Adonis Diaries

Posts Tagged ‘homeland

I don’t need a law to remind me of my inequality

I do not need the Jewish Nation-State Law to remind me that I am not equal to my Jewish friends. And yet, I was born here, I grew up here, this is my homeland. I have no intention of going anywhere.

(Enough of colonial transfer plans for us Palestinians: we have been ethnically cleansed since 1948 and transferred many times to different regions inside and outside Israel borders, which are Not yet delimited by their Constitution)

By Yasmeen Abu Fraiha. July 24, 2018

Palestinian women cross the Qalandiya checkpoint outside Ramallah, West Bank, into Jerusalem to attend the first Friday of Ramadan prayers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, July 12, 2013. (photo: Activestills.org)

Palestinian women cross the Qalandiya checkpoint outside Ramallah, West Bank, into Jerusalem to attend the first Friday of Ramadan prayers in the Al-Aqsa Mosque, July 12, 2013. (photo: Activestills.org)

Write it down, I am an “Arab” woman
Born to this land
I am Palestinian
My parents are Palestinians
And my ancestors are Palestinians

My mother and her family were expelled from their home in 1967, when she was only eight, so that the army could use it as a military outpost.

My grandmother was beaten by IDF soldiers when she returned one night to ask for blankets to protect and warm her 7 children, who were forced to sleep outside, in the cold.

My father grew up in dire poverty, with no access to water or electricity, while new, affluent Jewish towns were sprouting up around him on his ancestors’ land. This history is part of me, and no law will change that.

I do not need the Jewish Nation-State Law to remind me that I am not equal to my Jewish friends.

I am reminded of this on every drive to Ben Gurion Airport, during which I undergo rigorous security checks because of my last name.

I am reminded of it by every landlord who hears my father’s accent and suddenly decides that the apartment is no longer relevant.

I am reminded of it every time my brother tells me that he was asked to show his ID at the entrance to his university campus, even though his friends are never asked to do the same.

I am reminded every time I am asked “You’re Arab? Wow, you don’t look Arab! No worries, we are all human,” and every time I receive stares when I speak in Arabic (meaning Palestinian slang and Not classical Arabic).

I do not need the Jewish Nation-State Law to remind me that Arabic is No longer the official language of the State of Israel.

I am reminded every time I see poor translations published by government ministries and authorities. Every time I enter a bookstore and cannot find books in Arabic.

I am reminded of it every time I discover that yet another important medical document was not translated into Arabic, or when there are no Arabic subtitles on television.

Palestinian citizens take part in a general strike in solidarity with Palestinians in Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza, in the northern town of Sakhnin, on October 13, 2015. (photo: Omar Sameer)

Palestinian citizens take part in a general strike in solidarity with Palestinians in Jerusalem, West Bank and Gaza, in the northern town of Sakhnin, on October 13, 2015. (photo: Omar Sameer)

Racism and inequality is not a political issue, it is personal.

When my mother cannot be buried in the place she lived most of her life, it is personal.

When Israelis protest and threaten a Palestinian who bought a home in an all-Jewish city, forcing him to give up, it is personal.

When a poet is convicted in court for writing poetry about oppression and discrimination, it is personal.

When the authorities try to whitewash the killing of an educator who was shot dead during his own eviction, it is personal.

When wine is deemed sullied because it was touched by the wrong person, it is personal.

When one is told they are not good enough to be a parent, it is personal.

Racism means using the identity someone was born with against her. It means telling him that he is inferior because of how he was born. It is as personal as it gets.

The right to national self-determination is a personal and collective right.

I do not ask anyone for permission to choose my own identity, or which groups I choose to belong to. Write it down — I was born here, I grew up here, this is my country and my homeland. I have no intention of going anywhere, and my children, too, will be raised here.

I will speak whichever language I choose, and I will live wherever I want. If this gets me thrown in jail, so be it. I will not go quietly.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen in the Knesset plenum ahead of the vote on the Jewish Nation-State Law, July 18, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu seen in the Knesset plenum ahead of the vote on the Jewish Nation-State Law, July 18, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

The Jewish Nation-State Law, and all of the government’s recent activities these past few weeks, are worse for Jews than for Palestinians: The legitimacy it grants Israel’s discriminatory policies places Israel alongside other dark regimes.

No longer can it claim to be “the only democracy in the Middle East.” Israel has placed itself squarely on the axis of evil and has chosen the wrong side of history.

And yet, I have always been optimistic.

My parents, despite what they have gone through, always believed in a shared life. History proves that the good guys win out, and that the oppressed do not stay oppressed forever.

This is true of the apartheid regime in South Africa, of slavery in the United States, of the French Revolution, and even the Jewish people after the  WWII.

I am encouraged from the knowledge that lies and injustices are not sustainable for long. Perhaps this really is the time to go to the polls in droves, as our prime minister said. (Which PM? Netanyahu or Mahmoud Abbas?)

Maybe it is time to build an “alliance of the oppressed” with other groups that face discrimination. It is time to wake up and shake this evil sickness from the ground up.

So that those up on the top will know — beware of our hunger, beware of our rage.

Dr. Yasmeen Abu Fraiha is a doctor specializing in internal medicine and a social activist. This article was first published in Hebrew on Local Call. Read it here.

Related stories

A Way out of History? (May 7, 2009)

            The citizens of the developed Nations, within their own boundaries, feel that they have no longer any need to learn history especially, their own history.  History to the citizens of the developed nations is a drag, a waste of time, of no use, totally irrelevant. They are mostly correct in their feeling and appreciation of the uselessness of history relevant to their nation. Why is this feeling?

First, they have reached a level of social cohesion, awareness, appreciation of human dignity and human rights that reduce historical accounts of injustices to redundant stories.

Second, they are more concerned about their present state of affairs such as maintaining their current level of comfort, consumerism choices, creating diverse opportunities, future availabilities for their desires and wishes.  These modern citizens have institutions to continue the good work; institutions to analyze whatever history is appropriate for the nation, institutions for research, for legitimacy, for governance, for economy, for finance, for strategic studies, for learning, for art, for marketing, and for studying the under-developed States and minorities.

History for the citizens of the developed nation is plainly relegated to the under-developed States. The Third World and Fourth World “citizens”, (we should create another term for citizenship for the under-developed world because it is frankly too pompous and inappropriate any which way you define a citizen), have nothing left but “history” for amusement and to give them reference to an illusory identity.

History for the “history citizens” has been written by the vanquisher and then translated and interpreted by the colonial powers. The archeological sites in the land of the “amused archaic citizens” were dug out and investigated by the colonial powers and the artifacts were dusted off, cleaned, and conserved in secured museums that the traveling tourists and immigrants never visit. 

The chasm between the developed and the “non-developed” States is huge and growing larger by the day.  History is still being taught in the developed nations simply because more immigrants are flocking in and some sort of integration in commendable.

More likely, a citizen would visit an immigrant friend to filling him in on current news and occasionally, getting a good laugh on stories of their respective ancestors.  Yes, the immigrant might know more details on the developed citizen’s ancestors and the history of this citizen’s country.  In fact, hard copy dailies are published to satisfy the voracious curiosities of the immigrants. Storytelling is a cultural trademark among immigrants; usually, getting together is worthless and devoid of any interest if no bickering accompanies the assembly of immigrants.

If there are rival “civilizations” it must be in the mind of the immigrants. They are attuned to any gesture, tone of voice, slang, or posturing that remind them of their “indignity”, their frequent humiliations, their total dependence on the host nation for understanding, leniency, forgiveness, compassion, and equal treatments under the laws. The immigrants are overachiever, hard-working, on constant alert of changes in behavior and special laws, on foreign policies regarding their “homeland”, on unequal measures doled in foreign policies and moral values.

“Civilization clash” is in the mind of the immigrant: the “developed” citizen doesn’t care about the agony and tribulation of his immigrant friend.  The immigrant is a sponge for all kinds of curiosities in art, theater, intellectual life, and any association that invites him to participate.  The immigrant is most likely polyglot and can converse in many languages and he has to suffer being mocked for his accent in the local slang; he has to be corrected frequently because accent is the main avenue for integration and acceptance as a civilized individual.

Discrimination is in the mind of the immigrant.  A citizen would immediately recognize an immigrant for miles if he cared to focus a second on the individual.  The citizen in an administrative position has to call upon the cleric, the community leader, or the father of the immigrant before taking any decision for any kinds of permit application; the immigrant is supposed to be looked after as an immature kid no matter how old he is. Equal treatments are the domain of the citizens and interpretations of the law and customs are appropriate when dealing with an immigrant. 

The whole gamut of the UN laws for human rights were targeted for the under-developed States that are shaming human kinds in their state of affairs.  Yet, many “non-citizens” would like to experience a new era when embargoes on military hardware, military trainers, and military experts are imposed on dictators, juntas, and oligarchies who are flaunting the UN human rights declarations in their under developed States.

Learning seriously the language of your immigrant friend is the first sign of real friendship. Blatantly observing the differences in culture and customs is an excellent sign of friendship. Vigorously and unabashedly critiquing divergence in opinions is sign of friendship. 

Make no mistake:  Any behavior that smack of covert apartheid is quickly sensed by your immigrant “friend”.  Make no mistake: the next generation of your immigrant friend will be exactly you, when you were younger. If you are serious for integration of your immigrant friend then behave as if you are dealing with the next generation, on a par.

“Never” is the name of my homeland (October 14, 2008)

 

Do you know of political refugees who have no hope of returning to their homeland?  Do you know of members of professional diplomats who are frequently transferred all around the World’s Capitals?  Have you ever asked your folks “when shall we go home?” and the reply is “Never!”?

Amelia Nothomb grew up in Japan till the age of six. Her father was a Belgian diplomat. Amelia loved green, flowery and well provisioned Japan of the seventies.  Her Japanese nurse adored her.  When her father was transferred to China it was the period of the Gang of Four after the death of Mao Tse Tong. This Gang made it a policy to burn all the cultural manuscripts and heritage of China before the revolution; famine was endemic.  Amelia was terribly nostalgic for Japan; she asked her dad “when shall we return home?” Her dad answered “Never”!  Little Amelia reflected that her homeland is named “Never”.  The inhabitants of Never have no hopes; their language is Nostalgia; their currency is idle time; their Capital is called Slow Death. The inhabitants of Never are incapable of erecting a house but they worship any kinds of stones; they substitute stone homes with monuments of love, friendship and writings. The citizens of Never learn from childhood that life is in constant decadence, dismemberment and dispossession. They know by the age of three what 63-year old citizens of other homelands can start to conceive. The citizens of Never are a happy lot because any bit of grace dives them in a state of drunkenness.

I am Lebanese by nationality but I was not born in Lebanon.  I was born in Africa and lived there till the age of six before I suffered a near death illness. I spent my childhood in a boarding school; my folks used to visit every two summers.  These rare summers were hectic: my parents did their best to convince me that they were my mother and dad. I used to flee to my home at the boarding school and my parents retrieved me from there. Later, I made vast USA my home for over 20 years of my adulthood and never visited Lebanon due to the war and lack of money. 

Lebanon is the most beautiful land on Earth; in this tiny and compact State you find all the varieties of natural beauty except deserts. I figure that if you lived in a gloomy country, darkening weather, constantly raining or snowing or if you lived in an arid country where fresh flowing water is inexistent and the sun is constantly blinding and burning then your nostalgia for your country is the more acute and everlasting.  For countries of extreme weather conditions all the varieties of natural beauty on earth are just curiosities but never feel home.  The citizens of Lebanon enjoy unbridled liberty, an adjective that describes the financial capitalist freedom to embezzle.  This freedom in Lebanon is characteristic of a non-government or administration; you are totally free to live and die; totally free to demonstrate and criticize since there are no ears to listen to your complaints or act upon them.  Lebanon, the land of water and no potable water reaching the houses; no public electricity; you have got to rely on private providers for all your essential utilities; for quick results you need middlemen for all public service transactions. When Lebanon obtained its “independence” in 1943, forest covered 35% of its superficies; it is now 12%.  Every year many terrible man initiated wild fires eat whole mountain slops: why cut down tree and make coal? Just go there and collect ready-made coal free of charge. The successive governments never found it a wise idea to purchase a single airplane to put down these recurring fires; heck, we have no forest rangers department.

The Lebanese, in this Never land, subconsciously prefer chaos to order; they are not serious about changing their caste system. The Never land “citizens” are great magicians; they want you to believe that the variety of their castes (over 19 castes) is proof of their cultural heritage and their sense of openness but they never communicate with one another; they can be as remote as the Moon in human interrelation; before the audio-visual technologies a few castes were believed to have tails and a few other corns.

The “Neverland” indigenes can convince the World that Lebanon is the Switzerland of the Middle East; they won the first prize in acting all the dramatic roles; the immigrants are trained to exhibit to you long faces and even cry to express nostalgia but they are expert fakers.  This magical Neverland shifts from a glitzy environment to a very conservative climate of women wearing black robes from head to toe within a ten-kilometer drive.  You move from disgusting display of luxury in one location to utter poverty in the blink of an eye within a hundred meter radius. The Capital of Neverland is ranked second after Anver in Belgium as the zaniest, funniest, varied, and modern location for tourists and offering the best culinary choices; the rankers never troubled to investigate if the its indigenes can afford the pleasures displayed in their Capital. The capital Slow Death was re-transformed and re-built to attract the petrodollars visitors and main owners of its high rises and luxurious Hotels.   

            The soul of Neverland is endemically melancholic but its people learned to show off happiness and contentment.  Maybe ancient Lebanon enjoyed the healthy and frugal life style in its mountain villages but that was decades ago. A person has to cater for his soul; it is his responsibility to discover his own set of Truths.  The name of my homeland could be “Never”!


adonis49

adonis49

adonis49

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