Relationships Under Israel’s ID System. (IMEU)

“Everyone can love, but the love of the homeland is different,” reads a tweet posted by the Bank of Palestine on Valentine’s Day. Unlike most places, this time-honored celebration of love is imbued with a sense of unyielding defiance in Palestine. Simply put, amidst a brutal Israeli occupation that separates people through numerous policies, love in Palestine is a statement that extends far beyond romance and relationships.

Following a surge of Israeli violence in recent months characterized by extra-judicial murders, home demolitions, and evictions, Palestinians expressed their defiance and commitment to their homeland with the hashtag بنحبك_يا_فلسطين# (#WeLoveYouPalestine), the title of a song sponsored by the Bank of Palestine, and performed by popular singers Shadi Alborini and Kasem al-Najjar.

Last year, on Valentine’s Day, Israeli occupation forces shot and critically wounded 21 years-old Yasmin al-Zarou while crossing military checkpoint 160 in Hebron, and was later sentenced to prison. Israeli forces claim al-Zarou attempted to attack a soldier. However, witnesses said al-Zarou was crossing the checkpoint with her sister, and neither attempted to carry out an attack. According to the witnesses, the soldiers fired at her after she crossed and was few meters away from the checkpoint. al-Zarou quickly became a symbol of the day as many commentators lamented about the young girl’s wasted dreams and hopes for a loving and prosperous future.

Faced with this reality, celebrating Valentine’s Day in Palestine becomes an instrument of elevating Palestinian aspirations for a homeland free of foreign occupation, all while safeguarding identity and narrative. This fusion of romance and homeland has also manifested itself in the form of popular “Palestinian Pickup Lines”  that take aim at the geopolitical predicaments Palestinians face on  daily basis. These include “you’re beauty is harder to define than Israeli borders,” “is your name Palestine? Because I would fight for you day and night,” and “we can go through checkpoints together.”

In addition to being an affirmation of Palestinian identity and its ties to the land, Valentine’s Day is also an opportunity to shatter stereotypes about Palestinian society, albeit not without challenge. A video titled “Love and War” shared by PAL+, a local digital media company, shows a young Palestinian man’s public marriage proposal in Gaza. The video quickly went viral and received a mixed response. Many applauded the romantic and uncommon gesture, while others insisted that such proposal is a “western norm” that deviates from Palestinian traditions, which would have the man ask his girlfriend’s father for her hand in marriage. It is not clear whether the young man had, in fact, coordinated this romantic gesture with his future in-laws. What is clear, however, is that Palestine will continue to mark numerous occasions in imaginative ways that subvert the Israeli occupation and the stereotypes it seeks to propagate about Palestinians.

عيد الحب في غزة

حدث في غزة: طلب يدها في مكان عام بشكل مفاجئ

Posted by ‎PAL+ عربي‎ on Tuesday, February 14, 2017


About Dorgham Abusalim 37 Articles
Dorgham Abusalim is the Online Content Editor at the Institute for Palestine Studies. He recently earned his Master's degree in International Affairs from the Graduate Institute of International and Development Studies in Geneva, Switzerland.

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