Good evening ladies and gentlemen. It’s such an honor to speak before you today.
Dreams of war, dreams of lies, and dreams of the phoenix. If you want to know what I mean by the previous three phrases, you can listen to my favorite band Metallica, or go and live between the Mediterranean Sea and the Jordan River for one year.
Dreams of war: this is what we call a daily life. Whether you’re a Palestinian, an Israeli, or an international, when you want to go visit relatives in a close-by city, when you go to the grocery store, or when you’re on your way back from the Cafe, during every step you take, and every moment you spend, you might get hurt. You come home needing the arms of your loved one to welcome you, but a cold stone is all you see.
Dreams of lies: this is what we’re told every day. This leader has met with that leader, and they’ve agreed upon what they’re going to violate the next day.
Dreams of the phoenix: for many years, we’ve been saying that we will be back on our feet again; we’ve been saying that we will make things better, we’ve been waiting for the phoenix to be reborn from its own ashes, and it hasn’t.
My name is Dia Majadleh. I’m sure you can tell by my tanned skin, colored eyes and accent that I’m a Palestinian.
On April 18th, my phone rang in the middle of the night, and I lazily reached to it. I was alert when I saw the number. It was unusual for an American number to call me this time of the night. I answered with caution, and figured out it was someone I knew. I’ve met Paul Costello, program director for NSL, weeks before that for an interview, because I’ve applied to join NSL. He told me: “Dia, the board is giving me hard time here! I can’t convince them to bring you on the program because you’re only 18! What do you think about it? You think you will be able to come next year?” I took a breath, and told him: “Paul, it is always your decision to make, but I can tell you one thing: If you never try, you never know. It’s a huge chance to take, and it’s up to you in the end. All I’m asking for is a little bit of faith and trust.” And here I am, with you today!
The highlight of my experience was sharing a house with the extraordinary Or Amir. To be honest, she has been the one person around who I can always be myself. I also should never forget to mention my amazing host parents; Joyce and Richard Schwartz, and the awesome other host-siblings; Zola and Sheila from our Irish and South African programs.
The moment I was told that I’ll be speaking in the French Embassy; my happiness was indescribable, for I know that how strong the bond between the French and the Palestinian nations is. As I was given trust by NSL, France and the European Union have given us, the Palestinian nation, their trust many years ago. Trust for us is one of the motives that are pushing us towards the peaceful solution. Trust is so fragile, and needs constant maintenance. Trust for us is what brings us together. Since the day the Palestinian Authority was established, France, together with the European Union, has never stopped supporting us on the development, cultural, scientific and technical levels. The international support, specially the European one, is one of the main reasons why the Palestinian phoenix is being reborn now. This support is affecting every aspect of our lives, even on the personal level.
For example, I’ve been granted a scholarship by the German Academic Exchange Services, to study in one of the leading universities in the Middle East, the German Jordanian University.
For someone who keeps following the international media, it is easy to see that nowadays, everyone is talking about another possible attempt by the Palestinian Authority to claim a full membership in the General Assembly of the United Nations. This attempt reflects a deep sense of frustration within the Palestinians. Every single day, settlements are being expanded, lands are being taken, and the Palestinian aspiration for statehood is fading away. The pain, the screams, and the wounds that were never healed are what making us march for our sovereign state. As I’ve mentioned before, trust as demonstrated by the European Union, is what keeping us together. On through the mist and the madness, we are trying to get the message to you: Forever trust in who we are, and nothing else matters. Hope is in our minds, love is in our hearts, the dream is in our spirits, so we continue our path to create a Palestinian state to be proud of.
Palestinians had enough of the humiliating occupation. Palestinians had enough of being told what to do. Palestinians are no longer disciples to anyone but themselves. It is time to change the dreams of war for both sides, to a reality of peace. It is time to change the dreams of lies, to a reality for truth. It is now or never, that the long awaited phoenix will rise out of his 64 years-old ashes.
by Dia Majadleh