The inherent dignity and the equal and inalienable rights of all members of the human family is the foundation of freedom, justice and peace in the world. Preamble, The Universal Declaration of Human Rights, 1948.
By Hadeel Assali
The summer of 2014. Children were appearing en masse at the US/Mexico border, the news was abuzz about a passenger jet crash in the Ukraine, and once again, Gaza was under attack, filling many TV screens and social media feeds with images of mangled nameless Palestinian bodies. But like the previous seemingly endless stream of bombardments of Gaza – in 2012, in 2009, in 2008, in 2006 – it fell quickly out of the media spotlight and will most likely be melded into a general history of dehumanizing violence for which no state powers or international organizations will be held accountable. It’s sad to say, but the general public’s image of Gaza, and perhaps of Palestine in general, is one of conflict and violence, of dead bodies and terrorists, of hopelessness and despair. And it seems to me that this “imagined Palestinian” is part of what keeps us fixed firmly in a place of continuous dispossession.
One day in July of that summer, my cousin in Gaza City sent me an audio recording of a journalist in crisis in the Shuja’iyah neighborhood. The journalist was witnessing the massacre of Palestinians by Israeli airstrikes and was begging for someone to help, to send the message out to the world. He described “blood running like water in the streets,” listed the name of families that needed assistance, and demanded to know why the Red Cross stopped answering their phones. He repeated the family names of the victims, and despairingly implored fellow Palestinians to show the humanity of the people of Gaza. My cousin sent me the recording as the height of the massacre was happening, asking me to do whatever I could, anything to help news of the current crisis travel beyond the boundaries of the Gaza Strip and beyond the Arabic speaking worlds. I reacted as quickly as I could and several friends and family members came together to help me with quickly translating the recording from Arabic into English.
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