The Platform

Ancient olive trees in Hebron. (Josh Hough/Flickr; Photo illustration by John Lyman)

Palestine’s narrative is one of persistent resistance and determination in the face of occupation, their undaunted spirit a journey toward liberation and freedom.

In the shadow of relentless conflict, Palestine’s spirit remains unbroken. At the core of the Middle East, it is a nation synonymous with steadfast resistance. Although some may mistakenly believe the conflict began on October 7, the roots of Palestinian defiance reach back to the mid-20th century. The Nakba, or catastrophe, initiated a journey of resistance against the forced removal from their ancestral homeland.

While the Israeli government views the people of Palestine as usurpers, they have demonstrated significant resistance against their displacement and forced residence in Gaza and the West Bank. Amid daily bombings of hospitals and homes, and the lack of necessities like electricity, clean water, food, Internet, and medical treatment, the daily existence in these regions deteriorates.

Isolated from the world, the Palestinian people have nonetheless shown extraordinary resilience, courage, and unyielding determination. From the olive groves that tell of past generations to the iconic keffiyeh draped over their heads, Palestine stands defiant as a symbol of resistance to oppression and a beacon of hope for justice.

The watermelon; a symbol of resistance

After Israel’s occupation of the West Bank, Gaza, and East Jerusalem, the Palestinian flag’s public display was banned. The watermelon became a symbol of Palestinian resistance, mirroring the flag’s green, red, black, and white. Yet, this too was banned by occupation forces. In 1997, the Oslo Accords led to the lifting of the flag ban, recognizing it as a symbol of the Palestinian Authority. Recently, after Hamas’s October 7 attacks, the watermelon emoji has proliferated on social media, signaling solidarity with the Palestinian people.

Olive trees as a testament to Palestinian belonging

Olive trees are emblematic of Palestinian national identity and attachment to the land. Capable of enduring droughts and thriving in harsh conditions, they symbolize the resilience and resistance of the Palestinians. Their deep roots in the land echo the deep roots of the Palestinian people. With their ancient history and prolific fruit production, olive trees parallel Palestinian history and their land’s continuity. Palestinians take great pride in their olive trees, caring for them with appreciation and reverence. Home to some of the oldest olive trees on Earth, Palestine’s roots are deeply entwined in the region’s history, symbolizing resilience and determination.

“If the olive trees knew the hands that planted them, the olive trees would become tears.” – Mahmoud Darwaish

The symbolism of the keffiyeh

The black and white patterned Palestinian keffiyeh is more than a traditional headscarf. It stands as a symbol of resistance in the face of occupation. Following the ban on the Palestinian flag, it became a global symbol of Palestinian identity. It captures the warmth and cultural richness of the Palestinian people. The keffiyeh features three primary patterns: the fishnet pattern symbolizes the connection to the Mediterranean Sea; the wavy lines represent the olive trees, a source of Palestinian pride; and the bold stripes signify the historic trade routes that once traversed Palestine.

The old key; a symbol of hope

The old key symbolizes Palestinian remembrance since the Nakba when Palestinians were forced from their homes and became refugees. It signifies the right of return and the aspiration to reclaim homes and cultural heritage. Clinging to these keys, Palestinians await the liberation of their homeland, hoping to return to their homes. The keys serve as reminders of the displacements and hardships endured by the Palestinian people.

Palestine’s relentless struggle for freedom and justice is emblematic of bravery and determination amidst adversity. Daily, families mourn losses; the concept of a child having a father is now a luxury. As they watch their homes crumble, they hold on to hope in the face of unrelenting obstacles. Yet, their quest for a liberated Palestine continues. Palestine’s narrative is one of persistent resistance and determination in the face of occupation, their undaunted spirit a journey toward liberation and freedom.

Hajra Aslam is an undergraduate Government and Public Policy student at the National Defence University, Islamabad.