New generation Palestinians are a people born without a homeland. We have been scattered all over the world and for most of us, we have tried to find our identities elsewhere. Since the start of the Zionist, colonialist project of uprooting Palestinians many generations were born and raised in exile.
I was born to second generation exiled Palestinian parents. My grandparents on both sides were kicked out of their homes in 1948 when the state of Israel was established. After being exiled from Jaffa and Jerusalem, my dad’s parents moved to Amman where they have lived ever since and my mum’s parents resided in Ramallah.
My parents became British citizens 30 years ago and so my siblings and I all hold British passports. Being British means I am granted certain ‘privileges’ other Palestinians do not have like being able to enter Israel without a permit and with few questions asked. This has made it much easier for me to move about the colonized land of my ancestors.
For the Palestinians living in Palestine (who do not hold foreign passports) moving around the country has become increasingly difficult over the years. There are checkpoints between most cities in the West Bank (around 98 of them now) where Arabs are more often than not questioned, taunted, searched and turned away. Your luck on getting through a checkpoint often depends on how the soldier is feeling that day (who some of them by the way are no older than 18 or 19 years old).
There is something humiliating about being at these checkpoints. It’s the way the soldiers look at you, your fate being in their hands, waiting hours in the heat of the sun for a soldier to check your ID and decide whether he wants to let you through or not. It’s also the way the soldiers look at you that makes you feel like a lower class citizen and ashamed to be a Palestinian. That’s apartheid for you huh?
I wanted to share with you something I noticed when I was driving into the West Bank. This sign is a small illustration of how Israelis try to make people fear Arabs and segregate them from society.
FYI this sign is visible to everyone entering the West Bank. Vertically it’s about my height, which granted I’m 5’3 I guess is not that high. Please take note of what the sign says; it is “Against The Israeli Law.” Israeli citizens are actually fined for entering Palestinian areas because apparently it is “dangerous”. I mean, really?
Are Palestinians THAT scary?
Who’s occupying who?
For those of you who have succumbed to believing Israeli propaganda and fear us, this is directed at you. If you have ever had the opportunity to step into an Arab family home, I will bet my life you will be brought into the family, greeted with open arms and treated with the utmost kindness and hospitality.
Think I’m biased and don’t believe me?
Just go to any Arab grandparents house and you will understand exactly what I mean. I’ll be amazed if you manage to walk out of that house with your trousers still done up with all the food that’ll be shoved down your throat.