Sunday, 15 May 2011

Chapter 63

Protests and violence everywhere. In the Golan Heights, the Qalandia checkpoint into Jerusalem, Egypt's border with Gaza and Gaza's border with Israel.

The West Bank has reportedly been sealed off and there's heavy army presence on check points.

There was so much tear gas at Qalandia that the inhabitants of a neighboring village had to stay indoors.

Today is the day referred to as the The Nakba or "disaster". The day that marks the anniversary of the establishment of Israel in 1948.

It often feels like there are many Nakbas in Palestine.

Over lunch with the parents of one of our school's prospective scholarship students the father joked:

The real Nakba happened when the Palestinian Authority came to power.

A taxi driver recently said to me:

We do not do ourselves justice. We cheat each other, we don't treat each other right, we don't stick together. I'm bringing up daughters and I'm teaching them not to have faith in this land. Not to trust this earth.

There are millions of Palestinians in diaspora. Millions still in refugee camps - living between the cracks. Citizens of nothing, protected by no one... wanted nowhere.

Still they wait. Hoping to return. Demanding to return.

A friend from a nearby refugee camp:

If we leave the camps then we give up our status as refugees. If that happens our birthright will be lost. Our true origins forgotten. Ignored. Removed from the political process. A part of it is pride. I am a refugee because I believe in my right to the land that was mine and my right to return to it. I cannot trust the politicians to fight on my behalf so I will remain a thorn in their side until they do.

*an image by Palestinian cartoonist Naji Al Ali
**image from Google


  1. its an interesting concept.. i think books could be written on the palestinian paradox..

    (a) the people that were never a nation demanding to form a country

    (b) the people that cry about mistreatment by others who sentence themselves to lifetimes of misery and slaughter their own

    (c) the people that are so resilient and yet to immune to self progression

    (d) the people who cry for democratic rights that despise every relevant obligation

    peace is our only option.. but i have to say my faith is going through a valley at the moment..

    ironically my verification word for this comment is "defying" haha

  2. Ah Lirun I am sorry to hear that you are losing faith.

    I have to say I don't agree with your perspective on this, and I'm wouldn't call them paradoxes at all.

    A history of empire and occupation does not in any way mean that a people who have inhabited a land for centuries have no rights to it. Nor does it mean that their cultural identity is not intertwined with the land in a deep and meaningful way.

    The crimes of government do not mean that their people cannot complain of other injustices.

    The term 'self progression' is one laden with cultural bias. I don't think one can measure 'progress' based on their own society's understanding of what the word means.

    I get a lot of questions from people abroad along the lines of - well why can't just everyone get along? Why are the Israelis/Palestinians being difficult? etc etc

    Those questions come from disregarding the complexity and seeing the situation as black and white. A one dimensional analysis.

    A snapshot instead of a movie.

    I think calling it a 'Palestinian paradox' in this way is much the same thing.

  3. "the people that were never a nation demanding to form a country"

    A land without a people for a people without a land, eh?

  4. sarah - you didnt understand me.. i am judging the progress against their own standards not against my own worldview.. my palo friends complain of the self decay

    alex - no thats not what i am talking about.. i never said noone was here before the immigration waves arrived.. nor do i believe that only jews arrived en masse.. thats not my point.. my point is that when people speak of a country that was stolen its not true.. no country was stolen.. no country was taken over.. a state was established in a cheaply traded empire that straddled a zone troubled for many centuries.. that is not the point either..

    we need to be careful of these narratives growing out of nothing..

    what we need to focus on is the solutions.. practical and fair.. and most of all sustainable..

    and yes sarah i detest my own loss of faith.. but when i see fatah joining hands with hamas without any solution for gilad shalit - i suddenly realise that what one says the other thinks.. and that really i have no one to talk to anymore..

  5. Thanks for the comment Lirun.

    I agree that this was a land conquered by empire time and time again but the fact that people were pushed out to make way for others is more realistic than the idea that it was this unwanted, over traded wasteland.

    I do hope a sustainable solution is found. I really do.

    BTW - what were your thoughts on the Obama speech?

  6. i think the pushing and shoving was mutual.. i have friends from established families who carry tales of the land.. and as much as some people would like others to believed that they were indigenous youd be surprised how rapid the immigration rate was on both sides..

    in any event.. its not relevant.. we have a situation at hand.. two populations that are not good at mixing for whatever reasons and need to self determine..

    i think obamas speech was very obama.. it was perfectly right for him.. he loved it..

    pretty much everyone felt equally thrown under the bus.. no one is particularly happy about this speech all the while everyone is trying frantically to grab on to self serving fragments within his monologue..

    only time will tell what purpose it ends up serving..

    as things stand it could serve anyone..