Common Grounds

Palestine Letter: To report from Palestine is to work with ongoing collective trauma

July 02, 2024

Source: Mondoweiss



Published June 26, 2024


To be a Palestinian journalist is to constantly engage in the trauma of our people. It is difficult but essential work because telling our story is necessary to prevent our destruction.

Palestine Letter: To report from Palestine is to work with ongoing collective trauma



I was in sixth grade when Palestine was going through the Second Intifada. This is when I decided to become a journalist.



"One of the reasons behind my decision was the idea, held by most Palestinians, that our story wasn’t heard enough.


It is the idea that our narrative as a people and as individuals was absent from public debate and people’s awareness in most of the world.


To be a journalist, for me, and for many Palestinian millennials who followed the same path, meant to bring our people’s ongoing story to be part of the world’s consciousness and common memory."



In recent years, I have discovered what this job has meant in reality. By trying to dig as deep as possible into the Palestinian past and present, reporting and writing on Palestine means being in close contact with the constant, self-renewing, overwhelming collective and individual trauma of Palestinians.


Since late 2021, the West Bank has been experiencing a new wave of upheaval, brought about by the failure of past political attempts to maintain stability without ending the occupation—a story repeated many times since 1967.


The expansion of Israeli settlements, the growing Israeli military brutality against Palestinians, and the deteriorating economic situation have led a young generation of Palestinians to look for ways to confront the occupation. Local armed groups began to spring up in refugee camps and other communities, while Israeli military raids skyrocketed in number and in violence. And with each raid, people were killed, maimed, and brutally detained. And the trauma grew.


Palestinians have developed collective forms of co-existing with trauma; special traditions that have given traumatic experiences, including death, a ritualistic form. Funerals of those killed by the occupation are ceremonies that take place on the fine line between the mourning of death and the celebration of the honor that the community recognizes to a martyr’s family. The return of released detainees is improvised neighborhood parties that celebrate steadfastness. For teenage detainees, they are coming-of-age parties. And when a house is demolished, the solidarity around the family takes center stage. To be near any of these events, joining the ceremony requires people to try to merge their individual stories into a collective cathartic practice. As a journalist, I try to go beyond the ceremonial atmosphere and bring out personal stories to showcase a general human experience.


For two years before October 7, I spent half of my time as a journalist reporting an average of one Israeli raid per day, writing the same parts of the same story each time. Soldiers enter communities, shoot, break the doors of homes, and snatch people from their beds into indefinite detention.


The other half, I have spent looking for the stories of the victims, trying to tell them. Sometimes, it was an elderly woman who was shot while having coffee on her balcony. At others, it was a teenage girl coming back from special courses ahead of her exams. And at other times it was a worker returning home with a Ramadan breakfast meal for his waiting family.


Each time, I had to make the family members or friends live through every bit of the trauma again, exactly at the moment when they were trying to overcome it. I interrupted their collective cathartic ritual and forced them to air their personal wounds to me, a stranger. This leaves a scar on your soul every time you do it, which you eventually learn to absorb as part of the job.


Since October 7, the collective Palestinian trauma has become immeasurable, especially in Gaza, where people aren’t even given the opportunity to mourn properly and in accordance with their traditions. Palestinians in Gaza have been forced either to wave goodbye to dozens or hundreds of their loved ones as they are placed in mass graves or to look for their decomposing remains between the rubble of their homes and neighborhoods.


Our work as journalists and storytellers sometimes feels futile to us, especially when death in its cruelest form is visited upon us on a daily basis, to the point that we can’t even catch up with it.


The Palestinian story, which had been shaped by the traumatic experience of the ongoing Nakba for the last 76 years, has been growing in new dimensions with each new massacre and with each new assault on a hospital or a tent city. The voices trying to get the story out seem as if they are drowning in the void, even more so when over 150 Palestinian journalists in Gaza have been killed on duty in the past eight months with absolute impunity.


However, in an intimate corner of our consciousness, we know that the story needs to be told, now more than ever. Ongoing history is not limited to the past. It teaches us that genocide is only possible if dehumanization is possible.


Dehumanization is possible when a people’s collective story, made up of millions of individual human stories, has been erased from the world’s memory and awareness. Though it might be a painful process, in the most painful of times, it is our duty to bring it back.


Fill in the field below to share your opinion and post your comment.

Some information is missing or incorrect

The form cannot be sent because it is incorrect.


This article has 0 comments at this time. We invoke you to participate the discussion and leave your comment below. Share your opinion and let the world know.






Latest Blog Articles