Ms. Zayid Goes To Washington

On Friday June 4, 2021 I attended a meeting with Secretary of State Blinken. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss all things Palestine. 

I attended as an individual. I am not affiliated with any PAC or organization. I obviously do not speak for or represent the Palestinian people. There are 13 million Palestinians worldwide, and 2 million of Palestinians stuffed in Gaza alone. 

To the Palestinian Americans who boycotted this meeting after the Biden Administration handed Israel $735 million dollars in weaponry following the merciless attacks on Palestinians locked in Gaza. This decision to award Israel with more ammunition  could only be seen as a slipper to the face of every Palestinian who had witnessed the desecration of Al Aqsa during Ramadan and the merciless massacre in Gaza that took hundreds of lives, including almost 70 children. According to Randa Abdel-Fattah nine entire families were wiped out. I respect your choice, but it is yours not mine. 

Much was made of the fact that the term “leader” was used to describe those of us invited to attend the dialogue. I am a leader. I am Queen of the DisCo.  There is a difference between leader and leadership. The Palestinian leadership is the generations, young and old on the ground fighting the good fight for human rights against insourmountable odds. It is the parents who find a way to raise their children to feel joy even though bombs are dropping around them, and all too often, on them. I have no children. I have a cat. If someone blew up my fur baby I don’t know what I would do. I was born and raised in a country where standing your ground is a big thing. Yet the world expects Palestinians to live caged, to bury their loved ones, and to never, ever fight back.

When we use non violence we are also smeared and silenced. BDS has been criminalized. Non violent Palestinian protests from Haifa to Jeruselem to Jenin are tear gassed and shot up with rubber bullets unless live ammunition is on the menu that day. We get beat up at the finish lines of marathons and arrested for having more followers on social media than Gal Gadot.

For those of you who ask, who am I to dare to speak? I am an American taxpayer and voter. No joke, I pay a lot in taxes. Way more than NetFlix. So, I have every right to meet with the government that represents us to condemn them for using my hard earned dollar bills to uphold Israeli apartheid and to provide the artillery being dropped on babies whose only crime was being born the wrong faith. 

For those who think it’s complicated let me break it down: If you are a  baby and are born Jewish in the Bethlehem area you will receive full human rights. If you are a Christian or Muslim baby, you get nothing. No human rights for you. No freedom of movement. No right to play. No access to the beach. A Palestinian teenager living in Gaza has lived through four massacres. Everytime Palestinians rebuild Gaza, Israel knocks it back down like a petulant, supremacist toddler destroying legos, and killing a couple of hundred people along the way.

Now let me be clear: Judaism is not to blame for Israel’s crimes against humanity. No faith should be blamed for the actions of a few, or atrocities committed in their name. I am not responsible for ISIS. Christians are not responsible for Scott Baio, and Jews are not to blame for the Palestinian lives lost, and lands stolen. Many Jewish allies have marched alongside people worldwide marching for Palestinian equality.  I condemn Anti-Semitism.  I am not saying this because I’m afraid of being canceled. I literally believe in equality for all and that being equal does no harm. I condemn the killing of children by anyone at any time. Hate speech is never an option. Words matter.

What is a Palestinian to do? It seems like we are being asked to die more quietly. I grew up spending every summer of my life in Deir Debwan, a Palestinian village on the outskirts of Ramallah. In non pandemic years, I live part time in Palestine. I own a home and land. My land is currently being threatened by the extremist settlers who have outgrown Beit El. I married and later divorced a man who was born and raised in a refugee camp. He has five brothers. All five have been shot by the Israeli army, and all five survived. One of them is autistic. 

I have spent my entire adult life fighting for disability rights worldwide including a decade working on the ground in Palestine. The focus of my work was mainstreaming disabled and wounded children into the Palestinian school system. I also pioneered stand up comedy in Palestine. These are my people. My actual family lives under siege. 

My father died at the Dead Sea while vacationing back home. He is buried next to his father who was born in Deir Debwan in 1893. Israel controls every single border I would need to cross to access my father’s final resting place. Even though I am an American citizen, and should be able to come and go as I please, like my chosen counterparts from Long Island who are terrorizing Palestinians in Sheikh Jarrah, or Meghan McCain, I am not. Israel can deny me entry at any time. They can claim I am a threat. They can take my house because I haven’t been back in a while even if it is because God forbid, they don’t let me in.

I am touring stand up comic who cannot stand up. In the before time I flew like 200 times a year. I was always excited to land. Who isn’t? Me. When I land in Tel Aviv. I am scared silly they won’t let me in. I wonder if it’s a strip search day or a passport stamped in seconds have a nice day, day. As I wait  to be interrogated, they leave me stuck in the wheelchair that I use for flying for however long they please. And when I call the American Consulate to complain, they tell me there is nothing they can do.

But there is something America can do. There is something Secretary Bliken can do. And the reason I attended Friday’s meeting with SoS was to tell these men who work for us that enough is enough. 

Joe Biden said he ran because of Charlottesville. He said he is fighting for the soul of this nation. He stood up in Tulsa marking the 100th anniversary of a racist massacre and condemned it vehemently. But when women, and children and even men, (I know that so many of you think that Palestinian men don’t deserve any rights but they do), had stun grenades tossed at them as they prayed at the Domb of the Rock, Joe Biden lost his soul and remained silent. Israel attacking Palestinians praying on the final days of Ramadan is the equivalent of attacking St. Patrick’s Cathedral on Christmas Eve. And not a peep from the Empathizer in Chief. 

Then there is the ethnic cleansing of Jerusalem. Palenstinians are being forced out of their homes to make way for Israeli extremists fresh off the plane from the good old USA. As Yakub, a member of KKKult 45 squealed, “If I don’t steal it, someone else will.” 

You may be asking what can POTUS or his Secretary of State do? The answer is a whole damn lot. Which is why I took a meeting with Blinken. Palestinians are not alone in their struggle. We have allies worldwide, and stateside. We vote. We handed Joe Biden Michigan. This administration needs us and will lose us as well as other voters who believe in liberty, justice and equality for all if they continue to dehumanize Palestinians and green light our genocide. 

I am happy to say that by the end of my meeting with Secretary Blinken, I had freed Palestine. OK. For those who are not paying attention that was a joke. 

Did I think meeting with the Secretary would change US policy? Did I really believe they would ever sanction Israel? No. I live on the stolen land of the Ramapough Lenape in New Jersey. Colonialism and the ethnic cleansing of native populations is as American as apple pie. We also dig a good carpet bombing. I don’t believe that Joe Biden is our white savior who will free Palestine. I do believe that more and more of my fellow Americans are learning the truth about Israeli apartheid. This administration’s tired old talking points about self defense and the mythical two state solution will no longer fly.

Palestinians deserve equality regardless of their faith or lack thereof. They have a right to life. They have a right to have the world denounce their slaughter. 

When I was invited to the meeting I relayed a message and several easily achievable concrete asks that I had formulated with a diverse group of friends and family living in Palestine and scattered throughout the Diaspora. I demanded that our tax dollars stop being used to massacre children. I reminded those listening that Israel evacuating press offices and community centers before they obliterate them is not humane. When the Israeli military attacked the Hammad Disability and Rehabilitation Hospital, the neurodivergent and intellectually disabled children evacuated had no place to go. Palestinians have no shelters. We have no Iron Dome. We are trapped. The United States of America is a signatory on the Convention on the Rights of the Child. The Biden administration is violating children’s human rights by supporting financially and morally Israel’s ongoing ethnic cleansing of the Palestinian people.

I know what you’re thinking. They know all of this. They don’t need you to tell them. Perhaps they didn’t. But silence is acceptance. Given a seat at the table I will always take it to sound my barbaric yawp.

Disclaimer: Ok. Not always. I would never sit with Trump Trash, or participate in some normalization bullshit with Israelis and Palestinians. There are no both sides. There is the oppressed and the oppressor. We are currently bankrolling the oppressor, and we are vetoing anything the UN does to try to stop their crimes against humanity.

As I’ve stated at the beginning of this piece I absolutely respect Palestinians who refuse to meet with an administration that shamelessly displayed their lack of humanity and utter disregard for international law. You do you. I’m going to make sure that even if they think they know, they are going to know: the times they are a changin’. You cannot promote democracy while propping up Israeli Apartheid. 

So that’s why I went. That’s what we talked about. If you’d like me to act it out for you using sock puppets, I can, can. #FreePalestine 

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