I miss home. Perpetually. I scroll through my twitter home page, with journalists and analysts sharing articulate insights into the politics on the ground. The terror and dominance of ISIS, the tensions in Jerusalem, the simmering chaos in Baghdad: I watch the images of war paint my screen daily as winter sets over Britain.
I went to a bonfire last night and lit my first firework, it reminded me of when I was 11 in Baghdad, I was on a Ferris wheel in a theme park and I saw a firework fly into the sky and I remember thinking ‘how great! Even in times of war they still have fireworks’ only this one didn’t go off. It continued to travel through the sky, arching high. Then it fell, there was a moment of calm, everyone held their breath in the stagnant air. Then the ground shook and my ears hurt. People screamed, my uncle drove on the pavement. We got home, ate watermelon and laughed about it.
I am a Palestinian. I am a Palestinian because my father was born in Palestine in 1947 and I am a Palestinian because all the atrocities going on make me want to tell the oppressed that I am with them with every fibre of my being. Growing up I went to a wonderfully cultured and tolerant school, where we were vegetarian and meditated before the day began. It was a place that did more than just teach me the curriculum, instead it taught me confidence, tolerance and integrity. But there was one area where I felt I was always stifled: Palestine. I was never given the opportunity to debate the events that were the fuel of my identity. I was passionate about Palestine and the Middle East, passionate about politics and the Left and passionate about debate and discussion. I felt those things got somewhat sidelined at points, hell my head of sixth form wrote on my end of term report: ‘less passion more poise.’ It was a difficult restraint to bear during my formative years.