Opinion

Stateless during Pandemic

I realised that the Palestinian lives don’t matter and the whole world seems to be fine with it.

Life seemed normal as I was studying for my mid terms back in March when my best friend called me late at night to tell me that she is leaving the U.S. on the last flight to Amman and that I should do the same. The corona virus had just become a pandemic at the time, but my school like many others, was still physically active, I thought that as long as schools are open in The Netherlands there is no need to go home. I woke up the next day to find out that the borders in Palestine and Jordan have closed down and now there is no way for me to go back home.

At the beginning, I was still subconsciously denying everything that is happening and convincing myself that it was not that bad. A couple of days passed by with on growing anxiety and concern. Every day we look at statistics, read articles and watch documentaries. Later on, The Netherlands government announced the closure of schools and shops and the stagnation of life until further notice. Frankly, they did not impose a total lockdown and the situation was more relaxed than in other countries. However, as everything closed down, internationals started to go back home, The Hague as an international city, became a ghost town and I had said goodbye to all of my friends day after day, except for my Palestinian friends who were stuck here with me.

As Palestinian kids, we grew up normalizing the fact that we do not have borders of our own, just like we do not have any sovereignty, so open borders were never a given and the risk of border closure has always been there, whether it is a pandemic or not, so we did not whine much about it.

Months pass by and I still relive the same day over and over again, I am away from my family in the worst of times, my dad had a heart attack and I was away, Easter passed and I was away, Ramadan and Eid passed and I was still away, my sister will give birth and I will still be away.

I eventually learned to cope with and accept the situation, I abolished every expectation I had about any and everything. I even had to lower my own academic standards, or else I wouldn’t forgive myself if I fail my year. I learned to stay calm, control my anxiety and just go on with my day, attending online lectures and zoom meetings with friends, doing online exams, learning to cook new dishes, following the news.

As a political science student, I followed the consequences of the pandemic very closely as I became to realise that the world is finally seeing the flaws which our system is full with. All conceptions we had are subject to change.

Finally, Borders around the world have slowly opened up over the last month and governments are doing everything they could to bring their citizens back home. As a Palestinian citizen, or as many of you call me, stateless, I had no way to go back home because the Israeli side did not want to cooperate nor did the Jordanian side and the Palestinian government cannot do much without the two sides permissions.

At that point, I realised that the Palestinian lives don’t matter and the whole world seems to be fine with it. Israel is annexing 30% of the West Bank which will legalize the illegal settlements according to the Middle East peace plan, which by the way, was not consented upon by the Palestinian representation. Consequently, Israel is threatening to close the borders on us for a long while. No ins, no outs. So I still have no way to return back. I consider myself to be one of the luckiest as many other Palestinian students are stuck outside and are facing housing problems, financial problems, expired visas, etc. On top of that depression, anxiety and loneliness.

This experience made me feel inferior and showed me the true colours of many. I realised that as a Palestinian my life is not worth anything and we are so far away from justice. I lost hope in politics and politicians. I lost hope in the world order. I lost hope in the system.

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