18 January 2014

A Russian, an Ethiopian, and an Arab at the doctor’s

Sitting at the doctor’s office, waiting for my turn, reading a book.
An older lady sits next to me.
An Ethiopian young woman walks past.
The older lady watches her, and as the Ethiopian woman disappears around the corner, the older lady leans in towards me, and says, in a heavy Russian accent and a broken Hebrew: “That in not Jew. That – black. She no belong here. She belong Africa. How Jew and black?”
I look up from my book, trying to think of what to reply to this, but my brain doesn’t find the words. I go back to my book.
A few minutes later, the older lady again leans towards me, this time whispering: “You like Arabs?”
I look at her, put on my best smile, and reply sweetly: “I am an Arab.”
The first shock registered on the lady as her body involuntarily jerks back from me, to keep a safe distance. She quickly composes herself, and proclaims: “Me have many Arabs in my building. Good people. Very nice. Me like Arabs.”
I just smile at her, and go back to reading. The lady keeps her distance. A few minutes pass. The nurse calls my name. I get up, walk past the lady, then stop, turn around, look at her, and again in my sweetest voice and a smile, I say, “I’m a Palestinian.”
I wait just enough to see the horror on the lady’s face before turning around and walking into the doctor’s office.

- khulud خلود

8 January 2014

A new draft bill by MK Yariv Levin to grant Christians extra rights over Muslims

We are back to the days of the Ottoman rule and the British mandate. Israel 2014: according to a series of draft bills, proposed and promoted by Yariv Levin (chairman of the governing coalition, Likud Yisrael Beitenu), Christians will receive “separate representation and a separate frame of reference.” The bills will grant Christians in Israel extra rights over Muslims, including equal opportunities in employment. Moreover, Levin goes to the extreme of stating “I make sure not to refer to them as Arabs, because they’renot Arabs.” To top it off, he is proposing that Christians will be allowed to register themselves as just “Christians” under “Nationality” in their ID cards, to officially distinguish themselves from Arabs.

This series of proposed bills are set against the systemic policy of the state of Israel to continue to divide the Palestinian society inside Israel. Only recently, in the mass resistance to the Prawer Plan, we have seen the uniting of all groups of the Palestinian society, raising a united voice against the government’s plan to displace tens of thousands of Bedouins from their land. This united voice scares to government, and it will make every effort to act to divide our society.

In the last year, there has been a small group of Christians who are claiming they are not Arabs, they only speak Arabic, but are in no way Arabs, and are calling on Christians to serve in the Israeli Defence Forces. This small group does not in any way represent the majority of the Palestinian society within Israel. However, as I believe in one’s right to self-definition, I must therefore respect their right to define their identity as they see fit. On this point I am sure many will disagree with me, but since I define myself as a Palestinian, and I expect others to recognize my right to self-definition, then it follows that I must respect their right.

The state of Israel, however, is taking this small group to be representative of all Christians inside Israel, and using this against us to divide us.

By stating that the bill will grant equal opportunities in employment to Christians, it then follows that: (a) at the moment, there are no equal opportunities in employment for all citizens, and (b) if Christians will be granted this equality, then it means there will be active discrimination in employment against Muslims. Let’s not forget that in Israel there is a law on equal opportunities in employment.

Lastly, I can’t even find the adequate word to describe the fact that Levin actually views Christianity as a Nationality. Insane? Illogical? Crazy? Hallucinatory? Pick your choice of words.

1 January 2014

"Haifa story No. 1" - Arabs buy cheap shoes at the market

Jumana felt a sudden stabbing pain in her lower back as she got up from her desk. Her vision went black for a friction of a second, and she had to hold on to the chair to avoid falling. 

It was close to midnight, I’ll get to the doctor in the morning, Jumana told herself. She took a scorching hot shower, brushed her teeth, and got in bed. But the pain made it impossible to lie in any comfortable position. After two hours of lying on her back, she couldn’t take the pain anymore, and decided to call a taxi to take her to the hospital.

After filling in the paperwork, she was motioned to a bed and was told that a doctor will attend to her shortly. A male doctor, about mid-fifties, appeared. He took a quick look at her, saw her dark complexion, raised an eyebrow. “Jumana?”
“Yes, that would be me.”
“So, tell me, what’s the problem?”
Jumana told him about the back pain.
The doctor looked her up and down, then said in a condescending tone, “You Arabs, you buy cheap shoes from the market, and then wonder that you get back pain!”
Jumana was so taken aback by his remark, that all she could do was look down at her orthopaedic leather shoes, which cost her almost a quarter of her salary.
“And for how long have you been experiencing this pain?”
“Only a few hours.”
“And what did you do in the last few days?”
“Nothing special.”
The doctor frowned at Jumana, “Try to remember!” It was more of an order than a request.
“Really, nothing unusual... oh, wait! Yes, I was at a demonstration a few days ago, so maybe I got pushed around or something, but I don’t remember any pain... I think it...”
“I don’t want to hear about any demonstration!” the doctor snapped at her.
“But you asked me about it... anyway, it was a quite violent demonstration, with policemen on horses, tear gas...”
“I said I don’t want to hear about any demonstrations!”
“Oh, and I picked up an injured man...”
The doctor was losing his patience. “I’m afraid I can’t do anything for you.”
“What do you want to do?”
“Can you just give me some pain killers?”
“What do you think, that this is a picnic?”
“No, but you just asked me... so what do you suggest, doctor?”
“I’ll give you a shot.”
Jumana opened her eyes wide, “What do you think this is, doctor? A picnic?!”

- (c) khulud خلود 1/1/2014 Haifa