I want to say that I was born in a beautiful, clean hospital to the sound of birds chirping and other babies crying, but that is not accurate. I was born in the dark to the sounds of gunshots and missiles in Gaza. When I was born, the power was cut off to the hospital where my mother was giving birth. She could not see the face of her new and first-born child in the unlit hospital room.
When I was two years old my father was able to take us to the United States, where we started our lives away from the terror that gripped the Gaza Strip. But in no way did we forget.
Gaza will always be in our hearts, and since the rest of our family still lived there, we made a genuine effort to visit as frequently as we could.
Over the years, getting to Gaza – my home, my country – became harder. Instead of flying into Palestine from the U.S., we had to land in Egypt and drive five hours to the border to camp out on the ground for two days in hopes that we would be allowed to enter our home -- what was left of it.
Travel is one of the most minor difficulties my family and I have endured as a result of being Palestinian. Many of our houses have been demolished and relatives murdered or unjustly imprisoned as a result of the war. However, no matter how difficult things got, we always made our way back to Palestine.
When I got a job offer with Rackspace in San Antonio I could not have been more elated: a new life in a new city, but I never thought that my first few weeks here would be tainted by one of the biggest tragedies that my heart would ever know.
A couple of weeks after my arrival in San Antonio, Israel began intense shelling of the Gaza Strip. I am in a beautiful and safe place, while my family struggles to find food, safety, and shelter. This is why there is a deep hole in my heart. I watched the news at first in numb shock. One hundred killed, two hundred killed, my cousins killed. With every passing day, the world looked more and more bleak. Watching the news, sitting in a nice, air-conditioned room felt like torture.
I know that there is no black and white in this world, and that it is colored by different shades of grey, but I also know that killing innocent children and bombing hospitals is wrong. There have surely been wrongdoings on both sides – indeed there are even more than two – but nothing in this world, no matter what the story behind it is, justifies bombing hospitals and brutally murdering children.
According to Aljazeera, 1,040 Palestinians have been killed and close to 10,000 people are injured, while 34 Israelis have been killed, almost all of which were soldiers. Aljazeera's continually updated story, "Gaza under siege: naming the dead," puts names to the casualties of the conflict as they are discovered. It's worth a look.
The world tends to shield its eyes when something ugly happens, but why are we not fighting for the rights of the people who can’t speak? Why are we not fighting for the rights of the people who were killed in the bombing of schools, homes for those with disabilities, and even a hospital? I cannot sit still anymore while a horrendous injustice grips this small strip of land. I cannot stay quiet while the U.S. closes its eyes and ignores the most appalling act of cruelty and inhumanity we have seen in years.
I do not need people to support the Palestinian cause, though that would be nice. I need people to be human and stand against the brutal murder of innocent people. Stand with us at the Texas State Capitol at 1300 N. Congress Ave. in Austin on Saturday, Aug. 2. at 1 p.m. Hundreds of protests around the world are taking place now and over the coming days.
"Peace and human rights activists and organizations from all over the state will join together to demonstrate our solidarity with the people of Gaza and our demands for an immediate halt to the mass murder of Palestinian civilians," states a Facebook event page.
For more information, visit the Texas Stands With Gaza on Facebook.