“Palestinian refugees will never give up their right to return,” said Yousef Aljamal, a 24-year-old Palestinian writer from the Gaza Strip.
On this week’s episode of Unauthorized Disclosure I spoke with Yousef while he was in Washington, DC, as part of the book tour for Gaza Writes Back, a collection of stories written by young Palestinians from Gaza in the aftermath of Operation Cast Lead, the Israeli military assault that killed killed 1,400 people including over 300 children in December 2008 and January 2009.
The only way to end the conflict, says Yousef, is to “Give equal rights to all and allow Palestinian refugees to go back to their homes.”
It’s not often that we hear directly from people who live in Gaza due to the Israeli siege by land, air and sea that cuts Gaza off from the outside world with the help of Egypt and the United States, which has turned Gaza into an open-air prison. Many of the Palestinians who contributed to Gaza Writes Back can’t even access a copy of the book because, like most basic everyday items, the book is prevented from entering the strip. The same goes for people. Despite securing a visa from the US embassy to accompany Yousef and two other writers on the book tour, contributer Sarah Ali was prevented from leaving Gaza by Israel. Such is life for those in the tiny coastal enclave, where Israel controls everything, even the number of calories Palestinians eat.
Yousef is a remarkable person who has lived a difficult life. Israel has taken the lives of two of his siblings, which he talks about in the interview.
Like 80 percent of the 1.7 million Palestinians living in Gaza, Yousef is a refugee. His family was expelled from the village Aqir in 1948 as part of a massive campaign of ethnic cleansing of indigenous Palestinians by Zionist colonizers. He and his family, like all Palestinian refugees, are banned from ever returning to their village simply because they’re not Jewish.
“I think [boycott, divestment and santions (BDS)] is the best way to help Palestinians,” he told me. “We are calling for equal rights for all people, Muslims, Christians and Jews. And I don’t think that anyone here in [Washington, DC] has a problem with equal rights. The problem is that we have some Israeli leaders who have a problem with equal rights. They don’t want to give Palestinians equal rights.”
Yousef has zero faith that the peace process can bring about a just end to the conflict.
“The peace process is used by Israel to further advance its colonial project and land confiscation and house demolitions and killings, airstrikes,” he said.
In the discussion portion of the show my co-host Kevin Gosztola and I talk about the white nationalist who shot and killed three people at a Jewish community center and an assisted living community in Kansas last week, the Bundy Ranch saga, Edward Snowden’s question to Putin and more.
Below is a transcript of my interview with Yousef. Read more