As it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, I’m trying to get myself back to writing!
Below were some articles I’ve contributed to openDemocracy sometime ago.
As it’s been a long time since I’ve blogged, I’m trying to get myself back to writing!
Below were some articles I’ve contributed to openDemocracy sometime ago.
“Westernized” is very often the first accusation pointed in your face when attempting to discuss or even try to raise gender matters in our society.” Especially if it stems from someone who has just come back from abroad, let alone it being a woman.
I cannot deny that being abroad for the first time in my whole life has put me in a very serious confrontation with my own identity not only as a Palestinian, or as a Muslim but also as a woman. It has confronted me with different “choices” which for me have always been taken for granted and have been part of my cultural identity. Being exposed to different cultural diversity has made me question the reasons behind those choices, and whether they were made by me or by the social and cultural context I was raised up in, especially after the Israeli blockade which meant being raised in a society, a concentration camp, which has been closed for the past six years with devastating consequences on both the social and the cultural life. I should not say that I am over this identity crisis because I am not. And I am not ashamed of those changes because I am confirmed that they would eventually lead me to the person who I want to be.
Writing my thesis on women bloggers have made me realize that I have almost never written as a woman, thematically-speaking. Being here again has made me realize that it is important that I do. Blogging is a way of releasing one’s emotions, of pouring down ideas, of coming to terms with one’s experiences.
After today’s humiliating experience in which I was rejected from working in an academic institution, one of the reasons given being my dressing code outside the campus, I decided that I would no longer postpone it. I should be just to say that I was also given the excuse that studying a Masters in Culture and Difference, which is an interdisciplinary course, means that I cannot teach in the Literature department. However, even if I had the intention of teaching at the institution, I had to abide by a certain dressing code not only inside the campus, but also outside the campus as well. To teach at the university means that you have to abide by its own ideology.
Wearing pants in a public meeting should not be the concern of an academic institution even if that academic institution holds within it a supposedly “Islamic Ideology”. When education is “religious-based”, when teachers are also considered not because of their intellectual capacity and their contribution to knowledge but by how much they conform to the Islamist ideology in an institution, when decisions are made based on a patriarchal discourse that does not see women who choose not to cover their heads or to wear pants in public meetings, when the social pattern is being unified into a certain ideological vision, then how would that academic institution develop an intellectual understanding of diversity?
Being a blogger, writing has always portrayed the ways I, as a Palestinian, face different forms of oppression committed by the occupation. For long, I have been accusative and suspicious of women who raised gender-based issues for fear of diverting the discussion from our national struggle. Simply, writing back was merely an act of speaking against the occupation which is undoubtedly the first and most threatening initiator of violence and oppression in our society. The national struggle has necessitated a very nationalistic discourse that marginalized the importance of discussing gender and social matters.
However, this is not only the case, but even when we would be writing on gender matters, our narrative is usually that of resisting a Western narrative that objectifies Arab women and portrays them from an Orientalist perspective. An article on one of the Western mainstream media outlets suggesting the rise of conservatism in Gaza and the rise of the percentage of violence against women is usually confronted with comments which denies an already existing phenomena.
I agree western media might not be interested in providing a just portrayal of the situation, but unless we were courageous enough to raise those issues, we’d always be the object of representation not only by western Media but by our own dominating nationalist discourse that gives very little voice to the oppression we face within.
Speak out against oppression. All sorts of oppression.
P.S. I wish I could write this post in Arabic! I promise I should give it a try.
Writing is an act of love. Writing about love is an act of bravery. Not a theory though. For love is too personal a feeling that hardly goes in public; too public a topos that it sometimes becomes ridiculously redundant.
My friend thinks that love is a boat voyage, where she can sit in her greenish sixties-model dress while staring at the person she loves rowing in a boat: A picture inspired by a Fatin Hamama black-and-white movie.
That’s why whenever we both feel an urgent need for love, we sit to watch a white-and-black movie that speaks of a love which we think is unattainable. We’d reckon that if we’d take part in one of those films, then it would absolutely be the ladies no one even notices in the background. Not out of desperation or lack of self-confidence, but out of a realization that a happily-ever-after love story is a mere fictitious fallacy until proven otherwise.
It is hard to believe our need to be loved when the whole world around us sounds on the verge of crumbling. Do we really have a space for love when the world is so messed up?
There’s in us the need for love. There’s in us the capacity to grieve. There’s in us the capacity to heal. There’s in us the forgetfulness of a memory; yet there are memories that can never be forgotten.
Gazans: Superhuman, are we?
Going through the stream of Media outlets every morning is torturous. I sit here in the college café, foreign music playing, foreign eyes staring at their facebook pages, but none of theirs-like mine. Incomprehensive languages alienate me even more. Language barrier they call it. Even here, I’m haunted by barriers. I read the news from home and amidst the tranquillity of this place arises a strange feeling of foreignness. An escape from politics is impossible. Being a Palestinian means that we carry our Palestinianness to the furthest spot on earth. We can never dissociate ourselves from Palestine no matter how hard we tried. In the happiest of moments, the misery of home makes us miserable and in the saddest, the joy of memories brings us to life again.
A friend of mine once told me that she will be waiting for my writing from “El ghorba” exile. I find it really hard sometimes to put all of those chaotic thoughts together in one post. Sometimes, I even try to defy it, this feeling of foreignness and alienation that smells out of here. People’s friendly smile yet their unapproachable distance make me yearn to the warmth of home, the closeness of best friends and the daily fights with family. It’s been six months here. I am half the way through. The experience of being here has been illuminating, however. It did change me.
Being born and raised in Gaza, Palestine, I barely had any genuine contact with the world. The world for me was the impassable 360 km. that constitutes the Gaza Strip. My contact with my own country was restricted or rather impossible. The only Palestinians I met were always those residing in the Gaza Strip. This sense of fragmentation that I was part of has somehow reached to the way we define ourselves. The last six years by which Gaza has been held under one of the cruellest illegal blockades has assisted in this fragmentation. The intensity of the Israeli atrocities directed at the Palestinian population in Gaza and the world’s attention that shifts swiftly and severely from one spot to the other, with Gaza getting the bulk of this attention due to the brutality and inhumanity of the illegal siege, the way we started to define ourselves was made to be fragmented as well. And we, somehow, came to think of ourselves as Gazans. Sometimes, only Gazans.
It is mainly the Israeli occupation policies of apartheid and separation that are creating this sense of fragmentation and self-autonomy in both the West Bank and Gaza Strip upon which we are being dragged to believe every day. This, unfortunately or rather disappointingly, or shamefully ( I apologize for I always fail to find the suitable definition of this ) is supported by the internal separation of both governments in the West Bank and Gaza.
I don’t think I am really blaming any Palestinian of this. I cannot. For I am just another victim of a process of linguistic-colonization, and as hard as we’re trying, those long-persisting policies of Apartheid can sometimes lead us to such unconscious linguistic but disastrous utterances.
Last month, while touring the north East of England as part of a “Women of Palestine tour” organized by the Yorkshire PSC, I was corrected by another Palestinian woman speaker, a refugee in Aida refugee camp in Bethlehem, while giving a talk about education under occupation in the Gaza Strip. Repeatedly, I referred to myself as a Gazan. My friend, irritated, said that I should rather refer to myself as a Palestinian. I felt embarrassed. What gives me the right to think that I, being born and raised in Gaza, am a unique Palestinian?
I do realize that being a Palestinian from Gaza does not give me any privilege. This is what makes of the experience of meeting with other Palestinians elsewhere life-worthy. I was fortunate enough to meet four Palestinian women who somehow resonated some different experience of home. Living together in one small house that was kindly given to us by one of the PSC supporters in Sheffield was one of the best days of my life. When sadly bedding farewell to each other after ten days, we left a thank you note to the lady that said:
“Thank you for bringing together a smaller Palestine in your house”
Sameeha , Gaza
Kholoud, Ayda Camp Bethlehem
Zeinab , Hebron
Kholood, a Palestinian citizen of Israel
The uniqueness of this particular experience is my realization of how variable our contact with the occupation is.
The cultural, linguistic and identity challenges Kholood sarcastically represented while standing to introduce herself as: The Ticking bomb, referring to the way she lived in a state where she is being previewed as a constant threat and treated as a second-class citizen. Somehow before this, I thought that Palestinians in Israel are sort of privileged. At least they didn’t have to leave their houses, I thought. I could never imagine the sense of isolation and the discrimination that Palestinians in Israel are facing on daily basis. It is then I realized: “Well, that is an existential Palestinian experience”.
The very determined Zainab brought with her a Palestinian persistence to discuss water Crisis. Only water crisis. It was her first time out of Palestine, too. She refused to refer to her personal experiences living in Hebron. She, I thought, didn’t even enjoy the heavenly countryside of Yorkshire. She was never impressed by anything, we all judged. “Zainab, look at this” we said, pointing at the mountains, the rivers, and reservoirs while being driven from one countryside to another. She’d look, unimpressed and hum, “Aha”. Irritated by our constant reference to how strict she was, she finally revealed why she was never enthusiastic about anything in one of the talks. “My friends” she said very calmly, “are wondering why I’m never enthusiastic about being in the UK, but I’m telling them, there’s NO Place more beautiful than Palestine.” I was on the verge of crying. We were all are, in fact when she added, “I know that I am only here for a week. Then, I will go back again. I will cross the checkpoint again.”
It was hard to believe how Kholoud could somehow manage to make of her life in Aida refugee camp a bitter-sweet tale. My linguistic abilities are insufficient to portray her delicate smile yet her cunning giggles that startled everyone around. Passionately, she discussed her life in a refugee camp and her work in Human Rights organization, her struggle to get through the checkpoints where sometimes she had to commute for six hours to give a two-hour workshop on human rights. But, she had the same passion to life, jokes, and music.
That’s how illuminating the experience was. That’s why I’ve become very irritated by the way some of us are forgetting about the totality of the Palestinian experience. I understand how intense and inhumane the situation in Gaza is. I’ve lived it. I am living it. But by no means does it give me the right to think of myself as someone who’s suffering more. Fighting to our daily right to electricity should equate voicing out our right to return. Let’s not forget about that.
I was also very irritated by a picture circulated around facebook of a little “Ghazzawi” Gazan child challenging the supernatural Hulk indicating somehow that Palestinians in Gaza are superhuman. We are not. As much as I’d like to think that I am. We are human beings who are being dehumanized on daily basis by the Apartheid policies of Israel. We are human beings who have the capacity and the endurance of human beings. We sometimes feel we’re about to explode. We mourn our dead ones and we value life. Life does not go on as it used to be when a loved one is gone. Something inside us is gone as well with their leaving. But with the daily dehumanization, our humanity elevates.
Ps. That Women of Palestine tour would not have been such a success without the inspiring and persistent work of the PSC in the North East England.
A special tribute is paid to the brave Abu Baker, who’s been vital part of this tour and who sadly passed away while campaigning.
A note to all the other wonderful Palestinian women whom I met while touring: Reem Kelani, Maha Rezeq, and Arwa. “One day in a free Palestine”
Wala’: The Untrodden Beauty of Palestine
Reading the title, her smile must have already found its way to her face, tears welling in her eyes with a Palestinian proud refusal to surrender to a burst of overwhelming emotions. Yet you could still ostensibly see the tears struggling around the green apple of her eyes just like every time she remembers that next year we might never meet again. Just like the first time it dawned upon her, upon me, this absolutely ridiculous fact that next year is going to bring us back to our 23-year separation.
Her name is Wala. My first Palestinian friend I meet from the other part of Palestine. The West Bank where my feet have never trodden but my heart has always yearned to.
Wala’ is the essence of the fragmentation of home. She’s the inaccessible world I was ever denied just for the simple fact that both of us were born in different part of the borders. She in Hebron. I in Gaza.
“It’s two hours by car,” we explained to our Chinese flatmate. Our tireless exhausting talks to that poor Chinese girl on why we cannot meet at home were futile, however. She seemingly couldn’t comprehend it. “Why are you making of such a very short drive a complex matter? Isn’t it only an hour or two-hour drive by car? Then, why cannot you both simply meet?” She kept repeating, bemused by our desperate looks. Yet, I wouldn’t blame her. For years, I had struggled with the same thought and question of why? My mother couldn’t explain it to me. Neither could politics or even history.
It is our peculiar contradiction yet striking resemblance that makes of us, as I’d like to think, the embodiment of “Palestine”. Unlike me, she’s got a Marxist mentality rebelling against all sort of rules that might constraint her. Her impatient character, I assume, is a result of hours of waiting on checkpoints. Her uncouth constant insults have once been directed to hostile armed settlers. Simply, Wala is a typical revolutionary Hebronite who, despite everything, refuses to be confined by anything.
Watching us in the kitchen is not a pleasant scene for our friends (especially with knives at hand). They would beg us not to hurt each other while arguing whether hers or mine is the right way of flipping the Maqlooba, the Palestinian traditional dish (Doubtful as I have become of the fact). Shouting at her and swiftly smiling victoriously after our continuous attempt of cooking the maqloobah work tells me of the many similarities that can bring us together no matter how forcefully the occupation is trying to draw us asunder. Our love for za’tar ( Thyme). Our similar Palestinian embroidered dresses. Our Kuffeya. Our keenness to the same type of traditional and national songs of belonging and home. Our resentment to the same occupier
At a time, Wala’s existence was a mere thought of a beautiful Palestine lying unreachable behind the borders amongst hundreds of checkpoints and behind a lifeless wall, deaf to all those shouts for freedom in the impulsive graffiti. A silly joke we used to tell of a Hebronite. A news item of how aggressive the settlers are being towards the residents of Hebron. Now, she’s just my country fellow in exile. In the cold countryside of England.
Struggling to find a proper end to this post, I just cannot. I thought about, “And when I tell my children of another part of Palestine called Hebron, I’ll remember my dear Hebronite friend”, but this is not the end I want. This is not the end
“I should charge my laptop before I get to sleep”, I thought before I got under my thick blanket on my first night in Ustinov College, Durham. Realizing I’d no longer need to worry about electricity cuts, at least not for the next year, I beamed. Even sleeping turns out to be a totally new experience here, out of Gaza. I slept, not worrying that I should be waking up on dawn to catch up with some online reading before the electricity is off for the most part of the day; I slept without selfishly convincing myself that the shelling shocking my house every now and then and claiming the lives of other Gazans is somehow going to be far from my house, my family and my loved ones.
It’s been two weeks since I’ve been here and each day brings about new dimensions to life. A realization of how much I’ve been forcefully robbed.
Every morning, I helplessly run downstairs, eager to check on my mail. While my flatmates carelessly check their mail as if doing so is a boring daily life routine, I enthusiastically flip through the envelopes searching for the mail coming under my name. Mostly, it’s receipts and notices. But, no matter how formal those letters are, getting them still fills me with a sense of life. And I just wish that one day I’ll boringly go through the mail as careless. I wish for the day when this is no longer an exceptional experience, when getting a bunch of books from a friend in the US won’t have to take six months to get to me, when a postcard with an Eiffel tower finds its way to my heart without the burden of first going all the way to Jerusalem then me, if I were lucky enough.
In Gaza, nothing has felt more disheartening and infuriating than the shortage of books I would be recommended. Wandering around the very few bookshops in Gaza, I could barely see any recent publications for Palestinian writers. The most torturous to find were those of Edward Said who, widely read here, is barely read in our academic curricula. Books are everywhere here: every Department, Every street, every house, and every corner, sometimes. Thinking their policies would result in an ignorant native population, they are unaware they are making of us a generation thirsty for books, and for knowledge. Books were my solicitous companion in darkness; books still are my enlightening companion.
Every new experience, whether a musical concert, a museum, a theatre, a street performance and more, reminds me of home. It reminds me of the injustice I’ve been subjected to on daily basis. And I realize it when I speak of how it’s like to live in Palestine for people here. Stunned, emotional, shocked, or even tearful as some people could get when I speak of the mundane things that I once took for granted as a Gazan, it’s me who’s the more shocked or even traumatized to realize how unfair I was to myself when I considered a life of injustice as the norm. And I’m bound more to home, to Gaza, to Palestine. I realize that my life is all about fighting. Fighting for life.
8th October, 2011
The window in the middle of that white painted wall overlooks the dark sky where the wind is whistling softly contributing to the miscellaneous musical tones coming out of those instruments. A guitar lies carelessly in the corner. The Candles light dwindle every now and then. I involuntarily close my eyes to endless thoughts when I realize I would lose sight of the passion by which the hands are gripping this unbelievably tiny instrument, I open them, heave a sigh, and a tear escapes my eyes. A first experience is a rebirth to life.
Reasoning September: An attempt of an average Palestinian to Reason the UN statehood bid.
Part One: Representational Dilemma
Here comes September. The long-awaited month has finally arrived and brought with it a severe public controversy over the ramifications of the PA’s proposal for statehood at the UN.
The following is just a simple attempt from an average Palestinian to reason the justifications behind the PA’s unreasonable step.
To claim that an average Palestinian is to take the time to think of the political and legal indications of such a move is to be misleading. An average Palestinian might in fact be the least interested whether a state would be declared in September or not, yet he is the one whose life is most profoundly influenced by the sequences of any hasty act of folly by the PA demonstrated by long history of disappointing actions. This is for sure is not an undermining of the Palestinian’s public political awareness for they are the ones who live the sequences of any step or measure suggested or implemented by the PA. Therefore, they definitely have more priorities than to think of the consequences. They would rather be preoccupied with the struggle to survive the consequences of yet other foolish actions that have been long undertaken by their wise political government.
I will not claim to be objective. I do oppose a September state. However, due to the last controversy over the implications of the state, it dawned on me that, “Maybe, this time I was being unjust to the PA, and maybe there’s this little chance that the PA would do something in the interest of the Palestinians. After all, how unjust and foolish could they go?”
I am a refugee. Who is to represent me?
Amongst those public debates whether this bid would endanger the Palestinians in anyway possible was the discussion over representation. Who Would represent the Palestinians? And whom exactly would this state represent?
Are there any threats jeopardizing the rights of more than 9 million Palestinians of whom only less than half the population lives in the Gaza Strip and the West bank, the territories to be declared as the Palestinian state?
If the PLO, the sole legitimate representative of Palestinians at home and in Diaspora, which is not defined by territory but rather by the Palestinians as a people would be replaced with the Palestinian state contained with the borders of 1967, then what is the destiny of millions of Palestinian refugees living outside the borders? Would they be also part of the Palestine state? Would this declaration affect their inalienable right of return?
the PLO has been representing the Palestinian people, internationally and within the United Nations [UN] since 1965 acting in the name of the totality of the Palestinians whether in Palestine or displaced. The PLO, thus, is already recognized as the sole legitimate representative of the Palestinian People in the UN, confirming all political rights of the Palestinians including that of self-determination and right of return. If that’s so, why is there a need to replace the PLO with another representative whose authority is going to be territorially controlled and who’s not representative of over half the Palestinian population living elsewhere?
According to the recent opinion of Professor Goodwin-Gill, the Palestinian refugees “constitute more than half of the people of Palestine, and if they are ‘disenfranchised’ and lose their representation in the UN, it will not only prejudice their entitlement to equal representation, contrary to the will of the General Assembly, but also their ability to vocalise their views, to participate in matters of national governance, including the formation and political identity of the State, and to exercise the right of return”
Now, let’s go along with the PA’s claimed assumption that the statehood bid would not lead to such a deadlock as Boyle purport in his response to Goodwin’s memorandum.
What would be the destiny of the refugees of 1948 living within the borders of the coming Palestinian state preoccupying over twenty refugee camps dotted along the Gaza strip and the West bank?
Going back home would not be a legitimate option considering the fact that what lies beyond the 1967 would be recognized as another sovereign Jewish state upon which they have no claims of land or ownership. A return to their homes lying within the Jewish state is impossible. Their right of return is consequently dropped.
For those refugees, would the September state offer any compensations? Or would they grant them full citizenship? Their temporary camps turning into neighbourhoods of the new state and their ruthless conditions into a permanent struggle for life is the cost of the quest for a Palestinian state. They have also to endure living in the conditions of poverty after the “UNRWA”, “Relief and Work agency” reduces or even cuts off the aid upon which thousands of refugee families survive.
Who is to represent me? I did not vote for the PA.
For almost two decades, the PA has been assuming its representation of the Palestinian people based on the Oslo Accords.
The PA, however, falls short of the questions of genuine democratic representation.
The last democratic elections took place over five years ago. Ever since, democratic elections have been ignored and suspended after the last ones have led to the severe fragmentation of both Gaza and the West Bank leaving Palestinians with two governments, both not representative of the total interest and will of the Palestinian people. Therefore, it is no wonder that young Palestinians, who did not practice their fundamental democratic right of enfranchisement and who are aware of the follies of the PA, are shouting very fiercely against it or even calling for dissolving it.
This of course delegitimizes any further step the PA takes on behalf of the Palestinian people, for it is not the real representative of the Palestinian people residing in Gaza and the West Bank, let alone the already disenfranchised population of Palestinians who definitely did not vocalize their votes in favour of a Palestinian Authority in any of the few elections held since Oslo.
Proceeded by the non-representative non-accountable PA, the prospective consequences of the bid are not promising but rather risky. Palestinians, of course are not to blame for untrusting their fragmented leadership after a series of unfolding shocking truths of how the Palestinian cause is being dealt with in the negotiation rooms and how much this leadership is ready to offer or concede.
The fact that the new state is offering no reform of the Palestinian leadership tells how unpromising such a move is. One cannot but imagine the forthcoming state as both unchanged and more fragmented. Therefore, A state that offers nothing new, that is led by the same dissent leadership, that imposes any risk no matter how little on the right of the Palestinians sounds like the very definition of insanity.
My Dear Stateless Palestinian,
They say that the soft wind of September would blow us a State. A Palestinian State. Amongst the fuss, the debates, the arguments, the pleas, my heart cannot but wonder, “Would we be finally brought together by a state?” You, who were born elsewhere and forced to live there; I, who was born and confined here within the borders, within the walls, within the barber wires.
Do you still remember that benevolent smile of yours that mocked my naivety when I wrote to you that I finally got my passport? My Palestinian Passport. You said you are not eligible for one. Held in my hands, my Palestinian Passport was turned into a curse with the words, ” This Passport/ Travel document is issued pursuant to the Palestinian Self Government agreement according to Oslo agreement signed in Washington on 13/9/1993″ inscribed. Oslo. Damn Oslo! How could they strip you out of what is yours and turn you into a final status negotiations. How could I, a seven-year old swinging in a white dress celebrating their return, not then realize that they would one day bring upon me, upon you, our eternal separation. I could then forgive all of your insults that you’ve never spared when the PA or Arafat were mentioned. I have even enjoyed your polite eloquent offense of a man I once considered a symbol. But, alas, no more.
Could September separate us even more?
Could borders confine us even more?
They say that by September I might no longer spend the night cursing the ever-roaring drones. It would be our air then. With no drones of our own. Not even a plane that might take me to you. They say that I won’t have to calm my sister down every time she wakes screaming in the midnight, for the bombing would stop. Her nightmares won’t. Her memories won’t.
They say we would be an independent people. My mother would no longer be a refugee. She would have to give up every dream of going back to Aqer. My grandmother would stop telling us of her tales of the lost village near Ghazza from which they fled in 1948. She would forget this history. It is no longer hers. She would have to stop telling the story every now and then. She’d eventually die; we would eventually forget, wouldn’t we?
And you would forget about your village. It was called Sandala, wasn’t it ? After all, it is out of the boundaries of your State where you cannot belong.
They also say we would have a president. An anthem. A flag, again. A map. And when I teach my students to draw the map of the State of Palestine, I would have to explain to them why it is fragmented into tens of pieces. Why does it not sound like the Gold Palestine their mothers wear on their chests, embroider with their hands. I would have to explain to them why the State of Palestine is surrounded everywhere by another state called Israel.
Amongst this mess, I wonder if they would remember that you exist somewhere. That you exist everywhere. But not home. Not in the “State”. Would they see you the way I do?
You are my realization of the Palestine that resides beyond the borders; of the millions of the Palestinians I’ve never seen, of the experiences I’ve never felt. The exile. The Diaspora. The hymns of return. The hope.
You are my realization that there could be no “Palestinian State” without you. For this, Stateless we shall both remain.
Another Stateless Palestinian.
pa • tient noun
1 a person who is receiving medical treatment, especially in a hospital
2 a person who receives treatment from a particular doctor, dentist, etc
He’s one of Dr Shaw’s patients.
© Oxford University Press, 2010
pa • tient adjective
~ (with sb/sth)
able to wait for a long time or accept annoying behaviour or difficulties without becoming angry
© Oxford University Press, 2010
“Allah ye’tahom el yahood” Damn Jews! My mother bitterly mumbled, her eyes welled with tears she could no longer hold back. My brother has just finished a call with an officer working in the Rafah Border. The officer assured us what we feared. He told us that my mother, who is holding a medical report to be transferred toEgyptfor treatment, cannot take off to Rafah border unless she had previously registered her name in the Ministry of Interior. She has to wait. Again.
“Why should all doors get closed in my face? I had a glimpse of light. Why should it always fade away in a second?” She began whining, blaming her luck, and roaming her wet eyes around the closed ready bags scattered along the room. I stood helpless. With the mount of news I’ve heard last week, I could not help a bit. Everyone was very enthusiastic about the news of opening the only official border between the Gaza Strip and Egypt, I was not less enthusiastic. It was such a relief. Even with the restriction on the movement that took place only two days after the glorious news. It sounded a relief. But, it never does when you are one of the 400 other travelers who’d get turned back or who are denied access or those who have to wait.
I understood how difficult it is to wait. How painful! How tortuous! But, we Palestinians seem to be destined for waiting.
My mother has been waiting for the last two months. It all started three months ago. After the Egyptian revolution and the news about some tremendous changes in the Egyptian regime that might finally lead to relieving the restrictions imposed on about million and a half Palestinian living in the Gaza Strip in the process, my mother thought that maybe this time she could go out for Egypt to check upon her medical condition without having to go through a tunnel. Yes, she was actually smuggled through a tunnel two years ago for medical treatment. A very longer epic that I hope would not happen again.
However, she discovered that her condition is much dangerous than she actually thought. She needed an urgent medical treatment that might involve a surgery.
Performing her any operation in here was not an option. Yes, like all other Palestinians living inGaza, I have doubts and fears when it comes to treating grave diseases in our hospitals. Not only because of the lack of well-qualified doctors, which is part of the problem, but because of the lack of medical technical equipments denied access into the Gaza Strip for ages.
It sounded like an act of treason. It still does. An Israeli hospital felt like the best option. For days, I couldn’t get the paradox. It didn’t make sense to me. I couldn’t figure out if I should be grateful to Israel for potentially providing my mother with the medical treatment, or for potentially saving my mother’s life while claiming the lives of hundreds of others.
Getting her a place in a hospital in Jerusalem would be a bless. But when it comes to Jerusalem, things are not that simple or even that human. Getting an appointment in a hospital in Jerusalem was the hard part. Seemingly, my mother was not about to die. God Forbid. Therefore, she has to wait. Again.
While waiting, I romanticized about the time I’d be spending in Jerusalem. I’ve never seen Jerusalem before. This was my chance. I should be escorting my mother during her stay there. What a bliss! The Israelis left me no room for fancy though. I was later informed that I was not allowed to accompany my mother for her treatment in Jerusalem for I was underage. I am 23. I am legally mature, but for Israel I was apparently a potential threat. My hopes for going to Jerusalem were crushed down. My mother’s documents were rejected. She would not go to Jerusalem either.
Last year, I was asked by a journalist whether I remember a time when there were no restriction over movement or when we were able to travel freely. It didn’t take me much time to answer with a “No”. I still remember how we used to celebrate my uncles by making them big banquets every time anyone of them would make it to Gaza in a day or two. While celebrating their victorious effortless 3-day journey of return, we would be chatting of the way the Egyptians, the Israelis and the Palestinians would each treat Palestinian travelers.
If I’d be asked the same question today, looking at the packed bags leaning along the room, I would still answer: No.