Our grandparents have viscerally narrated the harrowing massacres upon which the Zionist state was built. But our testimonies aren’t enough. It takes the “confessions” of an ex-soldier or the belated “miraculous epiphanies” of foreign human rights orgs for the world to listen.

Every now & then, Israeli politicians slip up, boasting “killing Arabs,” frustrated that “Ben-Grunion didn’t finish the job.” Sometimes, a Zionist paper runs a headline confirming “Israel is a settler-colony” We cite their words endlessly. But why do they carry so much heft?

Why do we give the authority of narration to those who’ve murdered and displaced us, when the scarcity of their guilty consciences means honesty is never guaranteed? Why do we wait for those carrying the batons to speak when our bruised bodies tell the whole truth?

For example: In an article titled "Colonisation of Palestine… Zionism Must Go Forward," Jabotinsky states: “There's no instance of any colonisation being carried on with the consent of the native population… The natives have always stubbornly resisted the colonists."

Jabotinsky later founded the Irgun: the paramilitary responsible for 1946 King David Hotel bombing & the 1948 Deir Yassin massacre. The commander that led the Dir Yassin massacre later said: "3 or 4 more Deir Yassins & not a single Arab would've remained in the country."

But I know that I am a native not because Jabotinsky said so. I know that Zionists have colonized Palestine without the need to cite Herzl. I know this because I live it. Because the ruins of countless villages provide the material evidence of calculated ethnic cleansing.

When we as Palestinians speak about this ongoing and ignored ethnic cleansing, inherent to Zionist ideology, we are at best "passionate" and at worst "angry and hateful." But in reality, we are simply reliable narrators.

Journalists, human rights organizations, and diplomats come to our homes, eat from our tables, and indulge in our pain, all while ignoring our framing and analysis. Then they spend decades arriving at such "miraculous epiphanies," that we've spelled out for them decades ago.

We're stuck endlessly showing bloody photos of our dead & subjecting our children to dehumanizing, gazing cameras. But the proof is daily & abundant. The answer is there. My grandmother's haunting testimonies have more authority than an Israeli soldier's perfunctory confession.

Palestinians must be given—must take—the authority to narrate, not on an identitarian basis, but relying on the historical lesson that those who have oppressed, who have monopolized & institutionalized violence will not tell the truth, let alone hold themselves accountable.

I'll leave you with a video that I revisit often: the testimony of Nazmiyya al-Kilani.

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