Champions of a flag

As reactions were still aroused about the Palestinian Football team loss against Jordan in Australia yesterday. The Palestinians in Australia still cheered for the Palestinian team. Despite the loss, celebrations took place yesterday. Among the reactions, someone said: “ The most important thing was to see the Palestinian flag all over the place waving.” His very exact words were told to my daughter some eight years ago when she was thirteen or fourteen and was offered by the Palestinian Swimming League to participate in the Olympic games. She was going to be one of the few young participants. A chance that was unwise to resist. I already imagined myself cheering in the front rows with the Palestinian flag when my daughter cut off my imagination and told the man: “ I don’t care about the Palestinian flag waving while I am swimming and end up to be in the last row. I care about the Palestinian flag when I swim, and I know I can bring you to where the Palestinian flag can be raised with pride, not just for the sake of increasing it. In my current capacity, you will only wave your flag, and this is not what I want to opt to do.
Until that moment, my daughter was ranking the 3rd on Israel in her swimming style. She was competing with the best, and I was always worried from that moment when a decision that should be taken when she will be old enough to represent her country. Should she go for the sports and the completion, or should she go for the nation and the flag?
Luckily, somehow, she decided to stop swimming. Of course, it was one of the worse decision made. But as I couldn’t convince her to make a decision t be a child Olympic swimmer, I wasn’t going to be able to convince her to continue swimming.
As much as I understand this idea of seeing the Palestinian flag, as much as it brings me pain.
I understand it completely because I come from that generation when using the colors of the flag together would result in an assault by the Israelis that you don’t know where would it end. I am still haunted by nightmares from that day when my father was detained at the Allenby Bridge for a whole day, because of the pendant I bought with me from Amman. I was maybe ten back then, and I purchased this beautiful Palestinian map necklace with a wine-red color that cost less than one Jordanian dinar. I was so proud of it when the Israeli soldier woman took it and resulted in putting my father in an isolated room, questioning him all day. I remember that slap on my face that I never understood why, but yet, I justified it, feeling that I didn’t some big crime. A situation when my father had to show his total un-recognition to my criminal act, which he didn’t. I remember asking for that pendant after releasing it and my dad asking me to shut up and pull me from my hand before they realize what I was saying.
There were so many similar instances when spelling the word Palestine was forbidden.
I come from that generation like those people, who cheer for the site of the flag, and whose tears fall the moment they hear the anthem.It is a genuine moment of pride, of feeling particular belonging to who you are.
And if I acknowledge anything for Oslo. It is bringing the flag out for us.
But it has been twenty years …
And we know, as much as we knew before, that it is not the Palestinian flag that brings the nation. It was and remains a symbol. The fact that it became an ambition, an achievement saddens me.
Being Palestinian became an alibi for losing and laziness and the absence of competition.
We participate in world championships at all levels, in arts, in music, in sports just for being Palestinians. Not for the skills, the talents, the competency and this are not fair.
It is not fair for our children who are growing into becoming paper champions. It is not fair for our real capabilities. It is not appropriate for Palestine.
We need to be more than champions of a flag …

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