The recently released novel «The Key» by Esperanza Marzouka is a story that was being needed, especially for those of us advocating for the liberation of the Palestinian people. And the origin of its author, born in Bethlehem in 1947, could not be more appropriate at the same time as the Nakba (The Catastrophe) was unleashed, which meant uprooting an important part of the Palestinians and the usurpation of their lands and property , in a process that continues to this day. With sadness, we note that the story may be as valid for 1948 as it is by 2020 and it is possible to assume that the story she tells could have been perfectly part of her selves, if her family had not emigrated to Chile in 1956.
It should also be a must read for all of us who share Palestinian ancestry, since there we will find, in the smallest details of the diary to do, all the essential values of Palestinian life: the sacredness of the family, the reverential respect for the elderly, devotion to work, the deep faith in God shared by Christians and Muslims. And as for women, an eminently patriarchal and sexist society, in which care for the virtue of women goes to extremes that will make today’s young people smile in disbelief.
The information we receive from the continuing aggression affecting the Palestinian people comes to us through news, articles, documentaries and other media. I cite as an example the book «The Ethnic Cleansing of Palestine», by the pre-declared Jewish-Israeli dissident historian Ilan Pappé. In this work we find, as a result of their intense investigation of documents declassified by Israel, a clear demonstration of the level of planned aggression suffered by the Palestinians since 1947, with the luxury of details, dates, places and military protagonists guerrillas. I have to speak from my own experience and say that i found their reading very bitter and painful, seeing how step by step and alevosa, Palestinian villages and cities were destroyed one by one and their inhabitants were massacred or were called to emigrate to save r life.
In this sense, I believe that Marzouka’s great merit is to have masterfully managed to put faces, names, voice and feelings to the Palestinian victims that Pappé speaks to us, characterized as members of different families related to each other. But given the above context, its reading, especially towards the end, also provokes an intense feeling of anguish and desolation, since it is inevitable that the reader will somehow feel identified with the suffering of the protagonists. However, there is no other genuine way to tell it: the history of the Palestinian people over the past 75 years has been a continuing chain of suffering, stripping, uprooting, violation of their dignity as human beings and, especially, a systematic attempt for making his identity disappear from the face of the earth.
The picture we’re looking at can’t seem any more bleak. Although an adjective has not yet been invented that fully reflects the level of injustice suffered by the Palestinian people, the author rescues an element that is fundamental in understanding her resistance against occupation: her unalterable purpose of not renouncing to his right to return to the land that belongs to him, symbolized in the sacred custodian of the key to the door of the home that was usurped, inheritable from generation to generation, even if this takes centuries. In this sense, the words of the protagonist’s father addressing his daughter, seem to me, and I hope, that they will be prophetic: «Despite all that we are living, you must never lose hope. Remember that this is just a point in our long history, a beautiful story.» «I assure you nothing is forever. The day will come when someone, perhaps your children, the children of your children, or the children of your children’s children, will collect one by one the stones of our peoples and recompose our history.»
Despite the sadness that this novel may bring us, she leaves us a valuable and encouraging lesson, which we must thank Hope Marzouka, who, living up to his name, gives us this account of our beloved ancestral land and its suffering people, along with the certainty that a nation that sustains such a conviction will eventually prevail. And in the contingency, this is especially valuable these days when President Donald Trump has just launched the «Agreement of the Century,» which seeks to buy the dignity of the Palestinian people with money, in exchange for giving up much of his territory and their right to return. But anyone who has read the novel already knows the answer: Palestine is not for sale.