The Israeli siege on Gaza gives those of us unaffected a new perspective on gratitude
This Thanksgiving I am thankful for accessible healthcare. I am thankful that as a Briton, regardless of how long the line and how tedious the administration, the NHS will ensure that I will get treated and it will be free. My race, colour or creed will not impact the care I receive. I am grateful that during my time in the US, while treatment will not be accessible and free as it should be, I will still have access to care that is not struggling to survive and short in supply. I am thankful that, unlike countless Palestinians, the hospitals I visit do not suffer from the repression of an unjust and brutal blockade over several years, strangling medical supplies. I am thankful that I am not the target of a racist siege, which is drawing an already overwhelmed medical service to a state of near collapse by the deluge of wounded civilians. When I fall ill or am hurt, I am thankful that it is by natural causes or an accident, not by targeted missiles that make no differentiation between militant and civilian, adult and infant.
This Thanksgiving I am thankful for a stable home and a safe neighbourhood. I am thankful that when I look outside my window, I see new and comfortable homes being built, not the ruins of previous homes forcibly demolished by strikes or bulldozers. I am thankful that I can sleep at night in peace, knowing that I am safe from attacks, and comfortable in the calm and silent stillness of a night sky not swarming with drones. I am thankful for the knowledge that our family home, past down the generations, will not be forcibly seized and demolished before our very eyes – repeatedly. I am thankful that I am not forced to live in refugee status for generations following the illegal seizure of my homeland. I am thankful that for me, ‘right of return’ actually makes sense – I can return to my homeland and it is not other people from other lands claiming to ‘return’ to my homeland.
This Thanksgiving I am thankful for my family. I am thankful that, while countless Palestinian husbands and breadwinners are wrongfully incarcerated for years, my husband is living a stable and comfortable life, caring for his family, fulfilling his potential and completing our home. I am thankful to know my siblings are living and well, following their dreams. I am thankful in the knowledge that their children are born with hope, in stable homes of love. I am thankful that my living parent is secure and satisfied with his life and successes. And I am thankful that the parent I lost was lost through natural causes, and had unimpeded access to the best care available. I am grateful she had a full life of achievement and was given her fair chance by her fellow people and not barred from seeking comfort due to her race and faith. While Palestinians are required to spend hours at checkpoints or face hospitals with inadequate supplies and facilities, I am thankful we had the opportunity to access the best.
This Thanksgiving I am thankful for the prospects for my own children. I am thankful that, by God’s will, when they come into the world I will be in a position to give them love, security and safety, and ensure they experience a care-free, innocent and playful childhood that is the prerogative of every child. I am thankful that I will be able to give them the nutrition and care that every child needs to grow. I am thankful that they will be born into circumstances which will permit their pursuit of dreams, their fulfillment of aspirations, and their ability to make a difference in the world. While Palestinian children suffer from malnutrition and endure a childhood traumatised by repeated wars, suffering and displacement – and while Palestinian youth lead a life of often hopeless prospects in an artificially crippled economy – I am grateful my children will have opportunities wrongfully denied others.
Most of all, this Thanksgiving I am thankful that a people as patient and resilient as the Palestinians exist. I am thankful that by their endurance they continue to illustrate, decades on, the strength and power of the human spirit to withstand the worst of injustices and survive. I am thankful that by their example, they teach me to be patient, have faith and appreciate human dignity. This Thanksgiving, I am thankful that the Palestinian people have taught me to be thankful.
Image from: http://www.wfp.org/node/3465/4848/137535
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