The Silence Has Been Unfolding For Too Long


The following statement was publicly read by Free Palestine Initiative Croatia on 21 January 2024. The reading took place at the end of ‘Red Green, Black and White’ – the performative inquiry by Institute of Radical Imagination hanging the Guernica Falasteene banner claiming “Stand up for Palestine. Stop Censorship” on MSU Zagreb’s facade in the presence of the press and participants.

‘Red, Green, Black and White’, Institute of Radical Imagination, MSU Zagreb, 21 January, 2024. Photo: Anna Rispoli 

‘The silence has been unfolding for too long. The longer it unfolds, the more compelling it becomes. It puts on different coats. Each of them being oddly familiar. We put on our coat of silence for we can’t digest what the eye captures. We are silent for we avoid deeper understanding. It would impose a new demand on us. We keep being silent for we look away. Straight looking would mean witnessing, and witnessing calls for accountability. We breathe silence when we don't call out the others for that would mean calling out ourselves. Remaining unaccountable. We are silent for many are. For being ashamed, for perhaps never using our voice for the (O)thers.

We endure the silence for it provides the safety of belonging. To the silent majority. Fenced off the world. The silence is kind. And we don’t want to be unkind to kindness. The silence feels good enough. The loyalty to silence doesn’t stand out inscribed in our foreheads. The silence thinks no evil. The silence has no thoughts. The silence emerges with a good intention paving a path to someone else’s hell. The Free Palestine Initiative understands the silences we are coated into. We tell all the ones who are troubled with showing up in the streets and joining the protests, performances and other public events, that you are not alone and that you don’t have to endure the burden of silence solely by yourself.

Not even the burden of not using your own voice!

The system of negation of the individual and collective human experience counts on your isolation as it has long counted on the isolation of Palestinians, whose lives began and ended in a clear awareness that they were born alone, and that the very act of their birth was invisible. Their happiness is invisible, as is their misery. They are invisible and even unknown as human beings, as part of brotherhood and sisterhood in the universe.

Despite all the sophisticated possibilities of witnessing the Palestinian experience of occupation, in its most radical version – erasing not only people from the face of the Earth but also the very face of the Earth – it remains invisible. Parents contemplating strategies for sleeping under bombs are invisible. Names written in Arabic script on the white surface of bags containing mortal remains are invisible.

Dear compatriots, all of you who have not yet said JUSTICE FREEDOM PEACE EQUALITY FOR ALL, we want to say that the choice of not making a choice is still a choice. The decision we have not made is also a decision. Your silence is not neutrality or objectivity but an alignment with the long historical tradition of the so-called bystanders, those who have witnessed the horrors inflicted on others and remained silent.

So we say it again – you are not alone, you don’t have to be alone, and the only thing needed is the decision to extend a hand. We intend to be within reach. We are going nowhere, and we judge no one for what cannot be judged, breaking the silence in this moment – on the 106th day of the relentless collective destruction of the people of Gaza – with a song about the ones who were taken away from us.’

Zagreb, 21 January 2024

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