A message from Rasmea Odeh
I’ve Been Away Now for a Full Year
Today is the one year anniversary of my deportation, and I miss you all very much. I miss the colorfulness of my life with you, and the value that you added to it! My life now is as grey as everything else in Jordan, but it would be worse without the legacy of struggle that we built together. Our wonderful, strong relationships have deep roots that continue to grow, and these lovely memories accompany me every day, especially on the difficult ones.
This summer was busy and full, despite the fact that I did not have a regular work schedule. When people ask me how my day looks, I do not have an answer! Each day is different than the previous one, and it is extremely difficult to retain my commitment to order. I have never lived a life of such spontaneity. Others cannot understand this! To release this pressure, I go to the gym at least twice a week. Caring for my health and body reenergizes me!
Jordan links Palestine with all the other countries in the region, which causes a buzz here, especially during the summer, so on many days, I received visitors who were in transit to or from Palestine, as well as many from the U.S.
Some of these were already in my schedule, but I enjoyed offering space to those who were not, especially the young people, the oxygen of life and the instrument of change! I am eager to communicate with them and give them some of my time. (Coincidentally, I will be hanging out with two wonderful young Palestinian women from the U.S. today!)
Additionally, I am attempting to build a wide network of relationships with different segments of the citizenry, and restoring connections with old friends. Building and maintaining these relationships takes time and continuous effort, while I also keep up my activism through my travels and my writing.
My dear friends and supporters, I have already told you that you are my chosen family. This is not meant as a courtesy; it is a fact. You are an inseparable part of me, the blood that ran through my veins and the oxygen that kept me alive while the U.S. government tried to suffocate me! You embraced me and stood by my side at the toughest of times.
I spent more time with you than with my family. We combined joy with sadness, laughter and cheer with crying, precautions with courage, marches and demonstrations with strategic planning—all on the path to freedom, justice, and equality!
Lately, I have been pausing to recall the memories, both sweet and bitter, of my case, which persist in my heart and soul. They mean so much to me. I continue to follow your struggle in the U.S., as you, no doubt, follow my Palestinian people’s struggle here in the Arab World; and I continue to see the blossoming of our collective uprising against racism, exploitation, and injustice in the U.S., Palestine, and all across the world!
Our challenges are difficult, but we must elevate our will to struggle, and our determination to succeed, so that our tree of resistance is better able to withstand the storms that we face these days!
Before I close, I want to let you know that you are all, as individuals and collectively, valued treasures in my life; you are like bright full moons illuminating my darkest nights in the desert!
The power of your support flows in me despite my exile and deportation. I know that we will continue to make new memories together while accomplishing the goal of making life better for us all. I met you along my Palestinian life’s journey on the path of social, political, and national resistance, and you have helped me appreciate and value it.
Our future will be full of sunshine, happiness, and love. We will draw strength from each other, because “that which does not kill me will strengthen me,” and I add, “…will also provide me with courage, confidence, and steadfastness.”
Even with the pain that was inflicted on me by the unjust deportation that turned my life upside down and forced me to re-arrange my entire life, I will never be discouraged or disillusioned! As I have already said so many times, I will continue my organizing wherever I land!
And so on this occasion, I want to repeat a piece of the poem I read in Arabic at my farewell event last year:
لن أدع الابعاد يكسرني ولا المسافات تعزلني دروس الثورة علمتني بأن حبوب القمح إذا جفت تملأ سنابلها الوديان
I will not let the deportation break me Nor distance isolate me The lessons of the revolution taught me That if wheat grain dries It fills the valleys with stalks
I miss and love you all very much.
Rasmea Odeh September 19, 2018