Palestinian portrait #2
Posted by Pia på lördag 7 juli 2007
As a foreigner, I am allowed things that my Palestinian friends can only dream of. One is to go to Jerusalem (al-Quds) and visit al-Aqsa mosque. In fact, the Palestinians with a blue identity card can go, but not the ones with a green one. (The colour of your ID depends on lots of things, where you were born, but also if you happen to be politically active, which is a certain no-no)
Anyhow, I crossed the checkpoints to Israel, where I met Miada and was invited to her home in Ara on the way between Tel Aviv and Haifa. Her father had a few stories.
As a young man, this white-haired grandpa volunteered in the British army for four years. That’s where he learned to speak English fluently. Now, that was some time ago, but the more we talked the more he remembered. His family was lucky, since their village was not brutally occupied by the new Israeli nation in 1948. He saw many people from neighbouring villages flee eastwards to avoid being killed. (Some of those people are still keeping the keys to their old homes, never having imagined that the ockupation could have gone on for such a long time.)
Being an Arab in Israel is not always easy. You can’t expect to study or work with what you would like. Travelling out of the country is a hassle. And if you go to the West Bank for more than a couple of months, you risk losing your right to come back.
Miada’s father had been lucky. He had been able to work as a teacher and principal in his town, and back in the old days he could go hunting in the Golan Heights (ockupied by Israel in 1967). Together with his wife and three daughters, he takes care of a wonderful garden with grapes, lemons, flowers, oranges and cherries. He invited me to come and stay in their house the next time I pass by. His walls are filled with deer heads and other things related to hunting. And in between them, a map of Palestine, as it was before 1948.