I have a lot of keys. Keys to my Chicago home. Keys to my Houston home. Keys to my church. Keys that I can’t even remember what they unlock.
For me keys are important enough that I keep them on different rings to separate them by their purpose, but insignificant enough that I often lose them, break them in locks, or as mentioned before, forget what they’re for altogether.
For Palestinians, keys represent so much more – their right to return not just to their houses, but their country.
The right of return is a principle in international law which guarantees peoples’ right of voluntary return to or re-enter their country of origin or of citizenship.
On May 14, 1948 Israel declared its sovereignty as an independent state on Palestinian territory seized by British rule nearly 40 years earlier. The next day hundreds of thousands of Palestinians were forced out of their homes by the newly formed Jewish state.
This day would be known as the Nakba or “Catastrophe.”
May 15, 2018 marks the 70th anniversary since Palestinians were forced off of their land and rendered stateless. Palestinians have been fighting for their right to return since.
The relocation of the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv on the day in which Israel planted a flag with the Star of David impressed upon it in West Bank soil 70 years earlier was more than just a symbolic political act.
Jerusalem has long been held as a “neutral” ground in the region. Not Israeli or Palestinian. Not Jewish or Muslim or Christian. The region’s most prized possession – a region for everyone and the centerpiece of a 2 state solution if there was ever to be one.
But the relocation of a U.S. Embassy in Israel to Jerusalem further legitimizes Israel’s right to the Holy City and politicizes the 1 place that every other U.S. president avoided. There is a reason that until yesterday there were no embassies from other countries in Jerusalem (which wasn’t always the case). Since Trump announced the move in December 2017, at least 4 other countries have vowed to follow our lead.
This is a slap in the brown faces of Palestinians everywhere who still possess keys to homes they were forced out of over the last 70 years. And the blood of the dead and wounded among them is on our hands.
Likely every gun, bullet, and teargas canister used to violently accost Palestinian men, women, children, first responders and journalists is the property of the United States paid for by you and me. Every bulldozer used to demolish a Palestinian home to erect an illegal Israeli settlement – supported by the U.S. Government. Every human rights violation, co-signed by our President.
Whoever the President. Including my favorite President who I honorably served as a member of his administration. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: one of Barack Obama’s biggest failures was his foreign policy in the Middle East, particularly in the Israel-Palestine conflict. While his relationship with the Israeli Prime Minister was one of personal animus, Obama still rolled over politically signing the largest military aid deal to Israel in the history of the universe.
Blood is on his hands.
But he isn’t alone. Both democrats and republicans have been slow to condemn the violence at the imaginary Israel-Gaza border. Their silence is deafening now and has always been.
Blood is on their hands.
And then there’s Christian Zionists and Evangelicals who celebrate the slaughter of Palestinians (many of whom are Christian as well) and the establishment of an American embassy in Jerusalem as the fulfillment of a twisted prophecy that isn’t even biblical. Dispensational pre-millennialist who don’t even care about Jews apart from their role in a “biblical apocalypse.”
Blood is definitely on their hands.
It’s on Britain’s hands who declared Palestine their own after World War I and forced out its native inhabitants just as they did of the Americas and its indigenous peoples.
And Hamas that probably wouldn’t exist if not for the oppression of Palestinian people and illegal confiscation of their land – and yet terrorism is terrorism even if it’s under the guise of liberation.
We are all guilty. We are all accomplices in a tremendous human rights crisis. We are complicit in an Arab apartheid.
Blood is on all of our hands.
Remember that the next time you stick your key into the lock of your house door and it opens without incident. Give thanks that you have the right to return to your home.