When I started this project, my book “Faces of Palestine” two months ago, all the knowledge I had about Palestine was from history, documentaries, news stories over the years and books written about Palestine. Through all of this, I realized something was missing, the voice of Palestine from the people first hand, from their mouths, from their families, their individual histories and experiences, their perceptions of the world around them and the world that is Palestine under occupation and oppression.
It is not my intention to write my book about the complexities of politics, or the complexities of religion. My intention is write about the humanity of Palestine, the Palestinian people who are and remain forever strong and proud. About their losses, tragedies, and great triumphs in the face of adversities unimaginable. Rich in centuries of culture and heritage, uniquely their own, traditions and values that are passed down from one generation to the next.
Over the last two months, I have met and have the distinct pleasure of now knowing many Palestinians that live within Palestine and some who live throughout the world, but whose hearts and roots remain forever in Palestine.
My closest partner on this project and dear friend, Haitham Khatib, has and continues to spend countless hours with me, teaching me more about the Palestinian people, their cause, their lives, what they feel, think and experience. Haitham has and continues to teach me more than I have learned in my lifetime about Palestine.
I am also learning from others more about the beautiful lives of the Palestinians, the ones the news and mainstream media never shows, and rarely talks about, if they acknowledge at all.
The last two months and ongoing, serve to validate why I am doing this, why I am writing this book, their stories, showing their faces, giving voice to their truth – and I am more encouraged, dedicated and determined to see this project through, to see it a success.
I have actually been asked quite a lot recently a question by people reading this site, my articles and my posts on social media – “are you Palestinian? you must be, because you have the heart and courage of a Palestinian”, I take this question and comment as a distinguished compliment, one that I am honored by. My answer has now become, in all sincerity, “my heart and soul are Palestinian most surely”.
Someone said to me recently, “Maria what you are doing is remarkable and good, and greatly appreciated by the Palestinian people, but please don’t be disappointed if your efforts do not bring about big and drastic change for Palestine, because the machine of what works against Palestinian freedom is huge”.
My response was one of great determination and I explained I have no delusions or unrealistic expectations about what my book will accomplish. Then, reverting to my inner poet, I used the following analogy… I am one person, but one person can bring about change in lasting ways; when you look at a still pond of water, where nothing breaks the surface tension of that water, and you pick up stone, throwing it to the center of the still water; what happens is the surface tension of the perfectly still water is now forever changed, never to revert to exactly as it was before the stone fell. Once the stone has landed and sunk deep to the bottom, what remains are hundreds of ripples that spread and grow, bringing change forever to the water and the land it touches.
This is what I hope to achieve with this book. To be the stone thrown into the still water of the pond. To provoke the reader, to draw the reader into the real lives of the Palestinian people. To invoke a need to seek the truth, the need to take a stand with the humanity of the Palestinian people, to create a compelling hunger in the reader that they may begin to question their own knowledge of Palestine, their own perceptions and misconceptions about Palestine.
Even if my book only affects a handful of readers in these ways, this project, this book will be a success and be the ripples of the pond that bring positive change for Palestine and the Palestinian people.
For me, this book is only the beginning of what will be a lifetime of ongoing support, advocacy, and activism for Palestine and the Palestinian people, to bring awareness to the world and be a voice, one of many, speaking for Palestine; for a free Palestine.