“Walking through the town square in El-Bireh, I’d noticed a little Palestinian boy selling Wrigleys — they call it taxi gum — five shekels for five pieces. The child was maybe ten years old and not well kept. His red shirt was too small for him, and was torn on one shoulder. Compared to him, I was a relatively prosperous American, and so as I passed by, I flipped him some change and kept walking. The kid ran after me and proceeded to give me a lecture I will never forget.
‘Sister, I’m not a beggar, I’m a salesman,’ he said. ‘You take your five gums or you take back the five shekels.’
Humbled, I took the gum, realising that when I’d tossed the change to a poorly dressed child, I’d assumed I was giving him something. Instead, he had given me a gift far greater — the assertion of his human dignity.”
A fleeting incident, yes, but a life-long lesson that the writer has taken heed of since that childhood visit to occupied Palestine.
Real heroes are people like Linda Sarsour, the Palestinian American political activist whose response to her experiences growing up witnessing the local police department’s stop-and-frisk tactics and Islamophobia, has been to try and improve the life experiences of others and restore their human dignity.
This book is on the shortlist for the Palestine Book Awards 2020, please click here to read the full review on the Palestine book awards site.