A Palestinian mother’s open letter to Melania and Ivanka Trump

A Palestinian mother and her child walk past the Israeli Army’s Qalandiya checkpoint as clashes take place. (photo: Oren Ziv / Activestills.org)

Mrs. Trump, imagine yourselves in my position. What would you do?

By Dalal Erakat | +972 Magazine | Mar 21, 2018

Mothers are advised to tell the truth. That was okay until my kids asked if Israeli soldiers could enter our city at night and harm us at anytime. I did not want to say yes, but I realized that as a Palestinian mother I could not hide the reality of occupation from them. So I told them the truth. As a mother, I don’t want my kids to lose faith in me, but at the same time, I can’t stop thinking about how they are just kids: they deserve a decent childhood and upbringing away from all the violence and insecurity of the ongoing conflict.

Raising kids in Palestine is exhausting — not just physically but also mentally. For as soon as kids become aware of the reality surrounding them, at around the age of three or four, every Palestinian mother must find explanations to help them comprehend what’s going on around them.

Even a simple trip from the West Bank to Jerusalem requires a strategic plan, especially after Mr. Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. Couldn’t Mr. Trump have declared Jerusalem to be an open, global city as way of resolving the conflict between Israelis and Palestinians? How do you explain all this to a four-year-old?

March 21 is Mother’s Day in Palestine, which is why I am writing to you, Melania and Ivanka.

A conscious mother would never impose any political beliefs on her family. On the contrary, today we are supportive of cultural exchanges and openness; we never prevent our children from seeing anything around them. Our kids enjoy games and internet, celebrate Halloween, and dance at prom. Social media has connected people around the globe and the most popular activity among kids today is discovery.

We teach our kids to respect Hanukkah like Easter and Adha. Palestinian kids are not taught that one race or religion is superior to another. But Mr. Trump, with his declaration, is destroying the open-mindedness that we have worked so hard to raise our kids on.

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