“THE ONLY WAY TO DEAL WITH AN UNFREE WORLD IS TO BECOME SO ABSOLUTELY FREE THAT YOUR VERY EXISTENCE IS AN ACT OF REBELLION.” – ALBERT CAMUS
“Existence is Resistance” The first time I saw this phrase was August 2011 in Cairo. It was painted on a wall and caught my eye and my heart immediately.
Since then I’ve learned it’s a very popular slogan among many Palestinians. There’s a New York-based organization by the same name which describes itself this way:
Existence Is Resistance is an internationalist organization determined to promote non-violent resistance through cultural arts. In our work we use the arts as a means of expression and liberation of marginalized peoples throughout the world with a focus on connecting to the situation of occupied Palestine.
The most vociferous critique to my blog has focused on the word “existence” after I recently urged both sides (Israelis and Palestinians) to recognize the existence of the other. See here.
People went to great length to share historical “facts” to prove or disprove the existence of the “other”. I was accused of not standing in solidarity with the Palestinians because I’m advocating that they recognize the existence of Israel. I was called naive, liberal, patronizing and condescending.
I’ve been criticized by supporters of Israel for acknowledging the existence of Hamas and “cavorting with those terrorists”. I’ve been equally challenged by supporters of Palestine for being insensitive to their suffering and their 65 year Occupation when I talk about the existence of the State of Israel.
Admittedly, I have much more to learn to effectively communicate about this sensitive topic but that won’t stop me from trying.
I can’t argue for one side to respect and acknowledge the existence of the other side without urging respect and acknowledgement in reverse.
I know – I know – I know. Israel and Palestine are not equal. One is the oppressor, the other the victim. One has power, the other doesn’t. One has US support, the other is struggling just to get its message out to the world.
There are tremendous injustices in this Occupation, but I think the first step towards finding real and tangible justice for Palestinians is for both sides to acknowledge the existence of the other. Nothing more.
Existence is resistance. Acknowledging the existence of the other is courage.