by them. But, I see their point sometimes. I claim I’m from a country that I’ve never even seen in person before. In all honesty, I don’t really know what Palestine looks like. Yeah yeah, we have Google Maps and pictures online, but I’m talking about Palestine in full. What did it look like when it was just my country, before Israel? The black and white images of my homeland prior to WWII do do it – or me – much justice. I always wonder what it’s like to be there in person. Without checkpoints hawking over you? Without the soldiers loading fire? Without the echo of silver bullets and blasts wailing in the background? 

The fact that I, a pureblood Palestinian, have not stepped a foot in my land is genuinely painful for me. The closest I’ve been to my country was back when I was 6, on a Jordanian hill when I visited from Canada. It was pitch black, stars sprinkling the sky, and I sat on this hill with my mother and brother. In the distance we could see the lights. My mother said,

“See Dara, those are the lights of Palestine. That’s your home.”

Home. That’s the closest I’ve ever been to home, the only in person glimpse I got in my almost 14 years of life. Like I said, I’ve gotten many glimpses of Palestine through the big screen. But what were these glimpses? News of bombings, massacres, destruction. I solely remember thinking, Is this the ‘home’ my mother was talking about? Why is my home in tatters and shreds? 

I envy the people who get to live there, but I feel sorrow for them too. 

What is it like? Walking to school at the peak of dawn, fearing for your life as you put foot after foot, just so you can get an education? Having to pray to The Man Upstairs, just so that you aren’t showered with fire by the Israeli forces, or so you aren’t stopped and questioned on why you’re out, with your heart thumping in terror. The only power they’ve felt, the only superiority and euphoria, was when they belittled the soldiers with small pebbles and rocks, upon which they were imprisoned and beaten as punishment anyway. My envy grows strong, but my guilt and sympathy stronger.

What is it like? Seeing the news of misfortune about the cities of Palestine. Well that I can finally discuss because I know what it’s like. I recall the weight I held in my heart when Israel was annexing the last inch of Gaza, wanting to claim the last grain of the country with their shiny flag. But have you ever noticed Palestine on western news often? Have you ever noticed Palestine being supported, or rather did you see Israel being victimized? The murders and tortures going on there are not even brought to light by the Americas and EU often, because they couldn’t care less honestly. Their media censorship outweighs our voice. Do you not understand my fury when the leaders of the UAE, Bahrain, USA and Israel signed a treaty of peace together? Don’t you see how the middle east is failing itself? How it is failing Palestine? They turned their backs on the land they once roamed in, so they can ‘boost’ their economy with their new friend Israel? Did you see the headline of Arab News’, a Saudi magazine, new article title? Named “Shalom… Shalom… Peace!”? Did you see the headline of Il Manifesto, Italy’s communist magazine’s new article titled “Bye bye Palestina!”? Did you see The Jerusalem Post’s, an ‘Israeli’ magazine, new article titled “We Mark the Dawn of a New Middle East!”?

No, I don’t think you have.

What is it like? Watching the Israeli powers raid your property as if it were a shop, and consume it as if it were food? My land is not a commodity, my land is not for sale. My land is my home and it solely belongs to my people and our ancestors, the people who first stepped onto its fertile soil. Yet they still dawn over it, like a predator watching their prey, and claw their way through, eating up more and more of our land, calling it theirs. Erasing us from the map. Quite literally. 

Growing up Palestinian, but not home, I have no sense of inner peace, unity, or home in me. I’ve never roamed the neighborhoods my father roamed when he was 14. I’ve never visited the olive gardens my grandma grew in Awarta. I’ve never set a single foot in my family’s home in the country. The rich rivers, valleys, hills, grasslands, I’ve never explored them. And I never will, because they are now under the name of our colonizers. Something was taken away from me before I was even born, and it is something I’ll probably never get back in my lifetime.

And that’s why I say fuck you to anyone who treats my land as if its on the market. Because my land is not for sale, nor is it for rent, because it is mine, my people’s, my ancestor’s

4 thoughts on “Growing Up Palestinian, But Not Home

  1. I started tearing up when you mentioned what your mother had told you on the hill. I relate to this very deeply since I’m Syrian so it really hit hard.
    Got a little personal there but I also want to say I absolutely loved this article, great job 🥺


    1. same here, i am mixed but never saw any of my countries, my parents divorced because my mom wasnt saudi, then my dad married an indian, had kids with her, and they all went to india together, i never saw anything from my moms side nothing, it’s all destroyed or just simply stopped going


  2. this is absolutely beutiful, i read it all and i am also pureblood palestinian and have never visited it, i have never heard and relative call palestine “home”, i wish they did tho. i am rlly happy i read this cuz i smiled and cried tears of joy after reading it ur a very talented author dara i hope u will be in the future as well


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