Discussion on the „palestinian identity” is controversial and opinions on this topic are as many, as many are the partakers… According to some, there have never existed and never wasn’t formed Palestinian people. By other Palestinians lived on this land for thousands of years… Yet others say that the Palestinian people gradually emerged in the first half of the twentieth century, then took more shaped form and enabled the birth of the palestinian national identity. A lot of people (obviously also Israelis…) reject existance of the Palestinian people, considering them only as an integral part of Arab population and refusing them rights to any claims about national identity. Even the arab inhabitants of the historical land of Palestine aren’t unanimous whether they can be called Palestinians, or not.
Leaving this discussion behind, the fact is that on 15 November of 1988, in Algiers, The Palestinian Declaration of Independence was proclaimed by Yasser Arafat, which officialy gave basis for the palestinian national identity.The statement was written by famous palestinian poet – Mahmoud Darwish. It might be interesting to quote some passages of this document:
„Palestine, the land of the three monotheistic faiths, is where the Palestinian Arab people was born, on which it grew, developed and excelled. The Palestinian people was never separated from or diminished in its integral bonds with Palestine. Thus the Palestinian Arab people ensured for itself an everlasting union between itself, its land and its history.
Resolute throughout that history, the Palestinian Arab people forged its national identity, rising even to imagined levels in its defense, as invasion, the design of others, and the appeal special to Palestine’s ancient and luminous place on that eminence where powers and civilisations are joined … All this intervened thereby to deprive the people of its political independence. Yet the undying connection between Palestine and its people secured for the land its character, and for the people its national genius.
Nourished by an unfolding series of civilisations and cultures, inspired by a heritage rich in variety and kind, the Palestinian Arab people added to its stature by consolidating a union between itself and its patrimonial Land. The call went out from Temple, Church and Mosque that to praise the Creator, to celebrate compassion and peace was indeed the message of Palestine. And in generation after generation, the Palestinian Arab people gave of itself unsparingly in the valiant battle for liberation and homeland. For what has been the unbroken chain of our people’s rebellions but the heroic embodiment of our will for national independence? And so the people was sustained in the struggle to stay and lo prevail.”
The part which is the most important fragment of the Declaration can be find below:
„Whereas the Palestinian people reaffirms most definitively its inalienable rights in the land of its patrimony: Now by virtue of natural, historical and legal rights, and the sacrifices of successive generations who gave of themselves in defense of the freedom and independence of their homeland; In pursuance of Resolutions adopted by Arab Summit Conferences and relying on the authority bestowed by international legitimacy as embodied in the Resolutions of the United Nations Organisation since 1947; And in exercise by the Palestinian Arab people of its rights to self-determination, political independence and sovereignty over its territory, The Palestine National Council, in the name of God, and in the name of the Palestinian Arab people, hereby proclaims the establishment of the State of Palestine on our Palestinian territory with its capital Jerusalem (Al-Quds Ash-Sharif).
The State of Palestine is the state of Palestinians wherever they may be. The state is for them to enjoy in it their collective national and cultural identity, theirs to pursue in it a complete equality of rights.”
Unquestionable ties with the Arab world community indicated in the following passage:
„The State of Palestine is an Arab state, an integral and indivisible part of the Arab nation, at one with that nation in heritage and civilisation, with it also in its aspiration for liberation, progress, democracy and unity”.
During all kind of palestinian calebrations, whether it’s some official national event or an opening of a new kindergarten, „Fida’i” – the Palestinian national anthem can be heard. It was addopted by PLO in 1996. „Fida’i” means „My Redemption”. It was written by Said Al Mozayen (aka Fata Al Thawra – „boy of the revolution”).
My country, my country
My country, my land, land of my ancestors
Fida’i, my people, people of eternity
With my determination, my fire and the volcano of my vendetta
With the longing in my blood for my land and my home
I have climbed the mountains and fought the wars
I have conquered the impossible, and crossed the frontiers
With the resolve of the winds and the fire of the weapons
And the determination of my nation in the land of struggle
Palestine is my home, Palestine is my fire,
Palestine is my vendetta and the land of withstanding
By the oath under the shade of the flag
By my land and nation, and the fire of pain
I will live as a Fida’i, I will remain a redeemer,
I will die as a Fida’i – until my country returns
Since we’ve came to Palestine, many different public events were organised and at every step we could observe palestinian symbols: the flag, the emblem and the anthem. People seem to be really proud of them, even if in comparison with the countries around the world, Palestine is rather young one.
Here few examples of our experiences with the palestinian national identity, in Hebron’s every day life:
The opening of a new palestinian kindergarten on Tel Rumeida hill – strategic point of the israeli project of connecting the settlements on Shuhada Street with the so-called „Biblical Park” which is designed to be created on the hill. Many people have participated in the inauguration of this new entity: officials, local activists, international guests, reporters, as well as teachers, parents and children, as the main actors 😉 Palestianian flags were omnipresent, proudly waving in the wind… While listening to the national anthem, everyone was standing up. The whole ceremony was maintained in the lofty and somewhat pompous tone.
There were so many cameras and journalists that it created the impression that there were more, than the participants of the ceremony … Small courtyard at the kindergarten was completely crowded 😉
Palestinians love every kind of meetings, debates, workshops and other events, where people have the possibility to gather, to talk, to exchange some experiences and ideas, to eat delicious sweets and pastries, and of course, to drink hectolitres of tea and coffee… People seem to enjoy a lot speeches, both – the rhetorical art and the ability of an attentive listening 🙂
During the 3 weeks which we’ve spent in Hebron, we’ve got a lot of invitations for a variety of activities and celebrations.
Projects, workshops, exhibitions, discussions, movie screenings, festivals, etc… One ends with impression, that Al Khalil hosts those events on daily basis.
Here are photos from the inauguration of new edition of the envrironmental project „Smart Leaders” lounched by the Palestinian Chlidren Art Centre in Hebron. The objective of this initiative is to encourage youth Palestinians to the responsible and conscious behaviour towards the environment. During the ceremony we had possibility to listen to the traditional palestinian songs performed by one of the Smart Leaders.. 🙂
In the Hebron’s Old City many ideas of social work are being developing… One of them is children’s library „Hope for Homes” in the heart of Al Khalil. Project is conducted by municipalities in cooperation with Hebron Rehabilitation Committee and Temporary International Presence in Hebron.
Another interesting thing that one can find in the Old City, are all sorts of traditional palestinian handicraft, such as pottery, ornaments and jewelery, leather accessories, textiles, knitted and embroidered dresses, sand art, and others.
On the occasion of the 26th anniversary of proclamation of the Palestinian Declaration of Independence, city of Hebron hosted a colorful fair of traditional crafts, performed by local women. The exhibition room was decorated with palestinian flags and portraits of Yasser Arafat. For 3 days one could admire the artistry of the palestinian folk art.
Finally, as a Hebron Team of EAPPI, we also contribute to mark some palestinian accents at our place, adopting the mentioned before national identity 😀
Conclusion which can be made is that the palestinian national identity, even if still young, develops quickly and gains more and more space… It can be seen, heard and felt, as an omnipresent palestinian soul 🙂
It’s difficult to deny its existence, as it reaches every place, spreading around by the dynamics of the active palestinian society!