Tuesday, December 23, 2008

Can I say I went to Israel?

So my sister in Jordan made friends with this girl, a Palestinian with Israeli identification who resides within the legal borders of Israel. For some reason this girl refers to herself as Israeli; if you ask her where she's from she'll say Israel. I'm not sure why a Palestinian Arab would advertise herself as an Israeli ESPECIALLY amongst a population of Arabs. I would be lying if I said this didn't irritate me personally but I'll try to hold my judgement. Maybe it's something about Arab Israelis that I don't understand.

It reminds me of once years and years back I was with my aunt and we bumped into an Arab man who answered he was "min 3arab Israel" when my aunt asked him where he was from. At his response my aunt became very upset, later it looked like she was about to start crying. Clearly the name you give to the territory is a sensitive issue.

So my naive and hyperactive sister doesn't know better than to use the words of her new good friend. She told me before about her new friend with a very Arab name "from Israel" which she attempts to pronounce in a Hebrew accent like her friend does. I just bite my tongue and remind myself of my young sister's innocence.

Recently my sister got permission and made plans to go to Israel with her new friend to visit her family for a few days. She was excited and told everyone; she even had a series of facebook statuses announcing her visit to "Israel". All this really pissed some people off in our circle who may or may have not said anything to her. Even my Jordanian family in the village, who are not exactly the biggest Palestinian sympathesizers, were offended by my sister's choice of words. My villager cousin stated "ukhtik mfrakra 7alha ray7a 3a Isra-il" in a mocking tone during our last phone conversation. When people asked me what's up with my sister I defended her but didn't dismiss concern by explaining that she's young and jahla and just quoting her new friend.

Until now I refrained myself from lecturing her about anything because she's a paranoid 19 year old who thinks I oppose her very existence and doesn't take very much of what I say as anything more than personal criticism. I was hoping by now someone who would have explained things to my sister to make her be a little more sensitive or careful, but following her trip she uploaded an album of her trip titled "Israel" with nothing starkingly Israeli in it...it's just people (arabs) and some land.

I decided to bring it up..."so how was your trip? from the pics it looks like you had fun.....oh and why did you call your album "Israel" on facebook by the way?"........ "What? What should I call it? What is it that you're so offended about???" So by her response it seems that she has been scolded already but not to the point where she actually got it. I just explained to her that most of the people she hangs out with and those on her facebook are in fact arabs and some will feel antagonized by the labels you're using for A, B, and C reason so why would you want to do that anyway? I managed to convince her to change the album title without an argument.

but this got me thinking did she do anything wrong? What if one day I visited a friend residing in an Israeli town, what would I call my facebook album? Would I confidently say I visited Israel or would I struggle with the right terms. Would it because I didn' tkow what to think of it or just because I wouldn't want to antagonize anyone?


jaraad said...

In the beginning of each semester, I always introduce myself to my students and tell them that I came from Jordan. Then, ask them if they know where Jordan is? One time, a student shouted “yes it is near Israel.” I paused for a second because we refrain from referring to Israel as a country neighboring to Jordan. Yet, many Arab (including Palestinians living in Palestine and Jordan) don’t refer to “Palestine” but say the West Bank (Eldaffa الضفه) instead. In my opinion, Arabs and Muslims should always use the word “Palestine” whenever the word Israel is mentioned.
Today, in the CNN news “Bush pardons 19, commutes sentence of meth dealer” article they wrote the following: “One of the men pardoned is Charles Winters, who died almost 25 years ago. His son had worked on winning a presidential pardon for his dad, who had helped smuggle weapons to Jews fighting in what was then Palestine in the late 1940s.” So, they know it is/was Palestine.

Anonymous said...

Not calling an occupied country by its illegal occupation name is not paranoia. and calling that same land with the same exact name the illegal occupation call it is not being objective or right.

The thing is, calling Palestine Israel is accepting the occupation all in all and thats basically the whole point.

when your sister call an occupied village by its occupation force name then she is basically legalizing and supporting the occupation it self and thats basically what would put me off if i was her friend on facebook, because simply she is supporting Israel .. or culturally brainwashed by its propoganda.

i can tolerate this tolerance with the occupation propaganda from a foreigner but i dont at any stage tolerate with arabs.

so simply its a very fine indication of how you stand from the occupation and there is no wrong or right but rather a stand you are taking and she is ought to bare the consequences of such a choice.

Hamza said...

3adi..I actually refer to both of them. when I went last time, i told ppl I went to israel and palestine..which is true. I went to toul karem, and qalqilya and nables which are in palestine..and at same time, I went to NATANIA and tel aviv, which are in israel (whether we like it or not, its gonna remain there)

suha said...

This is totally off topic, but the 3arab isreal in my uni are pretty funny, becuase they are so strange.

But I think Arabs should keep calling it Palestine. Atleast in respect to all those who fight for it we should keep calling it Palestine.