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March 20, 2024

I have a dream: Palestine will be free

Prof. Dr. Mohamed Elmasry

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This poignant painting is by Palestinian artist Fayez Ehsani of Gaza. So far, he has survived the Israeli genocide of his people-at least for now, as I write from so far away, in a country where I am safe and free. But he is not.

Three months ago I wrote to Fayez, asking for permission to publish his artwork. But for a long time there was no answer. Then just days ago, on March 17, 2024, I heard from him.

His answer was yes, accompanied by these heart-wrenching words:

“My apologies Doctor Elmasry for a late reply. The situation here is not good.”

The situation in Gaza … “not good” !?!  His tragic understatement instantly moved me to tears.

“Not good….” Fayez simply had no more words to describe his plight and that of 2 million fellow Palestinians, trapped for more than five months by the Israeli war machine. No food, no water, no fuel, no shelter, no medicine, no safe place to flee.

“Not good….” But we all know the real-time situation, don’t we?

Since October 7, 2023, the unprecedented killing of Palestinian men, women, children, infants, the sick, and the elderly has been increasingly acknowledged by the international community as genocide. And the infrastructure of Gaza itself has been destroyed to the extent that it will take decades of time and billions of dollars to rebuild.

Without showing a single symbol of war or destruction, Ehsani’s painting brilliantly captures the Palestinian struggle.

The lined face of the older woman and the key she holds in her right hand—the key to a home she may never live in again—and the uncertainty on her granddaughter’s young face, tell the story all too well.

Since 1948 more than 7 million Palestinians have been forced to leave behind their ancestral homes, belongings, loved ones, their life’s work.

Many have settled all over the world, while others remained on Israeli-occupied land in Gaza and the West Bank. Wherever they are, they are a people in exile.

But they will never forget Palestine, they will never stop dreaming of their true homeland. Like the woman in Fayez Ehsani’s painting, they keep the keys to their homes, if not literally in their hands, then deep in their hearts.

All over the world and in the midst of war, they never stop teaching their children and grandchildren that one day, they will return home to a free Palestine. Inshallah, God willing.

* Egyptian-born Dr. Mohamed I. Elmasry is Emeritus Professor of Computer Engineering at the University of Waterloo.

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