I Will Tell My Story Whether You like it Or Not
After years of oppression and enduring so much injustice, there are very few politically motivated decisions that make me angry, exploding a supernova of emotions within me. The decision by Transport for London (TFL) this week to ban a Palestinian advert on the Balfour Declaration on the tube is definitely one of them.
The Balfour Declaration itself may not make me as frustrated as TFL's action, maybe because I am too removed from the British Government's decision one hundred years ago to ethnically cleanse Palestine and establish the state of Israel. I'm of course angry about that and lived my life cursing that day when Britain gave what 'they didn't own to those who didn't deserve it'. Or maybe because I would like to focus on the future more, the optimist within me still believes that what's coming is better, that one day we will have peace Palestinians will finally be free, whether under their own state or a one state it wouldn't matter. We would at least have equal rights as anyone else living in that cursed land.
And maybe because of this naive faith in the future that I found myself depressed to learn of TFL's decision. Because the future can never be better if we don't reconcile with the past, because my people's story is always silenced, not allowed out, an embarrassing secret that should always be kept in the closet.
But it is not just TFL who systematically try to silence our story. As an artist, I go through this on a regular basis. Whether through theatre venues refusing to put my work on without offering an explanation, a newspaper not reviewing my book, a seminar and/or lecture in a university suddenly cancelled in the minute, an arts grants turned down.
This is why I am always on the front row of any Palestinian event in the UK, because I want to congratulate those who, like me, despite everything still carry on, they still have a voice, they still have a story to tell and they are not afraid of doing so.
One day we may look back at these days and romanticaise the revolutionary artists in us, one day we may laugh when people suddenly realise that they have been on the wrong side of history all the way along, when our work is recognised for what it is, when we are finally able to tell our story.
Until then, I will continue to tell my story whether you like it or not. How could I not tell you how much my family in Gaza is suffering, how much my sister is starving, how much my people are waiting for any hope to have a normal decent life. I will continue to shout out loud and tell the truth, tell you a story after another of the young boy from a refugee camp who is now in London, still not angry but hopeful of a better future, hopeful that our story will finally be heard.