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(Translation from the Arabic)
I know that I woke up early after their departure; and that some time later I realized that they were gone. Their departure was like rain pounding my bones; like a home awaiting its owners. I know that they were now called refugees, dispersed among camps, in exile, and that their letters were lost. Lost just like the small notebook, the youths, and the picture of the mother. I know that condolences are offered in public speeches, international resolutions, and in the tender faces of the Red Cross nurses. I know that they all love as fiercely - and killed us fiercely. How am I to catch my shadow that is filled with blood and joy, while I am besieged by a refugee's relief-card?

I know my color and my future, and I have heard a lot of tales. I shall not forget the evenings with my grandfather. I know that they cried without end, and that they were defeated, uprightly defeated, severed from their first flesh - the homeland. When the bullet (armed struggle as a synonym for PA) returned to light the spark of return for the homeless their spirit re-arose from among the fig and the olive tree and the childhood games. But the gun-powder in their rifles had been replaced with sand from their eyes, and their humanity sacrificed for the cause with the hope of rejoining tales and songs, hoping to pray in the graveyard, the street, or the shack.

The democratic world came to us with a regional development plan, a Middle East plan, built on the remnants of the occupation, designed to do away with our symbols and the old shadows in our gardens and quarters. I know that power is above the law, and that their legitimacy is false and murderous. It came to bury our dreams, far and deep. I know that the state they offer us is without roots and without branches, in order to remove from our voice the collective harmony and the song of our identity. I know that their new prime minister Barak sings over our ugly defeat and dances with his military boots over our bones heaped from Bab al-Wad to Safad.

I know that the final status solution is designed by intellectuals and normalized academics, who search for half-way solutions, because they say that "the right of return is impossible and unpractical." I know that we are told to take off our refugee clothes, to dismantle the camp and dispel its people into the world, and to wipe the image of the victim from the tent and from the children's faces. I know that the world has put aside from its huge budget, money to rehabilitate us, develop us, and to raise our standard of living. All of this, in order for us to forget (so we would forget) and let go of the key and the door, and to shoot the song of the swallow from our sky. They are searching for a new home for us - with a foreign language - built on a mixture of money, Americanization, and the competition of the free market.

I know that what is taking place now is revenge from the rifle, from the popular songs and "Dal'ona", from the freedom of the sage and the Sanaabel. I know that what is now will not continue, poverty captured by fear and worry. The eyes are directed there. In each camp there is anger and tension, and night has covered the beautiful skies for fifty years. A voice from Deheishe camp calls to hear its echo in a prayer in Yarmouk camp and is answered in Balata camp. This is a people who refuse extinction and reject apology. They flow like the ocean, dig their way as a pure spring through the darkness, and paint their decision in the dawn and the future. This is a people who know who is with them and who is against them. We will not forgive, we will not forgive.

Popular Service Committees, Deheishe, 'Aida, 'Azza Camps
November 1999