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Ou Ba’dein?

I couldn’t find an accurate English translation that gives justice to ou ba’dein? It’s an expression in Arabic which literally means “And then?” but it’s normally asked by an angry person who’s fed up with a particular situation and desperately wants it to end. The emotions are augmented when the ein is stretched out! Ou ba’deeeeeein? I suspect that this is the feeling of every single Palestinian who lives in Palestine. Stretching the ein, of course.

Yasser Arafat was right when he called Palestinians “the mighty people” – sha’ab al-jabbareen. Seriously, even with all the pounding on our heads, we fly a drone with a Palestinian flag over the Israeli flag march! It was brilliant. It didn’t liberate us, but at least it made us feel proud. Speaking about flags, and in the wake of the Israeli Knesset passing the first reading of a law barring the Palestinian flag in Israeli official institutions and all government-funded organizations, I’m not sure what would happen if there were an official meeting between Palestinian and Israeli delegations in an Israeli ministry, for instance. Would the Israelis arrest the Palestinian delegation if they put a flag on the table? Palestinians, don’t answer that!

Yes, we demand an independent Palestinian state and we’re fed up, but that certainly does not mean that we won’t continue our struggle. Ours is a struggle for justice. Israel has managed to turn almost every single Palestinian into a patriot; even the least politicized among us, including the pragmatics who believe that neither side will vanish into thin air and that ultimately we will have to live at least next to each other. Of course there are also those on both sides who see a zero-sum situation: it’s either us or them. With all the anger, hurt, and let-down that Palestinians have experienced, I believe that when push comes to shove, Palestinians will accept some sort of compromise. I’m certainly not speaking on behalf of the Palestinian people, but this is what I would consider a compromise that would probably be acceptable: An independent state on the 1967 borders, with full control of all borders, East Jerusalem as our capital, a dignified solution vis-à-vis the right of return and restitution. I know that even this would not satisfy many Palestinians who demand the original Palestine that stretches from the river to the sea, but if a national survey were conducted, I believe that it would pass. I might be wrong, of course, but from what I see, I’m not sure that the Israeli mainstream would be willing to accept any compromise, much less the one that I believe could be acceptable to Palestinians. For those who are now raising their eyebrows as they read what Palestinians aspire to attain, please remember Jaffa, Haifa, Lod, Ramleh, and the almost 500 towns and villages that were razed to the ground, let alone the trauma and psychological wounds. Ou ba’dein?

Long live Palestine!

By Sani Meo

  • Sani Meo is co-founder of the English-language print and online magazine This Week in Palestine and has been its publisher since TWiP’s inception in December 1998. Since January 2007, he has also been the publisher of the Arabic online magazine Filistin Ashabab, which targets Palestinian youth.

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