(There are between nine and eleven million people today who identify themselves as Palestinians. More than half of them live outside of Israel, the West Bank and Gaza. Nearly three million live in Jordan, six hundred thousand in Syria, four hundred thousand in Lebanon, five hundred thousand in Chile, two hundred and fifty thousand in the United States, and fifty thousand in Canada, among other places. Over two hundred thousand live in Saudi Arabia.
I met the boy below in Ramallah.)
I used to live in Saudi Arabia. My family is still there. I can't go back to see them but I don't want to say why. Now I am here in Ramallah.
The Arab world always says, "Don't worry, Palestine will get her freedom." But they just say that to keep us quiet. I think they gain a lot from our suffering. They can use it to say that Israel should not exist, and that makes no sense. Israel DOES exist, and we have to deal with it. We also exist, and Israel has to deal with us. So we have to find a way to gain our freedom and dignity without becoming the sort of people who have oppressed us all this time. It must be possible. We can't keep going like we are.
A lot of Arab leaders just want their people to be quiet and do what they're told. In Saudia Arabia the jails are full of people who tried to speak up for their rights. People are tortured there, put to death. So they have no business criticizing Israel when Israel puts children in prison. They should both stop it.
Palestinians in the West Bank and Inside Israel go to school. They read a lot and know their rights. In Israel they can vote and even be in the government, the Knesset. Saudia Arabia doesn't want a free Palestine because then their own people might start thinking of fighting for a free Saudi Arabia.
Another reason the Arab world doesn't want a free Palestinian is because the rulers are afraid of women. Palestinian women are strong. They are educated. They take part in resistance and in building the society. Some Arab men think they're better than women, and they treat them very badly. They don't want all these strong Palestinian women running a country and showing what women can do. Their own women might start to think their men should not be bossing them around so much.
I have lots of time to think about these things. It is hard to find a job, and I don't like to stay at home in the place where I am living. So I leave early in the morning and am out until very late at night. I walk around, I see things, I talk to people. When I have money I go to internet cafes and go on Facebook.
Everyone on Facebook says the Arabs used to really be something special, than in ancient days we made wonderful discoveries in math and science. They don't believe that we are still something special, something really special. We are smart people who can do things. We need more confidence. We need more self respect.
Palestinians are really tired of being treated like we are a Third World country. We don't want tears or foreign aid or help. We don't want pity. We are fed up with people pitying us, with foreigners coming over here because they think we can't fight for ourselves. We just want the Israelis to get out of our way. We just want to live.
The Israelis don't scare me. What can they do to me? Take my life? What is my life good for? I am more afraid of getting scuff marks on my shoes when I walk down the street than I am of the Israelis.
Really, I think the Israelis are afraid of us. They don't bother us as much now as they used to. They know they can only do so much. When one or two soldiers goes into a neighborhood and three or four little kids come out and start throwing rocks, the soldiers just leave, even if the kids are small.
The throwing of rocks, it becomes like a game. Like you can be a man, you can be a radical if you throw a rock. Everyone is so extreme in their talk. Nothing gets better that way. Maybe the radical thing to do is to go up to an Israeli soldier and say, "So, what kind of music do you like?"
But that would be a mess, too. First, you would need to learn Hebrew, and everyone would be asking, "Why are you learning Hebrew, the language of the people who are oppressing us?" And if they see you talking to a soldier, it would be, "Why are you talking to that soldier? Are you informing on your neighbor?" Because, of course, the Israelis try to get all the Palestinians to turn on each other.
And even if none of that happened, and we talk about music and find out that we like the same music - so what? He's still walking around my town with a gun, and I still can't get through the checkpoint to swim in the Mediterranean Sea - which I have as much right to do as the Israelis.
So, we're left with throwing stones. And nothing gets better.
If the Israelis were really smart, they would give every Palestinian a computer with internet, a television and an X-Box. We would spend all our time playing computer games and chatting on Facebook and never bother to revolt.
Some say that on Judgement Day, all the rocks and trees will talk to the Palestinians and say, "There is an Israeli hiding behind me. Come and kill him." But I want to believe that by the time Judgement Day comes, we will have been able to figure this out in a better way.