The life of an innocent Palestinian – an individual, combating the deadliest of armed conflicts since decades, reduced to the position of a refugee. A conflict that stole from him his land, his family and his history. Despite the fact that the Balfour Declaration (1917) stressed on the fact that nothing shall be done to “prejudice the civil and religious rights of the existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine”, the state of Palestinians today stands divorced from such claims of amity and peace. A comment.
It is a blurry existence. Hazy to the point of obscurity. You stand divided between two areas of living – one your beloved homeland from which you have been brutally ousted and the other your abode of rescue, allowing you to sustain amidst the throes of life.
Yearning for a home, you are rendered homeless in a foreign land. Reminiscences of the past, flickering in your minds sight, tug at your heart with every breath you take. Your homeland, that once stood in its united glory now reeks of politically motivated violent strategising.
In the midst of the aggressive party’s occupational violence, social and political imbecility is made to fall at your end. While this goes on, the only question that you desire an answer to is: What did I do to deserve this? Did my homeland warrant falling to such monstrosity, the parallel of which is hard to trace? With people left eternally scarred, how will we move ahead without submitting the goriness of today, to the oblivion of the past.
Occupational Violence and Paralysis of Peace
Back in 1967, in a public address preceding the Annual Conference of the American Council for Judaism, Rt. Hon Anthony had remarked that, “the civil rights of the Arabs of Palestine lie trampled under the heel of Israeli army of occupation.” Today , 5 decades later, the horrific situation persists and in fact has been exacerbated by the muted responses of world leadership towards the inhumane suffering of Palestinians.
This is problematic on two primary levels. Firstly, it has transmuted the Middle Eastern region into a hotbed of violence and anarchy. The consequent volatility of the region threatens chances for viable peace and security. Secondly, besides the hardcore physical impaction of the conflict on the Palestinians, it has bred in them mental and cognitive disturbances.
Cognitive Behavioural Theory postulates that when an individual or a community is chronically exposed to oppressive and threatening environments, he internalises oppression that reflects in his irregular thoughts and fragmented level of selfhood. Contextualising this in the Palestinian story makes us see how each and every innocent victim is propelled to such mental discordance.
In their battle to persevere and endure the atrocious modes of Israeli occupational violence, they have been made to journey on the road to psychological paralysis. When I say psychological paralysis, I am essentially alluding to the heightened emotional sensitisation of the Palestinians that verges on self-hate and a low level of self esteem. The sort that makes you question your very being and origin.
Suicide Ideation: The sad case of preferring death over life
Possessing wounded and scarred mental scapes they attempt to grapple with their ill fated postures, not only ridiculing themselves but also feeling humiliated as a community. Critic David Lacey in his work “The Role of Humiliation in the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict in Gaza” observes that humiliation not only damages the self esteem of the Palestinians but also traumatises them to a great degree.
When they are constantly belittled as a community, they tend to internalise that sense of inadequacy and it reflects in their life patterns as well as behaviour. Moreover, even when they dare to move ahead with their lives by forgoing their horrific past, they find themselves incapable of doing so. This is because the resolution from a conflictual past is ensured only when one comes to terms with it. Since this invokes all the humiliation that the Palestinians endured, it scrapes their wounds, making them further bleed into the history of chaos that they need a respite from.
For some of the Palestinians, the refugees and the dwellers, a reckoning of their depraved social posturing makes them abhor their lives. With an undermined mental health and psychosocial balance, feelings of frustration are continuously fuelled which impel them to ideate suicide. Since language is the primary carrier of ones emotional wellbeing, an exegesis of local expressions and idioms of conflict ridden Palestinians conveys their sad and exhaustive mindsets. A research conducted by critic Rita Giacaman unravelled the fact that the Palestinian local idioms narrate their social suffering. The recurrent usage of words as malo ishi ( something is wrong with him), dablan (wilted), kayes ( down), or mish mabsut (unhappy) in their regular discourse projects their stilted lives.
Where to look for help?
When an afflicted community finds it difficult to contain their trauma, it naturally reflects externally, specially through their linguistic discourse. So what does this indicate? This means that the affected community needs an external agent of assistance for peaceful extrication from their conundrums. We as a global community share equal responsibility for the Palestinian plight. Just because we are not directly and immediately affected by the violence that has scarred their lives beyond repair, in no way mandates that we stop acting and believing as humans. Our humanity demands that we address the issue amicably, by granting the Palestinians their legitimate right of self-determination.
The first step, and perhaps the only step that will propel a resolution of this conflict besides the elimination of political gimmickry and point scoring, is the erasure of our voicelessness and silence. Let’s start speaking about Palestine, let’s start talking about it. Your voice and your words are obligated with the responsibility to rebuke a wrong that meets your sight. When we do this, miles apart, some Palestinian child may be brought back from the brink of hopelessness, towards life itself. Standing at the shores of faith, he will be consumed with the belief that he deserves to live without compromising his dignity.