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Strength in Adversity: Palestinian Resilience and the Palestinian/Israeli Conflict



Consider a scenario where you host a dinner for your friends who haven't cooked for themselves. The following day, you are forcibly evicted from your own residence, and the individuals you invited over, seize control of your property. They take possession of everything you own, including the keys, car, and house, and restrict your access to a single room. This is exactly what happened to the country of Palestine. Despite facing decades of conflict and occupation, Palestinians have maintained a remarkable sense of resilience and perseverance in their struggle for justice. The longstanding Palestinian-Israeli conflict is a multifaceted issue with a rich and complicated history. Spanning over a century, this conflict encompasses a multitude of layers, each rooted in intricate historical, political, religious, and geographical conflicts. Early in the 20th century, a campaign to immigrate Jews to Palestine gained traction in reaction to the rise of anti-Semitism in Europe ("Palestine"). This marks the inception of the conflict. Due to this, the state of Israel was founded in 1948, which resulted in the eviction of many Palestinians from their homes and the subsequent development of Palestinian refugee camps ("Palestine"). Despite decades of systematic violence, dispossession, and displacement, the Palestinian people have displayed remarkable resilience and resistance, which led to the research question: How has Palestinian resilience been demonstrated in the face of its ongoing conflict with Israel? A review of the available literature suggests that Palestinian resilience is demonstrated through Palestinian culture and community.


Cultural Resilience

Palestinians exhibit a remarkable level of resilience in the face of sustained oppression due to their culture, which has enabled them to maintain their sense of identity and heritage. For Palestinians, culture plays a crucial role in maintaining their identity and sense of belonging, particularly in the face of external pressures that seek to undermine their existence (Giacaman). Vox, a popular news and opinion website that covers a wide range of topics, published an article that provides an in-depth analysis of the 1948 war between Palestine and Israel (Beauchamp). In the article, author Zack Beauchamp notes that Palestinian society is based on strong social ties and community support systems, which are key components of resilience (Beauchamp). Beauchamp also highlights how Palestinians have been able to maintain their identity and sense of belonging despite decades of displacement and occupation (Beauchamp). Similar to Beauchamp, Vanity Fair, a well-known magazine that covers current events and pop culture agrees with Beauchamp in the sense that Palestinians use part of their culture to exhibit resilience (Di Giovanni). This specific article written by a journalist who has spent time in the region, Janine Di Giovanni, making it a credible source for first-hand evidence, focuses on the experiences of young Palestinians living in Gaza. The article profiles several young Palestinians, who describe how they have developed a sense of pride and resilience in the face of adversity (Di Giovanni). “Maybe our reality is different, but our dreams are the same as any other young person in the world,” says Fidaa Abuassi, a 24-year-old Palestinian woman from Gaza. The article notes that Palestinian culture places a high value on education, which has helped many young people in Gaza stay hopeful about the future and gives them the motivation to persevere and reach their dreams (Di Giovanni). Another source that shows how resilience is embedded in

Palestinian culture is a Yes! Magazine article that discusses how Palestinians have developed a culture of resistance in response to decades of occupation and displacement (Elia). "Palestinian culture is rich and multifaceted, and has been shaped by centuries of resistance to colonialism and oppression. This culture provides a foundation of resilience that enables Palestinians to continue fighting for their rights and their land" says author Nada Elia, diaspora Palestinian writer, grassroots organizer, and university professor at Western Washington's University (Elia). A different look on the same theme of resilience coming from culture is shown in a peer reviewed academic article published in the Journal of Public Health that discusses the concept of Sumud which is a form of resilience that is unique to Palestinian culture (Hammda and Tribe). The article argues that Sumud is based on a deep connection to the land and a sense of collective identity, which have helped Palestinians to endure decades of occupation and displacement (Hammda and Tribe).

In conclusion, Palestinian culture has been fashioned by centuries of resistance to colonialism and persecution, giving Palestinians a base of resiliency that allows them to keep fighting for their rights and land. The collective cultural memory of resistance has given rise to a culture of resistance, and artistic, musical, and narrative activities are deployed as means of resistance. Palestinians have survived decades of occupation and relocation because of the innovative idea of Sumud, which is built on a strong feeling of community and a connection to the land. The Palestinian people are strong and resilient because of all of these cultural customs.


Community Resilience

The resilience of the Palestinian people is deeply rooted in their strong sense of community, which has been developed over generations of living through conflict, displacement,

and occupation. Palestinian communities are known for their collective and supportive nature, and their ability to come together in times of crisis. Community refers to the social network and support system that exists among Palestinians (Giacaman). It encompasses the strong family ties, social networks, and shared cultural and religious traditions that are central to Palestinian identity (Giacaman). The Yes! Magazine article "Palestinian Displacement and Resistance to Israel" highlights the resilience of Palestinian communities in resisting displacement and colonization (Elia). It describes how Palestinian families in the West Bank have organized to build their own homes, despite the risk of demolition by Israeli authorities, and how Palestinian farmers have used peaceful protest and international support to resist the confiscation of their land (Elia). Middle East Eye, a credible source of news and information from the Middle East wrote an article titled "Palestine: Celebrities Voiced Their Solidarity" which discusses how Palestinian celebrities have used their fame to raise awareness of the Palestinian cause and show solidarity with their community ("Palestine: 10 Celebrities"). For example, actress Ahlam Said has used social media to share stories of Palestinian resilience, while singer Mohammed Assaf has organized benefit concerts for Palestinian causes ("Palestine: 10 Celebrities"). These minor actions serve as indications of the strong cohesion and interconnectedness within the Palestinian community. The National Library of Medicine suggests "The Palestinian community has demonstrated a remarkable degree of resilience in the face of adversity, drawing on the strength of its community ties and cultural heritage" (Veronese et al.) which agrees with both Yes! Magazine and the Middle East Eye.

The information put forward implies that Palestinians' deep sense of community is a key factor in their ability to persevere in the face of hardship. Palestinian families building their own

houses and farmers peacefully objecting to the seizure of their land are only two instances of how the community works together to fight colonialism. Palestinian celebrities' displays of togetherness further strengthen the notion that the group is close-knit and supportive of one another. The National Library of Medicine's statement on Palestinian resilience further supports the premise that community bonds and cultural heritage are essential elements in their capacity to survive tragedy. These connections enable people to access the collective knowledge and resources of their community, giving them a source of strength and support. Overall, the evidence points to a strong connection between the Palestinian community's resilience and its feeling of community and shared cultural history. Although confronting many obstacles, Palestinians are able to rely on the power of their community to stave against colonization and displacement and to help one another get through tough times.

Palestinians have shown incredible resilience through their commitment to cultural identity and community. A group similar to the Palestinians could be the Haitians. The research study "In Their Own Words: Resilience Among Haitian Survivors of the 2010 Earthquake" examines the experiences of Haitian earthquake survivors. The terrible earthquake that rocked Haiti in 2010 and left thousands of people dead (Rahill et al.). The earthquake in Haiti triggered a series of devastating consequences, including significant displacements of people, a severe economic downturn, and a critical loss of essential necessities like food and water (Rahill et al.). To better understand the experiences of the survivors and how they dealt with the earthquake's aftermath, the study employed a qualitative methodology, namely interviews with 40 survivors. The article covers a number of important topics that came out of the interviews, such as the value of family and community support, the significance of faith and religion, the hardships of being in temporary housing, and the obstacles of getting access to needs like food and water (Rahill et al.).

Palestinian resilience is similar to Haitian resilience in that they both have struggled against external forces that have attempted to dominate and control them. Palestinians have faced occupation and displacement for several decades, while Haiti has endured centuries of colonization, slavery, and exploitation (Rahill et al.). Haitians have also shown their resilience through their cultural pride which includes their deep connection to their land, language, and traditions, which they use to resist external pressures and have maintained their identity and their strength in community because they value family and traditions so highly (Rahill et al.). Furthermore, Palestinians and Haitians show an even deeper connection as they both share a remarkable ability for creative problem-solving, enabling them to find innovative solutions to overcome the challenges they face. They are resourceful and adaptable, making the most of the limited resources available to them. In addition, both communities share a strong faith in God and spirituality, which provides them with a sense of purpose and meaning in their struggles (Rahill et al.). Through prayer, they hold onto the belief that their struggles are not in vain and that a brighter tomorrow is possible, sustaining their resilience and remaining hopeful for a better future. Together, these qualities demonstrate the incredible resilience of Palestinians and Haitians, who continue to persevere through the most challenging circumstances.


Counter Argument

One argument that could be made is that Jewish people's ability to survive and rebuild after the Holocaust demonstrates their own, stronger resilience. The Holocaust was an unprecedented tragedy that resulted in the murder of six million Jewish people, as well as the

destruction of Jewish communities and cultural institutions throughout Europe (Beauchamp). Despite this unimaginable trauma and loss, Jewish people have shown remarkable strength and determination to rebuild their lives and communities. In the aftermath of the Holocaust, many Jewish survivors faced significant challenges in finding new homes and starting over. Many had lost their families and communities, and had to navigate the challenges of rebuilding their lives in new countries which is evident in the establishment of the state of Israel just a few years after the end of the Holocaust (Beauchamp). The establishment of Israel was a monumental achievement that allowed Jewish people to have a safe and secure homeland, which was crucial in ensuring their survival and prosperity. However, while it is true that the Jewish people have shown remarkable resilience in the aftermath of the Holocaust and the establishment of Israel was a monumental achievement, this argument fails to recognize the plight of the Palestinian people. The establishment of Israel was done at the expense of Palestinian land, homes, and lives. Palestinians were forcibly displaced and expelled from their homes and communities, becoming refugees in their own land. Today, millions of Palestinians continue to live under occupation, facing daily hardships and human rights violations. The resilience of the Jewish people should not come at the cost of the rights and dignity of the Palestinian people. The resilience that Jewish people showed in the creation of Israel was in itself an act of exploitation. Although it may initially appear resilient, we must consider the nuanced perspectives of the Palestinian people and the broader region.


Conclusion

Palestinian resiliency also requires community effort in addition to individual strength. Due to common experiences of oppression and struggle over many generations, Palestinians

have a strong feeling of community and solidarity. They have been able to withstand hardships like the prolonged occupation and siege of Gaza, the growth of illegal settlements in the West Bank, and the denial of their fundamental human rights because of their collective resilience. The Palestinian fight for independence and justice is not founded on exclusion or discrimination, but rather on universal values of human rights and dignity, which should be noted in light of the potential for separation and violence. While tensions and conflicts might occasionally arise as a result of cultural identity and community, the Palestinian struggle is inherently inclusive and aims to bring about justice for everyone, regardless of their political or cultural connections. As a result of their particular historical, political, and social conditions, the Palestinian people have developed a unique sort of resilience that is firmly established in their cultural identity and community, despite the fact that other groups may also demonstrate resilience. This resilience is not just about surviving, but also about preserving their cultural heritage, resisting oppression, and achieving justice for all.


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