Everybody Must Get Stoned

United States-    “It takes no compromise to give people their rights…it takes no money to respect the individual. It takes no political deal to give people freedom. It takes no survey to remove repression.”
Harvey Milk

Last year, the United States Palestinian Community Network (USPCN) launched a reflective initiative called When I Return, asking Palestinians and supporters to imagine and describe “what they hope to do when they return to Palestine.” At the time, I was teaching at an Islamic school in Illinois, and encouraged many of my students to participate. Contributors could submit prose, poetry, photography or pictures depicting the future as they envisioned it. Scroll through and you’d find children as young as five years old posting pictures that depicted peace, equality, and love of mankind, breaking bread, and a general feeling of equality.

As an activist and humanist, I thought that this project provided a wonderful space to express hopes for a positive future. As a Palestinian American, I believe in a future Palestine that is all inclusive, that protects the rights of all people, be they man or woman, gay or straight, Palestinian, Israeli, Muslim, Christian, Jewish or none of the above. I stand against the tyranny of all despotic regimes, be they in the Americas, in Africa, Asia, Europe, or the Middle East. I work against the oppression of the people’s basic human rights. I work toward a future that encloses us all in a blanket of security and well-being, one that requires hard work, dedication, and perseverance but promises a space that embraces all our differences.

Thus, it is genuinely dismaying to see young activists using the same old homophobic and misogynistic tropes when describing Israelis, Zionists, Jews, Americans, Westerners, or any other group with whom we have genuine grievances. We fight against Israeli apartheid and occupation because its system is based on ethnic and religious inequality. We fight against that system because it denies the rights of millions of Palestinians, and seeks to erase our footprints from the soil our ancestors tilled for generations. We fight against that tyranny because it is important to stand up against all forms of fascism.

Beyond just dismay, I worry about our future. Just today, I left a group of Pro-Palestinian activists because of their inability to stand against homophobia and misogyny. It is important to stand up against all forms of bigotry, not only the ones that directly affect us. We cannot afford to continue putting these issues on the back burners until we have a country. We must start combating these prejudices directly, by naming them and defaming them. If we continue to allow this abject bigotry, then we are no better than the hypocrites we are fighting. We, too, become the oppressors. We, too, become the bullies. We are Palestinians, fighting for equality. But that equality is not just for straight males. That equality, that justice, must include respect for everyone, including women and homosexuals.

Many will protest this message. Perhaps your interpretation of your faith makes you believe that it is okay to judge other people based upon their sex, gender or sexuality. However, not everyone ascribes to those value statements. As one’s sexuality has little to do with the well-being of the entire community, it hardly requires attention.

All in all, we have two significant issues in our current reality, and I hope that we will not allow those issues to take root when we return. We have fought for millennia, centuries, decades with the dirt of our homeland under our fingernails, throwing stone toward the bullets aimed at our heads. Our sling shots have combated tanks and bombs, and our people still take to the streets and demand their rights. Our people have lived under occupation and apartheid, and look to establish a world where children can grow up without fearing drone bombing. When they do, and when we return, let’s establish a country built on the love of humanity and respect for each other’s rights. So when we do finally return home, we will never have to pick up another stone again.

Vickie Mansour

Vickie Mansour holds an M.A. in English from DePaul University, and teaches English and History. She currently lives in Chicago. She Tweets here.

Comments

  1. That’s wonderful Vickie, good job! but believe me, having a viable Palestinian state is easier and attainable than protecting gay’s rights! Western moral values are radically different than the ones we have in the Arab World. By and large, it is a religious conflict and it is a must that one of these religions must control the Holy Lands. If the conflict of Palestine is about the difference between the concerned parties, we would have solved it years ago!
    Of course, I’m not trying to convince you, or let you change your opinion. I’m giving you another perspective to consider 😉

    All the best

  2. Hi Tarig–

    Thanks for the reply. I personally hope for a future that has a secular government administering the land. Religion is a personal matter. Since this land in question has three strong faiths claiming supremacy, it is probably best not to set one as supreme against the other two.

    • Well, Jews have claimed supremacy in the last 64 years, the main conflict was between Muslims and Christians in the last 14 centuries, they had a series of religious expeditionary wars and military campaigns over many lands and Palestine was one of them.
      Palestine was controlled by three major Abrahamic faiths in less than 100 years; which were the Ottoman Empire, British Empire and Israel respectively. Even Israel is named after Prophet Jacob (peace be upon him) as he had two names; Israel and Jacob.
      It is true that religion is a personal matter. Though look at Syria, Syria is a secular state which is one of the major reasons of having a civil war in there.
      Having a secular state might be good in the short-term, but I don’t think it will in the long-term.
      Though, if you believe in this, fight for it.

      All the best

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