JERUSALEM – Salma opened her eyes after she had slept for ten years in a coma because of a bullet. She slept for ten years like the princess in the beloved children’s legend “Sleeping Beauty,” who slept for one hundred years waiting for the handsome Prince’s kiss. To her surprise, when she awoke, she didn’t find him, but instead found something even more beautiful: peace has prevailed in Palestine, after one hundred years of oppression, autocracy, occupation, and repression imposed by armies and occupiers.
I went out to the street with fatigued footsteps, one pulling after the other. Wherever I turned my face, I noticed flying flags, singing children, and people marching in processions. I stopped one of the passers-by and asked him: “What is the reason for the celebration?” He answered my question sarcastically, amazed: “Don’t you know? It’s the tenth anniversary of the country's independence.”
My heart leaped within my ribcage… independence and freedom, after all these years of autocracy, repression, and oppression? Is it really the end of the age of killing, Diaspora, and destruction? Everything was totally different—I had never seen people walking freely with no restrictions in the streets, without checkpoints, and without the scattered soldiers here and there and everywhere.
In the capital, Jerusalem, I saw hosts of smiling women wearing embroidered Palestinian dresses. I passed by a school, and was glad when I saw pupils lining up, saluting the Palestinian flag, and reciting the National Palestinian anthem while the flag waved in prosperity—as I had always seen it in my dreams.
I passed by a building that looked like a bee hive surrounded by workers, some carrying stones, others labouring under heavy sacks of sand, but all smiling with joyous faces. I felt so proud when I saw factories, each with a name of its own. I rode the bus—how relaxed and comfortable I was! It carried me from one place to another without any hindrances. There where no more roadblocks, barriers, or checkpoints. The view of the buildings surrounding new schools and hospitals was promising, foretelling the bright future of the country, a country that will lead other nations in education and development. I was greeted by a view of olive trees and flowers, dancing in the wind, thrilling me with joy. I saw lots of birds flying happily in the sky of my country—the sparrow, the pigeon, and the Palestinian eagle, which I had only ever seen engraved on the logo of the Palestinian Authority.
* Noor Al-Huda Mahmood Jameel Shriem is a tenth grade student at Al-Furqan Al- Islamiyah School in Jerusalem. This article was written for the "Imagine 2018" essay competition (www.imagine2018.org), and is distributed by the Common Ground News Service (CGNews) in collaboration with One Voice (www.onevoicemovement.org). It can be accessed at www.commongroundnews.org.
Source: One Voice "Imagine 2018" essay competition and Common Ground News, 4 September 2008, www.commongorundnews.org.
Copyright permission is granted for publication.
The women of Tunisia have a decisive role to play in shaping Tunisia's future. Fatma Ben Saïdane reminds women of the power of their vote and the importance of civic engagement.
"For both scholars and policy-makers, the materials on the
Middle East produced by Search For Common Ground are outstanding.
If one is looking for balance and depth of analysis, this
is the place to go to get a better understanding of the
complexities of the contemporary Middle East."
- Dr. Robert O. Freedman, Peggy Meyerhoff
Pearlstone Professor of Political Science, Baltimore Hebrew
University and Visiting Professor of Political Science Johns
It takes 200+ hours a week to produce CGNews. We rely on readers like you to make it happen. If you find our stories informative or inspiring, help us share these underreported perspectives with audiences around the world.