Sunday, August 10, 2008

Every Jordanian is a Jordanian Or Are They?

So, Nas posted an article he wrote for 7iber about National Identity. I found the article spurred my mind into the direction of a conversation El 3atal and I had recently on this same topic. It centered around the push that we've observed in the government (and candidates for Parliament) to downplay the differences between Jordanian-Jordanians and Palestinian-Jordanians. Case in point, the much-poked-fun-at election slogan "Every Jordanian is a Jordanian." It sounds both self-evident and stupid. However, the reality is that it isn't even true.

As we were driving by the Passport Agency (as it were) between the first and second circles and cursing the traffic (as usual), El 3atal and I started talking about the inane separation of Passport Issuing Agencies. What do I mean, you may be wondering. Well, here goes.

There are two different buildings that one may go to in order to get a passport issued in Amman. However, it's not your choice which one you patronize (you know based on friendlier, faster service or better facilities or some other criteria). The government chooses for you. You will either be assigned to the Amman passport agency or the Jerusalem passport agency. And, how do we know this. Let me tell you a funny story...

El 3atal is Palestinian. He was born in Beirut, where his parents met and married after both their families fled. When he was but a toddler, they moved to Amman. 3ammoBean was born after the move here to Amman. Sure, no problem, everything's fine with that - at first. And then the irony begins.

When the family goes to get a passport for young 3ammoBean, they are told that they can't obtain the passport at the Jerusalem branch (where ALL of the other family members must go) they have to go to the Amman branch. How bizarre is this? This state of affairs continued until maybe 3 years ago when 3ammoBean was reassigned with the rest of the family to the Jerusalem branch.

But wait a minute! Isn't every Jordanian a Jordanian (you know, other than women who are only HALF a Jordanian (and not the good half it would seem))? Apparently there are Amman Jordanians and Jerusalem Jordanians. How interesting is that? So, while every one is created equal, some are more equal than others. Where have I heard that before?

I get that the government might need to divide up the population across two locations, but why not allow all Jordanians (who are Jordanians after all) to go to whichever location they'd prefer? Better yet, why not build a "government city" out near the airport move all government buildings there and provide adequate parking? (Oh, stop. what AM I thinking?!) Then you could build ONE building where all Jordanians (who are Jordanians, after all) can go to apply for passports. Imagine that, treating everyone the same... Removing false divisions... Changing lives... Shifting the paradigm...

For now, we'll just go on being Jerusalem Jordanians and know that the Beans will continue to have a bizarre relationship with their Jordanian identity. After all, in response to Nas' question, the Bean family's Jordanian identity looks something like this:

Jerusalem Jordanian, Christian, Palestinian, American, English, Irish, middle class

And so I wonder, why doesn't the government put their money where their mouth is (in that old American expression)? If you want everyone to simply be Jordanian, get rid of false divisions, make your governmental operations match your beliefs. You know, follow your core values. Then, one day, new generations will believe that - Every Jordanian is a Jordanian.

Happy identity crises!


At 11:32 AM , Blogger joladies said...

Great post. You are absolutely right, 'we are all Jordanians' will never be a reality until the government puts all Jordanians (wherever they were born) on a level playing field. T

At 11:31 PM , Blogger UmmFarouq said...

Absolutely! Recently I interviewed a Jordanian teacher who had, stamped across her passport in large letters, "CHILDREN CANNOT BE ADDED--FOREIGN FATHER."

Hmmm. Her kids were born in Jordan, mom Jordanian but really Palestinian from the origin but she can go to Amman Passport office, NOT Jerusalem, but the father--ah, he was from Gaza. So the kids, what are they? Gazawiyyan? Jordanian wannabes? Palestinians living in Jordan?

My head hurts.

At 12:33 AM , Blogger MommaBean said...

T, indeed. Umm Farouq, actually it's almost a bit surprising she gets to go to the Amman office. But, yeah, that would be the reason for my point that women are only half a Jordanian (and not the good half). After all, if you can't give your KIDS your citizenship, then are you actually a citizen?


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