Justice for Jerusalem: Why I Protested in Chicago
A hundred years ago, Balfour declared Palestine as “the national home of the Jewish people.” The letter, written by British Foreign Secretary Arthur Balfour to Lord Walter Rothschild in 1917, empowered the zionist movement and set off the Palestinian Nakba (The Catastrophe). Palestinians were murdered through genocide and ethnic cleansing. Our homes were either taken by settlers or destroyed.
This year, U.S. President Donald Trump declared Jerusalem the capital of Israel. “Amerika”, a land of modern-day colonialism and slavery, is following in the footsteps of Britain and the Balfour Declaration by giving away something that does not belong to them. While some call our time a postcolonial era, the world’s biggest superpower, “Amerika”, is still a colonizer and its hold over the entire Arab world is proof.
When I heard about Jerusalem, I was aware — with every bone in my body — that another Intifada (uprising) is on the rise. I began to pray for the men, women, and children that were about to lose their lives in Palestine. I felt numb. I knew I, a Palestinian women in Chicago, could only feel helpless. What could I do? I called my best friend in Palestine on Youm Al-Athab (a day or mourning, strikes, and protests). They shut down everything including businesses and schools. She told me something that struck a chord in my heart. She said, “instead of finding justice, all we will find is more blood and more imprisonments. Justice, it seems, is as foreign as the ones who are controlling Palestine’s fate.”
With a heavy heart, I headed to Chicago’s protest. Chicago, being the city to hold the largest Palestinian demographic in the U.S., I knew my people would fill those streets. They would show the world that yes, we are here, we exist, and we will not stay quiet. I arrived fairly early. My body was frozen, it was 19 degrees in Chicago. We waited until more people arrived. Within minutes there were thousands of us marching the streets of Chicago, turning heads of bystanders and people in sky towers. Chants like “this is not acceptable, Jerusalem’s our capital!” Chants in Arabic like “بالروح بالدم نفديك يا فلسطين” were echoing through every alleyway of the city. As a Palestinian that has never been able to go back home, I felt at home that day. I was surrounded by Palestinians and non-Palestinians that believed in my right to exist.
We live in a world where our existence is considered resistance. The protest in Chicago was just one of many around the world. Although it was a successful protest, we must not forget that this is where it ends. Palestine is still bleeding as it was before the protest and as it was for over a hundred years now.