This world was never built to accommodate us. Even in the most progressive circles, we are a disruption to be tolerated only if we remain model, tokenized Arabs: palatable and coy, offering the prerequisite condemnations before demanding our humanity. Our allies are few, and our confidants are fewer. We understand now.

Between homelands that have crushed us and countries of exile that thirst to do so, it sometimes seems as if there will never be life before death. If this is how I feel, I try to imagine the plight of Palestinians in Gaza. One second, there’s a breathing body, a roof. The next second: mangled limbs, rubble.

In fear of this imminent death, I dwell in death. I wonder, like Barghouti: Will I ever know life before it?

Will we?

I don’t have the answer. But I know that the facade of Western moral superiority has crumbled. Today, we Arabs shed our internalized inferiority and attempt to carve our way back into language and history: our language, our history. We gather around our collective sorrow and moans as guttural and textured as our alphabet’s A’ins and Kha’as.

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