The Palestinians Are Erased

The Palestinians Are Erased

A ‘Period Dignity Officer’ Seemed Like a Good Idea. Until a Man Was Named.

Enlarge this image toggle caption Courtesy of the artist Courtesy of the artist

On a recent visit to the West Bank city of Ramallah, I met with the founder of the Palestine Center for Human Rights, Ghassan Boula al-Atrash. Over coffee, we sat down with him to find out what he thinks about the idea of a “period dignity officer.”

First, a word about the West Bank. It’s a place where many of us can’t travel to see the country that makes our hearts and minds go a little berserk.

But in January of this year, I was in Jerusalem for the opening of an exhibition at the Israeli galleries that featured the work of Palestinian artists, and the Palestine Center for Human Rights offered a press conference on the grounds of the Israeli Embassy. The director of the center, Ghassan Boula al-Atrash, called in the Israeli press corps.

“This is an exhibition to make you remember us,” al-Atrash told them. “We are the ones who are being erased right now in all of this. We have been fighting for our freedom for 40 years, and now things are going wrong.”

Then, he explained, the West Bank has experienced “the longest wave of change in its modern history” — but what he was referring to was what Israel has wrought on the Palestinian struggle for freedom, autonomy and dignity.

When he says it’s time to “erase” us, he’s not exaggerating. In the last 30 years, Israeli forces have invaded the West Bank at least 20 times, more than any other country in the world.

“The main reason — and this is not a justification — is that we have a very, very long tradition in which the Palestinians have been denied our very normal human rights

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