EIC Column: Palestinians aim to have their voices heard


Photo courtesy of Stillwater School Board

At a board meeting on Feb. 21, Shahd Abouhekel read aloud her poem titled “I Am From Palestine.” In her poem, she speaks of her experience with oppression, violence and abuse.

Lilly Sample, Online Editor-in-Chief

On May 14, 1948, Israel became an independent State with David Ben-Gurion as the Prime Minister. What many in the world thought of as a movement to solve anti-semitism became the beginning of a Palestinian ethnic cleansing.

Ever since, Palestinians have been fighting for their lives and for their freedom. Their once blooming country has shrunk into small sections of land surrounded and infiltrated by Israeli soldiers. With 6,000 miles between Minnesota and Palestine, many tend to ignore conflict that does not affect them. But recently, with students like sophomore Shahd Abouhekel bringing people’s attention to the problems in Palestine, people in Minnesota, Stillwater specifically, have had no choice but to acknowledge and listen to the crisis in Palestine.

Abouhekel speaks her truth

At the school board meeting on Feb. 21, Abouhekel read an original poem titled ‘I Am From Palestine’ to the board and the audience listening. In her poem, she speaks about the conflict taking place in one of the holiest places on earth and of the oppression she faces as a Palestinian.

I believe that sharing our stories is like singing a song. When we authentically give our life’s journeys a way out, life in all its limitless potential often finds a way in.”

— Eric Anderson

“The oppressors cause the conflict by releasing bombs at me; pointing out a gun right across my forehead, humiliating and laughing. Abusing me from top to bottom. Forcing me to get out of my home – the place where I’m supposed to feel safe. Invading a property where I should be protected and shouldn’t fear of death or being taken away,” Abouhekel read from her poem.

Abouhekel has received both praise and backlash for her poem. The U.S. is an ally to Israel despite the horrendous acts inflicted by them on Palestinians, and many Americans support Israel and their ethnic cleansing. An article posted online less than one week after Abouhekel’s poem accused her of using inflammatory language to “delegitimize and discredit Israel,” though with a bit of research, anyone could see that all Abouhekel said was true.

“Sometimes people will say ‘no you’re wrong, it’s always been Israel it’s always been called Israel’. People are ignorant and don’t want to know that what I’m saying is true. They deny it.  In school when we talk about it, they call it Israel and don’t mention what happened or the Palestinian side of the feud,” Abouhekel said.

Eric Anderson, the district coordinator, was the one who pushed Abouhekel to write a poem to “authentically elevate student voice”. He believes giving a voice to what lives inside of us is what keeps all things possible.

“I believe that sharing our stories is like singing a song. When we authentically give our life’s journeys a way out, life in all its limitless potential often finds a way in,” Anderson said.

Conflict at home

Palestinians who continue to live where their homes once were, despite violence, demolition and colonization, are stripped of their citizenship, becoming Stateless people. News stories are published daily on the violence and death of Palestinians at the hands of Israelis. Palestinian land is colonized and turns to Israeli settlements, and the land that remains the State of Palestine is under Israeli control with water, food and electricity being controlled by Israelis.

“My family that lives there right now is not allowed to leave the country so sometimes they feel useless. They can’t get visas, they can’t get passports, it’s really hard to even begin applying for one,” Abouhekel explained.

America, along with many of the other world powers, is an ally to Israel, supporting the mass genocide of Palestinian people with backs turned. Americans call Palestinians ‘savages’ and say they are the ones bringing violence to the holy land, while they only try to protect themselves and their homes. Arab men are tortured, women are beat and children are sniped. Arab journalists are murdered, nurses are killed and students are imprisoned.

“My dad told me that back when he lived in Palestine [Israeli soldiers] would come into his house and take him, sometimes keep him in jail for a couple of hours, attack him and bring him back,” Abouhekel said.


The media gives a bias view of the conflict in Palestine, showing riots or protests led by Palestinians trying to defend or protect their land and homes, but it does not show the brutal murder of Palestinians daily, while they have nothing to fight back with.

“The media shows things like Palestinians storming the gates and throwing rocks at each other, but doesn’t show the Israelis attacking them with their weapons, their rifles and bombs and grenades,” Abouhekel said.

A two-state solution is not a solution, it is an unfair compromise that gives Israelis part of what was never theirs. The United Nations was wrong to give part of Palestine to Israel, and is furthermore wrong for not preventing the colonization of more Palestinian land than they were originally given. With the support of world powers such as the United States, Israel will continue their mass genocide, so it is important to get those who support Palestine into office.