Ashoka Fellow Abdelfattah Abusrour: Open letter to President Obama

Dear Mr. The President of the United States of America, Mr. Barak Obama

I would like to congratulate you on this victory, a victory that is not only yours, as you have said in your speech, but a victory alAbdelfattah Abusrourso for those people who believed in you, and who are full of hope in the change you promote and the wish that this change comes through you and your efforts to lead your country and the world for a legacy and a heritage that is meaningful and plant hope in a time of despair.

I was fortunate and blessed in my life. I had a scholarship to continue my studies in France where I stayed 9 years. I returned with a PhD to my occupied country because I believed that I can make a change and that I am a change maker in breaking cultural stereotypes and show another image of my people and their beauty and humanity through Beautiful Non-Violent Resistance against the ugliness of Israeli occupation and its violence.  This was my way in creating Alrowwad center with a group of friends, to allow our children to use theatre and arts for social change and non-violent means of self-expression to keep them alive, instead of being a number on a list of martyrs, or handicapped for the rest of their lives, or perish in prison.

I believe that everybody is a change maker, and nobody has the right to say “I can’t do anything?” or stay neutral in a time where injustice is committed every day. I believe, like Martin Luther King, that travel breaks cultural stereotypes, and if people have the opportunity to meet with each other as human beings, they will have no reason to go in war against each other. I believe in change, exactly like you Mr. the President and hope that change will come with all the efforts we are doing. And because of this, I was rewarded as the first Ashoka Fellow – Social Entrepreneur in Palestine.

When I first visited the United States, in 2004, the immigration asked me about my name, date of birth, place of birth…etc. Because there is no Palestine on the computer as a country, I was Jordanian – because I was born in 1963 in Bethlehem; My father was Israeli, because he was born in 1910 in his village of Beit Nateef under the Ottoman Empire (Even though it was called Palestine at that time) because this village was occupied and destroyed in 1948 and became part of Israel actually, which was created in 1948. What would be the feeling of anyone who only exists as a “terrorist” but not as a “human being”.

I believe in all the human values and human rights. I believe in Freedom, Justice, Peace, Democracy and equality. You mentioned also Opportunity. I believe that occupied people have the right to defend their country against the occupation, in a time where the occupied victim is represented as the oppressor and the terrorist, and the occupier as the victim who defends himself. I believe that people who fight for justice and against oppression are heroes, like you Mr. the President. I believe that you are a role model, and you will affect generations to come.

My name is Abdelfattah Abusrour. I was born in Aida Refugee camp, on a rented land for 99 years by UNRWA from Palestinian owners of Bethlehem. My family originates from Beit Nateef, one of 534 destroyed Palestinian villages in 1948 by the Zionist bandits.

I grew up in Aida refugee camp, as a refugee in my own country. When I was 4 years old, I remember the 1967 war. I remember the sky full of planes, and all of the young children covered by black blankets, and cherished by their mothers.

I remember the field around the camp, where we used to play, to perform our theatre plays in the open fields. I remember the big holes in the ground, when they were filled with water, they were our swimming pools.

A segregation fence was built in 2002 which was transformed into an apartheid 30 feet wall in 2005, encircling the camp from the East, the North and part of the West.

Mr. the President

Like you, I was fed the love of my “occupied” country, because it is mine. Like you, I remember my past and present, and remember the rusty keys of my parents  houses in Beit Nateef, keys for doors that exist no more, but keys that have their doors in our hearts and our imagination… These rusty keys are still with me. I remember that we were brought up with this eternal belief that the right is the right, and nothing can justify ignoring it. I remember that our right of return to our original villages and homes is eternal, and nothing can change it, neither realities on the ground nor political agreements, because it is a right which is also granted in international law and UN resolution.

Mr. the President

Day after day, week after week, month after month, and year after year, we were living in lies… and broken promises of change… and when change comes; it is to the worse and not to the better. Nothing improves with all the negotiations Mr. the President? No promise of independence for Palestinian was fulfilled, even after 60 years.

I am full believer in peace and non-violence. I am a full believer in hope and right and justice. I am a full believer in the values that make of the humanity what it is. I never hated any one. My parents were full of love and peace. They never taught me or my brothers anything other than respect of others and endless love to give and help the others. They taught us that when you practice violence you lose part of your humanity. But in the same time, they taught us to defend what is right and to stand against what is unjust and wrong.  Therefore, Mr. the President, I do dare to say that you have great challenges facing you, and you are fully aware of that. But what remain after all is what you have said, the values you defend, and the heritage you want to leave to your two daughters and the generations to come. I do fear the day when my 3 sons and 2 daughters, or any child in my occupied country or in any other country comes to me tomorrow or in 10 or 20 years a head and ask: “What did you do to make a change in this world?” This is why I continue to work to make a positive change and work for a better tomorrow in a time where every day that comes is worse than the day that goes. This is why I continue, to be able to respond and say I did something to make a change.

Mr. the President

I don’t know if you will read these words or not… but I do hope that such words coming from the heart, reach your heart, and you can find the hope and strength our peoples still have in them. I do hope that you will fulfill your promise of change, that your daughters will remain proud of their father and his miraculous achievements. I do hope that you daughters and mine and all the future generations will be the change makers of the present to create a better future with the heritage that we are leaving to them. Right is right, and justice is justice. All people are equal, and no race or color is superior above the others.

Dear Mr. the President

I wish you strength and power to carry on the big burden you inherited from the previous government and the courage to keep hope and force to go through the change you want to make, and the power to keep inspiring people that it is never too late for a change to come.

Hope is a live as long as we are the change we want to see. And my hope is that our children can enjoy a peaceful, safe, clean and just world. My sons Canan (9 years) Adam (7 years) Ahmad (5 years), and my daughters Rafa (3 years) and Safa (4 months), my wife and I wish you the best in bringing to the world the change we need.

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